United Nations investigators say that the former head of private security contractor Blackwater Worldwide violated a UN arms embargo by sending mercenaries to Libya to fight on behalf of a militia leader there, the Hill reports. The New York Times obtained a confidential report that details how Erik Prince sent the mercenaries, along with attack aircraft, gunboats, and a cyberwarfare team, to eastern Libya in 2019, as rebel commander Khalifa Haftar launched a campaign to take the capital city of Tripoli. The $80 million operation included plans for mercenaries to track down and kill some Libyan commanders, according to reports. Prince, brother of former President Trump’s education secretary Betsy Devos, is a close ally of Trump, per Al Jazeera, which notes that the UN report raises questions about how much the former president knew about Prince’s alleged actions in Libya.
Days after Prince made his pitch to provide support for Haftar’s campaign against Libya’s internationally backed government, Trump came out in support of the insurgent leader, praising him for his “significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources.” Prince did not cooperate with the UN inquiry, per the Times, and his lawyer last year told the paper that Prince “had nothing whatsoever” to do with military operations in Libya. However, the accusations in the UN report leave Prince open to possible sanctions, such as a travel ban and a freeze on his bank accounts and other assets. A dispute between the mercenaries and Haftar, who was angry at the group’s failure to secure US-made gunships, led to the Libya operation quickly falling apart and the mercenaries left the country, the Washington Post reports. Prince also was accused in 2012 of breaking an arms embargo by sending weapons to Somalia. (Trump pardoned four Blackwater contractors involved in a 2007 massacre.)