Former Trump advisor Erik Prince breached the weapons embargo on Libya, according to a study issued by the United Nations.
The United Nations accused Mr. Prince of promising to provide arms, drones, and mercenaries to a Libyan militia leader who was trying to overthrow the government. researchers
According to the United Nations, Erik Prince, the former head of the security contractor Blackwater Worldwide and a famous Trump supporter, secretly shipped weapons to a militia commander who was attempting to overthrow the internationally recognised government in Libya. The squad was composed of a combination of law enforcement and private investigators.
a private UN An investigation report obtained by The New York Times and submitted by investigators to the Security Council exposed Mr. Prince's use of mercenaries armed with attack aircraft, gunboats, and cyber warfare capabilities during a battle in eastern Libya in 2019.
The operation, which was expected to cost $80 million, also called for the creation of a hit squad whose primary aim was to destroy selected Libyan commanders.
Mr. Prince, the brother of Betsy DeVos, acted as a symbol of the excesses of privatized American military power when his Blackwater private military contractors killed 17 civilians in Iraq in 2007.
For the past decade, he has once again launched himself as an executive with deals for both minerals and military power, mostly in resource-rich but war-stricken countries, particularly in Africa.
Despite his substantial contributions to the Trump campaign, Prince was a staunch ally of the president during the Trump presidency, aligning himself with Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, and others as they worked to undercut Mr. Trump's critics. Mr. Prince was also investigated by the Trump-Russia investigation over his meeting with a Russian banker in 2017.
Mr. Prince will not engage in the U.N.'s investigation. He did not respond to questions about the report from his lawyer. Matthew L. Schwartz, a lawyer who previously spoke to The New York Times, reported in 2016 that Mr. Prince “had nothing whatsoever” to do with military operations in Libya.
Mr. Prince being accused of breaching the U.N.'s weapons embargo on Libya puts him at risk of facing U.N. sanctions. Sanctions, such as a travel ban and a freeze on his bank accounts and other assets, are both possible.
In this situation, it's likely that Mr. Prince may have used his links to the Trump administration to carry out the Libya operation.
According to military experts, a friend and former business associate of Mr. Prince traveled to Jordan to buy surplus, American-made Cobra helicopters from the Jordanian military. Christiaan Durrant, a friend of the project, told officials in Jordan that he had “clearances from everywhere” and that his team's work had been approved “at the highest level,” according to the article.
However, the Jordanians were unimpressed by those claims, and the sale was thus cancelled, which forced the mercenaries to look for new aircraft elsewhere.
An unnamed Western official told the Times that the investigators had received phone records showing that Mr. Durrant, Mr. Prince's friend, made multiple calls to the main White House switchboard at the end of July 2019, when the mercenary operation had gone awry. It was unknown to whom Mr. Durrant was attempting to make contact, or whether he managed to make contact.
We were able to contact Mr. Durrant via his Facebook page, and he has declined to comment, as well as referring us to a statement he given to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation last September. We do not violate sanctions, we do not provide military assistance, we do not bear arms, and we are not mercenaries, the organization said.
The broadness of the new U.N. proof A insight into the hidden world of foreign mercenaries is presented by the study — 121 pages of code names, cover stories, offshore bank accounts, and suspicious arms transactions that spans eight countries.
About a decade ago, Libya started to split when Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi was ousted as the country's long-term ruler, thereby kick-starting a political crisis that divided the country into numerous armed groups, some of which were supported by outside powers seeking to control the future of the oil-rich North African nation.
Eastern Libya now comes under the jurisdiction of Khalifa Hifter, the well-known militia leader whom Prince reportedly agreed to assist, according to the article.
An unregistered CIA asset who returned to the United States after the fall of Qaddafi in 2011, Hifter rapidly made a name for himself in Benghazi as an ambitious strongman who was bent on coming to power in whatever way possible.
At the age of 70, Mr. Hifter has, according to successive UN sources, turned to the United Arab Emirates for support, armed drones, and a large array of powerful weapons. Recently, Mr. Hifter has also obtained backing from Russia, in the form of the Wagner Party, a Kremlin-linked organization of mercenaries that has joined Mr. Hifter's war machine.
In April 2019, Hifter launched a destructive attack on Tripoli, but he met with tough resistance, including allied Turkish troops who were assisting the U.N.-recognized government. He then went to speak to Mr. Prince, the United Nations delegate. they learned
Upon meeting with Mr. Hifter in Cairo, 10 days after the beginning of the military campaign to take Tripoli, Mr. Prince made his case for the $80 million paramilitary activity.
Four days later, Mr. Trump openly backed Mr. Hifter, which led to the invasion of Tripoli.
But the mercenary mission had only a short time before tragedy befell it.
As soon as 20 mercenaries, all British, Australian, South African, and American, arrived in Benghazi in June 2019, they began questioning Mr. Hifter, who accused them of failing to produce the promised American-made Cobra helicopters. As tensions rose on June 29, the mercenaries fled to Malta by boat, sailing for 40 hours to reach safety.
However, a small cyberwarfare team and several attack aircraft remained in Libya, according to the paper. As the soldiers of fortune fled, they left behind a lengthy trail of paperwork that finally led to the United Nations. the investigators assigned to Mr. Prince
A PowerPoint presentation seen by Mr. Hifter was described in the study as a potential "high value target," including Abdulrauf Kara, a high-ranking Libyan commander and two other foreign-citizen Libyan commanders who have Irish passports, indicating that the mercenaries were prepared to strike European Union citizens as well.
The contracts disclosed in the report indicate how Mr. Prince transferred three aircraft into Libya, moving one for $10.
There are also signs of an egotistical bravado in the party.
Mr. Durrant, the partner of Mr. Prince and a former acquaintance of Mr. Prince, used the false name Gene Rynack on a trip to Jordan, which is very similar to Gene Ryack, the cowboy pilot in the movie “Air America,” about a CIA airline that smuggled narcotics and weapons during the Vietnam War.
Actually, Mr. Prince knows Mr. Gibson and invited him to Abu Dhabi two years ago, as Gregg Smith, a retired marine who worked with Mr. Prince at the time, previously reported.
According to the paper, Mr. Prince has been angling for military contracts in Libya since 2013, mainly through Hifter, the former general. The report claims that in 2015, Mr. Prince gave a private jet to the Libyan commander, who used it for travel in Egypt and around the country.
Mr. Prince introduced the European Union to a private military force to patrol Libya's borders and fight illegal migration in the same year. The Europeans declined.
To the general public, the mercenaries reported that they were engaged in a geological survey or an oil and gas discovery. According to the article, Bridgeporth, a British survey company that was at the time owned by Mr. Prince, was used to fabricate cover stories just as the company had in the past helped cover up for mercenary operations in South Sudan and Uganda.
U.N. says that Travis Maki, a former pilot who had previously worked for Bridgeporth, said the investigators who flew Prince's plane into Libya just before the mission The aircraft, a Pilatus PC-6, had previously been used by Mr. Prince during his Blackwater days, and is the same model used by Mr. Gibson's character in the movie “Air America.” The weapons inspectors concluded that it was now equipped with powerful optical sensors.
Mark Davies, the CEO of Bridgeporth, said in an email that the company's aircraft are mainly used for surveys, and Maki has not worked for the company since 2018. Prince went on to claim that Mr. Prince's Frontier Group, which had once invested in Bridgeporth, no longer held a stake in the firm.
Mr. Prince has previously been accused of breaking international law. in 2012, the United Nations According to prosecutors, the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) in Somalia was accused of “the most brazen violation of the arms embargo by a private security company.”
It is unclear if he will face any consequences as a result of the charges against him. Mr. Prince is no longer covered by allies in the Trump administration. On the other hand, there is a high-ranking diplomat at the UN Biden administration officials have previously suggested that the Obama administration could be hesitant to penalize American citizens for breaking the weapons embargo because others are much worse offenders.
In October, the European Union declared sanctions on Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, also known as “Putin's chef” due to his strong ties to the Wagner Party mercenaries who are fighting in Libya. But Prigozhin is not even mentioned in the U.N. Russia apparently blocked the investigators from building a case against the Russian businessman, and this may have lead to the report.
Along with that, the study states that Turkey, an ally of the globally recognised Libyan government, is one of the greatest violators of the weapons embargo.
The biggest mystery about Mr. Prince remained unresolved by the U.N. He is accused of having orchestrated a $80 million mercenary operation that was sponsored by a foreign government.
Wolfram Lacher, a Libya expert at the German Center for Foreign and Security Affairs, added, “It has been reported that he is connected to the Trump administration, the Emirati leadership, and the Russians.” For me, the question is who is keeping silent in favor of him? ”
Analysts and Western officials believed that the U.A.E. was the most likely international benefactor of Mr. Prince's mercenary activity. The study highlights that the mercenaries worked firms, maintained bank accounts, and owned shell companies in the Emirates. Furthermore, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the influential ruler of the Emirates, has longstanding ties to Mr. Prince and is potentially Mr. Hifter's most important international supporter.
Last year, the U.A.E. armed rebels in Libya, despite the fact that Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, was in Berlin for a big peace conference on Libya where he posed with European leaders.
Similar to previous U.N. The Emirates declined to comply with inquiries about the activity that involved Mr. Prince and the mercenary squad.
To date, there has been no response, according to the report.