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 distinguished supporter of former President Donald J. Trump, violated a United Nations arms embargo on Libya by sending weapons to a militia commander who was trying to overthrow the internationally backed authorities, in line with 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 power of overseas mercenaries, armed with assault plane, gunboats and cyberwarfare capabilities, to jap Libya on the top of a significant battle in 2019.

As a part of the operation, which the report mentioned price $80 million, the mercenaries additionally deliberate to kind successful squad that might observe 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 power when his Blackwater contractors killed 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007.

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

Throughout the Trump administration, Mr. Prince was a beneficiant donor and a staunch ally of the president, usually in league with figures like Steve Bannon and Roger Stone as they sought to undermine Mr. Trump’s critics. And Mr. Prince got here below 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, informed the Instances that Mr. Prince “had nothing by any means” 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 tug off the Libya operation.

It describes how a good friend and former associate 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, in line with army specialists. The good friend, assured officers in Jordan that he had “clearances from in all places” and his staff’s work had been authorised “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, mentioned the investigators had additionally obtained telephone information exhibiting that Mr. Prince’s good friend and former associate made a number of calls to the principle White Home switchboard in late July 2019, after the mercenary operation bumped into hassle.

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

Mr. Prince shouldn’t be 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 struggle that has introduced solely loss of life and distress to an awesome 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 good friend 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 finally supported by overseas 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, in line with 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 strategy to energy if essential.

In his late 70s, Mr. Hifter has relied for years on the United Arab Emirates for funding, armed drones and a variety of highly effective weapons, in line with successive United Nations studies. Extra just lately, Mr. Hifter has additionally obtained backing from Russia, within the guise of mercenaries with the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group that has grow to be an integral a part of his struggle machine.

In April 2019, Mr. Hifter launched a blistering assault on the capital, Tripoli, however formidable obstacles stood in his method, 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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