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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Is Bout arming the insurgents?

I've paid insufficient attention to the strange doings of the infamous arms dealers Viktor Bout (pronounced "Butt"), the so-called "Merchant of Death" -- the closest thing to a real-life James Bond supervillain you are likely to find anywhere outside the oval office.

Bout, it is said, was the arms merchant to Al Qaeda in the 1996-2001 period. Back then, Osama and his pals assumed control of Afghanistan's airline -- yes, they had an airline -- which was called Ariana. Ariana devoted itself to the trans-shipment of the stuff that really matters: Gold, arms, and drugs. The drugs went from Afghanistan to the United Arab Emirates, and the return flights came loaded with weaponry. The supplier of the weapons was Victor Bout, who was then operating out of the UAE. The United States under both Clinton and Bush turned a blind eye to all this, since no-one wanted to upset an oil-producing ally.

A few days ago, Doug Farah published a terrific account of Bout's involvement in the great assault weapons heist that recently took place in Bosnia:
In one of the strangest twists of recent Bout-related events, a company in Bout’s business orbit was found to have flown several hundred thousand AK-47 assault rifles from Bosnia to Iraq, theoretically for use by the new, U.S.-traine Iraqi army and police. Unfortunately, there is no record of the weapons ever actually landing in Iraq, although it appears that the now-defunct air freighter, Aerocom, did make the flights.
So what happened? We will likely never know. But Bout has double-dealt with all sides of every war he has supplied. He has routinely rerouted weapons shipments for his own commercial gain, and that does not inspire much confidence.
Still more:
There are several things wrong with the picture to begin with. The most obvious is that Iraq did not need to import weapons, as it has a surplus. Bosnia is supposed to be destroying weapons, not selling them. The sales can only proceed with the permission of EUFOR, the EU-led peacekeeping body that remains in charge of much weapons issues in Bosnia. There were many other air freighters available if this unusual weapons transfer in fact did have to happen. Why Aerocom? Why no paper work at the end?
The obvious suggestion is that these weapons have gone to supply irregulars, either in Iraq or elsewhere. Just as obviously, Bout is working with the neocons -- otherwise, Fox News would continually promote him as the devil-du-jour.

Want more on Bout? Go here. Have fun. You'll be lost for days.

On a speculative note: Returning to the subject of 9/11 and drug-running, a reader made a comment that provides at least some food for thought:
Hopsicker has uncovered a lot of dirt indicating that the alleged hijackers were involved in drug smuggling. I mean, an overwhelming amount of dirt - it's hard to look at it and not immediately conclude that this is what they were up to. Nor does further scrutiny indicate that Hopsicker is putting us on with any of it.

Yet, in all his years of investigations he's uncovered virtually no evidence that the alleged hijackers were involved with terrorism. Lots of drugs, but evidently no "radical jihadism". Isn't that something?

Couldn't it be possible that maybe the only thing that these guys were up to was drug smuggling? And that they were set up by, say, a former business partner who was pissed that he'd been cut out of the loop on a lucrative Afghani heroin operation, and maybe a certain foreign country with an interest in generating hostility toward Muslims?
Joseph, you are the biggest dot-connector on the internet. Thank you and keep up the good work.
Very Interesting....
hm. color me dense, but i'm having trouble getting that lost set of dots to connect.

how, exactly, would four sets of drug smugglers be 'set up' to crash their hijacked (presumably for ransom?) planes into buildings? would each group include a confederate who piloted?

that just seems awfully far-fetched. if the smugglers we 'set up,' wouldn't they get a clue when the view from the cockpit started getting a little, er, close?

help me out here.
oops, correction: lAst set of dots. not lost set.
hm. color me dense, but i'm having trouble getting that lost set of dots to connect.

how, exactly, would four sets of drug smugglers be 'set up' to crash their hijacked (presumably for ransom?) planes into buildings? would each group include a confederate who piloted?

There's not exactly a glut of evidence proving that these guys were the pilots, and lots of evidence to suggest they weren't - for example, if you want to learn to fly a jet, do you really want to train exclusively on a Cessna and maybe a flight simulator? And then trust you'll be competent enough on your first time at the controls of an actual jet? Competent enough to crash into the Pentagon at 500 mph?

And someone please tell me, exactly what did bin Laden, the Taliban, and this group of heroin peddlers down in Florida stand to gain from 9/11 in the first place? Seems like a lot of work to go through, just to get their country invaded and a very lucrative operation shut down...
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