Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Khalilzad and the Killers

The U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, expressed sincere and heartfelt sorrow over the Blackwater casualties in today’s Washington Post (E. Londono and J. Paltow, ‘Troops Battle Insurgents in Central Baghdad,’ January 25, 2007):

Khalilzad also discussed briefly the five American security contractors, employees of Blackwater USA, who were killed in Baghdad on Tuesday. U.S. officials have said a Blackwater helicopter was shot down while assisting a U.S. Embassy convoy that came under attack in central Baghdad.

"We lost five fine men," Khalilzad said. "They helped me, I've traveled with them, so I went and visited them and saw them while in the morgue yesterday. I felt very bad, because as I said, I knew these people."

Khalilzad said the helicopter crash was under investigation. U.S. officials on Wednesday did not confirm reports that some of the contractors might have been shot after their small helicopter crashed.

A Sunni insurgent group known as the 1920 Revolution Brigades posted a video clip on the Internet that purports to show the downed Blackwater helicopter smoldering near a building and the corpses of at least two men. The authenticity of the video could not be verified.
The 1920 Revolution Brigades was one of three insurgent groups that claimed credit for shooting down the Blackwater helicopter, the other two being the Islamic Army of Iraq and the Ansar al-Sunnah. All three groups were allegedly involved in secret negotiations with Khalilzad in Amman early last year. I wonder how the ambassador feels about those talks now…?

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