Monday, December 22, 2008

Insider Account Reconstructs Nisoor Square Shootout

A source in Baghdad close to Blackwater, the Pentagon, the State Department, FBI and Iraqi government during and after the Nisoor Square shootout has reconstructed the scene for Blackfive's Jim Hanson.

Using clinical language, Hanson posts the description as an exclusive on his blog. Blackwater's Raven 23 convoy entered Nisoor Square to stop traffic, when a white Kia sedan failed to stop and the gunner, Jeremy Ridgeway, opened fire. Apparently members of Raven 23 mistook the Kia driver as a suicide bomber. Excerpts follow:

"The convoy entered the square and stopped traffic. The white Kia approached and ignored signals to stop. It was engaged and as stated in his proffer Ridgeway began engaging the passenger. A nearby Iraqi IP responded to the passenger side and was likely trying to assist the passenger, but to the guards it appeared he was pushing the vehicle toward them as it was still moving forward. They oriented fire toward him and he returned fire at them. This led other IP in the area to join and support his fire."

Standard practice for Blackwater is to get its protectees out of a hot situation as quickly as possible. In this case it didn't happen - the Raven 23 command vehicle had been put out of commission by incoming fire. The armored vehicle needed to be towed away. Hanson continues:
"This caused them to remain in the area longer while engaged attempting to put tow chains on the vehicle. During this time the Blackwater personnel continued to fire at muzzle flashes they identified from multiple areas around the square. Once the vehicle was ready to go they exfiltrated the area."
It's understandable why Raven 23 so easily mistook the oncoming white Kia as a suicide bomber. Over the previous week, insurgents had ambushed Blackwater convoys almost daily; days before a Blackwater helicopter was shot down, with a rescue team coming under attack by dozens of insurgents. Based on the reconstruction from his source, Hanson describes what the previous week had been like for the Blackwater guards:
"To the guards this may have seemed like another ambush in what had been a week of sophisticated ambushes almost every day. Less than a week prior one of their helicopters had been shot down with an RPG and the DART team sent to extract it was ambushed by several dozen insurgents. A day later a convoy was hit by up to 50 insurgents causing a large gunfight as they sought to disengage. The same week one of their vehicles was hit by an EFP, fortunately it hit the engine block and didn’t kill anyone. But the over force from the explosion actually ejected a turret gunner into the street and they had to recover him while again under fire."

Hanson has loaded his blog with photos, documents and other information relating to this case. Check it out at

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