POLITICS
06/29/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Caught On Video: Moments Before Afghan Massacre, A Family Celebrates

The video is haunting: Three Afghan men are dancing in joy, whirling, clapping, throwing their arms in the air. One has just had a baby boy. There is music in the air. The whole extended family has gathered to celebrate.

Hours later, two of the men lie dead, shot and killed by U.S. troops, the victims of a deeply disturbing massacre and cover-up that the White House, Congress and the United Nations continue to ignore.

In the family video, obtained by Brave New Films's Rethink Afghanistan project, one of the dead -- the new father -- is first seen dancing in an ornate jacket. He is Mohammed Daoud, 43, a long-serving, popular policeman who had recently been promoted to head of intelligence in one of the region's most volatile districts.

One of the other dancers is Saranwal Zahir, his brother, who was a local prosecutor.

The video also shows their bloody bodies, as well as a blanket covering the three other people killed in the massacre: a teenage girl and two women, both seven months pregnant.

U.S. Special Forces troops opened fire on the family in the early-morning hours of Feb. 12, apparently mistaking them for insurgents, although how they could have done so remains a mystery

The cover-up began quickly, and gruesomely, with soldiers going so far as actually digging their bullets out of the bodies of the three women they had shot. NATO headquarters, led by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then joined the cover-up and repeatedly tried to discredit British reporter Jerome Starkey, who broke the story for the Times of London.

As I've written before, I'd like someone in Congress to hold a hearing into this atrocity.

Rethink Afghanistan, meanwhile, is gathering signatures for a petition demanding an independent, United-Nations-led investigation of the cover-up.

In the video, the narration is provided by a surviving family member, Sayid Mohammad Mal, the assistant dean of the local university. I wrote about Mohammad's story -- and his appeal to President Obama to judge for himself whether he is bringing "peace or murder" to the Afghan people -- last week.

The new video also includes a picture of children gathered at the graves of those killed, and a photo of members of the family and other partygoers after the shooting. The man holding the photo of the two dead men is their father.

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