Blackwater Founder’s Mercenary Army Abandoned in Somali Desert

Well-Armed Fighters Left to Fend for Themselves as UAE Pulls Funds

Last year it was revealed that Blackwater USA founder Erik Prince had been put in charge of building a mercenary army in northern Somalia, with funding from the United Arab Emirates and a goal of attacking the various pirate factions along the Somali coast.

It apparently seemed like a good idea at the time, but the United Arab Emirates has gotten sick of throwing money at the operation and pulled the plug. Now, the hundreds of mercenaries are sitting on a secret desert base with potentially millions of dollars in heavy weapons illegally smuggled into Somalia and nothing to do.

The decision apparently came after an April incident when the fighters attacked and killed a South African trainer. The corporation put in charge of the mission, the shadowy Sterling Corporate Services, insisted at the time that it was an isolated incident, but quickly withdrew its trainers, leaving the recruits stranded on a base in the Puntland desert.

But they likely won’t stay on that base for long, as those familiar with the situation say that the fighters, who were not ideologically motivated to join the anti-piracy fight in the first place, are liable to take their weapons and head out looking for new employers, with pirates among the likely bidders.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.