‘Excessive force’ from Blackwater

Documents reveal more than a dozen cases of Blackwater employees shooting at civilians, often with deadly results.

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An American convoy driven by Blackwater – the US private security firm now known as Xe – drove over a roadside bomb in northern Baghdad in May 2006. They started shooting after the explosion, and their “uncontrolled fire” killed an Iraqi ambulance driver.

JCC reports that IP reported the IED strike on CF CIV VIC MB 4265 9065. IP claim that 1X LN ambulance driver was killed by uncontrolled small arms firing by the CF CIV convoy after the IED strike (see associations for details of IED strike). JCC notified 4/101AA and requested that the CF patrol at the site investigate.

A US army military intelligence unit tried to contact Blackwater after the shooting to confirm the details. “Blackwater TOC would not confirm or deny at this time,” the report states.

The deadliest incident involving Blackwater – the Nisour Square shooting in 2007, which left 17 civilians dead – has been widely reported. But the secret documents reveal another 14 incidents in which Blackwater shot at civilians.

At least ten people were killed, and seven more wounded, in those shootings.

“Blackwater employees fired indiscriminately”

In May 2005, army soldiers at a checkpoint west of Baghdad watched a Blackwater patrol “shoot up a civilian vehicle”. One civilians was killed, with two others wounded, and the soldiers themselves came close to being shot as well.

Reading the Documents

  • Glossary: Military jargon
  • Editor’s note: About the documents

At 1010D, 1-69 reported while manning OP 542 on RTE Irish, they observed a Blackwater PSD shoot up a CIV vehicle, rounds also were shot over 1-69 heads. The vehicle that fired the shots was a white up armored truck traveling west towards ECP 1.

BDA: Family of three 1 KIA(father) 2X WIA( mother,DAU) no CF INJ/damage 

A February 2006 report states that two civilians were killed by Blackwater mercenaries escorting a US state department patrol through Kirkuk. “A demonstration began immediately following the shooting,” the report notes, forcing a nearby US army unit to meet with local politicians in an attempt to calm tensions. At least one other report states that a Blackwater shooting led to Iraqi protests.

In another report, a squadron from the 66th Armor Regiment encountered a Blackwater patrol shortly after it was involved in a shootout. The attackers got away; three civilians did not.

Blackwater patrol reports a vehicle, possibly marked as an IP vehicle, travelling southbound had attacked the Blackwater convoy with SAF and RPG. Casualties: 3 local nationals caught in the crossfire were KIA and one tractor trailer is jack-knifed.

More than a dozen other reports describe similar incidents: Blackwater convoys are attacked and start firing back, and civilians are often “caught in the crossfire”.

In several cases, the US military units who respond to the shootouts state that the group used excessive force. In August 2006, for example, an armored Blackwater convoy ran over a roadside bomb just east of the Tigris River. “After the IED strike a witness reports the Blackwater employees fired indiscriminately at the scene, and detained an unknown number of IP’s [sic] that were near the IED strike,” a US report of the incident states.

No Blackwater employee has ever been punished for killing an Iraqi civilian.

Contractor confusion

Blackwater wasn’t the only firm providing guns-for-hire in Iraq: Dozens of other private military companies – KBR, DynCorp and others – ran similar operations.

The leaked documents often reveal confusion and poor communication between US troops and the private firms. US troops at a checkpoint opened fire on an unmarked vehicle in February 2007 when it ran through a stop sign.

The vehicles failed to stop after a flare and a warning shot, the vehicles were stopped with disabling shots approximately 50 meters from the CP. The BDA is 1 civilian KIA, 1 civilian WIA and 1 civilian vehicle disabled.

Following the EOF it was discovered that both drivers were American KBR drivers. They were part of a convoy…

Another deadly incident, in March 2005, pitted three private firms against one another – Global, DynCorp and KBR – in a shootout on the Baghdad airport road. Employees from the latter two companies were riding in a cement truck, and accidentally entered a lane reserved for US military vehicles; they were fired upon by Global mercenaries guarding the checkpoint.

Private military companies also clashed more recently with the Iraqi forces. A September 2009 report states that a team from ArmorGroup, a British firm, were threatened with arrest by the Iraqi police.

[They] were accused of delaying civilian vehicles and also pointing weapons in the direction of the check point by the IP officer on duty… the team leader was then informed that the personnel from the lead gun truck were to be arrested and that the gun trucks and all CET personnel had to follow the IP to the local police station.

The leader of the ArmorGroup team “pressed his alarms” – presumably a call for assistance – at which point the Iraqi police decided to allow the convoy to proceed.

At least 170 employees of these firms were killed during the six years covered by the leaked documents.

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Source: Al Jazeera