– Private Police: Mercenaries For The American Police State (The Rutherford Institute, March 3, 2015):
“Corporate America is using police forces as their mercenaries.”—Ray Lewis, Retired Philadelphia Police Captain
It’s one thing to know and exercise your rights when a police officer pulls you over, but what rights do you have when a private cop—entrusted with all of the powers of a government cop but not held to the same legal standards—pulls you over and subjects you to a stop-and-frisk or, worse, causes you to “disappear” into a Gitmo-esque detention center not unlike the one employed by Chicago police at Homan Square? Continue reading »
H/r reader squodgy:
“A greedy, murderous unprincipled rat by another name……..”
Full article and more photos and videos here:
– English Speaking Mercenary in Mariupol ID’d as Brit Leon Swampy From London, England (The Daily Ledge Blog, Jan 28, 2015)
– Blackwater awarded over $1bn from State Dept. since threat on investigator’s life (RT, July 11, 2014):
The US State Department has allocated more than a billion dollars in contracts to the security firm Blackwater and its later manifestations since a top official for the company threatened a government investigator’s life in 2007.
The Huffington Post reported that the notorious security contractor Blackwater, its subsequent incarnations, and its subsidiaries have received more than $1.3 billion since the fall of 2007 for training and operations the world over.
In August 2007, State Department investigator Jean C. Richter said a Blackwater project manager, Daniel Carroll, told Richter “that he could kill me at that very moment and no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,” where the investigator was observing – and criticizing – the company’s operations. The New York Times reported the details of the threat last month. Continue reading »
– How Blackwater Survived Iraq Probes Of Being “Above The Law” – By Threatening To Kill Investigators (ZeroHedge, June 30, 2014):
Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, The NY Times reports that the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq. However, as James Risen reports, a senior official of the notorious private security firm allegedly threatened to kill a government investigator leading the probe into the firm’s Iraqi operation. Stunningly (or not), the US embassy sided with him and forced the inspector to cut the visit short.
As The Times reports, based on documents which were turned over to plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Blackwater… According to the documents, the investigators found numerous violations, including changing of security details without the State Department’s approval, reducing the number of guard details and storing of automatic weapons and ammunition in Blackwater employees’ private rooms.
– 400 Blackwater Mercs Deployed In Ukraine Against Separatists, German Press Reports (ZeroHedge, May 11, 2014):
In what is becoming a weekly ritual, the German press continues to demolish the US case of “idealistic humaniatrian” Ukraine intervention. Recall, that it was a week ago that German tabloid Bild am Sonntag, hardly the most reputable source but certainly one which reaches the broadest audience, reported that dozens of CIA and FBI agents were “advising the Ukraine government.” This conclusion is hardly a stretch and certainly based on facts considering the recent semi-secret jaunt by CIA head Brennan to Kiev. Fast forward one week when overnight the same Bild reported that about 400 elite mercenary commandos of the private US security firm, Academi, f/k/a Xe Services, f/k/a Blackwater “are involved in a punitive operation mounted by Ukraine’s new government” against east Ukraine separatists.
Bild cites sources who report that on April 29, Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) informed the Angela Merkel government about Academi commandos’ involvement in Kiev’s military operations in eastern Ukraine. Spiegel adds that “the information originates from U.S. intelligence services and was presented during a meeting chaired by the Chancellor’s Office chief Peter Altmaier (CDU). At the meeting were present the president of the intelligence agencies and the Federal Criminal Office, as well as the intelligence coordinator of the Chancellor’s Office and senior Ministry officials.”
Bild am Sontag did not have information about who was paying the Blackwater commandos: it is well-known they do not come cheap.
RT has more:
In March, media reports appeared suggesting that the coup-imposed government in Kiev could have employed up to 300 mercenaries.That was before the new government launched a military operation against anti-Maidan activists, or “terrorists” as Kiev put it, in southeast Ukraine.
At the time, the Russian Foreign Ministry said then that reports claiming Kiev was planning to involve “involve staff from foreign military companies to ‘ensure the rule of law,’” could suggest that it wanted “to suppress civil protests and dissatisfaction.”
In particular, Greystone Limited, which is currently registered in Barbados and is a part of Academi Corporation, is a candidate for such a gendarme role. It is a similar and probably an affiliated structure of the Blackwater private army, whose staff have been accused of cruel and systematic violations of human rights in various trouble spots on many occasions.
“Among the candidates for the role of gendarme is the Barbados-registered company Greystone Limited, which is integrated with the Academi corporation,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “It is an analogue, and, probably and affiliated body of the Blackwater private army, whose employees have repeatedly been accused of committing grievous and systematic human rights abuses in different troubled regions.”
As this is not the first time Academi has been implicated in the Ukraine, its canned response is already prepared. This is what it said back on March 17:Some irresponsible bloggers and an online reporter have recently posted rumors that ACADEMI employees (operating under the name of Blackwater) are present in Ukraine. They are not and ACADEMI has no relationship with any entity named Blackwater or with the former owner of Blackwater, Erik Prince. Such unfounded statements combined with the lack of factual reporting to support them and the lack of context about the company, are nothing more than sensationalistic efforts to create hysteria and headlines in times of genuine crisis.
The basics: Those who understand the facts know that Erik Prince sold the company (which he had renamed ‘Xe’) in 2010 and retained the rights to the ‘Blackwater’ name. The new management of ACADEMI has made tremendous efforts to build a responsible, transparent company ethos, evidenced by the numerous awards ACADEMI has received for being among the most compliant companies in our industry. More information can be found here.
Sure enough, moments ago the soldier for hire company followed up with a second denial, when as German Zeit reported, “the U.S. security services denied a ZEIT ONLINE report, that it has put mercenaries in Ukraine.”
Of course, since no western entity, and certainly not the company itself, would ever admit its involvement in the Ukraine as it would promptly crash the official US foreign policy track claiming US non-involvement in Ukraine, none of this is surprising.
Readers may have greater luck inquiring Blackwater directly via their Twitter account. After all #AskJPM was such a smashing success we don’t see a reason why #AskBlackwater wouldn’t work just as well.
Upcoming Courses in New Iberia, LA: Jun 30 – M1911A1 Handgun Armorer; Jul 01 – Mossberg 500/590 Armorer (2-days) http://t.co/2nC1tSmgy7
— ACADEMI, LLC (@AcademiElite) May 9, 2014
Finally, in this proxy war between west and east, to believe that the US won’t throw everything it can at Putin is naive, and as such the involvement of trained US mercenaries in Ukraine is beyond debate.
However what is certainly surprising and far more interesting, is the persistent attempts by the German press to discredit none other than their biggest “Developed world” ally, the US. It is almost as if someone (a quite wealthy and powerful someone) has material interests that diverge with those of the Obama administration, and hence converge with those of Putin. Alongside the emerging China-Russia axis, keeping tabs on just how close to Russia Germany is willing to get, is easily the most notable story in the entire Ukraine conflict.
Greystone is a subsidiary of Blackwater (= Xe = Academi).
– Blackwater’s Black Ops (The Nation, Oct 4, 2010, by Jeremy Scahill):
One of the most incendiary details in the documents is that Blackwater, through Total Intelligence, sought to become the “intel arm” of Monsanto, offering to provide operatives to infiltrate activist groups organizing against the multinational biotech firm.
– Russia Accuses US Mercenaries Of Inciting Civil War In Ukraine (ZeroHedge, April 7, 2014):
In response to claims by the Ukraine government (and the west) that Russia provoking trouble in Eastern Europe – with The White House’s Jary Carney even suggesting that pro-Russia demonstrators were paid – Russia’s foreign ministry has responded. Posting via their Facebook page, Russia urged Ukraine to halt any interior military preparations which could instigate a civil war. But the kicker, for which we anxiously await a rebuttal, is Russia’s comment that they “are particularly concerned that the operation involves some 150 American mercenaries.”
The US administration perspective… (via WaPo)
In Washington, the Obama administration expressed deep skepticism that the scattered uprisings and building takeovers in cities such as Donetsk and Kharkiv have been spontaneous. “There is strong evidence suggesting some of these demonstrators were paid,” said Jay Carney, the White House spokesman.
“If Russia moves into eastern Ukraine, either overtly or covertly, this would be a very serious escalation,” Carney said.
The Ukrainian perspective… Continue reading »
Blackwater, then Xe and now Academi.
Greystone is a subsidiary of Blackwater.
– Ukrainian authorities to tame Eastern regions with aid of private military company (ITAR-TASS, March 25, 2014):
Dnepropetrovsk, March 25. /ITAR-TASS/. An overseas private military company will engages in the suppressing of protest moods of the mostly Russian-speaking population in the East of Ukraine, a source at the Security Service of Ukraine said Monday
“The case in hand is Greystone Ltd. company,” he said.
– A Plea for Caution From Russia (New York Times, Sep 11, 2013):
By VLADIMIR V. PUTIN
What Putin Has to Say to Americans About Syria
MOSCOW — RECENT events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.
Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization — the United Nations — was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.
Tags: Al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda, Al-Qaida, Barack Obama, Civilians, Global News, Government, Libya, Mali, mercenaries, Middle East, Military, Obama administration, Politics, Russia, Syria, Terrorism, U.N., U.S., Vladimir Putin
– Contractors’ Next Payday: Commando Logistics for Africa Shadow Wars (Wired, April 12, 2013):
Here’s how serious the U.S. is about its African war on terror. The Pentagon is preparing to spend millions to create a privatized flying taxi service to fly its commandos everywhere from Libya to Congo.
That’s according to details in a recent solicitation notice for a Defense Department contract worth up to $50 million, expected to be handed over to a private contracting firm in August. Among the two main tasks contractors will be expected to carry out: medical evacuations during “high risk activities” — capable of being launched within a three-hour notice — as well as transporting equipment and commandos from Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara (or JSOTF-TS) within the borders of potentially 20 African nations. When you want to keep a U.S. military footprint small, you have to contract out a lot of logistics services.
– U.S. Commandos’ New Landlord in Afghanistan: Blackwater (Wired, Dec 5, 2012):
U.S. Special Operations Forces have a brand new home in Afghanistan. It’s owned and operated by the security company formerly known as Blackwater, thanks to a no-bid deal worth $22 million.
You might think that Blackwater, now called Academi, was banished into some bureaucratic exile after its operatives in Afghanistan stole guns from U.S. weapons depots and killed Afghan civilians. Wrong. Academi’s private 10-acre compound outside Kabul, called Camp Integrity, is the new headquarters for perhaps the most important special operations unit in Afghanistan.
– Once called Blackwater, firm changes name (Sydney Morning Herald/AFP, Dec. 13, 2011):
The US security firm formerly known as Blackwater, which was barred from Iraq over a deadly 2007 shooting, has renamed itself a second time.
USTC Holdings, the investor consortium that acquired ex-Blackwater firm Xe Services in December 2010, announced ACADEMI as the new name and brand for Xe Services.
The rebranding came as President Barack Obama met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Monday, marking America’s exit from a war launched to oust Saddam Hussein.
“We have had a year of extraordinary changes that have resulted in a new, better company,” ACADEMI president and chief executive Ted Wright said in a statement.
“I know that everyone at ACADEMI shares in this commitment to promote the highest standards of ethical conduct, compliance and integrity in all of our activities.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Flashback on Al-CIAda:
“The truth is, there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al Qaeda. And any informed intelligence officer knows this. But there is a propaganda campaign to make the public believe in the presence of an identified entity representing the ‘devil’ only in order to drive the TV watcher to accept a unified international leadership for a war against terrorism. The country behind this propaganda is the US.”
– Robin Cook, Former British Foreign Secretary
– Al Qaeda Doesn’t Exist or How The US Created Al Qaeda (Documentary)
– New American Ally in Somalia: ‘Butcher’ Warlord (Wired, Sept. 8, 2011):
If you thought it was bad that Washington is paying a shady French mercenary to do its dirty work in Somalia, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Just wait to you see our latest ally: an admirer of Osama bin Laden with a gory past.
Richard Rouget, a notorious gun-for-hire who uses American funds to train African Union soldiers fighting in the ruins of Mogadishu, has been mentioned in connection with at least one murder. But U.S.-backed Somali government general Yusuf Mohamed Siad, a.k.a. “Indha Adde,” a.k.a, “The Butcher,” once ruled an entire region of Somalia with a bloody fist.
The U.S.-led international intervention in civil war-torn Somalia is unlike any of America’s other wars. Where the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are fought by tens of thousands of U.S. troops, in Somalia Washington pays others to do most of the fighting. These proxies include merc firms, regional bodies such as the A.U. and local allies including the nascent federal government.
That means less direct danger to American lives. But in another sense it means more danger. The more that the U.S. relies on proxy armies to do its fighting, the more it risks those proxies usurping American support and directing it towards their own dubious ends. That’s the subject of ace reporter Jeremy Scahill’s latest piece in The Nation and also of my own feature for The Diplomat.
“As one of the main warlords who divided and destroyed Somalia during the civil war that raged through the 1990s, he brutally took control of the Lower Shabelle region,” Scahill wrote about Siad. “There are allegations that he ran drug and weapons trafficking operations from the Merca port.” Siad also readily admits providing protection to al-Qaida operatives and speaks fondly of the late Osama bin Laden.
Mind you, this is one of the top generals in the army of one of our closest allies in Somalia.
– As expected, widespread racist murders in Libya at the hands of rebel forces revealed (Activist Post, August 27, 2011):
The mainstream media is already engaging in widespread damage control in an attempt to mitigate the fallout of the reality of the situation in Libya and the withering NATO-sponsored narrative of post-Gaddafi Libya.
Libya: What NATO Wants us to Hear! (August 28)
YouTube Added: 28.08.2011
YouTube Added: 17.08.2011
To Syria now, where the UN is pulling out its staff amid growing concern about the violent crackdown by government forces against demonstrators. It comes as activists say over 30 people have been killed since troops seized control of the northern port city of Latakia.
But, director of the Center for Research on Globalization – Michel Chossudovsky – says the hype around the Syrian crisis is being orchestrated from abroad. Continue reading »
– Blackwater’s New Director: Bill Clinton’s Lawyer (Wired, July 6, 2011):
Blackwater’s rebranding continues at a torrid pace. Danger Room has learned the latest Washington greybeard hired to spruce up the image of the world’s most infamous private security firm is Jack Quinn, a top Washington lobbyist and former White House counsel to President Bill Clinton.
Now renamed Xe and owned by an investor consortium called USTC Holdings, the company is bringing Quinn — pictured left, with Rep. Joe Crowley — onto its board as an “independent director.” He’ll focus on “governance and oversight,” keeping the company out of trouble, especially with the government. USTC Holdings’ Jason DeYonker says that Quinn’s reputation for “commitment to the highest ethical standards of conduct in both the public and private sectors” makes him a great fit.
To be cynical about it, a man who gave legal advice to Clinton knows a whole lot about crisis management. Which is important, since Xe intends to keep providing security to U.S. diplomats in dangerous places – activities that, under its old leadership, led its guards into a shooting debacle that killed 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007.
Quinn is one of a string of board members and executives Xe brought on to draw a bright line between the old Blackwater and the new. All of them are powerful people, like ex-Attorney General John Ashcroft. Quinn’s lobbying clients include AT&T, old-folks association AARP and Visa.
– Real-Life Mercenaries to Star in Blackwater, the Videogame (Wired, June 7, 2011):
Blackwater Worldwide, the real-life mercenary team linked to the killing of civilians and noncombatants in Iraq during U.S. operations there, will be the subject of a Kinect-supported videogame coming to the Xbox 360 later this year.
A news release called it “an intense, cinematic shooter experience,” set in a fictional North African town, in which players, as Blackwater operatives, battle two warlords’ factions to protect the city.
“This game and its immersive Kinect-based approach will give players the chance to experience what it is like to be on a Blackwater team on a mission without being dropped into a real combat situation,” Prince said in a statement issued by 505. The game was developed in conjunction with former Blackwater members “to ensure accuracy of moves, gestures and gameplay,” the 505 release said. “The game also features a selection of officially-licensed weapons for your soldier to choose from.”
The game may also be played using a standard controller.
Blackwater, renamed to Xe Services LLC, was contracted by the U.S. government to provide training and diplomatic security, most notably in the Middle East, for much of the last decade. Its presence alongside U.S. diplomatic and military personnel came under scrutiny after several incidents resulting in the deaths either of civilians or Blackwater employees themselves.
Its involvement in Iraq became enough of a controversy that the company renamed itself to Xe in the aftermath. Its employees were involved in shootings later found to be unjustified, including one in which 17 Iraqis were slain, prompting the government there to revoke Blackwater’s license to operate in the country. Both the U.S. State Department and the FBI called that incident a reckless use of force that killed innocents, but an FBI investigation could not conclusively prove Blackwater was responsible for all deaths. In another 2006 incident, a Blackwater employee was fired after he, allegedly drunk, shot and killed a security guard of the Iraqi vice president.
Though none of its employees have faced prosecution, Blackwater/Xe has been heavily criticized in Congressional hearings as a cost-ineffective private contractor whose uses of force have embarrassed and compromised U.S. diplomatic interests. Additionally, the leak of diplomatic documents by Wikileaks in October 2010 alleged Blackwater committed serious abuses while in Iraq, including killing civilians. The State Department dropped Blackwater as its main private security contractor in 2009.
Prince, who founded Blackwater in 1997, is no longer involved in Xe’s management or operations.
505 Games is no stranger to controversy; it is publishing Supremacy MMA a fighter/sports hybrid whose stylized violence and gritty, underground presentation of mixed martial arts has drawn criticism from some, saying it presents the sport in a poor light. Mixed martial arts is especially sensitive to depictions of violence and brutality, as they have been the basis for state-level legislation forbidding the sport.
Supremacy MMA also features, for the first time, female combatants in an MMA title, although they may not fight male characters.
Both Blackwater and Supremacy MMA are playable at E3 2011 in Los Angeles this week.
May 16 (Reuters) — The crown prince of Abu Dhabi has hired the founder of the private security firm Blackwater Worldwide to set up an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the United Arab Emirates, the New York Times reported Sunday.
The Times said it obtained documents that showed that the unit being formed by Erik Prince’s new company, Reflex Responses, with $529 million from the UAE would be used to thwart internal revolt, conduct special operations and defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from attacks.
The newspaper said the UAE’s decision to hire the contingent of foreign troops was taken before a wave of popular unrest spread across the Arab world in recent months, including to neighboring Bahrain and Oman.
The consortium in charge of restructuring the world’s most infamous private-security firm just added a new chief in charge of keeping the company on the straight and narrow. Yes, John Ashcroft, the former U.S. attorney general, is now an “independent director” of Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater.
Ashcroft will head Xe’s new “subcommittee on governance,” its backers announced early Wednesday in a statement. The subcommittee is designed to “maximize governance, compliance and accountability” and “promote the highest degrees of ethics and professionalism within the private-security industry.”
In other words, no more shooting civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, no more signing for weapons its guards aren’t authorized to carry in war zones, no more impersonations of cartoon characters to acquire said weaponry, and no more ‘roids and coke on the job.
On Feb. 18, Israel’s Prime Minister along with his Foreign and Defence Ministers hatched a plot to keep Libyan strongmen Muammar Gaddafi in power and his opponents dead or wounded. The big three would use Israeli taxpayers’ money to hire mercenaries to slaughter any Libyan who wanted anew leader.
(ANSAmed) – ROME, MARCH 1 – With approval from the government in Tel Aviv, an Israeli security firm is responsible for sending groups of African mercenaries to Libya to fight the protestors who have been calling for the fall of the Gaddafi regime for the last two weeks, reports Al Jazeera’s website, citing a source in the Israeli press. The journalist from Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, who prefers to remain anonymous, said that according to speculation in the security sector, Israel looks at Libya from a strategic perspective and in terms of security. The fall of Gaddafi would open the door for an Islamic regime in Libya, accordingto speculation. In a meeting on February 18, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defence Minister Barak and Foreign Minister Lieberman decided to recruit African mercenaries to fight alongside Gaddafi, according to the journalist. During the meeting, they decided to let General Israel Zef, the director of security firm Global CST, which is active in many African countries, to make a group of paramilitary mercenaries from Guinea, Nigeria, Central Africa, Mali, Senegal, Darfur and Southern Sudan available to Abdullah Assinousi, one of the heads of Libya’s intelligence agency.
In just a few weeks, Libya was crawling with guns for hire, many without knowledge that their paychecks originated at the Bank of Israel. How could Israel justify the ongoing massacre of Libyan civilians by its hired guns? Because Ghaddafi’s defeat would mean an Islamist government, though it’s anybody’s guess if that is even the case. Meanwhile in Israel, the police shot 15 Jews at Havat Gilad with experimental crowd-control bullets, while most of the population was too shell-shocked by never-ending poverty and debt to even care. Would they care if they knew their taxes were paying hundreds of mercenaries $300 to $2000 bucks a day to shoot Libyans? Nah, not when there’s the mortgage to be paid and children to feed. Israelis are too worn down and out to care that their government is risking huge international censure for prolonging the Libyan civil war.
– Gaddafi amasses army of African mercenaries (Al Arabiya):
Gaddafi is said to have lured some 25,000 mercenaries to quash a popular revolt against his regime. The head of the Libyan Human Rights League Ali Zeidan says Chad is leading this group of foreign fighters including citizens from Niger, Mali, Zimbabwe and Liberia who are being paid between $300 and $2,000 a day. While most of these governments have denied their nationals are fighting as mercenaries in Libya, Mali officials have confirmed hundreds of young Tuaregs from Mali and Niger have been recruited by Gaddafi.
African mercenaries hired by the Gaddafi regime to kill Libyan protesters would be immune from prosecution for war crimes due to a clause in this weekend’s UN resolution that was demanded by the United States.
The UN Security Council agreed on Saturday evening to freeze international assets belonging to the Gaddafis and their key aides, to ban them from travelling and to block all arms sales to Tripoli. It also called for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the killings of demonstrators.
This inquiry could lead to senior Libyan ministers and officials being indicted to stand trial for crimes against humanity at The Hague and being given lengthy prison sentences.
But it has been widely alleged that many of the attacks were in fact carried out by foreign mercenaries hired by Colonel Gaddafi. And the US insisted that the UN resolution was worded so that no one from an outside country that is not a member of the ICC could be prosecuted for their actions in Libya.
This means that mercenaries from countries such as Algeria, Ethiopia and Tunisia – which have all been named by rebel Libyan diplomats to the UN as being among the countries involved – would escape prosecution even if they were captured, because their nations are not members of the court.
The move was seen as an attempt to prevent a precedent that could see Americans prosecuted by the ICC for alleged crimes in other conflicts. While the US was once among the signatories to the court, George W. Bush withdrew from it in 2002 and declared that it did not have power over Washington.
Petrol bombs and gunshots in Benghazi
Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi were yesterday said to be launching fierce counter-attacks as the Libyan uprising edged closer to the capital and the dictator chose to blame Osama bin Laden and teenagers on hallucinogenic drugs for the rebellion.
Amid ominous descriptions of groups of pro-Gaddafi militiamen gathering on the roads around Tripoli, there were reports that the minaret of a mosque in Zawiya – 30 miles west of Tripoli, where protesters had claimed victory – was being pounded by heavy weapons. Troops were said to be filling the streets of Sabratha, 50 miles to the west of the capital. A Libyan newspaper reported that in Zawiya 10 people had been killed, and a witness told the BBC that pro-Gaddafi forces had used machine-guns on unarmed residents in a main square of the city.
A doctor in Sabratha told The New York Times by telephone that after several days of a government crackdown, gunshots had sounded as troops occupied the town. Sabratha was locked down, with no shops open and the local headquarters of the police and the regime’s revolutionary committees in ruins. “We are not afraid,” the doctor said. “We are watching.”
The forces loyal to the 42-year-old regime also attacked anti-government militias now controlling Misurata, 125 miles east of Tripoli and the last major gateway to the capital on the coastal road from that direction, according to the Associated Press, which said several people were killed in fighting near the city’s airport. The town of Zuwarah, about 75 miles west of Tripoli, was also said to be in the hands of opposition militias.
Clashes between anti-government protesters and Gaddafi supporters escalate as army unit ‘defects’ in Benghazi.
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is confronting the most serious challenge to his rule in 42 years [Al Jazeera]
Security forces have shot dead scores of protesters in Libya’s second largest city, where residents said a military unit had joined their cause.
While Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi attempted to put down protests centred in the eastern city of Benghazi against his four-decade rule, Al Jazeera began receiving eyewitness reports of “disturbances” in the capital Tripoli early on Monday as well.
There were reports of clashes between anti-government protesters and Gaddafi supporters around the Green Square.
“We are in Tripoli, there are chants [directed at Gaddafi]: ‘Where are you? Where are you? Come out if you’re a man,” a protester told Al Jazeera on the phone.
A resident told the Reuters news agency that he could hear gunshots in the streets and crowds of people.
“We’re inside the house and the lights are out. There are gunshots in the street,” the resident said by phone. “That’s what I hear, gunshots and people. I can’t go outside.”
Blackwater founder sets up new force to tackle piracy
Erik Prince, the American founder of the private security firm Blackwater Worldwide, has cropped up at the centre of a controversial scheme to establish a new mercenary force to crack down on piracy and terrorism in the war-torn East African country of Somalia.
The project, which emerged yesterday when an intelligence report was leaked to media in the United States, requires Mr Prince to help train a private army of 2,000 Somali troops that will be loyal to the country’s United Nations-backed government. Several neighbouring states, including the United Arab Emirates, will pay the bills.
Mr Prince is working in Somalia alongside Saracen International, a murky South African firm which is run by a former officer from the Civil Co-operation Bureau, an apartheid-era force notorious for killing opponents of the white minority government.
Russia has released Israeli mercenary Yair Klein, who was sought by Colombia for his involvement in the training of paramilitary squads, reports say.
Klein, a former Israeli army soldier, is on his way to Israel, Interfax news agency reports.
In 2001, a Colombian court convicted him in absentia of training right-wing guerrilla groups.
Russia arrested him in 2007 under an Interpol warrant and later agreed to extradite him to Colombia.
But the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) forbid the extradition, on grounds that he might face mistreatment in Colombia.
Israel’s Channel 10 television showed Klein on Friday leaving a Moscow jail where he was being held.
“Klein has been freed and he is currently en route to Israel,” Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed security source as saying.
Klein was sentenced in absentia in 2001 to 10 years and eight months in prison in Colombia for assisting and training drug lords and guerrilla groups in the 1980s and 1990s.
Never mind the dead civilians. Forget about the stolen guns. Get over the murder arrests, the fraud allegations, and the accusations of guards pumping themselves up with steroids and cocaine. Through a “joint venture,” the notorious private-security firm Blackwater has won a piece of a five-year State Department contract worth up to $10 billion, Danger Room has learned.
Apparently, there is no misdeed so big that it can keep guns-for-hire from working for the government. And this is despite a 2008 campaign pledge from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ban the company from federal contracts.
Eight private security firms have won State’s giant Worldwide Protective Services contract, the big Foggy Bottom partnership to keep embassies and their inhabitants safe. Two of those firms are longtime State contract holders DynCorp and Triple Canopy. The others are newcomers to the big security contract: EOD Technology, SOC, Aegis Defense Services, Global Strategies Group, Torres International Services and International Development Solutions LLC.
Don’t see any of Blackwater’s myriad business names on there? That’s apparently by design.
Blackwater and the State Department tried their best to obscure their renewed relationship. As Danger Room reported Wednesday, Blackwater did not appear on the vendors’ list for Worldwide Protective Services. And the State Department confirms that the company, renamed Xe Services, didn’t actually submit its own independent bid.
Instead, they used a blandly named cut-out, “International Development Solutions,” to retain a toehold into State’s lucrative security business. No one who looks at the official announcement of the contract award would have any idea that firm is connected to Blackwater.
Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, the American private security organisation, has claimed that his employees have called in airstrikes in Afghanistan.
He also mocked Afghan military recruits for needing lessons in how to use a toilet, and questioned the value and quality of other countries’ troops in the country.
In a speech in January at the University of Michigan which was secretly recorded, he questioned the will to fight of many Nato troops in Afghanistan, saying that “a lot of them should just pack it in and go home”.
Blackwater, now renamed Xe Services, has been a lightning rod for controversy surrounding America’s use of private contractors in war zones since its personnel killed 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians in a Baghdad square in 2007. Continue reading »
WAVING iron bars and pickaxes, the Red Ants, a rented mob of thugs in bright red overalls and crimson helmets, used the half-light of dawn for cover as they marched into the slum. Stamping out the first cooking fires of the day with heavy boots, they spread out in a long line. Then they attacked.
Bleary immigrant women dropped plastic water containers and ran in panic towards their corrugated iron homes. “Grab the children,” they screamed.
By sunrise their shacks on the outskirts of Johannesburg had been razed. They were forced to watch as their few possessions were burnt.
The Red Ants, described as state-sponsored mercenaries by their critics, have become a growing force in the past few months as South African cities have begun a campaign of “beautification” before the World Cup begins in June. This means clearing away unsightly immigrant squatter camps.
This month, more than 100 Zimbabweans were beaten and evicted by Red Ants from a derelict building on the main road to Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg, one of the football tournament’s main venues.
It followed a series of Red Ant evictions ordered by the provincial department of public transport along main roads within a mile of the stadium, which will host five matches. Hundreds more Zimbabweans were forcibly evicted from properties in central Johannesburg. Continue reading »
RALEIGH, N.C. — The former president of Blackwater Worldwide was charged Friday with using straw purchases to stockpile automatic weapons at the security firm and filing false documents to cover up gifts given to the King of Jordan.
The federal indictment charges Gary Jackson, 52, who left the company last year in a management shakeup, along with four other former workers. The charges against Jackson include a conspiracy to violate firearms laws, false statements and possession of an unregistered firearm.
Also indicted were former general counsel Andrew Howell, 44; former executive vice president Bill Mathews, 44; former procurement vice president Ana Bundy, 45; and, 65-year-old Ronald Slezak, a former weapons manager.
The charges open a new front of the government’s oversight of the sullied security company. Several of the company’s contractors have previously been charged with federal crimes for their actions in war zones, but the company’s executives have so far weathered a range of investigations.
The company has been trying to rehabilitate its image since a 2007 shooting in Baghdad left 17 people dead, outraged the Iraqi government and led to a federal charges against several Blackwater guards — accusations later thrown out of court after a judge found prosecutors mishandled evidence. Around the time that Jackson left the company, Blackwater changed its name to Xe Services.
The latest case stems from a raid conducted by federal agents at the company’s headquarters in Moyock in 2008 that seized 22 weapons, including 17 AK-47s. Continue reading »