Posts Tagged ‘arms trafficking’

A Bahraini Shiite protester is detained by riot police during a demonstration in September 2012. The U.S. has long sold military equipment to the small Mideast nation’s government. (Mohammed Al-Shaikh/AFP/GettyImages)

Jan. 15, 2013

Despite Bahrain’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, the U.S. has continued to provide weapons and maintenance to the small Mideast nation.

Defense Department documents released to ProPublica give the fullest picture yet of the arms sales: The list includes ammunition, combat vehicle parts, communications equipment, Blackhawk helicopters, and an unidentified missile system. (Read the documents.)

The documents, which were provided in response to a Freedom of Information Act request and cover a yearlong period ending in February 2012, still leave many questions unanswered. It’s not clear whether in each case the arms listed have been delivered. And some entries that only cite the names of weapons may in fact refer to maintenance or spare parts.

Defense Department spokesman Paul Ebner declined to offer any more detail. “We won’t get into specifics in any of these because of the security of Bahrain,” said Ebner.

While the U.S. has maintained it is selling Bahrain arms only for external defense, human rights advocates say the documents raise questions about items that could be used against civilian protesters.

“The U.S. government should not be providing additional military equipment that could make matters worse,” said Sunjeev Bery, Middle East advocacy director for Amnesty International USA.

There have been reports that Bahrain used American-made helicopters to fire on protesters in the most intense period of the crackdown. Time magazine reported in mid-March 2011 that Cobra helicopters had conducted “live ammunition air strikes” on protesters.

The new Defense Department list of arms sales has two entries related to “AH-1F Cobra Helicopters” in March and April 2011. Neither the exact equipment or services being sold nor the delivery timetable are specified.

The U.S. is also playing a training role: In April 2012, for example, the Army News Service reported that an American team specializing in training foreign militaries to use equipment purchased from the U.S. was in Bahrain to help with Blackhawk helicopters.

Bahrain’s ambassador to the U.S., Houda Nonoo, said the country’s military has not targeted protestors. Bahrain’s military “exists to combat external threats,” Nonoo told ProPublica. “[T]he potential for U.S. foreign arms sales to be used against protestors in the future is remote.”

The Obama administration has stood by Bahrain’s ruling family, who are Sunni, during nearly two years of protests by the country’s majority Shia population. Bahrain is a longtime ally and the home to a large American naval base, which is considered particularly important amid the current tensions with nearby Iran.

The itemized arms sales list does not include dollar values but a separate document says military equipment worth $51 million was delivered to Bahrain in the year starting in October 2010. (That period includes several months before the protests began.)

The U.S. has long sold weapons to Bahrain, totaling $1.4 billion since 2000, according to the State Department. The sales didn’t come under scrutiny until security forces killed at least 19 people in the early months of the crackdown in 2011. (Dozens have died since then.)

The administration put a hold on one proposed sale of Humvees and missiles in Fall 2011 following congressional criticism. But Foreign Policy reported that other unspecified equipment was still being sold without any public notification.

The new documents offer more details on what was sold during that period — including entries related to a “Blackhawk helicopter armament” in November 2011 and a missile system in January 2012.

In May 2012, the administration announced it was releasing some unspecified items to Bahrain’s military that “are not used for crowd control” while maintaining a hold on the Humvees and TOW missiles.

State Department spokesman Noel Clay told ProPublica, “We continue to withhold the export of lethal and crowd-control items intended predominately for internal security purposes, and have resumed on a case-by-case basis items related exclusively to external defense, counter-terrorism, and the protection of U.S. forces.”

The U.S. has also sold Bahrain a helicopter fit for the royal family.

In September, Missouri-based aviation services firm Sabreliner reported that, as part of an official government arms sale, it delivered to Bahrain a fully customized UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter for “a variety of missions including transporting heads of state.” The aircraft was outfitted with a “clam shell door” for ease of entry, a “new VIP interior,” and a “custom Royal Bahraini” paintjob.

In other recent developments in Bahrain, the country’s highest court this month upheldlengthy prison sentences for 13 high-profile activists accused of plotting to overthrow the government.

In a rare occurrence in November, a series of homemade bombs were set off in the capital of Manama, killing two and leading some observers to argue that the opposition is growing more militant. Also in November, an Amnesty International report found that despite government promises, “the reform process has been shelved and repression unleashed.”

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25 January 2012

The current news coverage concerning Iran is depicting a series of incidents, but when placed in the context of the events of the past few years – as I have done in my book The Next War – The attack on Iran – A preview as well as in this DeepJournal series – it is clear that all the pieces are being put into place for a war against Iran. It is a long-term project demanding many years worth of preparation, and the ultimate goal is getting closer all the time. One component of this preparation is the covert arming of Syrian rebels.

Syrische rebellen [jpg]A weakening of Syria is a weakening of Iran. ‘President Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, speaking a day after the United States announced new measures against Iran over its nuclear program, said that “end of the Assad regime would constitute Iran’s greatest setback in the region yet—a strategic blow that will further shift the balance of power in the region against Iran.”‘ Speaking last November on the unstable situation in Syria, Obama’s Secretary of State said: ‘I think there could be a civil war with a very determined and well-armed and eventually well-financed opposition […] something that we hate to see because we are in favor of a peaceful protest and a nonviolent opposition’. The first part of Hillary Clinton’s remark seemed more an expression of hope than the warning it tried to be, as made clear by the fact that NATO and the U.S. are currently supplying the Syrian rebels with Libyan weapons.

Covert Western weapons shipments to Syrian rebels
Opponents of the regime of Syrian President Assad are being secretly armed by the West. Unmarked airplanes belonging to NATO countries are landing at Turkish military bases close to the Syrian border. These flights deliver weapons originating from the arsenals of the late Muammar Gaddafi. The airplanes also contain volunteer fighters from the Libyan transitional council, ‘experienced in pitting local volunteers against trained soldiers, a skill they acquired confronting Gaddafi’s army’. Also the next step has been taken. ‘French and British special forces trainers are on the ground, assisting the Syrian rebels while the CIA and U.S. Spec Ops are providing communications equipment and intelligence to assist the rebel cause, enabling the fighters to avoid concentrations of Syrian soldiers’, writes the well-informed former CIA officer Phil Giraldi.

The road to Tehran runs through Damascus
The strategy of reaching Tehran through Damascus also seems to have been embraced by Saudi Arabia: ‘The King knows that other than the collapse of the Islamic Republic itself, nothing would weaken Iran more than losing Syria’, said a Saudi source speaking to Foreign Policy magazine in August of last year. Since that time there has been no let-up in developments. The Syrian situation is being eyed with suspicion by the Russians, who don’t see it quite as sentimentally as the Western public does: ‘The West is putting pressure on Syria because the country refuses to break off its alliance with Iran and not for repressing the opposition, said [Nikolai] Patrushev, who served with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the Soviet-era KGB. “This time, it won’t be France, the U.K.Iran Assad Ahmadinejad [jpg]and Italy that will provide the main strike forces, but perhaps neighboring Turkey, which was until recently on good terms with Syria and is a rival of Iran with immense ambitions,” Patrushev said.’

Syrian power vacuum filled by Islamic interests
Russia is worried about the future: ‘Russia, which has a naval base in Syria and sells weapons to the Middle Eastern country, is more concerned that Islamic radicals may come to power, said Irina Zvyagelskaya, a Middle East analyst at the Academy of Sciences in Moscow. “Our fear is that Syria could collapse and extremist Islamic forces will seize control that no one will be pleased about,” Zvyagelskaya said in a phone interview today. “This could destabilize the entire region.”’ Phil Giraldi would agree with this analysis. He writes: ‘In the United States, many friends of Israel are on the Assad regime-change bandwagon, believing that a weakened Syria, divided by civil war, will present no threat to Tel Aviv. But they should think again, as these developments have a way of turning on their head. The best organized and funded opposition political movement in Syria is the Muslim Brotherhood.’ Hillary Clinton: ‘Look, Assad’s going to be gone; it’s just a question of time.’

Intelligence professionals warn Obama
Phil Giraldi has been warning of the coming war against Iran for years now, which in his opinion could lead to WWIII. ‘As professionals with collectively hundreds of years of experience in intelligence, foreign policy, and counterterrorism, we are Syrië Damascus kaartje [jpg]concerned about the gross misrepresentation of facts being bruited about to persuade you to start another war.’ This is the first sentence from a letter sent to President Obama from Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, signers of which include Giraldi. The group of intelligence specialists warns him not to launch a war against Iran. ‘We are seeing a replay of the “Iraq WMD threat.”’ It’s a sound argument, and one that I expand on in my book The Next War. This group of experts concludes the letter with this sentence: ‘We are currently winding down what you labeled a “dumb war;” we should not undertake another dumb war against a country almost three times larger than Iraq, that would set off a major regional war and create generations of jihadis. Such a war, contrary to what some argue, would not make Israel or the U.S. safer.’

Covert History… 

” Covert action should not be confused with missionary work.”

Henry Kissinger, commenting on the US sellout of the Kurds in Iraq in 1975

*****

” …the CIA has overthrown functioning democracies in over 20 countries.”

John Stockwell, former CIA official and author

Iran
Guatemala
Zaire
Bay of Pigs
Vietnam 1945 – 1963
Dominican Republic

“… Secret CIA operations constitute the usually unseen efforts to shore up unjust, unpopular, minority governments, always with the hope that overt military intervention … will not be necessary. The more successful CIA operations are, the more remote overt intervention becomes, and the more remote become reforms. Latin America in the 1960s is all the proof one needs.”

Philip Agee, CIA Diary

Indonesia
Greece
Chile
Vietnam 1964-1975
Laos
Cambodia

“But what counter-insurgency really comes down to is the protection of the capitalists back in America, their property and their privileges. US national security, as preached by US leaders, is the security of the capitalist class in the US, not the security of the rest of the people.”

Philip Agee, CIA Diary

Angola
Orlando Letelier
Grenada
El Salvador
Nicaragua
Afghanistan

“A considerable proportion of the developed world’s prosperity rests on paying the lowest possible prices for the poor countries’ primary products and on exporting high-cost capital and finished goods to those countries. Continuation of this kind of prosperity requires continuation of the relative gap between developed and underdeveloped countries – it means keeping poor people poor.

Increasingly, the impoverished masses are understanding that the prosperity of the developed countries and of the privileged minorities in their own countries is founded on their poverty.”

Philip Agee, CIA Diary

South Pacific
Panama
Iraq
Haiti
Yugoslavia

“American capitalism, based as it is on exploitation of the poor, with its fundamental motivation in personal greed, simply cannot survive without force – without a secret police force.

Now, more than ever, each of us is forced to make a conscious choice whether to support the system of minority comfort and privilege with all its security apparatus and repression, or whether to struggle for real equality of opportunity and fair distribution of benefits for all of society, in the domestic as well as the international order. It’s harder now not to realize that there are two sides, harder not to understand each, and harder not to recognize that like it or not we contribute day in and day out either to the one side or to the other.”

Philip Agee, CIA Diary

Since British bank examiners first shut down its London branch in 1991, BCCI (the Bank of Credit and Commerce International) has become known as “the world’s crookedest bank”-or, as CIA Director Robert Gates called it, the Bank of Crooks and Criminals International. He, of all people, should know.

Throughout its entire history, the CIA has set up an elaborate shell game of “proprietaries” (front companies), money-laundering operations and off-the-books projects so complex that no outsider- and few insiders-could ever keep track of them. BCCI was neither the first nor the last of these.

An important predecessor was the Nugan Hand Bank, which helped the CIA topple a pesky government in its host country, Australia. Capitalized with booty from drug and weapons deals in the last years of the Vietnam War, it helped finance agency operations in Angola and the Middle East

Nugan Hand’s board was loaded with spooks, including former CIA Director William Colby. When Australian bank examiners closed in on the bank in 1977, Nugan killed himself and Hand disappeared with billions in depositors’ funds.

The CIA flirted with a similar operation in Hawaii, but eventually chose the Pakistan-based BCCI. It welcomed anyone with large amounts of cash to launder, from narcotics traffickers to arms merchants, terrorists to gangster governments.

Naturally, the CIA felt right at home. In fact, one former BCCI official claims to have been told that the CIA, and Director Richard Helms in particular, actually started the bank, and that it “wasn’t a Pakistani bank at all.”

Before collapsing, BCCI managed to facilitate a host of CIA covert operations, notably George Bush’s efforts to pump weapons to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Edwin Wilson’s “unauthorized” arming of Libya.

Efforts to unravel all of BCCI’s mysteries will never succeed. Its directors had the good sense to feather the nests of enough prominent US politicians, of both parties, to ensure that any investigation will be half-hearted at best.

Not surprisingly, CIA-connected lobbyists have worked to undermine any probe. Roughly $20 billion of BCCI’s assets remain unaccounted for.

New and troubling motive for Team Obama’s illegal gunrunning scheme

August 11, 2011

Why did the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) let criminals buy firearms, smuggle them across the Mexican border and deliver them into the hands of vicious drug cartels? The ATF claims it launched its now-disgraced Operation Fast and Furious in 2009 to catch the “big fish.” Fast and Furious was designed to stem the “Iron River” flowing from American gun stores into the cartels’ arsenals. The bureau says it allowed gun smuggling so it could track the firearms and arrest the cartel members downstream. Not true.

During the course of Operation Fast and Furious, about 2,000 weapons moved from U.S. gun stores to Mexican drug cartels – exactly as intended.

In congressional testimony, William Newell, former ATF special agent in charge of the Phoenix Field Division, testified that the Internal Revenue Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement were “full partners” in Operation Fast and Furious. Mr. Newell’s list left out the most important player: the CIA. According to a CIA insider, the agency had a strong hand in creating, orchestrating and exploiting Operation Fast and Furious.

The CIA’s motive is clear enough: The U.S. government is afraid the Los Zetas drug cartel will mount a successful coup d’etat against the government of Felipe Calderon.

Founded by ex-Mexican special forces, the Zetas already control huge swaths of Mexican territory. They have the organization, arms and money needed to take over the entire country.

Former CIA pilot Robert Plumlee and former CIA operative and DEA Director Phil Jordan recently said the brutally efficient Mexican drug cartel has stockpiled thousands of weapons to disrupt and influence Mexico’s national elections in 2012. There’s a very real chance the Zetas cartel could subvert the political process completely, as it has throughout the regions it controls.

In an effort to prevent a Los Zetas takeover, Uncle Sam has gotten into bed with the rival Sinaloa cartel, which has close ties to the Mexican military. Recent court filings by former Sinaloa cartel member Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla, currently in U.S. custody, reveal that the United States allowed the Sinaloas to fly a 747 cargo plane packed with cocaine into American airspace – unmolested.

The CIA made sure the trade wasn’t one-way. It persuaded the ATF to create Operation Fast and Furious – a “no strings attached” variation of the agency’s previous firearms sting. By design, the ATF operation armed the Mexican government’s preferred cartel on the street level near the American border, where the Zetas are most active.

Operation Fast and Furious may not have been the only way the CIA helped put lethal weapons into the hands of the Sinaloa cartel and its allies, but it certainly was an effective strategy. If drug thugs hadn’t murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry with an ATF- provided weapon, who knows how many thousands more guns would have crossed the U.S. border?

To be sure, Operation Fast and Furious suited the ATF’s needs. It was all too willing to let guns walk to increase its power, prestige and budget in Washington. It actively recruited so-called straw purchasers and happily used American gun dealers as pawns. And it was only one agency in a mosaic of federal agencies helping the CIA actualize its covert plans.

The fact that Operation Fast and Furious was part of the CIA’s black-bag job in Mexico does not excuse the ATF for violating the very federal laws it was created to enforce; for contributing to the deaths of hundreds of innocent citizens, including a Border Patrol agent trying to live up to his oath; or for being unrepentant, uncooperative and unresponsive to the wishes of the American people for honesty, integrity and loyalty to the U.S. Constitution.

Nor should the FBI get a free pass for subverting the criminal-background-check system designed to prevent illegal firearms purchases. The Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department – all major players in the CIA’s grand schemes – should not escape scrutiny, either. In fact, we should not shrug off the activities of any of our federal agencies that broke the law on the Sinaloa’s – and thus the Mexican government’s – behalf.

The Obama administration clearly thinks the entire federal government should help keep the profoundly corrupt Calderon government in power – no matter what. If that means sending lawyers, guns and money to unconscionable criminals, so be it. In this, Obama officials are wrong.

By choosing sides in a brutal war between opposing criminal syndicates rather than sealing our southern border, the Obama administration is fueling brutality and carnage and killing any hope of Mexican democracy. All that aside, either we are a nation of laws or we are not. If we live by our principles, Congress must appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the people in the Obama administration who enabled this reckless gun scheme.

It has taken two months, but news involving what really happened in Benghazi, Libya at the United States consulate is beginning to leak out. As reporters Adam Entous, Siobhan Gorman and Margaret Coker ofThe Wall Street Journal admittedon November 1, “The U.S. effort in Benghazi was at its heart a CIA operation.”

On September 11, 2012, a heavily armed group staged a nighttime attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. For the next several hours, gun battles erupted in that building as well as in a neighboring location that had been used by the CIA as a “safe house.” When the dust settled on September 12, four Americans were dead, including U.S. AmbassadorChris Stevens.

New reports now indicate that the Western press in Libya, including New York Timescorrespondents, knew all along that the assault was not “a spontaneous attack brought about by an anti-Islamic movie in the United States.” Instead, the attackers targeted a spy operation being run by the CIA tasked with moving weapons to rebel fighters around the Middle East.

It all started just after the Obama commencement of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-led invasion of Libya wherein national leader Muammar Qaddafi was murdered.With the war winding down, the CIA established its first intelligence annex in Libya in February 2011. With Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s State Department providing diplomatic cover to conceal the operation’s true nature, CIA contractors recruited anti-Qaddafi rebels and provided weaponry to them.

Strong evidence now exists that Stevens seized weapons in Libya and sent them to Syria viaTurkey where rebel groups created by the CIA and the Mossad are battling President Bashar Assad’s army for control of the nation.

Michael Kelley of Business Insider, which is described as one of the fastest growing financial websites on the Internet, wrote on November 3: “A Libyan ship—which reportedly weighed 400 tons—docked in southern Turkey on September 6, and its cargo ended up in the hands of Syrian rebels. The man who organized that shipment, Tripoli Military Council head Abdelhakim Belhadj, worked directly with Stevens during the Libyan revolution. These weapons [were] presumably from Muammar Qaddafi’s stock of about 20K portable heat-seeking missiles, the bulk of which were SA-7 surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles.”

On November 9 AMERICAN FREE PRESS interviewed a source who requested to be usedonly as “background” for this story. AFP asked him if he felt that forces, who originally worked with the CIA and NATO to overthrow Qaddafi, attacked the CIA safe house because they were angered that their bounty—thousands of high-tech weapons—were now being taken from them and dispatched to another group of CIA mercenaries in Syria.

He responded: “The Libyans were pawns in their own revolution. NATO and the Obama administration wanted Qaddafi out, so they used the home team to do it. Soldiers that opposed Qaddafi received their funding from NATO and the CIA. Then, after these rebels did the dirty work and got rid of Qaddafi, the CIA went searching for his heat-seeking missiles.”

Once the CIA planted roots in Libya, AFP’s source picked up the story of what transpired.

“Some of the same forces that were set against  Qaddafi were later used to provide security at the CIA’s safe house,” he said. “Although many of the details are still clouded, it’s certain that the CIA embassy was not attacked due to an anti-Islamic film, as the administration initially claimed.”

AFP inquired as to whether President Barack Obama would have been apprised and directly knowledgeable of the CIA’s weapons-running operation. “Yes,” he said.

To illustrate how extensively the CIA was involved in this mess, the source stated: “Of the 30men stationed in Benghazi, only seven weren’t officially employed by the CIA. Once the mission was attacked, CIA contractors got most of their fellow Americans out. Yet, following their rescue mission, some of them were tracked down and killed.”

The success of the CIA operation moving guns out of Libya was what ultimately doomed the mission there. “For at least 30 days prior to the September 11 onslaught, Stevens’s emails prove that he felt an attack was imminent,” said AFP’s source. “But since the CIA had already moved a majority of weapons out of Libya on the September 6 boat dispatched to Turkey, there was no more need for the mission in Benghazi. Now that most everyoneknows about this situation, the CIA’s cover was blown, which is something they never wanted.”

AFP inquired as to whether there was any possibility that Stevens had been deliberately set up. AFP’s contact replied, “At the very least, somebody was negligent about security at the embassy, and Stevens knew more about the Libyan gun-running operation than anyone.”

Now, conveniently, Stevens is dead and CIA Director David Petraeus resigned on November 9 “due to marital indiscretions.”

As of this writing, Petraeus will testify behind closed doors on Capitol Hill about his role in the Benghazi scandal.

CIA Operative Caught Red-Handed

Although CIA agents promote an aura of calculating professionalism and perfection, sometimes their actual performance strays far from this carefully crafted image. In 2011, Hezbollah leaders in Beirut exposed several CIA operatives after their sloppy and amateurish Keystone Kops-like practices were uncovered.

The specifics are almost comical if they weren’t so serious. When trying to determine acodeword to be used when meeting with foreign contacts, the secret agents selected“pizza.” Then, laughably, they all met in public at a Beirut Pizza Hut. Making matters worse,the men dialed their CIA  handlers on cell phones that were easily traced by Hezbollah’sinternal security forces.

After arrests were made, Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, said that the detainees ere “affiliated with the CIA, and one more might be affiliated with European intelligence or Mossad.” Nasrallah characterized the U.S. embassy in Lebanon as “a den of spies.”

The ground-to-air weapons have been delivered across the Turkish border and were partly paid for by Saudi Arabia

18 Aug 2012

CIA spies have smuggled up to 14 Stinger missiles into Syria so rebels can defend themselves from air strikes.

The ground-to-air weapons have been delivered across the Turkish border to the Free Syrian Army and were partly paid for by Saudi Arabia, a security source claimed.

President Bashar al-Assad’s MIG-23 warplanes and helicopter gunships have killed more than 1,000 people.

The source said: “The West and the rest of the Middle East is not going to be able to secure a no-fly zone above Syria any time soon so the only way to stop the carnage is to take on Assad’s air force from the ground.

“Knowing that Stingers are in the hands of the opposition forces will hopefully mean Assad’s air power will be much diminished but this will be a slow process.”

Activists say more than 20,000 people have died in the 17 month civil war and the daily death toll has risen past 500 this week.