The "civilians" whose dead corpses were mutilated in
Fallujah were in fact armed enemy combatant operatives
belonging to a top-secret security organization.
N.C.-based Blackwater known as leader in security
STEVE EARLEY/ THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT
By ALLISON CONNOLLY AND MELISSA SCOTT SINCLAIR, The
Web link: Blackwater USA in Moyock, N.C., parent
company of Blackwater Security Consulting
Archives: Blackwater USA and its training center in
Blackwater fact sheet
Two security guards and a law enforcement official
stand at the gate of Blackwater Training Facility in
Moyock on Wednesday. Little known by neighbors, the
firm is a global leader in the security business.
April 1, 2004 | Last updated 1:35 AM Apr. 1
MOYOCK, N.C. � In the world of professional security,
Blackwater USA is one of the most-respected
organizations in the business.
But here in its own back yard, it is a well-kept
�Nobody knows anything about Blackwater,� Susan
Johnson, Currituck County sheriff, said Wednesday.
�They don�t bring a lot of attention to themselves.�
The Moyock-based company became the center of
international attention Wednesday when four of its
civilian contractors were killed by an Iraqi mob . The
burned bodies of the men were dragged through the
streets, and some of their remains hung from a bridge
over the Euphrates River.
Blackwater USA officials declined to answer questions
about the attack, and were not releasing the names of
the dead until next of kin had been notified. It is
not known if the men who were killed are from the
region or outside the area.
In less than a decade, Blackwater USA has evolved into
one of the biggest providers of security in the world.
Founded by two former Navy SEALs in 1996, the company
provides a wide variety of training and security
services at its sprawling 6,000-acre complex just
south of the Virginia-North Carolina border.
The four men killed Wednesday work for Blackwater
Security Consulting, one of five branches of
Blackwater USA. The others: Blackwater Training
Center, Blackwater Target Systems, Blackwater Canine,
and Blackwater Air. Its clients include personnel from
federal law enforcement agencies, the Department of
Defense, Department of State, and Department of
Transportation, local and state entities from around
the country, multi-national corporations, and other
Of the 25 companies providing security in Iraq,
Blackwater is the most reputable and professional,
according to Peter Singer, national security fellow at
the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. The work
is risky, and that is why the company is thriving,
�The conditions they face are as dangerous or more
dangerous than those faced by U.S. soldiers,� Singer
Much of the work sounds like it was plucked right out
of a Tom Clancy novel.
The company recently recruited former commandos from
Chile to guard Iraq�s oil wells, training them and
paying them up to $4,000 each per month for the work,
according to The Guardian of London.
Other contracts are classified so that even the
government doesn�t know what the company is doing for
one of its agencies, said Blackwater USA president
�We scour the ends of the earth to find
professionals,� Jackson told The Guardian. The company
also does considerable work with local law enforcement
and military forces close to home. One reason for its
location was its proximity to the military bases in
Former SEAL Eric Prince used his Michigan-based family
fortune to fund the creation of Blackwater, and his
contacts within the elite SEAL community of
southeastern Virginia to staff it. The need for
specialized training grew following the attacks on
Sept. 11, 2001.
The rural complex is one of the largest privately
operated firearms and tactical training facilities in
the country. It has a 9,000-square-foot rustic lodge
with conference rooms, two large classrooms and a
dining hall. A bunkhouse sleeps 40 people.
The outdoor ranges include one with an urban street
facade, a carbine range and four others with
specialized, computer-operated equipment. A two-story
tactical house has ballistic-proof walls capable of
accommodating several shooters firing simultaneously,
and targets that won�t allow ammunition to pass
Outside the house is an irregularly shaped pond that
provides training for SEALs.
Like movie sets in Hollywood, mock decks of ships and
fake schools are used to train military and law
enforcement officials how to react to all sorts of
potential threats. Sailors make the pilgrimage to
Blackwater to learn how to repel an onboard terrorist
attack. Police officers train there to react to
Columbine-like school shooters at their �R U Ready
Blackwater has trained over 50,000 military and law
enforcement personnel, according to its Web site:
�Hundreds of sailors have been through their
anti-terrorism/force-protecting training,� said Lt.
Cmdr. Charlie Brown, a spokesman for the Navy�s Fleet
Forces Command in Norfolk.
The Navy signed a five-year, $35 million training
contract with Blackwater in 2002, but Brown said he
did not have details about the status of that
SEALs based at Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base in
Virginia Beach also train at Blackwater.
The Coast Guard routinely trains its forces at
Blackwater, especially those heading for duty in Iraq.
Many Hampton Roads police officers know the facility
well. Because of problems at Norfolk�s firing range,
city officers have been training at Blackwater for
months. Johnson, the Currituck County sheriff, said
that two officers had left the sheriff�s department to
work for Blackwater overseas.
It�s tempting, she said, because �they can receive
what they make in one year, in one month� � perhaps
$600 per day.
Both officers have since returned to their old jobs,
she said: �Sometimes money isn�t everything.�
Staff reporters Matthew Dolan, Jon Frank, Jack Dorsey,
Matthew Roy and Matthew Jones and news researcher Ann
Kinken Johnson contributed to this report.
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