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Jeff Sharlet’s cover story for the May Harper’s, “Jesus Killed Mohammed,” introduced us to the role that Christian fundamentalists play in military operations in Iraq. The title comes from a legend painted on a Bradley Fighting Vehicle that cruised the streets of Samarra. Sharlet shows us that a number of religious right figures in the military construe their mission as a crusade. Many of the same ideas apparently affect private security contractors operating in Iraq.
A few days ago, two declarations were filed in some civil litigation in Virginia in which the families of Iraqis are suing Blackwater for alleged war crimes. One affidavit, filed by a former senior management figure at Blackwater whose name was submitted to the court under seal, talks about the role of Christian fundamentalism in the operations. Erik Prince, the CEO and founder of Blackwater, is well known for his devotion to the religious right, of which his family has been a long-standing funder. But the court papers suggest how these attitudes have influenced Blackwater operations in Iraq. Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” the affidavit states. He “intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis.” It reports that Blackwater “employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms of Iraqis and other Arabs, such as ‘ragheads’ or ‘hajis.’” And it notes that Blackwater intentionally recruited individuals from the former Yugoslavia because of their violent anger towards Muslims.
Jeremy Scahill reports on the story in the Nation and discusses these developments here on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
From the June 2014 issue
Percentage increase in the annual number of polio cases in Pakistan since 2005:
A bowl of 4,000-year-old noodles was found in northwestern China; and a spokesman for the Chinese Academy of Sciences said that “this is the earliest empirical evidence of noodles ever found.”
A federal judge sentenced the journalist Barrett Brown to 63 months in prison for sharing a link to information stolen from the private-intelligence firm Stratfor by a hacker in 2011. “Good news!” Brown said in a statement. “They’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex.”
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”