Some CIA officials have voiced concern about American involvement with illegal arms dealer Victor Bout,and Senator Russell Feingold has expressed deep frustration over continued ties to Bout. It took undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz eight months to answer Feingold’s May 18, 2004 questions about dealings with Bout. It is unclear whether the US really needs his services in Iraq. In the past the CIA has been a major mover of licit and illicit arms and has often worked with private contractors in doing this. Major political figures have been raked off large commissions from these deals. However, there is growing evidence of ties Bout and the Russian Mafia on the part of the US government people close to it in other parts of the world. It may relate to the scramble of western banks to get their share of the vast wealth that has been pillaged from the former Soviet Union. One important function of the intelligence community is assisting American business. The current black economy is so large that these banks believe they must compete for their share of the money laundering business by dealing with intelligence agencies and organized crime. .It was also important to national security that as much of the Russian loot as possible be in banks that supported the dollar rather than the euro. The Russian mob , known also for extortion and the trade, accommodated western bankers with prostitutes, and later produced embarrassing video tapes . The Russian mob has been good enough to deposit 80% of its drug profits in western banks and it has used these deposits to play on the greed of Western capitalists. In 1997-1998, Mobil Oil entered a deal with Atlas Oil, a Russian mob firm, for oil and advanced $45,000,000 before realizing it had been taken. It received not one barrel for its investment. Seymour Hersh covered the scam in a July 9, 2001 article, but Mobil induced other journalists to make the story go away. One internal memo advised doing nothing as Russian mobsters were far more ruthless than members of American organized crime.
Bout has worked with some American security consulting firms since 1994 and was instrumental in placing the Russian mafia in working relationships with some of them. In the Caucuses, , which has had a history of involvement in the drug traffic, has been working with Far West , Ltd. He added that Far West indirectly cooperates with the US government, and these ties to Far West, Ltd in recent years seem to have the apparent approval of the CIA.
Far West is a major Russian mafia operation that provides security consulting and transportation services. It also moves arms and drugs. From 1991 to 2003, Far West is said to have moved 300 tons of heroin into Western Europe. Vladimir Filin, head of Far West, told a Russian interviewer that his firm was co-founded by an important American corporation. He added that Far West indirectly cooperates with the US government.
We cooperate with the American side in the sphere of commercial transportation not on the basis of direct commercial contracts between our agency [Far West, Ltd.] and the U. S. government, but through the intermediary company co-founded by the agency and a private U.S. company, which in its turn also interacts with the U.S. government.
It is difficult to decipher what that means, but the name Halliburton comes to mind. In 2005, he and two other co-founders,Anton Surikov, and Alexei Likhvintsev, visited President Bush in the White House. Thereafter he and his partners relocated to Dubai and Europe to escape possible arrest. Surikov is considered a retired officer of the Russian GRU as well as a political scientist who opposes Boris Yeltsin and President Vladimir Putin. He admits a connection to CIA agent Fritz Ermarth, who served on the National Security Council twice and retired in 1998. At a 2003 conference in Geneva, Surikov was accused of being a CIA man. As late as 1999, Ermarth was arranging for guns and money to reach a Chechen group that also sold drugs in Europe. OneRuslan Saidov ( sometimes Yasenev) , also part of the Russian mafia, also works various sides of the street including Saudi Arabia, and was paid by the CIA in 2004 to eliminate an Arab leader in Chechnyua who was likely to move from Chehnya to Iraq. The Russian mafia often works through Alpha Bank, which is probably its subsidiary. That bank has business relationships with Halliburton. In 1995 a huge drug warehouse controlled by the bank was burglarized in Siberia and the burglary was investigated by Russian security police..
In the Middle East, Far West cooperates with Diligence ,LCC, a private military corporation founded by William Webster, former head of both the FBI and CIA. These firm also work with recently founded New Bridge Strategies, which is headed by Joseph Allbaugh. He was a campaign manager for Governor Bush as well as his chief-of-staff and he later became head of FEMA. Other partners are George H.W. Bush aids Ed Rogers and Lanny Griffith. The firm has close ties to Neil Bush.
The killing of two American Special Forces soldiers and the kidnaping of Russian diplomats in 2006 was involved with a Bout-related black operation that seems to have gone rogue. Team 121 was comprised of Russian, Israeli, and British mercenaries and was supposed to be used combating private militias in Iraq and turning them against one another. The team was created through the combined efforts of Bout, the Olive Group ( a subsidiary of Blackwater in the United Kingdom, and the Bosnian Defense Fund, of Douglas Feith and Richard Perle. That entity works largely through the Riggs Bank and dates back to the days of the first President Bush. It has had clear links to Al Qasser and Bout .Both of these dealers were involved in the drug trade and moving arms to the Muslim rebels. It has been estimated that at one point, the Kosovo Liberation Front controlled almost 70% of the heroin moving into Europe.
Wayne Madsen, a usually reliable reporter, has been strongly hinting that Bout and the Russian-Ukranian-Israeli weapons-smuggling Mafia has ties to Richard Cheney and other people in the White House. Madsen states flatly that Richard Armitage, undersecretary of State, had been involved in shady dealings in Azerbaijan. The former NSA employee also notes that US Special Forces in Afghanistan are heavily involved in the opium trade and are moving shipments through Turkey and the Balkans with the help of the Russian Mafia and Greek criminals. Madsen notes elsewhere that the Turkish Army is also a major drug trader, so it can be assumed that they participate in this trade. Victor Bout is reportedly a major player in this trade. Two of Bout’s big planes have been spotted frrequently in Kabul and also at the US military base in Frankfurt.
It is not clear that the US moved into the Afghan drug trade immediately after its war there. Prior to the war, the US allied with Afghanistan’s chief narcobaron, Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was an opponent of the Taliban. Another drug baron all was Haji Zaman, and the US persuaded the Pakistanis to release from prison his Pakistani partner Haji Ayub Afridi. These men were also tied to t he Russian mafia and some of their profits got to the Chechnyan rebels. It is possible that at that stage, the US entered into these unsavory alliances as a way of weakening the Russian state. However, by 2006, the US was so deeply involved in the Afghan poppy business that there were complaints about Special Forces hogging the trade and working with “Victor Bout. Some point out that Special Forces had provided the muscle to help the CIA move drugs elsewhere and simply assume this was a resumption of business as usual. A more benevolent interpretation from a conservative publication was that the US had to permit the resumption of the opium trade in order to support the dollar. While Madsen suggests that Cheney and others are running some sort of business on their own, it is much more likely that they have just piggy-backed onto a government operated drug trade that serves some national interests. It could just be a repeat and expansion of what happened under Reagan and the first Bush.
On October 22, 2006, the Iraqi government reported that $600 million had been siphoned off in arms deals. Bout and the Russian mafia were not mentioned. One cannot help wondering, if they were involved, and if any high American officials were participating in dividing the spoils.
The more one digs, the more apparent it is that intelligence agencies, sometimes arms of government, some politicians, and the international underworld all swin in the same muddy water and frequently do business with one another.
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