Matthew Agius & Karl Azzopardi

The private military contractors were arrested before boarding a private flight to Libya • The group were later released from arrest without charge, but were not allowed to go through Maltese airspace in transit to the war-torn North African country.

A group of private military contractors travelling to Libya were intercepted by the police last Saturday, MaltaToday has confirmed.

The men, understood to be ex-British army soldiers, were arrested boarding a private flight to the North African country, which has been ravaged by civil war in recent years.

Sources told this newspaper that the police had acted on a tip-off about the group, whom they intercepted before they boarded their flight.

The group were later released from arrest, and no charges were filed against them. The group is understood to have already left Malta.

The mercenaries were, however, forbidden from using Maltese airspace to travel to Libya.

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Malta police stop Prince Harry’s pal and group of 14 from suspicious Libya flight

Ex-military operatives believed to be led by Prince Harry’s buddy are stopped by Malta police before private jet flight to Libya

Maltese authorities intercepted a group of 14 British ex-military personnel led by Jack Mann – one of Prince Harry’s closest friends – on their way to Libya last Saturday, MaltaToday has confirmed.

A senior police spokesman confirmed that the group were intercepted by the authorities, telling MaltaToday the police had suspicions that the individuals were either private military contractors or mercenaries, and had concerns about the group.

One of the group’s leaders was Jack Mann, 40, the co-founder of Alma Risk, a private security company which “identifies, develops and delivers security” across the globe.

The company which is based in London, provides a number of security services to its clients. According to its website, its team members have backgrounds in the UK military, police and other specialised government agencies and are “thoroughly vetted and trained to deliver professional security solutions.”

According to information confirmed by this newspaper, Mann was leading a group of 14 operatives who had each arrived separately in Malta, and were scheduled to meet up at the Malta International Airport to catch a private jet flight to Libya.

But the group was intercepted by the Maltese police, who had serious concerns over the men’s activities. The flight was subsequently canceled.

Sources who spoke to this newspaper said the flight had been coordinated by a private individual, who was told the group were travelling to Libya to give lectures and training using airsoft guns – replica toy guns used in airsoft sports which shoot “BBs”, typically made of plastic or biodegradable resin materials.

The individual coordinating the flight made further inquiries about the group, with sources saying the coordinator found that their claims of planning to carry out training in the North African country were not true.

The flight coordinator also found fake certificates which were to be awarded for the supposed training.

After Maltese police intervened, the Maltese authorities temporarily confiscated the group’s passports, and the men were read a statement by border police regarding concerns about the nature of their trip, while being advised to leave the country.

The group also claimed they were delivering medical training in Libya.

Information was subsequently provided to the United Nations to confirm the nature of the trip as being for medical training, and not any sanctioned activity, MaltaToday is informed.

No charges have been filed against the group, and this newspaper understands they have already left the country.

The group were, however, forbidden from using Maltese airspace to travel to Libya.

When approached comment by MaltaToday there was no official reply from Jack Mann.

Mann’s Alma Risk offers services that range from helping clients to travel safely to “high-risk regions”, to the “strategic and operational security planning” for high profile events and corporate functions.

Alma Risk also provides “intelligence gathering and investigative services to private clients and businesses, enabling preventative measures to be taken against potential threats.”

Mann, who is a close friend of Prince Harry and a Sandhurst contemporary, served in the Blues and Royals in Iraq and Afghanistan before moving into the private security industry. Some reports suggest he was the duke’s unofficial ‘best man’ on his May 2018 wedding day. The two are regularly spotted together.

Educated at Stowe, Mann is the son of Old Etonian adventurer Simon Mann, himself an SAS officer turned mercenary who was the mastermind behind the infamous Wonga coup in Equatorial Guinea.

On 7 March 2004, Mann snr. was arrested by Zimbabwean police in Harare airport along with 64 other mercenaries. He eventually served three years of a four-year prison sentence in Zimbabwe and less than two years of a 34-year sentence in Equatorial Guinea over the failed coup to replace President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo with exiled opposition politician Severo Moto.

According to Jack Mann’s own biography on the Alma Risk website, he was working for Aegis Defence Services as their country manager in Libya. “Prior to this he was CEO of a London based security company providing consultancy into East and North Africa,” his bio reads.

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Matthew Agius is Senior Reporter on Law and Court Affairs at MaltaToday. He is also a Legal Procurator and Commissioner for Oaths. Prior to reading Law at the University of Malta, Matthew served in the British Army.

Karl Azzopardi is deputy online editor and an IGM press awards (Human Stories) winner of 2019.

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