Originally published on April 15, 2015, at NationofChange.org
One former Blackwater USA contractor was sentenced to life in prison on Monday, while three others each received 30-year sentences for killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians and wounding 18 more in the 2007 Nisour Square massacre. After pleading guilty in December 2008, a fifth contractor testified as a government witness in the trial and has not yet been sentenced. Blackwater’s founder and former CEO, Erik Prince currently does not face any criminal charges.
At approximately noon on September 16, 2007, a Blackwater convoy codenamed Raven 23 disobeyed orders from US Embassy officials to remain in the Green Zone and instead established a blockade at Nisour Square in Baghdad. While driving his mother to an appointment, Ahmed Haithem Ahmed Al Rubia’y stopped his white Kia sedan at the checkpoint and waited for the Blackwater mercenaries to let them pass. Hiding inside the convoy’s command vehicle, Nicholas Slatten aimed his SR-25 sniper rifle through a gun portal and fired a round at Ahmed.
As Ahmed’s head exploded, his car slipped into neutral and slowly began to approach the Blackwater convoy. While attempting to stop the car, Iraqi police officer Ali Khalaf Salman raised his left arm signaling the shooters to stop firing. Inside the sedan, Ahmed’s mother, Mahassin Mohssen Kadhum Al-Khazali, clutched his bleeding head screaming, “My son! My son! Help me, help me!”
A turret gunner, Jeremy Ridgeway, opened fire killing Ahmed’s mother. Another Blackwater shooter launched an M-203 grenade that caused the sedan to erupt into flames. Unleashing sniper fire, machine guns, and grenade launchers, the Blackwater convoy murdered ten unarmed men, two women, and two boys, ages 9 and 11. At least 18 victims were wounded. The only damage inflicted upon the convoy’s command vehicle came from shrapnel by an American grenade fired at close range by a Blackwater operative.