III. Allegations of Drug-Trafficking and Far West, Ltd
Yasenev links Saidov, Surikov, and others to their former service in a drug-interception group in Afghanistan, under a Leonid Kosyakov who now headed a company called Far West, Ltd.:
Leonid Leonidovich Kosyakov, b. 1955, Ukrainian citizen. Until 2005 resided in Arab Emirates and Switzerland. Citizen of Ukraine. Retired from the service in May 1993. Presently the president of Far West Ltd. In 1983-85 Kosyakov was in command of a special group in Shindand (Afghanistan), assigned to intercept caravans with drugs. In different times under his direct command served Filin, Lunev, Likhvintsev, Surikov, Petrov, as well as Saidov
Yasenev also presents testimony that this group developed into what the Russians call an OPS (an Organized Criminal Society) responsible for massive drug-trafficking:
These accusations were made by the former officer of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine Sergei Petrov (alias Serge Rodin, French citizen).
According to his testimony:
"The OPS [organized criminal society] was involved in drug trafficking since the beginning of 1990s:
-from 1995 the OPS transports heroin (produced in Afghanistan) from Tajikistan to European countries via Russia with the assistance of the Russian Defense Ministry.
- from 2000 the OPS is involved in smuggling Colombian cocaine to Russia through the seaports of Novorossiysk and St. Petersburg under the disguise of import shipments from Latin America.
Among the OPS contacts in Novorossyisk is Saidov; in St. Petersburg it used to be Roman Tsepov.
Received profits are used for personal enrichment of the OPS leaders, the officials at the Ministry of Defense who provide them with "the roof" [protection], and for financing extremist activities."
In November of 2003, Rodin contacted the law enforcement agencies of Germany and France. Their investigation did not result in any actions against Filin, Likhvintsev, and their partners.
In January 2004, Rodin was blown up in his car in South Africa.
Yasenev's charge of a military organized crime group under Filin had been reported a year earlier by Russian journalist Nikita Kaledin:
There is a powerful military organized crime community which from 1992 through to the present has controlled substantial drug flows from Afghanistan to Russia and Europe and is also involved in laundering "dirty" money and is actively involved in Russia's political life. The community is controlled by former intelligence officers, Afghan war veterans, and now drugs barons Vova Filin and Lesha Pribalt. The former lives in Switzerland, the latter in London. Both make quite frequent trips to Moscow, Dushanbe, Nazran, and Khankala....
Filin and Pribalt literally flooded Russia with heroin. The Kremlin could not tolerate this abomination any longer and ordered a mighty "Chekist raid" [i.e., ordered the FSB to shut down the operation] against the narcobarons. However, it is rumored that the raid has ended up with the agreement that the latter would 1) share their profits; 2) help in the facilitating the peaceful referendum on the constitution in Chechnya; 3) bring some order to the drug market by liquidating the leaders of ethnic criminal groups."
Far West, Ltd, Halliburton, Diligence LLC, New Bridge, and Neil Bush
The connection to Far West, Ltd, of Filin, Likhvinsky, Surikov, and Saidov (along with Alfonso Davidovich) has since been stunningly corroborated by a news story on the Pravda-info website about Far West, Ltd, and Kosyakov's resignation from it.
At a meeting of its stockholders on 2 May in the Hotel Ritz Carlton in Dubai "Far West Ltd." accepted the retirement of the president of the Agency Leonid Kosiakov, who moved to government service in Ukraine. Vladimir Filin, member of the Editorial Board of "Pravda-info," was elected the new president, at the same time retaining his previous position as executive director. The meeting of stockholders, in accordance with its charter, selected new members of the board of directors of "Far West Ltd.," which will now contain 9 members. Besides Vladimir Filin, Anatolii Baranov and Anton Surikov, it will include four more members if the Editorial Board of "Pravda-info": Audrius Butkevicius, Aleksei Likhvintsev, Natal'ia Roeva, and Ruslan Saidov, and also Valerii Lunev, a veteran of the Armed Forces, and Alfonso Davidovich, a political scientist from Venezuela.
Far West, the story said,
specializes in consulting work on questions of security in conducting business in regions of the world with unstable environments and hiring personnel for foreign private military companies [last three words in English]. Its head office is located in Switzerland. In addition, the Agency has a network of representatives in OAE [United Arab Emirates], Afghanistan, Colombia, the autonomous region of Kosovo, the autonomous republic of Crimea, Georgia, and the Volga Federal District of the RF [Russian Federation].
Recently Filin gave Pravda.info some details about Far West's work, and revealed that the firm had been co-founded by "a sub-division of a well-known American corporation." He said that the company's new contract is
connected with the secured transport of commercial shipments from Afghanistan, where we have an office, to ports on the Black Sea. In Afghanistan there is a well-known U.S. air base in Bagram. It is connected by an aerial bridge with a number of other US air bases. For example, with the largest base in Frankfurt-on-Main, that's in Germany, with an intermediary landing in Chkalovsk, in the Moscow area. But the most commercially attractive route seems to be that from Bagram to the US air base in Magas, in Kyrgyzstan. By the way, it is quite near the Russian air base in Kant. A significant flow of shipments passes through Magas, there is a niche there for commercial shipments too. This is very profitable. It is much more profitable than routing commercial shipments from Afghanistan through Tajikistan. Therefore last year we completely withdrew from all shipping through Tajikistan and closed our office in that country.
Who are your partners?
Who our partners are is a commercial secret. I can say that they are four private firms from three countries, Turkey, Russia, and the USA,which engage among other things in shipping. One of these firms is a sub-division of a well-known American corporation. This firm is a co-founder of our agency.
We can assume that Pravda.info is an inside source for information about Far West, for the two organizations seem in fact to be two different manifestations of the same group. Among the directors of Far West on the masthead of Pravda.info we find first of all Anton Surikov, followed by Anatolii Baranov, Aleksei Likhvintsev, Ruslan Saidov, Vladimir Filin, Natal'ia Roeva, and Audrius Butkevicius.
Also on the Pravda.info masthead is Boris Kagarlitskii, who as we saw at the outset is a main source for the Western accounts of the meeting in southern France, by Patrick Cockburn, Nafeez Ahmed, and John Dunlop. Many of the Far West directors, notably Anton Surikov, are or have been also associated with Kagarlitskii at the Russian Institute for Globalization Studies (IPROG).
Although Filin and Pravda.info did not identify the foreign private military companies with which it worked, another source did:
Filin and Likhvintsev do business with foreign private military companies (PMCs):
- «Meteoric Tactical Solutions» (South Africa) – in Angola;
- «Kellogg, Brown &Root» (KBR Halliburton) – in Colombia, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Georgia, and Iraq.
- «Diligence Iraq LLC» (controlled by the Kuwaiti Mohammed as-Sagar) – in Iraq."
Their cooperation with these companies began in the end of 1994 in Angola on the initiative of Victor Bout, who was involved in the shipments of Soviet-made arms to the antigovernment group UNITA in exchange to raw diamonds. Apparently, Bout became interested in Likhvintsev's contacts (L. worked in Angola in 1986-87). Later, in October of 1998, Filin, Likhvintsev's wife Liudmila Rozkina (b. 1966) and Anton Surikov (at that time he worked in the Russian government) established the company Far West Ltd., with the office in Lausanne, which officially does security consulting for business ventures in countries with unstable regimes. De facto, this is a legalized form of recruiting mercenaries for PMCs.
Furthermore Yasenev claims that some of Far West's work with Halliburton is apparently approved by the CIA for geopolitical purposes:
In 2003-2004, Filin and Likhvintsev worked on the Georgian project, financed by KBR Halliburton, apparently, with the approval of the CIA. The project had the goal of weakening the competitors of Halliburton in the oil business and, in a broader context, of facilitating the geopolitical objectives of the United States in the Caucasus. The OPS man in Georgia is Audrius Butkevicius, former Lithuanian minister of defense, presently advisor to Badri Patarkatsishvili.
Some of Yasenev's information about Diligence Iraq is corroborated by a Press Release from Diligence itself.
Diligence LLC, a private military company (PMC), could be described as a CIA spin-off:
Diligence was founded by William Webster, the only man to head both the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mike Baker, its chief executive officer, spent 14 years at the CIA as a covert field operations officer specializing in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations. Whitley Bruner, its chief operating officer in Baghdad, was once the CIA station chief in Iraq.
Its partner in Diligence Middle East (DME) is New Bridge Strategies, whose political clout was described by the Financial Times:
New Bridge was established in May  and came to public attention because of the Republican heavyweights on its board – most linked to one or other Bush administration [officials] or to the family itself. Those include Joe Allbaugh, George W. Bush's presidential campaign manager, and Ed Rogers and Lanny Griffith, former George H.W. Bush aids.
Joe Allbaugh, the co-chairman of the company, was also head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), on the day of the 9/11 attacks, and indeed until March 2003, the month that the U.S. invaded Iraq.
The Financial Times wrote that the success of New Bridge in securing contracts had to do with their relationship to Neil Bush, the President's brother:
Two businessmen instrumental in setting up New Bridge Strategies, a well-connected Washington firm designed to help clients win contracts in Iraq, have previously used an association with the younger brother of President George W. Bush to seek business in the Middle East, an FT investigation has found.
John Howland, the company president, and Jamal Daniel, a principal, have maintained an important business relationship with Neil Bush stretching back several years. In Mr Daniel's case, the relationship spans more than a decade, with his French office arranging a trip for Mr Bush's family to Disneyland Paris in 1992, while his father, George H.W.Bush, was president.
On several occasions, the two have attempted to exploit their association with the president's brother to help win business and investors.
Three people contacted by the FT have seen letters written by Neil Bush recommending business ventures promoted by Mr Howland, Mr Daniel and his family in the Middle East. Mr Daniel has also had his photograph taken with the elder Mr Bush. Such letters and photographs can be valuable props when doing business in the Middle East.
Mr Daniel's Houston investment fund, Crest Investment Corporation, employs Neil Bush as co-chairman. Crest Investment also helped fund Neil Bush's Ignite!, an educational software company. Mr Daniel sometimes introduces himself as a founding backer of Mr Bush's company, a Middle-Eastern businessman who has met him said, and has persuaded the families of prominent leaders in the region to invest.
Until recently, news stories about the international backers for Neil Bush's firm ignite have focused on Taiwanese businessmen, and Middle East billionaires, such as Defense Minister and Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. But it was a surprise to learn in September 2005 that "Exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky was in Riga along with Neil Bush, the brother of the U.S. president, to discuss an educational project with Latvian businessmen." In an interview with Interfax, "Berezovsky pointed out that he is one of the shareholders of Ignite! Inc., an educational software company. U.S. President George W. Bush's brother Neil Bush is the company's chairman and chief executive."
There have been reports in mass media about the involvement of the U.S. military in Afghanistan in drug trafficking. I asked the well-known political scientist and specialist on organized crime Vladimir Filin to comment on this.
-Vladimir Ilyich, is it true that Americans are involved in drug business?
-Yes, they are in ideal situation for this. They control the Bagram airfield from where the Air Force transport planes fly to a U.S. military base in Germany. In the last two years this base became the largest transit hub for moving Afghan heroin to other US bases and installations in Europe. Much of it goes to Kosovo in the former Yugoslavia. From there the Kosovo Albanian mafia moves heroin back to Germany and other EU countries.
-Why such a complex arrangement?
Drug traffickers enjoy relative safety in military bases. There is no serious control there. German police cannot work there. However, outside of military bases German law-enforcement is in effect. True, any police can be bought. But the level of corruption in Germany is not as high as, say, in Russia. This is why it is more convenient for Americans to establish distribution centers in other places. I believe that, in time, such centers will move to their military installations in Poznan, Poland, and also in Romania and Bulgaria. Poland is already a EU member. Romania and Bulgaria are expected to be in 2007. Corruption in these countries is almost as high as in Russia.
-How big is American drug traffic to Europe and who is behind it?
-About 15-20 tons of heroin a year. When Poznan become open, I think it could rise to 50, even 70 tons. Behind this business are the CIA and the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency). Actually, this is what they did already in Indochina in the 1960s-70s and in Central America in the 1980s.
Under the circumstances I consider Filin to be no more reliable than his opposite number, Joseph D. Douglass, the author of Red Cocaine: The Drugging of America and the West. But legitimate questions abound as to why the USA empowered the KLA to take over Kosovo.
AK: THIS NEXT PART IS KEY
A test of the Bush Administration's true intentions in the War on Terror came as early as November 2001. The Americans had learned, correctly, that Osama bin Laden was holed up in the caves of Tora Bora. While storming the caves was a difficult military challenge, surrounding and isolating them was well within the capacity of U.S. military strength. However General Franks, the United States commander, entrusted the task of capturing bin Laden to two local commanders: Hazrat Ali and Haji Zaman.
As we have seen, Hazrat Ali and Haji Zaman were not only drug lords, they were earlier part of the 1980s heroin trail to Soviet troops that had been organized "with the blessings of the CIA." Thus the U.S. could hardly plead ignorance as to these men's activities and interests, which clearly involved making sure that the writ of Kabul would never extend to their own Nangahar Province. For the drug trade to thrive in Afghanistan, it was necessary that the influence of Osama and the Taliban be preserved, not extinguished.
The folly of using Hazrat Ali and Haji Zaman was brought to Franks' attention at the time:
Military and intelligence officials had warned Franks and others that the two main Afghan commanders, Hazrat Ali and Haji Zaman, couldn't be trusted, and they proved to be correct. They were slow to move their troops into place and didn't attack until four days after American planes began bombing – leaving time for al-Qaida leaders to escape and leaving behind a rear guard of Arab, Chechen and Uzbek fighters.
The failure to use U.S. troops cannot be attributed to the motive of appeasing local sentiments:
Pir Baksh Bardiwal, the intelligence chief for the Eastern Shura, said that he would welcome a massive influx of U.S. troops. He believed that the Pentagon planners were making a grave mistake by not surrounding Tora Bora.
A U.S. journalist who was there, Philip Smucker, claims that the treachery of the local commanders went beyond their slowness to surround Tora Bora. He describes hearing how one lower level commander
whom Ali had assigned to guard the Pakistani border, had acted as an outright escort for al Qaeda.... "Ilyas Khel just showed the Arabs the way out of the country into Pakistan".....That Ali had entrusted [Khel, who had once served under the military commander of Osama's friend Younis Khalis] suggested to us that the escapes were part of a much broader conspiracy to assist al Qaeda right through to the end.
How high up did this conspiracy go? Certainly Ali's failure to capture Osama could have been and was predicted. But if capturing Osama was indeed the U.S. goal (as announced at the time by Colin Powell), the real question is why the task was not entrusted to U.S. troops.
In the wake of 9/11, Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI translator, has claimed to possess information linking the American 9/11, and much else, to massive drug-trafficking which has corrupted high level U.S. officials. Among other things, she has claimed that the U.S. has never gone after top-level drug traffickers, because
this would upset "certain foreign relations." But it would also expose certain of our elected officials, who have significant connections with high-level drugs- and weapons-smuggling – and thus with the criminal underground, even with the terrorists themselves.....
After Ms. Edmonds reported improprieties to her FBI employers, she was fired. She has appealed her firing, but the Bush administration has invoked the unusual claim of the "state-secrets privilege" to prevent the lawsuits she has filed from being heard in court. At this point we know little more than that what concerned her involved arms-dealing, drug-trafficking, and Turkey.
It is I think a matter of national priority to learn more about the American links to Far West, Ltd., the group accused of staging the Russian 9/11. It is a matter of more than purely historic interest to learn if that group's Islamist and American connections could have supplied a meeting-ground for staging the American 9/11 as well.
Since first hearing about the meta-group's role in the Russian 9/11, I have pondered the question whether it could have played a similar role in the American 9/11 as well. At this point I have to say that I have found no persuasive evidence that would prove its involvement. The fact remains that two informed and credible witnesses, Sibell Edmonds and Indira Singh, have spoken independently of the importance of international drug trafficking in the background of 9/11.
The Bush Administration has paid Sibell Edmonds the tribute of silencing her on the grounds of national interest. She has nonetheless made it clear that what she would talk about concerns that part of the world where the meta-group has influence:
SE [Sibell Edmonds]: It's interesting, in one of my interviews, they say "Turkish countries," but I believe they meant Turkic countries – that is, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and all the 'Stans, including Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and [non-Turkic countries like] Afghanistan and Pakistan. All of these countries play a big part in the sort of things I have been talking about.
CD [Chris Deliso]: What, you mean drug-smuggling?
SE: Among other things. Yes, that is a major part of it. It's amazing that in this whole "war on terror" thing, no one ever talks about these issues.
Indira Singh, who lost her high-tech job at J.P. Morgan after telling the FBI about Ptech and 9/11, was even more dramatic in her public testimony at a Canadian event:
I did a number of things in my research and when I ran into the drugs I was told that if I mentioned the money to the drugs around 9/11 that would be the end of me.
The False Dilemmas of 9/11 Theories
I said earlier that by suppressing awareness of the role of drug-trafficking in our society, we give drug traffickers a de facto franchise to exert political influence without criticism or opposition. An example of this is the discussion of 9/11 in America, which usually fails to consider the meta-group among the list of possible suspects.
I have tried to suggest in this paper that in fact the meta-group had both motive – to restore the Afghan opium harvest and increase instability and chaos along the trade routes through Central Asia – and opportunity – to utilize its contacts with both al-Zawahiri in al Qaeda and the CIA in Washington. It is furthermore the best candidate to explain one of the more difficult anomalies (or indeed paradoxes) of the clues surrounding 9/11: that many of the clues lead in the direction of Saudi Arabia(AK - And more importantly Turkey and Pakistan), but some lead also in a very different direction, towards Israel.
Here it is worth quoting again the well-informed remark of a Washington insider about the meta-group's predecessor, BCCI: "Who else could wire something together to Saudi Arabia, China, Israel, and the U.S.?" The current meta-group fills the same bill, for it unites supporters of Muslim Salafism (Saidov) with at least one Israeli citizen (Kosman).
The meta-group's involvement in the Russian 9/11 of course does nothing to prove its involvement in the American one. However awareness of its presence – as an unrecognized Force X operating in the world – makes previous discussions of 9/11 seem curiously limited. Again and again questions of responsibility have been unthinkingly limited to false dilemmas in which the possible involvement of this or any other Force X is excluded.
An early example is Michael Moore's naïve question to President Bush in Dude, Where's My Country: "Who attacked the United States on September 11 – a guy on dialysis from a cave in Afghanistan, or your friends, Saudi Arabia?" A far more widespread dilemma is that articulated by David Ray Griffin in his searching critique of the 9/11 Commission Report:
There are two basic theories about 9/11. Each of these theories is a "conspiracy theory." One of these is the official conspiracy theory, according to which the attacks of 9/11 were planned and executed solely by al-Qaeda terrorists under the guidance of Osama bin Laden....Opposing this official theory is the [sic] alternative conspiracy theory, which holds that the attacks of 9/11 were able to succeed only because they were facilitated by the Bush administration and its agencies.
Griffin of course is not consciously excluding a third possible theory – that a Force X was responsible. But his failure to acknowledge this possibility is an example of the almost universal cultural denial I referred to earlier. In America few are likely to conceive of the possibility that a force in contact with the U.S. government could be not just an asset, but a force exerting influence on that government.
My personal suggestion to 9/11 researchers is that they focus on the connections of the meta-group's firm Far West, Ltd. – in particular those which lead to Khashoggi, Berezovskii, Halliburton and Dick Cheney, and Diligence, Joe Allbaugh, and Neil Bush.
AK: And I would add, the information from Sibel Edmonds that this group ties into disloyal neocons like Feith, Perle, Wolfowitz, Grossman, Hastert and others, and their ties to the Turkish-Israeli-Pakistani drugs/arms smuggling and money laundering groups. Also: NOTE THAT CHENEY AND ALLBAUGH WERE RUNNING THE EXERCISES ON 9-11 THAT PUT E4-B'S IN THE AIR OVER DC, NY AND PENN/OHIO, AND SENT EAST COAST FIGHTER JETS TO CANADA, AND PUT FEMA MEN ON THE GROUND IN NYC ON 9-10-01.