“I’ll See Your Jihad, and Raise You One Crusade” is a popular refrain among loons convinced they’re modern-day crusaders locked in an epic battle with Islam. Unfortunately, their apocalyptic visions are not confined to the lunatic fringe. Eric Prince, the reclusive co-founder of Blackwater “private military company” used to outsource US wars fancies himself a modern-day crusader, and he’s not alone.
Blackwater is infamous for its brutality, belligerence, and reckless disregard for the lives of Iraqi and Afghan civilians. This month, Harper’s Magazine featured an exposé, “The Warrior Class”: The Blackwater Videos, by Charles Glass on the rise of private “security contractors” in the years since 9/11. Video clips featured in the article are reminiscent of scenes from George Miller’s 1979 dystopian action film, Mad Max, but for Iraqis, this was real life–and all too often, death.
In one of the most disturbing clips, a Blackwater vehicle struck down a veiled pedestrian and never bothered to stop, or even to pause. Subsequent vehicles in the convoy also barreled past with total disregard for the victim, apart from making the effort to capture the monstrous crime on video: (H/T: Saladin)
Video of Blackwater Contractors Driving Over Iraqi Woman
In 2007, Blackwater mercenaries massacred 17 innocent Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square, including 9-year-old Ali Kinani. In January of this year, the “private military contractor” reached a wrongful death “settlement” with the victim’s families and survivors, though criminal charges were dropped, allowing the perpetrators to escape accountability.
In 2009, Blackwater re-branded itself as Xe (pronounced “Zee”), apparently to escape its well-deserved image as a gang of ruthless thugs for hire.
What’s missing from the Harper’s Magazine article, and much of the coverage surrounding Xe, is that Erik Prince is a fundamentalist Christian who built his military empire around the notion of Christian Dominionism. An exclusive video featured on Democracy Now revealed previously undisclosed details regarding the companies methods and motives.
The Economist provided more shocking details in an article entitled, “Erik Prince and the last crusade,” : (H/T: MasterQ)
In an affidavit lodged with a court in Virginia, one of the witnesses said that Mr Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe.” The statement continues:
To that end, Mr. Prince 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. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.
Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince’s executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to “lay Hajiis out on cardboard.” Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince’s employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as “ragheads” or “hajiis.”
Mr Prince is further accused of trying to cover up Blackwater’s misdeeds, which allegedly include profiteering and arms smuggling, by killing employees who tried to blow the whistle on the company….
…Sending Christian crusaders to a Muslim country where you’re trying to restore peace is what I would call a very bad idea. Perhaps that wasn’t the case, but sending freelance soldiers into a country unbound by any laws is still a terrible strategy. It breeds a shoot first, ask questions later mentality. And for Blackwater, at times, it was more like shoot first, drive on. The latest allegations are shocking, but much of the story is not surprising at all.”
No, modern-day crusader themes and utter contempt for the lives of innocent Iraqis shouldn’t be surprising at all, and it isn’t confined to private “security” contractors like Xe. Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik also fancied himself as a modern-day crusader who sought to restore the medieval Knights Templar, though he certainly wasn’t alone in this peculiar brand of madness.
It seems Christian-themed holy wars have captured the imaginations of prominent US politicians, journalists, and military leaders. In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, then President George Bush referred to the so-called “War on Terror” as a “crusade,” sparking widespread criticism in the Islamic world, and even in Europe. Four years later, the BBC reported that Bush told Palestinian ministers that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq:
“President Bush said to all of us: ‘I’m driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, “George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.” And I did, and then God would tell me, “George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq .” And I did.”
A “born again” dry drunk, Bush appealed to millions of conservative Christians, some of the biggest backers of the Iraq war and endless conflict in the Middle East to fulfill their apocalyptic visions:
This is the dark side to their religious world view. Their fantasy is often sung to uplifting gospel music of a soon-to-come Paradise. Its concomitant message (not openly discussed) is that God will then (brutally) kill the entire human race except for Christians (for many meaning “born again” Christians). The Left Behind book series dwells on how God will eviscerate, torture and kill all non-Christians. Why so many of them dwell on this is not clear. Perhaps it gives meaning to their lives. Or instilling fear is a way to keep them in line under their preachers’ domination. In any case they are cleverly used by the Israeli lobby, imperial neoconservatives and (more profitably) by the military industrial complex.
The Book of Revelation is the integral passion of their foreign policy, their belief that the founding of Israel foretells the imminent Second Coming, conversion or death for Jews and eternal happiness for themselves in Heaven. In their view America, as God’s instrument, should encourage wars and chaos in the Middle East in order to “hurry up” God and His agenda. One of their leaders is John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel. Senator Liebermanis a friend and favored speaker at his events. I have described The Strangest Alliance in History about how each side thinks it is using the other for its own ends.
“We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”
Her sentiment was echoed in subsequent statements by prominent Christian war monger Ellis Washington, in an article featured in the far right WorldNetDaily. Such statements weren’t merely confined to the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and in fact, persist into the present day, according to an article in the Huffington Post, Newt and the Loony Religious Fringe That Now Runs the Republican Party:
America needlessly went to war in Iraq because neoconservative war mongers — who laugh at the “those rubes,” as they think of earnest Evangelical Christian Zionists, and whose own sons and daughters seem notably absent from our armed services — used the religious passion and dedication of conservative Evangelicals to provide political means and cover for the neoconservatives’ commitment to America’s military dominance of the world. In other words the Evangelicals provided the votes to put foolish warmongers like George W Bush in power. And now Gingrich wants their votes.”
Not surprisingly, the US military also is also plagued with Blackwater-like perversity and religious extremism. Gen. Tommy Franks, who directed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, callously dismissed concerns over the number of innocent civilians killed in Iraq saying, “We don’t do body counts.” Not to be outdone, Democracy Now has revealed the Pentagon refers to the victims as “Bugsplat,” the name of a computer program that estimates how many civilians will be killed in US-led bombing raids.
Adding perhaps the most infamous religious twist to this madness is Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin. An outspoken Evangelical Christian, Boykin claimed Muslims hate America, ”because we’re a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian … and the enemy is a guy named Satan.”
Referring to a battle in Somalia, Boykin also said, ”I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol,” and later he said, “We in the army of God, in the house of God, kingdom of God have been raised for such a time as this.” Boykin also claimed God put George Bush in office, and continued to frame the so-called “War on Terror” as a religious conflict, even as George Bush tried to assure the world the US was not at war with Islam.
Should these remarks be dismissed as the rantings of a lone loon?
“What I’m really talking about is how eight or nine neoconservative, radicals if you will, overthrew the American government. Took it over,” Hersh said.
He said that the attitude that “pervades” a large portion of the Joint Special Operations Command, which is part of the military’s special forces branch and which has carried out secret missions to kill American targets, is one that supports “[changing] mosques into cathedrals.”
Hersh also said that Stanley McChrystal, who headed JSOC before his tenure as the top general in Afghanistan, as well as his successor and many other JSOC members, “are all members of, or at least supporters of, Knights of Malta.” Blake Hounsell, the reporter for Foreign Policy, speculated that Hersh may have been referring to the Sovereign Order of Malta, a Catholic organization.
“Many of them are members of Opus Dei,” Hersh said. “They do see what they’re doing…it’s a crusade, literally. They see themselves as the protectors of the Christians. They’re protecting them from the Muslims [as in] the 13th century. And this is their function.“
While the world focused myopically on “Islamic” terrorists, it seems the crusader mentality that germinated in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks has flourished and permeated not only the lunatic fringe, but high-ranking officials within the US establishment. Apparently extremists on both sides of the so-called Clash of Civilizations are inspired to play their respective roles, equally hellbent on hurtling the rest of humanity ever closer to Armageddon.