UAE supported Arms Dealer Viktor Bout Shipments to Taliban through Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan's Flying Dolphin airline and Somali Financier Ahmed Nur Ali Jim'ale who now supports Al-Shabaab, compiled by Bill Warner private investigator.
Until Sept. 11, Osama bin Laden's terrorists in Afghanistan used the Persian Gulf crossroads of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as their lifeline to the outside world. Poor oversight in the loose federation of seven tiny sheikdoms allowed Bin Laden's Al Qaeda network and Taliban agents to set up clandestine arms-trading and money-laundering operations that included the used car scam, according to accounts from American, United Nations, Afghan and U.A.E. sources.
In the emirate of Sharjah, Afghan-based militants linked up with Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer accused of repeatedly violating United Nations weapon sanctions. And millions in Al Qaeda funds cascaded through the freewheeling financial institutions of the neighboring emirate of Dubai.
Terrorists used a Somali warlord's Al-Barakaat money exchange, Ahmed Nur Ali Jim'ale, an Islamic bank once headed by the emirates' finance minister and currency houses that touted their ability to wire $1 million abroad overnight. Sharjah UAE is the hub for Al-Qaeda Heroin smuggling, which finances bin-Laden.
The cargo planes that roar along Sharjah International Airport's lone runway are discards from the Soviet empire. Battered Antonovs and Ilyushins fly off every week on freight runs that span from Africa to Central Asia.
In 2003, the government of Swaziland notified the emirates government that more than two dozen Sharjah-based craft might not be airworthy and that the operators may have used the planes in arms trafficking. Two of the companies named were Air Cess and Flying Dolphin Airlines ( Renamed Dolphin Air), both later identified by a U.N. report as involved in gun running to Africa (SOMALIA). Dolphin Air in the UAE is active at Shrjah International Airport.
Dolphin Air is a charter airline based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It operates charter services within the Middle East and Pakistan. Its main base is Dubai International Airport. The "new" airline, Dolphin Air, started operations in 2002. It was formerly known as Flying Dolphin Airlines and Santa Cruz Imperial Airlines owned by Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed. It was reorganised by Arabian Devt Trading and Construction, taking over assets from Santa Cruz Imperial at P.O. Box 60315, Dubai, UAE Sharjah, UAE which was owned by Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed.
Santa Cruz Imperial has been identified by various sources as being owned or controlled by Viktor Bout, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed and/or Sanjivan Ruprah (also already listed by the Liberian Sanctions Committee). However, there has been some disagreement as to whether Viktor Bout actually owned this company. Nevertheless, Santa Cruz aircraft have operated interchangeably with aircraft from Bout’s network. For example, Viktor Bout has used Santa Cruz aircraft to sell arms to UNITA in Angola and to sell aircraft to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Accordingly, Bout has at least indirect control over Santa Cruz.
By the time the alert went out, the two businesses had picked up an important client outside of Africa: the Taliban, which had placed their national airline at Al Qaeda's disposal. The deal came together in Sharjah UAE, at a hotel near the airport in October 1996, just a month after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.
Two Russians spent hours in a third-floor room that day with young Mullah Farid Ahmed, plucked by the Taliban from his Islamic studies to serve as the emirates' representative for Afghanistan's Ariana Airways. When the discussion ended, say Afghan and emirates air industry sources, Ahmed had agreed to depend on Air Cess for wheels, tires and other military equipment for Taliban air force planes.
Flying Dolphin Airlines would provide charter flights when Ariana was unavailable. Below the surface was another agenda, said an Afghan air expert familiar with the hotel meeting. Air Cess, the expert said, became a conduit for arms and ammunition obtained for the Taliban from several Eastern European countries.
Air Cess, Flying Dolphin and Ariana allegedly came together to support an air network that delivered poison chemicals, weapons, operatives and cash to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, according to accounts from U.N., Afghan and U.S. sources.
Flying Dolphin stepped in after U.S. and U.N. sanctions aimed at stopping terrorists froze Ariana's assets and took away the Afghan firm's international landing rights. For two months in late 2000 and early 2001, a Flying Dolphin Boeing 727 shuttled twice a week to the Taliban headquarters of Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Air Cess was owned by Viktor Bout, a former Soviet air force pilot who has been accused in U.N. reports of violating weapon embargoes in Angola, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Flying Dolphin is owned by Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed al Saqr al Nahyan, who was the emirates' ambassador to the U.S. from 1989 to 1992 and is the current Foreign Minister. A member of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi, the dominant emirate, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed is described in a U.N. report as "a business associate of Viktor Bout a former KGB agent ." Viktor Bout was the Inspiration for Nicholas Cage's character in the movie "Lord of War".
Bout founded Air Cess in Liberia, say U.S. and U.N. officials. These officials say that at some point in the 1990s, Bout transferred its daily operations to his brother Sergei. Spurnov, the Russian air executive, said Victor Bout also provided pilots to the Taliban. Spurnov said about 50 of his pilots were hired by Bout companies in the late 1990s. Spurnov said some told him of repeated runs hauling green crates, standard containers for Eastern European-made ammunition and weapons, into Afghanistan.
The flights, he said, continued even after 1995, when Russian aviation companies were notified by their government that they could no longer fly into Taliban-controlled territory. But the rule didn't apply to Bout because his companies were licensed in Sharjah.
Five planes were sold to the Taliban by Flying Dolphin Airlines and Santa Cruz Imperial Airlines, which were owned bySheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed, a former Emirates ambassador to Washington. Santa Cruz Imperial Airlines has been accused by the U.N. of trafficking arms to Angola.
The sheik angrily insisted in an interview that "he had no clue" why Afghan records detail sales of five of his Antonovs to the Taliban. He said he knew Ahmed Nur Ali Jim'ale and Bout but never worked with them. He said his former "Russian partners" owned the planes.
"Abdullah pledges UAE's support for Irenaposted on 7/11/2009Foreign Minister HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan affirmed yesterday the UAE would offer sustained support for the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) to deliver its mission of assisting and advising member states to improve renewable energy technology.... >>MORE "
A U.S. State Department fact sheet alleges Bout had run a fleet of 60 cargo planes staffed by 300 pilots and employees and had operated a shifting roster of companies used for running assault rifles, ammunition, missile launchers and helicopter gunships to the hot spots.
Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed acknowledged in a telephone interview that he knew Viktor Bout and Ahmed Nur Ali Jim'ale but insisted he did not work with them and never allowed his planes to be used for smuggling. "If there's anything happening like this," he said, "it's without my knowledge."
See INTERPOL ARREST WARRANT FOR VICTOR BOUT.
U.S. v. Viktor Bout: On April 9, 2008, international arms dealer Viktor Bout was arrested by Thai authorities on a provisional arrest warrant based on an SDNY complaint, which charged conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. Bout was later indicted for, among other things, conspiring to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) to be used to kill Americans in Colombia. Bout has been in custody in Thailand since March 6, 2008, pending an extradition request by the United States.
Feb. 11th, 2009 US requests extradition of Viktor Bout from Thailand, see letter click here
Shipments of chemical poison were also transported on several flights, said Dr. Ravan Farhadi, the Afghan permanent representative to the U.N. Citing Afghan and American intelligence reports, Farhadi said cyanide and other toxic substances purchased in Germany, the Czech Republic and Ukraine were "channeled through the United Arab Emirates" and flown out of Sharjah UAE on Ariana cargo runs to Kandahar.
The airport boasts on a Web site that its success stems from "the 'laissezfaire' attitude of the concerned governmental authorities such as Security, Immigration and Customs."
U.N. teams were also trying to interview emirates officials about Bout's alleged weapon flights from Sharjah--first to African states (SOMALIA) and then to the Taliban. The teams were alternately rebuffed, delayed and aided grudgingly.
On a second visit in 2001, the U.N. team pressed for a close-up look at Bout's planes, employees and other firms suspected of arms trading. Emirates officials told the team they would have to "leave the country," then restricted them to a brief jeep tour of the Sharjah airport escorted by a U.A.E. intelligence official, said Johan Peleman, a Belgium arms trafficking expert who served on both panels and a subsequent one.
At the urging of American officials, the emirates halted the flights of almost all foreign-registered aircraft in Sharjah. Planes already registered in Russia were exempted--and some, Peleman said, may be among those used in the arms trade. Bout moved--but not far. According to Peleman, he has relocated operations to the neighboring emirates of Ajmaan and Ras al Khaima--but one U.A.E. cargo handler said some Air Cess planes are still on the ground in Sharjah.
Flying Dolphin has returned to its charter flights to the Far East, Pakistan and Europe, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed said. Some U.S. officials wonder if they might have done more early on to stem arms trade between Sharjah and Afghanistan.
Their dilemma, a former NSC aide said, was that, as vexing as the weapon pipeline was, there was an even larger terrorism priority in the emirates: Al Qaeda's movement of vast amounts of illicit cash.
BCCI Scandal Was First Warning Sign
Dubai is the emirates' capital of cash. Business people bring in suitcases stuffed with currency. The most important industry in Dubai is banking, in every form--from the age-old hawala, which moves money informally on an honor system, to the high-tech offshore branches of foreign banks. Al Qaeda used them all.
The first hints of trouble in the emirates' go-go financial attitude came with the 1991 collapse of the Bank of Credit & Commerce International. BCCI was accused of using depositors' money to cover as much as $15 billion in mistakes, payoffs and bad debts.
The ruling family of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan the dominant emirate, owned 77% of the bank, the same Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan who owned Flying Dolphin Airlines and Santa Cruz Imperial Airlines that flew weapons to the Taliban.
"BCCI did dirty work for every major terrorist service in the world," said Jack Blum, a Washington money-laundering expert who was a counsel to the U.S. Senate committee that investigated the case. But, he added, "there's a substantial amount that wasn't learned" from the experience. The emirates focused in BCCI's aftermath on preventing bank fraud, not on the way banks get used by criminal organizations, Blum said.
But the country did not pass laws that would help prevent or unearth other similar situations. The emirates "considered money laundering to be a drug problem," Winer said. "And as illegal drugs aren't much of a problem in the U.A.E., the U.A.E. always felt it didn't have a money-laundering problem, no matter what we said."
In January 2001, U.S. officials urged U.A.E. authorities to impose reporting requirements on hawalas. By that time, the U.S. government had been investigating a hawala called Al Barakaat for nearly two years.
Al Barakaat catered to Somalis abroad who wanted to send money home. Though the expatriates lived in the U.S. and Western Europe, the last stop before Somalia was always Al Barakaat's global headquarters in Dubai, where an estimated $25 million a year in handling and money-exchange fees were skimmed off for Bin Laden's group, U.S. officials say.
Ahmed Nur Ali Jim'ale, the Al Barakaat network's founder, is a "member of the kitchen cabinet" of Bin Laden. Jim'ale, a Somali warlord, started the business in 1989, the same year Bin Laden created Al Qaeda.
Jim'ale later opposed the presence of American troops in his homeland, and Bin Laden took credit for helping to stir tribal resistance there, hence Black Hawk Down in Mogadishu .
INTERPOL RED ALERT Ahmed Nur Ali Jim'ale, P.O. BOX 3312 in DUBAI (United Arab Emirates) and Mogadishu, Somalia. Profession: Accountant. Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1267 (1999) and successor resolutions, including resolution 1822 (2008), the Subject is under the following UN Sanctions: Freezing of Assets, Travel Ban and Arms Embargo.
It was not until Nov. 7 that the emirates moved against Al Barakaat. Emirates agents raided the hawala's office and bank, allowing American investigators to pore over seized records. The move was "a template for our ambitions" to work together, a U.S. official said.
Yet Ahmed Nur Ali Jim'ale, still in the Emirates using P.O. BOX 3312 in DUBAI, has not been questioned, a Central Bank spokesman said, because judicial authorities "are awaiting evidence" from other countries. Jim'ale is contesting the freezing of the hawala's assets. The bank spokesman says of terrorist financing through Al Barakaat: "We believe it did not exist." All of the Al-Barakaat finances have been frozen in the USA.
Al-Shabaab "Money Man" Sheikh Hassan al-Turki Runs the "Al-Barakaat Hawala" Money Transfers from Norway, UK & USA to Somalia in Support of Terrorism. Sheik Hassan Abdullah Hersi al-Turki, Al-Shabaab leader -- on U.S. and U.N. lists of al Qaeda associates. From the Ogaden clan, reported to be active in Southern Somalia, lower Juba near Kismayo. Hassan al-Turki is part of the Al-Itihaad Al-Islamiya (AIAI) leadership and is a leader of Al-Shabaab.
In the early 1990's as Somalia fell into disorder following the end of the Siad Barre regime, Osama bin Laden took advantage of the chaos to fund Al-Itihaad (AIAI), later sending foreign militants who trained and fought alongside al-Itihaad members with the goal of creating an Islamist state in the Horn of Africa.
AIAI was also active in setting up sharia courts. An article published in the San Francisco Chronicle, in December 16, 2001 quoted unnamed intelligence officials who claimed AIAI was extensively connected to Al Barakaat which is run by Ahmed Nur Ali Jim'ale .
Administration officials also believe that the owner of Al Barakaat which still operates in Mogadishu Somalia, Ahmed Nur Ali Jimale, has been a friend and supporter of Osama bin Laden since the 1980s, when both fought in Afghanistan against Soviet invaders, and that bin Laden provided seed money that helped found Al Barakaat in 1989.