Blackwater's Youngest Victim

Every detail of September 16, 2007, is burned in Mohammed Kinani's
memory. Shortly after 9 am he was preparing to leave his house for work
at his family's auto parts business in Baghdad when he got a call from
his sister, Jenan, who asked him to pick her and her children up across
town and bring them back to his home for a visit. The Kinanis are a
tightknit Shiite family, and Mohammed often served as a chauffeur
through Baghdad's dangerous streets to make such family gatherings

An accompanying slideshow of Ali Kinani, his family, and the Nisour massacre can be found here.

Mohammed had just pulled away from his family's home in the Khadamiya
neighborhood in his SUV. His youngest son, 9-year-old Ali, came tearing
down the road after him, asking his father if he could accompany him.
Mohammed told him to run along and play with his brothers and sister.
But Ali, an energetic and determined kid, insisted. Mohammed gave in,
and off the father and son went.

As Mohammed and Ali drove through Baghdad that hot and sunny Sunday,
they passed a newly rebuilt park downtown. Ali gazed at the park and
then turned to his father and asked, "Daddy, when are you gonna bring us

"Next week," Mohammed replied. "If God wills it, son."

Ali would never visit that park. Within a few hours, he would be dead
from a gunshot wound to the head. While you may have never heard his
name, you probably know something about how Ali Mohammed Hafedh Kinani
died. He was the youngest person killed by Blackwater forces in the
infamous Nisour Square massacre.

In May 2008 Mohammed flew to Washington to testify in front of a grand
jury investigating the shooting. It was his first time out of Iraq. The
US Attorney, Jeffrey Taylor, praised Mohammed for his "commendable
courage." A year after the shooting, in December 2008, five Blackwater
guards were indicted on manslaughter charges, while a sixth guard
pleaded guilty to killing an unarmed Iraqi. American justice, it seemed
to Mohammed, was working. "I'm a true believer in the justness and
fairness of American law," Mohammed said.

But this past New Year's Eve, federal Judge Ricardo Urbina threw out all
the criminal charges against the five Blackwater guards. At least
seventeen Iraqis died that day, and prosecutors believed they could
prove fourteen of the killings were unjustified. The manslaughter
charges were dismissed not because of a lack of evidence but because of
what Urbina called serious misconduct on the part of the prosecutors.

Then, a few days after the dismissal of the criminal case, Blackwater
reached a civil settlement with many of the Nisour Square victims,
reportedly paying about $100,000 per death.

Blackwater released a statement declaring it was "pleased" with the
outcome, which enabled the company to move forward "free of the costs
and distraction of ongoing litigation." But Mohammed Kinani would not
move on. He refused to take the deal Blackwater offered. As a result, he
may well be the one man standing between Blackwater and total impunity
for the killings in Nisour Square.

On September 15, 2009, the night before the second anniversary of his
son's death, Mohammed Kinani sued Blackwater in its home state of North
Carolina, along with company owner Erik Prince and the six men Mohammed
believes are responsible for his son's death. In an exclusive interview
providing the most detailed eyewitness account of the massacre that has
yet been published, Mohammed told his story to The Nation.


Mohammed Kinani, 38, is a gentle man, deeply religious and soft-spoken.
When we meet, he takes off his hat as he greets me with a slight bow. He
then presents me with a gift--a box of baklava--and insists that we try
some right away. Before we sit down to discuss the events that led to
the death of his son, Mohammed goes out of his way to assure me that no
question is off limits and that he wants Americans to know what happened
that day. It was as though he was telling me it was OK to ask him to
relive the horror. "Those few minutes in Nisour Square, I will never
forget; so whatever you ask me, I will answer with absolute clarity," he

Before we talk about Nisour Square, Mohammed tells me about his life. He
was born in Baghdad in 1971 and grew up in a large home with his
siblings, aunts, uncles and grandparents. His father, Hafedh Abdulrazzaq
Sadeq Kinani, was a merchant who traded cars and auto parts. After high
school, Mohammed enrolled at a technical institute in Baghdad but
ultimately dropped out to take over the family business with his
brothers. He avoided mandatory military service in Saddam's forces by
paying his way out. He married a relative from his mother's side of the
family and bought a home in Baghdad's al Adel neighborhood, and they had
three sons and a daughter. Mohammed said his family despised Saddam, "a
dictator who stole people's freedom."

Mohammed welcomed the arrival of US forces in Baghdad in April 2003. "On
the first day the US Army entered Baghdad I was personally giving away
free juice and candy in the street," Mohammed remembers. He and Ali
would give out water and take photos with the troops when when Humvees
passed by their house. "One of the soldiers even carried Ali on board
one of the Humvees and took a photo with my son," Mohammed remembers.
"My son loved the American Army."

In November 2006, as sectarian violence spread across Baghdad, Mohammed
and his family were driven from their home by a prominent Sunni militia
leader, and they moved into Mohammed's parents' home. Mohammed was
devastated, but he also saw it as part of the price of freedom. "We
cannot question God's plans," he says.

Before September 16, 2007, Mohammed had never heard of Blackwater. When
he would stop at a US checkpoint, he would smile at the soldiers and
thank them for being there. Ali enjoyed sticking his head out the window
at checkpoints and telling Iraqi police, "I'm in the Special Forces."
The police would laugh, Mohammed recalls, and wave him through, saying,
"You're one of us." So when Mohammed found himself in a traffic jam that
he thought was the result of a US military checkpoint at Nisour Square,
nothing seemed out of the ordinary to him.

To pick up his sister, Mohammed would have to pass Nisour Square twice.
The first time he passed, he noticed it was extremely congested. There
was a construction project nearby and Iraqi police lingering on the
roadside directing traffic. Eventually, he and Ali picked up Jenan and
her three children and began the return journey.

A few blocks from the square, they encountered two Iraqi checkpoints and
were waved through. As they approached the square, they saw one armored
vehicle and then another, with men brandishing machine guns atop each
one, Mohammed recalls. The armored cars swiftly blocked off traffic. One
of the gunners held both fists in the air, which Mohammed took as a
gesture to stop. "Myself and all the cars before and behind me stopped,"
Mohammed says. "We followed their orders. I thought they were some sort
of unit belonging to the American military, or maybe just a military
police unit. Any authority giving you an order to stop, you follow the
order." It turns out the men in the armored cars were neither US
military nor MPs. They were members of a Blackwater team code-named
Raven 23.

As the family waited in traffic, two more Blackwater vehicles became
visible. Mohammed noticed a family in a car next to his--a man, woman
and child. The man was staring at Mohammed's car, and Mohammed thought
the man was eyeing Jenan. "I thought he was checking my sister out,"
Mohammed remembers. "So I yelled at him and said, 'What are you looking
at?'" Mohammed noticed that the man looked frightened. "I think they
shot the driver in the car in front of you," the man told him.

Mohammed scanned the area and noticed that the back windshield of the
white Kia sedan in front of him was shattered. The man in the car next
to Mohammed began to panic and tried to turn his car around. He ended up
bumping into a taxi, and an argument ensued. The taxi driver exited his
car and began yelling. Mohammed tried to break up the argument, telling
the taxi driver that a man had been shot and that he should back up so
the other car could exit. The taxi driver refused and got back into his

At that point, an Iraqi police officer, Ali Khalaf Salman, approached
the Kia sedan, and it started to slowly drift. The driver had been shot,
and the car was gliding in neutral toward a Blackwater armored car.
Salman, in an interview, described how he tried to stop it by pushing
backward. He saw a panicked woman inside the car; she was clutching a
young man covered in blood who had been shot in the head. She was
shrieking, "My son! My son! Help me, help me!" Salman remembered looking
toward the Blackwater shooters. "I raised my left arm high in the air to
try to signal to the convoy to stop the shooting." He said he thought
the men would cease fire, given that he was a clearly identified police

"As the officer was waving, the men on the armored cars started shooting
at that car," Mohammed says. "And it wasn't warning shots; they were
shooting as in a battle. It was as though they were in a fighting field.
I thought the police officer was killed. It was insane." Officer Salman
managed to dive out of the way as the bullets rained down. "I saw parts
of the woman's head flying in front of me," recalled his colleague,
Officer Sarhan Thiab. "They immediately opened heavy fire at us."

That's how the Nisour Square massacre began.

"What can I tell you?" Mohammed says, closing his eyes. "It was like the
end of days."

Mohammed would later learn that the first victims that day, in the white
Kia, were a young Iraqi medical student, Ahmed Haithem Al Rubia'y, and
his mother, Mahassin, a physician. Mohammed is crystal clear that the
car posed no threat. "There was absolutely no shooting at the Blackwater
men," he says. "All of a sudden, they started shooting in all
directions, and they shot at everyone in front of them. There was
nothing left in that street that wasn't shot: the ground, cars, poles,
sidewalks; they shot everything in front of them." As the Blackwater
gunners shot up the Rubia'ys' vehicle, Mohammed said, it soon looked
like a sieve "due to how many bullet holes it had." A Blackwater shooter
later admitted that they also fired a grenade at the car, causing the
car to explode. Mohammed says the Blackwater men then started firing
across the square. "They were shooting in all directions," he remembers.
He describes the shooting as "random yet still concentrated. It was
concentrated and focused on what they aimed at and still random as they
shot in all directions."

One of the Blackwater shooters was on top of an armored vehicle firing
an automatic weapon, he says. "Every time he would finish his clip, he
would throw it on the ground and would load another one in and would
start shooting again, and finish the new one and replace it with
another." One young Iraqi man got out of his car to run, and as he fled,
the Blackwater shooter gunned him down and continued firing into his
body as it lay on the pavement, Mohammed says. "He was on the ground
bleeding, and they're shooting nonstop, and it wasn't single bullets."
The Blackwater shooter, he says, would fire at other Iraqis and cars and
then return to pump more bullets into the dead man on the ground. "He
sank in his own blood, and every minute the [Blackwater shooter] would
shoot left and right and then go back to shoot the dead man, and I could
see that his body would shake with every bullet. He was already dead,
but his body was still reacting to the bullets. [The shooter] would fire
at someone else and then go back to shoot at this dead man." Shaking his
head slowly, Mohammed says somberly, "The guy is dead in a pool of
blood. Why would you continue shooting him?"

In his vehicle, as the shooting intensified, Mohammed yelled for the
kids to get down. He and his sister did the same. "My car was hit many
times in different places. All I could hear from my car was the gun
shots and the sound of glass shattering," he remembers. Jenan was
frantic. "Why are they shooting at us?" she asked him. Just then, a
bullet pierced the windshield, hitting Jenan's headrest. Mohammed shows
me a photo of the bullet hole.

As gunfire rained on the SUV, Jenan grabbed Mohammed's hair, yanked his
head down and covered him with her body. "My young sister was trying to
protect me by covering me with her body, so I forced myself out of her
grip and covered her with my body to protect her. It was so horrific
that my little sister, whom I'm supposed to protect, was trying to
protect me." Mohammed managed to slip his cellphone from his pocket and
was going to call his father. "It's customary that when in agony before
death, you ask those close to you to look after your loved ones," he
says. Jenan demanded that Mohammed put down the phone, reminding him
that their father had had two strokes already. "If he hears what's
happening, he'll die immediately," she said. "Maybe he'll die before

At that moment, bullets pierced the SUV through the front windshield. A
bullet hit the rearview mirror, causing it to whack Mohammed in the
face. "We imagined that in a few seconds everyone was going to
die--everyone in the car, my sister and I and our children. We thought
that every second that passed meant one of us dying." He adds, "We
remained still, my sister and I. I had her rest her head on my lap, and
my body was on top of her. We'd sneak a peek from under the dashboard,
and they continued shooting here and there, killing this one and that

And then the shooting stopped.


Ali and his father were inseparable. Ali's older brothers called him
"Daddy's favorite," and the family affectionately called him by his kid
nickname, Allawi. "He was the closest of my sons to me. He was my
youngest and was always indulged," recalls Mohammed. "He would sleep on
my arm. He's 9 and half years old but still sleeps on my arm. He has his
own room, but he never slept alone." When the boy turned 9, Ali's father
thought, "This can't go on--him sleeping on my arm as his pillow. So I
said, 'Son, you're older now; go sleep like your brothers, in your bed
in your room. It doesn't work anymore; you're getting older. You're
gonna be a man soon.'"

"As you wish, father," Ali said. "He always said that," Mohammed
recalls. "As you wish, father." Ali left the room, but Mohammed looked
over and saw the shadow of Ali's feet under the door. "So I called him
in, and Ali opened the door and said, 'Daddy, I'm Allawi, not Ali,'"
Mohammed remembers. "He was telling me that he's still young." Mohammed
gave in, and Ali slept in his arms again. "He never had a pillow besides
my arm," says Mohammed.

As he sat in his severely damaged SUV, Mohammed thought that, in the
midst of horror, a miracle had blessed his car. We are alive, he
thought. As the Blackwater forces retreated, Mohammed told Jenan he was
going to go check on the man who had been repeatedly shot by Blackwater.
"I was deeply impacted by that man they continued shooting at," Mohammed
recalls. As he exited his car, Mohammed's nephew yelled, "Uncle, Ali is
dead. Ali is dead!" Jenan began to scream.

Mohammed rushed around to Ali's door and saw that the window was broken.
He looked inside and saw his son's head resting against the door. He
opened it, and Ali slumped toward him. "I was standing in shock looking
at him as the door opened, and his brain fell on the ground between my
feet," Mohammed recalls. "I looked and his brain was on the ground." He
remembers people yelling at him, telling him to get out while he could.
"But I was in another world," he says. Then Mohammed snapped back to
consciousness. He put Ali back in the car and placed his hand over his
son's heart. It was still beating. He got in the driver's seat of his
car, tires blown out, radiator damaged, full of bullets, liquids leaking
everywhere, hoping still that he could save Allawi's life. Somehow he
managed to get the car near Yarmouk Hospital, right near the square. He
picked up Ali and ran toward the hospital. He nearly collapsed on the
road, and an Iraqi police officer took Ali from his arms and ran him
into the hospital.

Mohammed checked that the other children were safe and then dashed to
the hospital. "I entered the emergency room, and blood was everywhere,
dead people, injured people everywhere," he remembers. "My son was in
the last bed; the doctor was with him and had already hooked him with an
IV line." As Mohammed stood by Ali's bed, the doctor told him that Ali
was brain dead. "His heart is beating," the doctor said, "and it will
continue to beat until he bleeds out and dies." The doctor told him that
if there were any hope to be found, it would require taking Ali in an
ambulance to a neurological hospital across town. The fastest route
meant that they had to pass through Nisour Square. Iraqi police stopped
them and told them they could not pass. "The US Army is here and won't
let you through," the officer told them. The driver took an alternate
route and was going so fast the ambulance almost crashed twice. When
they got to the hospital, Mohammed offered to pay the driver--at least
for the gas, which is customary. The driver refused. "No, I would like
to donate blood to your son if he needs it," he told Mohammed. A few
moments later, Mohammed stood with a doctor who told him there was
nothing they could do. Ali was dead.

Mohammed wanted to take his son's body home with him, but the hospital
regulations required that he get papers from the police. So Mohammed had
to leave. He spent hours tracking down the right authority to sign off.
Finally he was able to take Ali's body to prepare him for a Muslim
burial. That night there was no electricity in Baghdad, so they had to
run a generator to keep air-conditioning going to protect Ali's body
from the sweltering heat. The next morning they took Ali to the southern
holy city of Najaf to be buried at the family plot. "As Muslims, we
believe that Ali died innocent with no obligation," says Mohammed. "My
son died at an age where there were no strings attached. My son was
young and innocent, so he flew up [to heaven] like a white dove. This is
what's making it easier on me. I always tell my wife that your son is a
bird in heaven, he's with God and when we die we will be united
eternally." Mohammed looks down and then up. "I still thank God for
everything. I thank him because we were six in that car, and he's the
only one to go. Although that one is piece of my heart, it happened and
I can't change it. I have my other kids that I will raise, and hopefully
I'll be able to keep them safe."


After Ali's death, some of Mohammed's friends came to him and asked him
if the death had changed his attitude toward the Americans. It hadn't,
he told them. "I honestly separate distinctly between Blackwater and the
American people and the American government," he says. "I honestly love
America and the American people. What happened to my family is totally
isolated from the American people and government."

Mohammed carries with him a letter to his family signed by Gen. Ray
Odierno, commander of US forces in Iraq, dated June 25, 2009. The letter
is the result of an extraordinary gesture made by the Kinanis after
Ali's death. The US Embassy offered to provide a $10,000 condolence
payment to the families of the victims of Nisour Square, making clear it
was not a remedy for what happened and not a substitute for any
potential legal action against the shooters. Initially Mohammed refused
the money, but the embassy pursued his family, urging them to take it.
They eventually did, but with one condition: that the US military accept
a $5000 donation from the Kinanis to the family of a US soldier killed
in Iraq. Mohammed's wife, Fatimah, delivered the gift to the US Embassy.
"My wife labeled it as a gift from a mother who sacrificed a son on the
path to freedom, a gift from Ali's family to whichever US military
family the embassy chose, to any soldier's family that was killed here
in Iraq, who lost his life in Iraq for the sake of Iraq." Soon
thereafter, Fatimah received the letter from General Odierno. "Your
substantial generosity on behalf of the families of fallen American
soldiers has touched me deeply," Odierno wrote.

After Ali's death, the thought of suing Blackwater didn't cross
Mohammed's mind. He readily cooperated with the US military and federal
investigators, and he believed that justice would be done in America.
But when he would go to the US Embassy, Mohammed recalls, he would get
"hammered there. They all wanted me to shut up so they could defend
Blackwater." He says an embassy official tried to convince him that
there had been a firefight that day, not a massacre. Mohammed was
unfazed by what he considered a grand lie and continued to cooperate
with the US investigation. Then, he says, Blackwater stepped in.

In a letter to ABC News threatening a defamation lawsuit for a story the
network had done about Nisour Square, a Blackwater attorney denied that
Blackwater had killed Ali, claiming instead that he was killed by "a
stray bullet" possibly fired by the US military "an hour after
Blackwater personnel had departed the scene." The letter claimed Ali was
killed by a "warning shot" that "ricocheted and killed the nine-year-old
boy." It said it was not "even possible" Blackwater "was responsible."

Then an Iraqi attorney working with Blackwater approached Mohammed. But
he wasn't just any lawyer. Ja'afar al Moussawy was the chief prosecutor
of the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal, which prosecuted Saddam Hussein
and other leading officials. He was the Iraqi lawyer.

Mohammed agreed to meet with Moussawy and Blackwater's regional manager.
When Mohammed arrived at the Blackwater headquarters in the Green Zone,
there was a lunch spread laid out on the table. Moussawy asked Mohammed
if he wanted to eat, and Mohammed said he would, "to show you that I
have nothing against you personally." Mohammed says he told them, "My
problem is not with any of you, rather with the guys who killed my son."
After lunch, the manager asked Mohammed to tell him what happened in the
square that day. Mohammed did. The manager then said he had an offer for

"We want to give you $20,000," Mohammed recalls the Blackwater manager

"I'm not taking a penny from you," Mohammed told him. "I want no money."

Mohammed asked for a blank piece of paper and a pen. "Look I have the
paper and I can sign and waive all my [legal] rights. All my rights, I
will sign away now, but under one condition: I want the owner of
Blackwater to apologize to me publicly in America and say, 'We killed
your son, and we're sorry.' That's all I want."

The Blackwater manager asked Mohammed why it was so important to have an
apology. Mohammed reminded him of Blackwater owner Erik Prince's
Congressional testimony two weeks after the Nisour Square shootings. In
his testimony, Prince said his men "acted appropriately at all times" at
Nisour Square and that the company had never killed innocent civilians,
except perhaps by "ricochets" and "traffic accidents." At that hearing,
on October 2, 2007, a document was produced showing that before Nisour
Square the State Department, Blackwater's employer, had coordinated with
Blackwater to set a low payout for Iraqi shooting victims because, in
the words of a Department security official, if it was too high Iraqis
may try "to get killed by our guys to financially guarantee their
family's future."

Mohammed said he wanted Prince to publicly reject this characterization
of "Iraqis as mercenaries." The Blackwater manager, he says, told him
Blackwater does not apologize. "You killed my son!" Mohammed exclaimed.
"What do you want, then? Why did you bring me here?"

Mohammed then confronted the Blackwater manager about the letter to ABC
News. "I told him that Blackwater was trying to stain the reputation of
the American Army" by blaming Ali's death on US soldiers. Mohammed
recalls asking, "Aren't you an American company, and this is your
national army? Why would you do this to your own?" Mohammed says he
threw the pen and paper at the Blackwater manager and left. In a
statement to The Nation, a Blackwater spokesperson confirmed that the
company had offered Mohammed a "condolence payment" and that he declined

It was then that Mohammed decided that his best recourse would be to
cooperate with the US criminal investigation of the incident and to sue
Blackwater in civil court the United States. "I want Blackwater, who
refused to apologize, to get what they deserve according to the rule of
law," Mohammed says. "I had no other option but to go down the legal
path, to have justice applied--something that will be comforting to
victims' families and something that might deter other criminals from
committing the same act."


Mohammed's American lawyers contend, as did federal prosecutors, that
the Blackwater men disobeyed orders from superiors not to leave the
Green Zone, which ultimately led to the shooting at Nisour Square, and
that they did not follow proper State Department guidelines for the use
of force, instead shooting unprovoked at Mohammed's car and the other
civilians in the square. They also allege that Blackwater was not
guarding any US official at the time of the shooting and that the Nisour
Square killings amounted to an offensive operation against unarmed
civilians. "Blackwater was where it shouldn't have been, doing something
it was not supposed to do," says Mohammed's lawyer Gary Mauney. They
"weren't even supposed to be in Nisour Square, and if they hadn't have
been, no shootings would have occurred."

Unlike the other civil suits against Blackwater, which were settled in
federal court in January, Mohammed's case was filed in state court in
North Carolina. It is also different because Mohammed is directly suing
the six Blackwater men he believes were responsible for the shooting
that day. The suit also argues that Prince and his network of Blackwater
companies and affiliates are ultimately responsible for the conduct of
the men at Nisour Square. The Blackwater shooters "weren't doing
anything related to their work for the government," Mauney says. "After
the events happened, Blackwater came out and said, 'We support what they
did. We think it was justified.' They ratified the conduct of their

Moreover, Mohammed's lawyers contend that the evidence that was ruled
inadmissible in the criminal Nisour Square case because it was obtained
in exchange for a promise of immunity and reportedly under threat of
termination is valid evidence in their civil case. Several statements by
Blackwater guards who were at the square that day directly bolster
Mohammed and other Iraqis' claim that it was an unprovoked shooting.

Perhaps the most potent piece of evidence in Mohammed's case comes from
one of the men he is suing. Jeremy Ridgeway, a turret gunner on the
Raven 23 team that day, pleaded guilty to killing an unarmed civilian.
In his sworn proffer that accompanied his guilty plea, Ridgeway admitted
that he and the other five defendants "opened fire with automatic
weapons and grenade launchers on unarmed civilians...killing at least
fourteen people" and wounding at least twenty others. "None of these
victims was an insurgent, and many were shot while inside of civilian
vehicles that were attempting to flee" the Blackwater forces. Ridgeway
also admitted that Raven 23 had "not been authorized" to leave the Green
Zone and that after they departed, they "had been specifically ordered"
by US Embassy officials to return. "In contravention of that order,"
they proceeded to Nisour Square. Ridgeway admitted to shooting and
killing Dr. Al Rubia'y in the Kia sedan, adding that another Blackwater
shooter launched an M-203 grenade, "causing the vehicle to erupt in
flames." He acknowledged that "there had been no attempt to provide
reasonable warnings to the driver." As the Raven 23 convoy exited the
square against the flow of traffic, Ridgeway admitted, Blackwater forces
"continued to fire their machine guns at civilian vehicles that posed no
threat to the convoy."

Evidence in the criminal case also reveals that three other men on the
Raven 23 convoy--Adam Frost, Mark Mealy, Matthew Murphy--were
"horrified" at what their colleagues had done in the square that day. In
a journal entry he wrote after the shooting, Frost recounted returning
to the Green Zone, where he and Murphy confronted the men who did the
killings at Nisour Square. "We started to curse at them and tell each
other how fucked up they were," he wrote. "We could not believe what we
had just seen." Murphy told the grand jury his colleagues were shooting
"for nothing and for no reason." Mealy described two of the defendants,
Evan Liberty and Paul Slough, giving each other high-fives, "patting
each other on the back and bragging about what a great job they had
done." In his testimony, Murphy described what he had seen that day as
"pretty heinous shit."

Frost, who prosecutors say did not fire his weapon at Nisour Square,
wrote in his journal that he "prayed for comfort to be given to those
families that we had broken." When the FBI launched its investigation of
the shooting, Frost said he was "strongly encouraged," though not
ordered, by Blackwater management not to answer its questions. He said a
Blackwater manager had told him that the company was already fully
cooperating with the State Department and had been honest in detailing
the shooting. "I thought to myself, you fuckers have been anything but
honest with the State Department and their investigation," Frost wrote.

Mauney and his partner, Paul Dickinson, believe that these statements
and others like them, along with the accounts of scores of Iraqi
witnesses and forensic evidence, paint a case of overwhelming guilt on
the part of the Blackwater shooters who killed Ali Kinani and the other
Iraqis that day. "I think it's important for folks to know that
Blackwater has not won," says Mauney. In addition to Mohammed, Mauney
and Dickinson represent five other families impacted by Nisour Square,
including those of two others killed by Blackwater. "They've come here
with a heart full of belief in the US justice system," says Dickinson.
In late January on a visit to Baghdad, Vice President Joe Biden
announced that the United States would appeal the dismissal of the
criminal cases, saying the judge's ruling was "not an acquittal."
Blackwater's lawyers have said they believe the appeal will fail.

As we wrap up the interview, Mohammed Kinani gathers up all the photos
he has brought to show me: pictures of Ali and his other children,
pictures of his wife and of his severely damaged car. He stops and
stares at a school portrait of Ali. We look at a video on his laptop of
his home--the one currently occupied by the Sunni militia leader--and
then he pauses and clicks on another video file. The screen pops up, and
there is Ali, hopping around a swimming pool with his cousins and
siblings. With a wide smile, Ali approaches Mohammed's cellphone camera
and says, "I am Allawi!"

Mohammed tells me, "I wish the US Congress would ask [Erik Prince] why
they killed my innocent son, who called himself Allawi. Do you think
that this child was a threat to your company? This giant company that
has the biggest weapons, the heaviest weapons, the planes, and this boy
was a threat to them?" he says. "I want Americans to know that this was
a child that died for nothing."

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