Amid nonsensical claims by congressional Republicans, including Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Representatives Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and John Ratcliffe (R-TX), that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is hosting a “secret society” intent on ousting Donald Trump from the presidency comes word from our Middle East sources that the founder of the infamous Blackwater mercenary firm, Erik Prince, is creating a secret army in the Middle East with strong links to the secret fascist Roman Catholic sect, Opus Dei. Prince runs a number of private military firms based in the Sheikh Zayed Military City, located outside of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and in nearby Dubai, the UAE’s financial hub.
Opus Dei was founded in Spain in 1928 by Catholic priest Josemaria Escriva, canonized in 2002 by Pope John Paul II as a saint. This “patron saint” of fascism was a major supporter of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. Escriva justified countless war crimes committed by Spanish fascist forces in the civil war waged against Spain’s Loyalist supporters and international volunteers who came to their assistance. Today, Opus Dei is waging a covert battle against Pope Francis I, the first pontiff from Catholicism’s Jesuit order and an opponent of the policies of Trump.
Prince sold Blackwater in 2011 and moved to the UAE where, with the financial backing of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan (MBZ), he established a new network of mercenary entities. These include Reflex Responses (R2) and Frontier Resources Group (FRG). FRG, which is based in Hong Kong, is also involved in energy resources and rare earth mineral exploitation and receiving Chinese investments, along with financial largesse from MBZ. Prince’s firms have become influential in the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries due to the fact that his major patron, MBZ, is also the deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and a close friend and ally of Saudi Arabia’s emerging strong man, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al Saud (MBS).
R2 personnel, many recruits from military units in Colombia, Chile, El Salvador, and South Africa with blemished records of committing human rights abuses, are active in supporting UAE and Saudi forces in Yemen’s bloody civil war. R2 has also reportedly hired Baathist military personnel in Iraq, who were once loyal to Saddam Hussein.
Prince is also believed to be instrumental in the creation of a domestic UAE armaments industry, which is not bound by international regimes and domestic laws prohibiting the export of war materiel to countries subject to international sanctions. Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (ADAT) and Calidus LLC, are reportedly jointly manufacturing UAE versions of the Brazilian B-250 Bader turboprop and the Embraer 312 Tucano, both highly-prized for counter-insurgency operations. Prince’s operations in the UAE have also been involved in transforming light aircraft used for agricultural operations into armed surveillance and counter-insurgency aircraft. This has been accomplished by a deal between Prince and LASA Engineering Ltd. of Bulgaria. LASA stands for “Light Armed Surveillance Aircraft.” The Trump administration, which has called for the tightening of international sanctions on arms exports to Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea, is turning a blind eye to Prince’s and the UAE’s sanctions-evading operations in Abu Dhabi.
Another Prince firm, Phoenix Aviation Malta Limited, is believed to be involved in Libya’s civil war. Its parent, Phoenix Aviation Ltd., based at Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, is involved in various African civil wars, including those in Somalia and South Sudan. Prince has forged a cooperative agreement with Ivor Ichkowitz, the chairman of South Africa’s Paramount Group, a military equipment manufacturer, to market the firm’s armored military vehicles in Abu Dhabi in cooperation with the UAE firm International Golden Group. Ichkowitz is close to the scandal-plagued presidents of South Africa and Kazakhstan, Jacob Zuma and Nursultan Nazarbayev, respectively. Trump recently hosted at the White House Nazarbayev, whose vast interwoven network of offshore companies have funneled suspected embezzled Kazakhstan funds into Trump’s own network of shell corporations.
Together with MBZ and MBS, Prince is also helping to carry out the new “strategy” for the Middle East crafted by Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East special envoy Jared Kushner and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government. Kushner has personally hammered out the new strategy during all-night sessions with MBS in Riyadh. Prince has added influence with the Trump administration through his sister, Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Secretary of Education. DeVos is a convert from the Dutch Reformed Church to Mormonism. She is the wife of Amway co-founder Richard DeVos’s son, Dick DeVos. Erik Prince converted from Dutch Reformed to Roman Catholicism at the same time he joined Opus Dei. Prince and Betsy DeVos are both heirs to an automobile parts corporate fortune created by their right-wing industrialist father, Edgar Prince.
Prince was a major supporter of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. On January 11, 2017, a little over a week from Trump’s inauguration, Prince and MBZ arranged a clandestine meeting with a Russian government envoy in Seychelles. Prince, representing the Trump transition team, offered Russia a deal that would have seen Russia curtail its support for Syria and Iran in exchange for a lessening of Western sanctions against Russia. The previous month, MBZ met with key Trump transition figures, including Kushner and Stephen Bannon in New York. The Seychelles and Manhattan meetings, as well as the Trump-Kazakhstan connection, are among many issues being investigated by Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team of prosecutors and FBI agents.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).