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Posts Tagged ‘Erik Prince’

Blackwater founder builds foreign force in UAE: report

Posted by Admin on May 15, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110515/wl_nm/us_uae_troops

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The crown prince of Abu Dhabi has hired the founder of private security firm Blackwater Worldwide to set up an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the United Arab Emirates, The New York Times reported on Sunday.

The Times said it obtained documents that showed the unit being formed by Erik Prince‘s new company Reflex Responses with $529 million from the UAE would be used to thwart internal revolt, conduct special operations and defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from attack.

The newspaper said the decision to hire the contingent of foreign troops was taken before a wave of popular unrest spread across the Arab world in recent months, including to the UAE’s Gulf neighbors Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

The UAE itself has seen no serious unrest. Most of its population is made up of foreign workers.

Blackwater, which once had lucrative contracts to protect U.S. officials in Iraq, became notorious in the region in 2007 when its guards opened fire in Baghdad traffic, killing at least 14 people in what the Iraqi government called a “massacre.”

One former Blackwater guard pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges in those killings, and a U.S. court reinstated charges against five others last month. Prince has since sold the firm, which changed its name to Xe. The firm denies wrongdoing.

The newspaper said the Emirates, a close ally of the United States, had some support in Washington for Prince’s new project, although it was not clear if it had official U.S. approval.

Two UAE government officials contacted by Reuters declined immediate comment on the New York Times report, and the U.S. embassy in the UAE also had no immediate comment. It was not possible to locate Prince for comment.

The Times quoted a U.S. official who was aware of the programme as saying: “The Gulf countries, and the U.A.E. in particular, don’t have a lot of military experience. It would make sense if they looked outside their borders for help.”

State Department spokesman Mark Toner told The Times the department was investigating to see if the project broke any U.S. laws. U.S. law requires a license for American citizens to train foreign troops.

Toner also pointed out that Blackwater, now known as Xe Services, had paid $42 million in fines in 2010 for training foreign forces in Jordan without a license, the Times said.

According to former employees of the project and U.S. officials cited by the Times, the troops were brought to a training camp in the UAE from Colombia, South Africa and other countries, starting in the summer of 2010.

They were being trained by retired U.S. military, and former members of German and British special operations units and the French Foreign Legion, the Times said.

Prince had insisted the force hire no Muslims, because they “could not be counted on to kill fellow Muslims,” the paper said.

Former employees also told the newspaper the Emirates hoped the force could be used to counter any threat from Iran, which the Arab states in the Gulf consider a foe.

Although The Times said the documents it obtained did not mention Erik Prince, former employees had told the newspaper he had negotiated the contract with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

Emiriati officials had proposed expanding the force to a brigade of several thousand if the first battalion was successful, the newspaper said.

(Additional reporting is by Mahmoud Habboush)

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Former Blackwater bought by investment group

Posted by Admin on December 18, 2010

Blackwater Worldwide's new company logo--refer...

Blackwater now Renamed Xe Services

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101217/ap_on_bi_ge/us_blackwater_sale

Erik Prince

AP – FILE – In this July 2008 file photo, Erik Prince, founder and CEO of then Blackwater Worldwide, now called Xe Services

RALEIGH, N.C. – An investment group with ties to the founder of the company formerly known as Blackwater announced Friday that it has bought the security firm, which was heavily criticized for its contractors’ actions in Iraq.

USTC Holdings said in a statement that the acquisition of the company now called Xe Services includes its training facility in North Carolina.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. But the statement said owner and founder Erik Prince will no longer have an equity stake and no longer be involved in Xe’s management or operations. The company will be managed by a board appointed by the equity holders and will include independent, unaffiliated directors, the statement said.

Prince founded the company in 1997 along with former colleagues from the Navy SEALs.

The ownership group is led by two private equity firms, including New York-based Forte Capital Advisors. Forte managing partner Jason DeYonker has been a longtime financial adviser to Prince, helping him expand the Moyock, N.C., training grounds and negotiating Blackwater’s first training contracts with the U.S. government.

“The future of this industry belongs to those companies with the highest standards of governance, transparency, and performance,” DeYonker said.

Xe announced in June that it was seeking a buyer. At the time, Prince said selling the company was a difficult decision, but constant criticism of Xe helped him make up his mind.

“Performance doesn’t matter in Washington, just politics,” he said.

In August, Prince moved to Abu Dhabi.

The private company became famous as Blackwater, which provided guards and services to the U.S. government in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. It became one of the most respected defense contractors in the world, but also attracted sharp criticism over its role in those missions.

It has been trying to rehabilitate its image since a 2007 shooting in Baghdad that killed 17 people, outraged the Iraqi government and led to federal charges against several Blackwater guards. The accusations later were thrown out of court after a judge found prosecutors mishandled evidence.

In March, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin suggested the Pentagon should consider banning Xe from a $1 billion deal to train Afghan police. The Michigan Democrat said he thought the company’s involvement was hindering the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

Earlier this year, Xe sold its aviation division for $200 million to Wood Dale, Ill.-based AAR Corp. Also, five former executives, including Gary Jackson, the company’s ex-president, were indicted on charges of conspiring to violate federal firearms laws. Jackson was among the top officials who left the company last year in a management shake-up.

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