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Podcast September 21, 2023

Tracking mercenaries

By Alia Brahimi

In Season 1, Episode 7 of the Guns for Hire podcast, host Alia Brahimi is joined by the Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins. They discuss the importance of Libya to the genesis of Bellingcat, the events which led to Eliot being personally sued by the mercenary leader Yevgeny Prighozin, and how anyone with a bit of time and an internet connection can get involved in online open-source investigations. Eliot also talks us through Bellingcat’s archiving and indexing effort so that digital evidence can become an important basis for accountability, whether for mercenary violence or for government responsibility for catastrophes like the flooding in Libya.

“A mercenary might have a friend who uses social media a lot and they’re featuring a lot in these photographs, for example, and then you can start building out the networks from that.”

Eliot Higgins, founder and creative director of Bellingcat

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About the podcast

The Guns for Hire podcast is a production of the Atlantic Council’s North Africa Initiative. Taking Libya as its starting point, it explores the causes and implications of the growing use of mercenaries in armed conflict.

The podcast features guests from many walks of life, from ethicists and historians to former mercenary fighters. It seeks to understand what the normalisation of contract warfare tells us about the world as we currently find it, but also about the future of the international system and about what war could look like in the coming decades.

Further reading

Through our Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative, the Atlantic Council works with allies and partners in Europe and the wider Middle East to protect US interests, build peace and security, and unlock the human potential of the region.

Image: FILE PHOTO: A man holds a laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017. Capitalizing on spying tools believed to have been developed by the U.S. National Security Agency, hackers staged a cyber assault with a self-spreading malware that has infected tens of thousands of computers in nearly 100 countries. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration//File Photo