Wednesday, October 24, 2007

2004 Fallujah incident was ambush

The 2004 incident in Fallujah that left four Blackwater guards dead and mutilated was a planned ambush designed for its propaganda effect.

That's what a Blackwater report to Congress explains, in the company's first significant public comment on the matter. A California trial lawyer is suing Blackwater, alleging that the firm was negligent in sending its men on the fatal mission. That lawyer, Daniel Callahan, has been the source of congressional allegations against the North Carolina company.

After years of silence, Blackwater gives a revealing account of a well-prepared ambush of private security guards Jerry Zovko, Wesley Batalona, Michael Teague and Scott Helvenston. The Associated Press gives the following highlights:
  • Sectarian Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) personnel "intentionally betrayed" the Blackwater guards and led them into the ambush;

  • "It was ICDC betrayal and enemy ambush — not contractor incompetence — that led to the deaths of four Blackwater personnel on March 31, 2004," the company says.

  • "Stronger weapons, armored vehicles, ammunition or maps would not have shielded these brave military veterans from the certain death that awaited them on that morning," Blackwater says. "Even if Blackwater had placed six men on the mission, the result would likely have been the same."

  • ICDC representatives showed the Blackwater guards the quickest route through Falljuah. At a downtown crossing, Iraqi police stopped the convoy.

  • As the convoy moved out of the intersection, at least five gunmen opened fire at close range with Kalashnikov assault rifles. Two of the shooters held video cameras in one hand.

  • "The fact that the assailants were set to record the murders is further proof that there was a pre-existing plan at work," according to Blackwater.

  • Oncoming traffic cut off the escape route. The non-US drivers escaped. The four American guards never had time to fire a shot.

  • "The ambush, apparently, was only intended to kill the Americans."

  • Nearly four hours passed before the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps or Iraqi police began to investigate.

No comments: