Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder

Published on
The Nation

Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder

Jeremy Scahill

A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a
security operative for the company have made a series of explosive
allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in
Virginia. The two men claim that the company's owner, Erik Prince, may
have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were
cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The
former employee also alleges that Prince "views himself as a Christian
crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the
globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the
destruction of Iraqi life."

In their testimony, both men also allege that Blackwater was smuggling
weapons into Iraq. One of the men alleges that Prince turned a profit by
transporting "illegal" or "unlawful" weapons into the country on
Prince's private planes. They also charge that Prince and other
Blackwater executives destroyed incriminating videos, emails and other
documents and have intentionally deceived the US State Department and
other federal agencies. The identities of the two individuals were
sealed out of concerns for their safety.

These allegations, and a series of other charges, are contained in sworn
affidavits, given under penalty of perjury, filed late at night on
August 3 in the Eastern District of Virginia as part of a seventy-page
motion by lawyers for Iraqi civilians suing Blackwater for alleged war
crimes and other misconduct. Susan Burke, a private attorney working in
conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights, is suing
Blackwater in five separate civil cases filed in the Washington, DC,
area. They were recently consolidated before Judge T.S. Ellis III of the
Eastern District of Virginia for pretrial motions. Burke filed the
August 3 motion in response to Blackwater's motion to dismiss the case.
Blackwater asserts that Prince and the company are innocent of any
wrongdoing and that they were professionally performing their duties on
behalf of their employer, the US State Department.

The former employee, identified in the court documents as "John Doe #2,"
is a former member of Blackwater's management team, according to a
source close to the case. Doe #2 alleges in a sworn declaration that,
based on information provided to him by former colleagues, "it appears
that Mr. Prince and his employees murdered, or had murdered, one or more
persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide
information, to the federal authorities about the ongoing criminal
conduct." John Doe #2 says he worked at Blackwater for four years; his
identity is concealed in the sworn declaration because he "fear[s]
violence against me in retaliation for submitting this Declaration." He
also alleges, "On several occasions after my departure from Mr. Prince's
employ, Mr. Prince's management has personally threatened me with death
and violence."

In a separate sworn statement, the former US marine who worked for
Blackwater in Iraq alleges that he has "learned from my Blackwater
colleagues and former colleagues that one or more persons who have
provided information, or who were planning to provide information about
Erik Prince and Blackwater have been killed in suspicious
circumstances." Identified as "John Doe #1," he says he "joined
Blackwater and deployed to Iraq to guard State Department and other
American government personnel." It is not clear if Doe #1 is still
working with the company as he states he is "scheduled to deploy in the
immediate future to Iraq." Like Doe #2, he states that he fears
"violence" against him for "submitting this Declaration." No further
details on the alleged murder(s) are provided.

"Mr. Prince feared, and continues to fear, that the federal authorities
will detect and prosecute his various criminal deeds," states Doe #2.
"On more than one occasion, Mr. Prince and his top managers gave orders
to destroy emails and other documents. Many incriminating videotapes,
documents and emails have been shredded and destroyed."

The Nation cannot independently verify the identities of the two
individuals, their roles at Blackwater or what motivated them to provide
sworn testimony in these civil cases. Both individuals state that they
have previously cooperated with federal prosecutors conducting a
criminal inquiry into Blackwater.

"It's a pending investigation, so we cannot comment on any matters in
front of a Grand Jury or if a Grand Jury even exists on these matters,"
John Roth, the spokesperson for the US Attorney's office in the District
of Columbia, told The Nation. "It would be a crime if we did
that." Asked specifically about whether there is a criminal
investigation into Prince regarding the murder allegations and other
charges, Roth said: "We would not be able to comment on what we are or
are not doing in regards to any possible investigation involving an
uncharged individual."

The Nation repeatedly attempted to contact spokespeople for
Prince or his companies at numerous email addresses and telephone
numbers. When a company representative was reached by phone and asked to
comment, she said, "Unfortunately no one can help you in that area." The
representative then said that she would pass along The Nation's
request. As this article goes to press, no company representative has
responded further to The Nation.

Doe #2 states in the declaration that he has also provided the
information contained in his statement "in grand jury proceedings
convened by the United States Department of Justice." Federal
prosecutors convened a grand jury in the aftermath of the September 16,
2007, Nisour Square shootings in Baghdad, which left seventeen Iraqis
dead. Five Blackwater employees are awaiting trial on several
manslaughter charges and a sixth, Jeremy Ridgeway, has already pleaded
guilty to manslaughter and attempting to commit manslaughter and is
cooperating with prosecutors. It is not clear whether Doe #2 testified
in front of the Nisour Square grand jury or in front of a separate grand

The two declarations are each five pages long and contain a series of
devastating allegations concerning Erik Prince and his network of
companies, which now operate under the banner of Xe Services LLC. Among
those leveled by Doe #2 is that Prince "views himself as a Christian
crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the


To that end, 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.


Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and
rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince's
executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to "lay Hajiis
out on cardboard." Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as
a sport or game. Mr. Prince's employees openly and consistently used
racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as
"ragheads" or "hajiis."

Among the additional allegations made by Doe #1 is that "Blackwater was
smuggling weapons into Iraq." He states that he personally witnessed
weapons being "pulled out" from dog food bags. Doe #2 alleges that
"Prince and his employees arranged for the weapons to be polywrapped and
smuggled into Iraq on Mr. Prince's private planes, which operated under
the name Presidential Airlines," adding that Prince "generated
substantial revenues from participating in the illegal arms trade."

Doe #2 states: "Using his various companies, [Prince] procured and
distributed various weapons, including unlawful weapons such as sawed
off semi-automatic machine guns with silencers, through unlawful
channels of distribution." Blackwater "was not abiding by the terms of
the contract with the State Department and was deceiving the State
Department," according to Doe #1.

This is not the first time an allegation has surfaced that Blackwater
used dog food bags to smuggle weapons into Iraq. ABC
News's Brian Ross reported
in November 2008 that a "federal grand
jury in North Carolina is investigating allegations the controversial
private security firm Blackwater illegally shipped assault weapons and
silencers to Iraq, hidden in large sacks of dog food." Another former
Blackwater employee has also confirmed this information to The

Both individuals allege that Prince and Blackwater deployed individuals
to Iraq who, in the words of Doe #1, "were not properly vetted and
cleared by the State Department." Doe #2 adds that "Prince ignored the
advice and pleas from certain employees, who sought to stop the
unnecessary killing of innocent Iraqis." Doe #2 further states that some
Blackwater officials overseas refused to deploy "unfit men" and sent
them back to the US. Among the reasons cited by Doe #2 were "the men
making statements about wanting to deploy to Iraq to 'kill ragheads' or
achieve 'kills' or 'body counts,'" as well as "excessive drinking" and
"steroid use." However, when the men returned to the US, according to
Doe #2, "Prince and his executives would send them back to be deployed
in Iraq with an express instruction to the concerned employees located
overseas that they needed to 'stop costing the company money.'"

Doe #2 also says Prince "repeatedly ignored the assessments done by
mental health professionals, and instead terminated those mental health
professionals who were not willing to endorse deployments of unfit men."
He says Prince and then-company president Gary Jackson "hid from
Department of State the fact that they were deploying men to Iraq over
the objections of mental health professionals and security professionals
in the field," saying they "knew the men being deployed were not
suitable candidates for carrying lethal weaponry, but did not care
because deployments meant more money."

Doe #1 states that "Blackwater knew that certain of its personnel
intentionally used excessive and unjustified deadly force, and in some
instances used unauthorized weapons, to kill or seriously injure
innocent Iraqi civilians." He concludes, "Blackwater did nothing to stop
this misconduct." Doe #1 states that he "personally observed multiple
incidents of Blackwater personnel intentionally using unnecessary,
excessive and unjustified deadly force." He then cites several specific
examples of Blackwater personnel firing at civilians, killing or
"seriously" wounding them, and then failing to report the incidents to
the State Department.

Doe #1 also alleges that "all of these incidents of excessive force were
initially videotaped and voice recorded," but that "Immediately after
the day concluded, we would watch the video in a session called a 'hot
wash.' Immediately after the hotwashing, the video was erased to prevent
anyone other than Blackwater personnel seeing what had actually
occurred." Blackwater, he says, "did not provide the video to the State

Doe #2 expands on the issue of unconventional weapons, alleging Prince
"made available to his employees in Iraq various weapons not authorized
by the United States contracting authorities, such as hand grenades and
hand grenade launchers. Mr. Prince's employees repeatedly used this
illegal weaponry in Iraq, unnecessarily killing scores of innocent
Iraqis." Specifically, he alleges that Prince "obtained illegal
ammunition from an American company called LeMas. This company sold
ammunition designed to explode after penetrating within the human body.
Mr. Prince's employees repeatedly used this illegal ammunition in Iraq
to inflict maximum damage on Iraqis."

Blackwater has gone through an intricate rebranding process in the
twelve years it has been in business, changing its name and logo several
times. Prince also has created more than a dozen affiliate companies,
some of which are registered offshore and whose operations are shrouded
in secrecy. According to Doe #2, "Prince created and operated this web
of companies in order to obscure wrongdoing, fraud and other crimes."

"For example, Mr. Prince transferred funds from one company (Blackwater)
to another (Greystone) whenever necessary to avoid detection of his
money laundering and tax evasion schemes." He added: "Mr. Prince
contributed his personal wealth to fund the operations of the Prince
companies whenever he deemed such funding necessary. Likewise, Mr.
Prince took funds out of the Prince companies and placed the funds in
his personal accounts at will."

Briefed on the substance of these allegations by The Nation,
Congressman Dennis Kucinich replied, "If these allegations are true,
Blackwater has been a criminal enterprise defrauding taxpayers and
murdering innocent civilians." Kucinich is on the House Committee on
Oversight and Government Reform and has been investigating Prince and
Blackwater since 2004.

"Blackwater is a law unto itself, both internationally and domestically.
The question is why they operated with impunity. In addition to
Blackwater, we should be questioning their patrons in the previous
administration who funded and employed this organization. Blackwater
wouldn't exist without federal patronage; these allegations should be
thoroughly investigated," Kucinich said.

A hearing before Judge Ellis in the civil cases against Blackwater is
scheduled for August 7.

Share This Article

More in: