Erik Prince: Back in action for the Pentagon

Erik Prince, the founder of the discredited former mercenary firm Blackwater USA and brother of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, has apparently landed a major secret Pentagon contract for mercenary services in Africa. The announcement of the contract was practically simultaneous with Donald Trump’s order to withdraw some 7,000 U.S. military personnel from Somalia. The moves by Trump and the Pentagon, which has seen several Trump loyalists embedded in key positions after Trump’s firing of Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and other Pentagon officials on November 9, is yet another monetization of government services by Trump and his grifter supporters prior to Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.

Prince sold Blackwater to a group of venture capitalists in 2010 and the assets of the former company reorganized under the name Academi after briefly being known as Xe Services. In October of this year, Prince told Fox News that he was bringing back Blackwater, although he was sketchy on details. Since giving up Blackwater, Prince has continued to be active in the mercenary business through his overseas mercenary company, Reflex Responses (R2), which is 51 percent owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, where it is also headquartered. R2 has hired a number of mercenaries from the former South African firm, Executive Outcomes (E.O.).

Prince’s gambit to resurrect Blackwater may involve another Trump supporter, Stephen Feinberg, the chairman of Cerberus Capital Management, the owner of Academi, along with its training, land, aircraft, and personnel assets of the former Blackwater, including a sprawling training facility in Moyock, North Carolina. Feinberg was once a favorite of Trump to be the director of National Intelligence (DNI), following the resignation of Dan Coats.

Convicted and Trump-pardoned former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) chief Michael Flynn created the Defense Clandestine Service (DCS), a paramilitary arm of the agency, while he served as DIA director. Prior to President Obama firing Flynn in 2014 for insubordination, Flynn granted a major contract for intelligence services to Academi, the former Blackwater USA, which also owns a one-time Blackwater competitor, Triple Canopy. Other private military contractors receiving contracts for Flynn’s DCS included Team Crucible, which has Spotsylvania County, Virginia, residents up in arms over a private military training facility in Thornburg, and Signature Science, which is working on the Functional Genomic and Computational Assessment of Threats (Fun GCAT), a DIA-funded project to determine prospective threats from DNA screening.

Serving as the current acting under secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security is Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the discredited former aide to Representative Devin Nunes, himself a suspected agent for a far-right Portuguese mafia syndicate operating out of the Azores and having cells in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and in Nunes’s hometown of Fresno. Cohen-Watnick now controls the activities of the DCS as part of his duties.

The announcement of Prince securing a major Pentagon contract and Executive Outcomes co-founder Eeben Barlow’s declaration that he was bringing E.O. out of mothballs—along with Trump’s Africa troop withdrawal decision—has the private military contractor buzzing with anticipation that Blackwater and E.O. will soon be back in operation in Africa and elsewhere, all a courtesy of the Pentagon contract. Prince’s R2 has reportedly already been involved in civil wars in Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria, as well as counter-insurgency operations in Mozambique and western China. Prince’s R2 has also been accused of hiring former Iraqi Baathist military officers in Saddam Hussein’s army to train pro-United Arab Emirates militias in South Yemen and on the strategic island of Socotra.

Trump installed campaign aides Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie on the Pentagon’s Defense Business Board. Their first action, according to published reports, was to pressure the Defense Department to award an unspecified amount secret contract to Prince. Prince was intimately involved with Russian oligarch collusion with the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and he coordinated many of his efforts with others who were investigated by Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller’s team. Prince also acted as liaison between the 2016 Trump campaign and presidential transition team and Abu Dhabi/UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahayan (MbZ).

Prince political associates have included Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, Jr., Flynn, Israeli deep data mining specialist Joel Zamel, and convicted pedophile George Nader. Nader was a key interface between the Trump campaign and MbZ and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS). Prince also assisted Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe, a political dirty tricks operative, in infiltrating Democratic political campaigns, labor unions, and other groups hostile to Trump. Prince has also been active in some dubious business ventures in Ukraine involving his proposed purchase of the Motor Sich aircraft engine and helicopter manufacturing company in Ukraine, as well as an arms smuggling operation out of Malta.

Prince is also linked to the Israeli private intelligence firm Black Cube, also known as BC Strategy Ltd., which was hired by imprisoned former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein to dig up dirt on his female sexual assault accusers. Black Cube was also hired to conduct investigations of Barack Obama administration officials involved in negotiating the Iran nuclear agreement. Black Cube counts a number of former Mossad officials among its ranks.

The contract with Prince opens the door to Chinese and United Arab Emirates involvement with Pentagon mercenary operations involving Prince. Prince heads a private equity firm, Hong Kong-based Frontier Resource Group and its operating arm, Frontier Services Group, Ltd., which is based in Bermuda but financially backed by the Chinese government-owned CITIC Group, a firm that has $1 trillion at its disposal. Frontier has provided logistical and armed mercenary support for Chinese oil and gas projects in Africa. Prince and CITIC Capital also jointly own Frontier Strategic Resources Holding, Ltd., based in Grand Cayman. The Cayman Islands entity’s operating arm, Frontier Strategic Resources Fund LP does business as Rainbow Sea.

Prince’s two non-Chinese partners in the Frontier Services corporate conglomerate are U.S.-Israeli businessman Dorian Barak, co-founder of the Gulf-Israel Business Council, and J. David Whittingham, Frontier Service Group’s head of Africa operations.

Prince had lobbied the Trump administration early on to privatize the war in Afghanistan. Although the details of the classified Pentagon with Prince are not known, Trump’s decision to also withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, in addition to Somalia, may be linked to the contract with Prince. During the time of Blackwater, the Pentagon, State Department, and Central Intelligence Agency had a number of contracts with Prince but their details were not known due to classification restraints on disclosure. Blackwater personnel committed a number of murders of civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan and tried to hide behind classified contracts as a reason for failing to disclose such crimes to congressional oversight committees.

When Prince first floated the idea of privatizing America’s military campaign in Afghanistan, the plan was resisted by three top Trump administration officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

Prince, a member of the Catholic secret society Opus Dei, has several masters and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Chinese government investors are chief among them.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright © 2020

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).

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One Response to Erik Prince: Back in action for the Pentagon

  1. Mary Trump has said of Trump, “he is a weak” man but, she says, “weaker still” are those who support him … i.e., Corey Lewandowski and the rest of the putrid gang trump is installing at the Pentagon and other places just to serve Donald Trump and no one else.