31 March 2004 Fallujah ambush
On March 31, 2004 an ambush saw Iraqi insurgents
Iraqi insurgency
The Iraqi Resistance is composed of a diverse mix of militias, foreign fighters, all-Iraqi units or mixtures opposing the United States-led multinational force in Iraq and the post-2003 Iraqi government...

 in Fallujah
Fallujah is a city in the Iraqi province of Al Anbar, located roughly west of Baghdad on the Euphrates. Fallujah dates from Babylonian times and was host to important Jewish academies for many centuries....

 attack a convoy containing four United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 contractors from the private security company Blackwater USA
Blackwater USA
Xe Services LLC, better known by its former names, Blackwater USA and Blackwater Worldwide, is a private military company founded in 1997 by Erik Prince and Al Clark.. Xe is currently the largest of the U.S. State Department's three private security contractors...

, who were conducting delivery for food caterers ESS
Eurest Support Services
Eurest Support Services is a subsidiary of the catering company, Compass Group PLC specializing in harsh-environment large-scale food service and facilities management...


The four armed contractors, Scott Helvenston
Scott Helvenston
Stephen "Scott" Helvenston was a former United States Navy SEAL, and worked as a security contractor for Blackwater Security when he was killed in the 31 March 2004 Fallujah ambush within days of arriving in Iraq....

, Jerko Zovko, Wesley Batalona and Mike Teague, were killed, dragged from their cars, beaten, and set ablaze. Their burned corpses were then dragged through the streets before being hanged over a bridge crossing the Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...


Photos of the event were released to news agencies
News agency
A news agency is an organization of journalists established to supply news reports to news organizations: newspapers, magazines, and radio and television broadcasters. Such an agency may also be referred to as a wire service, newswire or news service.-History:The oldest news agency is Agence...

 worldwide, causing a great deal of indignation in the United States, and prompting the announcement of a counter-insurgency campaign in the city.

This led to a US operation to occupy the city in the First Battle of Fallujah that was halted at midpoint for political reasons, and a later successful attempt seven months later in the Second Battle of Fallujah.

The families of the victims filed suit (Helvenston et al. v. Blackwater Security
Helvenston et al. v. Blackwater Security
Helvenston et al. v. Blackwater Security is the lawsuit for wrongful death filed by the families of the four contractors for Blackwater Security who were slain in the 31 March 2004 Fallujah ambush...

) against Blackwater USA for wrongful death in January 2005.
According to a 2010 article in Men's Journal
Men's Journal
Men's Journal is an American men's lifestyle magazine focused on outdoor recreation and comprising editorials on the outdoors, environmental issues, health and fitness, style and fashion, and "gear". It is owned by Jann Wenner of Wenner Media....

, the personal wealth of Blackwater's founder, Erik Prince
Erik Prince
Erik Dean Prince is the founder and formerly the sole owner of the private military company Xe Services LLC, formerly Blackwater Worldwide. On March 2, 2009, Prince announced that he was stepping down as CEO of Xe. He is currently living abroad in the United Arab Emirates, where he is creating a...

, made him an easy target for the lawsuit.
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