Even as FBI agents return to Baghdad to revisit the scene of Blackwater's September 16 shooting that killed 17 Iraqi civilians and wounded 24 more, the embattled private security firm continues to lose friends closer to home. According to UPI, German gun manufacturer Heckler-and-Koch, which formed a "strategic partnership" with Blackwater in August 2006, has announced an end to its association with the company:
Heckler-and-Koch said it would end its relationship in the wake of a German news report that Blackwater employees used its machine guns in Iraq and Afghanistan and that the two companies had a "strategic partnership."
Deutsche Welle said Tuesday that the revelations stirred criticism among some German politicians who said they were aghast at Blackwater's controversial role in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It is scandalous and unacceptable that a German arms company cooperates with such a lawless mercenary troop," declared Green Party lawmaker Hans Christian Strobele.
Lawless mercenary troop? That's exactly the kind of talk that makes Erik Prince's skin crawl. But it's also language that carries considerable political weight these days, especially given the high number of (allegedly) unlawful killings in Iraq that have involved Blackwater operators.
The end of the Blackwater/Heckler-and-Koch partnership means that paying clients will no longer be able to avail themselves of the "Blackwater HK International Training Services" program, which offered classes like H&K Rifle Operator, H&K Pistol Operator, and H&K SMG (submachine gun) Operator.