(KDRTV)-On September 16th, 2007, Blackwater private security firm personnel opened fire on civilians in what was named Nisour Square Massacre, killing 17 and injuring 20 unarmed civilian men, women, and children.
The Iraqi people reacted furiously to Trump’s decision to offer clemency to four Blackwater guards involved in the massacre of Nisour Square, the pardons came part of a growing list of personal favors the president is gifting to his allies and social sphere.
The incident took place in broad daylight when the security firm was escorting a US embassy envoy in Baghdad, the firm operated in Iraq since 2005 as a private security contractor, ‘Raven 23’ commander Jimmy Watson was ordered to return to the Green Zone so he ventured into the Nisour square to secure and hold position for another incoming blackwater team then head back, a car bombing earlier in the day targeting the location where the US and the Iraqi envoys were supposed to meet put everyone on high alert.
An approaching Kia was perceived as a possible car bombing threat, shots were fired in the air to alert and advise the vehicle to stop, stun and flash grenades were used to immobilize the driver but the car kept on going. Turret Gunner n’3 Paul Slough opened fire on all individuals’ insight and ultimately had the highest kill numbers among his colleagues who had to put a gun to his head to stop.
Iraqi police and Army present that day on Nisour Square believed the Americans were shooting at them, so they returned fire, which opened the door to more aggression by blackwater personal who believed they were under serious threat and returned heavy fire coupled with grenades launched from a grenade launcher to disable the Kia and incinerated it in the process.
It all happened in the heat of the moment and human judgment error caused grave consequences. The Kia driver, a young adult, was shot in the head, his mother by his side was also shot and killed, 17 civilians who were present that day died, and up to 20 injured to various degrees of whom some were disabled.
Blackwater license to operate in Iraq was revoked the following day but yet continued to operate in the country afterward, the incident drew major headlines and heat, the four officers involved were prosecuted in US courts and found guilty to different degrees, Nick Slatten first-degree murder, Slough Liberty and Heard were all convicted of three counts of voluntary manslaughter and use of heavy caliber weapons to commit a violent crime. Sentenced to life in prison and 30 years in prison for the rest respectively.
A friend of a victim, Ahmed who died side by side with his mother on that day opened up to AFP “The Americans have never approached us Iraqis as equals, As far as they are concerned, our blood is cheaper than water and our demands for justice and accountability are merely a nuisance.”
Dr. Haidar al-Barzanji, an Iraqi researcher commented on the matter to The Guardian “Trump has no right to decide on behalf of victims’ families to pardon these criminals. It is at odds with human rights and against the law. In Iraqi law, they can only be pardoned if the families of victims pardon them. I encourage the families of the victims to request a complaint against Trump when the Biden administration starts.”
“It will be the first thing we discuss with him,” said an assistant to Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the Iraqi prime minister about communicating to Biden and lobbying decision-makers into reinstating the sentences after he takes over.