What is not known is the impact among those who work in the armed private security sector
“There’s loads of loose cannons running around”
BBC Scotland October 1, 2012
Former SAS soldier Bob Paxman – who served in Iraq as well as other hostile environments – is one of a growing number of former servicemen who say they have suffered with the mental health condition Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
After a number of years in the military, Paxman retrained as a private security contractor, on protection contracts in Africa and Iraq.
He says as a result of being constantly in a dangerous environment and witnessing colleagues being killed and maimed he was diagnosed with PTSD.
The stress disorder is thought to affect up to 20% of military personnel who have served in conflict zones, according to research published by the National Center for PTSD in the US.
What is not known is the impact among those who work in the armed private security sector, many of whom are drawn from the military.
Yet the condition, says Paxman, led to him having flashbacks and becoming violent and paranoid.
“I was a danger to the public, a danger to myself,” Paxman says.
“A danger to whoever was perceived as being the enemy.”
Will ArmorGroup, AGNA, G4S, finally be held accountable for the deaths of Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoare??
The programme-makers heard stories of contractors being forced to work on dangerous missions with inadequate equipment, incident reports sanitised to protect company reputations and numerous deaths of former soldiers.
One security contractor, Bob Shepherd, said: “We know when a soldier dies it’s all over the newspapers, it’s on the TV. But we never know when security contractors die.
“For the companies it’s bad for business, for the government it’s hiding the true cost of these conflicts.
“If the British taxpayers knew the total numbers of people that have died on behalf of British security companies in places like Iraq and Afghanistan they would be shocked.”
BBC News Oct 1, 2012
Security firm G4S was sent warnings not to employ an armed guard in Iraq just days before he murdered two colleagues, a BBC investigation has found.
Private security guard Paul McGuigan, from the Scottish Borders, was shot dead by Danny Fitzsimons in 2009 in Baghdad while on a protection contract.
Another man, Australian Darren Hoare, was also killed.
All were working for UK contractor G4S, which was operating under the name ArmorGroup in the region.
In a BBC documentary, it is revealed that a G4S worker sent a series of emails to the company in London, warning them about Fitzsimons’s previous convictions and unstable behaviour.
The anonymous whistleblower signed one email “a concerned member of the public and father”.
The worker warned G4S: “I am alarmed that he will shortly be allowed to handle a weapon and be exposed to members of the public.
“I am speaking out because I feel that people should not be put at risk.”
Another email, sent as Fitzsimons was due to start work in Baghdad, said: “Having made you aware of the issues regarding the violent criminal Danny Fitzsimons, it has been noted that you have not taken my advice and still choose to employ him in a position of trust.
“I have told you that he remains a threat and you have done nothing.”
Within 36 hours of arriving in Iraq in August 2009, Fitzsimons – a former paratrooper – had shot and killed the two men after what he claimed was a drunken brawl.
An Iraqi colleague was also wounded as Fitzsimons tried to flee the scene.
Fitzsimons had worked as a private security contractor before in Iraq, but he had been sacked for punching a client.
At the time he was taken on by G4S, Fitzsimons also had a criminal record, was facing outstanding charges of assault and a firearms offence, and had been diagnosed by doctors as having PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
In the documentary, the parents of Paul McGuigan call for the company to face criminal charges over the killing.
His mother Corinne Boyd-Russell, from Innerleithen in the Borders, said: “[Fitzsimons] fired the bullets. But the gun was put in his hand by G4S ArmorGroup. They put the gun in that man’s hand.
“I want G4S to be charged with corporate manslaughter and be held accountable for what they did.”
The parents of Danny Fitzsimons, who is serving 20 years in a Baghdad prison after being sentenced for the murders in February 2011, were also shocked to hear about the existence of the emails.
Liz Fitzsimons, from Manchester, said: “And they still took him out there? They [G4S] need to be taken to task for that.
“The people who we feel are responsible, who we hold responsible for putting that gun in Danny’s hand, are without a shadow of a doubt G4S.”
A G4S spokesman admitted that its screening of Danny Fitzsimons “was not completed in line with the company’s procedures”.
It said vetting had been tightened since the incident.
Regarding the email warnings, the spokesman G4S told the BBC it was aware of the allegations but that an internal investigation showed “no such emails were received by any member of our HR department”.
He did not say whether anyone else in the company had seen them.
An inquest into the death of Paul McGuigan, a former Royal Marine, is due to begin in December.
The revelations in the Fitzsimons case come just weeks after G4S found itself at the centre of a crisis over its inability to meet its commitment to recruit security staff for the Olympics in London.
It is the biggest security company in the world in an industry that is worth about £400bn globally
WARNINGS ABOUT KILLER OF SCOT WENT UNHEEDED October 1, 2012
CONTROVERSIAL security firm G4S ignored warnings not to employ an armed guard in Iraq who went on to murder two of his colleagues, it has been claimed.
It emerged that a whistleblower sent two e-mails to the London-based company, which operates as Armorgroup in Iraq, expressing concerns that Fitzsimons’ unstable behaviour made him unsuitable to be handling weapons in a war zone.
The parents of Fitzsimons were also shocked to hear about the existence of the e-mails.
Mother Liz Fitzsimons, from Manchester, said: “The people who we feel are responsible, who we hold responsible for putting that gun in Danny’s hand, are without a shadow of a doubt G4S.”
The news comes just months after the UK Government was forced to call in 1,200 troops to police the Olympic Games venues after G4S failed to provide enough staff.
The firm recently won a £20million contract to manage the electronic tagging of Scottish offenders.
A spokesman for G4S said: “Although there was evidence that Mr Fitzsimons falsified and apparently withheld material information during the recruitment process, his screening was not completed in line with the company’s procedures.
“Our screening processes should have been better implemented in this situation, but it is a matter of speculation what, if any, role this may have played in the incident.”
G4S Driver Steals GBN 1.5 million June 23, 2012
Plovdiv. 33-year-old driver of armoured cash transport car in Plovdiv stole BGN 1.5 million.
The man was declared for a nationwide search. Yesterday at 14.25 in the First Regional Police Department was received a signal that there was an abandoned security van on Petrova Niva Str. During the investigative activities has been established that there were about BGN 1,5 million in a different currency missing from the car owned by a private security firm. Driver of the cash transport car George Enev (33) from the town of Plovdiv is suspected of committing the offense. In connection with the search police presence in Plovdiv is stepped up. Police stop vehicles and check IDs.
The inspection of the vehicle found that it is owned by a private security firm G4S. Clients of the security firm headquartered in England, are Governments, banks, insurance companies, industrial companies, commercial companies, public institutions and private individuals.
Last year, Danny Fitzsimons, a G4S ArmorGroup security guard in Iraq was convicted of shooting and killing two G4S colleagues, after a Baghdad bar fight. His family insisted he suffered from post-traumatic stress from an earlier stint in Iraq as a British paratrooper, and was so unstable, G4S ArmorGroup should never have hired him.
The Edmonton Journal June 22, 2012
After last week’s triple homicide at the University of Alberta’s HUB Mall, that ancient question has haunting relevance.
Armoured car guards Michelle Shegelski, Brian Ilesic, Eddie Rejano, and their wounded colleague, Matthew Schuman, were employees of G4S Secure Solutions, the world’s largest private security company.
So was Travis Baumgartner, 21, now charged with shooting them. Over the last few days, G4S has repeatedly asked Edmontonians to donate to a trust fund the firm established for the victims’ families. G4S won’t say how much, if anything, it is contributing.
It’s a lovely gesture to create a trust to accommodate a spontaneous outpouring of community generosity. But for the world’s second-largest employer, a firm with 657,200 staff in more than 125 countries, to launch a corporate fundraising campaign, without leading by example, is little short of offensive.
According to G4S’s 2011 annual report, last year it had revenues of about $12 billion, and profits of about $317 million. It’s part of the security-industrial complex that ballooned after 9/11. The Anglo-Danish multinational doesn’t just guard bank deliveries. Cash security is just 17 per cent of its global business.
In Australia, G4S was hired to provide detention services for refugee claimants and prisoners, with disturbing results. In 2007, the Western Australia Human Rights Commission concluded G4S drivers locked detainees in a scorching van without food or drink, leaving one man so dehydrated one drank his own urine. G4S was ordered to pay a $500,000 fine. In 2008, an aboriginal man in G4S custody of died of heat stroke after being driven through the desert in a metal pod behind a prisoner van. It was so hot inside, the man was severely burned, where his skin touched the metal floor. G4S was fined $285,000.
Are such controversies relevant to the HUB tragedy? A transnational conglomerate can’t be held responsible for the alleged actions of one employee among 657,000. And no psychological screening process in the world can infallibly predict human behaviour. Yet this tragedy, fundamentally, is about one G4S employee accused of shooting four others. In a world where governments increasingly contract out police, prison and quasi-military services to for-profit companies, it’s worth asking how we ensure these guns-for-hire are fit to carry them and how we hold a corporation accountable when things go wrong.
Whistleblower sacked after speaking out about G4S cutting corners when vetting security staff for the Olympics
From the people who brought you ArmorGroup Security at the US Embassy in Kabul
Looks like they are using the same Vetting process they used to hire Danny Fitzsimons as a security contractor who killed two fellow employees within hours of arriving on the job
- Sarah Hubble was told not return after contacting the media about her experiences working for G4S
- She says she had access to passport information, bank account details and national insurance cards but had not been vetted herself
The Daily Mail June 3, 2012
Data input clerk Sarah Hubble was interviewed by bosses, then told not to return after contacting the media about her experiences working for G4S.
Miss Hubble, 27, from Darlington, County Durham, claimed the system was creaking under the pressure of processing thousands of applications ahead of this summer’s games.
She said staff had to process a minimum of ten applications an hour and that the documents ended up piled in corners at the office in Stockton-on-Tees.
Pilgrims Group has helped the family of incarcerated ex-soldier Danny Fitzsimons attend their son’s trial in Iraq.
Accused of murder, Danny Fitzsimons was being held in Iraq’s Karadt Mariam police station when his family lost all hope of seeing their son.
When no other companies would assist, Pilgrims offered the Fitzsimons family a low cost solution that ensured their safe passage in Iraq by providing secure accommodation, transport to and from the airport and safe passage to and from the courthouse where their son was being held.
His family had not seen Fitzsimons since he flew to Iraq to work as a security contractor for another company in August 2009. They wanted to see their son before a verdict on the trial was reached, but required security assistance to ensure their safety.
A campaign by the Fitzsimons family to bring Danny back to the UK based on his history of mental health issues had been ignored by the British Government, while requests for support from major security firms had hit a brick wall leaving them with very few options.
A £9,000 contribution had been made by the company that originally employed Fitzsimons to work in Iraq, but money alone was not sufficient for the family to make such a high profile trip.
Importantly, specialist understanding of the city of Baghdad was required.
Deserving of assistance
Bill Freear, the managing director of Pilgrims, told The Independent newspaper that while he could not comment on the events that led to Fitzsimons’ imprisonment, he also recognised that Fitzsimons’ family were “completely innocent” and deserved assistance to see their son.
Freear went on to say: “While Pilgrims is not as large as some of the big private security companies, we have always operated in an ethical manner and have always been able to sleep at night.”
He added that Pilgrims had the capability to help, and was pleased that the company was able to do so.
Murderer was facing race attack charges in UK before killing in Iraq
Daily Gazette April 25, 2011
A DOUBLE murderer who served with the Army in Colchester was due to stand trial for racially aggravated assault in the UK before he killed two contractors in Iraq.
Former paratrooper Danny Fitzsimons, 31, was sentenced to at least 20 years in an Iraqi prison earlier this year.
But his violent tendencies had already surfaced with Fitzsimons facing an assault charge at Bolton Crown Court, according to the Manchester Evening News.
See Tuesday’s Gazette for the full story. See original at The Daily Gazette
People with PTSD can have “heightened levels of physiological arousal,” such as elevated heart rates even though they are not in real danger, Baldwin said.
“Because they feel unsafe, they’re more likely to be triggered into a defense state that might get them out of a traumatic experience that isn’t really happening,” he said.
“During this type of event, you think that your life or others’ lives are in danger,” Baldwin said. “You may feel afraid or feel that you have no control over what is happening.”
Danny Fitzsimons avoids death penalty and lawyers press for reduced sentence to be served in UK
Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve’s director, said: “If G4S had done the proper checks and risk assessments when Danny applied to work with them, they would have quickly seen that he was suffering from serious PTSD, a consequence of loyally serving his country.
A British former soldier has been jailed for 20 years by the supreme court of Iraq for the murder of two fellow security contractors, becoming the first westerner to be convicted in the country since the 2003 invasion.
The family of 31-year-old Danny Fitzsimons expressed relief that he had escaped the death penalty and asked Iraqi authorities and the UK government to ensure his safety in prison. Defence lawyers indicated they would try to get the term reduced.
Before his conviction and sentencing in a hearing lasting less than 30 minutes, there had been talks over whether he could be transferred to a British prison. Fitzsimons’s family and campaigners fear for his safety if he is moved outside Baghdad’s Green Zone to the city’s Rusafa prison.
Fitzsimons, from Middleton, Manchester, was accused of shooting fellow Briton Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare in Baghdad, colleagues with the UK security firm ArmorGroup, part of G4S, after an argument in the Green Zone in August 2009. He was also accused of wounding an Iraqi guard while fleeing. The incident happened within 36 hours of his arrival in the city. He had worked in the country before.
Fitzsimons admitted shooting the men but claimed it was in self-defence. The colleagues had been out drinking and the other two tried to kill him during an altercation, he said. Fitzsimons claimed to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
As he was led from the courtroom by Iraqi guards, he told reporters he was happy with the sentence. Asked whether he thought the trial had been fair, he said: “No.”
In an interview before the sentence, he told the Independent he had been treated “like a dog” in court.
Fitzsimons’s family and his British lawyer, John Tripple, who attended a court session last week, were not present at the hearing. His Iraqi lawyer, Tariq Harb, said: “This is a very good sentence. I saved him from the gallows.”
He told the Guardian he would appeal within 30 days. “I expect the sentence can be lightened to 15 years. The Iraqi law is independent and it is very fair.” Please read the entire story here
Judge hearing trial of Daniel Fitzsimons orders clarification of post-traumatic stress disorder
Sentencing of Daniel Fitzsimons, a British security contractor accused of murdering two colleagues in Baghdad has been adjourned until 28 February after a late intervention from his UK-based lawyer.
Judge Ali Yousef in Baghdad’s serious crimes court ordered further clarification of the term post-traumatic stress disorder, which is not recognised by Iraqi law but has been heavily relied on as a defence by Fitzsimons.
Fitzsimons has pleaded not guilty to murder but admitted manslaughter with diminished responsibility, claiming he acted in self defence.
He is accused of shooting dead two fellow ArmorGroup security contractors, Paul McGuigan, a Briton, and Darren Hoare, an Australian, at a base inside Baghdad’s Green Zone in August 2009.
If convicted, he could face a death sentence.
John Tipple, for Fitzsimons, said he would push for a prisoner transfer agreement with the Iraqi government which would allow his client to serve any sentence in the UK. Please see the original here
In only a matter of hours , barring further delays, Danny Fitzsimons will face sentencing for shooting and killing Darren Hoare and Paul McGuigan in ArmorGroups living quarters in the Green Zone. A possible death sentence.
The first Contractor to be tried in the Iraqi Courts under Iraqi Jurisdiction.
Lucky for ArmorGroup.
Under Iraqi Jurisdiction there was no formal inquiry into who armed a man with several psychiatric diagnoses, a criminal record, pending weapons charges, who was fired from two other security companies and was known to be a problem among his peers.
Under US or UK law ArmorGroup would bear some responsibility for arming a man this whacked. Maybe even be considered accessory to the murders.
Negligence of this nature occurs as a matter of rule with some of these Contract Companies. Like Armorgroup did, just under bid the contract so you can win it. The solution then is to understaff, overwork, refuse to provide the necessary equipment that was contracted and paid for, and put any warm body in place without vetting them to ensure that they are who and what they claim to be.
How many accidents, injuries, and deaths have occurred due to negligence of this nature?
We will never know. Very few incidents are publicized.
Contractors with psychiatric meltdowns are spirited away and promoted or dumped on their families. The victims of the melt downs are paid to keep them from filing a Defense Base Act Claim.
Deaths and Injuries of many foreigners are never filed on because they and their families do not know they are due benefits. Defense Base Act Claim filings are the only numbers kept.
All accidents in the warzones are the fault of no one due to the DBA’s Exclusive Remedy and dead men tell few tales when no real unbiased investigation is required.
There has been a very vocal outcry from the families and friends of Paul McGuigan and to a lesser extent Darren Hoare regarding what a bad man Danny Fitzsimons is and how they cannot wait to see him hung. We get these comments on our blogs as well as witness them in recent media coverage.
But there is an odd abscence of them laying any blame where it us undoubtedly deserved upon the negligence of ArmorGroup for arming Danny Fitzsimons and putting their loved ones in his path.
Darren Hoare and Paul McGuigan paid for this negligence with their lives.
The families of all involved have paid dearly and always will.
Danny Fitzsimons will soon pay for his actions, as well as every wrong done by every Contractor to the Iraqi people.
Danny Fitzsimons is to the Iraqi’s what Raymond Davis is the Pakistani’s.
Armorgroup continues to guard the US Embassy in Kabul despite having the low bid contract “taken away”.
by Amy Corderoy at The Sydney Morning Herald
AN AUSTRALIAN contractor killed in Iraq by one of his colleagues has been remembered as a ”great bloke” and a sorely missed father, and the man standing trial for his murder says he acted in self-defence.
A tribute page set up by Darren Hoare’s wife, Molly-Joe, is regularly updated by family and friends remembering their friend. On Friday Mrs Hoare wrote to her husband: ”I really need your shoulder to cry on.”
But the British man on trial for his murder, Danny Fitzsimons, 30, argued on Sunday that he was acting in self-defence when he shot Mr Hoare and another man, Paul McGuigan, after an alcohol-fuelled argument in August 2009. Mr Fitzsimons told Karkh criminal court in west Baghdad the two men had burst into his room and pinned him down before pointing an M4 rifle at his face, prompting him to use his pistol to kill them. // <![CDATA[//
Mr Fitzsimons said the men had attacked him after a drunken brawl in which he had punched Mr McGuigan.
Mr Fitzsimons – who submitted a psychiatric report to the trial saying he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder – has pleaded not guilty. He also told the court he did not think he was being given a fair trial.
A former team-mate from Mr Hoare’s AFL football club, Peter Johnson, 47, said Mr Hoare and his wife were well-loved and respected members of the Curra Swans football club, and local community.
The trial had been adjourned until February 20 as the court had sought clarification over Mr Fitzsimons’s psychiatric report, his lawyer, Tariq Harb, said.
The trial follows a U.S.-Iraq security agreement that went into effect in January 2009, ending foreign contractors’ immunity.
Before that, Iraqis had complained that private security contractors were operating in a state of lawlessness, never held accountable by Iraqi authorities for incidents in which Iraqis were killed.
The most famous such case involved a 2007 incident in which 17 Iraqis were killed in a Baghdad square by security guards working for Blackwater
At Fitzsimons’ trial Sunday was Hassan Jaber, an Iraqi lawyer who was wounded in the Blackwater shooting incident.
At one point during the proceedings, he whispered, “This is a victory for justice.”
After the trial, he told CNN he was very happy to see a British citizen being held accountable for a crime in Iraq, calling it a sign of Iraq’s sovereignty.
We ask again why ArmorGroup is not on trial for endangering the lives of everyone they exposed to an armed Danny Fitzsimons?
Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoare are dead because of ArmorGroup’s negligence in failing to Vet a mentally ill employee with a weapons charge pending in England.
Before joining ArmorGroup, Mr Fitzsimons had been dismissed by two other security firms, Aegis and Olive, on one occasion for “extreme negligence”. At the time that he was taken on by ArmorGroup he was on bail awaiting trial for assault in Manchester. here
And who paid the families of the dead? The Defense Base Act’s Exclusive Remedy relieved ArmorGroup of responsibility but does not pay benefits when alcohol is involved.
Upon arrival, he was given an M4 rifle, a pistol and a bullet-proof vest which he set down in his room before meeting with an old friend he had made during a previous tour in Iraq, where he worked with three different firms before joining ArmorGroup.
Fitzsimons and his friend, another ArmorGroup security guard who was identified only as Kevin, bought two bottles of whiskey before settling in Kevin’s trailer in Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone to chat over drinks. here
“You must question their employment practices and for them to be walking away at a crucial time like this is absolutely irresponsible. They have been part of the process right from the word go.” here
Daniel Fitzsimons denies murder of two colleagues in Iraq
British security contractor Daniel Fitzsimons tells Baghdad court he is guilty of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility
British security contractor accused of murdering two colleagues in Iraq has given his first courtroom account of the drunken night that has left him facing a possible death sentence.
Daniel Fitzsimons, a former paratrooper, told a criminal court in Baghdad today that he was not guilty of murdering Briton Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare in August 2009, but was guilty of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility, after he responded to taunts from both men.
Fitzsimons claims he was watching a DVD with a colleague from his army days, Kevin Milson, when McGuigan joined them. Fitzsimons had returned to Baghdad just over 24 hours earlier, following two previous tours with other security companies. He said he did not know McGuigan, but claimed intra-military tensions soon played out between them.
“Paul was with the marines and I was with the Parachute Regiment and as everyone knows there is rivalry between the two,” he said. “He started to insult me and insulted two friends of mine who had died in Iraq. I punched him in the nose and said ‘come on, fight me’.”
Fitzsimons’s testimony was similar to an account he gave to the Guardian in March last year. He claims to have been provoked, first in Milson’s room and then, later, in his own cabin, where he had returned to use the internet.
“I had been on the internet for an hour and then slept and then my door crashed in,” he said. “I saw Paul McGuigan and the Australian man, Darren Hoare. They kicked me in the face with their sandals. They wanted to kill me. It was shameful for a soldier.
“Paul took my M4 [assault rifle] from beside my bed and pointed it at me. He said ‘I am going to kill you’. I raised my pistol and shouted to Paul twice to put down his weapon, but he did not respond. Then I made my decision, as an old soldier, as a trained soldier, I shot him twice in the chest and a third time in his face as he fell.
“The Australian then tried to fight me for the pistol. He went for the trigger and tried to turn the pistol to my neck. He was shouting that he was going to kill me. He was much bigger than me. I pulled the trigger and put two, maybe three bullets in his chest.”
Fitzsimons had been diagnosed in Britain with post-traumatic stress disorder, but the Iraqi court is yet to decide whether that will be used in his defence. Iraqi medical experts have twice found that Fitzsimons was suffering no particular emotional disorder at the time of the killings.
The judge, Ali Yousef, questioned Fitzsimons on forensic evidence prepared for a coroner, which said powder burns were absent from Hoare’s body, not supporting Fitzsimons’s account of a close contact struggle during which fatal shots were fired from a short range.
Fitzsimons said: “I think the evidence was manipulated by the security company. The crime scene was changed.”
Salam Abdul Kareem, a lawyer for the victims’ families, urged the court to hand down the maximum sentence, which is death by hanging, or life imprisonment. “He did not stop shooting until all 14 bullets were finished,” he said.
McGuigan’s relatives and former fiancee in Britain have strongly challenged Fitzsimons’s version of events, claiming McGuigan was executed.
The case was adjourned until 20 February, when a verdict is expected
By Ammar Karim (AFP) January 23, 2010 10 am est
BAGHDAD — The British security guard accused of killing two of his colleagues in the Iraqi capital’s Green Zone insisted at his trial on Sunday that he acted in self-defence during an alcohol-fuelled brawl.
Danny Fitzsimons, 30, told Karkh criminal court in west Baghdad that the two men, fellow Briton Paul McGuigan and Australian national Darren Hoare, had burst into his room and pinned him down before pointing an M4 rifle at his face, prompting him to use his pistol to kill them.
“It was very clear that he acted in self-defence, and we also submit that he has psychiatric problems,” Fitzsimons’s Iraqi lawyer Tariq Harb told the court, referring to a court report that said the defendant suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“He also did this under the influence of alcohol. I ask you, judge, to lighten his sentence.”
In comments translated to the court into Arabic, Fitzsimons, who faces a maximum sentence of death if convicted, said he had returned to Iraq on August 8, 2009, to work as a private security guard with ArmorGroup, a British-based security firm.
Upon arrival, he was given an M4 rifle, a pistol and a bullet-proof vest which he set down in his room before meeting with an old friend he had made during a previous tour in Iraq, where he worked with three different firms before joining ArmorGroup.
Fitzsimons and his friend, another ArmorGroup security guard who was identified only as Kevin, bought two bottles of whiskey before settling in Kevin’s trailer in Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone to chat over drinks.
At a later point, a visibly-drunk McGuigan entered the trailer and disparagingly referred to two of Fitzsimons’s late friends, both killed in Iraq, as homosexuals, prompting Fitzsimons to punch him in the face.
The two, according to the defendant, shook hands to reconcile but continued to argue for the remainder of Fitzsimons’s time in the trailer, prompting him to return to his own trailer and go to sleep.
At around 1 am, Fitzsimons said, McGuigan and Hoare burst into his trailer, with Hoare pinning him down while McGuigan began hitting him in the face with a sandal.
McGuigan then grabbed Fitzsimons’s M4 and pointed it at his face, threatening to kill him.
According to Fitzsimons, McGuigan used threatening and crude language, which the court-appointed female interpreter refused to translate verbally, instead writing the words for the judge.
The defendant said that, at that point, he manoeuvred into a position to grab his pistol and fired two rounds into McGuigan’s chest followed by a bullet into his face.
After a tussle with Hoare, Fitzsimons recalled firing two or three rounds into the Australian’s body.
He then ran outside his trailer to call for help but when none came, decided to run to the British embassy, which is also located in the Green Zone.
He was then confronted by an Iraqi guard working for ArmorGroup, Arkaan Mehdi, who pointed his weapon at Fitzsimons. The defendant said he fired one round into Mehdi’s leg to get him out of his way, and fled.
Asked by the judge whether he had anything further to say, Fitzsimons said, in remarks that were not translated into Arabic for the judge by the court-appointed translator: “I don’t believe this is a fair trial.”
He also entered a plea of not guilty.
The trial was adjourned until February 20 as the court sought clarification over his psychiatric report, Harb said.
Danny Fitzsimons was hired by ArmorGroup to carry a gun despite having been diagnosed with PTSD, being in trouble with the law, and posting on Facebook about “The War Inside His Head”. ArmorGroup should be on trial here too.
The trial of a British security contractor charged with killing two of his colleagues last year opened Wednesday in Baghdad with testimony from a guard who said the contractor shot him.
Danny Fitzsimons, who attended the hearing, is the first Western contractor on trial in an Iraqi court since a 2009 U.S.-Iraqi security agreement lifted immunity for foreign contractors.
Iraq pressed hard for foreign contractors to be accountable for their actions after armed contractors employed by the North Carolina-based Blackwater Worldwide, now known as Xe, opened fire at a Baghdad intersection in September 2007, killing 17 civilians.
Fitzsimons is charged with two counts of premeditated murder in the deaths of two contractors, a British and an Australian, during an argument last year inside Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone. He is also charged with an attempted murder of an Iraqi guard working for a British security firm.
Fitzsimons could receive the death penalty if convicted.
The trial opened with a testimony of the Iraqi guard who claims Fitzsimons shot him in the leg.
Arkan Mahdi Saleh, an Iraqi guard at the security firm ArmorGroup that also employed the defendant and the two slain men, told a three-judge panel that he saw Fitzsimons with a pistol before he was shot.
“I was standing at a guard post when I heard some movements behind me,” said the 33-year old Saleh. “When I turned back to check, I saw Fitzsimons with a pistol in his hand and aiming at me,” Saleh, identifying the defendant as the man who shot him.
Two other witnesses took the stand on Wednesday, confirming much of Saleh’s account of the shooting. One said he saw Saleh lying wounded on the ground.
Fitzsimons appeared in court clean shaven, wearing a beige shirt, jeans and sneakers. He stood behind a wooden fence with two security guards closely watching him.
After hearing the eyewitness testify, the defendant asked a judge for permission to speak. The request was refused.
“I got a lot to say,” Fitzsimons told his lawyer, Tariq Harb, after the court adjourned and the guards were handcuffing him for the trip to prison.
One of the judges, presiding over the 45-minute hearing, read written testimonies of three foreign security contractors who have left Iraq since the fatal incident.
None of the three testified to witnessing Fitzsimons shoot his two colleagues and the Iraqi guard. They wrote in their statement they saw the group of three foreign contractors drinking and quarreling inside one of the caravans where they lived. Please see the original here
from the Huffington Post
at the Burnley Express
The trial of a security contractor from Manchester charged with killing two of his colleagues in Iraq last year has opened in Baghdad.
Danny Fitzsimons, from Middleton, Manchester, is the first Westerner to go on trial in an Iraqi court since a 2009 US-Iraqi security agreement lifted immunity for foreign contractors.
He was at Wednesday’s hearing which adjourned the trial until January 23.
He has been charged with shooting and killing two contractors — a British and an Australian — during an argument inside Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone in June last year and then wounding an Iraqi while fleeing.
All three men were working for the British security firm ArmorGroup Iraq.
By JAMES GLANZ and ANDREW W. LEHREN Published: October 23, 2010
The first shots sailed past Iraqi police officers at a checkpoint. They took off in three squad cars, their lights flashing.
It was early in the Iraq war, Dec. 22, 2004, and it turned out that the shots came not from insurgents or criminals. They were fired by an American private security company named Custer Battles, according to an incident report in an archive of more than 300,000 classified military documents made public by WikiLeaks.
The company’s convoy sped south in Umm Qasr, a grubby port city near the Persian Gulf. It shot out the tire of a civilian car that came close. It fired five shots into a crowded minibus. The shooting stopped only after the Iraqi police, port security and a British military unit finally caught up with the convoy.
Somehow no one had been hurt, and the contractors found a quick way to prevent messy disciplinary action. They handed out cash to Iraqi civilians, and left.
The documents sketch, in vivid detail, a critical change in the way America wages war: the early days of the Iraq war, with all its Wild West chaos, ushered in the era of the private contractor, wearing no uniform but fighting and dying in battle, gathering and disseminating intelligence and killing presumed insurgents.
There have been many abuses, including civilian deaths, to the point that the Afghan government is working to ban many outside contractors entirely.
The use of security contractors is expected to grow as American forces shrink. A July report by the Commission on Wartime Contracting, a panel established by Congress, estimated that the State Department alone would need more than double the number of contractors it had protecting the American Embassy and consulates in Iraq.
Contractors were necessary at the start of the Iraq war because there simply were not enough soldiers to do the job. In 2004, their presence became the symbol for Iraq’s descent into chaos, when four contractors were killed in Falluja, their bodies left mangled and charred.
Even now — with many contractors discredited for unjustified shootings and a lack of accountability amply described in the documents — the military cannot do without them. There are more contractors over all than actual members of the military serving in the worsening war in Afghanistan.
The archive, which describes many episodes never made public in such detail, shows the multitude of shortcomings with this new system: how a failure to coordinate among contractors, coalition forces and Iraqi troops, as well as a failure to enforce rules of engagement that bind the military, endangered civilians as well as the contractors themselves. The military was often outright hostile to contractors, for being amateurish, overpaid and, often, trigger-happy.
Contractors often shot with little discrimination — and few if any consequences — at unarmed Iraqi civilians, Iraqi security forces, American troops and even other contractors, stirring public outrage and undermining much of what the coalition forces were sent to accomplish.
The mayhem cropped up around Iraq, notably in one episode reported in March 2005 in which a small battle erupted involving three separate security companies.
At a notoriously dangerous checkpoint on the main road to the Baghdad airport, a cement truck entered a lane reserved for Department of Defense vehicles. A guard from Global, a British company, fired a warning shot, and when a man initially identified as an Iraqi opened the door and tried to flee, guards from a tower started firing, too. The man dropped to the ground. Then members of an Iraqi private security team parked nearby also opened fire, shooting through the chest not the driver but a worker from DynCorp International, an American security company.
When the truck driver was finally questioned, he turned out to be a Filipino named José who worked with yet a third company, KBR, the American logistics and security giant.
The conclusion drawn from this chaos was, “IT IS BELIEVED THE DRIVER ENTERED THE DOD LANE BY ACCIDENT.”
For all the contractors’ bravado — Iraq was packed with beefy men with beards and flak jackets — and for all the debates about their necessity, it is clear from the documents that the contractors appeared notably ineffective at keeping themselves and the people they were paid to protect from being killed.
In fact, the documents seem to confirm a common observation on the ground during those years in Iraq: far from providing insurance against sudden death, the easily identifiable, surprisingly vulnerable pickup trucks and S.U.V.’s driven by the security companies were magnets for insurgents, militias, disgruntled Iraqis and anyone else in search of a target.
Most of the documents are incident reports and match what is known of the few cases that have been made public, although even this cache is unlikely to be a complete record of incidents involving contractors. During the six years covered by the reports, at least 175 private security contractors were killed. The peak appeared to come in 2006, when 53 died. Insurgents and other malefactors kidnapped at least 70 security contractors, many of whom were later killed.
Aegis, a British security company, had the most workers reported killed, more than 30. Most of those were Iraqi drivers, guards and other employees. Not only the military, but journalists and aid workers as well relied on contractors to help protect them.
The security contractors seemed overmatched, often incinerated or torn apart by explosions their vehicles had no chance of warding off. In August 2004, the corpses of two men who had worked with Custer Battles were found charred and abandoned in a truck that was still burning on the road between Tikrit and Mosul, after it was struck by an improvised explosive device and fired upon from a Volkswagen, one report said.
In July 2007, another report said, two were killed when a gun truck operated by ArmorGroup, a British company, flew like a wobbling discus 54 yards through the air, flipping approximately six times, after a huge I.E.D. exploded beneath it in northern Iraq.
And in May 2009, three Americans, including a senior Navy officer, were killed outside Falluja when an I.E.D. overturned a vehicle escorted by Aegis contractors during a visit to a water treatment plant financed by the United States, according to another report and American government statements at the time.
Death came suddenly, from all sides, in all forms.
In late 2004 in Tikrit, seven men emerged from two Daewoo vehicles and mowed down Iraqi workers for Buckmaster, a company hired to destroy old munitions, as the workers got out of a bus, a report said. The gunmen did not flee until they ran out of ammunition, killing 17 and wounding 20 as two Iraqis saved themselves by hiding under seats in the bus.
There were suicide bombings, desert ambushes, aviation disasters and self-inflicted wounds, as when a Ugandan guard working for EOD Technology, an American company, shot and killed his South African supervisor and then himself in 2008 after being terminated, a report said.
A spokesman for EOD confirmed the incident and said that the investigation had been unable to determine “why this particular guard decided to take the actions that he did.”
“I think the only elaboration on this incident is to note that it was a very sad and unfortunate event,” said the spokesman, Erik S. Quist.
In another case, in Baghdad in the summer of 2009, a British contractor with ArmorGroup was reported to have shot and killed two co-workers, a Briton and an Australian, then run wild through the heavily fortified Green Zone in an attempt to escape. Finally, a coalition soldier tackled him, a report said, and another soldier “shot a directed-aimed warning shot into sand bags which immediately stopped resistance from suspect so that he could be brought under control.” Read the Document »
The alleged killer, Daniel Fitzsimons, is still being held in Baghdad while awaiting trial under Iraqi law.
The contractors also suffered horrific traffic accidents with multiple fatalities all over Iraq, seemingly as a side effect of driving at high speeds on bad roads where a threat can appear at any moment.
The threats were not limited to insurgents, the documents show: private security contractors repeatedly came under fire from Iraqi and coalition security forces, who often seemed unnerved by unmarked vehicles approaching at high speeds and fired warning shots, or worse. Even as the war dragged on, there seemed no universal method for the military to identify these quasi soldiers on the battlefield.
To cope, the contractors were reduced to waving reproductions of coalition flags from inside their vehicles, the documents show — but even that did not always work. After being shot at by an American military guard tower near Baiji in July 2005, contractors with Aegis first waved a British flag. When the shooting continued, the contractors, who said they were transporting a member of the American military at the time, held up an American flag instead. “THE TOWER KEPT SHOOTING,” a report said, although no one was injured in the episode.
But whatever the constellation of reasons — from war-zone jumpiness to outright disregard for civilian lives — the security companies are cited time after time for shootings that the documents plainly label as unjustified. This has blackened their reputation, even if it has not lessened the military’s dependence on them. “AFTER THE IED STRIKE A WITNESS REPORTS THE BLACKWATER EMPLOYEES FIRED INDISCRIMINATELY AT THE SCENE,” read one report from Aug. 22, 2006, referring to the company, now known as Xe Services, that the following year would become notorious for an apparently unprovoked killing of 17 Iraqis at Nisour Square in Baghdad.
In a written statement last week, Xe said, “While it would be inappropriate to comment on specific cases, we work closely with our government customers and cooperate fully in all investigations.”
In December 2004, just a few days after the confrontation with Iraqi security forces, another Custer Battles convoy fired into the windshield of a Humvee driven by American military police soldiers in a patrol that was approaching the convoy from behind on another road near Baghdad. The report noted laconically that the security contractors did not stop their convoy until they reached an American checkpoint, “WHERE THEY ADMITTED TO FIRING ON THE MP PTL,” the military police patrol.
Many of the companies apparently felt no sense of accountability. Contractors with a Romanian company called Danubia Global killed three Iraqis in Falluja in 2006, another report said, then refused to answer questions on the episode, citing a company policy not to provide information to investigators.
In 2007, a convoy operated by Unity Resources Group, based in Dubai, shot at an approaching vehicle near the Green Zone in Baghdad, wounded a bodyguard for President Jalal Talabani of Iraq and did not report the shooting until Mr. Talabani’s staff contacted the American authorities, one report said.
When asked about the incident last week, a Unity official, Jim LeBlanc, said that “in a time of numerous suicide vehicle attacks, a vehicle had presented itself in a profile that was consistent with the behavior of a suicide attacker.” Unity guards fired “carefully aimed warning shots” when the vehicle refused to stop, Mr. LeBlanc said, and the company did not initially believe that anyone had been hurt.
Only when contacted by American investigators did Unity realize that “an Iraqi security force member” had been struck by a ricochet, and from that point on, the company fully cooperated, Mr. LeBlanc said. After the investigation, he said, “all Unity members were cleared to immediately return to work.”
And still more recently, in July 2009, local contractors with the 77th Security Company drove into a neighborhood in the northern city of Erbil and began shooting at random, setting off a firefight with an off-duty police officer and wounding three women, another report said.
“It is assessed that this drunken group of individuals were out having a good time and firing their weapons,” the incident report concluded.
In many other cases, contractors cited what they considered a justifiable “escalation of force” as an Iraqi vehicle moved toward them and did not respond to “hand signals” and other signs that the driver should stop. At that point, the contractors would fire into the vehicle’s engine block or through the windshield.
The Iraqis who were shot at, and who the documents show were nearly always civilians, not surprisingly saw things differently. To judge by the disgust that seeps through even the dry, police-blotter language of some of the incident reports, American military units often had a similar perspective. That appears to be especially true of reports on “escalations of force” by Blackwater in the years leading up to the Nisour Square shooting, the documents show.
On May 14, 2005, an American unit “OBSERVED A BLACKWATER PSD SHOOT UP A CIV VEHICLE,” killing a father and wounding his wife and daughter, a report said, referring to a Blackwater protective security detail.
On May 2, 2006, witnesses said that an Iraqi ambulance driver approaching an area struck by a roadside bomb was killed by “uncontrolled small arms firing” by Blackwater guards, another report noted.Read the Document »
On Aug. 16, 2006, after being struck by an I.E.D. in the southbound lane of a highway, Blackwater contractors shot and killed an Iraqi in the back seat of a vehicle traveling in the northbound lane, a report said. At least twice — in Kirkuk and Hilla — civilian killings by Blackwater set off civilian demonstrations, the documents say.Read the Document »
And so it went, up to the Sept. 16, 2007, Nisour Square shooting by Blackwater guards that is again noted as an “escalation of force” in the documents. Little new light is shed on the episode by the documents, although in a twist, the report indicated that the street from which the Blackwater convoy charged into the square went by the military code name Skid Row.
The last reference to Custer Battles, which eventually lost a $10 million whistle-blower case in which it was claimed that the company defrauded the United States on billing invoices for the company’s work in Iraq, appears in a report dated March 15, 2005, describing an I.E.D. strike on an exit ramp in western Baghdad. An Iraqi driver for the company received shrapnel wounds in the face from the bomb and was wounded in the chest by gunfire that broke out after the explosion. The driver was taken to a local hospital, ultimate fate unknown. Please read the original story here