The CIA hired private contractors at Blackwater USA in 2004 as part of a secret program to kill top-level members of al-Qaeda, a person familiar with the program said Wednesday.
The contracts, which were unsuccessful, were canceled several years ago, the person told Associated Press. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the program remains classified.
The Times, citing unidentified officials, said Blackwater executives helped with planning, training and surveillance for the program.
The program never resulted in the capture or killing of any terrorists suspects, according to current and former US intelligence officials.
The Times reported that the CIA did not have a formal contract with Blackwater for this program but instead had individual agreements with top company officials, including the founder, Erik D. Prince.