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Entries in Blackwater (4)


Afghanistan Feature: Meet America's Man in Kandahar (Aikins)

Though Raziq has risen in large part through his own skills and ambition, he is also, to a considerable degree, a creation of  the American military intervention in Afghanistan. (Prior to 2001, he had worked in a shop in Pakistan.) As part of a countrywide initiative, his men have been trained by two controversial private military firms, DynCorp and Xe, formerly known as Blackwater, at a U.S.-funded center in Spin Boldak, where they are also provided with weapons, vehicles, and communications equipment. Their salaries are subsequently paid through the Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan, a UN-administered international fund, to which the U.S. is the largest contributor. Raziq himself has enjoyed visits in Spin Boldak from such senior U.S. officials as Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and Generals Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus.

In public, American officials had until recently been careful to downplay Raziq’s alleged abuses. When I met with the State Department’s Moeling at his Kandahar City office in January, he told me, “I think there is certainly a mythology about Abdul Raziq, where there’s a degree of assumption on some of those things. But I have never seen evidence of private prisons or of extrajudicial killings directly attributable to him.”

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Iraq Feature: As US Military Exit, Private Contractors Enter (Bowman)

Private Contractors in Iraq, undatedA U.S. Army helicopter brigade is set to pull out of Baghdad in December, as part of an agreement with the Iraqi government to remove U.S. forces. So the armed helicopters flying over the Iraqi capital next year will have pilots and machine gunners from DynCorp International, a company based in Virginia.

On the ground, it's the same story. American soldiers and Marines will leave. Those replacing them, right down to carrying assault weapons, will come from places with names like Aegis Defence Services and Global Strategies Group — eight companies in all.

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US at War Feature: Blackwater Founder Supplies Mercenaries for Gulf Regimes (Mazzetti/Hager)

Blackwater in New Orleans, 2005Late one night last November, a plane carrying dozens of Colombian men touched down in this glittering seaside capital. Whisked through customs by an Emirati intelligence officer, the group boarded an unmarked bus and drove roughly 20 miles to a windswept military complex in the desert sand.

The Colombians had entered the United Arab Emirates posing as construction workers. In fact, they were soldiers for a secret American-led mercenary army being built by Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of Blackwater Worldwide, with $529 million from the oil-soaked sheikdom.

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WikiLeaks, Iran, and the Green Movement: The Predictions of Iraq's President

Commenting a week after the demonstrations on 27 December 2009 and the regime's mobilisation of support three days later, Talabani assesses, "Tt was not that the Iranian regime was weak, but rather that the opposing side was strong....Whereas the demonstrations at first were attacking Iranian President Ahmadinejad, they have now shifted to being against Supreme Leader Khamenei."

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