The reconstitution of Executive Outcomes (E.O.), the South Africa-based mercenary firm that was involved in civil wars in Sierra Leone, Angola, and Rwanda in the 1990s, is troubling news for not only Africa, but other nations that have seen their fair share of mercenary force destabilization. Amid an outcry over its activities in Africa and other nations, E.O. ceased operations in 1998. The cessation of the firm’s activities came after South Africa passed legislation, the “Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act,” which required mercenary firms like E.O. to have South African government authorization prior to signing contracts with foreign entities.
South Africa’s “sunshine” law on the operations of mercenary firms, which thrive on secret agreements and the services of ex-intelligence officers, dealt a body blow to E.O. E.O. was co-founded in 1989 by former South African Defense Force Lieutenant-Colonel Eeben Barlow. E.O. became involved in a number of foreign intrigues through an intertwined network of other corporations, including its South African holding company, Strategic Resource Corporation (SRC). Among E.O.’s foreign operations was participation in an attempted 1997 coup—Operation OYSTER—in Papua New Guinea.
In 2006, Barlow formed a new company, Specialized Tasks, Training, Equipment and Protection International (STTEP), In 2015, STTEP secured a contract with the Nigerian government to battle the Islamist insurgent group, Boko Haram. Barlow resigned from STTEP last month to re-start E.O. One of the reasons Barlow gave was to “expose those media and intelligence whores that thrive on lying for secret payments.” In addition to the media, Barlow has vowed to “investigate academics and scholars that create fiction and publish deception.”
It is not certain to whom and what Barlow is referring. However, this editor’s two books on Africa, “Genocide and Covert Operations in Africa: 1993-1999″ and “Decade of Death: Secret Wars and Genocide in Africa 1993-2003,” helped exposed the activities of companies like E.O. in fomenting and prolonging some of Africa’s bloodiest conflicts, all in the name of securing mineral and oil exploration and exploitation rights. Barlow claims that he resurrected E.O. on the behest of certain unnamed African leaders. Hazarding a guess, these leaders likely include some of Africa’s biggest kleptocrats and tyrants.
A number of new players have emerged on the mercenary scene since E.O. disbanded in 1998. Blackwater USA founder Erik Prince is now running a new firm, Reflex Responses (R2), based in Abu Dhabi and active in Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Mozambique, South Sudan, and Syria. Russia’s Wagner Group is active in eastern Ukraine, Syria, Sudan, Central African Republic, Madagascar, Libya, Venezuela, Mozambique, and Nagorno-Karabakh.
Barlow has vowed that part of E.O.’s “mission” will be to take on journalists, academics, and scholars. It was such a team that helped expose Executive Outcomes Number 1 and it is a similar team that stands ready to do the same to Executive Outcomes Number 2.
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).