Private-Security Firm Sued Here For (Allegedly) Shooting Up A Cab In Iraq

It was the morning of October 18, 2007, and three Iraqis were taking a cab from the city of Erbil to Sulaimaniya in northern Iraq, near the border with Iran. About halfway through the journey, at about 10:30 a.m., the taxi passed through the village of Kara Hanjir, when the road started to slope upward.

Suddenly, the passengers in the cab felt the sting of gunfire. Members of a British security firm, Erinys International, were shooting at them, and without provocation or warning. At least according to a lawsuit recently filed against the company in Houston federal court.

As the passengers -- Sangar Mohamed, Arazw Qader, and Zirag Qader -- sat helplessly in the cab, the security forces "unloaded a hail of bullets toward the taxi," it says in the lawsuit. The cab driver, Hadi Amin, was familiar with the warning signals used by private security soldiers to slow or stop traffic, but claims no such signals were given.

Amin stopped the taxi when he heard gunfire, the lawsuit states, and bullets and shrapnel sliced into the cab, injuring its occupants. Afterward, according to the lawsuit, the security team just drove off without a word or offering to help the people in the cab.

According to the complaint, a bullet hit Mohamed in the side of the head, causing him to lose part of his left ear. Shrapnel fragments landed deep within his scalp, neck and torso, requiring immediate surgery. Zirag Qader was hit in the face by a bullet, knocking out his right eye. Arazw Qader, who was hit in the head by shrapnel, watched as her brother was struck in the eye, "his right eyeball dangling out of its socket with blood rapidly squirting out," the lawsuit states.

The three passengers and the driver are suing the security company, which according to the lawsuit has "contacts in Houston," for assault and battery, negligent hiring, negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Their attorney, Tobias Cole of Houston, was not available for comment Monday. Hair Balls could not find a local listing for the security company.

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