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Tag: Iraqi

FBI Returns Stolen Ancient Artifacts to Iraqis

Some of the artifacts returned/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Terracotta plaques and other ancient artifacts stolen in Iraq by defense contractors in 2004 were returned Thursday by the FBI to the Iraqi government in a ceremony at the Iraqi Cultural Center in Washington.

The FBI said it seized the invaluable items during a 2006 investigation.

The items included two pottery dishes, four vases, an oil lamp, three small statues, and the seven terracotta relief plaques, the FBI said. They ranged in age from 2,500 to 4,000 years old—from the Old Babylonian period to the Neo-Assyrian or Neo-Babylon periods.

“These artifacts are truly invaluable,” said Ron Hosko, special agent in charge of the Criminal Division in the Washington Field Office. “The FBI is pleased to be able to return them to their rightful owner.”

The FBI said the artifacts—some small enough to be held in the palm of a hand — were seized during a public corruption investigation conducted by the FBI’s International Contract Corruption Task Force, a multi-agency task force tasked with stop fraud and corruption related to U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere overseas.

The FBI said the artifacts were stolen by Department of Defense contractors who were traveling through the Babylon region of Iraq.

Investigators discovered that contractors collected the items and used them as gifts and bribes or sold them to other contractors who then smuggled them into the United States, the FBI said. Two of the contractors were sentenced to prison for their roles in the fraud scheme.

“Working abroad does not entitle anyone to remove historic artifacts and treat them as mementos for illegal sale,” Hosko said.

Fed Prosecutors: Blackwater Guards “Harbored Deep Hostility Toward Iraqi Civilians”

With troop reductions in Iraq, the U.S. will be hiring more and more private security guards. The Blackwater story should give pause to the indiscriminate use of private guards in war-torn areas.

blackwater11

By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Several Blackwater Worldwide security guards accused of killing 14 Iraqis in a busy Baghdad square in 2007 “harbored a deep hostility toward Iraqi civilians” and “engaged in unprovoked and aggressive behavior toward” them in the months before the shooting, U.S. prosecutors said Monday.

Five Blackwater security guards were indicted in December on federal charges of voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and using a firearm in a crime of violence in the shooting in Nisoor Square. The government says the guards unleashed an unprovoked attack on Iraqi civilians that day, killing 14 and wounding 20. The guards have pleaded not guilty.

Their lawyers have said the men acted in self-defense and did not intend to kill innocent civilians. On Monday, federal prosecutors filed court papers asking a judge to allow them to introduce evidence that shows the men “intended to kill or seriously injure” Iraqis during the shooting on Sept. 16, 2007.

For Full Story

Read Government’s Filing

Five Blackwater Guards Charged in Iraqi Civilian Deaths

The security company that became an ugly symbol of America’s unruly presence in Iraq faces ugly times ahead.

By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Five Blackwater Worldwide Security guards have been charged in a September 2007 shooting that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead and raised questions about the U.S. government’s use of security contractors in combat zones, according to two sources familiar with the case.
The guards, all former U.S. military personnel, worked as security contractors for the State Department, assigned to protect U.S. diplomats and other nonmilitary officials in Iraq.
Federal prosecutors obtained the indictment Thursday, and it was sealed. Channing Phillips, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District, declined to comment on the investigation. The exact nature of the charges could not be determined. The five security guards are expected to surrender to authorities on Monday, the sources said.
For Full Story

U.S. May Use Unusual Legal Tactic in Case (AP)