Blackwater, the discredited private US security company that was operational in Iraq, has gone through two name changes and organised a spin-off company to secure clandestine programmes in Afghanistan, Libya as well as Syria. As part if it’s attempt to improve its image, Blackwater changed its name to Xe, then later to Academi (above photo taken from its website). It currently has a forward operations base in Afghanistan, boasts personnel present at the Gadaffi killing and, via its spin-off company, is assisting the Syrian resistance. See below for more..
1. SCG: the Blackwater spin-off
In March, James F. Smith, a former director of Blackwater and now Chief Executive of SCG International, a private security firm with experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, set up a covert op in Syria. SCG were also involved in training the Libyan resistance and their contacts were one of the first to confirm the killing of Gadaffi to Stratfor. See here for more on the Stratfor connection with SCG and it’s ops in Syria and Libya, as well as links to Stratfor emails, published by Wikileaks.
2. Transition: from Blackwater to Academi
Blackwater Security Consulting was formed in 2002 and was assigned to protect CIA headquarters in Iraq and another base that was responsible for hunting Bin Laden. Blackwater received US$1 billion in U.S. government contracts. Blackwater’s main training facility is in northeastern North Carolina. It also has a facility at Mount Carroll, Illinois, called the Impact Training Center.
In February 2009, Blackwater announced it would change its name to Xe Services LLC. Prince resigned as CEO in March 2009 but remained on as chairman of the board. Joseph Yorio was named as the new president and CEO, replacing Gary Jackson as president. Danielle Esposito was named the new chief operating officer and executive vice president. In late 2010, Prince moved to Abu Dhabi, where he started another security services company, Reflex Responses. In 2011, former NSA head and CIA executive, Bobby Ray Inman, became the head of Xe’s board of directors. An interactive map of Xe business connections is shown here (acknowledgement to Public Intelligence).
In December 2011, Xe changed its name to Academi.
3. The new Blackwater (Academi)
Academi was founded by Erik Prince, a former Navy SEAL. Cofer Black was the vice-chairman from 2006 through 2008 and was formerly the director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center (CTC) at the time of the September 11 attacks in 2001. Before joining Academi, Black was chair of Total Intelligence Solutions, Inc., as well as vice-chair of Blackwater. Robert Richer was vice-president of intelligence at Academi until January 2007, when he formed Total Intelligence Solutions. He was formerly the head of the CIA’s Near East Division.
The current HQ of Academi is in Arlington, VA. It also has a 7,000-acre training facility in Moyock, NC, training facilities in Salem, CT, and San Diego, CA. The forward operating base in Afghanistan is a 10-acre facility that provides a 24/7 manned operations center, fueling stations, vehicle maintenance facility, lodging (apartments), office space with conference room and a fortified armory.
Specifically, Academi specialises in: training and support for domestic and international clients; personnel and facility security services; mission support and staff augmentation; risk management and security services consulting; stability support, crisis response and forward base operations; training for civilians, law enforcement and military personnel. Academi serves U.S. Government departments and agencies, law enforcement organizations, allied government and corporate and individual customers worldwide.
4. Blackwater milestones
On March 31, 2004, Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah ambushed two SUVs, killing four armed Blackwater contractors inside. Local residents hung the charred bodies above a bridge across the Euphrates. In response, U.S. Marines attacked the city in Operation Vigilant Resolve, which became the first Battle of Fallujah. In the Autumn of 2007 a US congressional report found that Blackwater intentionally “delayed and impeded” investigations into the contractors’ deaths. The report also acknowledged that members of the now-defunct Iraqi Civil Defense Corps “led the team into the ambush, facilitated blocking positions to prevent the team’s escape.”
On February 16, 2005, four Blackwater guards escorting a U.S. State Department convoy in Iraq fired 70 rounds into a car. The guards stated that they felt threatened when the driver ignored orders to stop as he approached the convoy. The fate of the car’s driver was unknown because the convoy did not stop after the shooting. An investigation by the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service concluded that the shooting was not justified and that the Blackwater employees provided false statements to investigators. The false statements claimed that one of the Blackwater vehicles had been hit by insurgent gunfire, but the investigation found that one of the Blackwater guards had fired into his own vehicle by accident. John Frese, the U.S. embassy in Iraq’s top security official, declined to punish Blackwater or the security guards because he believed any disciplinary actions would lower the morale of the Blackwater contractors.
On Christmas Eve 2006, a security guard of the Iraqi vice-president, Adel Abdul Mahdi, was shot and killed while on duty outside the Iraqi prime minister’s compound. The Iraqi government has accused Andrew J. Moonen, a Blackwater employee at the time, of murdering him while drunk. Moonen was subsequently fired by Blackwater for “violating alcohol and firearm policy”, and travelled from Iraq to the United States days after the incident. United States Attorneys are currently investigating. The United States State Department and Blackwater USA had attempted to keep his identity secret for security reasons.
On September 16, 2007, Blackwater were involved in an incident in Nisoor Square, Baghdad. Seventeen Iraqi civilian fatalities and twenty injuries occurred when a Blackwater Personal Security Detail (PSD) was clearing the way for a convoy of US State Department vehicles transporting diplomats to a meeting in western Baghdad with officials of the United States Agency for International Development. See classified cable for details and the political fallout (published by Wikileaks).
In June 2009, an amended lawsuit was filed in US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, alleging that Blackwater employees shot and killed three members of an Iraqi family, including a nine-year-old boy, who were traveling from Baghdad airport to Baghdad on July 1, 2007. The suit also alleged that Blackwater employees used three company aircraft to kidnap Iraqi citizens from Iraq and further accused the company of engaging in weapons smuggling, money laundering, tax evasion, child prostitution, illegal drug use and destruction of evidence. The child prostitution charge referred to young Iraqi girls allegedly being brought to the Blackwater compound in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, identified in the lawsuit as the “Blackwater Man Camp,” to provide oral sex to contractors for $1. If the court rules against Xe on the racketeering account, it could dissolve the company. The Justice Department was originally not expected to bring criminal charges against any employees of the corporation; however, in December 2008, the Justice Department announced they were charging five Blackwater employees. On December 31, 2009 Judge Ricardo Urbina threw out the criminal case against the five guards under indictment. In announcing the dismissal, Urbina said that the prosecutors violated the guards’ Fifth Amendment rights by using the statements they gave to the State Department as evidence. Urbina said that the guards would have lost their jobs had they not given the statements, thus making the statements inadmissible. The Iraqi government has asked the US Justice Department to appeal the decision, and also plans to sue the five guards accused of killing civilians.
In August, 2012, Blackwater agreed to pay $7.5 million in fines to the US government after being charged with 17 counts of arms smuggling and other violations of US law, including possessing automatic weapons without registration, lying to federal firearms regulators about weapons provided to the king of Jordan, passing secret plans for armored personnel carriers to Sweden and Denmark, and illegally shipping body armor overseas.
A complete list of Blackwater/Xe front companies, prior to the change to Academi, can be found here .
See also video of Blackwater killings .
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