Real-Life Mercenaries to Star in ‘BLACKWATER’, the Videogame!

Real-Life Mercenaries to Star in Blackwater, the Videogame (Wired, June 7, 2011):

Blackwater Worldwide, the real-life mercenary team linked to the killing of civilians and noncombatants in Iraq during U.S. operations there, will be the subject of a Kinect-supported videogame coming to the Xbox 360 later this year.

Published by 505 Games and titled, simply, Blackwater, the game is being produced in consultation with the private security contractor’s founder, the former Navy SEAL Erik Prince.

A news release called it “an intense, cinematic shooter experience,” set in a fictional North African town, in which players, as Blackwater operatives, battle two warlords’ factions to protect the city.

“This game and its immersive Kinect-based approach will give players the chance to experience what it is like to be on a Blackwater team on a mission without being dropped into a real combat situation,” Prince said in a statement issued by 505. The game was developed in conjunction with former Blackwater members “to ensure accuracy of moves, gestures and gameplay,” the 505 release said. “The game also features a selection of officially-licensed weapons for your soldier to choose from.”

The game may also be played using a standard controller.

Blackwater, renamed to Xe Services LLC, was contracted by the U.S. government to provide training and diplomatic security, most notably in the Middle East, for much of the last decade. Its presence alongside U.S. diplomatic and military personnel came under scrutiny after several incidents resulting in the deaths either of civilians or Blackwater employees themselves.

Its involvement in Iraq became enough of a controversy that the company renamed itself to Xe in the aftermath. Its employees were involved in shootings later found to be unjustified, including one in which 17 Iraqis were slain, prompting the government there to revoke Blackwater’s license to operate in the country. Both the U.S. State Department and the FBI called that incident a reckless use of force that killed innocents, but an FBI investigation could not conclusively prove Blackwater was responsible for all deaths. In another 2006 incident, a Blackwater employee was fired after he, allegedly drunk, shot and killed a security guard of the Iraqi vice president.

Though none of its employees have faced prosecution, Blackwater/Xe has been heavily criticized in Congressional hearings as a cost-ineffective private contractor whose uses of force have embarrassed and compromised U.S. diplomatic interests. Additionally, the leak of diplomatic documents by Wikileaks in October 2010 alleged Blackwater committed serious abuses while in Iraq, including killing civilians. The State Department dropped Blackwater as its main private security contractor in 2009.

Prince, who founded Blackwater in 1997, is no longer involved in Xe’s management or operations.

505 Games is no stranger to controversy; it is publishing Supremacy MMA a fighter/sports hybrid whose stylized violence and gritty, underground presentation of mixed martial arts has drawn criticism from some, saying it presents the sport in a poor light. Mixed martial arts is especially sensitive to depictions of violence and brutality, as they have been the basis for state-level legislation forbidding the sport.

Supremacy MMA also features, for the first time, female combatants in an MMA title, although they may not fight male characters.

Both Blackwater and Supremacy MMA are playable at E3 2011 in Los Angeles this week.

Blackwater Hired To Set Up A 800-Member Mercenary Battalion For The United Arab Emirates

May 16 (Reuters) — The crown prince of Abu Dhabi has hired the founder of the private security firm Blackwater Worldwide to set up an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the United Arab Emirates, the New York Times reported Sunday.

The Times said it obtained documents that showed that the unit being formed by Erik Prince’s new company, Reflex Responses, with $529 million from the UAE would be used to thwart internal revolt, conduct special operations and defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from attacks.

The newspaper said the UAE’s decision to hire the contingent of foreign troops was taken before a wave of popular unrest spread across the Arab world in recent months, including to neighboring Bahrain and Oman.

Read moreBlackwater Hired To Set Up A 800-Member Mercenary Battalion For The United Arab Emirates

Blackwater’s New Ethics Chief: John Ashcroft

The consortium in charge of restructuring the world’s most infamous private-security firm just added a new chief in charge of keeping the company on the straight and narrow. Yes, John Ashcroft, the former U.S. attorney general, is now an “independent director” of Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater.

Ashcroft will head Xe’s new “subcommittee on governance,” its backers announced early Wednesday in a statement. The subcommittee is designed to “maximize governance, compliance and accountability” and “promote the highest degrees of ethics and professionalism within the private-security industry.”

In other words, no more shooting civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, no more signing for weapons its guards aren’t authorized to carry in war zones, no more impersonations of cartoon characters to acquire said weaponry, and no more ‘roids and coke on the job.

Read moreBlackwater’s New Ethics Chief: John Ashcroft

Israel Keeping Muammar Gaddafi Afloat (Veterans Today)

On Feb. 18, Israel’s Prime Minister along with his Foreign and Defence Ministers hatched a plot to keep Libyan strongmen Muammar Gaddafi in power and his opponents dead or wounded. The big three would use Israeli taxpayers’ money to hire mercenaries to slaughter any Libyan who wanted anew leader.

(ANSAmed) – ROME, MARCH 1 – With approval from the government in Tel Aviv, an Israeli security firm is responsible for sending groups of African mercenaries to Libya to fight the protestors who have been calling for the fall of the Gaddafi regime for the last two weeks, reports Al Jazeera’s website, citing a source in the Israeli press. The journalist from Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, who prefers to remain anonymous, said that according to speculation in the security sector, Israel looks at Libya from a strategic perspective and in terms of security. The fall of Gaddafi would open the door for an Islamic regime in Libya, accordingto speculation. In a meeting on February 18, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defence Minister Barak and Foreign Minister Lieberman decided to recruit African mercenaries to fight alongside Gaddafi, according to the journalist. During the meeting, they decided to let General Israel Zef, the director of security firm Global CST, which is active in many African countries, to make a group of paramilitary mercenaries from Guinea, Nigeria, Central Africa, Mali, Senegal, Darfur and Southern Sudan available to Abdullah Assinousi, one of the heads of Libya’s intelligence agency.

In just a few weeks, Libya was crawling with guns for hire, many without knowledge that their paychecks originated at the Bank of Israel. How could Israel justify the ongoing massacre of Libyan civilians by its hired guns? Because Ghaddafi’s defeat would mean an Islamist government, though it’s anybody’s guess if that is even the case. Meanwhile in Israel, the police shot 15 Jews at Havat Gilad with experimental crowd-control bullets, while most of the population was too shell-shocked by never-ending poverty and debt to even care. Would they care if they knew their taxes were paying hundreds of mercenaries $300 to $2000 bucks a day to shoot Libyans? Nah, not when there’s the mortgage to be paid and children to feed. Israelis are too worn down and out to care that their government is risking huge international censure for prolonging the Libyan civil war.

Gaddafi amasses army of African mercenaries (Al Arabiya):

Gaddafi is said to have lured some 25,000 mercenaries to quash a popular revolt against his regime. The head of the Libyan Human Rights League Ali Zeidan says Chad is leading this group of foreign fighters including citizens from Niger, Mali, Zimbabwe and Liberia who are being paid between $300 and $2,000 a day. While most of these governments have denied their nationals are fighting as mercenaries in Libya, Mali officials have confirmed hundreds of young Tuaregs from Mali and Niger have been recruited by Gaddafi.

Read moreIsrael Keeping Muammar Gaddafi Afloat (Veterans Today)

Libya: US Demanded Clause In UN Resolution That Mercenaries Are ‘Immune From Prosecution For War Crimes’

African mercenaries hired by the Gaddafi regime to kill Libyan protesters would be immune from prosecution for war crimes due to a clause in this weekend’s UN resolution that was demanded by the United States.


Libyan militia members from the forces against Gadhafi escort a man who they suspect to be a mercenary Photo: AP

The UN Security Council agreed on Saturday evening to freeze international assets belonging to the Gaddafis and their key aides, to ban them from travelling and to block all arms sales to Tripoli. It also called for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the killings of demonstrators.

This inquiry could lead to senior Libyan ministers and officials being indicted to stand trial for crimes against humanity at The Hague and being given lengthy prison sentences.

But it has been widely alleged that many of the attacks were in fact carried out by foreign mercenaries hired by Colonel Gaddafi. And the US insisted that the UN resolution was worded so that no one from an outside country that is not a member of the ICC could be prosecuted for their actions in Libya.

This means that mercenaries from countries such as Algeria, Ethiopia and Tunisia – which have all been named by rebel Libyan diplomats to the UN as being among the countries involved – would escape prosecution even if they were captured, because their nations are not members of the court.

The move was seen as an attempt to prevent a precedent that could see Americans prosecuted by the ICC for alleged crimes in other conflicts. While the US was once among the signatories to the court, George W. Bush withdrew from it in 2002 and declared that it did not have power over Washington.

Read moreLibya: US Demanded Clause In UN Resolution That Mercenaries Are ‘Immune From Prosecution For War Crimes’

Libya: Mercenaries Gather in Tripoli For The Final Battle


Petrol bombs and gunshots in Benghazi

Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi were yesterday said to be launching fierce counter-attacks as the Libyan uprising edged closer to the capital and the dictator chose to blame Osama bin Laden and teenagers on hallucinogenic drugs for the rebellion.

Amid ominous descriptions of groups of pro-Gaddafi militiamen gathering on the roads around Tripoli, there were reports that the minaret of a mosque in Zawiya – 30 miles west of Tripoli, where protesters had claimed victory – was being pounded by heavy weapons. Troops were said to be filling the streets of Sabratha, 50 miles to the west of the capital. A Libyan newspaper reported that in Zawiya 10 people had been killed, and a witness told the BBC that pro-Gaddafi forces had used machine-guns on unarmed residents in a main square of the city.

A doctor in Sabratha told The New York Times by telephone that after several days of a government crackdown, gunshots had sounded as troops occupied the town. Sabratha was locked down, with no shops open and the local headquarters of the police and the regime’s revolutionary committees in ruins. “We are not afraid,” the doctor said. “We are watching.”

The forces loyal to the 42-year-old regime also attacked anti-government militias now controlling Misurata, 125 miles east of Tripoli and the last major gateway to the capital on the coastal road from that direction, according to the Associated Press, which said several people were killed in fighting near the city’s airport. The town of Zuwarah, about 75 miles west of Tripoli, was also said to be in the hands of opposition militias.

Read moreLibya: Mercenaries Gather in Tripoli For The Final Battle

Libya: Clashes Spread to Tripoli – Security Forces Gun Down Mourners And Protesters – ‘Bodies Are Piled Everywhere’

Clashes between anti-government protesters and Gaddafi supporters escalate as army unit ‘defects’ in Benghazi.


Libyan leader Muammar
Gaddafi is confronting the most serious challenge to his rule in 42 years [Al Jazeera]

Security forces have shot dead scores of protesters in Libya’s second largest city, where residents said a military unit had joined their cause.

While Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi attempted to put down protests centred in the eastern city of Benghazi against his four-decade rule, Al Jazeera began receiving eyewitness reports of “disturbances” in the capital Tripoli early on Monday as well.

There were reports of clashes between anti-government protesters and Gaddafi supporters around the Green Square.

“We are in Tripoli, there are chants [directed at Gaddafi]: ‘Where are you? Where are you? Come out if you’re a man,” a protester told Al Jazeera on the phone.

A resident told the Reuters news agency that he could hear gunshots in the streets and crowds of people.

“We’re inside the house and the lights are out. There are gunshots in the street,” the resident said by phone. “That’s what I hear, gunshots and people. I can’t go outside.”

Read moreLibya: Clashes Spread to Tripoli – Security Forces Gun Down Mourners And Protesters – ‘Bodies Are Piled Everywhere’

Blackwater ‘Prince of Mercenaries’ Sets Up Private Army In Somalia

Blackwater founder sets up new force to tackle piracy


Blackwater employee on patrol in Baghdad

Erik Prince, the American founder of the private security firm Blackwater Worldwide, has cropped up at the centre of a controversial scheme to establish a new mercenary force to crack down on piracy and terrorism in the war-torn East African country of Somalia.

The project, which emerged yesterday when an intelligence report was leaked to media in the United States, requires Mr Prince to help train a private army of 2,000 Somali troops that will be loyal to the country’s United Nations-backed government. Several neighbouring states, including the United Arab Emirates, will pay the bills.

Mr Prince is working in Somalia alongside Saracen International, a murky South African firm which is run by a former officer from the Civil Co-operation Bureau, an apartheid-era force notorious for killing opponents of the white minority government.

Read moreBlackwater ‘Prince of Mercenaries’ Sets Up Private Army In Somalia

Russia Frees Israeli Mercenary Yair Klein


Klein was found guilty in Colombia of assisting AUC rebels during the 1980s and 1990s

Russia has released Israeli mercenary Yair Klein, who was sought by Colombia for his involvement in the training of paramilitary squads, reports say.

Klein, a former Israeli army soldier, is on his way to Israel, Interfax news agency reports.

In 2001, a Colombian court convicted him in absentia of training right-wing guerrilla groups.

Russia arrested him in 2007 under an Interpol warrant and later agreed to extradite him to Colombia.

But the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) forbid the extradition, on grounds that he might face mistreatment in Colombia.
‘Drug lords’

Israel’s Channel 10 television showed Klein on Friday leaving a Moscow jail where he was being held.

“Klein has been freed and he is currently en route to Israel,” Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed security source as saying.

Klein was sentenced in absentia in 2001 to 10 years and eight months in prison in Colombia for assisting and training drug lords and guerrilla groups in the 1980s and 1990s.

Read moreRussia Frees Israeli Mercenary Yair Klein

Blackwater Wins Piece of $10 Billion Mercenary Deal

Never mind the dead civilians. Forget about the stolen guns. Get over the murder arrests, the fraud allegations, and the accusations of guards pumping themselves up with steroids and cocaine. Through a “joint venture,” the notorious private-security firm Blackwater has won a piece of a five-year State Department contract worth up to $10 billion, Danger Room has learned.

Apparently, there is no misdeed so big that it can keep guns-for-hire from working for the government. And this is despite a 2008 campaign pledge from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ban the company from federal contracts.

Eight private security firms have won State’s giant Worldwide Protective Services contract, the big Foggy Bottom partnership to keep embassies and their inhabitants safe. Two of those firms are longtime State contract holders DynCorp and Triple Canopy. The others are newcomers to the big security contract: EOD Technology, SOC, Aegis Defense Services, Global Strategies Group, Torres International Services and International Development Solutions LLC.

Don’t see any of Blackwater’s myriad business names on there? That’s apparently by design.

Blackwater and the State Department tried their best to obscure their renewed relationship. As Danger Room reported Wednesday, Blackwater did not appear on the vendors’ list for Worldwide Protective Services. And the State Department confirms that the company, renamed Xe Services, didn’t actually submit its own independent bid.

Instead, they used a blandly named cut-out, “International Development Solutions,” to retain a toehold into State’s lucrative security business. No one who looks at the official announcement of the contract award would have any idea that firm is connected to Blackwater.

Read moreBlackwater Wins Piece of $10 Billion Mercenary Deal