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Douglas Farah: What is Russia's Real Game (Again-With Viktor Bout)
Nov 27, 2006
A small sporting goods store in rural Pennsylvania was just busted for selling telescopic rifle scopes, binoculars and optics, which need State Department export authorization, to a Russian company that did not have such a license.
So, we have Russian intelligence agents illegally buying restricted items in the United States. But it gets better. A good chunk of the money for the purchases, according to federal officials, came from (hold on Bout fans) Rockman Ltd, a Bulgarian firm owned by Sergei Bout, who has often run Bout companies involved in weapons transactions. As one U.S official told the Times, “Sergei and Viktor’s companies are all under the same umbrella.” The rest of the money came from Haji Ibrahim, a Pakistani man wanted on federal charges of heroin trafficking. Nice bunch!
Intelligence sources say Bout was spotted in Beirut during the fighting, shortly before the sophisticated armor-piercing Fagot and Kornet anti-tank missiles were discovered. Interesting coincidence.
with official Russian support, his aircraft have been spotted delivering weapons to the Islamic Court militias in Somalia and arming the Islamist allies in Eritrea.
Douglas Farah: More Small Steps to put Viktor Bout out of Business
Mar 30 2007
Today the U.S. Treasury Department took another step to crimp the style of Russian weapons trafficker Viktor Bout.
The OFAC freezing action of seven companies and three individuals in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) followed yesterday’s similar action by the United Nations Security Council and is aimed in part and restricting Bout’s ability to continue to illicitly move weapons to African war zones.
Douglas Farah: The Ineffectiveness of the UN Travel Ban Lists
Apr 9 2007
Just ask Gen. Mohammad Basqer Zolqadr, a Iranian Revolutionary Guard general and deputy interior minister. He publicly and happily violated the UN ban with a recent official visit to Russia.
“Despite resolution 1747 which imposed a travel ban on some members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, including me, I traveled to Russia and no restriction was applied,” Zolgadr crowed on returning home.
Like so many cases in recent weeks (Somalia, Lebanon, Iran), Russia has shown no regard for international law or anything other than mercenary considerations in its weapons sales and
Among those who routinely violate the travel ban in Viktor Bout, who resides in Moscow, but has traveled to Europe (Moldova and elsewhere), Beirut, Cyprus and other points.
Jun 6, 2007
Former Liberian warlord Charles Taylor, almost unnoticed, made his first non-appearance before the special court that has charged him with 11 counts of crimes against humanity.
Saying he was being railroaded, and having fired his attorney in order to conduct his own defense, Taylor boycotted the trial, but the opening statement by the prosecution was given anyway. It detailed the horrendous atrocities Taylor presided over in the interests of making money.
One of Taylor’s facilitators was Viktor Bout, the Russian arms dealer, who, along with his U.S.-Syrian friend and accountant Richard Chichakli, have had their assets frozen by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Chichakli, now in Moscow, has vigorously disputed his designation. On Monday a U.S. District court judge filleted Chichakli in a ruling, denying his motions to dismiss, upholding Treasury’s actions and generally leaving Chichakli completely in the cold.
Originally posted by Hellmutt
Richard Chichakli lost in court.
The government maintains Chichakli was an accountant to Viktor Bout, who is allegedly the world’s most notorious gun-runner and is known as the “Merchant of Death.” Chichakli says there is no merit to the allegations and that journalists who say otherwise (including Douglas Farah, who we quoted yesterday) are simply exaggerating the truth to make a buck.
June 24, 2007
And then there's this:
As soon as Bout's plane took off, British agents sent an encrypted message notifying superiors in London to prepare for his imminent arrest in Athens. But shortly after the message was sent, the aircraft suddenly veered off its flight plan and disappeared in mountainous terrain. About 90 minutes later the plane reappeared on radar screens, and when it landed in Athens, Greek and British special forces stormed the aircraft, only to find it empty except for the pilots and a few passengers..."There were only two intelligence services that could have decrypted the British transmission in so short a time," says one European intelligence official familiar with the operation. "The Russians and the Americans. And we know for sure it was not the Russians."
For 15 years, Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout has run guns to African warlords and Islamic militants, reaping him hundreds of millions of dollars. So why hasn't the U.S. stopped him? Because we needed him.
In their new book Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible (John Wiley & Sons, 2007), Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun paint a grisly picture of Russian gunrunner Viktor Bout. The intrepid authors recently spoke with Men's Vogue editor Hudson Morgan, discussing the perils of taking on one of the world's most dangerous men, the rivals whose wings Bout clipped, and those awkward moments when they were forced to break news about Bout to U.S. officials who'd been kept in the dark.
Originally posted by pleyades
He is only the middle men. What goverment and whom from such goverment provide him of such?
The officials were focused mostly on the Bout organization's uninterrupted flow of arms to African despots and the Taliban—not to mention the worst-case possibility that Bout might help deliver a nuke to terrorists. Soon thereafter, Lee Wolosky, the top NSC official leading the effort to nab Bout, briefed Condoleezza Rice's national security team and scheduled a pre–presidential briefing meeting for September 11, 2001. In the chaos of the morning's events, the hunt for Viktor Bout was essentially lost, buried in the rubble of 9/11.
A small band of European intelligence officers was authorized to try and nab Bout again during a visit he planned to Madrid in March 2004. But on March 11, an Al Qaeda–affiliated terror group set off bomb attacks on the city's train system, killing 191 people and wounding thousands of others. Bout canceled the trip. "It was a very good plan—we would have had him," says one operative involved.
Jul 21 2007
The Times of London has just outed another aircraft tied to Viktor Bout by U.N. reports, to arming Islamist radicals in the Horn of Africa.
The undercover sting operation by the newspaper found that a Russian, Alexander Radionov, whose Antonov 8 aircraft in Sharjah was already identified as a Bout aircraft, was willing to fly a load of weapons to the Islamic Court Union forces in Somalia, even though Somalia is still under a U.N. arms embargo.
Not only does the embargo exist on paper, but the journalist posing as an arms purchaser specifically stated the flights would not be declared, and that they would be dropped in an area clearly controlled by the Islamists.
As the Times noted, “The offer to hire out an aircraft and provide parachutes for the mission to Somalia, which is under a United Nations arms embargo, demonstrates how easy it is to flout the efforts of western governments to stop illegal arms trafficking.”
The London Times piece comes just before the reported a major bribery investigation into the operations of KBR, the giant contractor, for the flights it hired into Iraq and Afghanistan. (KBR were among those who hired Viktor Bout’s aircraft to fly to those destinations.)
July 27, 2007
The latest UN Monitoring Group report on Somalia is out. BBC News reports that Eritrea is accused of sending the ex-ICU large quantities of weapons aboard a chartered Boeing 707. Looking up the report, it turns out to be 9G-OAL, serial no. 19350, registered to a Ghanaian firm, Aerogem Aviation. Aerogem was contacted by the Group, and blamed a lessee of the plane, Fab Air. Fab Air (ICAO: FBA) is a Kyrgyz company based in Sharjah (natch), whose Kyrgyz AOC was revoked in January.
The 1966-vintage 707-324C has form, lots of form; from January 1996 she was working for Viktor Bout's Air Cess, before going on lease to Pamir Air, based in Mazar-i-Sharif while Bout and Chris Barrett-Jolley were working for Abdul Rashid Dostum (all the other aircraft there ended up with Santa Cruz Imperial/Flying Dolphin/Dolphin Air/Phoenix Aviation/AVE in Sharjah), before working for Johnsons Air (see here, here , here, and here) in Ghana as 9G-OLD (well, that's about right).