Four former Blackwater Worldwide contractors have been convicted by a federal court for their role in the 2007 mass shooting in Iraq. The attack, which took place in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, resulted in the deaths of 17 Iraqis and injury of 18 others, most of whom were deemed innocent civilians. The incident also strained relations between the U.S. and the occupied nation.
The conviction of the ex-Blackwater security guards demonstrates that justice is being served in Iraq. After seven years of deliberation, in which Baghdad and Iraq in general have been drastically transformed by ISIS and a new government, that justice means little for those in Iraq. The U.S. is proving that it’s capable of making amends for obvious mistakes, but that doesn’t change the fact that the current political and social landscape in Iraq is the result of multiple mistakes on behalf of the American government.
The convicted Blackwater contractors — Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan LIberty and Dustin Heard — range in age from 30 to 35. Each received multiple counts of voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and firearms offenses, while Nicholas Slatten was also found guilty of first-degree murder.
Witness accounts of the scene at Nusour Square during the shooting are tragically reminiscent of the inexplicable acts of terror and gun violence that have plagued American streets in recent years. “It was horror. People running out of their cars were being shot at. … Anything that moved in Nusour Square was shot. Women, children, young people, they shot everyone,” said Attorney Hasan Jaber, who was driving to work when he was stuck in traffic near the day of the shooting, according to CNN.
The recent trial has reminded those both in the U.S. and Iraq of the terrible events that took place in a moment of confusion and unrestrained anger that day. The shooting seemed to symbolize the American approach in Baghdad and the War on Terror in general, in which any civilian could be a suspect to random acts of terrorism. That day Iraqis learned that those employed by the U.S. government could, too, be terrorists.
It technically took a two month trial and 28 days of deliberation for a federal jury to reach the same conclusion, but it was an inevitable conclusion seven years in the making. Seven years later, Iraq has been thrust into a new civil war, with soldiers from ISIS posing even more significant threats of unleashing random acts of violence on Iraqi streets. There’s new leadership in Baghdad, as well as new leadership in the United States. Nothing is certain for the country’s future. The conviction of the Blackwater guards shouldn’t be celebrated. It should be acknowledged as a slight instance of justice being served for a war crime in Iraq, and a reminder that there is much more to be done.