SAN DIEGO — War correspondent Robert Young Pelton approached Erik Prince, founder of the notorious mercenary company Blackwater, with a bold proposal in late 2004. Pelton, a veteran who’s covered more than a dozen conflicts, wanted to ride along for a month with the toughest for-profit soldiers in Prince’s outfit, in what was then the most dangerous place in the world: Route Irish, the 12-mile stretch of highway connecting Baghdad’s airport to the Green Zone, the fortified neighborhood surrounding the U.S. embassy.
Archived posts from category ‘Mercenaries’
Underwire: Go Inside a Mercenary Company in Iraq in Unflinching Comic Blackwater Chronicles
by ROBERT BECKHUSEN This is the end for Jonathan Keith “Jack” Idema. The vigilante adventurer and terrorist hunter once jailed in Afghanistan for running a private prison and torture shop has reportedly died in Mexico. According to local press reports first spotted by Robert Young Pelton, an emergency call placed Saturday led to the discovery of Idema’s [...]
by ROBERT BECKHUSEN Ten miles up the Bay of Flags from Puerto Vallarta along Mexico’s Pacific coast, along tourist traps and getaways for the wealthy and celebrity, is Punta Minta. Its developers boast of large gated villas, luxury hotels, fine beaches and a Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course. Following a tabloid-fodder August visit to the [...]
In two years of operations, a Virginia-based maritime security company has escorted commercial vessels through pirate-infested East African waters 300 times without incident. Nexus Consulting Group of Alexandria’s impressive record is the latest evidence of a surprising turn in the five-year-old international war on Somali pirates. More and more, for-profit security guards are taking over from the world’s navies on the maritime front lines.
If you thought it was bad that Washington is paying a shady French mercenary to do its dirty work in Somalia, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Just wait to you see our latest ally: an admirer of Osama bin Laden with a gory past.
In December, a vessel with four men aboard eased into the port of Massawa in the East African country of Eritrea. It was an unplanned stop. The ship, operated by Protection Vessels International, a British company, had encountered rough weather and run short of fuel while sailing through pirate-infested waters around the island of Romia.
It was a normal morning in April last year. Normal, that is, by the crazy standards of the fishermen, ship’s crews, navy sailors and Somali pirates plying their dangerous trades on 2.5 million square miles of lawless ocean stretching from India to Kenya.
The U.S. State Department is finally admitting what maritime consultants and analysts have been saying for a couple years now: that naval patrols to interdict Somali pirates are far less cost-effective than installing defenses on the targeted merchant ships.
The January hijackings underscored this reality and perhaps represented a tipping point for shipping companies. “Initially ship owners seemed to concur that they would do what they’ve always done and have navies patrol the region,” Claude Berube, a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, told World Politics Review. “I think we’re on the cusp of the next threshold, in which privately owned escort vessels are more acceptable.”
by DAVID AXE In 2007, mercenary firm Blackwater outfitted a 183-foot yacht, pictured, with weapons and helicopter pad in a bid to grab a slice of the piracy-protection business. With hijackings exploding off the coast of Somalia — 100 large ships seized in 2008 alone — more and more shippers were hiring security guards for [...]
by DAVID AXE To protect its vessels transiting the Indian Ocean from increasingly aggressive Somali pirates, in 2008 shipping firm Maersk hired a Tanzanian navy patrol boat and its crew. (Kenyan patrol boat pictured.) That move was only recently reported. “It’s a temporary solution that a shipper has hired a warship from another country, but [...]