In Interviews With ABC News Before Leaving Baghdad, the Men All Said the Blackwater Shootings Were Unprovoked
May 27, 2008—
The FBI has brought four Iraqi witnesses, including the father of a dead 9-year-old boy, to testify before a federal grand jury investigating Blackwater security guards accused of killing 17 innocent civilians last year at a Baghdad traffic square.
The men were brought in over the weekend and seen today at the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., where the Blackwater grand jury has been sitting since last November.
In interviews with ABC News before leaving Baghdad, the men all said the Blackwater shootings were unprovoked.
“It was a true massacre, a slaughter,” said Mohammed Abdul Razak, whose son Ali was killed in the shootings.
Razak said he saw the guards first fire at one car and then open fire on other cars, including his.
When the shooting stopped he saw his son in the back seat. “He looked asleep, but after I opened the door, his brain fell right between my feet,” he said. “I started shouting, ‘They killed my son,’ but who is listening?”
Blackwater guards initially told U.S. investigators they opened fire because they felt they were under attack.
But two traffic policemen assigned to the Nisour square were among the witnesses brought before the grand jury. They told ABC News they will contradict Blackwater’s version of events.
“There were zero armed men in that area,” said officer Hussan Abdurrahman.
“They just started to shoot; nobody shot at them,” officer Serhan Dhiab told ABC News. “It is not a security company; it is a terrorist company,” he said.
The father of the dead boy, Razak, said he had been pressured and threatened by Blackwater not to testify and that he has turned down an offer of $20,000 to settle the issue. Blackwater says the money was not a settlement offer but a condolence payment.
“I can’t say my son was so significant, but he was tender. This is a crime that needs to be punished,” he said.
He said he agreed to testify because “I feel I am going to have justice.”
Blackwater says it is cooperating with the grand jury investigation and previously denied bringing any pressure on the families.
Blackwater’s five-year, $1.2 billion contract in Iraq was recently renewed by the State Department.
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