Assassinations, Weapons Smuggling, Wife-Swapping—The Latest Accusations Against Erik Prince and Blackwater

| Tue Aug. 4, 2009 5:12 PM EDT

Did Blackwater/Xe founder Erik Prince knock off informants working with federal authorities investigating the company? These eye-raising allegations, among others, are contained in the anonymous declarations of two individuals claiming to be ex-Blackwater employees, which were filed in federal court yesterday and first reported by the Nation's Jeremy Scahill. (Find their sworn statements here and here.) According to one of the former employees, John Doe No. 2, "...Based on information provided to me by former colleagues, it appears that Mr. Prince and his employees murdered, or had murdered, one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information, to the federal authorities about the ongoing criminal conduct." (He doesn't, however, provide any information about who the targets of these alleged hits were.) Explaining why he must remain anonymous, John Doe No. 2 says that "on several occasions after my departure from Mr. Prince's employ, Mr. Prince's management has personally threatened me with death and violence." He also charges that Prince, a devout Catholic, "views himself a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe."

To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.

Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince's executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to "lay Hajiis out on cardboard." Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince's employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as "ragheads" or "hajiis."

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Via Scahill's article:

Among the additional allegations made by Doe #1 is that "Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq." He states that he personally witnessed weapons being "pulled out" from dog food bags. Doe #2 alleges that "Prince and his employees arranged for the weapons to be polywrapped and smuggled into Iraq on Mr. Prince's private planes, which operated under the name Presidential Airlines," adding that Prince "generated substantial revenues from participating in the illegal arms trade."

Doe #2 states: "Using his various companies, [Prince] procured and distributed various weapons, including unlawful weapons such as sawed off semi-automatic machine guns with silencers, through unlawful channels of distribution." Blackwater "was not abiding by the terms of the contract with the State Department and was deceiving the State Department," according to Doe #1.

This is not the first time an allegation has surfaced that Blackwater used dog food bags to smuggle weapons into Iraq. ABC News's Brian Ross reported in November 2008 that a "federal grand jury in North Carolina is investigating allegations the controversial private security firm Blackwater illegally shipped assault weapons and silencers to Iraq, hidden in large sacks of dog food." Another former Blackwater employee has also confirmed this information to The Nation.

Both individuals allege that Prince and Blackwater deployed individuals to Iraq who, in the words of Doe #1, "were not properly vetted and cleared by the State Department." Doe #2 adds that "Prince ignored the advice and pleas from certain employees, who sought to stop the unnecessary killing of innocent Iraqis." Doe #2 further states that some Blackwater officials overseas refused to deploy "unfit men" and sent them back to the US. Among the reasons cited by Doe #2 were "the men making statements about wanting to deploy to Iraq to 'kill ragheads' or achieve 'kills' or 'body counts,'" as well as "excessive drinking" and "steroid use." However, when the men returned to the US, according to Doe #2, "Prince and his executives would send them back to be deployed in Iraq with an express instruction to the concerned employees located overseas that they needed to 'stop costing the company money.'"

The declarations were filed in conjunction with a series of civil cases brought on behalf of Iraqi civilians suing the company for war crimes and wrongful death. Court documents filed by the plaintiffs have accused the company of a range of criminal activity, from murder and kidnapping to tax evasion and child prostitution.

According to John Doe 2's declaration, "Mr. Prince knowingly hired two persons who were previously involved in the Kosovo sex trafficking ring to serve at relatively high-levels within his company." He adds that "Mr. Prince's North Carolina operations had an ongoing wife-swapping and sex ring, which was participated in by many of Mr. Prince's top executives."

In the past, Blackwater/Xe has strongly denied any wrongdoing. Without knowing the identities of John Does 1 and 2, it's impossible to know whether any of these explosive charges hold any truth. I have an email in to Xe spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell Stacy DeLuke requesting a reponse to the allegations. I'll update this post if and when I hear back.

UPDATE: DeLuke emailed me the following statement this morning, which I'm reprinting in its entirety:

The proper place for this case to be litigated is in the Court, and we will respond fully in our reply brief (which will be filed on August 17) to the anonymous unsubstantiated and offensive assertions put forward by the plaintiffs. Because the plaintiffs have chosen inappropriately to argue their case in the media, however, we will also say this:

- The brief filed by Plaintiff includes two anonymous affidavits state that their "information" has been provided to the Justice Department -- we can gauge the credence given to those statements -- which hold no water. When the indictments were announced, the United States Attorney the United States Attorney made a point of stating that "[t]he indictment does not charge or implicate Blackwater Worldwide"; "[i]t charges only the actions of certain employees for their roles in the September 16 shooting." He emphasized that the indictment was "very narrow in its allegations": "Six individual Blackwater guards have been charged with unjustified shootings . . .  not the entire Blackwater organization in Baghdad.  There were 19 Blackwater guards on the . . . team that day . . . .  Most acted professionally, responsibly and honorably.  Indeed, this indictment should not be read as accusation against any of those brave men and women who risk their lives as Blackwater security contractors."

-It is obvious that Plaintiffs have chosen to slander Mr. Prince rather than raise legal arguments or actual facts that will be considered by a court of law.  We are happy to engage them there.

-We question the judgment of anyone who relies upon and reiterate anonymous declarations.

As DeLuke notes, Blackwater/Xe will be filing its reply on August 17. I'll parse it here.

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