Special Series
  Liberia - West Africa (Part 2)

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Gary Tokoph, 
Vice President,
Interair South Africa

 


Vernon Nathan,
Director, 
Interair South Africa

 


David P. Tokoph, Executive Chairman of Interair South Africa, with Mrs Oulimata Sarr Diack, the airline's Finance Manager

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Series: Liberia - West Africa (Part 2)
by Trudy Forte
fortetrudy@yahoo.com

PART 1    PART 2     PART 3
Update  


Part 2 - July 27, 2003

"Top military commanders from various countries, for different reasons, needed and continue to need this conflict for its lucrative nature and for temporarily solving some internal problems in those countries as well as allowing access to wealth."

Report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources April 2001
UN Security Council

In the July 7, 2003 article on Liberia, we began the investigation of many of the issues that have come to form the current crisis in Liberia. What gives pause in writing the next edition of the series is the overwhelming corruption discovered through the research. This cannot possibly be summarized in a series of several articles, thus Monthly Messenger has decided this will be a continuing series, with time allowing.

This week, Liberian President Charles Taylor�s assets were investigated, to no avail. The Swiss accounts of several of his associates were frozen, but his own accounts have remained undetermined. It is believed that over 3.3 billion dollars of Liberia�s assets are located in Swiss accounts. After years under Taylor�s rule, the citizens of Liberia are pointedly calling for Taylor�s removal because they understand the driving force behind Taylor�s accumulated wealth.

Swiss banks freeze Liberia funds
Taylor: Accused of profiteering from guns and diamonds

Swiss authorities have frozen bank accounts worth $1.5m belonging to two associates of the Liberian leader, Charles Taylor.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3090473.
stm

Like the arms of an Octopus, the corruption in the Liberian government & West Africa, is  far-reaching and multi-tactical.

One wonders if when Charles Taylor termed his military coup attempt "Operation Octopus," this was a sign of the future � or was it simply that notorious "black humor" that so many military titled operations are trademarked with. As the War Crime Court investigates Taylor�s Swiss accounts, the criminal element in Liberia is at an all time high. One of the primary caustics for the brutality in Liberia is the immense illegal arms trading that flows through the country. The bounty from illegal arms trading has fueled Taylor�s government - and in turn, the continued corruption & violence of the country. On March 27, 2003, Taylor went so far as to openly admit to the UN that he was violating the arms embargo. Taylor justified this UN violation by accusing the United States of indirectly, supporting the rebels, with the funding of the training for the Guinean army. This justification was joined with a plea to lift Liberia�s arms embargo. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/2893081.stm

Like the Octopus, the links in the tentacles of the illicit global arms trading network run deep, both in covert and overt ways. Some of the primary movers and shakers of arms trading in our own country link all the way back to the incubator of fascism- the Nazi Youth of Germany- namely Ernst Werner Glatt. Glatt is an enigmatic weapons trader who always has managed to escape investigation. Even in the Iran Contra investigation, his testimony was taken in private. General John Singlaub made much effort to conceal his identity, and Oliver North denied ever knowing him, even though Glatt�s name appears in the public record of North�s diary, numerous times.

One has to wonder why the US intelligence community has sheltered Glatt�s role in illegal arms trading when one examines his indiscriminant business dealings with adversary territories. The immense wealth Glatt acquired by playing the world�s two superpowers off one another, through trading of Communist weapons for US allied covert operations, had a questionable purpose. Former Vietnam veteran and CIA gunrunner John Miley, candidly recalled his first meeting with Glatt: "He starts off on this Nazi routine, that the one thing he'd like to see before he dies is the resurrection of the Third Reich," Miley says. "He didn't care about a nuclear exchange between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, because it would create a power void that Germany would fill. Maybe he was just trying to shock me, but it was offensive."

Journalist Ken Silverstein generously summarized Glatt�s opportunistic commentary of weapons dealing, as merely provocative "black humor," a trademark of the covert industry. Truth or not- the evidence is there that Glatt�s agenda has a dark trail that leads around the globe from Belgium to Lebanon to Liberia to Israel to Colombia to the United Emirates to the Taliban to Russia to the US to� the trail is endless. And this is a trail that has managed to conceal and protect his less than virtuous motives of trading weapons with our government.

But the end justifies the means � or at least that would be the methodical approach in which the intelligence community has found it appropriate to deal with these questionable characters, for decades now.

This is the psychology of the intelligence community that was bred and fostered by the military industrial complex, which flourishes & has amassed great wealth from countries viewed as "emerging economies."

In 1997, the Liberian Minister of Transport appointed the Belgian pilot, who had flown for the Saudi royal family, as Chairman of the Liberian Aviation Authority�s agency in the United Kingdom. Liberia has been a flag of convenience for the fringe air-cargo industry because of its lax license and tax laws. A company incorporated there can locate its executive offices in another country, conducting business activities at any location. Names of corporate officers or shareholders need not be filed or listed, and there is no minimum capital requirement. A legal existence can be obtained in one day. The country also has lax maritime and aviation laws and regulations that provide owners of ship and aircraft maximum discretion and cover, with minimal regulatory interference. Aviation officers and pilots have suggested that aircraft registered in Liberia should not be allowed landing or operating rights, and have doubted the seriousness of air-worthiness and air-safety inspections of the Liberian aviation registry.
http://www.nisat.org/publications/armsfixers/Chapter5.html

Countries with the least structure to regulate and control these more sinister business dealings have the large profit margins for both arms producers and traders. Many have tried to dismiss & diminish this criminal activity to the leftovers of the Cold War, but illegal arms trading is a business of about $8 billion annually, which is one-fourth of the worldwide legal arms trade. The weapons traded exceed the surplus of the Cold War. The question is:

Who�s profiteering of off this highly lucrative industry?

Harper's Magazine
May, 2000

LICENSED TO KILL
.
(arms dealer Ernst Werner Glatt)
Author/s: Ken Silverstein
Shadowing our government's favorite arms dealer

"Vote! Bah! When you vote, you only change the names of the cabinet. When you shoot, you pull down governments, inaugurate new epochs, abolish old orders and set up new."

--Andrew Undershaft, the munitions magnate of George Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara

"Arms dealers provide the grease that makes foreign policy work. If you're going to have a covert war somewhere, somebody has to provide the bullets."

--John Miley, former weapons dealer for the CIA

At the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, about twenty miles south of Charlottesville, sits Nelson County, one of Virginia's most bucolic corners. Unimpeded by a single traffic light, the main thoroughfare is Route 56, a two-lane country road that wends among vineyards, orchards, and farms. The rolling landscape draws plenty of weekenders, who come to take in Crabtree Falls, the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi, and to stop by the Walton's Mountain Museum, which celebrates the series that brought John-Boy and his family to millions of TV viewers.

Despite this nod to good plain folk, Nelson County seems destined to be overtaken by the horsy set and carpet-bagging celebrities as they push south into Falwell country. Nelson is still cheaper than Charlottesville or Middleburg, but new money is attracted by the Wintergreen ski resort and spectacular estates such as Level Green, built in 1803 for the Revolutionary War leader Major Thomas Massie, and Bellevette (pronounced "believe it"), constructed fifty years earlier by Charles Rose on land granted to his family by King George II. Across the Tye River from Bellevette lies Markham Farm, a plot of land once held by a granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson's. Markham Farm has changed hands many times, most recently in 1980, when it was bought by a German named Ernst Werner Glatt. He subsequently purchased adjoining lands and turned the estate, valued in 1994 at $2.4 million, into a modern sheep farm. The entrance to Glatt's farm from Route 56 is announced by a sign that sports a crowned black eagle, a symbol hearkening back to imperial Prussia and the past of the farm's owner, who as a teenager fought in the Nazi army.
Article continued here:

http://www.findarticles.com/cf_0/m1111/1800_300/61856255/print.j
html

Ernst Werner Glatt�s "deep connections" to the notorious arms dealer: "The Merchant of Death," Victor Bout is elusive, but undeniable. As Glatt has avoided investigation altogether - Bout has an amazing talent in escaping apprehension and prosecution, with any of the past investigations of his criminal activity. He has been sheltered by Russia and the United Arab Emirates through overt methods, and by other official investigating bodies � through covert methods. In some cases, the trail Bout left behind sacrificed mere expendable middlemen to the UN investigators. In worse cases, some officials have mysteriously turned up dead, with very little investigation followed through on their deaths.

The Merchant of Death
http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Weapons/Merchant_Death_MAK.html

Africa's merchant of death
UN names former KGB officer as millionaire gun-runner
Owen Bowcott and Richard Norton-Taylor
Saturday December 23, 2000
The Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,415125,00.html

Deaths
Justice and Memory: A Question of History and Accountability

This paper provides a discourse on justice and memory premised on not too well explained reason of death of persons with either political and State affiliations and or persons that were associated with cases in which the State had interests. The discourse seeks to appeal to recollections of the States unsatisfactory explanations of reason of death of the persons cited, and in so doing provide a framework for a case to the State. The complementary summary paper arising as a consequence of the findings is the paper on Transnational complicity.
http://afronet.org.za/papers/papers03.
htm

One of the primary hubs for smuggling weapons in the 90�s was the Ostend Airport in Belgium. To combat this, the citizens of Belgium have organized and investigate this criminal activity- so this is probably one of the better nongovernmental organizations for the history of gunrunning around the globe:

OSTEND AIRPORT/ARMS RUNNING
(Creation: 24/03/2001 - Last update: 17/07/2003)

Quick jump to Victor Bout's air cargo companies! http://users.belgacom.net/cleanostend/clos_en.htm#_Victor_Bout's_air

Ostend Airport arms connection

At the end of May 2000 an attempt was made to fly four helicopters by Ilyushin freighter from Ostend to the Congo (ex-Za�re 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.
http://users.belgacom.net/cleanostend/clos_en.htm

As mentioned on the Clean Ostend site, Aero Zambia was investigated when "mysteriously," one of Aero Zambia�s planes was hit by an Ethiopian air missile. This strike occurred after the cargo load of an alleged shipment of weapons was transferred from Seagreen and Greco Air flights onto the Aero Zambia plane. All three of the air cargo companies were owned and operated by David Tokoph. It was after this, that Aero Zambia was no longer permitted to operate in Africa.

David Tokoph - an American - is the owner of Aero Zambia. He  has been linked to Oliver North and the Iran Contra drug/arms running. One of his planes is now based in El Paso, Texas- although he does not reside in the US. Records of a man by the same name have been found in campaign contributions of the Governor of New Mexico.

After the investigation of Aero Zambia, Tokoph set up a new company in Johannesburg, InterAir. InterAir is a commercial airliner in Africa. On the InterAir website, Tokoph craftily abbreviates the shut down of Aero Zambia:

However, a few years later the airline scaled down its operations as a result of some differences of opinion with certain Government officials. "We elected to hold off further expansion and investment," says Tokoph. "But Aero Zambia remains a full member of IATA and is still in good standing with this international airline body".
http://www.interair.co.za/profile.strategy.asp

In the same profile of InterAir, David Tokoph explained his company objectives; "The primary industry change over the next decade will possibly be the exiting of the state-controlled airlines, which will impact substantially on the dynamics of our industry."

Perhaps, Tokoph has promoted his role and is now focusing on the dismantling of African government airline regulations.

Whatever the case may be, the plane -N25AZ- registered under David Tokoph�s name, with Greco Air, has been photographed and logged in Brussels, Belgium both this year and in 2001. According to the InterAir site, Tokoph does continue to operate his cargo aircraft leasing business.

For further information on the "investigation" of the Aero Zambia air missile hit:

Aero Zambia mystery trip to Asmara
Shrapnel damage on the tail of the plane
by Gunnar Hillgartner
May 25, 2001
http://www.africaonline.com/site/Articles/1,10,2838.jsp

Another arms dealer who has eluded prosecution in many countries has been Colonel Yair Klein, of Israel. Klein has also been linked to the BCCI scandal through his association with gunrunning in Antigua. Klein�s further involvement in the training of the Colombia drug cartel�s private army was not discovered, until he had returned to Israel. In 1998, the Colombian prosecutor-general charged Klein in absentia with training terrorist groups. Reuter�s reported that after Klein�s arrest in Sierra Leone, the Israeli foreign ministry pursued diplomatic efforts to bring about his release�

Israeli Dealing in Hot Spots

In January 1999 an Israeli businessman and former officer in the Israeli Defense Force reserves, Colonel Yair Klein, was arrested in Freetown, the capital of war-torn Sierra Leone. Klein was suspected of supplying and training the Sierra Leone rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) through a network based in Liberia, where Klein was allegedly involved in training an elite corps of the Liberian armed forces.

Colombian judicial authorities soon issued a request to the Sierra Leone authorities for the extradition of Klein, for whom an arrest warrant had already been issued on 4 February 1998 by the prosecutor-general in Bogota. In Colombia, Klein and three other former Israeli military officers under his command had been charged with providing �instruction and training in terrorist activities. Klein had allegedly provided paramilitary training to vigilante groups in Colombia�s Magdalena Valley region between 1987 and 1989. The trainees had later joined forces with two drug lords of the Medellin cartel.
http://www.nisat.org/publications/armsfixers/Chapter7.html

In 2001, another associate of Charles Taylor�s was arrested in a hotel. The arrest was purely accidental, when drugs, guns, diamonds and documents were discovered in his hotel room by the Italian vice squad. A judiciary source explained, "The arrest was absolutely a piece of luck."

The international dealers in death
Ian Traynor in Odessa
Monday July 9, 2001
The Guardian

Leonid Minin was celebrating in room 341 of the Hotel Europa he owned in Cinisello Balsamo outside Milan. There was plenty to toast that balmy Saturday night last August. There was the fact that there were four prostitutes and 20 grammes of cocaine to get the party off with a bang. And there was the fact that the millionaire gunrunner had just delivered 113 tonnes of small arms to west Africa from his native Ukraine.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,518691,00.html

In 2002, a middleman for Victor Bout -Sanjivan Ruprah- was finally arrested. Ruprah is known to have several Liberian diplomatic passports, including one which identifies him as Liberia's deputy commissioner for maritime affairs.

Key African arms dealer arrested
Brussels holds Kenyan wanted by UN and UK for fuelling civil war
Andrew Osborn in Brussels
Saturday February 16, 2002
The Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,651069,00.html

Most often, arms are paid for with what has become known as "blood diamonds," but in some cases, investigations of the accounts of known arms dealers, give links to the associations. With the investigation of Sanjivan Ruprah�s accounts, a revealing paper trail was found in his illegal arms deals.

Belgium seeks information about Geneva account (10/19/02)

Belgian authorities have requested information about an account at Banque Diamantaire (Suisse) in Geneva held by Sanjivan Ruprah, Le Temps reports.

Ruprah is a Kenyan citizen but also carries Liberian papers. He is suspected of involvement in the international arms trade and is believed to have "lent" his bank account to San Air, a company controlled by Victor Bout, a notorious arms trafficker originally from Tajikistan who is the subject of an international arrest warrant.

The Swiss magazine Facts recently published a copy of an August 26, 1999, document showing payment of $500,000 by an Indonesian company called Borneo Jaya Pte. Ltd. to Ruprah's Geneva account. UN investigators believe the money was payment for weapons.

Borneo Jaya is the parent of the Oriental Timber Company, which is run by Gus Kouvenhowen, a Dutch associate of Liberian president Charles Taylor who has been accused of repeatedly violating the international arms embargo on Liberia.

Ruprah is wanted in Belgium for money laundering and other offences. He was arrested in Italy in August for using a false passport, but is expected to be released soon.
http://www.swissmoney.net/oct02.htm

By the time Belgium had organized a good citizen coalition to research and fight the illegal arms smuggling in their country Victor Bout had emigrated from Belgium to the United Arab Emirates.
http://www.ib.be/grip/bdg/g1604.html

Belgium cracks down on gun running through Ostend Airport
AfricaOnline.com Correspondent
May 25, 2001

At the end of 1996, following press reports highlighting the pivotal role of the arms traffic going through Belgium and particularly Ostend Airport, a committee of co-ordination was created under the initiative of the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs and that of Foreign Trade in order to fight illegal arms trade.

The committee reported: "It appears from the annual report 1997 on organised crime that information on arms traffics are particularly incomplete. It also seems that traffickers could have benefited from some protections and complicity."
http://www.africaonline.com/site/Articles/1,10,2839.jsp

In the United Arab Emirates, Bout has continued to arm many rebel factions and terrorist groups, namely the Taliban and the al Qaeda, Bout has been able to operate there, sheltered from prosecution in other countries.

In March 2000, Bout was sentenced in absentia to two years in prison by a tribunal in the capital, Bangui, after an aircraft belonging to him used the markings of the state-owned airline on a flight to Gabon. For unknown reasons, the UN said, Bout was absolved of the charges by a Bangui court on June 28, 2000.

January 20, 2002
SUNDAY REPORT

Emirates Looked Other Way While Al Qaeda Funds Flowed

By JUDY PASTERNAK and STEPHEN BRAUN
Times Staff Writers

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-012002uae.story

'Merchant of Death' Sold Arms to Taliban: International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
by Phillip Van Niekerk and Andre Verloy
The Montreal Gazette
February 5, 2002
http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/timeline/2002/montrealgazette020502.html

In July 2001, at a UN conference on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, the international community for the first time, agreed in principal, to curb the illicit trade in weapons. However, the "program of action" was not legally binding. This agreement was watered down by China, Russia, and the United States - the three largest weapons producers. China and Russia have historically opposed global regulations on arms trafficking. The United States opposed measures that would control private gun ownership and bar sales to friendly guerrilla movements.

It becomes more obvious that our nation�s leaders have turned a blind eye to this festering global problem � and this in turn, has gone on to scar the nation with the WTC/911 terrorism. Some have even been collaborators of the industry that fuels this terrorism.

The nature of this complicity is found in a pilot�s recollection of one smuggling operation - there were several Saudi Arabians at the South Yemen airport during the time the Peak Aviation aircraft was being off-loaded. On one occasion there was a VIP Boeing 727 parked alongside, with a delegation of what appeared to be very high-ranking diplomatic and military people on board. He said that this helped explain another peculiar feature of the arms flights he carried out involving the USA:

Following the Gulf War, the United States government stationed a number of AWAC aircraft & the Boeing 707s with the big ray guns on top & in the Gulf area. And on two of the flights we did across Saudi we actually saw two of them flying along with us. So we must have been observed, and I'm sure the United States government must have known exactly where we took off and where we were going.
http://www.nisat.org/publications/armsfixers/Chapter5.html

And �This week the conflict in Liberia is reaching a peak humanitarian crisis level for the people. The citizens of Liberia are crying out for our help with immeasurable pleas of desperation.

Thursday, 24 July, 2003, 23:45 GMT 00:45 UK
Water crisis in Liberian capital

Liberians have nowhere safe to flee to

Supplies of safe drinking water have run out in most parts of the Liberian capital, Monrovia, increasing fears that cholera and other illnesses could spread rapidly.

The water supply was cut by an attack on a water pumping station five days ago and most storage tanks are now empty.

The battle for Monrovia, now into its sixth day, is showing no signs of easing with rebels in control of the port area, but a strategic bridge back under government control.

(�)

Pressure on Washington

A top aide to President Charles Taylor in Ghana, Lewis Brown, said the embattled Liberian leader would leave the day the Nigerian troops arrive, reported Associated Press news agency.

The head of the West African regional grouping Ecowas, Mohamed ibn Chambas, told the BBC he hoped all Liberians would respect a ceasefire.

He said the United States - which is under increasing pressure to send troops to the county - would help pay for the deployment and had already pledged $10m.

Reports say American military helicopters have flown into Monrovia, bringing reinforcements to protect the US embassy compound and to ferry out 17 aid workers and foreign journalists.

Several hundred people are believed to have been killed in the past few days.

Corpses have been piled outside the US embassy in protest at the lack of American intervention.

Bush blamed

British aid agencies have joined the appeal for Europe and the US to send peacekeepers to the war-torn country.

Signed by a several organisations, including Save the Children and Christian Aid, a statement accused President George W Bush of "prevaricating".

"The rest of the world has stood by as Liberia has disintegrated once more into chaos," they said.

Former US envoy to Africa Jesse Jackson has also criticised President Bush for not sending troops to Liberia.

"Liberia's been a long time ally, and we are on the verge of betraying Liberia for a second time. The silence of Secretary [of State Colin] Powell, security chief [Condoleezza] Rice and Mr Bush is deafening," he told the BBC's World Today programme.

Aid agencies have warned of a humanitarian disaster in Monrovia as they try to help some 250,000 people who have nowhere to live after fleeing to the capital.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3092271.stm

Recommended reading:
An online book, investigating illegal arms trading

The Arms Fixers
THE SMALL ARMS PLAGUE

http://www.nisat.org/publications/armsfixers/Preface.html

Chronology on Liberia:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/1043567.stm

The listing of these middlemen and "kingpins" of the illicit global arms trading is only the tip of the iceberg.

What has not been investigated is far more telling of the nature of this corruption. How do we continue to justify the violence that this illicit industry has wreaked upon the impoverished people of Liberia and other struggling nations? With 911, we have learned how abject poverty has bred terrorism. It is time we reach out with our heart and pocketbook to aid the people of Liberia, searching for the answers & solutions to democracy in their homeland.