ABU DHABI, U.A.E. – In 2015 Newsweek had assigned me to track down Erik Prince, former CEO of Blackwater Worldwide. The private military company had grown infamous in 2007 after its employees shot at Iraqi civilians, killing 17 and injuring 20 in Baghdad while escorting a U.S. embassy convoy.
Three years later, after a number of civil lawsuits, criminal charges and Congressional investigations, Prince moved from the U.S. to Abu Dhabi, in United Arab Emirates (UAE) where, as it happens, there is no extradition treaty.
Prince changed the company name from Blackwater to Academi, then to Xe, and to its current reincarnation, Frontier Services Group, headquarted in Malta. The FSG company website states it provides logistics only to clients, mainly in the mining and oil and and gas sectors, and that it does not provide security services to diplomats.
The incarnation of his most recent company, Frontier Services Group, was rumored to have armed and trained South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir’s army – as well as shipping weapons to the government’s rebel group under former deputy president, Reich Machar.
I never did find Prince himself in South Sudan (I’m told he rarely goes to Africa) but I did find his camp on the outskirts of Juba, I spoke with a few of his pilots at the canteen.
Abu Dhabi’s crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan does not consider Prince’s a liability-the lingua Franca here is oil and arms.