Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Video is 'inconclusive'

Military says tape too dark, grainy to tell if Maupin is victim

By Reid Forgrave
Enquirer staff writer

UNION TWP. - A video that aired on Arab television outlets in late June purporting to show the execution of local soldier Spc. Keith Matthew Maupin cannot be verified, according to military officials who announced Monday that a military analysis of the video is now complete.

Maj. Mark Magalski, casualty assistance officer for the Maupin family, said that even after repeated analyses, Department of Defense investigators were unable to determine from the dark, grainy video whether Maupin was shown being executed on the video - or even whether a killing actually occurred.

"There's nothing in the video that lends you to think it was Matt Maupin," Magalski said Monday, four months after Maupin's convoy was attacked by rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire near Baghdad. "The video is totally inconclusive because it's just too dark and grainy."

Standing in front of a Bush-Cheney campaign sign and saying they have the utmost confidence in the Bush administration's and the military's efforts to locate their son, the 21-year-old soldier's parents, Keith and Carolyn Maupin, read statements to the press corps gathered in Carolyn Maupin's front yard on Monday to mark their son's fourth month in captivity.

Carolyn Maupin addressed her son directly and told him not to worry about his family back home.

"Matt, your family is doing just fine," Carolyn Maupin said. "We are keeping busy and trying to return to as normal of a schedule as we can. We are so proud of you. You should see the thousands of yellow ribbons and candles that are burning in support of you and our soldiers.

"You are not and will not be forgotten. Matt, you are our hero."

Keith Maupin said the family continues to pray for Maupin and all troops until they are returned safely.

"Although we have not heard of any current news since Matt's April 9 capture, we have not and will not give up hope for Matt's safe return," Keith Maupin said. "We are extremely proud of our son and love him very much. We know that he will return with honor someday."

Maupin's official status remains "captured," as it has been since April 16 when a now-famous video of him surrounded by masked, gun-toting captors aired on television stations across the world.

Magalski said a number of factors contributed to Department of Defense analysts being unable to confirm the validity of the video. The figure in the video appeared hooded and had his back to the camera, Magalski said. The video was dark and grainy, apparently shot at night. And the voices on the video were only of the insurgents announcing an execution, not of the video's subject speaking.

"And lastly but most importantly, there's been no body associated with this," Magalski said. "Usually when something like this happens, a body is found in a place where the military can easily find it. That's what these terrorists have done in the past. And normally they're pretty accurate when they say they executed someone."

Magalski added the release of the video on June 28 coincided with the handover of power to an interim Iraqi government, and the video could have been filmed earlier and given to media outlets to overshadow the news of the handover.


E-mail rforgrave@enquirer.com

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