Blackwater Founder Builds Mideast Mercenary Army

By Spencer Ackerman

What’s Erik Prince been doing since he sold off Blackwater, the infamous mercenary company he founded and turned into a juggernaut of the private security world? His shadiest, most morally-compromised guns-for-hire scheme yet.

Prince moved to Abu Dhabi last year as legal and governmental scrutiny of Blackwater intensified. “I’m done. It’s all sold or shut down,” he told journalist Robert Young Pelton shortly before boarding his farewell flight. “I’m getting out of the government contracting business.” And provided he meant the U.S. government, that vow has stood the test of time. But his adoptive country is a different story.

Documents obtained by the New York Times indicate that Prince rebooted his efforts in private security to build a praetorian army of mercenaries for the ruling clique in the United Arab Emirates. His new company, Reflex Responses, hires a mixture of Colombian soldiers of fortune and South African vets of Executive Outcomes, the pre-Blackwater merc firm that fought nasty counter-guerilla wars in Angola and Sierra Leone. That’s right: forces from Christian nations hired to protect Muslim leaders, possibly against their own people. And in keeping with Prince’s history, if Reflex is doing business legally — from the perspective of U.S. law — it’s only barely so.

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