By Kate Randall:
Iraq suspends license of Blackwater USA
US mercenary firm denounced after civilian killings in Baghdad
18 September 2007
The Iraqi government on Monday said it had revoked the operating license of Blackwater USA, following a shootout involving the private security company in downtown Baghdad Sunday that left at least nine people dead and 14 wounded, the majority civilians.
Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Abdul Kareem Khalaf said that the decision meant that Blackwater “cannot work in Iraq any longer, it will be illegal for them to work here.” Khalaf added, “Security contracts do not allow them to shoot people randomly.”
The bloody incident on Sunday focuses attention on the mercenary activities of the estimated 25,000-30,000 private contractors from some 60 companies operating in Iraq at the service of the US occupation, forming an integral part of the illegal war and occupation. With revenues of about $100 billion a year, these hired thugs commandeer helicopters and patrol in bulletproof vehicles; many are armed with automatic weapons.
Blackwater USA has an estimated 1,000 employees in Iraq, and at least $800 million in government contracts. One of its main contracts is to provide security to US Ambassador Ryan Crocker and other diplomats. The company has also guarded Gen. David Petraeus, the US commander in Baghdad in charge of the “surge.”
Blackwater has earned the fear and hatred of the Iraqi civilian population, particularly in Baghdad, where its heavily armed agents speed diplomatic convoys through the crowded streets in black SUVs and its “Little Bird” helicopters swarm overhead, riflemen at the windows to provide cover to ground-based convoys.
Blackwater in Iraq update: here.
Iraqi blogger Raed on this: here.