Re-posted April 23 2011
Original posting, in longer form, as Crimes Against Reality in Libya, part 3
Note May 23:As a bit of a break, I made a video version of this finding to put on Youtube. The link. The video:
(Original introduction truncated - for background on the strategic importance of Misrata, Libya's third largest city and mostly under rebel control, see the article "Why Misrata Matters")
Mystery Snipers Killing Kids?
The last few days, April 14-16, have however seen a brutal new offensive by the government's forces besieging Misrata, by rebel reports, with a few dozen more killed in rocket attacks on Misrata, indiscriminately including women, children, and elderly. Cluster bombs have reportedly been found. The harbor was attacked again. The rebels predict a total slaughter will finally befall them without more NATO involvement soon. What they really mean is Misrata will no longer be a rebel town.
Worse than the fairly indiscriminate death of distance shelling, the most incendiary new allegation is the mad tyrant Gaddafi sending snipers to Misrata to sit on rooftops, picking out children to shoot dead. Or so we hear. On April 8, a statement was issued in Switzerland:
“What we have are reliable and consistent reports of children being among the people targeted by snipers in Misrata,” UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado told reporters in Geneva. The information was based on local sources, Mercado said. She was unable to say how many children have been wounded or killed in this way. UNICEF, the United Nations wing for caring about children's health and well-being, was naturally alarmed enough by these reports to announce they existed but weren’t verified – they’d go and have a look and then, perhaps, we’d hear about corroboration.
A cynic might see in this echoes of the incubator-baby stories of 1991 Gulf War fame. The tale of an Iraqi atrocity in Kuwait, killing dozens of premature babies for no clear reason, gave massive and emotional public support to the war effort. Later, the story was proven to be a complete lie, concocted by the Kuwaiti royal family and public relations firm Hill and Knowlton, Inc.  Again, the first part of that is happening with this news spreading like wildfire. And we shall see, and in short order, that the second half is already coming into focus along similar lines.
There’s no great reason to doubt the presence of snipers in the city, given the situation. Rebels allege African mercenaries as usual, military snipers from elite battalions, and most recently special female sharpshooters from Colombia’s FARC army.  One Libyan exile with contact in Misrata said the snipers were “Libyan mercenaries,” as well as some “from Mauritania, 2 from Colombia, 2 women, some from Chad, and others from origins of which we are not sure.” (more from this expert below). 
As far as people capable of making bullets fly in a war-torn city, we also cannot rule out armed loyalist citizens, possibly gone loco and trying to demoralize the traitors by killing their young. That wouldn't exactly be a government strategy requiring regime change, but close enough for most. Or it could be a black-hearted rebel supporter trying to create another humanitarian disaster to be blamed on the regime. And it would be, of course, with no questions asked. The government itself claims snipers exist in Misrata – brought in by the rebels and affiliated with Hezbollah, says spokesman Khaled Kaim. Hezbollah denies this, and the evidence has yet to be shown 
Yousef bin Youssef on Snipers, Kids, and/or Targeting
A video from the Al Aan channel of the United Arab Emirates was posted April 9, with English subtitles, on rebel site LibyaFeb17.info. Entitled “Batallion snipers targeting children in Misurata,” the content is an interview with Yousef bin Youssef, onetime Misrata resident, in touch with others still there and amazingly informed (he’s the one with the sniper nationalities list). 
Asked if “children were actually being targeted by snipers there,” Youssef makes a long presentation with heavy use of the word for “targeted,” but only gives one bit of an answer to that question at the end. He starts with the government shelling of the city:
“[T]here are very serious risks when these populated zones are targeted – many injuries could occur … Families are being targeted daily … the targeting of children and civilians in large numbers … the targeting of Misrata is happening in every residential area … Gaddafi’s forces are systematically killing the entire population of the city of Misrata.”He does get to children, noting that “a car with four children in it was targeted,” in fact a disputable incident at a check-point, killing one child an wounding another.  This is quite common in places like Iraq where a government is up against an insurgency. “In another neighborhood near Tripoli street,” Youssef added, “a child of two years was also targeted” in some unspecified way. He also lists several names with ages of “just a few” of the youngest “martyrs” killed by anything at all so far in this conflict.
He also brought cell-phone video footage of three injured children evacuated, from Misrata and Benghazi, to Turkey. One is a boy with his right arm amputated and the left one locked in a full cast, and one eye swollen shut. Another older boy is shown with both hands in casts. Both look more like mishaps in handling explosives than any sniper’s work. Their injuries are not explained. 
The Girl in Turkey: Right for the Heart
The only time in all Youssef’s interview where any sign of a sniper appears is with the third child, which he describes as:
“a small girl, no older than 4 years, who was targeted by a sniper’s bullet near the heart. But thank God, they removed the bullet, as you can see.” The hefty bullet is shown in a vial, and a precious little girl is shown curled up asleep in the hospital bed, barely saved from the government's mad designs. And as proof the two were once together, her x-ray is also shown to the camera. A rib cage is visible, with a bullet appearing in the upper center (top image). That looks like medical proof she was shot by someone or other. And certainly the whole medical clinic setting lends credence to it.
Luckily I happen to have a clearer blow-up of this same image (see below, explained further below) to get some better detail. It looks like possibly a sniper bullet, but with an odd orientation. Unless the kid was doing cartwheels at the moment of impact, it was apparently fired up from a low angle, an inherently illogical scenario.
Further, the bullet is perfectly shaped, with no apparent deformation from entry and plowing through tissues firm enough to stop it entirely only halfway through.
This in turn might have something to with absolutely no sign of entry revealed by the x-rays. Following back the apparent bullet track suggests it must have entered her body on the left side (lower right in the image). Any possible “hole” in her side would be invisible from a frontal view. We should, however, see any broken chunks or deformation to the curve of her ribs where at least one should have been shattered. But not a single arc of this delicate 4-year-old rib-cage is disturbed that we can see.
While I don’t have the expertise to credibly rule out a real gunshot here, It seems to me that this image shows two things:
1) The girl was never shot.
2) A bullet was made to appear in her chest.
The fakery could be done in any photo-editing program, then sent to a device for developing the image on transluscent film to look real. Or it could be a simple x-ray image of the child with a bullet laid on her chest. But that’s sure as hell not how it was preseted to the world at almost exactly the same time as that April 8 UNICEF report.
The Boy in Misrata with the Same X-Ray Proof
Furthermore, at the same time, there was another child with a family claiming proof of a very similar sniper shot. The April 10 Human Rights Watch dispatch related the story of a five-year-old boy. He's not in the main article for some reason, but is shown in the bottom picture with his mother and an x-ray image, with this extended caption:
Five-and-a-half year old Rakan Ahmed was playing in the street opposite the Italian Consulate on March 19 when a bullet entered his shoulder and passed by his heart, according to his parents, Hanan Faraj and Ahmed Muftah Burjid. There was fighting at the time about 500 meters away, they said, but no sound of gunfire close by. “Rakan’s uncle carried him inside,” Ahmed Muftah Burjid said. “We thought he fainted. There was no sound of a gunshot, no blood.” When the family arrived at the hospital, they saw the bullet from the x-rays, which the family shared with Human Rights Watch. “We were shocked,” Ahmed recalled. “We just thought he was tired.” This might sound strange, but is remarkably akin to what happened to WPC Yvonne Fletcher in London, 1984. Standing across from the Libyan embassy, she was shot by a high-powered bullet that entered the right shoulder at a steep angle, hit the heart, lung, and other vital organs, and passed out her lower left rib cage.  She died from all this within short order, but from the outside, she just collapsed, with no visible blood and officers at first acting as if she'd just fainted.  Gaddafi thug snipers pulled the trigger, it was decided, in both of these cases. Women and children were slaughtered, publics enraged. We have a precedent.
By the photo HRW ran (right), little Rakan does seem to be injured. He has bandages on his left side over the owie (the exit wound after the entry on his right shoulder?). His mom helps show us by pulling up his arm and his shirt. He looks unhappy, but quite healthy and limber for only three weeks healing time after such a massive injury to the upper body.
The x-ray image shown to the right, shared by the family, reveals a bullet is or was once in there, stopped just where it was in the girl’s x-ray. It did not exit through his side or at all. Hmmm...
The bullet shown here has the same pristine profile, same orientation and implied, illogical, low-level entry. It clearly did not enter via his shoulder, as reported, in fact just stopping in the middle of him, halfway to his right shoulder. Beside the bullet match, this x-ray shows the same strange line running across, same light and dark patches, same … undisturbed rib cage.
The image could still be of a genuine child shooting, as my pathologist friend Rolfe at the JREF forum points out, but as she also notes with basic logic, it can’t be evidence for both of those kids being shot.  Nonetheless, it was presented within the same few-days span as just that. It should of course be noted that this doubling up is enough to change “child” to “children,” and leave the public imagining just how many. Imaginations over here tend to ignore the "reported" part and presume hundreds of things like this. But we have this kind of evidence for only two, one recovering in Turkey, the other all healed up in Misrata, neither with a single broken rib, judging by the single x-ray image between them.
All I can say is I'm glad the rebels are still able to fake these things in Photoshop and have it believed. If the international agencies like UNICEF and HRW were more exacting, we might see rebels actually shooting each others' children to leverage stronger support for regime change efforts. At the moment, I wish Gaddafi would just step down and hand his country over to Wall Street and these manipulative little domestic proxies so this absurdity can finally stop.
 Washington Post. UNICEF: Snipers targeting children in besieged Libyan city of Misrata. April 8. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/unicef-snipers-targeting-children-in-besieged-libyan-city-of-misrata/2011/04/08/AF5jO4zC_story.html
 Daily Mail. April 15. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1377349/Libya-16-women-children-rocket-blitz-Gaddafis-troops.html
 “Batallion snipers targeting children in Misurata.” April 9 posting of video interview with Yousef bin Youssef, on al Aan news. (Undated). http://feb17.info/media/video-interview-battalion-snipers-targeting-children-in-misurata-translated/
 Hezbollah denies any role in Libya’s uprising. Ya Libnan. April 14 2011. http://www.yalibnan.com/2011/04/14/hezbollah-denies-any-role-in-libyas-uprising/
 Human Rights Watch. "Libya: Government Attacks in Misrata Kill Civilians." April 10 2011. http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2011/04/10/libya-government-attacks-misrata-kill-civilians
 "Baby Snipers...Propaganda? Or are they just that evil?" JREF discussion forum. Thread started April 8. http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=205780