The sniper trains his scoped rifle through the hole in the wall, finds his target and squeezes the trigger. With each round, a man is heard declaring “Allahu Akbar (God is great).”
Shots apparently fired in return send the sniper scurrying for cover, his Robbinsdale Cooper High School sweatshirt coming into the view of the videographer’s lens.
Just over 6,000 miles from the Minneapolis suburb’s school of 2,000 or so pupils the distinctive “HAWKS” lettering and the Cooper school name were adorning the chest of a man shooting to kill from a battered building amid the unrest in the Middle Eastern nation.
The 81-second video is among thousands from global war zones on the website LiveLeak.com, this one under the headline “Sniper almost sniped.” It went live four days ago, and the site gives it a tally of more than 620,000 views as of Tuesday.
“It’s definitely from Syria,” said Hayden Hewitt, who co-founded the British-based website seven years ago. “He’s trying to kill somebody, and somebody returned fire and penetrated the wall.”
Hewitt said the sniper appears to be a member of the Free Syrian Army, the armed opposition of Syria’s ruling government. He estimates that the video was posted “within a couple of days” and possibly on the same day that it was recorded.
A still photo from the video was sent to Robbinsdale Cooper for verification, and Tim Palm, who handles the Cooper Hawks’ apparel needs, said that while the image is not that clear, the sweatshirt looks like one of theirs.
On Tuesday, Cooper Principal Michael Favor sent a voice-mail to school families alerting them to the Star Tribune report about the video. “The person in the video is not connected with Robbinsdale Cooper High School, and we have no idea how the sweatshirt got to Syria,” the voice-mail said.
How a sweatshirt from a school in New Hope became a sniper’s work clothes is anyone’s guess. However, it’s not unusual for popular athletic team logos from any number of American colleges and pro franchises to show up in locales around the world, far from the world’s cosmopolitan capitals or tourist destinations popular with Americans.
Clothing in poor condition or in excess quantities that is donated for sale in charity-operated second-hand stores in the United States is on occasion shipped off by the ton for distribution overseas through an intermediary.In 2007, Zambians in need were sent boxes of T-shirts donated by the NFL that declared the Chicago Bears as Super Bowl champions (the T-shirts were produced before the 2007 game, which the Indianapolis Colts won).
Soon after Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was captured and killed, the purported hero who carried out the deed was photographed sporting a New York Yankees ball cap.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482