Erik Prince, Trump Ally, Violated Libya Arms Embargo, U.N. Report Says

NAIROBI, Kenya — Erik Prince, the previous head of the safety contractor Blackwater Worldwide and a outstanding supporter of former President Donald J. Trump, violated a United Nations arms embargo on Libya by sending weapons to a militia commander who was making an attempt to overthrow the internationally backed authorities, based on U.N. investigators.

A confidential U.N. report obtained by The New York Instances and delivered by investigators to the Safety Council on Thursday reveals how Mr. Prince deployed a drive of international mercenaries, armed with assault plane, gunboats and cyberwarfare capabilities, to jap Libya on the peak of a significant battle in 2019.

As a part of the operation, which the report stated value $80 million, the mercenaries additionally deliberate to type successful squad that might monitor down and kill chosen Libyan commanders.

Mr. Prince, a former Navy SEAL and the brother of Betsy DeVos, Mr. Trump’s training secretary, turned an emblem of the excesses of privatized American army drive when his Blackwater contractors killed 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007.

Previously decade he has relaunched himself as an govt who strikes offers — generally for minerals, different occasions involving army drive — in war-addled however resource-rich international locations, principally in Africa.

Through the Trump administration, Mr. Prince was a beneficiant donor and a staunch ally of the president, typically in league with figures like Steve Bannon and Roger Stone as they sought to undermine Mr. Trump’s critics. And Mr. Prince came under scrutiny from the Trump-Russia inquiry over his assembly with a Russian banker in 2017.

Mr. Prince refused to cooperate with the U.N. inquiry; his lawyer didn’t reply to questions concerning the report. Final yr the lawyer, Matthew L. Schwartz, advised the Instances that Mr. Prince “had nothing in any respect” to do with army operations in Libya.

The report raises the query of whether or not Mr. Prince performed on his ties to the Trump administration to drag off the Libya operation.

It describes how a pal and former companion of Mr. Prince traveled to Jordan to purchase surplus, American-made Cobra helicopters from the Jordanian army — a sale that ordinarily would require American authorities permission, based on army specialists. The pal, assured officers in Jordan that he had “clearances from in all places” and his staff’s work had been accepted “on the highest degree,” the report discovered.

However the Jordanians, unimpressed by these claims, stopped the sale, forcing the mercenaries to supply new plane from South Africa.

A Western official, chatting with the Instances on the situation of anonymity as a result of he was not permitted to debate confidential work, stated the investigators had additionally obtained telephone information displaying that Mr. Prince’s pal and former companion made a number of calls to the principle White Home switchboard in late July 2019, after the mercenary operation bumped into bother.

The accusation that Mr. Prince violated the U.N.’s arms embargo on Libya exposes him to potential U.N. sanctions, together with a journey ban and a freeze on his financial institution accounts and different property — although such an final result is unsure.

Mr. Prince is just not the one one to have been accused of violating the decade-old arms embargo on Libya. Rampant meddling by regional and world powers has fueled years of preventing, drawing mercenaries and different profiteers looking for riches from a warfare that has introduced solely demise and distress to an excellent many Libyans.

The sheer breadth of proof within the newest U.N. report — 121 pages of code names, cowl tales, offshore financial institution accounts and secretive weapons transfers spanning eight international locations, to not point out a quick look by a Hollywood pal of Mr. Prince — offers a glimpse into the secretive world of worldwide mercenaries.

Libya started to fracture a decade in the past, when the violent ouster of the nation’s longtime dictator, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, set in movement a political disaster that splintered the nation into armed factions, many ultimately supported by international powers hoping to form the future of the oil-rich North African nation.

Japanese Libya is now within the palms of Khalifa Hifter, the highly effective militia commander whom Mr. Prince agreed to assist, based on the report, because the nation was wracked by preventing in 2019.

A one-time CIA asset who returned from exile in Virginia after the autumn of Mr. Qaddafi in 2011, Mr. Hifter quickly established himself within the jap metropolis of Benghazi as an aspiring strongman who was decided to blast his approach to energy if obligatory.

In his late 70s, Mr. Hifter has relied for years on the United Arab Emirates for funding, armed drones and a spread of highly effective weapons, based on successive United Nations stories. Extra just lately, Mr. Hifter has also received backing from Russia, within the guise of mercenaries with the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group that has turn out to be an integral a part of his warfare machine.

In April 2019, Mr. Hifter launched a blistering assault on the capital, Tripoli, however formidable obstacles stood in his approach, together with newly arrived troops from Turkey supporting the U.N.-backed authorities. So Mr. Hifter turned to Mr. Prince.

Mark Mazzetti contributed reporting from Washington.

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