Author Topic: Viktor Bout and 9/11  (Read 4733 times)

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Viktor Bout and 9/11
« on: December 05, 2014, 05:00:44 pm »
Viktor about once said that in the 1990s he ran the second biggest airline in Afghanistan. The biggest was apparently Lufthansa and third was Ariana, the Afghan National Airline.

Ariana was reportedly run by Osama Bin Laden, and used to ship Al Qaeda and their equipment around the middle east and Asia.
Bouts airline was also supplying the Mujahadeen with weaponry and other items.
Mysteriously, Lufthansa was bigger than the other two, though exactly what they were up to that trumped Al Qaeda, Bin laden and the Mujahadeen remains a mystery.

It was reported once upon a time - somewhat convincingly - that Al Qaeda had moved into the Blood Diamond trade, apparently in Liberia with Charles Taylor. This rumour though was quickly squashed by the establishment. Interestingly however Viktor Bout was also operating in Liberia, it was where many of his aircraft were registered.

The LA Times did a special investigation on Viktor Bout in 2002, excepts of which below, followed by a Wayne Madsen report:

On the Trail of a Man Behind Taliban's Air Fleet
Authorities say Victor Bout supplied combatants in hot spots around the world. The elusive entrepreneur is free in Moscow.

The files on Victor Bout in government agencies around the world brim with accounts of how he hunted game with rebel leaders, threw beer parties on jungle landing strips and consorted with dictators to build his business empire. For a decade, his armada of aircraft has hauled almost anything for a price: fish, coffee, relief supplies, flowers, and heads of state and their wives.

International authorities say the 35-year-old Russian also operates the world's largest private weapons transport network, carrying military goods as small as Kalashnikov assault rifle rounds and as large as helicopter gunships. Bout's businesses have been blamed for arming civil wars throughout Africa, despite international embargoes.

"Victor Bout is like the Donald Trump or Bill Gates of arms trafficking," said a U.S. Defense Department official. "He's the biggest kid on the block."

Now a Times investigation has uncovered evidence that companies tied to Bout helped the Taliban build an air fleet that secretly delivered weapons, equipment and recruits during a crucial period in the late 1990s. The hard-line Islamic regime bought air freighters from the firms and disguised some of them in the colors of Afghanistan's national airline so that cargo could be delivered without attracting notice. The deals were arranged while the Taliban battled opposition forces for power and the ruling mullahs' patron, Osama bin Laden, launched his holy war against Americans.

To put together a picture of Bout and his operations, The Times conducted interviews with more than 75 military, diplomatic and government officials in Afghanistan, the U.S., the Emirates, Russia, Europe and Africa, as well as with air industry workers and Bout associates in those nations. Afghan officials corroborated their accounts with a thick stack of documents from the deposed Taliban government.

Victor Bout's known biography is spare. A native of Tajikistan, he is a Soviet military veteran fluent in at least five languages.

Alexander Sidorenko, a decorated former Soviet paratrooper, recalls Bout working as a trade representative in Luanda, Angola, when the Soviet empire collapsed in 1990. Bout joined him, leasing and buying planes until the two men split in 1994. "If he had a hobby, it was money," Sidorenko said.

What separates Bout from his competitors, Western authorities said, is the size of his network. As of April, U.S. officials had linked to Bout at least 60 planes, a private cargo wing dwarfing all others in the Third World, registered from Aruba to Cambodia.

His planes were frequently transferred from one of his companies to another and from country to country. One plane, for example, was registered in Swaziland but owned by a South African company. Others were registered in Liberia but based in the Emirates.

Bout acquired mansions, a Porsche, a Mercedes and a Range Rover, according to investigators and acquaintances. He co-owned an apartment in an exclusive Moscow district and reportedly had an estate on the Belgian coast near Ostend, a house in South Africa and a gated residence in the emirate of Sharjah, his main air hub since the mid-1990s.

In Congo, formerly Zaire, where a 3 year war has claimed 2 million lives, Bout's work so pleased Jean-Pierre Bemba, leader of the rebel Congolese Liberation Movement, or MLC, that he joined the Russian supplier on hunting trips, U.N. investigator Peleman said.

A Bout firm serviced and chartered aircraft for Libya for several years, U.S. officials said. Bout also provided assistance when Kadafi negotiated the release of six European hostages held in the Philippines by Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic rebel group whose leader had trained in Libya. Libya hired a plane provided by Bout to deliver the freed captives, and Kadafi later portrayed the intervention as a humanitarian act that warranted an end to international sanctions against his regime.

The U.N. and the U.S. imposed bans on military aid to the Taliban in 2000. When a U.N. team was asked last year to examine how weapons entered Afghanistan, Bout's name surfaced again.

Bout catered to the opposition Northern Alliance, flying in tons of ammunition when it ruled in the mid-1990s, former alliance officials said. He stopped working for the alliance when the Taliban seized power in Kabul in September 1996.

"He was working for us," said Abdul Latif, Bout's main arms contact in the alliance. "And then he was working for the Taliban."

Whenever the Northern Alliance found its stock of ammunition running low, Latif said, he would bring suitcases stuffed with cash to Bout. Between 1992 and 1996, when the alliance governed Afghanistan, Bout-leased Ilyushins carried tons of ammunition to troops fighting the Taliban and other factions, former alliance officials said.

Bout's arms prices were "very expensive," said Ahmed Muslem Hayat, a former aide to the defense minister. "One shell for tanks was $60. And from Russia, officially, they were $10."

The alliance had to deal with Bout, Hayat said, because the Russian government would not sell arms to them, preferring not to take sides in the Afghan civil war. But the Russians also did not interfere with Bout, who holds Russian citizenship. His flights "did not violate international laws," said veteran Russian diplomat Zamir Kabulov.

On Aug. 3, 1995, Bout's furtive business was outed by the Taliban.

A Taliban MIG fighter forced down a Bout-leased Ilyushin carrying 3.4 million Kalashnikov rounds as it neared the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar. Taliban soldiers seized the munitions and took the seven-member crew hostage.

The Russian government sent Kabulov, who at times was accompanied by Bout or his brother Sergei, to negotiate for the crew's release.

After waiting a year, the prisoners laid plans for a break. In August 1996, Kabulov said, Bout arranged with Iranian air traffic controllers for a clear air corridor to the Emirates. According to Russian accounts, the crew overpowered guards and flew the Ilyushin to freedom.

Shortly afterward, U.S. officials say, a Bout firm started doing business with the Taliban.

A 25-year-old Taliban mullah met in a Sharjah hotel room with representatives of cargo firms owned by Bout and an Emirates businessman to obtain supplies for the fundamentalist Islamic movement, said a former official of Ariana Afghan Airlines, who was present at the meeting. Ariana is the national carrier of Afghanistan.

The mullah, Farid Ahmed, and other Taliban officials were seeking planes, tires, spare parts, engines, oil, hydraulic fluid--all essential for starting up their own air cargo operation. Ahmed was there representing the Taliban leadership, Ariana and Afghan aviation officials said.

They were soon scouring air cargo offices at the Sharjah airport, shopping openly because the Emirates was one of only three nations that recognized the Taliban. The other nations were Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Sergei Mankhayev, general manager of Republic Air Co. in Sharjah, said a Taliban broker stunned him with a shopping list of "civilian aircraft and spare parts" and a second list of "weapons, ammunition and MIG combat aircraft," along with several dozen armament varieties, from grenade launchers to ground rockets. Mankhayev and other aviators said they refused the business.

But Ahmed found reliable suppliers in companies owned by Bout and the Emirates' Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed al Saqr al Nahyan, described by the U.N. as "a business associate of Victor Bout."

Between 1998 and 2001, Ahmed bought five planes from two companies, Vial and Air Cess, that authorities say were controlled by Bout. A Belgian official said Bout had power of attorney over Vial, a Delaware firm later cited in the Belgian arrest warrant for Bout.

Bout founded Air Cess in Liberia, say U.S. and U.N. officials. These officials say that at some point in the 1990s, Bout transferred its daily operations to his brother Sergei. A man contacted by The Times who identified himself as Sergei Bout declined to discuss details of his business.

Spurnov, the Russian air executive, said Victor Bout also provided pilots to the Taliban. Spurnov said about 50 of his pilots were hired by Bout companies in the late 1990s. Spurnov said some told him of repeated runs hauling green crates, standard containers for Eastern European-made ammunition and weapons, into Afghanistan. The flights, he said, continued even after 1995, when Russian aviation companies were notified by their government that they could no longer fly into Taliban-controlled territory. But the rule didn't apply to Bout because his companies were licensed in Sharjah.

Five more planes were sold to the Taliban by Flying Dolphin and Santa Cruz Imperial, which were owned by Bin Zayed, a former Emirates ambassador to Washington. Santa Cruz Imperial has been accused by the U.N. of trafficking arms to Angola.

The sheik angrily insisted in an interview that "he had no clue" why Afghan records detail sales of five of his Antonovs to the Taliban. He said he knew Ahmed and Bout but never worked with them. He said his former "Russian partners" owned the planes. He said he parted with the men five years ago, but he would not name them.

Ahmed, working in the same cargo terminal as Bout's Air Cess, remained a visible figure in Sharjah until shortly after the Taliban's collapse last November.

He had little to say when reached by The Times last month at a Dubai phone number.

"I am not Taliban," he said, adding that "the Russian companies helped us, yes, but only in fixing the planes." And, "I have nothing to do with guns."

He then turned the phone over to a companion who insisted, in quick succession, that Ahmed was unavailable, living in Sharjah, in Kabul--and, finally, unknown to him altogether.

Five of the planes sold to the Taliban--all Antonov 12s--became important tools in the covert arming of the movement's forces.

"It was special aircraft," said an Afghan air force brigadier who recalled watching the planes in action. And their purpose "was secret," he added.

The Antonov-12s had been registered as civilian planes but were in reality the property of the Taliban air force. As they took custody of the Antonov-12s, Taliban officials ordered some of the planes camouflaged in the colors of Ariana Airlines.

The Taliban's new acquisitions flew in tons of heavy artillery and assault rifles, said the brigadier, a senior military intelligence official who served with the Taliban until he was dismissed in a purge in 2000.

"They directly brought the military equipment to Kabul and Kandahar," he said.

On several occasions, the brigadier said, he watched the Antonov-12s being unloaded at an air base in Kabul, the capital. He said he saw heavy artillery, Kalashnikovs, aerial bombs and Russian BM-21 Hurricane rocket batteries.

A U.S. defense official said that American forces have since retrieved BM-21s from Taliban and Al Qaeda storehouses in Afghanistan and are working to trace their provenance.

On other trips from the Emirates and Pakistan, the brigadier said, the planes brought "armed Taliban." The Antonovs shuttled back and forth several times a night, he said, ferrying as many as 800 to 1,000 recruits to Kabul and Kandahar.

The airlift made possible by the plane sales kept the Taliban supplied as the Islamic movement worked to tighten its grip on the nation. Within months, the Taliban took the strategic northern enclaves of Mazar-i-Sharif and Taloqan. By 1999, it controlled about 90% of Afghanistan.

All of the planes were placed on the civil air registry at the command of the Taliban aviation minister, Mullah Aktar Mohammed Mansour, who also ran the Taliban air force. Mansour was reportedly killed in an American airstrike last October.

Mansour's cowed underlings did not object. "From the legal point of view we should not have done it," a senior Afghan official said. "But what could you do? The minister ordered it, and we had no choice."

All the Afghan officials interviewed by The Times declined to be identified in print. Having endured the Taliban's five-year rule, many said they fear terrorist reprisals for speaking out. But they decided to answer questions, some said, to distance both the airline and the Afghan government from the Taliban scheme.

The officials allowed The Times to review documents left behind by the mullahs. The records show the serial numbers for each of the 10 planes sold by Bout's and Bin Zayed's companies and the dates they entered the Afghan civil air registry. In addition, two other planes purchased during this period could not be linked to Bout or Bin Zayed.

Among the documents was a detailed protocol, signed by both Aviation Ministry and Ariana officials, outlining their plan to paint some of the air force turboprops as Ariana planes.The file also included false Ariana ID cards for four Taliban pilots.

The goal was to fly to destinations outside Afghanistan without interference, an Ariana official said. Another official said he was told by the Taliban "that if it did not go under the color of Ariana, maybe Sharjah airport would have to get special permission" from Emirates air officials to permit military landings.

The plan worked, according to Afghan officials who were aware of the flights and air industry workers who saw the turboprops on Sharjah's runways.

Afghan officials said five remaining planes were actually sold to Ariana, and they too might have been used to ferry weapons.

Dr. Ghanem Hajri, the director-general of the Sharjah Airport Authority, insisted that no military cargo went out on Afghan-bound flights. The planes carried only "general cargo," he said, and were "thoroughly checked and rechecked by our security services."

Bout had an influential partner in Sharjah, Sultan Hamad Said Nassir al Suwaidi, advisor to the ruler of Sharjah. A 1998 Emirates document obtained by The Times says he was a co-owner with Bout of Transavia. The royal aide did not respond to attempts to interview him.

After Sept. 11, said one Emirates official, "we decided we don't need this guy's money and we don't need him going back and forth in the UAE."


In 2000, San Air General Trading was established in Plano, a Dallas suburb. San Air's agent was Richard Chichakli, a Syrian-born U.S. accountant from nearby Richardson who had met Bout while he managed Sharjah's free-trade zone from 1993 to 1995.

Bout's name did not appear on the corporate papers. But two Russian associates, based in the Emirates, were listed as directors. Federal agents pored over the company's phone records, learning that callers from Plano were in frequent communication with Bout's enterprises abroad. But there was no evidence of wrongdoing. The Texas branch of San Air is now defunct.

In a recent interview, Chichakli said he "set [San Air] up for Victor," who aimed to build a factory to manufacture plastic parts for the Russian planes central to his business.

After months of dead ends and missed opportunities, the shock of Sept. 11 rekindled the American campaign against Bout.

U.S. authorities were alarmed by intelligence reports that Bout crews serviced Ariana planes in Sharjah. They knew that the Taliban had allowed Bin Laden to charter Ariana planes, but they were unsure of Bout's connection to the airline. "Except for the maintenance work, we lost the trail after 1996," one official said.

"In the post 9/11 atmosphere," a former NSC aide said, "that was enough to dramatically escalate interest." NSC officials pressed federal investigators for a renewed effort.

U.S. military analysts found vast Al Qaeda and Taliban munitions caches ringing the runways at Kandahar airport. Finding the source has become a high priority.

Weeks after the terrorist attacks, a Kenyan mine owner approached the FBI in Brussels hinting that he could offer information about Bout's ties to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The FBI flew the mine owner, Sanjivan Ruprah, to Washington three times. A U.S. source familiar with the meetings said Ruprah failed to impress.

But Belgian authorities arrested him in February on suspicion of conspiring to print counterfeit Congolese currency. Ruprah became the first Bout associate to be taken into custody.

Days later, the Belgians moved against Bout. A federal prosecutor issued an arrest warrant, alleging that Bout headed a complex scheme to launder African weapons profits. Interpol followed with a worldwide alert.

According to Belgian law enforcement officials, the police investigation into Bout led to the discovery of a massive flow of money coursing through two Bout-controlled firms: Air Charter Center, a Brussels aviation firm, and Vial, the Delaware firm that sold Antonovs to the Taliban.
December 11, 2005 -- SPECIAL REPORT. Additional ties between southern Christian fundamentalists, Texas oil interests, and Russian-Israeli mobsters and weapons smugglers uncovered. According to informed Washington insiders, there is increasing evidence of financial links between key "Christian Right" GOP notables and an international ring of Russian-Ukrainian-Israeli mobsters tied to notorious Russian weapons smuggler Viktor Vasilevich (aka Anatoliyevich) Bout.

Bout, whose U.S. assets were frozen by the Treasury Department, continues to provide various contractor services in Iraq and is considered by Condoleezza Rice to be out-of-bounds for U.S. law enforcement authorities. When she was National Security Adviser, Rice pre-empted an attempt by Sharjah, United Arab Emirates authorities to arrest Bout. To U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies, Rice was very clear when it comes to Bout: "Look, but don't touch" was her direct order to the CIA and FBI. It appears that Bout has gone from arms smuggler for Al Qaeda and the Taliban to arms runner for the Bush administration. Bout's British Gulf International Airline, registered in Sao Tome and Principe and Kyrgyzstan and based in Sharjah, is a regular visitor to Baghdad International and airports in the north of Iraq. Bout also made a financial windfall from contracts let to his airline companies by the former Iraqi Coalition Provisional Authority led by L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer. Bout also benefited from contracts let to his Dubai-based Falcon Express Cargo by Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton.

Bout's British Gulf International contracted to U.S. occupation forces in Iraq. Bout once provided arms to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
Federal prosecutors are already examining links between indicted GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Italian Mafia hit men who have been charged with murdering Florida businessman Gus Boulis, former Christian Coalition director and Georgia Republican Lt. Governor candidate Ralph Reed, and indicted Texas GOP Representative Tom DeLay. Abramoff associate Adam Kidan has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in their investigation of Abramoff, especially deals involving the shake down of various Indian tribes in shady casino deals.

There is also now interest in the activities of Richard T. Hines, the head of the powerful Republican lobbying firm RTH Consulting, Inc. Hines, a South Carolina native and a protege of the late GOP dirty trickmeister Lee Atwater, was one of the architects of the dirty tricks campaign by Bush against John McCain in the 2000 South Carolina primary. A confederate of Abramoff in the 1980s Reagan administration's covert support network for the Nicaraguan contras, Angolan UNITA guerrillas, and Afghan mujaheddin, Hines is active in various Confederacy resurgence organizations, many of which have clear racist agendas. However, that has not prevented Hines from becoming the lobbyist for Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh, a military officer who overthrew Gambia's democratically-elected President Sir Dawda K. Jawara in a 1994 military coup supported by the United States Navy.

Hines inherited the lobbying contract for Gambia from the eclectic Washington lobbyist Edward von Kloberg III, an individual who represented Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, Liberia's Samuel K. Doe, Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania, Congolese leader Laurent Kabila, the exiled King Kigeli V of Rwanda, and Saddam Hussein. Last May, von Kloberg took a swan dive off of a castle in Rome, allegedly committing suicide after a spat with a gay partner.

The connections between Hines and Gambia are important since the small narrow West African country is also a major base of operations for notorious Russian international arms smuggler Viktor Bout. The Gambia is the headquarters for one of many of Bout's front companies -- companies that are used to smuggle everything from weapons to diamonds and mercenaries to international relief supplies. In fact, Bout was the character on whom fictional arms smuggler Yuri Orlov, played by Nicolas Cage in the movie Lord of War, was largely based.

Bout's connections with the Christian Right do not end with Gambia. Bout was Liberian dictator Charles Taylor's primary arms and diamond smuggler. Bout and his associates were given Liberian diplomatic passports and, with Taylor's blessing and protection, they registered a number of their front companies in Monrovia, the Liberian capital. Taylor, who is now in exile in Nigeria, was a business partner with Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson. Robertson's organization mentored both Ralph Reed and Richard Hines. According to British and Israeli intelligence sources, Taylor also enabled Al Qaeda to launder blood diamonds for cash through Liberia. Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone were where Israeli mobsters engaged in business with Israeli gangsters who operated under the full protection of the Israeli Likud government.

Before Likud began purging Mossad of experienced intelligence officers with ties to the Israeli Labor Party, the Israeli-Al Qaeda diamond financial connection in West Africa was being pointed out by those officers as suicidal for Israeli interests. However, Taylor and Bout had powerful interests in the United States: a combination of the Christian Right and pro-Likud organizations like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), both of which ignored and continue to ignore Israeli organized crime connections to Al Qaeda and terrorism.

Robertson and Taylor were business partners in a Cayman Islands front company called Freedom Gold, Ltd. In fact, Freedom Gold bas headquartered at Robertson's CBN offices in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Robertson's African interests also crossed paths with Bout's in another country -- the former Zaire. Robertson's African Development Company used the cover of Robertson's tax-exempt "Operation Blessing" to ferry conflict diamonds out of civil war-ravaged Zaire (now Congo).
Wayne Madsens report mentions Richard T Hines and that he inherited his Gambia lobbying contract from Edward Von Kloberg III.

Wikipedia has this to say about Kloberg: "Born Edward Joseph Kloberg III (he added a "van" to his name in the 1960s and changed it to "von" on the advice of Arnaud de Borchgrave, who told him it was more "distinguished")"

In other words - a shareholder of Stratesec, (who ran security at the WTC), is also potentially connected to Abramoff, Gambia, Saddam Hussein and others.

An interesting link.


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Re: Viktor Bout and 9/11
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2014, 12:32:12 pm »
The UN identified Richard Chichakli as Viktor Bout's Chief Financial Manager.

Chichakli had a business - Trans Aviation Global - in the Dallas suburb of Richardson, Texas.

So did Al Qaeda.
Both the Holy Land Foundation and Infocom Corp. we're located in Richardson, Tx.

And all three businesses addresses are close to one another.

Holy Land: 525 International Pkwy, 75081
InfoCom Corp: 630 International Pkwy, 75081
Trans Aviation: 811 S. Central Expwy, 75080

Chichakli was working in the area in the years leading up to 9/11.

Adding to the complexity, Chichakli was once in the US military:

August 1990 – May 1993 (2 years 10 months)
Qualified in six Military Occupation Specialties in the Aviation, Intelligence, and Medical fields. Graduate of the FAA Academy ATC course, and earned FAA-CTO certification in Air Traffic Control with military GSA and control tower ratings. Possess superior knowledge in airport operations, and the Federal Aviation Regulations.
Assisted in developing the Campbell Army Airfield GCA-facility manuals.
Army rated and certified linguist. Assisted in developing the manuals and in training elements of the 301 Military Intelligence, and the Fifth Group Special Forces in Fort Campbell, KY.
Responsible for directing air traffic the control tower at Saber Army Airfield, and operating the radar facilities at Campbell Airfield, training soldiers and executing orders.
War veteran, decorated and honorably discharged

December 5th 2014
An American accountant and associate of the international arms dealer Viktor Bout has been sentenced to five years in prison on conspiracy and wire fraud charges.

Richard Chichakli was sentenced under guidelines that called for seven to nine years, noting his medical problems, military service and his claims that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his time as a US army soldier and childhood. Chichakli was also ordered to forfeit $1.7m and pay $70,000 in restitution.

A year ago, a Manhattan jury found he tried to illegally buy two aircraft to transport weapons to international war zones. Chichakli had been extradited to the US from Australia, where he was arrested in January 2013.

Despite an international warrant issued for his arrest, Chichakli managed to slip into Australia in 2010, where he worked as a cleaner and cutlery salesman in Melbourne.

District Judge William H. Pauley said Chichakli’s time in custody had failed to clarify exactly who he is.

“Mr Chichakli continues to remain shrouded in mystery,” the judge said, noting that his passports were “so filled with immigration stamps that they looked like a sheet of Rachmaninoff’s music.”

So did Chichakli - who claims to be from Syria - ever have anything to do with the Hamas/ Al Qaeda linked operations on his doorstep?


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Re: Viktor Bout and 9/11
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2015, 04:40:57 pm »
Hasan Čengić is the former Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He is a member of a powerful clan headed by his father, Halid Čengić, the main logistics expert in the Bosnian Army and a senior official, with his sons, in Bosnia's Agencija za Informacije I Dokumentaciju (AID) intelligence agency. Hasan Čengić has travelled frequently to Tehran since 1983 and has been deeply involved in Iranian arms shipments to Bosnia. During the Bosnian War, he lived in Tehran and Istanbul.

The Slobodna Bosna newspaper has argued that Čengić is the business partner of Russian mobster, arms dealer and former KGB officer Viktor Bout, nicknamed "the Merchant of Death". In May 2006, when 200,000 AK-47 assault rifles went missing in transit from Bosnia to Iraq, one of Bout's airlines was the carrier.Čengić

Clinton-Approved Iranian Arms Transfers Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base

Perhaps most threatening to the SFOR mission - and more importantly, to the safety of the American personnel serving in Bosnia - is the unwillingness of the Clinton Administration to come clean with the Congress and with the American people about its complicity in the delivery of weapons from Iran to the Muslim government in Sarajevo. That policy, personally approved by Bill Clinton in April 1994 at the urging of CIA Director-designate (and then-NSC chief) Anthony Lake and the U.S. ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith, has, according to the Los Angeles Times (citing classified intelligence community sources), "played a central role in the dramatic increase in Iranian influence in Bosnia."

Offline Neuromancer

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Re: Viktor Bout and 9/11
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2017, 02:03:44 pm »
Friends of Viktor and Blood Diamonds
Leonid Minin was celebrating in room 341 of the Hotel Europa he owned in Cinisello Balsamo outside Milan. There was plenty to toast that balmy Saturday night last August. There was the fact that there were four prostitutes and 20 grammes of cocaine to get the party off with a bang. And there was the fact that the millionaire gunrunner had just delivered 113 tonnes of small arms to west Africa from his native Ukraine.

At 3am, as the party was in full swing, an Italian vice squad patrol chanced to stumble onto it. "The arrest was absolutely a piece of luck," a source in the Italian judiciary said. Italian special branch officers were called in, which is when they got even luckier.

Among Minin's belongings they found, apart from the cocaine, $150,000 in cash and half a million dollars worth of African diamonds. There was also a cache of 1,500 documents detailing Minin's dealings in oil, timber, gems and - most telling of all - guns.

Something about US protection of Viktor
Said Lee S. Wolosky, the former director of transnational threats at the N.S.C.: ''Bout represented a post-cold-war phenomenon for which there was no framework to stop. No one was doing what he was doing. And there was no response. We needed to build a response.''

The N.S.C. consulted with officials in the British, South African and Belgian governments to find a way to shut Bout down and apprehend him. Intelligence agents tracked Bout's planes from Sharjah. Arms shipments were interdicted at airfields in Moldova, Slovakia and Uganda. Officials from the United Arab Emirates offered to capture Bout in Sharjah and hand him over to U.S. officials. At one point, an elite detachment was in place to make the arrest.

With Bout now under close surveillance, however, the White House made the last-minute call to pursue a classic narc strategy instead. It wanted to wait to see if Bout could take them higher up the arms-trafficking food chain.

In February 2001, the U.S. government sent a delegation to Brussels to ask prosecutors there to cooperate with their operation against Bout. The Belgians refused without explanation. Within a week of the meeting, the head of the U.S. delegation learned that Bout knew about the meeting. (Belgium did issue a warrant against Bout in February 2002, for money laundering in connection with diamonds. Bout was in Sharjah at the time, but fled to Russia before he could be apprehended.)

According to Clinton administration N.S.C. officials, from its first days the Bush administration didn't see transnational crime as a national-security issue, and it didn't share their fixation on Victor Bout. Condoleezza Rice instructed the N.S.C. to work the Bout problem diplomatically. ''Look but don't touch'' is how one former White House official put it to me.

After Sept. 11, Rice called off the Bout operation altogether. Moscow was not to be pressured on arms trafficking in general and Victor Bout in particular. The reasoning, according to a source who talked to Rice, was that they had ''bigger fish to fry.'
Poster Neuromancer's comments bring a critical but often overlooked historical perspective to key present-day social issues. His underlying goals focus on inspiring curiosity and creativity, sharpening critical analysis of everything from historical texts to today’s news.