Blackwater weapons dump alleged
Two informants implicate guards
RALEIGH, N.C. - A defense contractor charged with trying to smuggle firearms out of Iraq said Blackwater guards asked him to help get rid of weapons after a deadly 2007 shooting in Baghdad, two government informants say in court documents.
The man told one of the informants, a US Army reservist, that Blackwater guards wanted to dispose of the weapons before an investigation began into the September 2007 shooting that left several civilians dead, according to a criminal complaint filed in the smuggling case. The contractor, John Houston, did not work for Blackwater.
Five of Blackwater's guards face manslaughter and weapons charges in the shooting, which prosecutors say was an unprovoked attack on civilians. That shooting strained relations between Baghdad and Washington and led Iraqi leaders to order Blackwater out of the country.
A spokeswoman said the North Carolina-based company, now known as Xe, only recently learned of Houston's assertions and has not been contacted by investigators about them.
Houston, a retired Special Forces soldier, was indicted last week in federal court in Maryland on a charge of conspiracy to smuggle firearms into the United States and attempted smuggling. Houston was working for New York-based SOS International Ltd. at the time of the 2007 shooting but left the company the next year to work for another defense contractor.
A second man, Michael Henson, was charged with the same smuggling counts and was also charged with making false statements. Court documents do not describe Henson's employer or role in Iraq.
A lawyer for Houston did not return a call seeking comment, and court documents didn't list a lawyer for Henson.
Court documents say Houston offered to ship weapons for Henson to Fort Bragg, N.C., and asked Henson to pick up the weapons when they arrived. Henson responded by approving of the plan, according to the indictment.
Houston told one informant that Blackwater guards gave him firearms for disposal after the Nisoor Square shooting, and Houston asked the informant to ship the weapons to the United States, court documents say. In return, the informant could keep two of the guns.
The informant declined and reported the matter to military investigators.
It's not clear whether the weapons Houston discussed with the informants were used in the shooting, or if they could have been confiscated firearms improperly stashed earlier.