Aaron Bushnell, 25, the Air Force engineer who set himself on fire outside of the Israeli


The Air Force officer who set himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in DC in protest of the war in Gaza was an ‘aspiring engineer’ and seeking to ‘transition out of the military’.

Aaron Bushnell, 25, was hospitalized in critical condition on Sunday after he doused himself in accelerant and struck a lighter, causing his body to become consumed by flames. DC Fire and EMS said he sustained ‘life-threatening injuries’.

Horrific video of the incident showed Bushnell explaining the reasons for his ‘extreme act of protest’ while he walked up to the building and screamed ‘Free Palestine’ – as his body went up in flames. The fire burned for more than a minute before police and security staff managed to extinguish it.

The active-duty airman is a DevOps engineer based in San Antonio, Texas, according to his LinkedIn profile. He touted himself having ‘very good communication skills’ and ‘thriving in team environments’. 

Bushnell is pursuing his bachelor’s degree in computer software engineering and is CompTIA Security+ certified, a credential that indicates he has the baseline skills to perform core security functions and pursue an IT security career.

He has apparent links to at least two anarchist groups, Burning River Anarchist Collective and Mutual Aid Street Solidarity –  both of which are based in Ohio. Bushnell followed both groups on Facebook

He was seemingly raised in a devout Christian family and even worked for Paraclete Press, a Christian book and music publisher based in Massachusetts where his mother is seemingly employed. His father owns a construction company.

During his youth, Bushnell also performed in a local indoor marching band called Spirit Winter Percussion.

The airman declared he would 'no longer be complicit in genocide' as he set himself alight and livestreamed the horrific scene before being taken to hospital in a critical condition

The airman declared he would ‘no longer be complicit in genocide’ as he set himself alight and livestreamed the horrific scene before being taken to hospital in a critical condition

Bushnell is a DevOps engineer based in San Antonio, Texas, according to his LinkedIn profile

Bushnell is a DevOps engineer based in San Antonio, Texas, according to his LinkedIn profile

Video shows how Bushnell approached the heavily-guarded Israeli embassy on DC’s International Drive just before 1pm on Sunday. He was in combat uniform and speaking into a camera on a selfie-stick.

‘My name is Aaron Bushnell,’ he told the camera, ‘I am an active duty member of the United States Air Force and I will no longer be complicit in genocide.

‘I am about to engage in an extreme act of protest, but compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers, it’s not extreme at all.

‘This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal.’

For more than 30 seconds he walked on silently, passing the neighboring Chinese embassy and holding an open flask of liquid in his left hand.

As he reached the embassy, he placed the camera on the ground and marched to the gate, showering himself in the fluid before placing his service cap on his head.

Tossing the flask away, Bushnell struggled to ignite his lighter as a voice is heard challenging him. 

His camera recorded an unseen man asking ‘Hi sir, can I help you?’ as he approached the embassy gates.

Twelve seconds later the voice is heard asking again ‘Can I help you, sir?’ before Bushnell struck a lighter and ignited the fluid.

Dailymail.com has chosen not to show the subsequent footage which recorded Bushnell being consumed by flames for more than a minute before police and security staff managed to extinguish them. 

The video shows the flames spreading all over his body, engulfing his head as he continues to scream ‘Free Palestine’, his voice cracking in agony as the flames intensify. He managed to stand for almost a minute before falling to the ground. 

Sirens were already wailing in the background and a man in plain clothes pointed a pistol at him as others doused him with fire extinguishers.

He was taken to hospital by DC Fire and EMS with ‘critical and life-threatening injuries’.

Sunday morning, before he headed to the embassy, Bushnell seemingly promoted his act of protest on Facebook, sharing a link to his LillyAnarKitty twitch account, where he live-streamed the demonstration. 

‘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.’

The video was only seen by a few dozen people on Twitch before it was removed by the platform, however it has since been viewed by over one million people on X. 

A friend described Bushnell as 'the kindest, gentlest, silliest little kid in the Air Force'

A friend described Bushnell as ‘the kindest, gentlest, silliest little kid in the Air Force’

The Secret Service said it received a report that an individual 'was experiencing a possible medical/mental health emergency' outside the Israeli embassy

The Secret Service said it received a report that an individual ‘was experiencing a possible medical/mental health emergency’ outside the Israeli embassy

The airman was taken to the hospital by DC Fire and EMS with life-threatening injuries

The airman was taken to the hospital by DC Fire and EMS with life-threatening injuries

Authorities responded to the embassy's alert at around 1pm on Sunday and found the man with severe burns

Authorities responded to the embassy’s alert at around 1pm on Sunday and found the man with severe burns 

'No embassy staff were injured and all are safe' a spokesman for the embassy said

‘No embassy staff were injured and all are safe’ a spokesman for the embassy said 

The embassy is on International Drive in Washington's North Cleveland Park neighborhood

The embassy is on International Drive in Washington’s North Cleveland Park neighborhood

Bushnell described himself on LinkedIn as an ‘aspiring software engineer’ with a ‘passion for solving complex problems with code’.

Highlighting his educational and work experience in software development and Linux system administration, Bushnell said he was looking to ‘transition out of the US Air Force into software engineering’.

He praised his military successes, claiming that he has been ‘commended by senior leaders for my ability to explain complex technical matters’.

‘Throughout my time in the military in both leadership and followership roles, as well as prior work experience in a variety of civilian roles, I have thrived in team environments and gained very good communication skills,’ he said. 

Bushnell said he could bring those ‘skills to the table in any role’, but noted he was ‘truly passionate about writing software ‘and ‘can’t wait to help drive innovation in the civilian world’.

It is understood that airman was pursuing his undergraduate degree in computer software engineering, however it is unclear where he was studying.

His biography states: ‘I am currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering from Western Governor’s University, and have taken several supplementary classes in software development outside of college.’

However, Bushnell’s educational history does not list the Utah based university and instead lists Southern New Hampshire University as his current place of study. His profile indicates he enrolled at the school in May 2022 and was expected to graduate in May 2025.

His LinkedIn profile also states he attended the University of Maryland Global Campus from January to November 2023.

A spokesperson for the US Air Force confirmed Bushnell is an active-duty airman. 

A spokesperson from the Secret Service told DailyMail.com: ‘The US Secret Service, Uniformed Division responded to the 3400 Block of International Drive, NW, DC regarding an individual that was experiencing a possible medical / mental health emergency.’

The Metropolitan Police Department’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal was called to the scene in reference to a suspicious vehicle that may be connected to the person.

The Israeli embassy released a statement after the incident, reading: ‘On Sunday, 2/25, at around 1 PM, a man set himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington and was taken to the hospital by ambulance

‘No Embassy staff were injured and are safe.’

A similar incident occurred in December when a pro-Palestine protestor set themselves ablaze outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta.

The city’s police chief, Darin Schierbaum, described the incident as an ‘extreme act of political protest,’ and said a Palestinian flag was recovered from the scene.

At least two people were injured in the act of self-immolation, including a security guard who attempted to intervene.

Bushnell’s protest came as the White House faces growing pressure over the four-and-a-half month old conflict which has claimed more than 30,000 lives.

The president faces a Democrat primary in Michigan on Tuesday where the state’s large Arab-American population is being urged to vote ‘uncommitted’. 

Democrat ‘Squad’ member Rep Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and former Jewish Rep Andy Levin are among those who have endorsed the ‘Listen to Michigan’ campaign. 

‘Biden’s blockade of the cease-fire resolution will only intensify the outrage and galvanize pro-peace voices to vote ‘uncommitted’ to make their voices heard,’ said campaign leader Joseph Geevarghese.

Dearborn’s Democrat Mayor Abdullah Hammoud warned this week Biden could no longer take the Arab vote for granted.

‘My greatest fear is that Mr Biden will not be remembered as the president who saved American democracy in 2020 but rather as the president who sacrificed it for Benjamin Netanyahu in 2024,’ he said.

President Biden, seen at a White House a black-tie dinner on Saturday, is facing growing pressure from his own party to reign in Israel's military assault on Gaza

President Biden, seen at a White House a black-tie dinner on Saturday, is facing growing pressure from his own party to reign in Israel’s military assault on Gaza

The president faces a Democrat primary in Michigan on Tuesday where the state's large Arab-American population is being urged to vote 'uncommitted'

The president faces a Democrat primary in Michigan on Tuesday where the state’s large Arab-American population is being urged to vote ‘uncommitted’

Hundreds of people continued to stream towards Gaza's southern border amid the smoke from air-strikes on Sunday as Israel prepares for its assault on Rafah

Hundreds of people continued to stream towards Gaza’s southern border amid the smoke from air-strikes on Sunday as Israel prepares for its assault on Rafah

Thousands more waited for aid amid chaotic scenes on a beachfront in Gaza City

Thousands more waited for aid amid chaotic scenes on a beachfront in Gaza City

Last week Biden’s Democrat challenger Rep Dean Phillips said he was ‘sickened’ by the loss of life in Gaza, and would unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state if elected president.

‘This is the most heartbreaking, horrifying, disgusting visuals I’ve ever seen in my life,’ the candidate who is himself Jewish said.

Biden has demanded Israel produce a plan for the evacuation of civilians before any assault on Rafah, the last unoccupied city in Gaza.

The White House on Friday declared Israeli plans to to construct another 3,000 homes in the West Bank ‘inconsistent with international law’. 

And sanctions have been imposed on a handful of Israeli settlers accused of attacking Palestinians in the occupied territory.

‘This is like showing up to a five-alarm fire with a cup of water while giving fuel to the arsonist,’ said Yousef Munayyer of the Palestine-Israel program at the Arab Center in DC.



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