Nisour Square Massacre

Interviews with 12 Iraqi witnesses, several Iraqi investigators and an American official familiar with an American investigation of the shootings offer new insights into the gravity of the episode in Nisour Square. And they are difficult to square with the explanation offered initially by Blackwater officials that their guards were responding proportionately to an attack on the streets around the square. See also Al Rassaq Vs Xe, the case filed against Xe-Blackwater by the families of the civilians killed.

Summary of events

  • Sometime between 11:30 a.m. and noon, on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2007.
  • A bomb explodes near the unfinished Rahman Mosque, about 1 mile to the north.
    • At left, this image shows a Blackwater convoy escorting a State Department official to the financial compound, 11:50 am.:
      abc_blackwater1.jpg
    • The State Department official was visiting the compound when the bomb went off about 25 yards from the entrance to the financial compound at 11:50:58, shown at left in this image.:
      abc_blackwater2.jpg
    • At 11:53, the Chief of Mission reported a "Vehicle Bourne Improvised Explosive Device" (VBIED) explosion. The Chief of Mission requests a tactical support team (TST). Ten minutes later, Blackwater security forces arrive at the compound to escort the official.:
      abc_blackwater3.jpg
    • Other photos obtained by ABC News depict the level of damage caused by the vehicle explosion, which precipitated the Blackwater shooting incident.:
      abc_blackwater7.jpg
    • This crater was caused by the vehicle explosion.:
      abc_blackwate8.jpg
  • A convoy of four Blackwater SUVs leaves the vicinity of the bomb attack
    • At 12:05, two convoys, the first shown here, escort the State Department motorcade.:
      abc_blackwater4.jpg
    • This image shows the second convoy, made up of heavier vehicles, which according to Blackwater, was attacked.:
      abc_blackwater6.jpg
  • The convoy enters Nisour Square from the south, driving on an access road from the Iraqi Army base. The perimeter wall to the Army Base is just east of the square.
  • An Iraqi traffic officer, Sarhan Thiab, halted northbound traffic on Yarmouk Street.
  • The Blackwater SUVs take positions to secure the square to control traffic for a second convoy that was approaching from the south. The second convoy was bringing diplomats who had been evacuated from a meeting after a bomb went off near the compound where the meeting was taking place. That convoy had not arrived at the square by the time the shooting started.
  • Ahmed Haithem Ahmed was driving a white Kia sedan with his mother, Mohassin Kadhim, a physician, to pick up his father from the hospital where he worked as a pathologist. They approached Nisour Square in a line of traffic driving north on Yarmouk Street. Their car was the third vehicle from the intersection where the convoy had positioned itself. They posed no threat to the Blackwater convoy.
  • Blackwater opened fire on the Kia Sedan, beginning a 30-minute shooting spree.
  • A bullet tore through Mr. Ahmed’s head, he slumped, and his foot remained on the accelerator, propelling the car forward as the his mother clutched him and screamed. She yelled, "My son, my son. Help me, help me.".
  • The traffic policeman standing at the edge of the square, Sarhan Thiab, said. “I saw the left side of his head was destroyed.”
  • The car continued to roll toward the convoy.
  • Another traffic policeman rushed to the driver’s side to try to get Ahmed out of the car, but the car was still rolling forward.
  • A taxi driver was a few feet ahead of Mrs. Kadhim’s car when he heard the first gunshots. He was aware of cars behind him trying to back out of the street or turn around and drive away from the square. He tried frantically to turn his car, but ran into the curb. Unable to escape, he pulled himself over to the passenger side, which was the one not facing the square, opened the door and crawled out, flattening his body to the ground. "The dust from the street was coming in my mouth and as I pulled myself out of the area." Blackwater fired on him and his left leg was shot by a bullet.
  • Then Blackwater guards continued shooting, resulting in 40 bullet holes in the Mrs. Kadhim's car.
  • At least one of the Blackwater guards began screaming, “No! No! No!” and gesturing to his colleagues to stop shooting, according to an Iraqi lawyer who was stuck in traffic and was shot in the back as he tried to flee.
  • The mother, Mohassin Kadhim, was shot to death as she cradled her son in her arms.
  • Blackwater guards fired a type of grenade into the vehicle, and the car caught fire, burning the mother and her son to a crisp.
  • The charred remains of Mrs. Kadhim holding her son like an infant were found after the event, still sitting in their car.
  • Cars were struggling to get out of the line of fire, and many people were abandoning their vehicles altogether. The scene turned hellish.
  • “The shooting started like rain; everyone escaped his car,” said Fareed Walid Hassan, a truck driver who hauls goods in his Hyundai minibus.
  • He saw a woman dragging her child. “He was around 10 or 11,” he said. “He was dead. She was pulling him by one hand to get him away. She hoped that he was still alive.”
  • As the shooting continued in earnest Jabber Salman, a lawyer on his way to the Ministry of Justice for a noon meeting, described people crying and shouting. “Some people were trying to escape by crawling,” he said. “Some people were killed in front of me.”
  • As Mr. Salman tried to drive away from the shooting, bullets came one after another through his rear windshield, hitting his neck, shoulders, left forearm and lower back. “I thought, ‘I’m sorry they are going to kill me and I can do nothing.’”
  • Eyewitnesses testified that, Blackwater helicopters flew overhead and fired into the cars from above.
  • Minutes after the first shootings, a Blackwater convoy arrived at the other side of the square, where civilian traffic was also backed up, moved north from the square and opened fire on another line of traffic a few hundred yards away, in a previously unreported separate shooting, according to an Iraqi official who is a member of the investigation committee set up by the Iraqi government.
  • Minutes after that shooting stopped, a Blackwater convoy — possibly the same one — moved north from the square and opened fire on another line of traffic a few hundred yards away, in a previously unreported separate shooting, investigators and several witnesses say.
  • Blackwater guards left 17 dead and 24 wounded .
  • “My son was very gentle, very clever,” Mr. Ahmed said. “He was easy to be around. He planned to be a surgeon.”
  • “She is a beautiful woman,” he said of his wife, speaking as if she were still alive.

  • A separate military review of the Sept. 16 shootings concluded that all of the killings were unjustified and potentially criminal. One of the military investigators said the F.B.I. was being generous to Blackwater in characterizing any of the killings as justifiable.

VICTIMS

Blackwater guards left 17 dead and 24 wounded, including:
  • Himoud Saed Atban (Father of three boys, four daughters, including a newbord baby daughter.)
  • Usama Fadhil Abbass (Father of two boys and two girls)
  • Oday Ismail Ibraheem (Father of one boy and two girls)
  • Talib Mutlaq Deewan (seriously injured – father of three boys and one daughter)
  • Ahmed Haithem Ahmed – drove the white sedan and was the first to be killed.
  • Mohassin Kadhim – a physician, was in the car driven by Ahmed.

From the court case (Al Rassaq Vs Xe)

Plaintiff List

  • Mushtaq Karim Abd Al-Razzaq - 19 year old male resident of Baghdad killed by Xe-Blackwater
  • Qasim Mohamed Abbas Mahmoud - 12 year old male resident of Baghdad, killed while riding in the car with his father, Mohamed Abbas Mahmoud
  • Ghaniyah Hassan Ali - 55, female resident of Baghdad, shot in the head while riding in a bus with her daughter, Affrah Sattah Ghafil, whom she tried to shield from the shooting.
  • Affrahn Sattar Ghafil - 28, killed while riding with her mother Ghaniyah Hassan Ali.
  • Wissam Raheem Fulaih - 24, resident of Baghdad who was shot several times as he attempted to leave a bus and run to safety.
  • Alah Majeed Sghair Zaidi - 32, male resident of Baghdad, shot by Blackwater-Xe as he was driving through Nisour Square.
  • Yassameen Abdulkhudir Salih - Female resident of Baghdad injured as she was riding in her car with her husband, Mohamed Abbas Mahmoud, and 12-year old son, Qasim Mohamed Abbas Mahmoud, who were both shot by Xe-Blackwater.
  • Zuhair Najim Abbood Al-Mamouri
  • Ali Khalaf Salman Mansour - Police officer who tried to stop the killing.
  • Sarhan Thiab Abdulmounem - Police officer who tried to stop the killing.
  • Adel Jabir Shamma - 52, resident of Baghdad, shot multiple times in the leg in Nisour Square.
  • Jassim Mohammed Hashim - 30, resident of Baghdad, shot in the head while in Nisour Square.
  • Haider Sa'Adon La Teef - 19, resident of Baghdad, shot multiple times in the legs while riding a bus in Nisour Square.
  • Sa'Adoon Lateef Majeed - 56, resident of Baghdad, shot while riding a bus and observed his son Haider Sa'Adon La Teef being shot by Xe-Blackwater.

Recent Articles and Media (Add | All)

-- Raymond Lutz - 2008-08-19
  • Nisour Massacre Reconstruction:
    NisourSquareDetail.jpg

  • An aerial image of the traffic circle, where the shooting incident occurred. The blue rectangles indicate the Blackwater vehicles. Also depicted is the white sedan, which Blackwater says aggressively approached the convoy.:
    abc_blackwater11.jpg

  • Family members of mother and son killed in white sedan:
    HaiderAndMariamAhmed.jpg

  • Nisour Square at ground level:
    NisourSquare600.jpg

Comments:

Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
HaiderAndMariamAhmed.jpgjpg HaiderAndMariamAhmed.jpg manage 40 K 2014-06-26 - 21:23 Raymond Lutz Family members of mother and son killed in white sedan
NisourSquare600.jpgjpg NisourSquare600.jpg manage 46 K 2014-06-26 - 21:23 Raymond Lutz Nisour Square at ground level
NisourSquareDetail.jpgjpg NisourSquareDetail.jpg manage 147 K 2014-06-26 - 21:23 Raymond Lutz Nisour Massacre Reconstruction
abc_blackwate8.jpgjpg abc_blackwate8.jpg manage 44 K 2014-06-26 - 21:23 Raymond Lutz This crater was caused by the vehicle explosion.
abc_blackwater1.jpgjpg abc_blackwater1.jpg manage 46 K 2014-06-26 - 21:23 Raymond Lutz At left, this image shows a Blackwater convoy escorting a State Department official to the financial compound, 11:50 am.
abc_blackwater11.jpgjpg abc_blackwater11.jpg manage 47 K 2014-06-26 - 21:23 Raymond Lutz An aerial image of the traffic circle, where the shooting incident occurred. The blue rectangles indicate the Blackwater vehicles. Also depicted is the white sedan, which Blackwater says aggressively approached the convoy.
abc_blackwater2.jpgjpg abc_blackwater2.jpg manage 44 K 2014-06-26 - 21:23 Raymond Lutz The State Department official was visiting the compound when the bomb went off about 25 yards from the entrance to the financial compound at 11:50:58, shown at left in this image.
abc_blackwater3.jpgjpg abc_blackwater3.jpg manage 43 K 2014-06-26 - 21:23 Raymond Lutz At 11:53, the Chief of Mission reported a "Vehicle Bourne Improvised Explosive Device" (VBIED) explosion. The Chief of Mission requests a tactical support team (TST). Ten minutes later, Blackwater security forces arrive at the compound to escort the official.
abc_blackwater4.jpgjpg abc_blackwater4.jpg manage 43 K 2014-06-26 - 21:23 Raymond Lutz At 12:05, two convoys, the first shown here, escort the State Department motorcade.
abc_blackwater6.jpgjpg abc_blackwater6.jpg manage 42 K 2014-06-26 - 21:23 Raymond Lutz This image shows the second convoy, made up of heavier vehicles, which according to Blackwater, was attacked.
abc_blackwater7.jpgjpg abc_blackwater7.jpg manage 46 K 2014-06-26 - 21:23 Raymond Lutz Other photos obtained by ABC News depict the level of damage caused by the vehicle explosion, which precipitated the Blackwater shooting incident.
Topic revision: r9 - 2015-03-11, RaymondLutz
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