Blackwater founder Erik Prince squirmed in the hot-seat this week after Al Jazeera host Mehdi Hasan, a Shia Muslim, asked Prince why he referred to people in Iraq as "chanting barbarians American troops had been sent to liberate."
Replying in front of a heavily Islamic audience, Prince attempted to pivot - suggesting that he was calling terrorists barbarians. Hassan, however, pushed back - replying: "You were not sent to liberate terrorists. Sounds like you are talking about Iraqis."
Prince, a former Navy Seal, stammered as he searched for a reply while the audience burst into applause.
"The US decision to liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein - who did a lot more horrid things than we can even speak of here - that certainly was the intent. I certainly had no role in that policy decision."
I asked Blackwater founder Erik Prince about calling Iraqis "barbarians" and about the murder & manslaughter that happened on his watch in Iraq.— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) March 6, 2019
You should really listen to his replies. (Watch the whole @AJHeadtoHead with him this Friday on @AJEnglish)pic.twitter.com/7f4unXn1zz
When Hasan brought up the US court conviction of four Blackwater employees for the 2007 Nisour Square massacre, Prince implied that the legal process was flawed.
"The federal government finally got them in a DC jury on the fourth time they tried it," said Prince, to which Hasan asked if he was saying that a DC jury was somehow illegitimate, to which the blackwater founder replied: "I’d say the jury of your peers does not really compare to the rest of America."
The massacre happened on September 16, 2007 when four Blackwater employees killed 17 Iraqi civilians and injured 20 when they claimed their convoy was ambushed. The following day, Blackwater's license to operate in Iraq was temporarily revoked, while the US State Department issued a statement acknowledging that "innocent life was lost." An FBI investigation concluded that of the 17 Iraqis killed by the Blackwater employees, at least 14 were shot without cause.
Prince's full interview is set to air Friday.