Sunday, March 09, 2008

So Why Was Viktor Bout in Thailand?

So why was Viktor in Thailand? Well, there are some possible explanations beyond the CTB theory that it was something to do with the Burmese junta, or the Chinese, or someone.

Specifically, there are reasons to think that South-East Asia might have been the next stop in the VB caravan, after Ostend, South Africa, and the UAE. Consider Imtrec Aviation; a regular on the various war routes out of Sharjah, they're based (officially) in Cambodia but the aircraft, as ever, are based in Sharjah. Antonov-12 serial no. 1347907, for example, went from Aeroflot back in the days of respectability, via East Line or Avial and a spell on lease to the World Food Programme, to Aerocom, the Moldovan-flagged operation that was shut down after one of its planes was seized for smuggling cocaine through Belize, that shared aircraft with Jet Line International, Asterias Commercial, and ATI, and that was at the heart of the missing Bosnian guns case.

She later worked for Air Bridge Group, the short-lived Aerocom offshoot that wanted to operate from South-East Asia to Australia with aircraft that could open the rear cargo door in flight, and then, Imtrec. From there she was sold on to South Asian Airlines, a Bangladeshi-flag operation whose other aircraft included another An-12 leased from Imtrec that ended up with Veteran Airlines, yes, another regular Sharjah-Iraq/Afghanistan/Somalia shipper, and a very old Boeing 707 that was last heard of with Galaxy Air.

Galaxy Air? Yes. Galaxy Air, the people whose Il-18 serial no. 188011201 EX-786 was seized in Pakistan after a flight with 142 passengers, 20 of whom were standing in the aisle, during which one of the pilots collapsed with hypoxia. More relevantly, EX-786 had come via Phoenix Aviation of the UAE, a company repeatedly implicated in dubious activities there, formed from the old Viktor Bout companies Flying Dolphin and Santa Cruz Imperial. And another Galaxy Air Il-18, serial 185008601, EX-601, came from Santa Cruz Imperial via Phoenix Aviation.

Rolling the tape back a few, Antonov-12 serial no. 8345607 went from Imtrec to Daallo Airlines in Djibouti, and ended up with Click Airways in the UAE; one of the biggest operators on war routes there, and a company banned in the EU. On the way, as EK-12555, this aircraft survived a SAM hit over Baghdad whilst working for "private users in Armenia" - you could put it like that.

Then there's the strange case of 3X-GDM, the Boeing 727 exported from the US to Afghanistan that was curiously involved in two other cases; the disappeared 727 in Angola, and the tragic Christmas Day 2003 crash in Cotonou. All three were traded via Afghanistan, Opa Locka in Florida, and the services of a company in the UAE called Financial Advisory Group; strangely enough, the Swazi registration 3X-GDM vanished shortly after the Cotonou accident to reappear on an An-12 in Cambodia. That aircraft (serial 401912) is now back with Avial Avn on the Russian register as RA-11372. Note that Andrew Smulian, Bout's co-accused, was on the payroll of Air Cess back in 1998 when Bout wanted to move operations from South Africa to Swaziland.

Jetline International, the other one, owned two Il-62s it obtained from Viktor Bout companies Air Bas and Centrafrican Airlines, and leased in another from a Cambodian operator at the same time as it operated 3C-QRF, allegedly Bout's financial manager Richard Chichakli's plane.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this is an amazing site.well done.came here while reading 'Merchant of Death'.This guy Bout has literally got away with accessory to genocide.Inspite of the old movies 'crime does not pay' theme,the opposite is the truth.And the meek do not inherit the earth,only the greedy ones who prey on the body politic.Keep up the great work.I WILL PASS THIS SITE ON TO MY FRIENDS.I'LL BE BACK.

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