HONG KONG — A Hong Kong–based mostly safety and logistics firm based by Erik Prince is working within the south of Iraq, in line with paperwork obtained by BuzzFeed Information.
Prince, a former Navy SEAL and the brother of US Training Secretary Betsy DeVos, is finest recognized for founding Blackwater, a personal mercenary firm that was banned from Iraq after contractors opened hearth on and killed unarmed civilians in Baghdad.
Backed by Chinese language cash, Prince began the Hong Kong–listed Frontier Providers Group (FSG) as a logistics firm in 2014. Since then it’s expanded from working Africa-based tasks to providing logistics and safety providers for China’s One Belt, One Highway initiative, a world infrastructure technique adopted by the Chinese language authorities. FSG has further places of work in mainland China; Southeast Asia; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
A subsidiary of the corporate based mostly in Dubai — Frontier Logistics Consultancy DMCC — registered as a overseas firm with Iraq’s Ministry of Commerce, a doc from February 2018 reveals. The workplace is predicated in Basra, an oil-rich area within the south of the nation, a supply stated.
FSG didn’t reply to requests for remark concerning the nature of its enterprise in Iraq.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat from Illinois and a longtime critic of Prince and Blackwater, stated the doc was “troubling.”
“This could sound alarm bells for the Iraqi authorities, who expelled Blackwater from Iraq for lethal habits,” she stated.
FSG has not publicly acknowledged it has operations in Iraq. The corporate’s newest annual report referred to new places of work it had opened within the Center East final 12 months, however didn’t specify which nations.
In March, Prince advised Al Jazeera that FSG did trucking and transportation in southern Africa, together with grocery supply and medevac operations. He additionally added that it might be “supporting, hopefully, oil operations in nations like Iraq or Pakistan or the hydro dams.”
Earlier than FSG, Prince ran Blackwater, which reaped tons of of hundreds of thousands of in US navy contracts after the Sept. 11 assaults. In a very grim second of the Iraq Battle in 2007, Blackwater contractors killed 14 unarmed residents in a public sq..
Iraq booted the corporate from the nation. Blackwater modified its identify. And Prince offered the corporate. Convictions and lawsuits adopted.
Years later, Prince based FSG. The state-owned Chinese language firm CITIC is its largest investor. In December CITIC’s chairman, Chang Zhenming, was appointed FSG’s board chairman. Prince stepped down from the place and have become the deputy chairman.
Peter Singer, the writer of a e-book concerning the personal navy business, laughed when requested about FSG working in Iraq. He stated that whereas it was controversial due to Prince’s document with Blackwater, the opposite query raised by the transfer is in whose curiosity the corporate is working by supporting Chinese language tasks.
“It’s exhausting to argue that Prince is on the suitable facet of US nationwide safety,” he stated.
Prince’s document has remained a degree of pressure for the corporate. When FSG introduced it was shifting from solely logistics to safety tasks a few years in the past, two board members resigned, BuzzFeed Information beforehand reported.
William Fallon, a retired US Navy admiral and one of many board members who resigned, stated he had “nothing to do with these guys anymore” and had no touch upon the Iraq enterprise arm.
In 2017 Prince advised the Monetary Instances newspaper that FSG was not a Chinese language model of Blackwater. “None of our individuals have been or will likely be armed. However safety administration is actually a part of the logistics course of.” Nevertheless, at this time the corporate’s web site notes that it could possibly present “armed and unarmed guarding” as a part of its safety providers.
A Chinese language-language hiring discover for the corporate from 2017 for 50 abroad positions requested that candidates have no less than 5 years of navy expertise or greater than three years of expertise in legislation enforcement.
Candidates can be skilled on the Worldwide Safety Protection School in Beijing, a personal anti-terrorism coaching college that FSG has a 25% stake in, the discover stated. One of many academics and founders of the varsity, John Shi Yi, is head of FSG’s southwest division, which incorporates operations in Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia.
In February, FSG got here below hearth for saying it was planning a coaching heart for Xinjiang — China’s far-west area the place heavy surveillance and detentions of the Muslim inhabitants of Uighurs have drawn condemnation around the globe. It later eliminated the posting from its web site. Prince stated he had no data of the deal.
Overseas personal safety firms in Iraq are required to acquire a license so as to function.
Iraq’s Ministry of Inside, which regulates personal safety firms, didn’t reply to inquiries about whether or not the corporate had utilized for or obtained an operational licence.
Different personal safety firms working in Iraq advised BuzzFeed Information they had been unaware of the group’s actions. “That is the primary I’ve heard of it, however it’s actually one thing I’ll be wanting into,” stated Grant Brigden, president of Virginia-based Reed Inc.