The case against Blackwater
In the Blackwater investigation conducted by U.S. and Iraqi authorities, our government knows of one person who was a key and central figure to the process. This person also has a number of ties to terrorism and overt nefarious activity.
For over a decade, the Department of Justice (DoJ) has been asked to release any intelligence that could connect the alleged victims or policemen involved in the Nisour Square incident of 2007 to any terrorist of insurgency organizations. It wasn't until the current retrial of Nicholas Slatten that the government admitted that such information existed.
Despite the name of the lead Iraqi investigator Lt. Col. Faris Karim, appearing in national security documents, the government successfully persuaded the presiding judge, Royce C. Lamberth, to shield the underlying intelligence from Slatten's defense counsel.
In a recent interview, Blackwater's founder, Erik Prince, cites Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM) as an Iranian-sponsored Iraqi militia that was run by Muqtada al-Sadr, a radical Shiite, in Iraq at this time. Prince asserts that JAM was responsible for attacking and killing members of Blackwater in the Sunni hotbed of Najaf in 2004, and he also states that "they were responsible for killing many, many, many American soldiers."
Soref fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Phillip Smyth confirms in our conversation that JAM was "running different networks and different operations throughout most of the country. In Baghdad alone, they were surrounding and running into Sunni neighborhoods, depopulating them, and then moving their relatives into the evacuated homes. They were all over the area and very, very active." Many of the commanders who sided with Sadr "were trying to get their hands in every pie" – which included law enforcement.
"Law enforcement there is nothing like law enforcement here," emphasizes Smyth. "Some of the federal police, for instance, were controlled by the Badr Organization – what was then the Badr Corps. They were the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-controlled section of an Iraqi militia, which was also a political party. They controlled a humongous chunk of the area. Even now, the Ministry of Interior that runs the federal police force is run by the Badr Organization."
A recent docketed motion in Slatten's trial reveals "the United States Government has information that in 2004, an Iranian Intelligence agent ('agent') was hopeful that he/she could cultivate ties with an applicant to the Iraqi National Intelligence Service. The applicant was referred to as 'Lieutenant Colonel Karim' ('Karim')[.] ... The agent had long-standing ties with 'Karim' through personal family contacts."
The agent served under cover as a member of the Badr Corps. "Karim" knew the agent as a Badr Corp member, and in this context, provided the agent with a steady stream of "information." ... In March 2004, "Karim" applied to the Iraqi National Intelligence Service. "Karim" promised the agent he would remain loyal to him and continue their relationship.
The docketed motion goes on to show that the U.S. government also has information that a JAM associate corroborated with Karim in February 2008, and it points to Karim's clear involvement in identifying alleged victims to U.S. authorities, removal and destruction of evidence, and witness-tampering allegations.
"In a large respect, this [kind of occurrence] is common in Arab politics," says Smyth. "In Iraq, unfortunately, they stacked the place with their own militia types. A lot of these Sadr-ists still had chunks of control in the different ministries and over these different internal security apparatuses. [Terrorists] having ties to law enforcement is no shock at all."
Glaring problems with some of the witness accounts, and the revelation that the key Iraqi at the core of the U.S. Investigation has ties to insurgency, makes you wonder how much more it will take for a judge to grant a Motion to Dismiss against Slatten.
J.M. Phelps is a Christian activist and journalist based in the Southeastern U.S.