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WAR: Global Arms - Trafficking Network Designated by US (Update: Viktor Bout Extradited)

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posted on May, 30 2005 @ 02:25 PM
It looks like the US MILITARY IN IRAQ is finally starting to crack down aimed at forcing Viktor Bout's companies from flying there, at least under currently-known names.

posted on Jun, 1 2005 @ 09:09 PM
And... more on Viktor Bout and the blacklisted companies:

Connected: Aerocom, Jet Line and Air Mero (Ruud Leeuw)

On May26, 2005 I received information that Iraqi CAA had issued a memo that day, requiring all operators to resubmit their aircraft papers, certificates, AOC, etc. This could be a clean up to oust all blacklisted operators. The distribution list was much smaller than before, but.... Air Bas was still on it! Chapman, Jetlines, Aerocom and East West were removed from the distribution list. Earlier I was informed Air Mero (in Kuwait) had suspended operations.

[edit on 2006/4/23 by Hellmutt]

posted on Jun, 10 2005 @ 11:02 AM
Apparently an alarming and growing number of jihadis in Iraq come from the sub-Saharan African countries. This pipeline of jihadis has been open for years but the reports has been downplayed until now. The New York Times has a piece on this today. Al Qaeda and Charles Taylor (and Viktor Bout) are among the actors on this scene.

Douglas Farah: An Important Story From Africa

June 10, 2005

The New York Times today has a nice piece on the growing number of sub-Saharan Africans now turning up as jihadis in Iraq. What is truely alarming is that about one quarter of the 400 foreign fighters captured are from that region. While the pipeline has been known to be open for the past couple of years, drawing militants from Nigeria, Niger, Mali and Mauritania, the intelligence community often dismissed or downplayed the information in my discussions with them. The belief was that EUCOM, the military command responsible for Africa, was hyping its reporting in order to have a terrorist threat in its theater of operations, thereby justifying increased military spending.

That sort of small minded thinking kept more attention from being focused on what is now being recognized as not only a problem but a potentially-grave threat in Iraq as well as West Africa.It is also the same small-minded thinking that led the FBI to dismiss out of hand public statements by Gen. Charles Wald, EUCOM's deputy commander, supporting my findings and more on al Qaeda's presence in West Africa and its use of diamonds. Now, perhaps, EUCOM has won at least a partial victory and seem to be willing to become more publicly engaged in the very necessary debate over how to deal with the appeal of radical Islam in failed states. These collapsing states offer very little to their own citizens, and are often criminal enterprises, on large or small scales. Obviously, Charles Taylor represented the upper limit of the scale, and Mali and Senegal are rare exceptions of at least efforts in good governance. But if Muslim communities can receive charity help from Salafists, and a chance to wage holy jihad against the infidel, why wouldn't they? As Maj. Gen. Richard P. Zahner, EUCOM's intelligence chief, told the Times, "Al Qaeda is assessing local groups for franchising opportunities. I am quite concerned about that."

Click the link to read the full version...

[edit on 2006/4/23 by Hellmutt]

posted on Jun, 17 2005 @ 12:43 PM
More on Viktor Bout and the "mystery jets". This is getting interesting...

The Yorkshire Ranter: Mystery Jet Update

June 17, 2005

It's been brought to my attention that the ever-informative Sharjah Airport online departures board shows that an Irbis Air Co. flight departed for nowhere else than Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan this morning.

Further digging down the lists shows that, in fact, Irbis is running a regular service to the base, which has acquired an infamous reputation after two prisoners died in captivity there.

Nobody in their right minds thinks Irbis is anything other than one of the core Viktor Bout companies, including the United Nations, the British government, and the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control. OFAC have put Irbis on their list of companies whose assets are to be seized. I doubt, somehow, that the Irbis plane was impounded in Bagram.

Click the link to read the full version...

[edit on 2006/4/23 by Hellmutt]

posted on Jun, 22 2005 @ 06:35 PM
The US Consulate in Nigeria was closed because of "some kind of terrorist threat". Al Qaeda is in Nigeria, and Osama bin Laden has named Nigeria as one of the countries that he would target. Nigeria has been put under pressure to hand Charles Taylor over to justice. And the U.N. Security Council has decided to extend the ban on Liberian diamonds for another six months.

Douglas Farah: Al Qaeda in Nigeria, Nigeria Could Lose Aid Because of Taylor, and Liberian Diamond Ban Extended

June 22, 2005

Last week, while I was traveling out of country and unable to get to it, the U.S. Consulate in Nigeria was closed because of possible terrorist threats. This led, in turn, to the closings of the missions of Germany, Italy, Finland, Russia, Sweden, India and Lebanon. U.S. officials were quoted as saying that the reason was that "some kind of terrorist threat" was called into the U.S. facility. The U.S. Embassy in Abuja stayed open, but with a minimal staff.

While it was the first publicly-stated terrorist threat in Nigeria, Al Qaeda's presence there, as well as the growing Saudi-wahhabi influence in the north, is well-known but long downplayed by the diplomatic community. Many see Nigeria's oil--and hence a good relationship with Nigeria--as vital to U.S. security interests. Even after Osama bin Laden named Nigeria as one of the countries that he would target, along with Spain and a few others, the policy community declined to make the al Qaeda presence a factor in bilateral relations for fear of upsetting the fragile Obasanjo government. Obasanjo's government is riddled with corruption, faces staggering problems of holding a disperate nation together and the constant threat of revolt from both the north and the south. These are legitimate concerns, and certainly Nigerian oil, and it functionality as a country, are national security issues that are not to be taken lightly.

So now, it might be time to move the al Qaeda presence up on the bilateral agenda. Bin Laden has a history of naming signaling countries that will be attacked, as he did in Spain and Yemen. His naming of Nigeria is no coincidence. It is high time we started paying attention.

On Taylor and Liberia, there are also some interesting developments. The U.N. Security Council Monday decided to extend the ban on Liberian diamonds for another six months because of the interim government has made little effort to stop the illegal sale of the stones. The Council also expressed "deep concern" that Taylor and his associates continue to "engage in activities that undermine peace and stability in Liberia and the region." However, it stopped short of calling for Taylor's extradition to stand trial. British U.N. ambassador Emyr Jones Parry told reporters that "Taylor cannot avoid coming to justice and at some stage his impunity will have to end. The only question is how do we do it." He said the Security Council resolution was not an appropriate vehicle to move the issue forward, and said there were "sensitive" talks in Africa on turning Taylor over.

At the same time, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, has made it clear that he wants to hold up aid and debt relief and other aid to Nigeria until Taylor is extradicted. [---] since Taylor has violated the terms of his asylum, Leahy and others now want the provision applied to Nigeria, which would make harboring Taylor signficantly more expensive for Obasanjo. While the president can waive the provision in the interest of national security, Leahy pointed out that "it is not in the best interests of the people of West Africa, including Nigeria, or the United States, to continue to shelter Charles Taylor from justice."

Click the link to read the full version...

[edit on 2006/4/23 by Hellmutt]

posted on Jun, 26 2005 @ 05:57 PM
Bout´s planes are still flying to Baghdad (and other places too) ...

Those Departures.. (June 25, 2005)

And Baghdad airport has been closed for all non-military flights...

BBC: Cash row closes Baghdad airport (25 June, 2005)

posted on Jun, 29 2005 @ 09:49 PM
The Yorkshire Ranter has made a round-up of all his Viktor Bout posts.

All The Viktor Bout Stuff Is Here

"That makes, so far, a total of 52 Viktor Bout/mystery jet posts."

posted on Jul, 2 2005 @ 04:00 AM
Now this is interesting. The US just ended a three-week anti-terrorism exercise (Operation Flintlock) in Africa. I didn't even know they had a anti-terror drill there... U.S. Ends Anti-Terror Drills in Africa

The U.S. military Thursday ended a three-week anti-terrorism exercise with African troops aimed at sharpening defenses against Al Qaeda-linked militants and denying them sanctuary in Africa's ungoverned spaces.

Starting June 6, 700 U.S. troops and 2,100 soldiers from nine North and West African nations conducted mock patrols, target practice and parachute drops in which hundreds of African soldiers leaped out of C-130 (search) transport planes.

Officers from the nine countries — Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Chad, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Nigeria and Senegal — also met in Senegal (search) for an exercise aimed at increasing cooperation in case of a terrorist attack.

"Operation Flintlock" had achieved its goals, said Maj. Gen. Thomas Csrnko, the special forces commander for U.S. European Command, which oversees U.S. military activities in Europe and all of Africa, excluding the Horn.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

[edit on 2006/4/23 by Hellmutt]

posted on Jul, 2 2005 @ 04:24 AM
Hey, I remember now. This task force here must have been a part of Operation Flintlock. They just took a little trip to Norway for some reason before they went to Africa/"The Mediterranean".
ATS: Anti-Terror Task Force In The Mediterranean

posted on Jul, 4 2005 @ 05:11 PM
I found an article which includes an interview with Victor (Viktor) Bout. The whole article is very interesting. Here's just a small selection...

Finally: an interview ! (Ruud Leeuw)

Arms traffickers used to be subcontractors of the superpowers, feeding the conflicts Washington and Moscow wanted fought. After the fall of the Berlin Wall the working climate changed. But most brokers are now freelancers, who sell weapons without regard for ideology, allegiance or consequence. They have only one goal in mind: to make a lot of money !


In late September 2001, two weeks after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, a Hungarian trading company in Budapest filed a request to ship Ukrainian cargo to an American firm based in Macon, GA. The name of the Ukrainian company -- ERI Trading and Investment Company - was unknown. A random inspection of the cargo determined that the shipment included 300 Ukrainian surface-to-air (SAM) missiles and 100 launchers. SAM's are light, mobile and easily hidden.... American agents later feared that they were going to be distributed to terrorists near America's major airports.
The cargo was stopped there and then and the American buyer was arrested in June.


''Illegal weapons?'' VB continued. ''What does that mean? If rebels control an airport and they give you clearance to land, what's illegal about that?'' Bout argued: ''killing isn't about weapons, it's about the people who use them.''
Now he was just a businessman, selling his goods...


Peter Landesman spoke to many officials or former officials; he also talked to persons who insisted to remain anonymous, interviewed them under a cloud of secrecy. He learned that Bout could be merely the public face of something much larger and that he was just getting a glimpse on the surface, further digging could prove very dangerous. Two assassinations that had taken place days before his interviews, both victims were executives of a huge air-defense contractor involved in export of anti-aircraft weapons and other systems.

And the article mention Tiraspol and Trans-Dniester too.

The enclave is so lawless that the United States Embassy in Chisinau, Moldova's capital, discourages its personnel from going there, and staying there overnight requires the ambassador's permission.

VB denied ever having been to Trans-Dniester. But British agents, who have tracked weapons from Trans-Dniester to the Balkans and beyond, have documented Bout's involvement there for years. Sophisticated surface-to-air missile systems to the Middle East. Vehicle-mounted artillery systems. Bout's fingerprints are all over them.

Click the link to read the full article...

[edit on 2006/4/23 by Hellmutt]

posted on Jul, 5 2005 @ 02:32 PM
As we already know by now Viktor Bout still flies for the US. And another known mercenary, Tim Spicer just got his contract with Pentagon extended for at least another year.

Bout Flies on for the U.S., and Tim Spicer Gets a New Contract

July 05, 2005

Thanks to the Yorkshire Ranter, we now know that Viktor Bout's planes, including the banned IRBIS Air Co., placed on the Treasury Department's OFAC list of banned companies, continues to fly regularly to the U.S.-operated Bagram air base in Afghanistan.

It is now past belif that a man who sold and maintained aircraft for the Taliban, flew for Muslim extremists in Bosnia, few hundreds of tons of weapons to the most brutal and illegal armies of Africa, can still pull this off. Did the OFAC action mean nothing? (Apparently not)! What are people thinking? And shouldn't it be illegal to hire banned air craft companies, which then entails paying money to a person whose assets are supposedly frozen and is unable to receive money from ANY U.S. source? It is, as Alice said in Wonderland, getting curiouser and couriouser. The more Bout companies are identified and outed, the less enforcement action is taken. Can he be that valuable an asset to the intelligence community that he simply cannot be closed down, under any circumstances?

Finally, to round out the holiday weekend, the Sunday Times of London brings the cheery news that Tim Spicer, a mercenary with a checkered past, at best and a history of illegal armed actions, got his Pentagon contract extended for at least another year.

Click the link to read the full version...

[edit on 2006/4/23 by Hellmutt]

posted on Jul, 5 2005 @ 06:21 PM
Nigeria refuses to hand over Charles Taylor to an international court. The Nigerian President said on monday to the latest African Union summit in Libya that they are being "pressured, harassed, blackmailed, even intimidated and even threatened" to hand over Taylor, which they won´t do. Taylor is charged with 17 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

IOL: Nigeria refuses to hand over Taylor

July 04 2005

Nigeria said on Monday it would not bend to pressure to hand Charles Taylor to an international court, saying that would contradict terms agreed for the former Liberia leader to leave power for exile.

"Without substantiated new allegations against Charles Taylor since he came to Nigeria, we are being pressured, harassed, blackmailed, even intimidated and even threatened to hand over Charles Taylor contrary to the terms of his voluntary departure from his country," Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo told an African Union (AU) summit in Libya.

The Sierra Leone court says even from exile, Taylor remains in close contact with Liberian political, business and government figures and travels freely in West Africa. It also said it had evidence Taylor had funnelled money from the al-Qaeda network to a man who later announced his candidacy for the Liberian presidency.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

Click the link to read the full article...

Why would Al Qaeda pay money to a man who will run for the Liberian presidency? If this "evidence" is valid, then Taylor seems to be involved with Al Qaeda...

[edit on 2006/4/23 by Hellmutt]

posted on Jul, 18 2005 @ 09:36 AM
Charles Taylor has ties to Al Qaeda. Dateline NBC aired a program on the ties. Taylor knew the Al Qaeda operatives involved and he went out of his way to protect them. Taylor is still in business in Nigeria and is "living a life of luxury and ease". Nigeria still refuse to hand him over...

Douglas Farah: Perhaps an End to the Great Diamond Debate

July 17, 2005

Dateline NBC finally aired its program on the ties of al Qaeda to Charles Taylor. While taking more credit than they deserved for "breaking" the story I broke more than three years ago, mentioning my role in passing and the role of Global Witness not at all, the program advanced the ball considerably. I hope it finally ends the debate over what really happened, and how badly the CIA and FBI have fouled up their investigations. A full transcript of the program can be found here.

The biggest breakthrough was getting a former CIA station chief in Liberia to go over there and confirm the findings of al Qaeda's ties to Charles Taylor.

The FBI sent out a worldwide notification to law enforcement agencies saying certain al Qaeda operatives were wanted by the United States and requesting information. The Liberian intelligence operative recognized one of the men as a person doing diamond deals with Taylor, and he began an investigation. By his own admission, what he wanted was to shake the guy down for some money, not arrest him. His report on the activities of the al Qaeda operative was forwarded to Taylor, who sent it back saying they were to leave the operative alone, as he was protected by Taylor. The report, of course, was then canned, but I will be posting a copy of it soon. It shows that Taylor not only knew the al Qaeda operatives involved, but went out of his way to protect them.

For that protection, along with the collaboration of Ibrahim Bah, Taylor should be forced out of Nigeria and all U.S. efforts to protect him should be halted. The myriad services he performed for the U.S. intelligence services pale in comparison to his collaboration with al Qaeda in the diamond business and his helping funnel weapons to radical Islamic groups in Bosnia and elsewhere (more on this soon, when I sort through new documents I now have). It is beyond criminal that Taylor be allowed a live a life of luxury and ease in the wake of the havoc he wrought on West Africa.

Click the link to read the full version...

[edit on 2006/4/23 by Hellmutt]

posted on Aug, 2 2005 @ 06:35 PM
How much longer will Taylor be able to hide in Nigeria? The leaders of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have now publicly asked Nigeria to review Taylor's asylum deal. Nigerian officials have not yet commented on this joint statement, which came to light over the weekend.

IRIN: West African leaders call for review of Taylor's asylum deal

Charles Taylor - Photo: AP

The leaders of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have publicly asked Nigeria to review the asylum deal which stands between former Liberian president Charles Taylor and a trial to face charges of crimes against humanity.

The former Liberian leader is accused of funding the Revolutionary United Front campaign, keeping the rebels stocked with guns and ammunition in exchange for smuggled diamonds.

The joint statement from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, which came to light over the weekend, made reference to a number of recent allegations that, if true, would violate Taylor's exile agreement.

Obasanjo has always said he would hand Taylor over, should a future elected government in Liberia ever decide to press charges and demand his extradition. Liberians go to the polls on 11 October to vote in new leaders, but whoever wins will not take power until January.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

[edit on 2006/4/23 by Hellmutt]

posted on Aug, 4 2005 @ 07:00 PM
Nigeria has arrested some human rights workers who were peacefully campaigning to have Charles Taylor turned over to face justice. All they did was to replicate INTERPOL's "Wanted" poster of Taylor. They have already spent more time in jail than Taylor!

Douglas Farah: Nigeria Harasses Human Rights Workers Seeking Taylor's Expulsion

August 04, 2005

Nigerian president Obasanjo has come up with an interesting way of dealing with legitimate, recognized human rights workers who are peacefully campaigning to have former Liberian president Charles Taylor turned over to face justice: he has them summarily arrested, has their offices ransacked and defends Taylor. The crime of the groups lobbying for Taylor to be turned over to international justice was printing posters that simply replicated INTERPOL's "Wanted" poster of Taylor. It is available on the net. Supposedly, one can speak freely and protest in Nigeria. That is what Obasanjo has repeatedly told the world. Yet Taylor, a wanted fugitive indicted on 17 counts of crimes against humanity, cannot be disturbed.

It is a sad day for Nigeria when, to protect an international fugitive who brought death and destruction to hundreds of thousands of people and aided and abetted terrorists, human rights workers are thrown in prison without charges and without having committed a crime. The three lawyers have already spent more time in jail than Taylor. For printing posters!

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

Related News Sources: Nigeria clamps down on Charles Taylor critics
Press Release from Amnesty International and Open Society Justice Initiative

posted on Aug, 27 2005 @ 02:36 AM
New detailed evidence of Taylor`s meddling in West African affairs has been presented to the public by Liberians United for Transparent Elections, a Liberian advocacy group that has been pressing for the extradition of Charles Taylor. And another warning on Al Qaeda.

Douglas Farah: New Evidence of Taylor's Meddling in Africa, and a Warning on al Qaeda

August 26, 2005

There is new evidence that Charles Taylor continues to meddle in West African affairs, this time presented by a Liberians United for Transparent Elections. The group went public with the information, including airplane tail numbers, travel tickets and other information on Taylor's movements out of his guilded exile in Nigeria, and the movement of those rebel leaders in the region who Taylor supports. The full story from can be found here.

In a nutshell, this shows that a man who dealt extensively with al Qaeda and international criminal syndicates has spent considerable time meeting with rebel leaders from Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Gambia. Yet the Nigerian government, (president Obasanjo and foreign minister Oluyemi Adeniji) refuse to take action.
These developments--the willingness to protect mass murderers and terrorists--make it all the more likely that the recent prediction by a senior U.S. military official will come true sooner rather than later.
If Taylor will not be turned over for trial after his atrocities and terrorist ties, then anyone else will be safe there too, if the price is right.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

See also the following article from The Guardian. Major General Douglas Lute, director of operations at the US' central command say Al Qaeda will retreat from Iraq to Africa. Guardian: Al-Qaida will retreat to Africa, says general

Connected article: Startling Revelation! - LTE On Taylor's Connections

posted on Sep, 15 2005 @ 10:22 PM
They call for Nigeria to surrender Taylor NOW before it´s too late. The Special Court for Sierra Leone will only operate for a limited time...


14 September 2005

Nigeria: Demonstrate commitment to justice -- surrender Taylor to the Special Court for Sierra Leone

Nigeria should help bring justice to the countless victims of crimes committed during Sierra Leone's civil war, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today in an open letter urging Nigeria's President to surrender former Liberian President Charles Taylor to the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

"The Special Court for Sierra Leone is best placed to bring justice to the countless African victims of the crimes for which Charles Taylor is accused," said Kolawole Olaniyan, Director of the Africa Programme of Amnesty International. "However, the Special Court will only operate for a limited time. This valuable window of opportunity is rapidly closing."

The Court has a mandate to prosecute those bearing the greatest responsibility for the crimes committed during the civil war in Sierra Leone, which was characterized by murders, sexual violence, mutilation and the widespread use of child soldiers.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

Click the link to read the full press release...

posted on Sep, 18 2005 @ 03:33 PM
...And it will probably be too late. Charles Taylor won't face justice, because Obasanjo won't hand over Taylor for trial (from September 18, 2005).


A film based on Viktor Bout´s life, LORD OF WAR (Nicolas Cage) :

LORD OF WAR Review by Stefan Halley

LORD OF WAR loosely based on Victor Bout’s life. A former KGB major and arms merchant, Bout has supplied the weapons to some of the worst genocide campaigns in all of Africa over the past decade. Taking advantage of the end of the Cold War, Bout was able to secure large amounts of guns, ammunition and vehicles. Speaking six different languages and holding at least five passports, Bout is a genius of the arms game. To learn more about Victor go to this link: Lord of War.

[edit on 2006/4/23 by Hellmutt]

posted on Sep, 23 2005 @ 06:25 AM
There`s apparently some growing frustration in the Congress regarding the inability of the Pentagon and State Department to deal properly with Viktor Bout and the designations this whole thread started with. Some of the frustration centers on Viktor Bout's ongoing and potentially illegal contracts with the U.S. military and KBR in Iraq and Afghanistan. Does someone have an agenda to protect Bout? Something is fishy, that`s for sure...

Douglas Farah: More Frustration on Viktor Bout

Seems Congressional folks on both sides of the aisle are growing increasingly frustrated with the unwillingness or inability of the Pentagon and State Department to answer questions about Viktor Bout. One set of concerns centers on Bout's ongoing and potentially illegal contracts with the U.S. military and KBR in Iraq and Afghanistan. The other is the State Deparment's inability to get companies and individuals in Bout's network, designated by Treasury Department's OFAC office as bad guys with their assets frozen, onto the broader U.N. sanctions list, which would make the measures applicable worldwide. It has been five months since the OFAC designations, yet State refuses to take what is largely an administrative step and push the already-completed paperwork on up to the United Nations.

The frustration is getting to the boiling point. At least one powerful Republican senator is pushing for a special Inspector General investigation into the Pentagon's seeming endless ability to allow Bout's companies to continue to subcontract out high-priced charters. The effort is likely to be joined by Democrats and some influential House Republicans. Also using the old Bout planes is KBR for moving its personnel around. The most complete details of these convoluted relations are provided by the Yorkshire Ranter here and here. Those involved in pushing for this investigation believe that the OFAC freezing orders and designations makes it clearly illegal to any Bout company directly, through contractors or subcontractors. The U.S. Central Command, responsible for the Iraq operations have been reminded of the law several times, to little long-lasting avail.

Under the Liberia sanctions regime, also in place in the U.N., the designations are unlikely to be challenged, unless Russia comes to Bout's defense. Even so, it would be good to smoke the Russians out on this, or make their protection of him, his inner circle and his companies clearly illegal. Why it has taken more than five months to send the paperwork to New York is inexplicable unless someone has another agenda and simply does not want to make Bout's life more difficult.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

posted on Oct, 11 2005 @ 08:40 PM
An interesting piece from the Sunday Herald. I recommend: click the link and read the whole thing...

From factory to the firing line: the story of one bullet (Sunday Herald)

09 October 2005

How do legally manufactured AK-47 bullets get into the hands of mercenaries and child soldiers?

“African conflicts are wasteful of ammunition and are always in need of more. The guys who carry this stuff in are just flying truck drivers,” says Alex Vines. He has a point.

In August 2003, at the height of Liberia’s rainy season, I flew into the capital, Monrovia, on the second humanitarian aid flight ever to have reached the country since the upsurge of the civil war a few weeks before. The aircraft was flown by a group of volunteer pilots who told me that days earlier, coming in to land on the first aid flight, they had almost collided with an unscheduled incoming cargo plane. “Later we found out it was flying in ammunition and guns for President Charles Taylor, which some people said was coming from Libya,” the 58-year-old Swedish pilot told me. “It’s always the same across Africa, you never know who is flying what.” One member of the pilot’s own crew even admitted to having “ferried a few bullets” in his time.

For arms dealers, it’s well worth the risk. According to Johan Peleman, while it’s difficult to put an accurate figure on the profits men like Victor Bout make, back in 2002 the Russian was sitting on a fortune. “The Rwandan government alone owed Bout $21 million. That gives you some idea of the sums involved in his business. But that doesn’t include barter operations – arms for coffee or arms for diamonds,” says Peleman.

[edit on 2006/4/23 by Hellmutt]

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