Sunday, October 28, 2007

58,000 AKs in a Nottingham basement?

What was a small British company doing importing vast quantities of arms from Bosnia? More importantly, what was it doing telling lies about their destination in order to clear Bosnian customs? What was it doing contracting with Tomislav Damjanovic, possibly Viktor Bout, and disgraced Iraqi minister Ziad Cattan to ship them to Iraq when the Bosnian government export licence stated specifically that they would be shipped to the UK?

TYR has obtained some interesting documents through a NATO source that shed light on these fascinating questions. Everyone's now heard of the famous 99 tonnes of AKs that were exported from Bosnia aboard Aerocom and Jet Line International Ilyushin 76 aircraft towards Iraq, but which apparently never arrived in the Iraqi army's arsenal. But there was much more activity in the arms export business from the former Yugoslavia back then; for instance, Damjanovic was also in on a KBR-managed contract to ship weapons from Bosnia to the US Army training team in Georgia, and so was Viktor Bout, as the weapons travelled in GST Aero's Il-76 UN-76009.

Here's the first document; a company based in Nottingham, Procurement Management Services Ltd, whose registration at Companies House describes it as offering business consultancy and warehousing (note that point), is the consignee, and the consignor is a local company called Unis Promex. Note that the licence is issued specifically for export to the UK. Despite the consultancy, the same address is also home to a registered gun dealer, and next door is a company dealing in "militaria".

Here's the end-user certificate; it specifically states that the weapons - 300 SGM-84 machine guns - are for sale to dealers in the UK and will not be re-exported in defiance of international sanctions or without the UK government's express permission. But what dealers? Selling any such weapon in Britain would be highly illegal, to say the least. Realistically, the only reason to import Bosnian machine guns to the UK would be to re-export them.

But why, pray, does the document issued by PMS come from the fax number of York Guns Ltd? And why does this very respectable company also show up importing no less than 22,500 rifles on this further end-user cert? Between PMS and York Guns, no less than 58,000 rifles and several thousand heavier weapons were shipped out of Bosnia with an ostensible destination in the East Midlands.

Meanwhile, what happened to that shipment? Well, they never went anywhere near Nottinghamshire. Here is the air waybill, issued by Vega Aviation of Bulgaria - it clearly states that the aircraft carrying the shipment is to route direct from Tuzla to Baghdad, and the goods are for the account of Dr Ziad Cattan, Ministry of Defence, Republic of Iraq. He is the former pizzeria owner who spent a year acting as the professional head of the Ministry and then went back into exile, having been accused of embezzling the entire defence budget by his successor Ali Allawi.

TYR can reveal that some of the guns did indeed make it to Britain; perhaps a large percentage of the total. The 300 M84 machine guns detailed in the PMS documents were shipped, as detailed on the waybill, direct from Bosnia to Iraq in defiance of the end-user certificate; but much more may have passed through British hands. After all, some 7,639 pallets of "surplus weapons" also left Bosnia for PMS, travelling via the port of Ploce and the ship Sloman Traveller to Immingham docks in Lincolnshire.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the Irish meat baron Larry Goodman, who shipped the same cattle over and back the Irish border with NI and got "intervention" subsidies from the EU, mind you his business was derailed with GW1.

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