Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Finally, print media discover the Viktor Bout story

Back, back, way back when, I did some research following up reports in the Financial Times and Le Monde that the US Government had been putting pressure on the UK to help keep gun-runner Viktor Bout off a UN asset freeze list, apparently because he had done the state some service in Iraq. It only took a little Googling and thought to discover a list of fuel supply contracts issued by the US Department of Defence's Defence Energy Support Centre that demonstrated conclusively that at least two (Air Bas and British Gulf International Airlines) and possibly a third Bout-related airlines were indeed working for the US Government. Applying the rules contained in the DOD instruction manual for these contracts, I was able to interpret the contract identification numbers (DODAACs), which showed that they were of the type used for supplying contractors on government service (a "T" DoDAAC) with fuel provided on credit at US Air Force bases. The first post, from the 21st of May, is here. Only some two other bloggers - Laura Rozen of War and Piece and Douglas Farah at link have picked up on the story. Farah, in particular, has moved the story on several times.

Today, it seems the print media are finally catching up. (After all, they could have Googled back in May and basked in the glory all summer, but..) US magazine Mother Jones is running a comprehensive story on the involvement of the US with Air Bas, in which they quote Bout's financial advisor, Texan accountant Richard Chichakli, as confirming the existence of US-Bout contracts. Richard tends to give good quote, as anyone who fossicks through my comments threads on the Bout issue will discover, and he was no different for Mother Jones:
"Victor said if anybody calls you, unless it’s Jesus himself, with an ID, don’t bring him to me"
Hmm...not at all rattled, then. Farah, for his part, has produced a long post giving detail of the TBTC-series fuel contracts (but no new information compared to my original posting, here) and, interestingly, claiming to have other documents placing Bout aircraft at various locations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The rest of the Bout posts are: 1st June, 4th June, 7th June, 8th June, 1st July, 24th July, 6th August, 9th August, 13th August, 21st August, 20th September and 26th September. Don't I wish this blog had a categorisation function like the Movable Type boys.

Despite further efforts and the valuable aid of several readers, I still have not been able to clarify why the US needed Viktor Bout's services. Interestingly, though, I have recently found a photo placing one of British Gulf's Antonov 12s in Kabul in July, 2003. (Edit: links restored)

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