Friday, January 8, 2010
Khost Province. Detroit, Michigan. And Beyond.
WASHINGTON — Private security guards from Blackwater Worldwide participated in some of the C.I.A.’s most sensitive activities — clandestine raids with agency officers against people suspected of being insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the transporting of detainees, according to former company employees and intelligence officials.
The raids against suspects occurred on an almost nightly basis during the height of the Iraqi insurgency from 2004 to 2006, with Blackwater personnel playing central roles in what company insiders called “snatch and grab” operations, the former employees and current and former intelligence officers said.
Several former Blackwater guards said that their involvement in the operations became so routine that the lines supposedly dividing the Central Intelligence Agency, the military and Blackwater became blurred. Instead of simply providing security for C.I.A. officers, they say, Blackwater personnel at times became partners in missions to capture or kill militants in Iraq and Afghanistan, a practice that raises questions about the use of guns for hire on the battlefield.
In the spring of 2002, Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, offered to help the spy agency guard its makeshift Afghan station in the Ariana Hotel in Kabul. Not long after Mr. Prince signed the security contract with Alvin B. Krongard, then the C.I.A.’s third-ranking official, dozens of Blackwater personnel — many of them former members of units of the Navy Seals or Army Delta Force — were sent to provide perimeter security for the C.I.A. station.
But the company’s role soon changed as Blackwater operatives began accompanying C.I.A. case officers on missions, according to former employees and intelligence officials.
Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret C.I.A. Raids -By JAMES RISEN and MARK MAZZETTI
Published: December 10, 2009NY Times
Xe-[Blackwater]operatives killed in Khost Province attack
An obituary released Wednesday identified another slain Xe contractor as Jeremy Wise, 35, a former Navy SEAL from Virginia Beach, Va., according to The Associated Press. Other victims who have been identified include CIA security officer Scott Roberson, who had worked undercover as a narcotics detective in the Atlanta Police Department; Harold Brown Jr., a former Army reservist and father of three; and Elizabeth Hanson, a specialist in al-Qaida.
Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi
Al-Balawi was thrown into jail by Jordanian intelligence in March to force him to track down Ayman al-Zawahri, a fellow doctor from Egypt who is Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man. But his allegiance was to al-Qaeda from the start and not to his Jordanian recruiters or their CIA friends, and it never wavered
Jordanian intelligence arrested al-Balawi, the father of two girls, after he signed up for a humanitarian mission in the Gaza Strip with a Jordanian field hospital in the wake of Israel’s offensive there, the counterterrorism officials said. Al-Balawi was jailed for three days and shortly after that he secretly left his native Jordan for Afghanistan, they said, suggesting he had agreed to take on the mission against al-Qaeda.
Once in Afghanistan, al-Balawi provided valuable intelligence that helped foil al-Qaeda terror plots in Jordan, officials said. His Jordanian recruiters then offered al-Balawi to their CIA allies as someone who would help them capture or kill al-Zawahri. A former senior US intelligence official said al-Balawi had provided high-quality intelligence that established his credibility with Jordanian and US intelligence.
Al-Balawi came from a nomadic Bedouin clan from Tabuk, in western Saudi Arabia, which has branches in Jordan and the West Bank. He was born in Kuwait in 1977 to a middle-class family of nine other children, including an identical twin brother. He lived there until Iraq’s 1990 invasion of the rich Gulf nation when the family moved to Jordan.
07 January 2010, Thursday
TODAY’S ZAMAN WITH AP İSTANBUL
(CN) - Blackwater, now called Xe, has settled a series of federal lawsuits accusing the U.S. securities contractor of allowing the murder of innocent civilians and rewarding mercenaries who "killed Iraqis as sport."
One lawsuit claimed that Blackwater founder Erik Prince "personally intended that his private army of men kill and wound innocent Iraqis."
In another, an ex-employee said it appeared that Prince "and his employees murdered, or had murdered, one or more persons who had provided information, or who were planning to provide information, to the federal authorities about the ongoing criminal conduct."
The State Department canceled Blackwater's contract after determining that contractors had opened fire in a Baghdad traffic square in September 2007, killing 17 Iraqi civilians.
The incident led to multiple grand-jury proceedings.
Prince has since resigned from the company, which now operates as Xe Services LLC in North Carolina.
Xe released a statement saying the company was "pleased" that a settlement had been reached.
"This enables Xe's new management to move the company forward free of the costs and distraction of ongoing litigation, and provides some compensation to Iraqi families," the company said.
Susan Burke, an attorney for alleged victims and their families, filed a motion to have seven cases dismissed in federal court in North Carolina.
The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
al-Balawi & Gaza
Friends and relatives said Balawi's radicalization was molded by outrage over the image of Islam under attack and what he saw as Israeli brutality against the Palestinians.
"I never wanted to be in Gaza more than now or to become a suicide bomber who would drive a taxi that would take as many Jews to hell as I can," Balawi said in a recent web message.
Defne Bayrak, the Turkish wife of Humam Khalil Mohammad Al Balawi, said she doubted he was working for the CIA.
"I am proud of my husband. He has carried out a very important mission in such a war," Bayrak, who now lives in Istanbul, told reporters.
"I think it's impossible that he was an American agent. He was too adversary to work for America. He only could have used America and Jordan to reach his goals."
Bayrak, a journalist who has written books including one entitled "Osama Ben Laden: Che Guevara of the East", earlier told the newspaper Sabah she believed her husband was in Afghanistan to pursue his medical studies and she was shocked at news of his death. Defne Bayrak
Wearing a black chador, she said she learned in a phone call from one of her Jordanian husband's friends in Pakistan that he had blown himself up at a US base in Afghanistan on December 30.
2010 & Beyond.
Egyptians riot after 7 killed in church attack
Coptic Christians protest
BART officer in Los Angeles Court for Oscar Grant death
US Atty Western District of Louisiana Resigns
The bodies of seven CIA employees arrived Monday at Dover Air Force Base in a small private ceremony attended by CIA Director Leon Panetta, other agency and national security officials, and friends and family, said CIA spokesman George Little.
"These patriots courageously served their nation. The agency extends its gratitude to the United States military for their unwavering support since the attack, including their assistance at Dover," Little said in a statement issued Monday.
The former senior intelligence official said one of the big unanswered questions is why so many people were present for the debriefing - the interview of the source - when the explosive was detonated.
A half-dozen former CIA officers told The Associated Press that in most cases, only one or two agency officers would typically meet with a possible informant along with an interpreter. Such small meetings would normally be used to limit the danger and the possible exposure of the identities of both officers and informants.