Viktor Vasilevich Bout ( pronounced “butt” or” bott”) has become the world’s largest dealer in illegal arms , and he achieved this status in a short period of time. Today, the US and the UN officially try to prevent people and countries from dealing with him, yet US contractors in Iraq are still using his services.
Bout is a prominent member of the Russian mafia.. His record of fueling mayhem and murder in Africa and violating US embargoes has led the UN, the United States, and some other nations to join in blacklisting him and forbidding transactions with him Despite its own measures against him , the administration of George W. Bush continues to do business with him and with the Russian mafia.
KGB Major Bout was stati0oned at a Russian base in Angola in 1991.Vic tor was born in Tajikistan in 1967 of Russian parents who had tangential ties to important families, including the Andropovs. He was fluent in six languages. When the soviet empire collapsed in that year, he became an arms dealer, using old Soviet planes Bout started by purchasing three old Antonov planes and soon had 250 to 300 employees, mostly Russians, Ukranians, and Arminians. A Human Rights Watch official said that by 2000 Bout operated the “McDonalds of arms-trafficking.”
He soon became an important figure in the Russian-Ukranian mafia. These underworld people enjoyed the protection of the Russian military and Ministry of Defense. Bout entered business when it was characterized by Yeltsin-era, small, disorganized crime and he would make the transition to Putin- era organized crime ventures. His ties for what passed as the Russian mafia were very important, but he preferred to work as a lone wolf on specific operations .built around his air cargo business.
The Russian mafia had access to a $32 billion weapons stockpile in the Ukraine. It even included helicopters. Even Ukranian president Leonid Kuchma was caught dealing weapons in 1998-2000. Some went to Saddam Hussein. According to the Russian investigators, a worldview drug mega cartel has emerged in which the Russian mafia played a major role. They believe that Yeltsin crime family was an important player in the cartel, and they insist that the Bush family, centered in the current administration, is now a major player. Whether or not that is true, it is known that George H.W. Bush refused to cooperate in an international investigation of Russian mafia money laundering in Switzerland.
These elements participate in a international drug trade that could approach something between $500 million and $1.2 trillion a year. Representatives of its component elements met at the villa of Adnan Khashoggi at Beaulieu, near Nice, France in July 1999. He was once said to the “the richest man in the world.” There were also representatives of Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, the Russian Mafia, and Venezuela. Also present were representativs of the Kosovo Liberation Army, a major drug dealing operation. This cartel deals with Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s deputy, FACA rebels in Columbia, the Kosovo Liberation Army, the CIA, and Russian Military Intelligence(GRU). . Dr. Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat, traces the predecessors of the meta group back to the CIA-sponsored bank BCCI, and before that to cooperative ventures centering in the agency and Myer Lansky. Scott writes that a second drug cartel operates the traffic from Burma into the enterprise zones of southern China, and he has little information on how the two networks might be connected.
With assistance of the Russian mafia, Bout has moved weapons out of the Ukraine and Bulgaria. He soon established a base in Ostend, Belgium and sold weapons to many parties in Africa, to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, and then to the Taliban. Bout denied working for the Taliban and The Belgians indicted him for money laundering and conspiracy and put out an international arrest warrant. Bouts planes were used for personal transportation before 9/11 according to Andrew Gilligan of the Evening Standard.
Bout moved to Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates , where, he established close business ties to the former ambassador to the US, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Saqr al Nayhan, a member of the Dhabi ruling family. The UAE plays an important role in the Afghan drug trade as opium is shipped there, where it is heavily taxed, and some of that tax money has made itw way back to terrorists. The Village Voice speculated that the failed Dubai plan to purchase US ports would have made it much easier to get drugs into the U.S. He has found the UAE a convenient place to do business with Abdul Qayyum Shaikh, a major central Asian dealer in illegal arms.
Arms merchants like Bout make it possible by moving huge quantities of illegal weapons to illegal destinations. Bout has also established a major base in Gambia, where he has used his influence to mov e huge quantities of illegal blood diamonds. Later, the US ignored his actrivities in the illegal diamonds trade in return for flying arms to the Northen Alliance when it was fighting the Afghan Taliban. He was also involved in business arrangements with dictator Charles Taylor in Liberia. Again, they were moving diamonds. The diamond gangs are known for killing, , rape and murder. Taylor was a business partner of Pat Robertson, a major figure in the illegal diamond trade, and those diamonds were moved on the evangelist’s “Operation Blessing” aircraft. Bout, who owns about 50 Russian planes, has also supplied Philippine extremists Abu Sayyaf Group It estimated that he has supplied arms for every war and insurgency in Africa in the past decade and a half. Perhaps his greatest achievement was arming child soldiers in Sierra Leon. During the slaughter in Rwanda, he armed the Hutu and also flew in French peacekeepers. He operated many companies and many fronts. The first was Transavia Export Company, founded in 1991. He has been accused by a usually reliable correspondent of supplying Osama bin Laden, but he denies it.
Bout claims that all his ventures are legitimate cannot believed, but a majority might be. One of his businesses is flying frozen chickens to Africa. He has enough legitimacy to enable Vladimir Putin to befriend him. Twice Bout flew UN peace keepers to Somalia and East Timor and he was also active selling arms in Kosovo and neighboring areas. Two united Nations Commissions cited him for breaking embargoes, and the US Treasury in 2005 and 2006 froze his US assets. There is a strong nexus between people like Bout and terrorism.
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