Investigators are probing Eric Prince’s involvement in the attempted sale of Jordanian military equipment as part of a 2019 plan
to help self-declared Libyan leader Khalifa Hifter.
The FBI IS investigating a failed 2019 mercenary plot related to the civil war in Libya and has sought to determine what role, if any,
private military contractor Erik Prince had in the undertaking, according to six people with knowledge of the investigation.
Prince has not yet been charged with a crime.
Federal investigators last summer began probing Prince’s involvement in the attempted sale of Jordanian military helicopters and arms as part of the 2019 plan to help self-declared
Libyan leader Khalifa Hifter overthrow the country’s United Nations-backed government, according to four of the people familiar with the investigation.
The FBI declined to comment.
In February, a U.N. investigation concluded that Prince and others violated the arms embargo on Libya, detailing parts of the secret effort to provide a team of mercenaries and aircraft
for an assassination unit in support of Hifter.
Prince has denied any involvement in the undertaking, dubbed Project Opus, and told the New York Times that he had never met or spoken to Hifter.
Matthew Schwartz, a lawyer for Prince, said that his client had nothing to do with the mercenary plot.
“As Mr. Prince has said repeatedly, he had absolutely no involvement in any alleged military operation in Libya in 2019, and the report which insinuated otherwise was based
on an incomplete investigation and relied on biased sources.”
In particular, FBI agents from the Washington Field Office have inquired into Prince’s role in creating and then trying to market a modified crop duster as a military aircraft
for use in conflicts around the world.
The airplanes were meant to be used in a larger effort to help the renegade Libyan military commander take control of Libya’s capital, Tripoli.
The Intercept detailed Prince’s repeated efforts to help move aircraft and other materiel from Jordan to Libya, which included arranging meetings with a member of then-President
Donald Trump’s National Security Council, but Jordanian government officials stopped the deal.
Prince worked with Jordanian royal Feisal ibn al-Hussein to arrange the sale and transfer of weapons, according to three people with knowledge of the arrangement.
This summer, FBI agents sought to interview Feisal and several others who work with him, according to two people with knowledge of the FBI’s activities in Jordan.
Feisal, through the Jordanian Embassy in Washington, previously denied that he had any involvement in the plot or any relationship with Prince.
The U.N. report traced the rapid sale and transfer of three aircraft owned or controlled by Prince to a close associate for use in the Libya plot.
The planes included a modified crop duster Prince created while he was CEO of Frontier Services Group, the Chinese security and logistics company he founded.
Only Prince “was in the position to approve the sale and/or transfer of all three aircraft to support the operation in such a short time frame,” according to the U.N. report.
The U.N. also traced the planes’ transfer from Prince-controlled companies, including Frontier Services Group, to a mercenary firm based in the United Arab Emirates and connected to Prince.
“One quick transfer could be explained,” the U.N. report stated, “but not three from different companies, all under the effective control or influence of one individual.”
The U.N. is cooperating with the FBI investigation.
In April, two months after the U.N. documented the change in ownership of the Frontier Services Group planes, FSG announced that Prince had resigned from the company
“due to his other business arrangements.” Schwartz, Prince’s attorney, said in an email that his client resigned over “disagreements with the management performance
and direction of the company.
Any suggestion that his resignation had anything to do with the UN Panel’s report is false.”
After the plan to transfer the aircraft to Libya and the larger mercenary effort fell apart, one of the planes was moved to Cyprus.
Earlier this month, FBI agents traveled to the Mediterranean island to inspect a modified American-manufactured crop duster, according to a person with knowledge of the probe.
The FBI inspection of the aircraft was previously reported by Kathimerini, a Cyprus-based news organization.
The Intercept had earlier reported on Prince’s secret effort to develop crop dusters into military aircraft and market them for use in multiple wars.
By: Matthew Cole
…. is it warm? … is anyone warm? … Oh well …..
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