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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hawa Abdi In Starvation Since Hizbul Islam Invaded

Nairobi — Five months after Islamist militia took over a hospital and camp hosting thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia's Afgoye corridor, living conditions have deteriorated, with malnutrition, food shortages and shelter emerging as the key concerns.

"I live in the Hawa Abdi area; in my camp alone, there are 550 families [3,300 people] with little or no food, no medical help and almost non-existent shelter," Hussein Abi, an elder, told IRIN by telephone on 29 September.

There are 6,000-8,000 IDP families (36,000 to 48,000 people) in and around the 26ha Hawa Abdi compound, established in 2007 by Hawa Abdi, a Somali doctor, who turned her small clinic into a hospital and IDP camp.

"Since Dr Abdi left [in July 2010], we have had no assistance and no one has come to see what our situation is," Abi said.

Abdi and other humanitarian workers had helped the IDPs for years until May when Hisbul Islam militia raided the compound and took over the hospital, which also hosted a Médecins sans Frontières-Switzerland clinic and nutrition centre.

Most of those arriving at the camp had fled fighting in the capital, Mogadishu, between government troops and insurgents.

Children at risk

"Both the hospital and the MSF clinic are now closed," Abukar Omar Adow, an IDP and human rights activist, told IRIN.

"We had a hospital and nutrition centre for malnourished children; now those children and their parents have been left to their own fate," he said.

He said Abdi left the compound fearing for her safety. No one has replaced her, Adow said. "The hospital is inactive. It is occupied by these people [insurgents]."

A local journalist, who visited the area, told IRIN that people in the Afgoye corridor were desperate.

"There are no aid agencies operating in the area and even local ones have difficulty accessing the displaced," he said.

New influx

"We have been getting a stream of displaced people since the current fighting in Mogadishu between the government and insurgents escalated in August," said Adow.

"In 2007 [when the bulk of the displaced arrived] there were services and agencies to help. Now there are none and new arrivals are much worse off than the earlier IDPs," he said.

"I am seeing more and more desperate parents with malnourished children and nowhere to take them."

Adow said in the past, many IDPs went to Mogadishu to find work to supplement aid handouts but "now there is nothing. No handouts and no work."

Relying on the diaspora

shares a small shack with her six children and a relative. "It is made of twigs, torn clothes and some plastic sheeting," she told IRIN.

Food is a hit-and-miss thing, according to Mohamed. "Some days I get lucky and get enough to feed them for two meals and some days we don't have even one meal."

Adow said the displaced were at the mercy of those with guns. "You cannot blame the agencies for leaving. How can they feel safe when we don't?"

"The only ones who get regular supplies are those whose relatives in the diaspora send money," the journalist said. "Someone must pressure the insurgents to allow access to the displaced before it is too late for many of them."

The Rest @ All Africa

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Beltech Export and Others Under US Sanctions

July 14, 2010
A determination has been made that a number of foreign entities and one foreign person have engaged in activities that warrant the imposition of measures pursuant to Section 3 of the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act.

The Act provides for penalties on entities and individuals for the transfer to or acquisition from Iran since January 1, 1999, the transfer to or acquisition from Syria since January 1, 2005, or the transfer to or acquisition from North Korea since January 1, 2006, of equipment and technology controlled under multilateral control lists (Missile Technology Control Regime, Australia Group, Chemical Weapons Convention, Nuclear Suppliers Group, Wassenaar Arrangement) or otherwise having the potential to make a material contribution to the development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or cruise or ballistic missile systems.

The latter category includes (a) items of the same kind as those on multilateral lists but falling below the control list parameters, when it is determined that such items have the potential of making a material contribution to WMD or cruise or ballistic missile systems, (b) other items with the potential of making such a material contribution, when added through case-by-case decisions, and (c) items on U.S. national control lists for WMD/missile reasons that are not on multilateral lists. Effective Date: July 14, 2010. Reference Federal Register: July 14, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 134).

Pursuant to Sections 2 and 3 of the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act (Pub. L. 109-353), the U.S. Government determined on June 30, 2010, that the measures authorized in Section 3 of the Act shall apply to the following foreign persons identified in the report submitted pursuant to Section 2(a) of the Act:

  • BelTechExport (Belarus) and any successor, sub-unit, or subsidiary thereof;
  • Mr. Karl Lee (China); Dalian Sunny Industries (China) also known as: LIMMT (Dalian) Metallurgy and Minerals Co.,
  • LIMMT (Dalian) Economic and Trade Organization, and Liaoning Industry & Trade Co., Ltd. (China) and any successor, sub-unit, or subsidiary thereof; Shanghai Technical By-Products International (STBPI) (China) and any successor, sub-unit, or subsidiary thereof;
  • Zibo Chemet Equipment Company (China) and any successor, sub-unit, or subsidiary thereof;
  • Defense Industries Organization (Iran) and any successor, sub-unit, or subsidiary thereof; Shahid Bakeri Industries Group (SBIG) (Iran) and any successor, sub-unit, or subsidiary thereof;
  • Korea Mining Development Corporation (KOMID) (North Korea) and any successor, sub-unit, or subsidiary thereof;

Accordingly, pursuant to the provisions of the Act, the following measures are imposed on these entities:

  • 1. No department or agency of the United States Government may procure, or enter into any contract for the procurement of any goods, technology, or services from these foreign persons, except to the extent that the Secretary of State otherwise may have determined;
  • 2. No department or agency of the United States Government may provide any assistance to the foreign persons, and these persons shall not be eligible to participate in any assistance program of the United States Government, except to the extent that the Secretary of State otherwise may have determined;
  • 3. No United States Government sales to the foreign persons of any item on the United States Munitions List are permitted, and all sales to these persons of any defense articles, defense services, or design and construction services under the Arms Export Control Act are terminated; and
  • 4. No new individual licenses shall be granted for the transfer to these foreign persons of items the export of which is controlled under the Export Administration Act of 1979 of the Export Administration Regulations, and any existing such licenses are suspended.

These measures shall be implemented by the responsible departments and agencies of the United States Government and will remain in place for two years from the effective date, except to the extent that the Secretary of State may subsequently determine otherwise.

A new determination will be made in the event that circumstances change in such a manner as to warrant a change in the duration of sanctions.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: On general issues: Stephen J. Tomchik, Bureau of Verification, Compliance, and Implementation, Department of State, Telephone (202) 647-7383. For U.S. Government procurement ban issues: Kimberly Triplett, Office of the Procurement Executive, Department of State, Telephone: (703) 875-4079.

The Rest @ The US National Contract Management Association

Monday, September 27, 2010

North Sudan Threatens not to HonorSouth Sudan Referendum

A Sudanese government minister says Khartoum may reject the results of the upcoming referendum on independence for the south.

Youth and sports minister Haj Majid Suwar, a member of President Omar al-Bashir’s National Congress Party, accused the south’s army of venturing out of areas assigned to them by the 2005 peace agreement.

Suwar told reporters the south must withdraw their forces from all disputed areas and allow supporters of a unified Sudan to campaign freely. Otherwise, he said, the north may choose not to recognize the results of the vote and may take its complaints to the United Nations, the United States and the African Union.

A spokesman for the southern army told the Reuters news agency that the accusations were “baseless.” He said all troops were within south Sudan’s borders and were not harassing any campaigners.

Tensions between the north and the south have been rising ahead of the south’s referendum on independence, scheduled for January 9.

Preparations for the voting, including the delineation of a prospective north-south border, are far behind schedule.

Most analysts predict the south will choose independence.

Much of Sudan’s oil wealth is believed to lie along the disputed north-south border. The oil-rich Abyei region is due to hold a separate vote the same day on whether to be part of the north or the south.

The referendum grew out of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 that ended two decades of civil war between northern and southern Sudan.

At the United Nations Friday, leaders of north and south Sudan vowed to work for peace as U.S
Some information in this story was provided by Bloomberg and Reuters.. President Barack Obama called for an on-time referendum in Sudan.

The Rest @ VOA

Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a depart Government whe TFG Islamists Refuse to Share Power

A leader of Somalia's moderate Islamist Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama'a group says members of al-Shabab are holding top positions in the U.N.-backed Transitional Federal Government. The accusation follows the Sufi group's withdrawal from a power-sharing deal it signed with the government six months ago.

The chairman of Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama'a's Shura Council, Sheik Omar Sheik Abdul Karidir, says his group has documents that show some leaders of the Transitional Federal Government are also members of al-Shabab, an al-Qaida-linked extremist group fighting to topple the government.

The Sufi cleric did not provide any details and declined to name the government officials he says are connected to al-Shabab. But Karidir says his group will no longer - in his words - "cooperate with an insincere government."

In March, the transitional government signed a power-sharing deal with a faction of Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama'a in Addis Ababa. The deal called for Ahlu-Sunna to back the government in its fight against al-Shabab in exchange for several Cabinet positions. But on Saturday, the Sufi group said it was pulling out of the deal because the government had failed to live up to its promises.

Ahlu-Sunna's allegation against members of the transitional government has not been independently verified. But similar reports have been circulating since mid-2008, when an Islamist opposition faction based in Eritrea joined the secular government in a U.N.-sponsored power-sharing deal. The leader of the Islamist faction, Sharif Sheik Ahmed, subsequently became president of an expanded Transitional Federal Government, which pledged to defeat al-Shabab and curb extremism.

International Crisis Group Horn of Africa analyst E. J. Hogendoorn says despite Mr. Sharif's new role as an ally of the West, he has been dogged by rumors that he and many other former members of the Eritrean-based faction are adherents of the ultra-conservative Wahhabist strain of Islam.

"There have been lots of allegations that Sheik Sharif has been sympathetic to the goals of al-Shabab - that is the establishment of a Wahhabi state, which is obviously something that Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama'a would be very much opposed to," said Hogendoorn.

Many elements of Wahhabism are embraced by al-Shabab and another radical Somali insurgent group, Hizbul Islam. Hizbul Islam is led by Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, who was a close associate of President Sharif before he joined the transitional government.

Hogendoorn says although there is no evidence to suggest members of the government are working hand-in-hand with al-Shabab, there are senior officials in government, who are likely to have deeply angered the Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama'a faction that signed the power-sharing deal.

"What happened was the international community pressured the Transitional Federal Government and Ahlu-Sunna to form an alliance," said Hogendoorn. "There are Islamists in the Transitional Federal Government, who are opposed to Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama'a's vision. There are also actors, who are worried about Ahlu-Sunna becoming too powerful. So, there are a number of individuals, who would like to undermine the organization."

Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama'a's withdrawal from government is likely to cause further turmoil in an administration that has long suffered internal divisions. Somalia's Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke resigned last week following a bitter power struggle with President Sharif.

The United States and the United Nations, which provide the bulk of the funding for the Transitional Federal Government, have urged leaders to pull together and bring stability to the country before its mandate ends next August

The Rest @ VOA

Shabaab increases Use of Child Soldiers

Even Al Jazira is alarmed by al Shabaab's use of Child Soldiers

Friday, September 24, 2010

Russia Iran Europaisch-Iranische Handelsbank Transfer

Someone searching through an ISP in Tabriz (, Azerbaijan, Using a Russian search engine on an Iranian ISP, possibly searching for a S.I.F.T Transfer number for Europaisch-Iranische Handelsbank @
24th September 2010
07:43:00, possibly Machine search not Human.


24th September 2010
Iran, Islamic Republic Of
Region East Azarbaijan
City Tabriz
Pars Online

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

AQIM Atempting to Provoke French Attack

AREVA Hostages.

It may be that AQIM is trying to Provoke a French Attack in the Sahel to provide a pretense for an upcoming attack on French soil al Qaeda anticipates will cause both Muslim and non-Muslim deaths in France;

This may be art of a global strategy to increase the level of commitment of the Umma by the Islamist Movement:

If succseful, more Muslims will move into the next level of commitment.
  • Salifiyaa into Activist,
  • AcftiviBulleted Listst to Ikhwan,
  • I khwan to Mujahadin.
The point here is that this Hostage taking is a deliberate provocation of the French administration, to provoke an overreaction. The Overreaction will be used as a justification for the attack in France.....

(Remember the Arch Duke Ferdinand assassiation?)

Caution is recommended, and watch for other incidents designed provoke an attack on Muslim popultions:

England - The Netherlands - Sweden

the activities are designed to create overreactions and then higher commmitment to Jihad by Muslim populations...

AQIM Takes 7 Areva Employees Hostage

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has vowed to mobilise all state services to ensure the release of seven foreigners – including five French nationals – kidnapped last week in Niger. French officials say they believe the hostages are alive.

A day after al Qaeda’s North African branch released an audio-taped statement claiming the kidnapping of seven foreigners – including five French nationals – in Niger; a French foreign ministry official said France had “good reason” to believe the hostages were alive.

Speaking to reporters in Paris Wednesday, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said France had “not received proof of life, but we have good reason to believe that the hostages are alive."

By FRANCE 24The seven hostages - employees of the French nuclear group Areva and construction firm Vinci - were kidnapped last week in Arlit, a mining town in uranium rich northern Niger.

Nadal also said a message by al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) claiming the kidnapping was authentic.

The audio tape was broadcast Tuesday on the Arabic TV channel Al Jazeera.
In the message, AQIM spokesman Salah Abi Mohammed warned France against “any sort of stupidity,” presumably referring to a military operation to try to rescue the hostages.
The statement also reported that the kidnapping was led by Abdelhamid Abu Zeid, an Algerian national accused of killing a British hostage last year and 78-year-old Frenchman Michel Germaneau in July.

As the hunt for the hostages entered its sixth day, a spokesman for French President Nicolas Sarkozy said France will mobilise all the services of the state to ensure their release.
France has been on a state of heightened alert since last week following an escalation of threats by AQIM against France and French nationals.

French special forces arrive in Niger

Earlier Wednesday, French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said AQIM’s claim came as no surprise to French intelligence and security services.
"We suspected AQIM was involved. What was previously an assumption is now a confirmation," he said.
Hortefeux was speaking to reporters shortly after arriving in the Malian capital of Bamako early Wednesday, where he is attending the celebrations surrounding the 50th anniversary of the West African nation’s independence from France. But his visit has been overshadowed by the kidnappings in neighbouring Niger.

C. Casali reports from Niamey. Reporting from Niamey, the capital of Niger, FRANCE 24’s Clovis Casali said 80 French special forces troops had arrived in Niamey earlier this week to try to locate the hostages.

“The Niger government spokesperson has highlighted that these men are a support force, they’re not leading the operations,” said Casali. The French troops were conducting aerial reconnaissance flights using planes – including Mirages – equipped with cameras and systems to intercept satellite phone conversations, said Casali.

Seeking US and international help

Speaking on the fringes of a UN summit in New York late Tuesday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the focus now would be to “continue - the French, our allies, the countries of the Sahel and Europe I hope put all the means at our disposal for their liberation.”

The Sahel refers to the punishing transition terrain in northern Africa between the Sahara to the north and the savannah to the south.

French officials believe the seven hostages and their captors have crossed the Niger-Mali border and are probably in Malian territory.

France has sought US help to track the hostages, according to an AFP report citing two US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The officials declined to offer any details about the US military's support for French forces. But analysts believe the assistance could include imagery from spy satellites or unmanned aircraft.
Algerian national led attack

Thursday’s kidnappings are the latest in a string of attacks in the Sahel that have been claimed by AQIM, which until now had not staged any operations in the part of Niger where the five French nationals were abducted.

AQIM has made increasing threats against France and its citizens since France conducted a deadly Sahara raid in a bid to rescue Germaneau.

AQIM was born out of a radical Algerian Islamist group that fought a bloody battle against the Algerian government in the 1990s. The remnants of the Algerian group, known as the GSPC in France (Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat) officially announced that it had joined forces with al Qaeda in 2006 to become the global terror group’s North African branch.

In recent months, AQIM has increased its activities across the region spanning Niger, Mali and Mauritania.

Areva acknowledges receiving warning letter from Niger officials

French nuclear giant Areva on Tuesday said in a statement that the company was doing everything it could to assist the Niger and French authorities in tracking down its employees.
On Tuesday left-leaning French daily Le Monde published a letter dated September 1 sent by the Niger authorities to Areva warning of the risk of kidnappings in the area.

"In these difficult conditions, you will understand the threat from AQIM is to be taken seriously," the letter said.

Areva officials have confirmed that the company received a letter from an official in Niger on September 1 warning the company of intelligence about a plot to kidnap foreigners.

In a statement released later Tuesday, Areva said the letter was part of its regular contacts with Niger officials, and that the company's deputy for security had visited the region in early September to meet with Niger officials, who offered “no particular information'' about the threat.

The Rest @ FRANCE 24

The French Attack attempt - Watch the Watchers to Find the Spie Masters

It is not surprise that an attack by Al Qaeda is being planned for France, or even that it is imminent in the next few months. Knowing that is coming can possibly prevent it from being successful, and further, can serve as an opportunity to round-up the intermediate threat.

Algeria and France have a long history together; and there were many years when a citizen of Algeria was considered a citizen of France. Many Algerian Families had members who migrated to France during that time, and they have maintained ties over the generations.

Also during this time, anti-France organizations formed in Algeria, many with an Islamic foundations. Some of those begin to form rebel groups. They have been in Algeria and the larger Sahel region for generations growing and shrinking because of Algerian government attacks. They are supported mainly by smuggling activities, and in the last 10 years or so, by kidnapping of Westerners for ransom.

It is not a surprise that al Qaeda cultivated relationships with these groups, who have clan and family relationships in France.

It is not a surprise that Al Qaeda rewarded these groups with an affiliate endorsement and prestige and recruit support (AQIM).

Al Qaeda has leveraged the relationships these Algerians hold with family and friends in France to create unrest, recruit, fund raise, and to create and train Intel teams in France. There have been attacks, but the last successful attack was 15 years ago.

It seems about correct in timing that newly trained Intel teams (since AQIM's endorsement by Al Qaeda) have reported on a number of French targets, and decisions are likely being made about where and how the attacks will be conducted. This is how they attacked Spain, the UK, and how they have tried to attack the US.

None of this is a surprise. What is a surprise is that old dormant islamist networks in France are being reactivated with fighters trained and experienced Iraq, Afghanistan, North Africa and and Pakistan, as they come home.

It is not new news that AQIM fighters are planning an attack in and on France. Trained fighters returning home (after their failures abroad) suggest the possibility that an al Qaeda type attack (assaults on protected targets in waves, with suicide bombers spearheading each wave, with a trailing attack on emergency service workers) is being planned, to be carried out when sufficient numbers of fighters get back to France.

These will likely be stopped before they can be carried out, as they have in the past, because foreign fighters are being tracked carefully. When a critical mass of fighters get back to France, it is likely this type of an attack will be undertaken. After the attack fails in the short term or the long term, (and it will fail- the longer the attack goes before it fails, the more successful al Qaeda will judge it.)

Ikhwan leaders will gauge the response of Muslims in their organization to identify people who may be open to being recruited into other organizations for a longer term Jihad in France. They will talk of any French reaction or round up of suspects as an assault on the Ummah. Watch for who says these things, and who they are choosing to say them to.

The key is to watch the Ikhwan leaders, and the people they are watching among the Muslim immigrant population, as they search for potential recruits. They will be active in and around the next attack attempted on France.

Watch the Intel teams who watch the French repose to the attack attempt, who are gathering data while the attacks occur. Watch what they write and who they communicate to after the attack attempt.

The attack attempt will come, perhaps in the next few weeks or months, but the key is to watch both types of watchers, both watchers of the attack itself, and also those who watch and measure the response of the Muslim population in the weeks after the attack. These are the leaders of the intermediate threat of al Qaeda attack.

Spie masters, by any other name, still train recruit and train people to watch and report.

-Shimron Issachar


AFP - France is at immediate risk of a major terror attack by Islamist radicals and has further reinforced already urgent security measures since last week, officials said Monday.

Asked about reports that an attack might be imminent, Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said: "The threat is real, we have stepped up our vigilance."


France faces 'real' terrorist threat

Separately, a source close to the ministry confirmed that police are probing reports that a female suicide bomber may be preparing a strike in Paris, but added: "That's not necessarily the most worrying thing."

Instead, he explained, Paris is concerned with intelligence received from an allied foreign spy agency that Al-Qaeda's North African branch, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), was planning an "imminent" attack in France.

"It's a threat which we think might target transportation," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity and without giving further details except that the warning was received at 5:00 am (0300 GMT) on Thursday last week.


Exclusive footage gives rare insight into life in al Qaeda insurgency

The interior ministry played down the specific risk to transport, insisting that the threat was "against totally undefined targets."

Meanwhile, according to a police source, authorities have learned that two dormant Islamist networks in France have been revived to receive and host groups of Jihadi radicals returning from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Separately, officials from Paris's Grand Mosque confirmed that their rector, Dalil Boubakeur, had been placed under police protection and provided with an escort as he moves about the city.

Boubakeur is a moderate figure who has worked with France's government on issues of Muslim integration and has been threatened by radicals in the past.

On Tuesday, hundreds of tourists were moved away from the Eiffel Tower as it was briefly evacuated following a hoax bomb threat.

France's national terror warning plan, known as "Vigipirate", was already at alert level "reinforced red" -- one step down from the highest level, scarlet, which would represent a precise and imminent threat.

The warnings were the latest in a series given over the past 10 days since the head of France's DCRI domestic intelligence agency, Bernard Squarcini, said France had never faced a greater "terrorist threat."

They come at a time when France has been the target of violent threats on Jihadi websites, including from known armed militant leaders, over its ban on the full-face Muslim veil and its overseas military operations.

Senators voted last week to pass the ban on the burqa and the niqab and it will go into effect in around six months if approved by constitutional judges.

Before the law was voted, Al-Qaeda's Egyptian number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, released an audio tape urging Muslim women to resist the ban.

French troops, meanwhile, are fighting Islamic militants in both Afghanistan -- where they are part of the NATO mission -- and northwest Africa, where in July they took part in a commando raid against a AQIM base.

The July 22 strike, carried out alongside Mauritanian troops operating in northern Mali, left seven militants dead, but failed to find a French hostage, 78-year-old aid worker Michel Germaneau, who is thought to be dead.

AQIM claimed responsibility for killing Germaneau and vowed to avenge the raid. The group is now the prime suspect in last week's kidnap in Niger of seven foreign nationals, five of them French.

The group is thought to have taken its captives, including a French married couple, to Mali. France has sent an 80-strong military intelligence detachment to Bamako to hunt down the gang, officials said Monday.

France has Europe's largest Islamic population, with around five million Muslims of mainly north African descent, but since September 11, 2001 has been spared the kind of large scale attacks that hit London and Madrid.

The last major Islamist bomb attack in Paris dates back to the summer of 1995, when eight were killed and 200 wounded in attacks on Metro trains.

The Rest @ France24

Monday, September 20, 2010

More Minnesota Mujahadeen Video

US Indictments for Support of al Shabaab Terrorists

Originally published on 5 August, 2010.

(AP) MINNEAPOLIS - The federal government charged 14 people Thursday, including two women from Rochester, Minnesota, with supporting the terrorist group al-Shabaab in Somalia.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the cases in Minnesota, California and Alabama a “deadly [pipeline” of terrorist support.

He credited leaders in Muslim communities in the U.S. for helping law enforcement agencies address the problem and bring the cases to prosecution.

One of two indictments issued in Minnesota alleges that two Somali women and others went door-to-door in Minneapolis, Rochester and elsewhere in the U.S. and Canada to raise funds for al-Shabaab's operations in Somalia.

The indictment says the women raised the money under false pretenses, claiming it would go to the poor and needy, and used fake names for recipients to conceal that the money was going to al-Shabaab.

The indictment alleges the women, Amina Farah Ali and Hawo Mohamed Hassan, also raised money by making direct appeals to people in teleconferences "in which they and other speakers encouraged financial contributions to support violent jihad in Somalia."

During one teleconference, the indictment says, Ali told others "to forget about the other charities" and focus on "the Jihad."

Ali is accused of sending $8,608 to al-Shabab on 12 different occasions between Sept. 17 2008 through July 5, 2009.

After the FBI searched Ali's home in 2009, she allegedly contacted an al-Shabab leader in southern Somalia and said: "I was questioned by the enemy here. ... they took all my stuff and are investigating it ... do not accept calls from anyone."

The U.S. "must prevent this kind of captivation from taking hold," Holder said.

Most of the people charged are U.S. citizens.

  • Some supported the terrorist organization from the United States and others traveled to Somalia to join up with al-Shabaab.
  • The indictment says Ali and others sent the funds to al-Shabaab through various hawalas, money transfer businesses that are a common source of financial transactions in the Islamic world.
  • Minneapolis Somali community advocate Omar Jamal said Thursday he was happy to hear of the indictments."We welcome this as a positive step toward the beginning of the defeat of al-Shabab," Jamal said.
  • Amina Farah Ali and Hawo Mohamed Hassan were scheduled to make an initial court appearance at 2 p.m. Thursday in St. Paul.

The Rest @

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Algeria Releases AQIM's Samir Saioud

Algeria Frees Former Al-Qaeda Official

Algerian authorities have freed a former Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) official, Samir Saioud, following his call to his comrades in the organization to lay down their arms.
According to assessments, the Algerian authorities want to show good will towards AQIM members who give conciliatory messages.

Source: Al-Hayat, London, September 13, 2010

The Rest @ MEMRI

US Marines Recapture Magellan Star from Somali Pirates

NAIROBI, Kenya — In a predawn raid with helicopters hovering nearby, 24 American Marines scaled aboard a hijacked ship in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday, arrested the nine pirates on board and freed the ship — all without firing a shot, the American military said.

American officials said the rescue appeared to be the first time the American military had boarded a ship commandeered by Somali pirates, who have been hijacking vessel after vessel off Somalia’s coast and wreaking havoc on some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
The Americans, however, are active in the area.

Last year, Navy Seal snipers killed three pirates who were holding an American cargo ship captain in a lifeboat, after he had offered himself as a hostage in exchange for the safety of his crew.

Despite the intense international naval presence in the region, the pirates are on track to have another banner year, with more than 30 ships hijacked so far in 2010 and tens of millions of dollars in ransoms.

But not this time.

According to American officials, around 5 a.m. on Thursday, two teams of 12 Marines each motored up in inflatable boats to the hijacked ship, a 436-foot-long German-owned cargo vessel called the Magellan Star. A band of Somali pirates had seized the ship and its crew of 11 in the Gulf of Aden, between Yemen and Somalia, on Wednesday morning. It was carrying steel chains.
The Marines clambered up portable ladders — much as pirates have been doing — and swiftly took over the ship, American officials said. Two helicopters hovered overhead, throwing down cones of light. A Turkish frigate, part of an American-led anti-piracy task force, was nearby. All nine pirates surrendered without a shot, American officials said. The Magellan Star’s crew was safe, too.

Cmdr. Amy Derrick-Frost, a spokeswoman for the Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, said the Marines had been able to stay in constant contact with the crew on board, receiving specific information about the number of pirates and their locations on the ship, as well as the locations of crew members. That lent military planners a big advantage when organizing the raid, Commander Derrick-Frost said.

Lt. John Fage, an American Navy spokesman, also credited extensive coordination among several players.

“There was an amazing amount of teamwork between the Navy and the Marines and several ships in the task force,” Lieutenant Fage said, “including the Turkish frigate, which was running the show.”

After the operation, Rear Adm. Sinan Ertugrul of the Turkish Navy said: “This regional problem, truly, has global impact, and we are completely committed to bringing the disruptive acts of piracy to an end. We have full support of the international community and will continue to do everything possible to bring security to the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin.”

It is not clear what will happen to the captured pirates. They are in custody aboard one of the ships in the task force, and the officers on the scene are awaiting orders from higher levels.

While hundreds of Somali pirates have recently been sent to jail in Kenya, the Seychelles or Somalia, and a few have even been taken to Europe and the United States, many more have been set free by Western navies in a controversial “catch and release” approach because of the complications of prosecuting suspects arrested on the high seas.

The Rest @ The New York Times

Friday, September 17, 2010

There have been attempts to plant Russians PLant Roger D’Onofrio Ruggiero's Name back into the press, is this an attempt to counter up coming Viktor Bout Press? Probably;

However there is no doubt Roger D’Onofrio Ruggiero was a bad actor.

-Shimron Issachar

LIBERIA’S TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION has heard allegations that a retired agent of the CIA was instrumental in facilitating a vast diamonds-for-arms smuggling operation on behalf of Liberian warlord Charles Taylor. Taylor, who headed the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), became the country’s President in 1997. He is currently held by the United Nations in The Hague, pending trial for crimes against humanity.

The allegations were made at the recent Economic Crimes Hearing of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Monrovia by Imants Liepiņš, an ivestigator with the Public Investigation Bureau, a business intelligence firm based in Riga, Latvia. Mr. Liepiņš, who is a recent nominee for UNESCO’s 2009 World Press Freedom Prize, presented his findings during an official hearing titled “Economic Crimes, Corruption and the Conflict in Liberia: Policy Options for an Emerging Democracy and Sustainable Peace”.

Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which aims to unearth human rights violations and the exploitation of the country’s natural or public resources to perpetuate war, heard last Thursday that Roger D’Onofrio Ruggiero, an Italian-American 40-year veteran of the CIA, worked with Charles Taylor and others to channel diamonds into Europe through a number of front-companies. According to the allegations, D’Onofrio, who at the time lived outside Naples, Italy, helped organize the smuggling operation with Ibrahim Bah. Bah is a Senegalese with Libyan connections, who at that time was a member of Liberia’s Revolutionary United Front, a guerilla group that fought unsuccessfully against the government throughout the 1990s. According to Douglas Farah’s book Blood from Stones (Broadway Books, 2004), Bah was connected with D’Onofrio in the 1970s, when the former was funded by the CIA to join the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the war against the Soviet Red Army. In the early 1990s, Bah, who by then had established al-Qaeda connections, became Charles Taylor’s “Minister for Mineral Resources”, a post that enabled him to handle the majority of NPFL’s diamonds-for-arms deals.


Bah is alleged to have also drawn on his Libyan connections to involve in the smuggling operation representatives of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi. The smuggling was conducted through a front-company, International Business Consultant Ltd, and Kintex, a Bulgarian import-export company with offices in Switzerland. Kintex “supplied weapons and bullets to [International Business Consultant Ltd] and sold diamonds in return, camouflaged as oranges and olives”. This was allegedly done with the help of a Swiss lawyer, Rudolf Meroni.

During last Thursday’s presentation in Monrovia, Imants Liepiņš recounted D’Onofrio’s 1995 testimony before Italian prosecutors, in which the former CIA agent admitted he owned shares in International Business Consultant Ltd, as did Charles Taylor, Ibrahim Bah, and others. Interestingly, Liepiņš revealed that among the shareholders was Nill Taylor (no relation to Charles Taylor), an American who claimed to be “a representative of the US Government” (though not apparently connected with the US Embassy in Monrovia, which in the 1990s was headed by a series of interim chargés d’affaires). Nill Taylor, who met with D’Onofrio in Liberia on at least one occasion, was an associate of Nicolas Oman, a notorious Slovenian weapons smuggler who was rewarded for his services to Charles Taylor by being named Liberia’s honorary consul in Slovenia. Oman’s son, who lives in Australia, was appointed Liberia’s honorary consul in the county until 2006, when his family’s weapons smuggling ventures became the subject of a diplomatic row between Slovenia and Australia.

Mr. Liepiņš’ allegations have made headlines throughout Liberia, but have yet to appear in any mainstream Western media outlet. This is extremely disappointing in light of the fact that these allegations about D’Onofrio are not new. In 1995, the former CIA agent was arrested by Italian police officers investigating a money laundering and arms smuggling operation into the former Yugoslavia. Italian authorities charged D’Onofrio, whom the local press dubbed “Specter’, “after James Bond’s arch-enemy”, with using CIA “contacts [he] made during the 40 years he worked for the US intelligence agency to organize illegal financial deals and arms shipments”. These reportedly included a foiled attempt to supply Slovenian arms smugglers with osmium, a chemical element used to manufacture nuclear detonators.

There is no doubt that Roger D’Onofrio Ruggiero is what the CIA often terms “a renegade agent”.

After his retirement from the Agency, he set up an intricate money laundering and smuggling network that helped sustain brutal wars from Bosnia and Kosovo to Sierra Leone and Liberia. Yet D’Onofrio’s case is also a stark reminder of the extremely thin line that separates CIA covert activities –especially those involving front-companies and illicit transportation of people and goods– from the actions of transnational criminal networks. Both actors employ essentially identical methods and behavior to achieve different objectives. It is therefore not surprising –though certainly disappointing– that a CIA operative, trained in the craft of running covert activities, would be so destructively efficient in international smuggling activities that cost numerous lives in West Africa and beyond.

* Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis has been writing and teaching on the politics of intelligence for over ten years. His areas of academic expertise include the institutional analysis of the intelligence community; the interception of communications; and the history of intelligence with particular reference to international espionage during the Cold War. He is co-founder and Senior Editor of His latest writings for are available here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Barack Obama Ordered Death of Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan

MOMBASA, KENYA — The mother of a top al-Qaida fugitive who was killed in a U.S. raid in Somalia demanded Wednesday to see her son's body while a Somalia-based group claimed him as their leader and confirmed his death.

Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a 30-year-old Kenyan, was wanted for the 2002 car bombing of a beach resort in Kenya and a failed attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner. Three senior U.S. officials familiar with Monday's commando raid confirmed he was killed.

Aisha Abdallah told The Associated Press she wants "to see the body of my son before it is buried."

"My son has never been a terrorist," said Abdallah, dressed in an orange and black headscarf in her modest, four-room apartment in this steamy coastal city.

A statement posted on an Islamic Web site Wednesday from the al-Shabab Mujahideen Movement confirmed Nabhan's death and the death of an unspecified number of other militants. U.S. officials said six people were killed in the strike by elite U.S. forces.

The authenticity of the statement could not be verified, but it was posted on an Islamic Web site that regularly carries statements from al-Qaida and other militant groups.

The Somalia-based insurgent group vowed to avenge Nabhan's death and said they would keep fighting.

"God foiled the endeavor of our stupid enemy who imagined that the flame of jihad in the Muslim lands ... will be extinguished with the killing of the mujahideen leaders," the statement read.....

....... Three senior U.S. officials familiar with the operation said Nabhan was killed.

A fourth official said the attack was launched by forces from multiple U.S. military branches and included Navy SEALs, at least two Army assault helicopters and the involvement of two U.S. warships in the region for months.

All the U.S. officials were hesitant to provide details and spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record about the secretive commando operation.

U.S. officials have become increasingly concerned that al-Qaida insurgents are moving out of safe havens along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and into anarchic Somalia, where they can mobilize recruits without interference.

The Rest @ The Associated Press
Associated Press writers Maamoun Youssef in Cairo, and Pauline Jelinek and Lolita Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.Read more at the San Francisco Examiner:

The Rest about The Barawee raid, code named Operation Celestial Balance

Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan is believed dead following a raid by JSOC forces (U.S. Army Special Forces) including U.S. Navy Seals in four helicopters (including at least two AH-6s)[12] on Monday September 14, 2009.[13]

Nabhan was driving south of the capital Mogadishu near Baraawe in a two vehicle convoy when attacked by the little bird assault helicopters.[14]

The raid, code-named Operation Celestial Balance,[12] took place around 1:00 pm local time, with the helicopters arriving from a ship offshore, firing on the vehicles, and landing briefly to take bodies.[15]

President Barack Obama is reported to have signed an "Execute Order" for the operation ten days before the attack was launched.[12] Members of Al-Shabaab were also killed.[16] JSOC and the CIA had been trying to kill Nabhan for some time; an AC-130 Gunship was called in during a January 2007 attempt. An American intelligence source stated that CIA paramilitary teams from Special Activities Division were directly embedded with Ethiopian forces in Somalia, allowing for the tactical intelligence to launch these operations. [17]

On February 14, 2010, MSNBC reported that three alternatives were presented to President Barack Obama[18]:
(1) assassination via a missile attack from a drone, or other airplane;
(2) assassination by fire from helicopters, which could then land for DNA samples, to confirm his identity; and
(3) live capture.

MSNBC suggested that this killing represents a trend, since remote targeting continues to be more reliable -- while locations where captives can be detained without complications have dwindled

Indian Mujahadeen Among Shabaab Foreign Fighters

NEW DELHI: A freak blast in Mogadishu has sent tremors all the way to New Delhi, with indications that Indian terrorists might be fighting for al-Qaida's group Al Shabaab in Somalia.

Over the weekend, the Somali ministry of information announced that two Indians, three Pakistanis and an Afghan were among 10 Al Shabaab terrorists killed while trying to put together a suicide car bomb in Mogadishu.

The dead even included one leader ''who was in charge of praying for suicide bombers before they are dispatched''.

If the Indians' identity is borne out, this would be a first. Th us far, Indian terrorists have stopped short of venturing out that far for transnational jihadi terrorism.

Al Shabaab is no ordinary Islamist terror group. In February, the group publicly declared its allegiance to al-Qaida, though that linkage had long been suspected by western terrorism analysts.

Harkat-al-Shabaab started work in 2005 in Somalia;

  • the Islamist group succeeded in bringing a few months of quiet in an unending spate of civil war in the country.
  • By the time the US declared Al Shabaab a terrorist organization in 2008, the group was well on its way to establishing an Islamist terror movement in the region.
  • It was also when the group got its new leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, aka Abu Zubeyr.
  • Other top leaders in the organization like Abu Mansoor and Ibrahim Jaama earned their spurs apparently fighting in Afghanistan and Kashmir.

Whether they actually fought in Kashmir is not confirmed but certainly, Al Shabaab has in the past declared its intention of seeing Kashmir "liberated".

Terrorism analyst B Raman says Pakistan's Tablighi Jamaat has been very active in Somalia, including sending terror fighters to Al Shabaab. "If Indians have gone there, it's possible they have gone with the Tablighis," he said.

Al Shabaab has seen a significant increase in "foreign fighters" in recent years. As with the Taliban in Afghanistan, it preaches a severely radical ideology of jihad.

Interestingly, Al Shabaab has more than its share of US and European jihadis, most prominent among them being Al-Amriki. According to terrorism analyst Daveed Gartenstein Ross, around 20 US citizens from Minnesota, US, are believed to have joined Al Shabaab. Analysts say more than 100 Britons have travelled to Somalia to fight for Al Shabaab.

Thus far, Indian terrorism watchers have paid scant attention to Al Shabaab, but Saturday's incident should be an eye-opener. Al Shabaab has openly declared its global ambitions and though a lot of that is focused on the US and Europe, India and other such countries may not escape their jihadi heat either.

If Taliban is considered to be the heir apparent of al-Qaida, Al Shabaab is gaining prominence in the Islamist jihad hierarchy.

According to Critical Threats by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), "Al Shabaab currently controls much of southern and central Somalia, including large portions of the capital, Mogadishu. It has evolved into a group resembling a hybrid of the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaida.

It provides government services to its constituents, enforces a strict interpretation of Sharia law, and maintains its grip on power by using violence and intimidation.

The group also conducts terror operations, including suicide bombings, against its perceived enemies and views itself as part of the global jihad movement. It has established an effective recruiting strategy to attract militants from throughout Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, as well as the US and Europe."

The Rest @ The Times of India

Cabdi Godane Picture and Press Release

Shabab leaders from the Northern Somalia are mainly to blame for destroying Southern Somalia.Godane sets Islam ultimatumMogadishu - A founder and top leader of Somalia's insurgent Shebab group Shabaab al-Mujahideen: on Wednesday vowed to continue his armed struggle until Islamic law spreads across the world and Jerusalem is "liberated".
-(picture from terror free somalia, names on pictures not cofirmed by Shimron letters)

Ahmed Abdi Godane, best known in Somalia by his nom de guerre "Abu Zubayr", spoke in a recorded message that was distributed to local media in Mogadishu.

...."We will fight and the wars will not end until Islamic Sharia is implemented in all continents in the world and until Muslims liberate Jerusyalem," ....

the senior Shabaab leader said. His message was carried by radios, televisions and websites as sporadic fighting continued in Mogadishu following clashes that have left dozens dead since last week.

The fighting has pitted forces loyal to President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed - a moderate Islamist - against radical insurgents led by the Shebab and opposed to the transitional federal government.

Foreign support

"The fighting in Mogadishu is between the forces of Allah and elements whose intention is to introduce democracy and Jewish theories," Godane said. "So we ask the population in the capital to choose the right path."

The Shabaab, which controls most of southern Somalia, has admitted to receiving the support of foreign fighters. According to Somali security officials and foreign intelligence sources in the region, extremist foreign fighters have flocked to Somalia since the start of the year and currently number around 500. Observers have warned that since Ethiopia's military withdrawal in January, Somalia risked becoming a haven for al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists.
Godane also issued a warning to the Somali media.

"Journalists should work professionally," he said in his audio message.

"It is your duty to take part in the current jihad (holy war). Don't misrepresent the facts, don't mislead the people,"

Godane added, addressing the country's press corps. Somalia is one of the world's most dangerous places for journalists, who have been routinely arrested by the authorities or kidnapped and killed by various armed groups

Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project - Non Profits Who Support Terrorists are on Notice

Several months old, but This US Supreme Court Decision has far reaching conclusions, and will likely be used to prosecute US citizens and residents who contribute to non-profits in Somalia, Sudan, Chad, Lebanon, Gaza, Jordan, an Pakistan.

-Shimron Issachar

Thursday, June 24, 2010, 6:08:49 AM Jean-Charles Brisard

In its ruling of June 21, 2010 (Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project), the U.S. Supreme Court further clarified the notion of “material support” to designated foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) and brushed aside so-called “peaceful or humanitarian” support to such organizations.
The “material support” statute (18 U.S.C. § 2339B) adopted in 1996, prohibits the provision of material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization. “Material support or resources” is defined as “any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel (1 or more individuals who may be or include oneself), and transportation, except medicine or religious materials”.

The main question was the legality of providing non-violent resources to support the humanitarian and peaceful efforts of terrorist organizations.

  • The Court found that not only there was no distinction between the violent and non-violent wings of terrorist groups, but that terrorist groups benefit from any support given to them, even peaceful or humanitarian.
  • The Court conceded that FTOs may engage in political and humanitarian activities, but insisted that “Foreign organizations that engage in terrorist activity are so tainted by their criminal conduct that any contribution to such an organization facilitates that conduct.”
  • The Supreme Court therefore confirmed that it was necessary “to prohibit providing material support in the form of training, expert advice, personnel, and services to foreign terrorist groups, even if the supporters meant to promote only the groups’ nonviolent ends”, because this aid would “legitimize” the organization.

Referring to such humanitarian support during the oral arguments, Chief Justice Roberts stated “It's going to make their hospital run better. People are going to like their hospital. So the party, the group, will be legitimized.”

Justice Scalia insisted that “The theory of the legislation is that when you aid any of their enterprises, you're aiding the organization.

Hamas, for example, gained support among the Palestinians by activities that are perfectly lawful, perhaps running hospitals, all sorts of things.”

Solicitor General Kagan clearly emphasized that "when you help a terrorist, foreign terrorist organization's legal activities, you're also helping the foreign terrorist organization's illegal activities".

"Hezbollah builds bombs. Hezbollah also builds homes. What Congress decided was when you help Hezbollah build homes, your are also helping Hezbollah build bombs."

The Supreme Court held that "Material support meant to 'promote peaceable, lawful conduct' can further terrorism by foreign groups in multiple ways.

Material support is a valuable resource by definition. Such support frees up other resources within the organization that may be put to violent ends.

It also importantly helps lend legitimacy to foreign terrorist groups—legitimacy that makes it easier for those groups to persist, to recruit members, and to raise funds—all of which facilitate more terrorist attacks."

By its unambiguous ruling the Supreme Court clarifies the debate about “political wings” or “humanitarian wings” of terrorist organizations including the Hamas and Hezbollah, and sends a strong message to those promoting a dialog with so-called “moderate” elements within designated terrorist organizations.

The Rest @ Jean-Charles Brisard

Monday, September 13, 2010

Arms Trafficking - The European-African Airports

What follows is a running log of alegedly illicit arms transactions that have run through the Ostend International Airport located near Bruges, Belgium, by the Association for a Clean Ostend . The Group's agenda seems to be to document and research the activities.

We put the record here, because we never fail to be amazed how this kind of information seems to simply disappear off the web. We are not authenticating it, but simply report it as we found it, in case the web site also "disappears".

At least some of the data here seems to coincide with arms trafficking information tracked in other posts here in the Shimron Letters, conerning Viktor Bout and others .

-Shimron Issachar


(Creation: 24/03/2001 – Last update: 15/08/2009)
Dutch version à ‘

Ostend Airport arms connection

Healing news. According to Associated Press (6 March 2008), Russian arms dealer Victor Bout has been arrested in Bangkok on suspicion of having delivered arms and explosives to the Colombian guerrilla movement FARC. However, according to BBC News (11 August 2009 - *), Thailand rejects a US request for Bout’s extradition.

At the end of May 2000 an attempt was made to fly four helicopters by Ilyushin freighter from Ostend to the Congo (ex-Zaïre but hereafter referred to as the Congo). President Laurent Kabila had ordered them for military purposes. Customs prevented the cargo from leaving Ostend for Kabila’s Congo. But permission was granted to transfer the helicopters to England and nobody was afterwards concerned about the helicopters’ final destination nor how they reached it. The embarrassing cargo disappeared and nobody seemingly felt guilty.

It becomes imperative to obtain a clear image of Ostend Airport as a pivot of the international arms trade.

Based on data of inside informers and that of the International Peace and Information Service (hereafter IPIS), this report will try to show, how often intricate networks involved in arms running to conflict-torn countries operate and, more specifically, the involvement of Ostend Airport. The war zones concerned are mostly Angola, Sierra Leone and the Region of the Great Lakes in Central Africa, all of them regions where mass-murders have occurred and where many survivors have been left permanently mutilated, for the sake of the diamond trade, monetary gain and power mania.

IPIS is an independent study and information service, covering international relations in general and in particular carrying out studies on arms trade, mercenary organisations and related subjects. It operates as an intermediary between, on the one hand, journalists and the research community and, on the other, peace, human rights and Third World movements. [1]

Our own data has been gathered from local informers and freelance investigators, who for their own safety, are not mentioned by name.

Certain companies are known to have organised arms traffic from their Ostend Airport branch offices.

Such companies are extremely mobile and disappear as swiftly as they have been installed, possibly reappearing under another name to carry on with their evil activities.

Of the four following companies, which have been involved in arms running, one is still present in Ostend, while others were previously known under another name:

▪ Aero Zambia
▪ Avicon Aviation
▪ Westland Aviation and
▪ Air Charter Service.

The involvement in arms’ running of a fifth company, Johnsons Air, is described at the near end of this document.

1. According to IPIS, a company named Seagreen operated, until 1996, out of Belgium and was observed to be involved in arms trafficking.

In November 1996, a Belgian daily, Het Belang van Limburg, revealed that two airlines based at Ostend Airport, Sky Air (see further on) and Seagreen, had been actively trafficking arms to Rwanda and to Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

This had been going on throughout 1994 and 1995 during an UN-arms embargo on Rwanda. Empty planes of both companies took off in Ostend, to Burgas in Bulgaria, where boxes with AK47 riffles and ammunition of the company Kintex were loaded and flown to Central Africa.

The owner of Seagreen, David Paul Tokoph and his brother Gary, both American citizens, were at that time living in Gistel, a little town near Ostend.

Seagreen is no longer in existence, but David Tokoph afterwards acquired the bankrupt Zambian national airline. Subsequently this became a privately owned company, known as Aero Zambia, which also became involved in arms smuggling to the Unita rebel movement of Angola.

The Times of Zambia reported that an aircraft operated by Seagreen, registered and licensed in Belgium, shuttled between Belgian airports and South Africa with arms cargo, that was off-loaded in Johannesburg onto a Boeing 707, registered as 5Y-BNJ (*1), for the final flight into Unita territory.

Although it was bearing Aero Zambia colours, the latter aircraft was operated by one of Tokoph’s sister company, Greco Air, which had operating bases in Johannesburg and in El Paso, Texas, USA.

El Paso is also the home of another Tokoph sister company, Aviation Consultants International, whose only services at that time included leasing aircraft to Aero Zambia.

The Angolan government accused Zambian senior government officials of contributing actively to Aero Zambia’s arms smuggling towards Unita.

Following the Angolan complains, Aero Zambia was then grounded by the Zambian Department of Civil Aviation for so-called flying without proper clearance to points outside Zambia.

A letter from the Angolan government to United Nations sanctions committee chairman Robert Fowler also reveals that David Tokoph constructed an airstrip at Mwansabombwe, an insignificant village on Zambia’s borders with Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo respectively. A Hercules C-130, registered as 9J-AFV, used to take off from this Tokoph-airstrip to unknown destinations. The end-user of the plane was Chani Fisheries, a Zambian company of the vice-chairman of Aero Zambia, Moses Katumbi, authorized to operate the plane temporarily in Zambia only.

According to IPIS research, the man behind Chani Fisheries is a Congolese wealthy businessman, Raphael Soriano alias Katebe Katoto, who owns industrial fisheries in the lakes Tanganyika and Mweru, a copper and cobalt trading company and a luxurious domain in Bruges, Belgium, named ‘Ter Heyde’ as well, and besides who in October 2001 announced that he would run for president during the transition period of the DRC.

However, the C-130, manufactured in the USA and considered as an unclassified defence article, was grounded in Angola in September 1997, when it appeared that Katebe Katoto Soriano had tried to sell the aircraft to a Portugal-based trading company, in contravention of sales conditions imposed by the American Office of Defence Trade Controls.

Further investigation revealed that just before the illicit sales agreement between Chani and the Portugal-based company was concluded, the Hercules C-130 had apparently been used for the delivery of military equipment to the rebel troops of Laurent Kabila approaching Kinshasa, the capital of Mobutu’s Zaire then. [2a]

In its report of 12 December 2008, the United Nations Security Council also identifies Raphael Soriano, still based in Bruges, as a prime investor of a Rwandan-backed rebel group.

The rebels are led by Laurent Nkunda in the ongoing large-scale hostilities and fighting for the control of natural resources in eastern DRC. [2b]

Meanwhile Soriano is furthermore prosecuted in London for his alleged role in the misappropriation of millions of dollars of Zambian State funds. [2c]

Aero Zambia’s owner, Tokoph, is reportedly a former associate of right-wing American politician Oliver North, who played a key role in the Iran-Contra scandal and was Washington’s point man in the days when the United States covertly sponsored Unita.

In the early 1980s, Oliver North was, according to the Belgian newspaper De Morgen of 2 October 1995, also a regular visitor to Ostend Airport. During the Iran-Iraq war, David Tokoph has been connected to the Iran-Contra affair through his Texas company, Aviation Consultants International, and his Mexico-registered company, Greco Air, who both leased aircraft to a company, called Santa Lucia Airways.

In May 1987, a Belgian parliamentary commission of enquiry confirmed, that Santa Lucia Airways was indeed operating in Belgium as a subcontractor to the Belgian national airline Sabena and was connected to illegal weapons flights to Iran and to Unita in Angola as well, via the military base of Kamina in the Congo. [3]

Santa Lucia had until May 1987 an office at Ostend Airport, where its aircraft was also periodically stored for maintenance purposes. Details, for instance, were known of a Santa Lucia Boeing 707, registered as J6-SLF (*2), linked to an illicit shipment of weapons to Israel for transhipment to Iran. This aircraft, re-registered as EL-JNS, has later been operated by Sky Air and flew in 1996 a number of boxes of Kalashnikovs from Bulgaria to Rwanda (see further on).

Another question remains as to what a mystery Aero Zambia aircraft was doing in Asmara, Eritrea, where it lies stripped of its engines and wings. At the beginning of the Ethiopia-Eritrea war in 1998, the Boeing 727, registered as 5Y-BMW, was hit by an Ethiopian air missile, as it stood parked at Asmara airport. Based on the allegations of Aero Zambia’s involvement in arms trafficking towards Unita, the presence of the aircraft in Asmara, being targeted by the Ethiopian missiles, has become more ominous, but its mission has never been revealed.

In May 1996, the Board of Directors of Aero Zambia decided to open a branch office at the Ostend Airport, but moved its office in August 2003 from the airport to the Ostend Jet Center, where the Russian arms dealer Victor Bout started in 1995 his murky business (see further on).

Officially the activities of the Ostend branch had to remain confined to the representation of the company under Zambian law in Belgium and Europe. It was the Ostend branch that, at the end of May 2000, had been ordered by the Brussels firm Demavia to arrange the above-mentioned transfer by plane of the four helicopters destined for Laurent Kabila.

David Tokoph, a fervent supporter of George Bush Jr and the proud owner and simultaneously operator of a F-100 Super Sabre fighter, based in El Paso, is still very active in the air business, since in August 1997 he took over the Johannesburg-based company, Interair South Africa, with his brother Gary installed as vice president of the company.

2. A British airline, named Sky Air Cargo, used Ostend Airport in 1996 as the home base for its then 33 year-old Boeing 707, Liberian-registered as EL-JNS (*3). In October 1996, the plane flew a number of boxes containing Kalashnikovs from Bulgaria to Rwanda. [4] In 1997 it made at least 25 flights from Ostend.

The plane was also seen several times from 1996 to 1998 on the military apron of Otopeni airport, near Bucharest, Romania. Under suspicion of illicit actions, the aircraft then adopted the airport of Sharjah (United Arab Emirates) as its new home.

In 1998 Sky Air was, together with Air Atlantic Cargo, responsible for airlifting some 2,000 Kalashnikovs, 180 rocket-launchers, 50 machine-guns and ammunition from Bulgaria to the UN-embargoed Sierra Leone, by order of the London-based private military corporation (PMC), Sandline International. [5]

The Pakistani owner of Sky Air, Sayed Naqvi, admitted that his company delivered the weapons, and on May 10, The Observer reported that it had obtained documents that confirm details about a Sky Air arms flight.

The Sky Air Boeing 707 was loaded with weapons at Burgas airport on February 21, 1998. The aircraft then departed for Kano, Nigeria, where it made a stopover before delivering its cargo to Sierra Leone.

In January 1999, the London Sunday Times also reported that Sky Air Cargo of London and the Ostend-based Occidental Airlines, owned by a Belgian arms dealer, Ronald Rossignol and a British pilot, Brian Martin (see further on), were using ageing Boeing planes that were loaded with AK47 rifles and 60mm portable mortars at Bratislava, the Slovak capital. Supposedly destined for Uganda, the arms, 40 tons at a time, went to Liberia and the Gambia, where they were put on flights for a bush airstrip at Kenema in Sierra Leone, occasionally through the services of Victor Bout (see further on). Eventually the arms were flown to rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). [6]

In a taped video interview, a British pilot described how in 1999 and 2000 he flew AK47 rifles from Rwanda and Uganda into the rebel-held town of Kisangani in the DRC. He claimed the planes were registered in Swaziland for Planet Air, which was named by the US government as supplying arms to eastern DRC.

According to Amnesty International (AI), Planet Air has offices in West London run by the same person who managed Sky Air Cargo, the company that had operated the Liberian-registered cargo plane EL-JNS (now 3D-ALJ: *4) and, says AI, strangely enough, the Liberian Civil Aviation Regulatory Authority was run by a UK business in Kent, England, during 1999 and 2000. When too many questions were asked, the Kent businessman switched to selling registrations for Equatorial Guinea. UN investigations have shown that aircraft on these UK-run registers were used for international arms trafficking to Angola, Sierra Leone and Central Africa, including the DRC. [7]

The Pakistani owner of Sky Air, since 2001 in liquidation, seems to have strong connections with a new Ostend-based company, Avicon Aviation, founded in May 1998 by a Pakistani resident in Karachi. The man in charge of the Ostend company is another Pakistani living in Ostend and during the mid 1990s Ostend station manager for Sky Air. According to certain sources, ‘Avicon’ stands for Aviation Consultants, the Texas company of David Paul Tokoph.

This would confirm close connections between Paul Tokoph and Sayed Naqvi, which already existed at the time when, as recounted earlier, their respective airlines Seagreen and Sky Air were actively trafficking arms to Rwanda throughout 1994 and 1995.

The above-mentioned Air Atlantic Cargo, owned by Nigerians, had Ostend and Lagos as operating bases. Its fleet was restricted to two Nigerian-registered Boeing 707s, 5N-EEO (*5) and 5N-TNO (*6), which in 1997 made a combined total of 126 flights from Ostend Airport. In January 1999, the English newspaper The Observer confirmed Air Atlantic Cargo’s involvement in illicit arms traffic and quoted that it was being linked to suspected arms shipments to Unita rebels in Angola and a possible breach of United Nations sanctions. The allegations relate to a Boeing 707 spotted on three separate occasions at Pointe Noire in western Congo, just north of enclave Cabinda, in September and October 1997.

Its objective appeared to be to drop off military equipment and escape the war zone unnoticed. However, monitors from Human Rights Watch noted the Boeing’s markings and saw Unita troops unload ‘military-looking’ crates. HRW suspected that the crates contained arms destined for the civil war in neighbouring Angola. It was the first in a series of sightings of aircraft marked ‘Air Atlantic Cargo’.

Air Atlantic Cargo was a British company with offices in Kent. The planes spotted in Central Africa were those registered to the Lagos-based Air Atlantic Nigeria, the major shareholder in the British company. Air Atlantic Nigeria was run by a Nigerian businessman, Adebiyi Olafisoye, the senior executive of AAC in Britain, living in north London, and it closed down in 1999.

Ten months after the Pointe Noire sighting, a cargo plane was seen making drops to troops on both sides of the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Interviews with former crew members revealed that on 4 August 1998 one of Air Atlantic’s Boeings landed at Goma in the east of the country with 38 tonnes of arms from Burgas in Bulgaria.

A week later the other aircraft was spotted in Namibia, delivering 21 tonnes of arms to President Laurent Kabila’s troops. Crew members later confirmed to aid agency researchers that this was the plane that had supplied troops fighting the DRC government. The plane then flew to Botswana and unloaded armoured cars destined for Kabila’s troops in Kinshasa. They were almost certainly part of a consignment of 36 reconditioned vehicles manufactured by the British company Alvis of Coventry for the Belgian Army and sold to Botswana between 1995 and 1997. [8]
Ron Brennan, a director of Air Atlantic Cargo, told that he did not ‘have a clue’ what cargo the Boeing 707s have been carrying in Africa, but he fiercely rejected suggestions the company had been involved in arms trafficking. When pressed, Brennan conceded that one of the planes had been chartered by a Congolese airline. ‘What they use the planes for, is anybody’s guess,’ he said.

3. Liberia World Airlines has its main office in Gibraltar. In 1988 a Belgian company NV Liberia World Airlines Belgium was constituted, which went bankrupt in 1994. The company was co-owned by a Liberian citizen and a native of Kinshasa, Duane Andrew Egli.

The latter took residence in a hamlet on the Franco-Belgian border. A few weeks after the bankruptcy, the Brussels-based company Westland Aviation, also owned by Mr Egli, was transferred to the Ostend Airport.

The company obtained a very substantial injection of new money, fifty per cent of which was contributed by a Swiss company, Avtec AG, Basel. Before he left the former Zaïre in 1988, Duane Egli owned an airline company, based in Kinshasa and called Lukim Air Services.

Westland Aviation was active in Ostend until January 2004. It had two DC8 aircraft based on that airport. One of them had its last authorised flight in Europe in January 2001 and it took the opportunity to fly to Uganda. The other Liberian-registered aircraft EL-AJO (*7) was operational until December 2001, when it took off for Sharjah (UAE) to be sold to Cargo Plus Aviation.

In 1995 it was accused by Human Rights Watch of illegal arms transport. The Belgian authorities assured HRW that an investigation was already in progress as a result of their own information. In spite of the investigation, the same aircraft was, in August 1996, again convicted of illicit transport. The aircraft was impounded by local authorities in Goma, the Congo, after it was found to be carrying military clothing destined for Uganda and hidden under a load of relief supplies. [9]

Nevertheless until at least 2000 a great number of humanitarian flights were assigned to the same airplane EL-AJO. This means that Belgian authorities are not interested in the reports of HRW or of similar pressure groups and consequently have omitted taking preventive action. As a result, certain companies manage to make a profit from acts of war, by mixing relief supplies with military equipment.

A company closely connected with Westland Aviation, Airline Management Group, ran a hangar where, besides LWA-aircraft, other old airplanes received maintenance or were refurbished. Whether AMG owned a maintenance licence, is not clear. However, the company went bankrupt in July 2003. Six months later, in January 2004 Westland Aviation went bankrupt as well.
Meanwhile, Liberia World Airlines Gibraltar reappeared as Ducor World Airlines and acquired in May 2001, with the contribution of Avtec AG, a Lockheed TriStar from LTU Airways, Bulgarian-re-registered as LZ-TPC. The aircraft, stored at Ostend Airport, was converted to a freighter. At the end of 2001 DWA intended to acquire an additional four aircraft to replace its fleet of two DC8 aircraft, EL-AJO (now 3D/3C-FNK: *8) and EL-AJQ (now 3C-QRG: *9). It was first intended to register all of these aircraft in Bulgaria, as Liberian planes were then grounded due to United Nations restrictions. However, LZ-TPC was again re-registered in Equatorial Guinea as 3C-QQX. But due to licence difficulties, it had to remain parked at Ostend Airport for an unknown period of time. A further registration number, N822DE (*10), was then assigned in March 2002, and rumour has it that the aircraft was in a very advanced state of corrosion and would be dismantled for spares. [10]

In January 2002 Ducor World Airlines purchased the additional four TriStar aircraft from JMC Airlines/Caledonian Airways. One of them was re-registered as 3C-QRL, also in Equatorial Guinea, a tiny African republic, where most of Victor Bout’s fleet has been registered (see further on). The aircraft arrived early March at Maastricht, in the Netherlands, and was then ferried to Eindhoven initially to be operated as a flying exhibition for the Dutch Philips electronic products, but it became since 2003 again active with DWA from Sharjah. The third aircraft, re-registered as 3C-QRQ, was at first flying from Maastricht mainly to African destinations, has been involved in arms deliveries to Liberia (see below) and is since October 2003 Liberia-registered A8-AAA. The two other TriStar planes were, after Ducor went bankrupt in 2003, intended to become Liberia-registered too.

Belgian authorities were asked for more scrutiny to the Lockheed, stored at Ostend Airport. Indeed, the story of the aircraft N822DE (msn 1152) appears to be quite complicated [11]. Previously belonging to LTU Airways, it was since 1995 stored at Tucson, Arizona (USA), and its owner was Avtec AG. From May 2001 it was stored at Ostend Airport, belonged to Liberia World Airlines Gibraltar, and was first registered LZ-PTC, then re-registered LZ-TPC. In August 2001, LWA was renamed Ducor World Airlines and the aircraft got its Equatorial Guinea registration 3C-QQX. In March 2002, the Lockheed was eventually bought by Duane Andrew Egli, director of LWA/DWA and Westland Aviation and since 2001 an American citizen living in Miami, and the aircraft got its final American registration N822DE. [12] After a period of 18 months without executing a single flight, the Lockheed took off from Ostend Airport on 31 January 2003 bound for Canada, but the aircraft had to make an emergency landing at Manston Airport in southern England, after two of the three engines failed. In May 2003 the aircraft was ferried to an airport in Miami to be broken up. (*11)

Investigation by Bulgarian authorities showed that a company owned by a Bulgarian citizen, Yordan Zlatev, had applied for the Lockheed’s Bulgarian LZ-registrations. Zlatev is also a partner in Sitrat Air together with Volodya Nachev, who is a partner of Victor and Sergey Bout in the Bulgarian private air carrier, Air Zory. [13]

UN-investigation established that the Gibraltar company, KAS Engineering, through its branch in Sofia, KAS Engineering Teximp Bulgaria, acts as the sole broker of all the exports from Bulgaria-based arms suppliers. Victor Bout was the main transporter of these arms towards Africa’s war zones. He also provided the counterfeit end-user certificates to KAS Engineering. With regard to the settlement of the arms transactions, funds have been transferred to a Standard Chartered Bank account of the KAS Engineering branch in Sharjah (United Arab Emirates), the home of Victor Bout, before he fled to Moscow. [14]

All this makes LWA/DWA suspected of being closely linked to international arms dealer Victor Bout, who started his evil business in 1995 in Ostend. [13]

The involvement of DWA in arms traffic was again evidenced, when end March 2003 Charles Taylor provided the UN with a list of weapons that Liberia had procured for its self-defence from the Serbian arms manufacturer Zastava. The broker for the arms deal was Belgrade-based company Temex. Between May and the end of August 2002 an Ilyushin of Moldova’s Aerocom and the Lockheed 3C-QRQ of Belgium’s Ducor World illegally transported the weapons to Liberia. [15a, 15b]

After Ducor’s bankruptcy in July 2003, confirmed by Ostend’s station manager, Paul La Roche, both planes 3C-QRQ and 3C-QRL, have been sold to a new Liberian company, International Air Services, and Liberia-registered respectively as A8-AAA (*12) and A8-AAB (*13). Also known as Air Express Liberia, the company was founded in 2003 and is the last but one creation of Duane A. Egli. Both planes, so far still airworthy, are operated by the new Liberian airline on behalf of an also new and Dakar-based company, Georgian Cargo Airlines.

The two remaining TriStars of bankrupt Ducor, purchased from Caledonian Airways and also intended to be registered in Liberia, have not been taken up because of their very poor condition. International Air Services itself seems to lease occasionally for single flights Ostend visiting aircraft from other airlines, such as Egyptian Air Memphis’ Boeing 707 SU-AVZ (*14), since 2 April 2004 derelict in Cairo, and DC8 planes of African International Airways of Swaziland, recently convicted of arms traffic towards the eastern Congo province of Ituri (see further on).

Between March and September 2004, Duane Egli was again involved in illegal arms traffic. An airplane of Rwandan-based Silverback Cargo freighters, 9XR-SC (*15), was leased out to and operated by his International Air Services to transport quantities of arms from Eastern Europe to Rwanda. [55] Under international pressure, Duane Egli ceased his aircraft activities, but not for long. In 2007 he managed to create a new Chad-based company, AMW Tchad, also known as Aircraft Machinery Works. His both Lockheeds A8-AAA and A8-AAB, meanwhile relegated to the EU operating ban list, take again to the air, but now Chad-registered as TT-DAE (*16) and TT-DWE and thus as yet avoiding to be subject to an EU-ban. Duane Egli himself resumed his Belgian residence, near the city of Tournai.

4. In December 1997 Air Charter Service (ACS) set up a new company at Ostend Airport. ACS had already offices in Moscow with Sergey Vekhov [16] as managing director and in England where the nerve centre for Western Europe is installed under the leadership of a Briton, Christopher Denis Leach [17]. Chr. Leach started up the new company, Air Charter Service Belgium, together with a Dutch companion, Cornelis Schonk, who was until 1996 one of the members of the Board of Directors of Westland Aviation.

The management of the new Ostend company was placed in the hands of Nicholas Leach. One of the aircraft operated by Air Charter Service Belgium from Ostend Airport, was an ageing Boeing 707, Liberian-registered as EL-ACP (*17), which, in accordance with European regulations, was allowed to take off until March 2000.

Once in an interview the British pilot Brian Martin let slip that he had in recent years regularly airlifted AK47 assault rifles to Central Africa as well as medical supplies for UNICEF. Brian Martin is known as the co-owner of Occidental Airlines (see further on). Alerted by this interview, a British pressure group started an investigation and identified the Boeing EL-ACP, being used by the Ostend company Air Charter Service Belgium for illicit arms transportation on the orders of a group of Dutch brokers.

Flight documents show that on November 3, 1999 the aircraft left Ostend empty for Burgas in Bulgaria. It took off at 14.56 hours as flight number ACH252F. After a fuel stop at Aswan, Egypt and having flown over Kenya under radio silence, it arrived the next day in the Zimbabwean capital Harare, carrying 40 tonnes of military equipment. According to Amnesty International, the airport commandant at Ostend said he had interviewed the Belgian flight engineer on the trip in question, who confirmed that the cargo included anti-tank shoulder-fired weapons. Military experts believe the cargo included a Bulgarian portable surface-to-air missile system. The 40 tonnes of equipment were transferred to an Ilyushin freighter and flown to Kinshasa.
For its very last flight from Ostend in March 2000, EL-ACP was again planning the delivery of weaponry to Harare, intended for the Zimbabwean troops supporting Laurent Kabila against rebel forces backed by Rwanda and Uganda. On March 15 at 13.52 hours the plane took off under flight number ACH007 for Bratislava in Slovakia, where it had to collect its items for delivery to Zimbabwe. [18]

On June 5, 2001, Air Charter Service Belgium went bankrupt, but ACS activities from Ostend Airport continued under the direct management of ACS chairman, Christopher Dennis Leach. In May 2005 ACS finally switched Ostend as its aircraft base for Nottingham’s East Midlands airport.

Two companies, mentioned below, which were actively involved in arms dealing, disappeared from Ostend in 1997/98. However, the owner of the first mentioned company is back in Belgium and recommencing covertly his prior activities. The two companies are:

▪ Occidental Airlines
▪ Trans Aviation Network Group

1. In August 1997 a newspaper report indicated that Occidental Airlines, a company based at Ostend Airport was under investigation by the public prosecutor of Bruges. [19] Until 1998 Occidental Aviation Services NV, as the company was officially registered at the Ostend Commercial Trade Register, had its own large warehouse next to the airport control tower. Although it was pretended that his wife was the owner of the company, a former Belgian airline pilot, Ronald Rossignol, was in fact the owner, together with the British pilot Brian Martin.
Ronald Rossignol is the son of a senior political appointee in the office of P. Van den Boeynants, at the time when the latter was serving as Belgium’s Minister of Defence. [20] Ronald Rossignol had, prior to 1980, close connections with Brussels extreme right wing circles. [19] Since 1980 he has been involved in business with the Congo’s erstwhile President Mobutu. According to the Belgian newspaper Le Soir, his name appeared on Interpol lists and he was arrested in 1984 in France and accused of fraudulent bankruptcy, to the extent of some BEF 800 million.
Despite the dubious past of R. Rossignol, placed once more under judicial scrutiny, a senior civil servant of the Flemish authorities, Paul Waterlot, responsible for Ostend Airport’s promotion and information, eagerly defended R. Rossignol publicly in the press and reaffirmed in the name of the airport’s management board, full confidence in the aims of, and the services provided by, Occidental Airlines. [21]

The subject of the judicial investigation was a cargo of nearly forty tonnes of military equipment, to be sent to governmental or rebel forces in Angola.

An Avistar Airlines Boeing 707 freighter, Cyprus-registered as 5B-DAZ (*18), was chartered for the trip by Occidental Airlines. Pending a Belgian Customs investigation the consignment, consisting of Dutch Army surplus items, had been impounded in Occidental’s warehouse for nine months. The cargo manifest showed an innocuous cargo of used clothing, vehicle parts and vehicles, but the cargo consisted of twenty tonnes of uniforms, an armoured car, multi-band radios and other equipment needed by a fighting force. After being impounded for nine months, the consignment was granted permission to be exported to England and was merely sent across the Channel by truck without arousing further interest.

On 12 May 1998 the Avistar aircraft took off from the civil airport side of RAF Manston in Kent, UK bound for Africa. The flight plan showed that the aircraft was bound for Kano in Nigeria to refuel and then to its reported final destination of Mmabatho in South Africa. After taking off from Kano, the aircraft temporarily disappeared. It never landed on Mmabatho’s runway, actually too short for a fully-laden Boeing 707, but it was observed around 04.00 hours on 13 May on the ground at Cabinda, Angola and reappeared some hours later at Lomé in Togo, empty. [22]

According to the UK newspaper The Observer of 14 March 1999, the same aircraft 5B-DAZ, which in 1997 made some 28 flights from Ostend flew, in December 1998, a cargo of weapons and ammunition from Hermes, the former Slovak state-owned arms manufacturer in Bratislava, to the Sudan, in breach of an EU embargo. The southern civilian population of the Sudan was then subjected to violent oppression on religious grounds. The money paid by Hermes for the flight was split between the pilot, the crew and Ronald Rossignol, who acted as broker. While on its way for another delivery to the Sudan and again chartered by Rossignol, the aircraft left Bratislava on 7 February 1999, failed to achieve sufficient speed and ploughed into the mud at the end of the runway. Because of its long list of ongoing malfunctions, it was decided not to repair the aircraft.

In January 1999, the London Sunday Times reported that Occidental Airlines, together with the London-based Sky Air Cargo, was using ageing Boeing planes to transport about 400 tons of military equipment, 40 tons at a time, from Bratislava to Sierra Leone, from where the equipment was flown to rebel Congo airstrips, especially Goma and Kisangani. [6]
A Romanian daily, Evenimentul Zilei, reported in March 2002, that besides the Sky Air’s plane EL-JNS as already noted, aircraft of a company cooperating with Victor Bout’s arms smuggling, Flying Dolphin, as well as the aircraft chartered by the Belgian trafficker Ronald Rossignol used the military section of Otopeni airport, near Bucharest, as a touchdown base before leaving Romania, loaded with arms from Romanian company, Romtehnica.

Ronald Rossignol succeeded in his efforts to remain outside the grip of Belgian justice, which probably had insufficient legal grounds to take him into custody. The incapacity of local justice illustrates clearly the need for comprehensive international legislation and law enforcement, as well as underlining the ease with which arms brokers are able to take advantage of gaps within and between national legal systems.

However, since January 2001 Rossignol restarted his activities as a manager of a new company, called Red Rock and based at Brussels South Airport, while Belgian Justice again seemed to skip the opportunity of some action. Already a few months later Rossignol and his company were involved in illegal drugs traffic from Jamaica (see further on). Rossignol then took during a few years residence in Sandton, South-Africa, but he resumed his manager position, when Red Rock moved in December 2006 to an industrial area, next to the same Brussels South Airport.

2. Another Ostend-based company, which until 1997 was involved in arms smuggling, was NV Trans Aviation Network Group (hereafter “TAN Group”). The company was founded in 1995 and had its main office lodged in a brand-new building, called Jet Center, at the end of the motorway from Brussels to Ostend. The parent company of TAN Group, Air Cess is based in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, and seems to perform a pivotal function amongst different aircraft companies trafficking in arms. The brain of the organisation is a Russian ex-KGB major, Victor Anatolevic Bout (previously referred to), native of Tajikistan and undoubtedly on excellent terms with Russian and Ukrainian mafia and with former KGB-colleagues. As already noted, Victor Bout bought himself a luxurious house in a residential quarter of Ostend. His Belgian partner was a pilot, Ronald Desmet, formerly resident in France near the Swiss border.
Involvement in arms smuggling was first evidenced, when an insider revealed that Ronald Desmet paid the Air Cess-pilots USD10,000, in addition to their usual salaries, for each flight carrying arms and munitions. These flights were at that time mostly intended for Afghanistan. When this became known in Ostend and leaflets [23] with the names of those involved in illegal operations began appearing in mail boxes, Bout and his company Air Cess disappeared from Belgium, according to the director of IPIS and UN expert on illegal arms trade, Johan Peleman. [24] TAN Group decided in July 1997 to cancel the lease of its rented offices and to move to its Geneva office as well as to the parent company, Air Cess, afterwards renamed Air Bas, in Sharjah.
Ronald Desmet had formerly flown for the Saudi royal family [25] and held the authority to conduct business in the United Kingdom on behalf of the Liberian Aircraft Register. [26] Using these facts as proof of his integrity, he succeeded even in becoming a member of the Ostend Rotary club.
After he left Ostend, Victor Bout just went on with his sanctions-busting activities. According to a 1999 report of HRW, he had founded a subsidiary of Air Cess/Air Bas based at the South African airport of Pietersburg, called Air Pass. From Pietersburg, Air Pass, against UN regulations, transported fuel tanks, towing trucks, food and mining equipment to Unita-held areas of Angola. [27] During its activities, Air Pass had a direct link with a South African agency, Norse Air Charter, a subsidiary of the British air charter company Air Foyle of Luton. According to The Guardian (5 August 2000), it appears that Air Foyle had, through Norse Air Charter, a two-year business partnership with Victor Bout. [28]
Between July 1997 and October 1998, 37 flights left Burgas in Bulgaria carrying weapons worth $ 14 million and ending up in the hands of Unita forces in Angola, according to a UN-report of 21 December 2000. Victor Bout provided forged end-user certificates to the Gibraltar-based company KAS Engineering (previously referred to), which contracted the arms shipments from Bulgarian suppliers.
Shortly after South African authorities suspected him of smuggling arms to the Unita rebel forces, Victor Bout moved his operations to another company Air Cess Swaziland at Manzini airport. After the Swazi authorities discovered that his company was transporting military equipment, Victor Bout decided to move completely from southern Africa and to make Bangui in the Central African Republic his new African stronghold. [27]
On 19 April 2000 an Antonov aircraft AN-8, registered TL-ACM in the Central African Republic, crashed at an airport of the Democratic Republic of Congo, shortly after takeoff. There were no survivors. It was on a return flight with Rwandan army officers and some soldiers on board. The plane appeared to belong to Centrafrican Airlines, based at Bangui and to be co-owned by Ronald Desmet, the Belgian partner of Victor Bout. [14] Elsewhere an un-named company of Victor Bout has been reported flying in 1999 between the Central African Republic, Kisangani, the Congo and Kigali, Rwanda carrying arms, timber and precious stones. There is indeed also another company in Kigali, called Air Cess Rwanda, working with Russian and Ukrainian crew members and focussing its arms trade on the eastern region of the Congo and Angola. [29]
According to The Guardian, Victor Bout, who repeatedly changes the spelling of his name, is thought to operate a cargo fleet of some 20 ex-Soviet aircraft through several associated cargo companies based in various countries. It is almost impossible to trace all the aircraft linked with Victor Bout and his activities, since it is known that he usually leases his freighter aircraft to other operators and so can claim ignorance of the business of sanctions-busting. However, two of Air Foyle’s Antonov 124s made several flights to and from Ostend during the two-year partnership of the British company with Victor Bout. In January 1999, a plane belonging to Victor Bout was flown in conjunction with aircraft of Sky Air and the partly Belgian-owned Occidental Airlines, to airlift arms from Bratislava to war-torn but diamond rich Sierra Leone. [6] Four of Bout’s Ilyushin aircraft are registered in Equatorial Guinea, a tiny African republic squeezed between Gabon and Cameroon and with Malabo as a capital, located on the islet Bioko. [30] Two of them were recorded in October 1999 at Ostend Airport’s official flight log, making flights to the United Arab Emirates. On a few occasions Victor Bout called upon the services of a company, known as Phoenix Aviation and owned by an Israeli of Russian origin. Two Phoenix Ilyushins were observed in August 1999 in Ostend and the last flight of one of them from Ostend was recorded in the official flight log on 29 January 2000 towards Khartoum in the Sudan.
According to the UN-report of December 2000, Victor Bout “oversees a complex network of over 50 planes, tens of airline companies, cargo charter companies and freight-forwarding companies, many of which are involved in shipping illicit cargo”. [31]
(Quick jump to Victor Bout’s air cargo companies!)
Challenged in 1997 to take legal action and to prevent the use of Belgian airports by Victor Bout’s companies and other companies suspected or convicted of arms trafficking, Belgian authorities retorted that such companies were not subject to the existing Belgian jurisdiction and thus admitted that this legal inadequacy indeed enables abusers to take advantage of the gaps within and between the different national legal systems. The result of the investigation, ultimately ordered by the Ministry of External Affairs, has never been published.
After Victor Bout swapped his action field in southern Africa for a safer one in central Africa, he was actively assisted by Sanjivan Ruprah, a politically well-connected Kenyan businessman of Indian extraction. Ruprah introduced Victor Bout in arms dealings with Liberia’s president Charles Taylor and with rebels in eastern Congo as well as in Sierra Leone. After his relationship with Charles Taylor started to deteriorate, Ruprah moved to Belgium in mid-2001 and was arrested in Brussels on 5 February 2002.
Victor Bout did better. Until allegations in the US media surfaced about links with Al Qaeda, Bout operated with impunity in Western democracies, former Eastern Bloc nations, and the developing world, through a maze of companies, exploiting lax and outdated regulations and changing his aircraft registrations from one country to another. Although for a long time the US authorities had turned a blind eye to his activities, Victor Bout suddenly became a main target of the US and the Western alliance, after the 11 September catastrophe and the subsequent assumption of his purported connections with Al Qaeda, until now not supported by any conclusive evidence.
Victor Bout had then to take refuge in Moscow, where he adamantly declared in the studios of radio Ekho Moskvy: ‘I deal exclusively with air transportation.’
However, Victor Bout’s alleged previous link with Al Qaeda doesn’t mean, in the view of US officials, that the US and UK governments shouldn’t cooperate with him. Indeed the US-UK coalition forces are using airlines owned by Victor Bout to transport supplies to Iraq. In 2003 a subsidiary of the British Gulf International Airlines (BGIA), headquartered in Sao Tome & Principe and with base in Sharjah, was created in Kyrgyzstan, and uses name, offices and staff of its Sao Tome counterpart. Intelligence agencies have linked Bout to this firm’s planes, and money transfers have been traced between BGIA and a Bout-linked company, San Air General Trading. BGIA’s flight manager admitted that his firm frequently flew supplies to several Iraqi locations. Also Bout’s Kazakhstan air company, Irbis Air, which took over assets and operations from Bout’s Air Cess/Air Bas, frequently flew into Iraq. Irbis planes bought fuel 142 times from military stocks in Baghdad. [32] Since Iraq airports are now the world's most dangerous, Bout's aircraft, pilots and personnel provide the US authorities with "plausible deniability" in case an airplane is downed. It is believed that Bout will be amnestied from the multitude of international charges he faces in return for his services. Indeed, in 2004 the Bush administration began to press for Bout to be left off planned UN sanctions, in spite of French efforts to freeze his assets and an outstanding Interpol warrant for his arrest. [33] When Condoleezza Rice was National Security Adviser, she pre-empted an attempt by United Arab Emirates authorities to arrest Bout at Sharjah and gave clear orders to the CIA and FBI not to touch him. [34] Through BGIA and Irbis Air, Bout is now running arms for the Bush administration. Since 9/11 he changed from an international pariah into a potential asset for U.S. intelligence services. His air-freight services continue being used not only by the U.S. military for arms transportation but by the United Nations as well for relief transportation, himself so buttering his toast on both sides. [35]
To whatever degree Ostend Airport has hosted major arms dealers, the airport continues being the host to some dubious companies. There are additional disturbing facts to be anxious about, including the precise role of Ostend Airport in what has been described as “the octopus that is the arms trade”. Additional disturbing facts are:
▪ According to the UK’s Daily Express of 9 June 1996, in April 1996 the British pilot Christopher Barrett-Jolley bought a small BAC 1-11 freighter that was due to be scrapped, and persuaded the British authorities to allow him to fly it to Ostend, supposedly to sell the parts. Once there, however, he put the plane on the Liberian register and formed a new company, Balkh Air, to fly arms from Bulgaria to a warlord in northern Afghanistan. Barrett-Jolley was also the pilot, who should have flown the arms-laden Boeing 707, 5B-DAZ, chartered by Ronald Rossignol’s Occidental Airlines, from Bratislava to Khartoum in the Sudan on 7 February 1999. Ironically, he could then not be present to fly the plane. So an unlicensed crew boarded the freighter, but unaware of its defects they failed to get the plane into the air and, as recounted earlier, it crashed into the mud at the runway’s end. Another old Boeing 707 with Afghan registration YA-GAF (*19a) has been standing since 1997 on Ostend Airport in a state of increasing dilapidation and was ultimately broken up end of June 2004 (*19b). First owned by Uganda Airlines, it was afterwards owned by Balkh Air, the company of the enigmatic British pilot and moreover linked to one of the most cruel warlords in Afghanistan, Rashid Dostum.
Barrett-Jolley’s unlawful behaviour is further illustrated by his due appearance in court on 19 October 2001. A few days earlier, after a Boeing 707 freighter (msn 19179), registered in Equatorial Guinea as 3C-GIG (*20), arrived at night from Jamaica at Southend Airport, Essex, UK, pilot Barrett-Jolley was caught red-handed and charged with smuggling 270 kilos of cocaine with an estimated street value of £22 million. [36] The plane had been chartered by Ronald Rossignol’s new Belgian company Red Rock, based at Brussels South Airport and which he manages since its establishment in 2001. The plane, now registered as 9L-LDU (*21), was sold in October 2003 to and active until its crash in Istanbul (23 December 2005) with Air Leone, formerly Ibis Air Transport and controlled by Executive Outcomes and its sister company Sandline International. [37]
In 1994 Barrett-Jolley flew arms to the Unita rebels in Angola and to South Yemen during the vicious civil war. In December 1994, one of his planes crashed outside Coventry airport, due to outdated equipment and improper maintenance, killing five people.
▪ In 1997 an ageing Boeing 707, registered as 5Y-SIM (*22), made 39 flights from Ostend Airport. The aircraft was operated by the Kenyan company, Simba Airlines, formed by Sanjivan Ruprah, a close associate of notorious arms dealer Victor Bout. Due to European Community directives, Simba Airlines lost in 1998 its landing allowance on Belgian airports. Sanjivan Ruprah, himself an arms broker, was also linked to the private military company (PMC), Executive Outcomes, responsible for killing many African people during the civil wars in Angola and Sierra Leone. He was in charge of Simba Airlines, until investigations into financial irregularities forced the company’s closure. [38] There was also a close company relationship between Simba Airlines and Ibis Air Transport, that became in 1999 Executive Outcomes’ airline company Air Leone, based in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Sanjivan Ruprah was arrested in Belgium, after evidence emerged of links between Victor Bout and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
▪ In May 1997 a Boeing 707 of Ibis Air Transport, alias Air Leone, alias Capricorn Flights, and registered as P4-JCC (*23) visited twice Ostend Airport. It was also seen at Sharjah in February 1998. Before that, it had visited Ostend registered as YR-JCC and operated by the Romania-based company, Jaro International. The aircraft was later sold to the Sudan-based Azza Transport Company.
▪ Before Victor Bout started his business in Ostend, the airport of this town was, according to Human Rights Watch, already since at least 1994 harbouring aircraft connected with arms deliveries to embargoed African countries. In its report on the April 1994 Rwandan genocide [39], HRW reported that an arms shipment arrived in mid-June 1994 in Goma on an aircraft registered in Liberia, with a Belgian crew from Ostend, which picked up arms in Libya, including artillery, ammunition and riffles from old government stocks. This arms shipment was probably the one to which the leaflets [22] distributed in Ostend mail boxes alluded, bringing this Liberian-registered aircraft into connection with Bout’s associate, Ronald Desmet, who had boasted in the presence of a local Ostend politician, that he held the authority to conduct business on behalf of the Liberian Aircraft Register. [25] However, these weapons were then to be delivered from Goma in what was then known as Zaire to the Rwandan Hutu armed forces at Gisenyi, just across the Rwandan border.
An earlier flight with arms took place on 25 May. A Boeing 707 aircraft, Nigerian-registered as 5N-OCL (*24), arrived at Goma carrying 39 tons of arms and ammunition. [40] The aircraft was said to have carried a single passenger, listed as “Bagosera T.”. It is also known that Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, a top official from the former Rwandan government forces and reputed to be one of the main organizers of the April 1994 genocide, was at that time eagerly in search of weapons to counter the Tutsi RPF armed forces. [39] The 5N-OCL Boeing was operated by Overnight Cargo Nigeria, a short-lived company from 1992 to 1994, period in which the Boeing was a regular visitor to Ostend Airport.
In December 2008 Bagosora was sentenced for life in prison by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, for his role in masterminding the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. [40a]
▪ In its Bulgaria report of 1999, HRW mentions the case of a Boeing 707 flying from Burgas to Bujumbura, Burundi, and grounded in Lagos, Nigeria, after weapons were discovered on board. The plane was operated by Trans Arabian Air Transport of Sudan, left Burgas airport in mid-February 1998, and made a stopover in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, where part of its cargo was unloaded, before stopping in Lagos to refuel on its way to Burundi. A close aide to Burundian president Buyoya was aboard the plane and was later promoted to the post of defence minister. [41] Two of the Trans Arabian Air Transport Boeings, 5X-ARJ/ST-ANP (*25) and ST-AMF (*26), made in 1997 a combined total of 45 flights from Ostend Airport.
▪ On 17 November 2000, a 33 years old Boeing 707, owned by Equaflight Service, an airline company with operating base at Pointe Noire, Congo-Brazzaville, landed at Ostend Airport. It was registered as TN-AGO (*27). Before that, it was operated by Air Ghana and registered as 9G-AYO. Just before becoming TN-AGO, the plane was temporarily Thai-registered as HS-TFS, astonishingly the same registration number which was seen on another aircraft in September 1999 (see further on). The previous ‘Thai Flying Services’ titles were still slightly visible on this new-registered aircraft. However, in 1997 the same aircraft, registered as EL-RDS, made 6 of the 12 flights executed in that year from Ostend Airport by airplanes of Air Cess, one of Victor Bout’s main airline companies. Four of the 12 flights were executed by the Air Cess Ilyushin EL-RDX, which became afterwards registered as TL-ACU and operated by Bout’s Centrafrican Airlines and whose deliveries of helicopters, other military equipment and ammunition in July and August 2000 to Liberia are well documented. [42] On 4 January 2001, TN-AGO took off from Ostend for Chateauroux in France. On 7 September 2001, the airplane crashed at Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and sustained substantial damage when the undercarriage collapsed and two engines detached.
▪ Another aircraft seen at Ostend Airport, has been involved in illegal arms traffic. On 29 September 2001 an Antonov-12, registered as UR-UCK and owned by Ukrainian Cargo Airways, landed at the Bratislava airport. The aircraft was expected to pick up for onward shipment to Angola additional cargo, that just before had been unloaded from an Iranian Ilyushin plane. This Iranian cargo appeared to be 504 units of rocket-propelled grenades, but it did not match the consignment-note. Consequently the munitions cargo was impounded and so prevented from being loaded onto the Antonov-12, which was allowed to take off for a military airport in Israel en route to Angola, after Slovak authorities had been pressurized to release the consignment. UR-UCK’s own cargo, collected on departure from Ukraine on behalf of the Israeli private military company LR Avionics Technologies, consisted of spare parts for military aircraft. During a fuel-stop at Mwanza in Tanzania [43], the aircraft was halted, since authorities discovered undeclared weapons cargo. Nevertheless, it was allowed to leave on orders of top Tanzanian security officials.[44] LR Avionics is known to belong to former military pilots and to have sold under controversial circumstances Ukrainian radar systems for military and civil use in Angola, Congo and Ethiopia. [45]
The aircraft UR-UCK also visited Ostend from 2000 to 2002 and was in the second half of 2002 leased in by the Ostend-based company Air Charter Service (*28).
As recounted earlier, Moldovan Aerocom was, together with Belgium’s Ducor World Airlines, convicted of illegal arms transport to Liberia in the summer of 2002 [15b]. After its gunrunning was the subject of too much public exposure, Aerocom got its air transport operating certificate revoked in August 2004. [58] Asterias Commercial, a company in Greece with base in Ukraine, but since its creation in 1996 left as a dormant shell company, was promptly reactivated so as to continue Aerocom’s operations.
One of Asterias’ airplanes was frequently seen at Ostend, first leased from November 2004 to Ostend-based Air Charter Service (*29) and afterwards consecutively operated by Moldovan companies Airline Transport and Aeronord-Group. Other tasks, usually assigned to Aerocom, were from the date of its decertification executed by Victor Bout-linked Jet Line International. Aircraft operated by Jet Line frequently visited Ostend during 2005. [59]
▪ On 31 December 2002 an airplane, registered in the Central African Republic (CAR) as TL-ADJ (*30), requested to make an emergency landing at Ostend Airport, since the landing gears didn’t come in after take-off in Southend. In 1997 this plane, registered as 9Q-CBW (*31), was a regular visitor to Ostend Airport and executed 106 flights from Ostend on behalf of Scibe Airlift Congo. This company closed down and the plane was then stored at Southend airport. After 5 years of storage, the plane was supposed to leave on 13 December 2002 for Tripoli, Libya, but due to technical problems the aircraft was kept on the ground. It left then Southend on 31 December bound for Mitiga, Libya, but within 30 minutes it landed at Ostend. On 3 January 2003 the aircraft was supposed to leave Ostend for Mitiga, but again it was kept on the ground. Technical control, ordered by the Belgian authorities, showed a long list of deficiencies.

The logo on the plane’s tail ‘AL’ stands for African Lines, a company which is probably linked to Centrafrican Airlines of the Belgian pilot Ronald Desmet, former associate of notorious arms dealer Victor Bout. According to UN-reports, Centrafrican Airlines is known for having airlifted arms from Bangui in the CAR to several war zones in Africa, mainly those in the DRC. According to the Belgian daily De Morgen of 24 January 2003, it also appeared that Jean-Pierre Bemba, the leader of the rebel movement MLC (Mouvement de Libération du Congo) was immediately lobbying to get the aircraft in the air and it was known that Bemba, still fighting then for primacy in the northern part of the DRC, got arms and ammunition airlifted from the CAR. Eventually under ongoing pressure of Bemba, who meanwhile became one of the six vice-presidents of the transitional government of the DRC, and after a French company willingly delivered a valid “release to service” certificate, the aircraft took off from Ostend on 6 August 2003 and minutes later ended up at the airport of Reims in France, after again an emergency landing.
The defunct airline company Scibe Airlift was owned by Jean-Pierre Bemba’s father Bemba Saolana, a wealthy businessman in the then Zaire under Mobutu. The company kept offices at Ostend Airport, called Scibe CMMJ. Bemba Saolana and one of Mobutu’s sons controlled in addition to Scibe, several smaller airline companies, that formed the vital lifeline that enabled Unita to re-emerge as a highly capable rebel movement in Angola in the mid 1990s. Scibe Airlift had one of its planes grounded when it refused a customs check after arriving at N’Djili airport in Kinshasa from Belgium in early 1997. [46]

▪ An ageing Ghana-registered Boeing 707 (9G-EBK) made about ten flights with arms from Plovdiv in Bulgaria to South Yemen.

This was at a time when that country was subject to an international arms embargo. The aircraft was operated by the Ghana-based company, Imperial Cargo Airlines, and was seen with this registration at Ostend Airport. In 1997 the same aircraft, registered as 9G-SGF, made 40 flights from Ostend Airport and was then operated by the Nigerian-based Sky Power Express Airways and leased from Ghana’s Al-Waha Aviation, owner of this sole airplane. With the Thai registration number HS-TFS (*32), already seen before on another plane, as pointed out earlier, the aircraft reappeared at Ostend Airport in September 1999 with titles of the operating company, Thai Flying Services.

It took off from Ostend for Sharjah, which reportedly became its new home base. Afterwards the plane with a new registration (9G-JET) was sold to Johnsons Air of Ghana, which has Accra and Sharjah as operating bases and is closely associated with a Belgian company First International Airlines.

▪ On 18 November 2000, the day after the Equaflight Boeing TN-AGO landed in Ostend, a 35 years old Boeing 707 (9G-LAD) owned by Ghana’s Johnsons Air, landed at Ostend Airport. In 1997 this plane was operated by a Nigerian company, Merchant Express Aviation, based in Lagos, and registered as 5N-MXX (*33), it made 83 flights from Ostend Airport. In 1998 Merchant Express ceased all activities and the aircraft became Johnsons Air 9G-LAD (*34). Johnsons Air works in league with the Belgian company, First International Airlines.

The company, first based near the town of Tournai, is now based in Brussels. It has office and PO box at the Ostend Airport and uses the air transport operating certificate of Ghana’s Johnsons Air. The man in charge of First International is an Iranian, Niknafs Javad. He was a pilot who, earlier in his career, flew for David Tokoph’s Seagreen. It is not clear if his company still works as a subcontractor for Tokoph. Rumours that First International Airlines is flying arms between Azerbaijan and China have not been confirmed. Another Johnsons Air Boeing 707 (P4-OOO) operated by First International and seen at Ostend Airport, crashed on 16 January 1997 on Kananga airport in the former Zaire. As the right main gear collapsed on landing, the aircraft ran off the side of the runway and caught fire.

First International is also related to an obscure airline company, Cargo Plus Aviation, first registered in Equatorial Guinea afterwards in Ghana and with bases in Dubai and Sharjah. The First International office at the airport bears the nameplate with corresponding logo of Cargo Plus, and both companies share their commodities. Meanwhile they left their office at the airport for another office in town.

▪ At Ostend Airport, Johnsons Air itself shares since the end of 2003 office, station manager and PO box with HeavyLift, which is part of Christopher Foyle’s airline company Air Foyle, as recounted earlier, known from its two-year business partnership with arms dealer Victor Bout.

HeavyLift seems to be the air broker, who organises from Ostend the Johnsons Air flights. However, both companies recently left the Ostend airport after a few adverse publications.
Johnsons Air was formed in 1995 by Farhad Azima, a native of Iran, resident in the U.S.

since the 1950s and member of the Board of Directors of the U.S. Azerbajan Chamber of Commerce [47]. At the time of HeavyLift’s shutdown, Azima was its chairman. Reputed as a mayor gunrunner [48], he is also suspected to have had close ties to the CIA and has been linked to the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal as well as to all kinds of criminal activities [49].
On 7 August 2003 an ageing Boeing 707 landed at Robertsfield International Airport in war-torn Liberia.

It was filled with arms including rocket launchers, automatic weapons and ammunition. [50] The Boeing was owned by Johnsons Air. It was bearing the same registration number as the just above described aircraft, 9G-LAD and was probably operating from Sharjah. In fact it was executing this flight in a series of three Johnsons arms flights to Monrovia. [51] But it is not quite clear which airline company was operating the plane at the time when it landed in Liberia. According to certain sources, the operating company might as well have been First International (*35) or Race Cargo (*36).

Also Race Cargo Airlines has for years an office at Ostend Airport and even a full-owned warehouse. The Belgian company, officially registered at the Ostend Commercial Trade Register, has a Ghanaian counterpart in Accra, while the UK branch has been liquidated. Since May 2002 the Belgian Race Cargo was closely associated with the Egyptian Air Memphis, until early April 2004, when Air Memphis aircraft SU-AVZ (*14), a well-known visitor to Ostend, was badly damaged. Afterwards, the Belgian Race Cargo was used as aircraft handling company by Ghana-registered MK Airlines, which switched in 2004 its base at Manston Airport for Ostend. Eventually also the Belgian Race went bankrupt in June 2006. At that time Race Cargo Ghana had already become a dormant company, however having handed over its flight certificate to Ghana-registered Cargo Plus Aviation.

Almost at the same time when the arms flight at Robertsfield Airport was notified, the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority suspended the licence of the aircraft 9G-LAD as well as the air transport operating certificate of Race Cargo, suspecting the Ghanaian company of being the owner of the aircraft and attempting to deliver the arms consignment to the Liberian government. [52] Apparently, Race Cargo was back in the air for a short time, leasing Johnsons Air B707, 9G-IRL (*37), until the plane crashed in Entebbe on 19 March 2005, then operating for Ethiopian Airlines, another long-time visitor to Ostend.

However, two weeks earlier than the first Johnsons arms flight, on 23 May 2003 a Boeing 707 of Air Memphis Uganda, a daughter company of Egypt’s Air Memphis, 5X-AMU, also transported arms and ammunition to the Robertsfield Airport in Monrovia [51], exposing the complexity of interconnections of companies at work in Ostend.

It seems that at least Johnsons, First International, Race Cargo and HeavyLift intended since 2003 to work in league from Ostend Airport. Therefore, Johnsons Air bought two old DC8 planes from Silk Way Airlines of Azerbaijan, which used Ostend Airport as the home base for both planes (*38, *39). First International bought another ageing DC8 from liquidated Aer Turas of Ireland, stored at the airport (*40). Initially, the three airplanes were meant to operate from Ostend. Two of them already took off, but the third one, recently put on the Swiss list of aircraft banned owing to safety concerns, has not been taken up for the time being. The First International DC8 has meanwhile been leased out to an obscure Saudi company with operating base in Nigeria, Al-Dawood Air.

From February to August 2003, Al-Dawood, founded in 2002, had another DC8, Congo-registered as 9Q-CAD (*41), operating from Ostend and using the meanwhile defunct ICAO airline code “CAX” of a Swiss company, Capax-Air-Unitreva, which is said to be part of the financial Bin Laden ramifications. [53]

▪ The linkage of Ostend Airport with arms trafficking companies seems to be a never ending story. According to the London Sunday Times of July 3 [54] and an Amnesty International report of July 5, 2005 [55], African International Airways made a total of six flights from Albania to the Rwandan capital of Kigali in late 2002 and early 2003 in breach of UN sanctions, carrying more than 250 tons of arms in DC8 freighter aircraft. The arms cargo, consisting of machinegun and pistol ammunition, grenades and rocket launchers, ended up in the hands of Rwandan-backed rebel groups based in the conflict-ridden eastern Congo province of Ituri and found guilty of widespread torture, rape and murder. African Int’l Airways is since many years a very regular visitor to the Ostend Airport.

So were also both Swaziland-registered AIA DC8 planes (*42, *43), responsible for the arms flights and one South African-registered AIA DC8 (*44), reportedly exported to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and so are two still regularly visiting South African-registered AIA DC8 planes (*45, *46). Organizer of the arms transport was a UK charter broker, Platinum Air Cargo, which had also an Ostend-registered branch with seat adjacent to the airport.

On 18 October 2004 a 35 year old DC8 landed at Ostend Airport and stayed for some ten weeks for maintenance and refurbishing. Registered as 9XR-SC (*47), the aircraft is owned by the Rwandan-based company, Silverback Cargo Freighters, founded in 2002. According to the Amnesty report of July 5, 2005 [55], both DC8 aircraft of Silverback, 9XR-SC and 9XR-SD carried out another series of ammunition deliveries from Albania to Kigali from April to June 2003. Between March and September 2004 the Silverback-plane 9XR-SC was leased out to International Air Services to transport further quantities of arms from Eastern Europe to Rwanda.

As recounted earlier, the latter Liberia-registered company is the last but one creation of arms dealer Duane Egli.

It took over both remaining Lockheed TriStars from Egli’s in 2003 bankrupt Ducor World Airlines, which in mid 2002 supplied weapons to Charles Taylor’s Liberia.

In an interview in the French newspaper L’Humanité of April 5, 2005 [56], Hubert Sauper, film director of an award-winning documentary film “Darwin’s Nightmare”, mentions this Ducor airlift of military supplies to Burundi through the Mwanza airport.

The film is a tale about the devastating fish industry around the Lake Victoria and about arms- fish trade. It is distinctive that freighters seen in “Darwin’s Nightmare” [57] are those, well-known as long-time visitors to the Ostend airport: SU-AVZ (*48) of Air Memphis and ZS-OSI (*49) of African International Airways, both wet-leased by Egli’s International Air Services, ER-IBV (*50) of Moldovan Jet Line International, linked to Victor Bout, OD-AGP (*51) of TMA of Lebanon, 9G-MKG (*52) and 9G-MKK (*53) of MK Airlines, which switched in 2004 its base at Manston airport for a reportedly cheaper Ostend Airport.

MK Airlines operates mainly on African destinations, regularly on behalf of Congo’s Hewa Bora Airways and of Togo’s Africa West Air, the latter company having organised in June 2003 flights with weapons and ammunition destined for the Mayi-Mayi rebels in South Kivu, DRC [55]. Especially in support of newcomer MK, the government of the Flemish Region started building a brand-new warehouse, operational since 2006.

In its report of May 10, 2006, in connection with arms transportation [58], Amnesty International points the finger at Ostend’s airport as an airport “where economic or political factors have made the scrutiny of cargoes a rare event”. In the same report, Amnesty mentions by name several airlines involved in arms transport.

Many of them have over the years been known visitors to Ostend Airport and, though since many years covertly and since 2005 fully promoted by a prominent Belgian socialist politician, the airport was until recently for certain of such airlines and is so far for others still a harbour: African International Airways, Vega Airlines, Volare Aviation Enterprise and Asterias Commercial, in 2006 converted to Moldova-based Aeronord-Group [59].

Ostend Airport seems unable or supposedly unwilling to finish with arms transport connected companies nor has efficient action to clean up the mess been undertaken by Belgian authorities, so that one could suspect some complicity of Belgian politics in sustaining arms traffic organizers at the airport.

This is further evidenced by the continuing presence of dodgy companies, reportedly removed from the airport but still established on other locations in Ostend and consequently hardly believed to be inactive: Aero Zambia, Avicon Aviation, First International, Cargo Plus Aviation and Linhas Aéreas de Angola.

In a report of 1998, HRW states: “Crossing borders with extreme ease, the arms traffickers have truly multinational networks and pipelines. The Ostend operators, for example, reside in Belgium, collect their cargo from eastern European suppliers and deliver to clients across the world”.

Bulgaria and Slovakia are major sources of arms to be transported to war zones.

Airports from where the arms transfer is organised or effected are mainly

  • Burgas and Plovdiv in Bulgaria,
  • Bratislava in Slovakia,
  • a number of Russian airports
  • Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates and
  • the airport of Ostend.

The arms are subsequently delivered to the

  • Sudanese airport of Khartoum,
  • the Tanzanian airport of Mwanza,
  • to Sierra Leone, Angola, the Congo or other war zones.

Picture (*54) taken in 1996 at the Ostend airport illustrates well the Ostend involvement in arms dealing. Five out of the six Boeings shown have been involved in arms traffic: 5N-TNO of Air Atlantic Cargo, 5B-DAZ of Avistar, EL-JNS of Sky Air Cargo, 9G-ADS and (hidden behind 9G-ADS) EL-AKJ both of Occidental Airlines.

The complexity of arms trafficking networks is intended to make transactions untraceable. However, it is difficult to agree when this complexity and the lack of concordant European arms trade legislation are used to justify abusive practices at Ostend Airport.

In addition, it is generally known that Ostend Airport is economically not viable. This also has caused some people to suggest, that involvement in the arms trade, and the concurrent financial support of evil-minded organisations and even the acceptance of bribes by officials are tolerated to ensure the survival of a heavily subsidised body.

Whatever blame can be adduced to the Belgian authorities, some burgeoning of a serious political will is expected to be seen in order to create an appropriate legal framework and to obtain its approval by the other members of the European Community, so as to put an end to this unacceptable trafficking in arms.

For tail numbers and how they moved from airline to airline as they were shut down, go to.

The Rest @ The Clean Ostend Assocation