10-11-2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11 /PRNewswire/USNewswire/ — Blackwater USA, the private military contractor whose heavily armed personnel allegedly opened fire on innocent Iraqi civilians in Nisoor Square in Baghdad on Sept. 16, was sued today by an injured survivor and three families of men killed in the incident, according to the legal team representing the civilians.

Filed in Washington, D.C. federal court by Talib Mutlaq Deewan and the estates of the deceased men – Himoud Saed Abtan, Usama Fadhil Abbass, and Oday Ismail Ibraheem – the lawsuit alleges that Blackwater and its affiliated companies violated U.S. law and “created and fostered a culture of lawlessness amongst its employees, encouraging them to act in the company’s financial interests at the expense of innocent human life.”

The Complaint alleges that Blackwater violated the federal Alien Tort Statute in committing extrajudicial killing and war crimes, and that Blackwater should be liable for claims of assault and battery, wrongful death, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring, training and supervision.

Mr. Deewan and the estates of the dead men are represented by Susan L. Burke, William T. O’Neil, Elizabeth M. Burke, and Katherine R. Hawkins of Burke O’Neil LLC, of Philadelphia; Michael A. Ratner and Vincent Warren, of the Center for Constitutional Rights, of New York; and Shereef Hadi Akeel, of Akeel & Valentine, P.C., of Birmingham, Mich.

The defendants include Blackwater USA, Blackwater Security Consulting LLC, The Prince Group LLC, a holding company, and Blackwater founder Erik Prince.

Susan L. Burke, of Burke O’Neil LLC, stated, “This senseless slaughter was only the latest incident in a lengthy pattern of egregious misconduct by Blackwater in Iraq. At the moment of this incident, the Blackwater personnel responsible for the shooting were not protecting State Department officials. We allege that Blackwater personnel were not provoked, and that they had no legitimate reason to fire on civilians. We look forward to forcing Blackwater and Mr. Prince to tell the world under oath why this attack happened, particularly since a Blackwater guard tried to stop his colleagues from indiscriminately firing.”

Michael A. Ratner, of the Center for Constitutional Rights, stated, “Blackwater’s repeated and consistent failure to act in accord with the law of war, U.S. law, and international law harms our nation and it harms Iraq. For the good of both nations, as well as for countless innocent civilians, the company cannot be allowed to continue operating extra-legally, providing mercenaries who flout all kinds of law. This lawsuit, like the ongoing U.S. and Iraqi government investigations, cannot bring back those killed at Nisoor Square but it can make Blackwater accountable for its actions.”

Shereef Hadi Akeel, of Akeel & Valentine, P.C., stated, “Mr. Deewan and the families of the men killed deserve to know the truth about what happened at Nisoor Square, and they deserve justice. Incidents like this one and the many others that have made their way into government reports and news accounts must end. To let the extreme and outrageous conduct alleged in this lawsuit continue only diminishes the work of the Iraqi people and the many honorable men and women in uniform who have paid such a high price in their efforts to stabilize Iraq.”

The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages for death, physical, mental, and economic injuries, and punitive damages.

The case is “Estate of Himoud Saed Abtan, et al. v. Blackwater USA, et al.” (C.A. No. 07-1831) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Media Contacts: Erin Powers, Powers MediaWorks LLC, for Burke O’Neil LLC and Akeel & Valentine, P.C., (281) 703-6000 or (281) 362-1411; Jen Nessel, the Center for Constitutional Rights, (212) 614-6449; and David Lerner, Riptide Communications, for the Center for Constitutional Rights, (212) 260-5000.

11-27-2007

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27 /PRNewswire/USNewswire/ — The estates of two more Iraqis killed when Blackwater USA personnel allegedly opened fire on civilians in Nisoor Square in Baghdad on Sept. 16 and an injured survivor of the incident joined the pending civil litigation against the private military contractor late Monday.

Survivor Abdulwahab Abdulqadir Al-Qalamchi and the estates of Dr. Mahasin Mohson Kadhum and her son, Ahmed Hathem Al-Rubaie, filed new claims against Blackwater and affiliated companies in Washington federal court, according to their U.S.-based legal team.

According to the lawsuit, Dr. Kadhum was a doctor in Baghdad whose son, a second-year medical student, was shot to death before her eyes; she was then shot to death as she cradled her dead son’s body, calling for help.

The survivors and the estates of the dead are represented by Susan L. Burke, William T. O’Neil, Elizabeth M. Burke, and Katherine R. Hawkins of Burke O’Neil LLC, of Philadelphia; Michael Ratner and Vincent Warren, of the Center for Constitutional Rights; and Shereef Akeel, of Akeel & Valentine, PLC, of Birmingham, Mich.

In other litigation developments, the First Amended Complaint filed Monday alleges that:

* Blackwater routinely deploys heavily-armed “shooters” in the streets of Baghdad with the knowledge that up to 25 percent of them are chemically influenced by steroids or other judgment-altering substances, and fails to take effective steps to stop and test for drug use, and,
* The Blackwater personnel who fired on the innocent civilians had ignored directives from the Tactical Operations Center (“TOC”), which was manned by both Blackwater and Department of State personnel, to stay in another area with State Department personnel they had dropped off until further instructed to leave the area.

Susan L. Burke, of Burke O’Neil LLC, stated, “The culture of lawlessness created and fostered by Blackwater has exacted a terrible toll on innocent people in Iraq. Blackwater ‘shooters’ senselessly ended the lives of Dr. Kadhum and her son and the others killed at Nisoor Square. We believe that the ongoing government investigations and this litigation will prove that Blackwater’s interests are contrary to the interests of the U.S. military, the State Department, and the nation of Iraq.”

Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, stated, “The rule of law in every civilized nation in the world is that there is no legitimate reason to indiscriminately kill innocent bystanders. We believe that the acts of Blackwater at Nisoor Square were deliberate, willful, intentional, wanton, malicious and oppressive and constitute war crimes. Blackwater is harming the United States by its repeated and consistent failure to act in accord with the law of war, the laws of the United States, and international law.”

Shereef Akeel, of Akeel & Valentine, PLC, stated, “At this time, only in America, can Americans hold Blackwater accountable for the tragic loss of innocent lives at Nisoor Square. Our investigation, like those of U.S. military and criminal investigators, indicates that none of the civilians was armed or taking offensive actions against the Blackwater ‘shooters’ and that the Blackwater personnel were not protecting State Department officials when the shooting began. With that in mind, the Iraqi families who brought this legal action want Blackwater to be held accountable in accordance with American law.”

The case is “Estate of Himoud Saed Abtan, et al. v. Blackwater Worldwide, et al.” (C.A. No. 07-1831) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. On Oct. 11, survivor Talib Mutlaq Deewan and the estates of the Himoud Saed Abtan, Usama Fadhil Abbass, and Oday Ismail Ibraheem in the litigation sued Blackwater and affiliated companies.

The Complaint alleged that Blackwater violated the federal Alien Tort Statute in committing war crimes, and that Blackwater should be liable for claims of assault and battery, wrongful death, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring, training and supervision. The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages for death, physical, mental, and economic injuries, and punitive damages.

The defendants include Blackwater USA, Blackwater Worldwide, Blackwater Security Consulting LLC, The Prince Group LLC, a holding company, and Blackwater founder Erik Prince.

Media Contacts: Erin Powers, Powers MediaWorks LLC, for Burke O’Neil LLC and Akeel & Valentine, PLC, (281) 703-6000 or (281) 362-1411; Jen Nessel, the Center for Constitutional Rights, (212) 614-6449; and David Lerner, Riptide Communications, for the Center for Constitutional Rights, (212) 260-5000.

12-18-2007

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 /PRNewswire/USNewswire/ — Hundreds of innocent torture victims came forward and filed a complaint late Monday in Washington federal court against CACI, the private military contractor involved torturing and abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib and other prisons in Iraq.

The complaint in “Saleh et al. v. CACI et al” alleges that these victims were repeatedly sodomized, threatened with rape and harm to their family members, stripped naked, kept naked in their cells, chained and handcuffed to the bars of their cells, forced to wear women’s panties on their heads and bodies, subjected to electric shock, subjected to extreme heat and cold, attacked by unmuzzled dogs, subjected to serious pain inflicted on sensitive body parts, and kicked, beaten and struck.

CACI employees did not play a limited, passive, or secondary role in this torture, according to the complaint. Rather, two CACI interrogators – Stephen Stefanowicz (known as “Big Steve”) and Daniel Johnson (known as “DJ”) – were viewed as among the most aggressive. These two men were responsible for directing former U.S. military personnel Charles Graner, Ivan Frederick, and others to torture and abuse prisoners. Indeed, CACI employees Big Steve and DJ directed such harsh torture that both Graner and Frederick, who were convicted and sentenced, respectively, to 10 and 8 years in prison for abusing prisoners, refused to follow the CACI directives to torture prisoners.

The complaint sets out how Stefanowicz and Johnson and other CACI employees directed soldiers to give prisoners the “special treatment,” which was code for making naked prisoners to crawl back and forth over rough concrete until they were bloodied and unable to move. The complaint also alleges CACI, working with others, wrongfully killed Ibrahiem Neisef Jassem, Hussain Ali Abid Salin, and Ahmed Satar Khamass.

Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, stated, “These private military contractors cannot act with impunity outside the reach of the law — CACI must be held accountable for its participation in the atrocities at Abu Ghraib and other facilities.”

Susan L. Burke of Burke O’Neil LLC, stated, “CACI employees conspired with Graner, Frederick and others who have already been convicted and sentenced. Yet CACI employees have evaded accountability, and CACI itself made millions of dollars from the United States. Is this conduct our taxpayer dollars should be paying for?

Shereef Akeel of Akeel & Valentine, PLC said, “The men and women we represent have been seeking justice for the nightmares they lived at the hands of their torturers. This civil action will bring much needed accountability to the rogue defense contractor willing to torture and abuse innocent persons.”

The victims in the case are represented by Susan L. Burke, William T. O’Neil, Elizabeth M. Burke, and Katherine R. Hawkins of Burke O’Neil LLC, of Philadelphia; Michael Ratner and Katherine Gallagher of the Center for Constitutional Rights; and Shereef Hadi Akeel, of Akeel & Valentine, PLC, of Birmingham, Michigan. This is the same legal team that recently sued Blackwater for killing civilians in Nisoor Square in Baghdad this September.

The case is “Saleh et al. v. CACI et al,” in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Case No. 05-cv-1165 JR).

Media Contacts: Erin Powers, Powers MediaWorks LLC, for Burke O’Neil LLC and Akeel & Valentine, PLC, (281) 703-6000 or (281) 362-1411; Jen Nessel, the Center for Constitutional Rights, (212) 614-6449; and David Lerner, Riptide Communications, for the Center for Constitutional Rights, (212) 260-5000.

12-19-2007

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 /PRNewswire/USNewswire/ — The estate of an Iraqi man who was killed when Blackwater personnel opened fire on innocent bystanders in and around Al Watahba Square in Baghdad on Sept. 9 sued the private military contractor in Washington federal court today.

The family of Ali Hussamaldeen Albazzaz, who was the father of a newborn daughter, filed new claims against Blackwater and affiliated companies, according to their U.S.-based legal team.

The lawsuit alleges that heavily armed Blackwater mercenaries, known in company parlance as “shooters,” fired without justification and killed five civilians, including Mr. Albazzaz, who was standing outside his rug store. Numerous other civilians were injured in the incident.

The estate is represented by Susan L. Burke, William T. O’Neil and Rosemary B. Healy of Burke O’Neil LLC, of Philadelphia; Michael Ratner and Katherine Gallagher of the Center for Constitutional Rights; and Shereef Akeel, of Akeel & Valentine, PLC, of Birmingham, Mich.

Susan L. Burke, of Burke O’Neil LLC, stated, “The culture of lawlessness created and fostered by Blackwater has exacted a terrible toll on innocent people in Iraq. Once again, Blackwater ‘shooters’ senselessly ended the innocent life of Mr. Albazzaz. We continue to believe that the ongoing government investigations and this litigation will prove that Blackwater’s interests are contrary to the interests of the U.S. military, the State Department, and the nation of Iraq.”

Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, stated, “The rule of law in every civilized nation in the world is that there is no legitimate reason to indiscriminately kill innocent bystanders. We believe that the acts of Blackwater in this incident and others involving civilians were deliberate, willful, intentional, wanton, malicious and oppressive and constitute war crimes. Blackwater is harming the United States by its repeated and consistent failure to act in accord with the law of war, the laws of the United States, and international law.”

Shereef Akeel, of Akeel & Valentine, PLC, stated, “Our legal team met the family of Mr. Albazzaz. We could see the horrible pain in their eyes. They are grieving for their terrible loss. The Albazzaz family has lost an honorable, decent man whose primary concern was providing for and protecting his family. We hope to obtain justice for the family.”

The case is “Estate of Ali Hussamaldeen Albazzaz v. Blackwater Worldwide, et al” (C.A. 1:07-CV-02273 RBW) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

In October and November, two survivors and the estates of five civilians killed on Sept. 16 when Blackwater personnel allegedly opened fire in Nisoor Square in Baghdad also filed suit against Blackwater USA and affiliated companies in federal court in Washington.

The Complaints in both lawsuits allege that Blackwater violated the federal Alien Tort Statute in committing war crimes, and that Blackwater should be liable for claims of assault and battery, wrongful death, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring, training and supervision. The lawsuits seek compensatory damages for death, physical, mental, and economic injuries, and punitive damages.

The defendants include Blackwater Worldwide, Blackwater USA, Blackwater Security Consulting LLC, The Prince Group LLC, and Blackwater founder Erik Prince.

Media Contacts: Erin Powers, Powers MediaWorks LLC, for Burke O’Neil LLC and Akeel & Valentine, PLC, (281) 703-6000 or (281) 362-1411; Jen Nessel, for the Center for Constitutional Rights, (212) 614-6449; and David Lerner, Riptide Communications, for the Center for Constitutional Rights, (212) 260-5000.

01-17-2008

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 /PRNewswire/USNewswire/ — The family of slain Iraqi Marou Awanis has instructed the U.S.-based legal team of Burke O’Neil LLC, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Akeel & Valentine PLC to pursue legal claims against private security firm Unity Resources Group and the U.S. company that retained them in Iraq, RTI International, the family announced today.

The legal team – which already represents Iraqi families in pending litigation alleging that private security contractor Blackwater personnel killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisoor Square in Baghdad on Sept. 16, 2007 – filed suit today in Washington federal court (Civil Action No. 08-0096).

A mother of three, Marou Awanis, 48, was killed on Oct. 9, 2007 when private security guards employed by Unity Resources opened fire on her car as she drove through Baghdad’s Karada district, the lawsuit alleges.

According to the Complaint, Unity Resources Group, an Australian-run firm based in the United Arab Emirates, was operating at the time of the incident as an agent of RTI International, of Research Triangle Park, N.C. RTI International is working in Iraq on a contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Mrs. Awanis’ brother, UK businessman Dr. Paul Manook, said, “We’ve had no apology, or offer of recompense or assistance from Unity Resources Group despite the fact that their employees’ wrongful act has killed my sister and orphaned her three daughters. Security firms seem to get away with committing terrible acts. The international community and the Iraqi government need to ensure that security firms are made to account for their actions.”

Mrs. Awanis’ daughters Nora, 20, Karoon, 19, both university students in Baghdad, and Alice, 11, are members of the Christian minority in Iraq. With the help of relatives in the UK and elsewhere, Mrs. Awanis’ children are trying to make new lives elsewhere, according to Dr. Manook. The family also requests that Jordanian immigration authorities allow the entire family entry to Jordan to visit relatives. Last week, Nora and Alice were forced to return to Iraq by Jordanian authorities while Karoon and another relative were allowed to enter the country.

Media Contacts: William O’Neil, Burke O’Neil LLC, (202) 232-5504 or (202) 445-4277; or Dr. Miriam Manook, +44 7966 444408.

05-09-2008

LOS ANGELES, May 5, 2008 — New torture claims have been leveled at two U.S. military contractors by a former Abu Ghraib “ghost” detainee who was wrongly imprisoned and later released without charge, according to a lawsuit filed today in Los Angeles federal court by his U.S. legal team.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Emad Al-Janabi, a 43-year-old Iraqi blacksmith, who alleges that he was beaten and forced from his home by people in U.S. military uniforms and civilian clothing in September 2003. He was released from Abu Ghraib without charge in July 2004.

The defendants are CACI International Inc. (NYSE: CAI) and CACI Premier Technology, Inc., of Arlington, Va.; L-3 Communications Titan Corporation (NYSE: LLL), of San Diego, Calif.; and former CACI contractor Steven Stefanowicz, a Los Angeles resident known at Abu Ghraib as “Big Steve.”

According to the Complaint, Mr. Al-Janabi was:

* Subjected to physical and mental torture in sessions where the defendants acted as interrogators and translators;
* Transported to a detainee site in a wooden box and covered with a hood;
* Scarred on his face when his eyes were clawed by an interrogator;
* Exposed to a mock execution of his brother and nephew, and told by defendant translators that he would be executed or crushed by a helicopter or a tank;
* Hung upside down, with his feet chained to the steel slats of a bunk bed until he lost consciousness, and hung by his arms;
* Repeatedly deprived of food and sleep; and
* Threatened with dogs.

On Oct. 2, 2003, during a surprise inspection of Abu Ghraib, the International Committee of the Red Cross discovered Mr. Al-Janabi naked, chained and bruised in a cell in the “hard site” of the prison. He was a so-called “ghost detainee” who was intentionally hidden from the Red Cross on subsequent inspections and held without appearing on the prisoner lists.

The lawsuit – which alleges multiple violations of U.S. law, including torture, war crimes, and civil conspiracy – notes that CACI provided interrogators used at Abu Ghraib and that L-3 employed all translators used there. Mr. Stefanowicz was linked to Abu Ghraib abuses in military court martial proceedings and was said to have directed low-level U.S. military personnel in detainee interrogations.

Mr. Al-Janabi and other former Abu Ghraib detainees are represented by attorneys Susan L. Burke, William F. Gould, and Katherine R. Hawkins of Burke O’Neil LLC, of Philadelphia; Michael Ratner and Katherine Gallagher of the Center for Constitutional Rights; and Shereef Akeel, of Akeel & Valentine, PLC, of Birmingham, Mich.

Mr. Al-Janabi stated, “We want the complete truth about Abu Ghraib to be told. The world must know what happened.”

The lawsuit also alleges that a newly published book, “Our Good Name,” by CACI Chairman J.P. (Jack) London, reveals that CACI’s internal investigation failed to include any interviews of detainees or of a former employee whistleblower.

According to the lawsuit, “CACI has repeatedly made, and continues to make, knowingly false statements to the effect that none of its employees was involved in torturing prisoners. In fact, co-conspirators have admitted that Big Steve and several other corporate employees were involved in the torture,” and at least one publicly released Abu Ghraib photograph shows a former CACI employee interrogating a prisoner in a dangerous and harmful stress position not authorized by relevant military regulations governing interrogation.

Susan L. Burke, of Burke O’Neil LLC, stated, “Contrary to the revisionist history some are propagating, the defendants are not victims of anything when it comes to Abu Ghraib. No pseudo-patriotic book campaign will change that fact. The real victims, the people who were senselessly tortured and are now pursuing legal claims – just as Americans rightly would if they or their families suffered these abuses – look forward to having their day in court.”

Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Katherine Gallagher stated, “Private military contractors can’t act with impunity outside the law. They have to be held accountable for their participation in the atrocities at Abu Ghraib and the other facilities. We believe what they and their employees did clearly violated the Geneva Conventions, the Army Field Manual, and the laws of the United States.”

Shereef Akeel, of Akeel & Valentine, PLC stated, “This lawsuit represents another voice for the innocent victims of Abu Ghraib but also for decent people throughout the world who decry torture. Mr. Al-Janabi and others like him have suffered enough. They deserve the right to hold the defendants accountable for their conduct.”

The case is “Emad Khudhayir Shahuth Al-Janabi v. Steven A. Stefanowicz, et al,” in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (CV 08-02913).

03-19-2009

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2009 — A Virginia federal court ruled Wednesday that four former Abu Ghraib detainees who were tortured and later released without charge can sue U.S. military contractor CACI International Inc. (NYSE: CAI), according to their U.S. legal team.

U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee, of Alexandria, Va., denied CACI’s motion to dismiss the detainees’ claims which allege multiple violations of U.S. law, including torture, war crimes and civil conspiracy.

CACI sought immunity against the lawsuits and claimed that the actions of its contract interrogators at Abu Ghraib were beyond judicial review. Court martial and other testimony from the soldiers convicted of abuse link the company personnel to the abuse.

In a ruling important to accountability for government contractors in Iraq, the Court ruled Tuesday that “[t]he fact that CACI’s business involves conducting interrogations on the government’s behalf is incidental; courts can and do entertain civil suits against government contractors for the manner in which they carry out government business. CACI conveniently ignores the long line of cases where private plaintiffs were allowed to bring tort actions for wartime injuries.”

The Court also rejected CACI’s effort to shield itself from accountability by invoking the political question doctrine. The Court found “the policy is clear: what happened at Abu Ghraib was wrong.” The Court reasoned “While it is true that the events at Abu Ghraib pose an embarrassment to this country, it is the misconduct alleged and not the litigation surrounding that misconduct that creates the embarrassment. This Court finds that the only potential for embarrassment would be if the Court declined to hear these claims on political questions grounds. Consequently, the Court holds that Plaintiffs’ claims pose no political question and are therefore justiciable.”

The plaintiffs are Suhail Najim Abdullah Al Shimari, Taha Yaseen Arraq Rashid, Sa’ad Hamza Hantoosh AI-Zuba’e and Salah Hasan Usaif Jasim Al-Ejaili – all of whom are Iraqi citizens who were released from Abu Ghraib between 2004 and 2008 without being charged with any crime.

The former detainees are represented by attorneys Susan L. Burke, William T. O’Neil and William F. Gould of Burke O’Neil LLC, of Washington, D.C.; Katherine Gallagher of the Center for Constitutional Rights; and Shereef Akeel, of Akeel & Valentine, PLC, of Troy, Mich.

The lawsuit alleges that the CACI defendants not only participated in physical and mental abuse of the detainees, but also destroyed documents, videos and photographs; prevented the reporting of the torture and abuse to the International Committee of the Red Cross; hid detainees and other prisoners from the International Committee of the Red Cross; and misled non-conspiring military and government officials about the state of affairs at the Iraq prisons.

Susan L. Burke, of Burke O’Neil LLC, stated, “The court’s ruling is another step toward ensuring that this litigation will contribute to the true history of Abu Ghraib. These innocent men were senselessly tortured by a U.S. company that profited from their misery. Their stories remain untold largely because CACI never interviewed them – or any victims – before reaching and promoting hollow conclusions about what happened at Abu Ghraib. These men came to U.S. courts because our laws, as they have for generations, allow their claims to be heard here.”

Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Katherine Gallagher stated, “The Court’s decision confirms that private military contractors like CACI cannot act with impunity. They must act within the bounds of law and can be held accountable for their participation in the atrocities at Abu Ghraib and the other facilities in Iraq.”

The case is “Suhail Najim Abdullah Al Shimari, et al., v. CACI Premier Technology, Inc. and CACI International, Inc.,” in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division (Case No. 1:08cv827 GBL).

03-20-2009

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2009 — A heavily intoxicated Blackwater “shooter” randomly murdered an Iraqi vice presidential guard after a Christmas Eve party in Baghdad in 2006 and the company then attempted to cover up the incident before reneging on promises to fully compensate the dead guard’s family, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in California federal court.

The lawsuit alleges that several Blackwater-related defendants – now operating as Xe and other names under the control of chairman Erik Prince – attempted to evade responsibility after former Blackwater employee Andrew Moonen fatally shot Raheem Khalaf Sa’adoon, a 32-year-old married father of two who worked as a security guard for Iraqi Vice-President Adel Abdul Mahdi.

The plaintiffs are Mr. Sa’adoon’s widow, Wijdan Mohsin Saed, and their two sons – 11-year-old Sajjad Raheem Khalaf and eight-year-old Ali Raheem Khalaf.

The family is represented by attorneys Susan L. Burke, William T. O’Neil, and William F. Gould, of Burke O’Neil LLC, of Washington, D.C. and Charlottesville, Va., and Joseph L. Oliva and Michael S. Faircloth, of Oliva & Associates ALC, of San Diego.

According to the complaint, Mr. Moonen left the holiday party and lost his way in a section of Baghdad known as Little Venice. Visibly intoxicated, he encountered Mr. Sa’adoon on guard duty and pulled out and fired his company-issued Glock at Mr. Sa’adoon, killing him for no reason.

Xe – Blackwater also is accused of spiriting Mr. Moonen out of Iraq, bribing an Iraqi government official, and destroying documents and other evidence relating to the Moonen shooting and other Xe – Blackwater shootings.

The complaint also alleges that:

• After high-level Xe – Blackwater executives Gary Jackson and Dave Jackson met with company personnel to discuss ongoing U.S. Department of Justice investigations, company employees began to destroy documents and other evidence relating to the Moonen shooting and other legal proceedings.

• Illegal Xe – Blackwater conduct is captured on videotape and audiotape, but rarely reported or punished. Records of illegal conduct are routinely destroyed by the defendants.

• Company mercenaries who murdered innocent Iraqis (“bad shoots”) were not disciplined or fired or placed on a “do not use” list. Instead, Xe – Blackwater continued to rehire and deploy mercenaries known to have killed innocents.

• Heavily armed “shooters” were routinely sent by Xe – Blackwater into the streets of Baghdad under the influence of steroids and other judgment-altering substances.

• Xe – Blackwater – which suggests that it primarily uses retired American military personnel – has hired former military personnel from at least a dozen nations. Some recruits and hires are known to have been involved in human rights abuses in Latin America and elsewhere. The defendants also hire and deploy to Iraq foreign nationals even though they were forbidden by the laws of their country from serving as mercenaries.

• The widow of Mr. Sa’adoon was promised a series of payments to compensate for the death of her husband. Xe – Blackwater paid a small sum initially, but then made no further payments.

Susan L. Burke, of Burke O’Neil LLC, stated, “By all accounts, the death of Raheem Khalaf Sa’adoon was senseless. His death is part of a pattern of illegal Xe – Blackwater shootings around the globe known to company management. From Mr. Sa’adoon’s death to the litany of other civilian shootings by Xe – Blackwater personnel, the company has created, fostered and refused to curb a culture of lawlessness and unaccountability.”

William F. Gould, of Burke O’Neil LLC, stated, “Blackwater’s clever new name cannot obscure the legal consequences of the company’s use of excessive and deadly force on innocents. A new logo for Erik Prince’s mercenary operation cannot change the fact that a guard for an Iraqi vice president was randomly murdered by a Blackwater employee in an act that has absolutely no connection to the protection of U.S. or Iraqi interests.”

The defendants include Mr. Prince, Mr. Moonen, Xe, various Prince-controlled entities such as Blackwater, The Prince Group, Falcon, Greystone Limited, Total Intelligence Solutions, EP Investments, and Raven Development Group.

Xe – Blackwater is accused in the complaint of committing war crimes, assault and battery, wrongful death, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, training and supervision, and tortious spoliation of evidence.

Mr. Moonen, of Seattle, Washington, eventually was fired for “violating alcohol and firearm policy,” according to Mr. Prince’s testimony before Congress in 2007.

The case is “Estate of Raheem Khalaf Sa’adoon v. Xe, formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, et al.,” in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (Case No. 09CV0561 W LSP).

03-27-2009

WASHINGTON, March 27, 2009 — A group of injured civilians and families of Iraqis killed in two unprovoked shootings in Baghdad by Blackwater “shooters” sued the company and founder Erik Prince in separate lawsuits filed today and Thursday in California federal court, according to their U.S.-based legal team.

The lawsuits allege that several Blackwater defendants – now operating as Xe and other names under the control of Mr. Prince – have demonstrated “a pattern and practice of recklessness in the use of deadly force.”

The first case was brought by the family of Sa’ad Raheem Jarallah, a 53-year-old teacher at a technical institution in the city of Al Amara, who was killed by Blackwater personnel near Al Watahba Square while in Baghdad on school business on Sept. 9, 2007.

According to the complaint, Blackwater “shooters” fired “without justification, on a crowd of innocent Iraqi persons in and around Al Watahba Square resulting in multiple deaths and injuries.” The complaint continues, “This senseless slaughter … was only one in a series of recent incidents in Blackwater’s lengthy pattern of egregious misconduct in Iraq resulting in the deaths of innocent Iraqis.”

The second case involves another Blackwater civilian shooting – the infamous Sept. 16, 2007 Nisoor Square massacre which killed 17 people and resulted in criminal prosecutions by the U.S. Department of Justice against Blackwater personnel. One Blackwater employee has pled guilty, admitting that Blackwater personnel were not protecting diplomats or being threatened and instead intentionally killed innocents after ignoring orders to stay in the International Zone by the U.S. Embassy Regional Security Office.

The 15 plaintiffs include the estates of 12-year-old Qasim Mohamed Abbas Mahmoud, who was shot while riding in a car with his father, who also was killed, and his mother, who was injured; numerous men and women who were in or around Nisoor Square; and two Baghdad police officers, whose attempts to stop the killing allegedly were ignored by Blackwater personnel.

According to the complaint, “Xe- Blackwater created and fostered a culture of lawlessness amongst its employees, encouraging them to act in the company’s financial interests at the expense of innocent human life.”

The defendants are accused of committing war crimes, assault and battery, wrongful death, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, training and supervision, and tortious spoliation of evidence. The complaint also includes allegations of drug use and cover-ups of illegal conduct by Xe – Blackwater personnel.

The families of the dead and injured are represented by attorneys Susan L. Burke, William T. O’Neil and William F. Gould of Burke O’Neil LLC, of Washington, D.C., and Katherine Gallagher of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Susan L. Burke, of Burke O’Neil LLC, stated, “These deaths are part of a pattern of illegal Xe – Blackwater shootings around the globe known to company management. With the litany of civilian shootings by Xe – Blackwater personnel, the company has created, fostered and refused to curb a culture of lawlessness and unaccountability.”

Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Katherine Gallagher stated, “The Iraqi victims of Xe – Blackwater’s unlawful actions have come to U.S. courts in search of justice. Justice begins with accountability, and private military contractors must be held accountable when they shoot innocent people.”

The defendants in both cases include Mr. Prince, Xe, various Prince-controlled entities such as Blackwater, The Prince Group, Falcon, Greystone Limited, Total Intelligence Solutions, EP Investments, and Raven Development Group.

The cases are:

• “Estate of Sa’ad Raheem Jarallah v. Xe, formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, et al.,” in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (Case No. 09 CV 0 631 H JMA), and,

• “Estate of Mushtaq Karim Abd Al-Razzaq, et al., v. Xe, formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, et al.,” in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (Case No. 09 CV 0626 LAB BLM).

04-01-2009

WASHINGTON, April 1, 2009 — Three security guards for the state-owned and operated Iraqi Media Network were allegedly shot to death by Blackwater personnel who have evaded responsibility for the unprovoked killings, according to a lawsuit filed today in California federal court.

The lawsuit alleges that the guards were shot at the rear gate of the Iraqi Media Network as they tried to move along a slowing car in the King Faisal Square traffic circle at about noon on Feb. 7, 2007. The circle separates the Iraqi Media Network and Iraqi Justice Ministry, where Blackwater “shooters” were perched on the roof during a meeting involving a U.S. diplomat.

The plaintiffs are the estates, including widows and children, of Sabah Salman Hassoon, a 38-year-old married father of three; Azhar Abdullah Ali, a 33-year-old married father of three; and Nibrass Mohammed Dawood, a 25-year-old. All were residents of Baghdad.

The lawsuit names several Blackwater-related defendants – now operating as Xe and other names under the control of chairman Erik Prince – including The Prince Group, Falcon, Blackwater Armor and Targets, Greystone Limited, Total Intelligence Solutions, EP Investments, Raven Development Group, and U.S. Training Center West, of San Diego.

The families are represented by attorneys Susan L. Burke and William T. O’Neil, of Burke O’Neil LLC, of Washington, D.C. and Charlottesville, Va., and Joseph L. Oliva and Michael S. Faircloth, of Oliva & Associates ALC, of San Diego.

The lawsuit alleges that the approximately 20 Blackwater personnel who witnessed the incident refused to cooperate with Iraqi authorities and destroyed documents and other evidence related to the incident. The families later discovered from Iraqi police reports that Xe-Blackwater had been involved in the shootings, and that the shootings were described as “an act of terrorism.”

William T. O’Neil, of Burke O’Neil LLC, stated, “The staggering number of civilian deaths in Iraq caused by the Prince-controlled companies reflects the pattern and practice of recklessness in their use of deadly force. We believe the evidence will show that these companies’ mercenaries have flouted the laws of the United States and their host nation Iraq.”

Xe – Blackwater is accused of committing war crimes, assault and battery, wrongful death, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, training and supervision, and tortious spoliation of evidence.

The Iraqi Media Network, which was launched with the assistance of the U.S. government, operates newspapers, radio stations and the al-Iraqiya television station.

The case is “Estate of Sabah Salman Hassoon, et al., v. Xe, formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, et al.,” in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (Case No. 09CV0647 L JMA).