This story is amazing . . . S.L.
Erik Prince has a new project.
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — A plane carrying dozens of Colombian men touches down in this glittering seaside capital; whisked through customs by an Emirati intelligence officer, the group boards an unmarked bus and drives roughly 20 miles to a windswept military complex in the desert sand.
Entering the United Arab Emirates posing as construction workers, the Colombians are in fact soldiers for a secret American-led mercenary army assembled by Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of Blackwater Worldwide, with $529 million from the oil-soaked sheikdom.
According to former employees on the project, American officials and corporate documents obtained by The New York Times, Prince resettled here last year after facing mounting legal problems in the United States. He's been hired by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the U.A.E.
“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,” said one Obama administration official who knew of the operation. “They might want to show that they are not to be messed with.”
Still, it is not clear whether the project has the United States’ official blessing. Legal experts and government officials said some of those involved with the battalion might be breaking federal laws that prohibit American citizens from training foreign troops if they did not secure a license from the State Department.
Mark C. Toner, a spokesman for the department, would not confirm whether Mr. Prince’s company had obtained such a license, but he said the department was investigating to see if the training effort was in violation of American laws. Mr. Toner pointed out that Blackwater (which renamed itself Xe Services ) paid $42 million in fines last year for training foreign troops in Jordan and other countries over the years.
To help fulfill his ambitions, Mr. Prince’s new company, Reflex Responses, obtained another multimillion-dollar contract to protect a string of planned nuclear power plants and to provide cybersecurity. He hopes to earn billions more, the former employees said, by assembling additional battalions of Latin American troops for the Emiratis and opening a giant complex where his company can train troops for other governments.
Prince has masked his involvement with the mercenary battalion. His name is not included on contracts and most other corporate documents; company insiders refer to him by the code name “Kingfish.” Three former employees, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements, and two people involved in security contracting said that in recruiting the Colombians and others from halfway around the world, Mr. Prince’s subordinates follow his strict rule: hire no Muslims.
Muslim soldiers, Mr. Prince warned, could not be counted on to kill fellow Muslims . . .
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