Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Iraq's Mercenary King

As a former C.I.A. agent, the author knows how mercenaries work: in the shadows. But how did a notorious former British officer, Tim Spicer, come to coordinate the second-largest army in Iraq—the tens of thousands of private security contractors?
by Robert Baer April 2007

Last spring, in Los Angeles, I met with a producer and a screenwriter who were trolling for a good story to turn into a movie—specifically, a story about a pair of colorful adventurers, maybe mercenaries, who get into serious trouble seeking a fortune in Africa. I wasn't much help. I had spent little time in Africa—only a couple of brief trips to Nigeria and Liberia during my time in the C.I.A. But I promised them I'd ask around when I got to London, a city with more colorful adventurers per block than anywhere else in the world.

I knew my share of them: rogue oil traders, art forgers, exiled presidents, disgraced journalists, arms dealers. There was also the Jordanian prince who had once offered to smuggle me into Ramadi, in Iraq's anarchic Anbar Province, in exchange for 100 sheep. People like these are pretty much the currency of C.I.A. agents.
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