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There is a scene in American Sniper where an Iraqi bends down to pick something off the floor and in doing so his elbow was exposed. It was a bright red colour as if it had been burned.

From this, the hero determined that the Iraqi was an enemy insurgent. It recalls a scene from Inglorious Bastards where a careless gesture compromised a unit that was meant to be incognito. Somehow I missed the connection in American Sniper.

How did a burned elbow betray the insurgent's cover?

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This is covered in the film's IMDb FAQ page:

What is the significance of Kyle noticing the mark on the man's elbow at dinner?

The mark (callus) suggests that he has been resting for long periods on his elbows, as though he had been using a sniper rifle, making Kyle suspect he is an insurgent.

Chris Kyle's own elbows looked like this as well.

  • I agree with walt, considering it is hard surfaces such as concrete that the snipers lay prone on, I strongly believe that the elbow is basically (if you noticed it is on the guy's left elbow which would mean he is left handed) what you call 'Sniper's elbow' which means he has been resting for a long time on concrete and gotten that red mark – natural Dec 13 '16 at 23:00

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