Not to be confused with the English footballer Eric Prince
Early life, education, and military service Prince was born on June 6, 1969, in Holland, Michigan
, the son of Edgar D. Prince
and his wife, Elsa (Zwiep),[a]
and the youngest of four children.
He graduated from Holland Christian High School.
Prince and his father toured the world together, visiting the Dachau concentration camp
in Germany, divided Berlin
, and the battlefields of Normandy
. According to his mother, these trips "made a big impression" on the young Prince.
Prince ended his U.S. Navy service prematurely in 1995 when his father died.
Prince credits the 1994 Rwandan genocide
with his decision to start Blackwater. He later said, "It really bothered me. It made me realize you can't sit back and pontificate. You have to act."
From 1997 to 2010, Blackwater was awarded $2 billion in government security contracts,
more than $1.6 billion of which were unclassified federal contracts and an unknown amount of classified work.
From 2001 to 2010, the Central Intelligence Agency
(CIA) awarded up to $600 million in classified contracts to Blackwater and its affiliates.
It became the largest of the State Department's three private security companies, providing 987 guards for embassies and bases abroad.
Prince built a shooting range on his rural Virginia land to serve as a nearby training facility to CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.
In his memoir Prince says that he provided the CIA with links to Afghan warlords who helped "topple the Taliban and drive al Qaeda into hiding."
Blackwater came under increasing criticism after the Nisour Square massacre
in September 2007, in which Blackwater employees opened fire in a crowded square in Baghdad, killing 17 Iraqi civilians and seriously wounding 20 more. Three guards were convicted in October 2014 of 14 manslaughter charges, and another of murder, in a U.S. court in 2019.
The criticism continued after president Barack Obama
took office in 2009. Prince said he believes that much of this criticism stems from politics. "I put myself and my company at the CIA's disposal for some very risky missions," Prince told Vanity Fair
for its January 2010 issue. "But when it became politically expedient to do so, someone threw me under the bus."
Blackwater lost a $1 billion contract with the State Department to protect American diplomatic personnel in 2009, after the Iraqi government refused to renew the company's operating license.
In 2012 Blackwater's successor company paid a combined $49.5 million to settle charges of arms trafficking violations dating back to the period Prince was CEO and chairman of the company.
In 2020 Prince again became the focus of an FBI investigation into arms trafficking violations related to the conversion of crop dusters into military aircraft.
According to a UN report, Prince also violated a UN arms embargo by aiding a plot to arm a Libyan warlord attempting to overthrow the US and UN backed government in Libya. 
Prince has defended Blackwater's work, pointing to the fact that in 40,000 personal security missions, only 200 involved guards firing their weapons. He has said, "No one under our care was ever killed or injured. We kept them safe, all the while we had 30 of our men killed."
Prince, according to author Robert Young Pelton
, reportedly thinks of Blackwater's relationship to the military as something similar to FedEx
's relationship to the U.S. Post Office
: "an efficient, privatized solution to sclerotic and wasteful government bureaucracy."
He credits his father's competitive streak in the automotive business with the inspiration to design a lighter, faster army.
Prince resigned as CEO of Blackwater on March 2, 2009, and remained chairman of the board until he sold the company in late 2010 to a group of investors.
Disclosure as part of a covert CIA task force
Prince was part of a CIA task force created to engage in targeted killings
of suspected terrorists, possibly in violation of domestic and international law. Prince alleged, without evidence, that the House intelligence congressional committee leaked his name to the press.
Prince has said that he is convinced that former CIA director Leon Panetta
outed him as a CIA asset, after shutting down the covert CIA training operation in 2009.
There is no evidence to support Prince's claim.
Private security for the United Arab Emirates
After Blackwater faced mounting legal problems in the United States, Prince was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and moved to Abu Dhabi in 2010. His task was to assemble an 800-member troop of foreign troops for the U.A.E., which was planned months before the Arab Spring
He helped the UAE found a new company named Reflex Responses, or R2, with 51 percent local ownership, carefully avoiding his name on corporate documents. He worked to oversee the effort and recruit troops, among others from Executive Outcomes
, a former South African mercenary firm hired by several African governments during the 1990s to defeat violent rebellions in addition to protecting oil and diamond reserves.
As of January 2011, Prince was training a force of 2,000 Somalis for anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. The program was funded by several Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates
and backed by the United States. Prince's spokesman, Mark Corallo
, said Prince had "no financial role" in the project and declined to answer any questions about Prince's involvement. John Burnett of Maritime Underwater Security Consultants said, "There are 34 nations with naval assets trying to stop piracy and it can only be stopped on land. With Prince's background and rather illustrious reputation, I think it's quite possible that it might work."
Private equity investor in Africa
In May 2014, it was reported that Prince's plan to build a diesel refinery in South Sudan
, in which $10 million had already been invested, was suspended. The halted refinery project was reported to be supported personally by the country's president, Salva Kiir Mayardit
Frontier Services Group was reported to be paid $23.3 million by South Sudan's Ministry of Petroleum to transport supplies and perform maintenance on oil production facilities.
As part of Prince's Africa-focused investment strategy, Frontier Services Group purchased stakes in two Kenyan aviation companies, Kijipwa Aviation and Phoenix Aviation, to provide logistics services for the country's oil and gas industry.
In October 2014, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority
denied Kijipwa Aviation an aviation license renewal.
Prince also purchased a 25% stake in Austrian aviation company Airborne Technologies. In 2014, Prince commissioned the company to modify Thrush
with surveillance equipment, machine guns, armor, and other weapons, including custom pylons
that could mount either NATO
or Russian ballistics.
One of the modified crop-dusters was delivered to Salva Kiir Mayardit
's forces in South Sudan
shortly before a contract with Frontier Services Group was cancelled. Frontier Services Group owns two of the modified Thrush 510Gs, but since executives learned the craft had been weaponized by Prince, the company has declined to sell or use the aircraft to avoid violating U.S. export controls
Ties to Trump campaigns
The New York Times
reported in May 2018 that Prince arranged an August 2016 meeting in Trump Tower, attended by himself, Donald Trump, Jr.
, George Nader
and Joel Zamel
, during which Nader reportedly told Trump Jr. the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE
were eager to help his father win the election, and Zamel pitched a social media manipulation campaign from his Israeli company Psy-Group
Prince had stated in his November 2017 testimony to the House Intelligence Committee that he had no formal communications or contact, nor any unofficial role, with the Trump campaign.
Asked about this contradiction in March 2019, Prince replied, “I don't know if [the Committee] got the transcript wrong" and "not all the discussion that day was transcribed, and that's a fact.”
Prince acknowledged for the first time in March 2019 that he had attended the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, asserting he was there to "talk about Iran policy."
investigators have examined a meeting around January 11, 2017, in the Seychelles
that was convened by the UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
(known as "MBZ"), which Prince attended. Also present at that meeting were Nader and Kirill Dmitriev
, the CEO of the state-owned Russian Direct Investment Fund
, who is close to Vladimir Putin. UAE officials reportedly believed that Prince was representing the Trump transition and Dmitriev was representing Putin. The Washington Post
had reported on April 3, 2017, that American, European and Arab officials said the Seychelles meeting was "part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump." Prince denied in his November 2017 House Intelligence Committee testimony that he had represented the Trump transition or that the meeting involved any back-channel.The Washington Post
reported on March 7, 2018, that the Special Counsel had gathered evidence that contradicts Prince,
and ABC News reported on April 6, 2018, that Nader had met with Prince at a Manhattan hotel days before the Seychelles meeting and later provided him with biographical information about Dmitriev.
The Mueller report
later found that Nader had represented Prince to Dmitriev as "designated by Steve [Bannon]
to meet you! I know him and he is very very well connected and trusted by the New Team," while Prince "acknowledged that it was fair for Nader to think that Prince would pass information on to the Transition Team," although Bannon told investigators that Prince had not informed him of the Dmitriev meeting in advance. Prince testified to the House Intelligence Committee that “I didn't fly there to meet any Russian guy,” although the Mueller report found that he and Nader made significant preparations to meet Dmitriev. Although Prince characterized a second meeting between him and Dmitriev in a hotel bar as a chance encounter of no consequence, the meeting was actually pre-arranged after Prince had learned from calls back home that Russia had moved an aircraft carrier off Libya and he wanted to convey that the United States would not accept any Russian involvement in Libya.
Connections to Nicolas Maduro and Venezuela
On December 30, 2019, it was reported that Prince had traveled to Venezuela to meet with a top aide of Nicolas Maduro
Prince has been referred to the United States Treasury Department for possible violations of sanctions against the Maduro government.
Political infiltration operations allegations
The New York Times
reported in March 2020 that in recent years Prince had recruited former intelligence agents to infiltrate "Democratic congressional campaigns, labor organizations and other groups considered hostile to the Trump agenda."
Prince's efforts were reportedly conducted to assist Project Veritas
, a widely discredited conservative
organization that was described as disseminating "coordinated disinformation"
due to its repeated use of deceptively edited videos in attempts to discredit Democrats, the media, and liberal groups.
Until mid-2018, Richard Seddon, a former British spy, headed the field operations for the plots and trained operatives in Wyoming at the Prince ranch.
Prince also reportedly arranged for Project Veritas employees to receive intelligence training, which ended when the trainer quit because the group "wasn't capable of learning."
Prince continued to support Project Veritas after the organization's failure to disclose to state regulators the criminal conviction of its founder, James O'Keefe
, resulted in the revocation of their charitable organization status in multiple states, and caused other donors to withdraw their financial support.
In May 2021, The New York Times reported that Project Veritas, with the assistance of a former British spy and Erik Prince, secretly surveilled government employees during the Trump administration with the goal of discrediting perceived critics of former President Trump. Tactics included arranging dates for FBI employees with the intent to record them. The operation failed to record a single official disparaging Trump despite extensive expenditures including rental of an expensive Georgetown home. 
Proposed cooperation with the Wagner group and activities in Libya
In April 2020, the Intercept
reported that Prince has offered his services as a subcontractor to Russian Wagner
group's activities in Mozambique and Libya, suggesting to provide aerial surveillance platforms and a ground force.
Investigations by Rolling Stone
and the New York Times
, based on an internal United Nations
report, have since revealed a number of connections between Prince and the Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar
's attempts in 2019 to overthrow the U.N.-backed government of Libya
Prince describes himself as a libertarian
Prince said, "I'm a very free market guy. I'm not a huge believer that government provides a whole lot of solutions. Some think that government can solve society's problems. I tend to think private charities and private organizations are better solutions."
Prince credits his time as a White House intern with some of his political views. He said that "having that White House internship responsibility and badges, I walked around some of these other cavernous federal agencies, and you want to talk about depressing? Walk through HHS
, you name it. Leviathan realized."
Speaking of his internship, Prince said, "I saw a lot of things I didn't agree with--homosexual groups being invited in, the budget agreement, the Clean Air Act." Disenchanted, Prince became a backer of presidential candidate Pat Buchanan
Prince has advocated for a leaner, more efficient military, suggesting several ways to make the military more efficient without compromising security. His suggestions include: greater accountability of costs, using appropriate equipment for each job, reduction of overhead, and operational and procurement reform.
Contributions to political and charitable causes
Other Republican politicians that Prince has contributed to include Ron Paul
, Walter Jones
, Joe Miller
, Todd Tiarht
, Mike Pence
, Dana Rohrabacher
, Oliver North
, Pat Buchanan
, Jim DeMint
, Tom Coburn
, Duncan L. Hunter
, Ted Poe
, Jon Kyl
, Pete Hoekstra
, and Mitt Romney
Prince serves as vice president of the Prince Foundation
, an organization his parents founded in 1979.
In the 1990s Prince founded the Freiheit ("Liberty") Foundation, a nonprofit charity which funded a number of conservative causes.
Publicly available tax records indicate the foundation has been largely inactive since 2008 after claiming a $1.8 million loss in 2007 (more than 50% of the foundation's assets) related to its investment in Seligman New Technologies Fund,
whose manager was accused of engaging in illegal market timing activity.
Prince has frequently donated to conservative Christian organizations, including the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty
and the Prison Fellowship
, and conservative political groups such as the Council for National Policy
, of which his father was vice president at the time of his death.
After Blackwater employees opened fire in a crowded square in Baghdad, killing 17 Iraqi civilians and seriously wounding 20 more,
Prince supported a Muslim orphanage in Afghanistan and built mosques at Blackwater bases.
Prince's first wife, Joan Nicole,
died of cancer in 2003 at age 36.
She introduced Prince to Catholicism.
They had four children.
He later wrote that he had an affair with Joanna Ruth Houck, his children's nanny, while his wife was dying.
Prince and Houck married in 2004.
He is now married to Stacy DeLuke,
a former Blackwater spokesperson.
- ^ At the time of their marriage, she was known by her maiden name, Elsa Zwiep. Following her marriage to Prince, she was known as Elsa Prince. After Prince's death in 1995 she married, in 2000, a minister, Ren Broekhuizen, and was known as Elsa Prince-Broekhuizen.
- ^ The DeVos family is one of the richest families in the United States and are strong financial supporters of archconservatives.
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Last edited on 15 May 2021, at 09:40
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