US & World

American Airman Screams ‘Free Palestine’ During Self-Immolation

“I will no longer be complicit in genocide.”

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An American airman died of self-immolation in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. on Sunday afternoon – a gripping protest which targeted Israel’s ongoing retaliation following an October 7, 2023 attack by Hamas terrorists based in Gaza.

Aaron Bushnell, 25, of San Antonio, Texas, succumbed late Sunday (February 25, 2024) to injuries sustained during his self-immolation – which he planned and executed in the hopes of drawing attention to the plight of Palestinians living in war-ravaged Gaza.

“I will no longer be complicit in genocide,” Bushnell stated as he made his way to the front gate of the Israeli embassy, located approximately three-and-a-half miles northwest of the White House. “I’m about to engage in an extreme act of protest.” 

The U.S. Air Force (USAF) confirmed the death of one of its service members in connection with the incident, but has yet to confirm Bushnell’s identity.

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Upon arriving at the gate of the embassy, Bushnell – dressed in fatigues and identifying himself as “an active duty member of the United States Air Force” – kneeled and positioned his phone in order to film the live-streamed protest. He then walked toward the gate and turned to face the camera. After dousing himself over the head with with an unknown accelerant contained in a metal water bottle, he tossed the bottle to the side and placed his camouflaged hat on his head.

After one failed attempt to light the fire, Bushnell succeeded in initiating the conflagration at approximately 12:58 p.m. EST.

“Hey buddy, can I help you?” a responding officer asked Bushnell as he attempted to ignite himself. “Can I help you, sir?”

“Free Palestine,” Bushnell said as the flames first began to rise.

“Free Palestine!” Bushnell began shouting repeatedly as the blaze began to consume him. “Free Palestine!”

Another responding officer drew his service weapon and repeatedly ordered Bushnell to “get on the ground.”

After approximately forty-five seconds, Bushnell collapsed – his charred body consumed by flames.

“I don’t need guns, I need fire extinguishers,” another responding officer can be heard screaming on the video.

(Click to View)

Aaron Bushnell (Facebook)

Bushnell’s self-immolation is being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) – whose agents were reportedly the first to respond to the scene – and by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). According to The (U.K.) Daily Mail, Bushnell had links to two Ohio-based anarchist groups.

Not surprisingly, those who support the Palestinian cause have embraced Bushnell as a martyr.

“While such an intense and passionate form of suicide is no doubt bewildering to many, genocide should be all the more appalling,” Belén Fernández wrote for Al Jazeera. “Rest in power, Aaron Bushnell.”

New York City-based reporter Talia Jane was one of the first to report on Bushnell’s self-immolation – and posted a blurred video of it on her X feed, reportedly with consent of the late airman’s “loved ones.” Bushnell live-streamed his death on Twitch. He also linked to it on a final message posted to his Facebook page Sunday morning.

“Many of us like to ask ourselves, ‘What would I do if I was alive during slavery? Or the Jim Crow South? Or apartheid? What would I do if my country was committing genocide?’” Bushnell wrote. “The answer is, you’re doing it. Right now.”

Bushnell sent a message to far left media outlets the morning of his self-immolation saying he was “planning to engage in an extreme act of protest against the genocide of the Palestinian people” and that his protest would be live-streamed.

Bushnell’s protest comes at a pivotal moment in the latest Middle Eastern conflict – which has increasingly embroiled American military assets. The conflict began on October 7, 2023 with a terrorist attack against Israel by Hamas, a Palestinian militant group based in the Gaza Strip. Israel responded by unleashing a wave of bombings and a ground invasion of northern and central Gaza. Israeli defense forces are currently preparing a ground invasion of Rafah, a city located in the southern Gaza Strip that is home to an estimated 1.3 Palestinian refugees.

As of this writing, an estimated 31,000 Palestinians have died in the fighting with another 70,000 wounded and nearly 8,000 missing. Two hundred Palestinian fighters have been captured. In Israel, an estimated 814 civilians have perished in the fighting along with more than 650 Israeli military personnel. More than 10,500 Israelis have been wounded, while 254 have been captured and are reportedly being held hostage by Hamas.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.

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3 comments

He Had Strong Beliefs February 27, 2024 at 8:07 am

He certainly had courage in his convictions. Rest In Peace.

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The Colonel Top fan February 27, 2024 at 10:41 am

Aaron Bushnell grew up in an abusive religious cult and had absolutely no involvement in any activities related to Gaza. He was a very junior cyber defense specialist in a signals intelligence unit stationed at Lackland AFB in Texas. One former member of the cult Bushnell belonged to (Community of Jesus) said it was not at all unusual for the youth to join they military, moving from “one high-control group to another high-control group.”

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Terminator44 Top fan February 29, 2024 at 1:42 pm

Looks like he met his match. (Borrowed from a comedic poster on another forum.)

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