his South Carolina-based security firm gained world notoriety over
involvement in dozens of unprovoked civilian killings, Prince, a former
Navy SEAL, created a new subsidiary, Greystone Ltd., and registered it
The new affiliate registered with the UN’s
procurement division, allowing it to compete for international
The company has also been quietly seeking to win peacekeeping and security work from aid organizations and foreign governments.
managing director Christopher Burgess, a 40-year-old ex-seal who was
Prince’s colleague in the Navy’s elite unit, told the magazine his
company has been hired directly by "foreign governments and private
He didn’t specify clients "due to operational
security concerns," except to say that Greystone has worked "in various
Middle Eastern countries."
Established 10 years ago by Prince, a
right-wing son of a multi-millionaire, the security consulting firm has
grown into what US investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill describes as
the "world’s most powerful mercenary army."
mounted utility vehicles, Blackwater’s armed contractors have gained
notoriety for shooting first and not bothering to ask questions later.
Last December, 17 Iraqis were killed when Blackwater mercenaries opened fire in a crowded Baghdad neighborhood.
ensuing US congressional report discovered Blackwater has been involved
in 195 shooting incidents since 2005, mostly unprovoked.
such a bad public image Blackwater would not have been able to move
into new territories and hence came the need for Greystone, a mystique
company quietly founded in 2004 as the firm’s "international affiliate."
has a sexy name and people pay attention to it," Chris Taylor, a former
Marine Recon soldier who until May was Blackwater’s vice president for
strategic initiatives, told the Mother Jones magazine.
He admitted such a high profile "may not fit the proposed mission."
nearly all of Prince’s 20 or more companies are US based, Greystone was
incorporated in the Caribbean tax haven of Barbados.
"As far as I know, they were the same company with different names," said security contractor who worked for Blackwater in Iraq.
being managed from Blackwater’s headquarters in North Carolina,
Greystone has managed to keep a low-profile and stay out of the public
It remains a mystery even to industry insiders.
to one contractor who saw Greystone managers arrive to claim their
office space at Blackwater’s Baghdad headquarters, they were a
different breed from Blackwater’s "yee-haw cowboys" trademark.
"They didn’t talk to the other Americans," he recalled.
"They had different bodies, different mentalities, and used different language. They had a different professional attitude."
to its website, Greystone offers clients full protective details
staffed by special operations, law enforcement, and intelligence
personnel "for any threat scenario around the world."
prepared to train indigenous forces "in developing a capability to
conduct defensive and offensive small group operations."
Blackwater has tried to train south Sudanese forces who have long engaged in a conflict with the Khartoum government.
year, the Sudanese ambassador to Lebanon said Blackwater had sought
permission to enter Sudan under "a different name"-Greystone.
In addition to prospecting for contracts in new fields, Greystone has become Blackwater’s primary recruiter.
its website, Greystone says its operators are drawn "from the best
militaries throughout the world" and represent "numerous nationalities."
and Greystone have built recruitment networks reaching deep into the
paramilitary milieus of the Third World, especially Latin American and
Asian countries such as Chile, the Philippines, Nepal, Colombia, Panama
Applicants, favorably those of military background,
are asked to check off their qualifications in weapons such as rifles,
machine guns, and shoulder-fired weapons as well as skills in
specialties like sniper and door gunner.
Greystone are maintain a small fleet of aircraft, including Little Bird
helicopters, commonly used in Special Forces operations.
has also sought to acquire at least one Embraer Super Tucano fighter-a
lightweight plane used by several Latin American governments for
counterinsurgency, pilot training, and monitoring.
"They have the ability to do whatever tickles your pickle," one private-security contractor told Mother Jones magazine.
have services literally from A to Z. Aviation. Special operations.
Rescue. Ransom. You name it. If you got the money, they got the honey,"
"You can hire 17 James Bonds with Arnold Schwarzenegger in charge."