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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 trying to overthrow the internationally backed authorities, in accordance with U.N. investigators.

A confidential U.N. report obtained by The New York Occasions 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 japanese Libya on the top of a significant battle in 2019.

As a part of the operation, which the report mentioned value $80 million, the mercenaries additionally deliberate to kind a success squad that would 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.

Up 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, largely in Africa.

Throughout 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 got here beneath 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 in regards to the report. Final yr the lawyer, Matthew L. Schwartz, advised the Occasions that Mr. Prince “had nothing in anyway” 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 buddy 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 accordance with army specialists. The buddy, assured officers in Jordan that he had “clearances from all over the place” and his group’s work had been permitted “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 Occasions on the situation of anonymity as a result of he was not permitted to debate confidential work, mentioned the investigators had additionally obtained telephone data displaying that Mr. Prince’s buddy and former associate made a number of calls to the primary 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 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 international powers has fueled years of combating, drawing mercenaries and different profiteers looking for riches from a warfare that has introduced solely loss of life 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 short look by a Hollywood buddy of Mr. Prince — supplies 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 arms of Khalifa Hifter, the highly effective militia commander whom Mr. Prince agreed to help, in accordance with the report, because the nation was wracked by combating 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 japanese metropolis of Benghazi as an aspiring strongman who was decided to blast his approach to energy if vital.

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, in accordance with successive United Nations stories. Extra 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 warfare machine.

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