Feds probe whether Blackwater smuggled weapons into Iraq

Discussion in 'Politics' started by ZZZzzzzzzz, Sep 22, 2007.

  1. Feds probe whether Blackwater smuggled weapons into Iraq

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Federal prosecutors are investigating allegations that employees of Blackwater -- a security firm hired by the State Department to guard U.S. staff in Iraq -- illegally smuggled weapons into Iraq, according to U.S. government sources.

    Security operations by North Carolina-based Blackwater USA were suspended this week amid concerns by Iraqi and U.S. government officials over shootings last weekend in which Iraqi civilians died. Normal operations resumed Friday, the State Department said.

    One U.S. government official said the U.S. Attorney's office in Raleigh, N.C. is in the early stages of an investigation that so far focuses on individual Blackwater employees and not the company.

    Another senior U.S. government official said the State Department has been cooperating with the prosecutors in the probe.

    The first public hint that an investigation was under way came earlier this week in a statement from State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard in response to allegations that he blocked fraud investigations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    "In particular, I made one of my best investigators available to help Assistant U.S. Attorneys in North Carolina in their investigation into alleged smuggling of weapons into Iraq by a contractor," Krongard's statement said.

    Neither the U.S. Attorney nor Blackwater officials had been reached for comment by Friday evening.

    The flow of illegal weapons in Iraq has been a major concern in recent months.

    The State Department and Pentagon launched their own investigation following complaints from the Turkish government in July that they had seized American made weapons from the PKK, a Kurdish group considered a terrorist organization by the U.S.

    CNN has received no confirmation that the probe of PKK weapons and the investigation of Blackwater employees are connected.