Friday, March 02, 2007

TYR Exclusive: Interview with Paddy McKay

Long-time readers of our series on Viktor Bout may remember the Jamestown Foundation Terrorism Monitor's report which implicated various people in Sierra Leone in terrorist financing. We've been interested for a long time in West Africa, and the links between Charles Taylor's regime and Al-Qa'ida, not to mention the missing 727 case. One of the men the Jamestown report named, Paddy McKay, was involved with airline businesses in Sierra Leone and across the Middle East.

Mr. McKay recently got in touch. He denies the allegations, and asserts that they were motivated by corruption. The full text follows:
1. What, in your view, motivated the original Freetown Peep story?
approach was made to the DCA in Freetown to register an aircraft that
was not (in our carefully considered opinion)airworthy. Understandablythe request forregistration was denied. The disgruntled individual
invented a story connecting these officials and my organisation to
terrorist groups and released it to the press and to the police in
Freetown which resulted in a number of Sierra Leone officials being arrested and triggered an avalanche of completely misleading information to be published on sites like yours.

2. Do you think illegal activity is going on within the Sierra Leone 9L- registry?

Certainly the SL DCA would not tolerate misuse of their
civil aircraft register. However, many registers are misused without
the knowledge of the those tasked with the administration of such

3. There has been extensive reporting of links between Middle Eastern terrorist groups and some West African diamond-producing states. Specifically, the Al-Qa'ida representative Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani is known to have met Charles Taylor several times during 1999. In the past, similar suggestions have been made about other groups, including Shia Amal in Lebanon. In your opinion, is this credible?

Charles Taylor is known to have formed a number of questionable alliances.
Other than that, I am not qualified to comment.

4. What is your relationship with Tim Spicer, Anthony Buckingham, and their various enterprises?

There is currently no connection between me
and Tim Spicer or between me and Tony Buckingham.

5. Did it continue beyond the Sierra Leonean operations of the 1990s? NO

6. Does it still exist?


7. How, in your opinion, did Air Leone lose its Sierra Leone AOC?

Air Leone Ltd was sold to a Saudi businessman whose intention it was, to
form a Haaj Airline. For reasons unknown he did not pursue his
original plan and simply allowed the AOC to lapse. (Supporting
documentation on file)

8. Does HA Air, Star Air, or Fast Aerospace have business in Iraq?

The company HA Airlines was formed but as far as I am aware no AOC was
issued due to a dispute between partners/shareholders. Following the
dispute one of the partners/shareholders formed his own airline, Star
Air and this continued until their AOC was suspended by SL DCA. Fast
Aerospace Ltd is the parent company of IAS which is appointed by
cabinet to assist SL DCA with the provision of technical expertise
when such expertise cannot be found from within Sierra Leone. IAS was
instrumental in the suspension of Star Air's AOC. (supporting
documentation on file)

9. Do any of those companies provide service to private military entities there?


10. How did HA lose its Jordanian AOC?

HA Air did not at any time hold a Jordanian AOC

11. Star Air bought an L1011 from "CBJ Cargo". Does this company have a relationship with Chris Barrett-Jolly?

This is inaccurate! Star Air did not (during their time on the SL register) purchase a cargo L1011. They did however lease in a cargo L1011 from a respectable L1011 leasing company. There is no connection between this company and Christopher Barrett Jolly. The other aircraft on the Star Air fleet were ex BWIA. (supporting documentation on file)

12. Are you aware of one Imad Saba, proprietor of multiple air operations in the UAE?

I have heard of him, I have never met him nor have I done business with him.

13. Who owned the BAC-111 3C-QRF, serial no. 061? It has been identified as belonging to San Air General Trading, a company on the UN asset blacklist.

I don't know

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