Iraqis seek justice against Blackwater boss accused of ‘crusade to wipe out Muslims’
The boss of a private American security firm under investigation for murdering civilians in Iraq has been accused in court papers of seeking to wipe out Muslims.
Blackwater founder Erik Prince ‘views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,’ according to a former employee.
As legal procedings began. Iraqi relatives of Blackwater’s alleged victims expressed hope they could take the company to court in the US.
They have directed an American legal team to make an attempt.
Farid Walid, who was shot in Nisour Square two years ago during a massacre that killed 17 Iraqis, told The Times: ‘Everybody here knows of cases where Blackwater guards shot innocent people without a second thought.
‘They are a symbol of the occupation. Nobody will forget. But Iraqis might think at least a little differently of America if the killers are put in prison.’
Umm Sajjad, whose husband was allegedly shot by Blackwater guards, added: ‘“I was told that there was no exchange of fire or any other reason to provoke them to shoot at my husband and his colleagues.
‘They were on a high building but they didn’t have weapons in their hands.’
Allegations made against Prince by employees in sworn affidavits lodged in court in Virginia are said to include murder, weapons smuggling and the deliberate slaughter of civilians, according to a report in The Nation.
One employee described witnessing an incident in Baquba, where a Blackwater employee allegedly fired into a passing single-passenger vehicle without provocation.
The US State Department cancelled Blackwater’s contract in Iraq following findings that company security guards opened fire in Baghdad in September, 2007, and killed seventeen Iraqi civilians.
Six former Blackwater contractors are facing manslaughter charges in connection with the shooting.
Prince is also said to have used aliases referring to the crusading Knights of the Templar.
One, an employee for four years, claimed Prince encouraged his staff ‘to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis.’
He added: ‘It appears that Mr Prince and his employees murdered, or had murdered, one or more persons who had provided information, or who were planning to provide information, to the federal authorities about the ongoing criminal conduct.
‘Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.’
Prince has now resigned from the company, which now operates as Xe Services, based in North Carolina.
In another sworn statement, a former US Marine who worked for Blackwater says he observed ‘multiple incidents of Blackwater personnel intentionally using unnecessary, excessive and unjustified deadly force.’
The new lawsuits are said to have been filed by a Washington law firm on behalf of 60 Iraqis or their estates, including some of those shot in the 2007 incident, as part of a war crimes case against Blackwater.
Blackwater was the largest private security company in the world, giving military-style security training to more than 40,000 people a year, many of them from the US or foreign military and police forces.
Although the company, now operating under the name Xe, lost its US government contract in Iraq, it is still the largest of the State Department’s private security contractors.
During testimony to US Congress over the 2007 shootings, Prince objected to the use of the word ‘mercenaries’ to describe his employees, characterising them as ‘loyal Americans’.
Born into the family of a wealthy and influential Michigan Republican, Mr Prince served as an intern for George H.W. Bush in 1990 and joined the Navy Seals in 1992.
In 1996 he gained a windfall after his mother sold his father’s company, Prince Corporation, for $1.3billion.
He founded private security firm Blackwater USA in 1997 and formed Blackwater Security Consulting in 2002, obtaining government contracts to protect U.S. personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The father-of-six testified before Congress in 2007 to defend Blackwater against allegations of misconduct by its operatives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He resigned as CEO of the company in March this year, after Iraq barred Blackwater from operating in the country.
He remains chairman, but claims to have little involvement in the day-to-day operations of the country.