December 11, 2005
Additional ties between southern Christian fundamentalists, Texas oil interests, and Russian-Israeli mobsters and weapons smugglers uncovered. According to informed Washington insiders, there is increasing evidence of financial links between key "Christian Right" GOP notables and an international ring of Russian-Ukrainian-Israeli mobsters tied to notorious Russian weapons smuggler Viktor Vasilevich (aka Anatoliyevich) Bout.
Bout, whose U.S. assets were frozen by the Treasury Department, continues to provide various contractor services in Iraq and is considered by Condoleezza Rice to be out-of-bounds for U.S. law enforcement authorities. When she was National Security Adviser, Rice pre-empted an attempt by Sharjah, United Arab Emirates authorities to arrest Bout. To U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies, Rice was very clear when it comes to Bout: "Look, but don't touch" was her direct order to the CIA and FBI. It appears that Bout has gone from arms smuggler for Al Qaeda and the Taliban to arms runner for the Bush administration. Bout's British Gulf International Airline, registered in Sao Tome and Principe and Kyrgyzstan and based in Sharjah, is a regular visitor to Baghdad International and airports in the north of Iraq. Bout also made a financial windfall from contracts let to his airline companies by the former Iraqi Coalition Provisional Authority led by L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer. Bout also benefited from contracts let to his Dubai-based Falcon Express Cargo by Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton.
Bout's British Gulf International contracted to U.S. occupation forces in Iraq. Bout once provided arms to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Federal prosecutors are already examining links between indicted GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Italian Mafia hit men who have been charged with murdering Florida businessman Gus Boulis, former Christian Coalition director and Georgia Republican Lt. Governor candidate Ralph Reed, and indicted Texas GOP Representative Tom DeLay. Abramoff associate Adam Kidan has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in their investigation of Abramoff, especially deals involving the shake down of various Indian tribes in shady casino deals.
There is also now interest in the activities of Richard T. Hines, the head of the powerful Republican lobbying firm RTH Consulting, Inc. Hines, a South Carolina native and a protege of the late GOP dirty trickmeister Lee Atwater, was one of the architects of the dirty tricks campaign by Bush against John McCain in the 2000 South Carolina primary. A confederate of Abramoff in the 1980s Reagan administration's covert support network for the Nicaraguan contras, Angolan UNITA guerrillas, and Afghan mujaheddin, Hines is active in various Confederacy resurgence organizations, many of which have clear racist agendas. However, that has not prevented Hines from becoming the lobbyist for Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh, a military officer who overthrew Gambia's democratically-elected President Sir Dawda K. Jawara in a 1994 military coup supported by the United States Navy.
Hines inherited the lobbying contract for Gambia from the eclectic Washington lobbyist Edward von Kloberg III, an individual who represented Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, Liberia's Samuel K. Doe, Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania, Congolese leader Laurent Kabila, the exiled King Kigeli V of Rwanda, and Saddam Hussein. Last May, von Kloberg took a swan dive off of a castle in Rome, allegedly committing suicide after a spat with a gay partner.
The connections between Hines and Gambia are important since the small narrow West African country is also a major base of operations for notorious Russian international arms smuggler Viktor Bout. The Gambia is the headquarters for one of many of Bout's front companies -- companies that are used to smuggle everything from weapons to diamonds and mercenaries to international relief supplies. In fact, Bout was the character on whom fictional arms smuggler Yuri Orlov, played by Nicolas Cage in the movie Lord of War, was largely based.
Bout's connections with the Christian Right do not end with Gambia. Bout was Liberian dictator Charles Taylor's primary arms and diamond smuggler. Bout and his associates were given Liberian diplomatic passports and, with Taylor's blessing and protection, they registered a number of their front companies in Monrovia, the Liberian capital. Taylor, who is now in exile in Nigeria, was a business partner with Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson. Robertson's organization mentored both Ralph Reed and Richard Hines. According to British and Israeli intelligence sources, Taylor also enabled Al Qaeda to launder blood diamonds for cash through Liberia. Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone were where Israeli mobsters engaged in business with Israeli gangsters who operated under the full protection of the Israeli Likud government.
Before Likud began purging Mossad of experienced intelligence officers with ties to the Israeli Labor Party, the Israeli-Al Qaeda diamond financial connection in West Africa was being pointed out by those officers as suicidal for Israeli interests. However, Taylor and Bout had powerful interests in the United States: a combination of the Christian Right and pro-Likud organizations like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), both of which ignored and continue to ignore Israeli organized crime connections to Al Qaeda and terrorism. Robertson and Taylor were business partners in a Cayman Islands front company called Freedom Gold, Ltd. In fact, Freedom Gold bas headquartered at Robertson's CBN offices in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Robertson's African interests also crossed paths with Bout's in another country -- the former Zaire. Robertson's African Development Company used the cover of Robertson's tax-exempt "Operation Blessing" to ferry conflict diamonds out of civil war-ravaged Zaire (now Congo).
A UN Security Council report dated November 30, 2005, lists Bout's Gambia New Millennium Air Company as having its address at the residence of Hines' client Jammeh: State House, Banjul, Gambia. The UN report states, "The Director of this firm is Baba Jobe, who is already listed on the Liberia Sanctions Committee's assets freeze list. According to a commercial aviation database, the firm acted as a cover for Victor Bout's operations. Its one aircraft, a Russian-made passenger jet, was acquired from Centrafrican Airlines."
It is noteworthy that Hines's client, President Jammeh, just took possession of the Russian-made VIP presidential passenger jet, an Ilyushin IL-62 (C5-GNM) [Gambia] (formerly CCCP-86511 [USSR], RA-86511 [Russia], 3D-RTI [Swaziland], TL-ACL [Central African Republic]). And also of interest is the owner of the presidential aircraft: it is none other than Gambia New Millennium Air, the Bout-owned company listed on the UN Security Council freeze list and which is headquartered at Jammeh's State House in Banjul, the Gambian capital. In fact, the plane had been previously registered to Bout front companies in Swaziland and the Central African Republic.
Bout, who flew arms and passengers from Dubai and other locations to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan prior to 9-11, is now providing air services in post-Taliban Afghanistan as well as U.S.-occupied Iraq. Bout's transactions with the Taliban were handled by Vial, Inc., a firm based in Delaware. One of Bout's closest associates is the Russian-Israeli Odessa-born crime boss Leonid Minin, an Israeli national who, according to the UN Security Council, travels on forged German passports as well as legal Israeli, Russian, Greek, and Bolivian passports under at least ten aliases. It is also noteworthy that many of Bout's operations are based in Eastern European countries that have been mentioned in association with the rendition and transporting of CIA prisoners. Bout's numerous Russian-built cargo and passenger planes have been seen at the same airports used by CIA flights. For example, Bright Aviation, a suspected Bout front, is based at Sofia Airport in Bulgaria. Bulgaria is believed to be one of the countries used by the CIA to house secret prisoners. Another Bout front, Moldtransavia SRL, is based in Chisinau, Moldova, another suspected stopover point for CIA flights.
One Chisinau, Moldova-based Bout front company, Aerocom, which also does business as Air Mero, is contracted to fly for Kellogg, Brown & Root in Iraq and elsewhere. Aerocom has also been cited in UN and DEA reports for being involved in drug smuggling in Belize. Some law enforcement officials in the United States and Europe believe that the covert flights being operated by CIA contractors and Bout's companies in support of secret prisoner movement are also involved in smuggling drugs. After being subjected to news reports, Aerocom quickly changed its name last year.
Bright's Antonov AN-12 planes were also sighted in Western European airports frequented by CIA aircraft suspected of transporting prisoners. One of the most interesting connections was the presence of Bright Aviation's AN-12V (LZ-BRP) on October 5, 2004 at Helsinki's Vantaa Airport. Just two days before, U.S. private military contractor Blackwater's CASA C212-CC Aviocar (N960BW) also landed at Vantaa.
Bright's LZ-BRP was also spotted at Budapest Ferihegy on October 26, April 30, and March 30, 2005; Marseilles on October 27, 2005; Toulouse in April 2005; Vigo, Spain on October 16, 2005; Amsterdam Schipol on September 17, 2005; Zurich on June 3, 2005; Plovdiv, Bulgaria on June 11, 2005; Lyons on January 24, 2005; Madrid on January 27, 2005 and July 16, 2004; Recife, Brazil on November 20, 2004, Zagreb, Croatia on September 9, 2004; Tenerife (Canary Islands) on June 13, 2004; Ostend, Belgium on June 2, 2004; and Geneva on May 11 and 12, 2004 (first visit for this aircraft to Geneva). Another Bright AN-12 (LZ-BRC) was spotted in Glasgow Prestwick on October 14, 2004; Tenerife (Canary Islands), where AN-12 visits are extremely rare; Maastricht/Aachen on December 22, 2003; Lisbon on June 7, 2004; Ostend on September 6, 2002; Stockholm Arlanda on November 5, 2002; Helsinki Vantaa (with the name Heli Air painted on its fuselage) on October 18, 2005; Budapest Ferihagy on November 19, 2005 (as Heli Air); and St. John's, Newfoundland on November 15, 2005 (as Heli Air). Bright's LZ-BRV AN12 was seen at Tel Aviv Ben Gurion on May 25, 2005; Zurich, May 24, 2005; and Palma de Mallorca on February 18, 2005.
Bout's Air Bas and Irbis Air Russian-made transport aircraft were spotted throughout 2004 at Bilad airbase in northern Iraq. Bilad is the airfield near Camp Anaconda, one of the first detention camps set up by U.S. forces and the site of the first reported cases of U.S. prisoner torture. A Belgrade-based airline, Kosmas Air, also linked to Bout, is reportedly transporting weapons from Serbia to both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The firm and documented connections between Bout (the smuggler for Al Qaeda and the Taliban) and Christian fundamentalists and Russian-Israeli mob interests provide yet more proof that the forces behind 9-11 and other terrorist attacks represented far more than a bunch of cave dwelling Islamist insurgents in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan. As 9-11 co-chair Thomas Kean recently said, if there was a wider conspiracy behind 9-11 it would be a "monstrous" act. Other than Wahhabi mosques and madrassas around the world, the monsters behind 9-11 and other attacks can also be found in mega-churches in the South, oil company board rooms in Houston, airfields in the emirates of the Persian Gulf, Hasidic-run "blood diamond" centers in Europe and New York, GOP lobbying firms on K Street, and dank and dark arms warehouses in Ukraine and Moldova.
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