A series of allegations including murder, weapons smuggling and the deliberate slaughter of civilians have been levelled against the founder of Blackwater, the security company being investigated for shooting deaths in Iraq.
The accusations, including a claim that the company founder Erik Prince either murdered or had killed former employees co-operating with federal investigators, are contained in sworn affidavits lodged at a Virginia court on Monday night.
The company was the most prominent of an army of private security companies employed by the Pentagon and State Department to protect military convoys and guard US diplomats in Iraq.
The accusations against Mr Prince are being made by two former employees, including a former Marine, who have sworn them anonymously as John Doe No 1 and John Doe No 2, because they said they feared for their lives if their identities were revealed.
In one of the statements, John Doe 2, who worked for Blackwater for four years, alleged that Mr Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe” and that his companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life”.
They claimed that Mr Prince and other executives destroyed incriminating videos, e-mails and documents and hid their criminal behaviour from the US State Department.
John Doe 2 claimed in his affidavit that — based on information he said was provided to him by former colleagues — “it appears that Mr Prince and his employees murdered or had murdered one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information, to the federal authorities about the ongoing criminal conduct”.
The affidavits are part of a motion lodged by lawyers representing 60 Iraqi civilians who are suing Blackwater for alleged crimes. The five civilian suits were consolidated before a judge in northern Virginia. The motion was in response to a request by Blackwater to dismiss the case.
Blackwater, which lost its multimillion-dollar State Department contract in May, denies the claims and is contesting the lawsuits. No criminal charges have been filed against Mr Prince.
In a statement released to CNN, the company said that it would respond “to the anonymous unsubstantiated and offensive assertions put forward by the plaintiffs” in a brief to be filed on August 17. It added: “It is obvious that plaintiffs have chosen to slander Mr Prince rather than raise legal arguments or actual facts that will be considered by a court of law. We are happy to engage them there.
“We question the judgment of anyone who relies upon and [reiterates] anonymous declarations.” Five Blackwater guards who pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges are awaiting trial over a shooting incident in Nisour Square, Baghdad, on September 16, 2007, which left 17 Iraqis dead. A sixth guard pleaded guilty.
The John Doe 2 affidavit alleged that Mr Prince intentionally deployed like-minded men to Iraq “who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades”. It stated that Blackwater employees consistently used racist and derogatory terms.
The separate 72-page motion, which cites the affidavits, also accused Blackwater guards of boasting of kills, taking mind-altering drugs, steroids and using child prostitutes.
Mr Prince is accused of smuggling illegal weapons into Iraq on his private aircraft. He is accused of allowing his guards to use illegal exploding bullets “to inflict maximum damage on Iraqis”. He is also accused of racketeering and tax evasion.
The former Marine alleged that numerous incidents of excessive force were videotaped, watched at the end of the day, and then erased.
The affidavits and motion have been posted on the website of the Centre for Constitutional Rights, which is representing the Iraqi plaintiffs.
Blackwater was unavailable to comment to The Times yesterday.