On the 22nd of December 2020, President Donald Trump pardoned four former US private military contractors, who were convicted by a federal jury in 2014 for unlawful killing 14 out of 17 people in the Nusoor Square traffic circle in Baghdad, Iraq. About 30 witnesses from Iraq travelled to the US to testify against these four men. Unfortunately, Donald Trumps actions has now ensured their testimonies were in vain and the families of those killed will never get justice.
The four private contractors responsible for these killings were identified as Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard, all of which worked for a company called Blackwater guards.
According to CNN, Prosecutors accused these men of illegally unleashing “powerful sniper fire, machine guns and grenade launchers on innocent men, women and children.”
The original FBI investigation found that 14 out of the 17 deaths were unjustified, according to rules of engagement for private security contractors in Iraq.
Among those killed were 9 and 11 years old boys, a doctor, a used car salesman, a truck driver, a businessman, an Iraqi soldier, a gardener, a taxi driver and an aspiring doctor taking his mother to an appointment, according to prosecutors.
How this impacts Africa
Over the last decade terrorism has grown in Africa, specifically in countries like Somalia, South Africa, Nigeria, Niger, Mali and so many other African countries. Recently, Boko Haram which originated from Nigeria has slowly found its way into neighbouring countries and threatens to spread throughout West Africa.
Some of the key factors that have aided the spread of terrorism in Africa are unemployment, poor education, disinformation, media propaganda, cultural differences and most importantly the United States of America.
Yes, the United State of America is the biggest factor in the spread of terrorism, not just in Africa but worldwide. There will never be any excuse for the acts of terrorism and it will always be frowned upon in Africa and worldwide. It is not driven by Islamic believes contrary to what people like President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron want you to believe. It is driven by religious zealots who will used any excuse they have to perpertuate acts of terror because of their hatred for western culture and the United States of America.
That brings us to a key point. These religious zealot recruit gullible men and women online and feed them propaganda about how Americans have slaughtered Muslims and are killing their people.They play them deepfaked videos of drone strikes carried out by the US on foreign soil. They sell them promises of paradise with virgins and tell them they will live a life of affluence. All of these are lies or rather were lies because over the last decade or two, there has been numerous evidence of war crimes commited by western countries in Afghanistan and Iraq.
For instance, On the 19/11/20 the Australian Defence Force announced that their investigation into war crimes committed by Austrialian solidiers in the Afghan war showed credible evidence that Australian elite soldiers unlawfully killed 39 people. The UK opened a similar inquiry into alleged unlawful killings by British troops in Afghanistan, in what was called Operation Northmoor. It was shut down in 2017 without any charges being brought against the soldiers involved.
Meanwhile, a 2016 report from the ICC said there was reasonable basis to believe that the US military had committed torture at secret detention sites operated by the CIA.
Finally, President Donald Trump decided to pardon four ex-private military contractors that were found guilty of killing 14 innocent Iraqis. Where is the justice for their families? This is why we worry, because what terrorist organisation are now feeding recruits is now being legitimised by Donald Trump. His actions are not good for Africa as the last thing we need is ISIS or Boko Haram using such injustice to spur on gullible youths into commiting acts of terror. We can only conclude by saying that America needs to rise above this kind of injustice and let their justice system do their jobs. People who commit war crimes should not be allowed to walk away, the lives of Iraqis are as important as those of Americans and Africans. Hopefully, the incoming president Joe Biden will do better but we fear the damage done by Donald Trump will come with consequence and retribution.