Erik Prince, the founder of BlackWater Worldwise (now re-branded as Xe Services) has now moved to UAE, allegedly building a private militia of mercenaries for the Emirates.
Following are excerpts from a report in New York Times by Mark Mazzetti, Emily B. Hager, Jenny Carolina González, Simon Romero and Kitty Bennett.
Erik Prince has resettled in UAE last year after his security business faced mounting legal problems in the United States. He has now been hired by Sheik Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the UAE.
The force is intended to conduct special operations missions inside and outside the country, defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from terrorist attacks and put down internal revolts. Such troops could be deployed if the Emirates faced unrest in their crowded labor camps or were challenged by pro-democracy protests like those sweeping the Arab world this year.
The training camp, located on a sprawling Emirati base called Zayed Military City, is hidden behind concrete walls laced with barbed wire. Photographs show rows of identical yellow temporary buildings, used for barracks and mess halls, and a motor pool, which houses Humvees and fuel trucks.
The Colombians, along with South African and other foreign troops, are trained by retired American soldiers and veterans of the German and British special operations units and the French Foreign Legion, according to the former employees and American officials.
The United Arab Emirates — an autocracy with the sheen of a progressive, modern state — are closely allied with the United States, and American officials indicated that the battalion program had some support in Washington.
To help fulfill his ambitions, Erik Prince’s new company, Reflex Responses, obtained another multimillion-dollar contract to protect a string of planned nuclear power plants and to provide cybersecurity. He hopes to earn billions more, the former employees said, by assembling additional battalions of Latin American troops for the Emiratis and opening a giant complex where his company can train troops for other governments.
The company, often called R2, was licensed last March with 51 percent local ownership, a typical arrangement in the Emirates. It received about $21 million in start-up capital from the UAE.