Special Series
  Liberia - West Africa (Part 2-Update)

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

PART 1    PART 2     PART 3
Update
 


Update - August 5, 2003

The recent release of the 911 Investigation has left us with more questions on U.S. intelligence.  After several weeks of speculation on a possible investigation into what President Bush knew and didn't know of our own intelligence on the allegations that Iraq sought Uranium in Niger, Africa- it's paramount that we examine what the US intelligence had on terrorism funding and illegal arms dealing in Liberia - before 911.   

In Part 2 of the Series� introduction into the illicit arms dealing in Liberia, we began to examine how this is an important factor in the war on terrorism. 

Liberia has been a source of illegal arms dealing and funding for terrorists through diamond smuggling.  

Portions of intelligence on Liberia and illegal arms dealing was public by December 2000, so the clear threat in the role that Charles Taylor has in arms dealing with terrorists is not loose speculation and mere accusation. It is because of these facts, our leaders are beginning to see through the smoke and mirrors in the war on terrorism.   

This week, during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the Iraq Reconstruction, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis) called Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to task. Feingold took offense to yet another attempt by Wolfowitz to switch the focus on the war in Iraq and the Administrations justification for the war.  Wolfowitz�s testified that Iraq is the central location of the war against terrorism to which Feingold replied:

�The American people are on to this idea and are aware that this administration has grossly exaggerated the connection between the war on terrorism and the Iraq situation. And I would strongly suggest we focus on the merits of trying to deal with the Iraq situation that we have in hand instead of constantly trying to pretend that September 11 and Iraq are the same issue�There's a heck of lot better evidence of possible Al Qaida connections with regard to their financing of their operations in Liberia than there ever has been with regard to Iraq. And I can't vouch for that absolute validity of that. But if you're focused on the war against terrorism, you'd certainly be focused on Liberia at least as much as Iraq.� (1)  

In the same hearing, Barbara Boxer cited that in the Bush Administration�s report on the Network of Terrorism-released October 11, 2001, the countries listed did not include Iraq.   

In fact, the countries listed for the Network of Terrorism did not include the Congo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone nor Liberia- all countries in which illegal arms dealing with terrorists have been evident.

These very same countries, along with Niger, South Africa, Zambia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, were listed under the heading �Building Coalition.� These countries, where the government & citizens have either been accused of possible collusion (Niger) or have collaborated with terrorists, are recognized by the Bush Administration, as those that �have offered military, financial, humanitarian, and diplomatic cooperation with the U.S. government in fighting terrorism.� (2)  

It is no wonder that Russ Feingold candidly questioned the Administration�s strategy in the war on terrorism; "Are you sure we have our eye one the ball?�

Wolfowitz replied in simplistic terms that spoke volumes, " I am absolutely sure we have our eye on the ball and the ball is a global one;" to which he later admitted, �It's going to be a long struggle.� (1)  

Across the Atlantic, Tony Blair held a press conference, wherein the Egyptian press questioned the PM on the nuclear threat in North Korea.  The reporter explained how the nuclear threat in North Korea, in comparison to Iraq, has been far greater a threat to the world.  �How could Blair justify this war in Iraq and not do anything about the threat in North Korea?� To which Blair took up the point where Wolfowitz had left off ��Iraq was the right place to begin.� (3)  

And earlier this week, Vice President Cheney queried, "How could any responsible leader ignore the threat in Iraq?"  

Clearly, the leaders around the world, who have supported this war - leave us all with more questions on the future & where this war will end? 

One of the critical questions we should all be querying the nation�s leaders:

Why has the Bush Administration taken a hands-off approach to the crisis in Liberia, and continued to ignore Charles Taylor�s links to terrorists, with the known arms deals & funding of the al Qa�ida in Liberia?  

In 2000�

President Clinton had raised the issue of unfettered arms trading in a speech at the United Nations. A directive he signed afterward made the mission clear: Suppliers who catered to criminal enterprises had to be confronted before they linked up with terrorists. (4)  

The shift in policy on terrorism under the Bush Administration would not become apparent in any obvious way, until 9/11. And since 9/11, the Bush Administration�s approach to illicit arms dealing still continues to be tamed by the Administration�s loyalty to the gun lobby and the arms exportation to covert allied operations. 

As with Liberia, various factions in the intelligence community have not always worked towards the road to peace- for many covert and overt reasons.   In some cases, they have worked against each other.  Why this has been allowed to continue without an investigation is a complex array in diplomacy issues, profit margin and pure outright corruption.  Instead of investigation, the Bush Administration has shielded this corruption within the grand bureaucracy of the Department of Homeland Security.  

To understand who and what has been shielded, a review of Part 2 in the series on Liberia is necessary.  In Part 2, we discussed what one official termed the ��piece of luck� arrest of Leonid Minin of the �Odessa Mafia.�  Leonid Minin is a key figure that illuminates the level and span of this corruption.  Minin had been under surveillance since 1992, by the Milan customs police.  His initial arrest was in August 2000 for cocaine possession, after the Milan vice police raided his hotel room.  What they discovered in the hotel room was what led to the charge of arms dealing to embargoed countries.  These charges were placed on Minin over a year later, in June of 2001, while still in custody for cocaine possession.  

There were over 1500 documents that were translated- and led investigators down a trail from money laundering to diamond smuggling to international arms and drug trafficking- the list goes on.  His ties with both Charles Taylor and his son �Chuckie� were far more intimate than the occasional illegal arms deal; this association even involved communiqu�s with China on their behalf.  One of the most telling and significant links on the level of corruption, found within the wealth of documents, was a record of a $10,263.02 payment to MARC RICH. Rich's oil company, Glencore, once shared a London phone number with one of Minin's companies Galaxy Management.(5)  

Leonid Efimovich Minin  
From Ukraine, a New Kind of Arms Trafficker
Frontline/World
by Matthew Brunwasser
May 2002  
http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/sierraleone/minin.html
 

The Washington Monthly  
January/February 2002
Comrades in Arms  
Meet the former Soviet mobsters who sell terrorists their guns.

By Ken Silverstein  
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2001/0201.silverstein.html
 

With a review in the chronology of Minin�s arrest, the fact that there were 1500 documents discovered with his arrest, over a year prior to 9/11; one has to wonder why this did not lead to the more immediate apprehension of other illegal arms traffickers?  Some have speculated that tighter regulations and closer cooperatives with other governments are required in these investigations, but these type of sweeping generalizations and �fix-its,� tend to overlook the root of the corruption.  

The UN did use the Minin documents in their investigation on Liberia and the Sierra Leone, but no significant arrests resulted in this information for over a year. Sanjivan Ruprah was arrested much later in 2002, by the Belgians- and this arrest was unbeknownst to the UN or the US.  

REPORT OF THE PANEL OF EXPERTS  
APPOINTED PURSUANT TO  
UN SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 1306 (2000), PARAGRAPH 19  
IN RELATION TO SIERRA LEONE  
December 2000  

http://www.sierra-leone.org/panelreport.html
 

In May of 2001, at a UN press conference on the Liberian sanctions, a panel of experts determined that the sanctions applied were working, in a limited way. Harjit Singh Sandhu of India, an expert from Interpol said that the financiers of terrorism employed every possible means of moving money without using banking channels -- and that prominently included diamonds.  The name of Ibrahim Bah, who had old ties to Libya and various Islamic terrorist groups in that regard, had come up in connection with weapons shipments from Burkina Faso through Liberia to the RUF.  Subsequent investigations would try to establish a specific link between those activities and Al-Qaeda, but the subject had not been within the Panel�s mandate thus far. (6)  

5/11/2001  
Press Briefing  
HEADQUARTERS PRESS CONFERENCE ON LIBERIA SANCTIONS  
http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2001/LiberiaPC.doc.htm
 

As noted by the UN panel, the Liberian link to the al Qaeda, proposed to investigate was Ibrahim Bah.  Bah was investigated, and in 2002 was arrested in Sierra Leone, where he faced possible deportation. When authorities had moved to deport Bah, he filed a complaint with Amnesty International for excessive violence by the Sierra Leone police.(7)  He was later released and is now reported to be a part of Taylor�s para-military. (8)  

Background on Ibrahim Bah and the al Qaeda:
AL-QAEDA AND AFRICAN DIAMONDS.

European police investigators told "The Washington Post" of 29 December that a year-long inquiry has provided substantial evidence that Al-Qaeda leaders paid a bribe of $ 1 million to Liberian President Charles Taylor for access to a protected zone in Liberia on the border of Burkina Faso. It was there that they hid for two months after the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States. The Al-Qaeda operatives also purchased some $20 million worth of "blood diamonds," a portion of which they spent on buying weapons. 

"The Washington Post" wrote that Al-Qaeda's diamond-buying operation appears to have been hatched in response to a move by the United States in 1998 to freeze Al-Qaeda assets after deadly attacks on two U.S. embassies in East Africa. Liberia was chosen for its lack of control over the illegal diamond industry, much of which is allegedly run by President Taylor and his son, Charles Taylor Jr.  

Taylor has in the past paid Russian and Ukrainian arms traffickers in diamonds. One such reputed arms dealer, Leonid Minin -- currently indicted on illegal arms trafficking charges and in jail in Monza, Italy -- had $500,000 worth of uncut and polished diamonds at the time of his arrest, according to a UN Commission of Experts report from 26 October 2001. 

"The European law enforcement investigations, launched soon after Sept. 11, have focused on three people who allegedly served as conduits to the al Qaeda operatives: Aziz Nassour, a Lebanese diamond merchant; his cousin Samih Osailly; and Ibrahim Bah, a Senegalese soldier of fortune who has trafficked for years in diamonds and guns across Africa. All three deny involvement with al Qaeda or in illegal activities," according to "The Washington Post." 

The paper details how on 22 September a senior Al-Qaeda financial officer named Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, who is listed on the FBI's list of most-wanted terrorists, arrived in Monrovia, Liberia. Ibrahim Bah allegedly arranged for Abdullah to meet with senior Liberian officials and their allies in the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in neighboring Sierra Leone.  

Bah trained in Libya, then fought in the early 1980s alongside Islamic guerrillas in Afghanistan and then with Hezbollah in Lebanon. By 1998, he was the main weapons buyer and diamond dealer for Taylor in Liberia and the RUF, according to UN and European investigators. Bah holds the rank of general in the RUF, which won international notoriety for its brutality in the civil war that raged in Sierra Leone from 1989 until this year. 

"The Washington Post" details the alleged money-laundering scheme that was in place until Al-Qaeda began stockpiling diamonds in July: Bah used Al-Qaeda money to pay RUF a small amount (far below market value) for diamonds smuggled out of Sierra Leone. Bah then resold the diamonds at much higher prices to diamond dealers whom the paper reports were based in Belgium. It is not clear whether the dealers were aware of any Al-Qaeda connection. The profits realized from the transactions were allegedly split among Bah, Al-Qaeda, and Liberian President Taylor, who allegedly received a commission on each deal.  

Documents obtained by "The Washington Post" purport to show that on 2 January 2001, an Israeli arms dealer in Panama named Simon Yelnik sent an e-mail to an unnamed Russian arms merchant in Guatemala discussing an order that "our friends in Africa need." Attached was a list of assault rifles, ammunition, and rocket-propelled grenades, as well as 20 SA-8 missiles and 200 rockets for BM-21 multiple-rocket launchers. The "friends in Africa" were apparently the Al-Qaeda couriers.  

Earlier, on 5 November, an Interpol expert on a UN panel investigating illegal diamond dealing in Liberia affirmed that conflict diamonds are likely an important channel for terrorists, like the Al-Qaeda network, looking to raise or transfer money. The UN Security Council met to review the panel's new report, which found widespread violations of UN sanctions on Liberia to curtail its diamond dealing with Sierra Leone rebels.  

The diamond industry reacted quickly to earlier news of Al-Qaeda buying conflict diamonds in Liberia. The De Beers Group and its sales and marketing arm, the Diamond Trading Co., issued a statement "utterly condemning the way in which these organizations are preying on otherwise legitimate industries to further their criminal and murderous activities" http://www.professionaljeweler.com/archives/news/2001/11060story.html 

Link here:  
http://www.rferl.org/corruptionwatch/2003/01/2-160103.asp
 

Gem trade also bankrolls bin Laden  
Diamonds mined in Sierra Leone enrich Al Qaeda
 
By Douglas Farah  
The Washington Post  
Published November 2, 2001
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0111020334nov02.story
 

Mercenaries Dominate Liberia's �Anti-Terrorists�
Ibrahim Bah: Listed as serving in RUF and in Liberia  
3 April 2003

President Charles Taylor�s elite Anti-Terrorist Unit para-military group, accused of many atrocities in including summary executions, is dominated by dominated by foreigners from The Gambia, Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone, according to US State Department Human Rights Report released 31 March 2003. 
http://www.newdemocrat.org/Stories/ATUMercenaries.htm
 

Dealing with the Devil�  

Another international illegal arms dealer discussed in Part 2 of the Series on Liberia was Viktor Bout.  Bout�s alleged dealings with the Taliban and al Qaeda had been the subject of an ongoing, classified U.S. operation that began back in early 2000, under President Clinton�s administration.  Clinton had appealed to the United Arab Emirates at an "extremely high level" to shut Bout�s operation down and the UAE responded that there was no evidence in criminal activity. Thereafter, the UAE placed expensive equipment requirements on Bout�s air fleet. (10)  

When Bush took office, the Bout investigation faded into the background, until 9/11. (10)

Bout has had ties to three different companies in the US, registered under other individuals� names - Air Cess in Miami, Florida (10), San Air in Plano, Texas and Vial incorporated in Delaware.  San Air was opened in 2000, for little over a year. Shortly after 9/11, both San Air and Air Cess were closed. (4)  

The Washington Post reported that in 2001, the UN had placed a travel ban on Bout and Ruprah, one of the middlemen for Bout and Charles Taylor.  The UN travel ban was placed on Bout and Ruprah for their ties to Liberia and the Sierra Leone rebel movement, the RUF. One could propose that the evidence of these ties were likely divulged, in part, from the Minin documents discovered in 2000. 

In an effort to have his travel ban lifted, Ruprah approached the UN and the US with information on Bout�s dealings, shortly after the Kenyan bombing.  What Ruprah revealed was unimpressive and ineffective in releasing him from the UN travel ban. (9)  

As stated earlier - in 2002, unbeknownst to the UN & the US, Ruprah was arrested in Belgium for using a false passport and conspiring to print counterfeit Congolese currency

Days after the Ruprah arrest, the Belgians made their move against Bout with intelligence acquired through the Ruprah arrest. A federal prosecutor issued an arrest warrant, alleging that Bout headed a complex scheme to launder African weapons profits. Interpol followed with a worldwide alert. (4)  

In an LA Times article on Victor Bout, they reported on the Brussels investigation of Bout�s money laundering.  An alleged discovery made on Bout, through the Ruprah arrest was that one of the companies controlled through �power of attorney� by Bout, was incorporated in Delaware as �Vial�- and had sold Antonov cargo planes to the Taliban. 

One of the two companies involved in the sophisticated money laundering operation by Bout, was a Belgian company, �Air Charter Center.� The other company was the US incorporated, �Vial.�  It was for this reason that an arrest warrant was issued on Bout by Belgium authorities, for the money laundering discovered through the Belgian company. (4)  

Notably, a company under the name of �Air Charter Center� is still listed as an air broker out of Ostend International Airport in Belgium:
 http://www.ostendairport.be/air/pages/aircom02.htm  

Outside of the LA Times article, there has been no other information on Bout�s ties to a company by the name of �Vial� �that was incorporated in Delaware.  As many may know, in the United States, Delaware is the easiest state to incorporate in, with expedient processing. As with many companies incorporated in Delaware � Vial may not have been physically located in the state, just incorporated there. There are a few other companies with similar names in the US- but no significant ties to this story were evident in any of the other possible companies. If this changes, we will update the information. 

After Ruprah�s arrest, and at the frustration of the Belgians � the UN & CIA continued their dialogue with Ruprah. While under arrest, Ruprah was supposedly more generous in divulging information to the CIA, on Bout�s dealings with the Taliban and the al Qaeda, although Ruprah�s attorney continued to deny Ruprah had any �direct� dealings with the al Qaeda or any illegal business dealings with Bout. (10) 

Arrest Aids Pursuit of Weapons Network  
Dealer Supplied Taliban, Al Qaeda, Officials Say
 
By Douglas Farah  
Washington Post Foreign Service  
Tuesday, February 26, 2002; Page A01 http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=
A2005-2002Feb25&notFound=true
 

Background on Ruprah:
Arrest May Show Taylor's Al Qaeda Link
 
The Perspective  
February 18, 2002  
http://www.theperspective.org/ruprah.html
 

Here�s an interesting interview from one of the UN experts on illegal arms trading, Johan Peleman.  This interview was published 2 months prior to the LA Times article on Victor Bout. Peleman�s interview has an interesting contrast to the Times article, wherein Peleman views Bout�s ties to the Taliban and al Qaida as speculative and unfounded. He also omits information on the travel ban that was placed on Ruprah and Bout, when Ruprah approached the UN and the US with info on Bout. 

Title: United Nations Expert Discusses Sudden Interest  
In Arms Dealer Viktor Bout  
Moscow Vremya MN in Russian  
05 Mar 2002

Belgian citizen Johann Peleman, a United Nations expert in the area of illegal arms trading and director of the Peace Institute in Antwerpen, has for several years been attentively tracking the activity of Viktor Bout.   We asked Mr. Peleman to talk about this businessman and about the mechanism for illegal arms shipments to hot spots on the planet http://www.nisat.org/blackmarket/europe/Central_Europe/belgium/2002.03.05-
UN%20Arms%20Expert%20on%20Victor%20Bout.html
 

It should be noted that on Feb. 26, 2002- the Washington Post reported that when the U.N. shut down Ariana Airways for suspicion of supplying weapons to the Taliban and al-Qaeda in November 2000; Bout�s air cargo company, Flying Dolphin obtained a U.N. waiver, for reasons that are not clear, and continued flying the Dubai-Kandahar route until being shut down by the United Nations in January 2001. (10)  

LA Times� comprehensive investigation of Victor Bout:
SUNDAY REPORT  
On the Trail of a Man Behind Taliban's Air Fleet

Authorities say Victor Bout supplied combatants in hot spots around the world. The elusive entrepreneur is free in Moscow.

May 19, 2002
By Times Staff Writers
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-051902bout.story 

Reportedly, Ruprah�s dialogue with the UN & CIA revealed how the Liberian �flags of convenience� funds had been utilized for the purchase of arms. (11)  

As noted earlier, Sanjivan Ruprah had a passport as Liberia's deputy commissioner for maritime affairs.  This was key to understanding a method of how Liberia had been able to purchase arms. Arms deliveries were allegedly financed, in part, by the income from the Liberian "flags of convenience� funds.  

�Flags of convenience� is the term used for the registration of tankers and the like, at ports of countries that are nothing more than- convenient- with the lack of regulations and inspection requirements. The registration of offshore oil tankers in its national shipping registers is a major source of money for Liberia.  In 2001, 35% of the oil tankers around the world were flying the Liberian flag because of the minimal regulations and fees in the country�s maritime industry registration. 

The investigation of Ruprah�s bank records allegedly indicated that funds from the Liberian �flags of convenience� passed through his account, in order to pay for illegal arms, on behalf of President Charles Taylor. (11) .

STATEMENT OF ALEX VINES  
SENIOR RESEARCHER  
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH  
BEFORE THE HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE  
SPECIAL OVERSIGHT PANEL ON THE MERCHANT MARINE  
VESSEL OPERATIONS UNDER "FLAGS OF CONVENIENCE" AND NATIONAL SECURITY IMPLICATIONS  
JUNE 13, 2002 http://armedservices.house.gov/openingstatementsandpressreleases/107thcongress/
02-06-13vines.html
 

UN Security Council Liberia Panel of Experts Report  
Executive Summary  
http://www.sierra-leone.org/liberiareport-executivesummary.html
 

In April 2002, an intelligence source of the Guardian Weekly suggested that the CIA may have been bargaining to provide not only Ruprah, but also Bout with impunity and a green card in exchange for information on al-Qaida's network. 

Whether or not this was based upon sheer speculation, within weeks of the issuance of an arrest warrant in Belgium, Bout went on the air of a Moscow radio station and boldly called out his whereabouts.  Not long after that, Bout met in France with LeMonde for an interview to dispute the charges against him, "If they're looking for me, I don't understand why they can't find me." (9)

According to a US official, �There was a lot of egg on faces when Bout went on the radio.� (4)  

On the Trail of the Elusive Victor Bout

Hunted by Interpol, the Russian 'merchant of death' who helped arm the Taliban and al-Qaida is alive and well in Moscow

by Stephen Smith, Additional reporting by Afsane Bassir Pour in New York, Natalie Nougayrede in Moscow, Jean-Philippe Remy in Nairobi and Jean-Pierre Stroobants in Brussels

The Guardian Weekly  
April 17, 2002

http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/timeline/2002/guardian041702.html
 

Further evidence of the Bush administration�s stifled investigations on terrorism, and complicity in illicit arms dealing have surfaced through several comprehensive reports from other journalists- here and abroad.  

In an investigation on the Saudi role in terrorism, Greg Palast (BBC) interviewed several key sources within the US intelligence community. What Palast found was that after George W. Bush�s election, the agencies were told to "back off" investigating the Bin Ladens and Saudi royals.  

Telling evidence of this hands-off policy came with Palast�s interview of Michael Wildes, a lawyer for a defected Saudi diplomat. Wildes went to the FBI with over 14,000 documents that implicated Saudi citizens in the financing of terrorism. Wildes explained that the agents would not even read the documents stating that they were �not allowed� to and refused to accept the file presented to them.  
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/events/newsnight/1645527.stm
 

Sarkis Soghanalian, an arms dealer from the Cold War, who often operates in cooperation with the US government, explained in an interview for Frontline/World the level of his collaboration with the military industrial complex.  

In one instance, Soghanalian spoke of an arrest, where he was charged on conspiracy with Hughes helicopter executives.  The executives were acquitted of the charges, but Soghanalian was convicted and sentenced to 6 1/2 years. In the end, Soghanalian served only a fraction of that sentence- when the US government required his services again- he was released. 

Sarkis Soghanalian
The Cold War�s Largest Arms Merchant

In an interview with FRONTLINE/World co-producer William Kistner in March 2001, Sarkis Soghanalian, one of the world's most accomplished arms salesmen, gave his unapologetic and seasoned views on the international arms trade and U.S. policy. A veteran of many Cold War arms deals, Soghanalian has seen wars, rebel movements and ideological conflicts become U.S. priorities and then fade into history. He speaks frankly about his role in helping the United States pursue its interests. He is confident that every deal has been undertaken with the approval of the U.S. government.

Interview cont. here:
http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/sierraleone/soghanalian.html
 

FBI AND US SPY AGENTS SAY BUSH SPIKED BIN LADEN PROBES BEFORE 11 SEPTEMBER  
The Guardian (London)  
Wednesday, November 7, 2001  
2001 Project Censored Award Winner  
Watch Greg Palast's Special Report for Newsnight  
Officials told to 'back off' on Saudis before September 11  
by Greg Palast and David Pallister http://www.gregpalast.com/detail.cfm?artid=103&row=1  

Another arrest in Europe of a known arms dealer out of Florida:  

Jean Bernard Lasnaud  
South Florida�s Elusive Arms Baron  
By Julia Reynolds, Center for Investigative Reporting 
with William Kistner and Omar Lavieri in Buenos Aires

UPDATE: Just days after the publication of this Web-exclusive report on May 23, Jean Bernard Lasnaud was arrested in Switzerland in response to an Interpol request. Swiss authorities contacted the Argentina courts, where the current judge on the case quickly requested Lasnaud's extradition. If sent to Argentina, Lasnaud will face 22 years in prison on charges of arms smuggling and "abuse of authority." 

As this FRONTLINE/World report pointed out, the U.S. had broken from standard practice and never took even basic steps toward detaining Lasnaud. If he finally faces the Buenos Aires courts, it is hoped Lasnaud's testimony will help shed light on how a wanted international arms smuggler was able to spend a decade living openly in the U.S.

Article cont. here:  
http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/sierraleone/lasnaud.html
 

Tom Ofcansky, an African affairs analyst with the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research, has closely monitored arms sales to Africa. In the 1990s, he developed a detailed classified database that tracked the suppliers and shipments of small arms to Africa. In an interview with FRONTLINE/World producer Rick Young in February 2002, he says that the Clinton administration was aware that small-arms trafficking was greatly contributing to violence and destruction throughout Africa, and that high-level officials were speaking out about the problem. But, he says, in the end, the issue was given a low priority.

Interview cont. here:  
http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/sierraleone/ofcansky.html
 

A good source for further information on what may be contained in the �missing pages� of 9/11 investigation:  

Alhazmi and Almihdhar: The 9/11  
Hijackers Who Should Have Been Caught 
By Paul Thompson  
September 30, 2002.  
updated October 18, 2002 http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/timeline/main/essaykhalidandnawaf.html  

More background on the investigation: http://www.nisat.org/blackmarket/europe/Central_Europe/belgium/2002.01.21
-Following%20the%20Trail%20of%20Arms%20to%20Al-Qaida.html
 

Speaking before Senate Foreign Relations committee on the Iraq Reconstruction Wolfowitz justified the Bush administration�s hands-off approach to the bloodshed in Liberia by explaining that the opposing factions to President Charles Taylor are of the same ilk, leaving few options for a positive change for the people of Liberia.  One could speculate that if the Bush Administration is planning on occupying Iraq for a substantial period of time, which it is now openly admitting -  Iraq has just as few options for a democratic government after the US invasion.  

So, why has the Bush Administration set the US approach of Iraq and Liberia apart?  Some would speculate that Liberia has posed more of a threat to the world, with the constant flow of arms to terrorists within Pres. Charles Taylor�s corrupt government.  Much evidence of the terrorist funding through diamonds and the arms dealing in Liberia has been accessible to us all, since December 2000 - well before 9/11.  It is impossible to say that if we had dealt with the corruption of President Charles Taylor�s government back in 2000, we would not have seen the attack on World Trade Center. But it is without a doubt, had we dealt with this conflict, in a method that would have brought peace and prosperity to the people of Liberia; terrorism would have been stifled at a profound level.  

The Bush Administration and the legacy of his father�s administration have been complicit in the continuance of this plague on the people of Liberia.  Some believe that the purpose in avoiding conflict and disclosure in both Liberia & Saudi Arabia, is merely to prevent the government�s complicity from reaching public view. 

The price of peace is a heavy one, but it is worth it to us all. The President is surely not immune to the debt we all owe to the peace process. 

On July 30, Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, gave his mid-year press conference.  This was an unusual conference, in which Annan spoke with much candor.  He called for �radical reform� of the UN programs set up to combat terrorism.  These radical reforms addressed, on face value, are a method to combat the abject poverty, which has bred terrorism. (12) Perhaps, the leaders of the world are listening to what we are saying - but what those radical reforms shall be, we have yet to see in great detail.  In the coming weeks, we will examine these proposed reforms with whatever resources we have available to us.  

And on that same day�President Bush inadvertently, took responsibility for the infamous sentence uttered before the people in the President�s National Address� �Iraq has attempted to purchase Uranium in Niger.� Perhaps he has realized that the admission of responsibility for his own speech is minute, in contrast to the evidence of complicity in the corruption of Liberia.  What the future holds, we shall see�  

A valuable research resource:

POLICING THE PORTS  
Reducing Illicit Trafficking in South Africa  
Anthony Minnaar  
Published in Monograph No 84, April 2003 http://www.iss.org.za/Pubs/Monographs/No84/Contents.html

 

Listing of acronyms for Liberia:  
 
http://www.sierra-leone.org/panelreport-acronyms.html  

Reference:

1) Sen. Feingold�s transcript of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on Iraq: Status and Prospects for Reconstruction http://feingold.senate.gov/statements/03/07/2003729832.html  

2) THE NETWORK OF TERRORISM http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/ja1/wwwhse0612.html  

3) CSPAN July 30, 2003 On Air Press Briefing  

4) �On the Trail of a Man Behind Taliban's Air Fleet,� LA Times- Times Staff Writers writers John Daniszewski, Stephen Braun, Judy Pasternak and Maura Reynolds and special correspondent Sergei L. Loiko contributed to this report, as did researchers John Beckham, Janet Lundblad and Robert Patrick. Written by Braun and Pasternak.  
 
5/19/02  
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-051902bout.story
 

5) Leonid Efimovich Minin  
From Ukraine, a New Kind of Arms Trafficker Frontline/World by Matthew Brunwasser May 2002  
http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/sierraleone/minin.html
 

6) 5/11/2001 Press Briefing UN HEADQUARTERS PRESS CONFERENCE ON LIBERIA SANCTIONS
http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2001/LiberiaPC.doc.htm
 

7) http://web.amnesty.org/web/ar2002.nsf/eur/belgium?Open  

8) http://www.newdemocrat.org/Stories/ATUMercenaries.htm  

9) On the Trail of the Elusive Victor Bout-Hunted by Interpol, the Russian 'merchant of death' who helped arm the Taliban and al-Qaida is alive and well in Moscow by Stephen Smith The Guardian Weekly April 17, 2002 http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/timeline/2002/guardian041702.html  

10) �Arrest Aids Pursuit of Weapons Network Dealer Supplied Taliban, Al Qaeda, Officials Say� By Douglas Farah Washington Post Foreign Service 2/26/02 http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=
A2005-2002Feb25&notFound=true
 

11)  http://www.nisat.org/blackmarket/europe/Central_Europe/belgium/2002.02.20-
Belgian%20Sources%20Cited%20on%20War%20Diamond%20Trafficker%20 
Ruprahs%20Arrest.html  

12) UN Secretary-General gave mid-year press conference Wednesday, July 30, 2003 http://www.un.org/News/ossg/hilites.htm