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: