Monday, May 17, 2004

Astonishing. We are protecting the Taliban's gun runner!

This leaves me utterly shocked. According to the Financial Times, (thanks to My Way of Thinking) the British Government is supporting efforts by the United States to prevent the international arms dealer and aerial smuggler Viktor Bout's assets being frozen. Now this is insane. Not just immoral, but insane. Mr. Bout is a former KGB agent with a record like looking into the abyss - and thinking it isn't that deep. His activities basically include operating a network of freight aircraft to run weapons to anybody who will pay, and back loading whatever resources they can offer. He is currently the subject of a UN travel ban due to his activities running diamonds out of and guns into the Congo and Angola. To give an idea of the scale, he was at one point in the Angolan civil war running a Boeing 707 into Unita territory to deliver guns and fuel, coming back with diamonds.

This sort of thing was what induced Peter Hain, back when he was the Foreign Office minister responsible for Africa, to denounce Bout in the House of Commons as an effort to smoke out the authorities of whichever country he was hiding in. But there's worse.
Try this Amnesty International report:
"Al-Qa'ida's funds were said to come from Osama bin Laden's businesses based in Sudan, Arab and Pakistani donations, as well as from the illicit sale in Belgium of diamonds mined by the armed opposition in Sierra Leone and traded through Liberia since 1998, a claim supported by witnesses. In February 2002, a Kenyan diamond dealer based in Liberia was arrested in Belgium on charges of criminal association and using a false passport. According to United Nations (UN) investigators, he was a key associate of Viktor Bout, a Russian businessman who was resident in the United Arab Emirates and is accused in recent UN sanctions reports of illegal trafficking of arms to armed opposition groups in Angola, Central Africa and Sierra Leone......In November 2001, Pakistani officials claimed to have discovered a letter sent from Russian businessmen to Afghan traders in June that year referring to a meeting in May which agreed secret air routes for forthcoming arms deliveries to be listed in the flight manifests as ''fish from Tanzania'' and sent via several countries including the United Arab Emirates."
Or you could check this out. Or this. Or this:
"Denis MacShane, a deputy to British Foreign Minister Jack Straw, also discussed Mr. Bout's purported dealings with the Taliban during an April question session in Parliament.

Prior to September 11th, this aircraft had reportedly been frequently overflying Iran from Saudi Arabia to Kabul and Kandahar in Afghanistan, Mr. MacShane said of one of Mr. Bout's cargo planes. It is now reportedly parked at Jidda in Saudi Arabia."

Well, Denis, perhaps you can tell us why Vic is such a nice chap all of a sudden? Would this have anything to do with it?
"A former UN official familiar with the sanctions process said he had also heard of Mr Bout's Iraq connection. The ex-official said he had been told by a reliable source about a month ago that "the American defence forces are using Victor's planes for their logistics".

A senior western diplomat close to the UN negotiations said: "We are disgusted that Bout won't be on the list, even though he is the principal arms dealer in the region. If we want peace in that region [of West Africa], it seems evident that he should be on that list."
Ye gods, from Air America to Air Taliban. If anyone can tell me why a great chunk of our real counter-terrorist policy just evaporated, please comment? Mind you, it's only fair to let Mr. Bout have the right of reply. CNN link So that's all right then - after all it was on CNN...

No comments:

kostenloser Counter