UN: Former Blackwater founder Erik Prince smuggling weapons, violating United Nations arms embargo

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Updated: March 2, 2021

Erik Prince, an American businessman, and former Navy Seal, is making headlines again. The New York Times obtained a confidential report last week, sent to the UN Security Council, claiming that Prince was supporting General Khalifa Haftar, Libyan opposition leader, with guns, aircraft, boats, and mercenaries to continue the fight against the currently recognized Libyan government. The new accusations detailed in the UN report could lead to sanctions against Prince and his business entities. 

Prince, the former founder of Blackwater USA, currently a Chairman of Hong Kong-based Frontier Resource Group, has been featured in the news and under investigation regularly since 2007 when Blackwater employees opened fire in a crowded square in Baghdad, Iraq killing 17 civilians. His troubles continued from there, placing him at the center of arms trafficking and targeted killings worldwide. Prince told Vanity Fair in 2020, “I put myself and my company at the CIA’s disposal for some very risky missions.” 

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Although no longer claiming association with the United States Central Intelligence Agency, his work as a covert “middle man” seems to continue. 

In 2019, Rolling Stone’s investigation made a case for Prince’s involvement with Libyan militia and its attempt to overthrow the UN-backed government of Libya.

In 2020, the Intercept reported that Prince offered subcontracting services to Russia’s Wagner group for Mozambique and Libya operations. 

June of 2020, Libya’s recognized government, the Government of National Accord (GNA), requested that the United States and the European Union impose sanctions on Russian, claiming Russia’s Wagner Group supplied mercenaries and foreign actors to fight for the opposition in its ongoing civil war. 

United Arab Emirates, Egypt, France, and more recently, Russia are backing Haftar and supporting him in the battle against the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA). Turkey, Qatar, and Italy support the U.N.-backed GNA. The newly elected Biden Administration hasn’t formally addressed its stance since the previous administration’s passive approach, but the Brookings Institute lays out three plausible options in a recent analysis. One, maintain the Trump administration policy of disengagement. Two, directly and forcefully address the meddling of external actors. Three, increase diplomatic involvement in Libya. 

This newly exposed UN report will most likely force countries to take sides and engage their diplomatic channels if a vote on sanctions against a US citizen occurs. 

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Kristi Pelzel
Kristi Pelzel
Kristi Pelzel is a Senior International Correspondent at Today News Africa, working across U.S. and African markets, based in Washington, D.C. Her expertise spans broadcast, digital, and social media communication, nested with policy research, analysis, and writing. A member of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Kristi holds a B.A. from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California, and an M.A. from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

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