Timeline of Events
September 16, 2007
Prior to Noon, on September 16, 2007, a USAID worker (the "protectee") was escorted by a Blackwater Diplomatic team (call sign "Raven 4") to a meeting about a mile northwest of Nisur Square. Suddenly, a VBIED (vehicle-borne improvised explosive device) exploded very near the meeting site, throwing the protectee out of her chair, to the floor. Raven 4 awaits the arrival of TST (tactical support team) Raven 22 to escort them back to the Green Zone. The explosion was so large, a satellite captured the image.
At this time, Raven 23 is on standby as the secondary TST. When the VBIED goes off, members of R23 hear the explosion and begin getting radio calls to report to their vehicles. R23 members drop everything and immediately begin gearing up to head off base. When they arrived at the checkpoint, a convoy of big rigs in the checkpoint area threatened R23's ability to respond if the situation escalated, so the Tactical Commander (Watson) ordered the team out of the Green Zone. Once R23 arrived at Nisur Square, the decision was made to lock down the traffic circle (a common task). The Nisur Square route was directly between the VBIED location and the Green Zone. Although at the time it was considered a "yellow" route (secondary), changing conditions on the ground could divert the returning R4 and R22 teams through Nisur Square at any moment.
Click through the gallery below to see what happened, just as soon as Raven 23 arrived at Nisur Square. This is the story the Iraqis, the Government and the media have refused to tell for the last 7 years. Within days of the incident, State Department investigators identified issues with Iraqi witness testimonies, and found evidence of enemy rounds in various locations around the traffic circle area. Weeks later, however, the FBI was dispatched to Iraq and soon developed the intention of undermining the State Department investigation by attempting to collect "evidence" and scene reconstruction after all the pieces of the puzzle had been moved. The FBI worked closely with the Iraqi government and quickly adopted the "Iraqi version" of events - namely, that Raven 23 took no incoming fire. The Iraqi mission was to portray the events at Nisur Square as a massacre, committed against "unarmed, innocent civilians."
After Raven 22 escorted Raven 4 and their protectee safely back to the Green Zone, they were still hearing radio comms that Raven 23 was immobile and still taking fire at Nisur Square. At that point, Raven 22 was dispatched back to Nisur Square to assist R23. By the time they arrived, however, Raven 23 had completed their tow-out and was headed back to camp. Upon arriving at Nisur Square, however, now filled with Iraqi police and Iraqi army personnel, they were quickly surrounded by Iraqi gun trucks bearing .50 cal. weaponry, larger than any weapon had by R22. This became a standoff of epic proportions, the Iraqis believing R22 was Raven 23 returning. The Team Leader of R22 dismounted and attempted to secure their egress, sticking to protocol and identifying themselves only as Embassy personnel on a diplomatic mission. It wasn't until the U.S. Army Colonel inserted himself into the situation that the Iraqis learned that the teams were part of Blackwater -- the magic word in Iraq.
The following information shows that not only was the "crime scene" (according to the Iraqis) never preserved, but that critical evidence of the incoming fire was cleansed from the scene, right under the noses of U.S. Army personnel who arrived on scene shortly thereafter. Further, despite videographic and photographic documentation that was immediately on-site, not one single body (other than the charred remains in the white car) was documented. The hospital was just a bit further south from this location - yet no one thought to go and collect evidence of ANY kind from the alleged "victims."
Notice the number of, and varying kinds of, Iraqi forces present at the scene immediately following the incident. Notice the picking up of evidence before it could be photographed in place -- odd, since there were multiple cameras on scene to document the actual location -- both Iraqi and American. Col. Boslego (see next text box, below...) testified that "forensic evidence" wasn't important to the Iraqis...yet they collected as much "evidence" of American munitions as they could find.
This photo was taken by a non-Blackwater contractor working for the DOD, stationed at FOB Prosperity, Tower 8. The car on fire is the "white Kia" that pulled out of traffic that was stopped in front of it, ignoring all the escalation of force protocols employed by Raven 23. Raven 23 was already the secondary TST to respond to a VBIED on location of one of their protectees. A car that refuses to heed halt signals is not only a legitimate threat, but could also have been part of a coordinated effort by insurgents to take out "first responders" -- a tactic they were quickly perfecting. Appropriate escalation of force was absolutely used by Raven 23, including the use of 203 grenades. It was only AFTER these grenades were fired at the car that it stopped moving toward the convoy. See the Threats page -- the intel analyst had warned the teams that a white Kia was on the BOLO list for potential VBIEDs. In the photo below, Truck 4 in the Raven 23 convoy would have been positioned somewhere between that burning white car and the yellow tanker truck. Had that white car been a VBIED, nothing in this photo would have remained. Inches matter. Raven 23 stopped that car as far away from them as they possibly could. Because their Command Vehicle (truck #3) had suffered a bullet strike to their radiator, they were immobile, requiring a tow-out. If the white car had been a VBIED, there was no way for the entire team to escape it.
More importantly, WHERE are the bodies? Where is the massacre? Where are the 30+ people and vehicles that were allegedly damaged? This photograph is PROOF that no such massacre occurred.
There is no question that it took an extraordinary amount of firepower to stop the white Kia. Unbeknownst to the members of Raven 23, this car was driven by a young medical student, with his mother as a passenger. Early testimony indicated that an Iraqi policemen working further south of Nisur Square had waved the vehicle through. Over the course of the Iraqi investigation, however, that testimony wafted away. Shocking is the number of people walking completely unimpeded through the area.
The Bus Stop (below). A structure made of concrete pillars - not a solid structure. Raven 23 was taking fire by one or more people firing from behind this structure. One Iraqi witness, a member of the Iraqi Army, claimed to have been riding a bus northbound when traffic stopped and he heard firing. Getting off the bus, he ran PAST a bus stop near him and continued north toward Nisur Square to THIS bus stop.
NOTE: The GREEN scribble marking on the photo indicates the location where the AK shells, depicted in the subsequent photos, were located. This photo, however, was NOT taken on the day of the incident. However, if you begin to piece together all the other photos of the scene, it quickly becomes quite obvious how easily a sanitation or cleansing of the area to remove enemy combatants, their weapons and their brass, must have happened. There can be NO equivocation - the area WAS cleansed because the convoy WAS taking incoming fire.
The next 2 photos were contained in an array of 40+ photos taken by a member of the U.S. Army just after the incident. In the background, you continue to see civilians and others walking unrestrained through the area. This array of photos was turned over by the U.S. Army to the FBI. Although EVERY OTHER photo in the array was at one time or another used in Grand Jury presentations, these 2 photos were NEVER produced to the Defense until MID-POINT during the trial in 2014. The Government claimed that, for 7 years, these photos existed in an enveloped marked "Confidential" by the previous prosecution team and never discovered. The question now is, if THESE enemy shell casings disappeared right under the noses of the U.S. Army on scene the same day, the Department of State who arrived 3 days later, and the FBI when they arrived 3 WEEKS later, how much other evidence of incoming fire disappeared? Even with all the evidence that WAS found by various teams of investigators, the FBI and the DOJ REFUSED to accept that Raven 23 had taken incoming, but rather, accepted the Iraqi tale of complete innocence.
Photographic evidence of AK-47 shells right here, in this location, taken by another U.S. serviceman, IN THE CHAIN OF COMMAND of Colonel Boslego. For reference between the photo above and below - note the blue bottle cap.
And for contrast, here are two photos taken of the same area, on September 20, and September 27, respectively.