Erik Prince, a former US Navy SEAL officer and the founder of the private military company Blackwater USA, is profiting off the Afghan crisis, reports have said. He is currently charging $6,500 per person for a spot aboard chartered planes out of Kabul even as desperate Afghan refugees who are fleeing the Taliban's brutal rule.
Prince Plan to Capitalize on Tragedy
Prince is guaranteeing people that he can get them safely into Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport and onto a charter flight for $6,500 a person, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
He is charging extra if people are trapped in their homes and need assistance getting to the airport, the report said.
It wasn't immediately clear if Prince had the money, or means, to carry out such rescues and who they were being offered to, nor was there indication Prince was profiting off chartering the planes, according to New York Post.
Prince's Offer Comes Amid Chaos and Desperation in Afghanistan
Prince's offer comes as US citizens and Afghan allies are scrambling to leave the country. A slew of private groups, including non-profits, are helping evacuate vulnerable Afghans and others. But some chartered flights are leaving Kabul with dozens of empty seats because Afghans and foreigners can't get through Taliban checkpoints or US marine checkpoints at the airport, the Journal reported.
Biden warned Tuesday there was a "growing risk" of a terror attack by ISIS' Afghan affiliate, ISIS-K, but insisted the US was "on pace" to withdraw from Afghanistan by the August 31 deadline.
Who is Erik Prince?
Prince is a former Navy SEAL and a top ally to former President Trump. He served as Blackwater's CEO until 2009 and as its chairman until its sale to a group of investors in 2010.
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 US court in 2019.
He has also faced accusations of breaking arms embargoes on Somalia and Libya and has denied allegations of setting up a backchannel communications line with the Russian government.
Prince's Security Firm Linked to China's Xinjiang Region?
In July 2019, a company that counts Prince among its investors said it plans to build a "training center" in China's far western region of Xinjiang, reported CNN. Hong Kong-listed Frontier Services Group (FSG) had announced the deal on its website.
Private firm FSG already provides security training services to companies based in China, as well as a number of Chinese companies that operate overseas, particularly in Africa, according to BBC.
Backlash On Social Media
Prince's offer has not gone well with the netizens, with some calling it as a 'evil scheme'. The billionaire is facing a severe backlash on social media. Netizens have described this scheme "tragic, surreal and apocalyptic."
One Twitter user wrote, "$6,500/seat. Typical salary there: $1,000/yr There's nothing, NOTHING, this man (and I use that term loosely) wouldn't monetize. As pure f*king evil as exists in this world..." Another wrote, "People like him operate by covering up crime with scandal."
Another person suggested to use the Defense Protection Act and take his Jet. One comment read, "His 757 is grounded at the moment. Can't pass inspection. That's why he is flying his baby jet." One internet user asked, "What else do you expect from Erik Prince who's the brother of Betsy DeVos?"