Blackwater indictment details chaos at busy Baghdad circle

McClatchy NewspapersDecember 8, 2008 

WASHINGTON — A 35-count indictment unsealed Monday of five Blackwater Worldwide security guards on manslaughter charges for the September 2007 shooting deaths of at least 14 Iraq civilians at al Nisoor Square in Baghdad, along with the guilty-plea agreement of a sixth Blackwater employee, provide the first official account of what took place that day.

At least 18 people were injured in the mayhem, according to the documents. One victim was shot as he held his hands aloft, the documents say. Many were shot while still inside their cars trying to flee as the Blackwater convoy left the scene. None was an insurgent, the documents say.

The documents claim that the Blackwater convoy was not authorized to be outside of the Green Zone when the shooting occurred. It identified the first person killed in the incident as Ahmed Hathem Ahmed al Rubiay, a second-year medical student whose white Kia entered al Nisoor Square as the Blackwater guards set up to block traffic. The indictment said that the guards made no effort to warn al Rubiay before opening up on his car and that his car bore none of the characteristics of a car bomb.

The second person to die was al Rubiay's mother, Mahassin Mohssen Kadhum al Khazali, who was in the front passenger seat. She was killed by Blackwater guard Jeremy P. Ridgeway, 35, who pleaded guilty Friday in the case. According to Ridgeway's proffer, which outlines what he will testify to as part of his plea agreement, he opened fire on the car after seeing another member of the Blackwater team firing into it. He said he intended to kill al Khazali.

The Kia then became the target of several Blackwater guards, including one who fired a grenade into it, setting it on fire, according to Ridgeway's proffer.

As the convoy drove away, the guards fired indiscriminantly at cars that were posing no threat to it, the documents say.

While the documents identify the 14 Iraqis killed, the 18 Iraqis wounded and the five indicted Blackwater guards, they name only Ridgeway as having killed or wounded specific people.

Read the documents:

Ridgeway's proffer

Indictment of Ridgeway for killing al Khazali

Indictment of 5 Blackwater guards

Justice Department news release on the indictments

McClatchy Washington Bureau is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service