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IRAQ WAR -
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Pentagon outsources Iraqi security to mercenaries, international brigands, and coup plotters.

Posted in the database on Friday, August 12th, 2005 @ 19:19:26 MST (1344 views)
from The Wayne Madsen Report  

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The U.S. Army Contracting Agency, ignoring protests from human rights organizations, is defending its award of an Iraq Reconstruction Security Support Services (RSSS) contract to Aegis Defense Services of Great Britain. The CEO of Aegis is former Scots Guard Regiment Lt. Col Tim Spicer, a notorious international mercenary who has been connected to guerrilla wars, extrajudicial killings, and coups in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the South Pacific. Spicer is the former CEO of Sandline International, a Bahamas-registered firm. Spicer, through a complex web of interlocking directorships, was involved in diamond mining in Sierra Leone through Diamond Works and oil exploration in Angola, Uganda, and other countries through Branch Energy. One of his Diamond Works partners was Simon Mann, convicted and imprisoned in Zimbabwe last year for trying to stage a coup in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea. Although Spicer denied it, Sandline was thought to be a European front organization for the now-defunct South African mercenary firm Executive Outcomes. In 1997, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea hired Spicer and Sandline to put down a rebellion on the secessionist island of Bougainville and retake control of the Pangana nickel mine for the firm Rio Tinto Zinc. Upon learning of the mercenary deal, code named "Operation Oyster," the commander of the Papua New Guinea armed forces, Brig. Gen. Jerry Singirok, staged an abortive military coup against Prime Minister Julius Chan. The Papua New Guinea military arrested Spicer along with British, South African and Ethiopian mercenaries. Spicer was threatened with execution on a number of occasions.

Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption later revealed that on February 5, 1997, $18 million to finance the Papua New Guinea coup was transferred to Sandline's account at the Hong Kong and Shanghai bank (account number 600774426). The account holders were listed as Simon Mann, Lafras Luitingh (of Executive Outcomes), Eeben Barlow (of Executive Outcomes), and Anthony L. R. Buckingham (of Executive Outcomes and Branch Energy). The money was traced to the Hong Kong-based Jardine Matheson Group, which had significant gold and oil interests in Papua New Guinea and also had a strategic partnership with Kroll Associates' murky London operation. After the $18 million of the $36 million contract was transferred to Port Moresby, it simply vanished, according to the Hong Kong Commission.

In 1996, another Sandline operation, code named "Operation Contravene," began to clear the way for a mercenary invasion of the island. Bougainville's Prime Minister Theodore Miriung, suspected by Papua New Guinea of being a spy for pro-independence rebels, was assassinated by Papua New Guinea forces on October 13, 1996.

After Spicer's arrest in Papua New Guinea, one of his former military comrades was not surprised. His take on Spicer: "He was the most arrogant, pompous bastard I have ever met . . . He was always very pleased with himself, and I'm not surprised one bit by what's happened."

Papua New Guinea's Judicial Commission headed by Australian Justice Warwick John Andrew tied all the players together in his ruling, "The controllers of Sandline International are obviously Mr. Buckingham, Mr. [Michael] Grunberg [of Diamond Works], and at least to some extent Mr. Spicer . . . There is a strong inference that Sandline Holdings Limited may be something of a joint venture between the interests of Mr. Buckingham and the interests of Mr. Barlow and Executive Outcomes . . . The information provided by Sandline Holdings that they are entirely separate from Executive Outcomes cannot be correct, but the exact nature of their relationship seems clouded behind a web of interlocking companies whose ownership is difficult to trace. The arms and transport helicopters and helicopter gunships for the Bougainville operation were shipped from Belarus, through a Lebanese front company, by a Bulgarian air freight company. The agent for the sale was a London-based firm called Triton Sal, run by a Russian businessman. (Another UK-based company, Consolidated Sales Corp. (CSC) -- registered in the British Virgin Islands -- supplied similar helicopters to Uganda and Rwanda. One of the helicopters sold to Uganda was the one Sudan Vice President John Garang was on when it crashed in mysterious circumstances).

It is interesting to note that according to the Pat Finucane Center in Derry, Ireland, Buckingham traveled in 1995 to Baghdad to meet Saddam Hussein's Oil Minister Safa Hadi Jawad to discuss partnering investments. The Irish center has been fighting a battle with countries that grant contracts to Spicer. In 1992, two of Spicer's Scot's Guard men, Mark Wright and James Fisher, killed Peter McBride, an unarmed teenager, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. They were later convicted for murder, a conviction that was upheld on appeal.

Spicer was also involved in UN sanctions busting in war-torn Sierra Leone. British Undersecretary of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Dennis MacShane stated that Spicer's Sandline, "violated a UN arms embargo and British law in an affair that caused a political crisis in Britain and was described as …not only embarrassing but I would say quite damaging to the government at the time." The sanctions busting by Sandline involved the use of Executive Outcomes and Russian aircraft to purchase weapons in Bulgaria and secretly ship them to Sierra Leone. In 1997, after Sierra Leone's President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah terminated a security contract with Executive Outcomes after pressure from the International Monetary Fund, he was warned by an Executive Outcomes mercenary that in 90 days he would fall. Eighty-nine days later, Kabbah was ousted in a coup by Maj. Johnny Paul Koromah, a Sandhurst granduate who had been trained by Executive Outcomes.


U.S. hires notorious mercenary "Tumbledown Tim" Spicer -- veteran of coups and rebellions from Sierra Leone to Papua New Guinea. Now, he's bringing his brand of "security" to hapless Iraq.

An April 24, 1998 letter from Sandline's law firm S. J. Berwin & Co to the late British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook outlined Sandline's close ties to the U.S. government in the Sierra Leone sanctions busting:

". . . our client [Sandline] kept informed the U.S. State Department at the highest level, including John Hirsch, the U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Charles Snyder, Director, Office of Regional Affairs [currently George W. Bush's outgoing Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs] and Dennis Linskey, Chief, West and Southern Africa Division. Furthermore, following support having been given for the proposed operation by both the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Defense Department. . . we understand that Michael Thomas, the Country Desk Officer for Sierra Leone at the U.S. Department of State met with Philip Parham, the Africa Watcher at the British Embassy in Washington indicating the U.S. Government's full support for Sandline International's involvement."

Sandline also had close links to the Pentagon. On June 24, 1997, the Pentagon and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) hosted a closed conference inside the Pentagon titled "The Privatization of National security Functions in Sub-Saharan Africa." Present were none other than Spicer, Barlow, Grunberg, Sandline's U.S. representative Bernie McCabe (a former Green Beret), and retired DIA chief Gen. Ed Soyster of Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI), now owned by L-3 Communications, and which, like Spicer's Aegis, has lucrative contracts in occupied Iraq. Also present was Charles Snyder, Executive Outcomes' Nick van den Bergh, and a representative of Texaco. CIA, DIA, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), Special Forces, and NSA personnel were also in attendance.

Spicer was also involved in secret negotiations with Angola's UNITA guerrillas on behalf of the British Foreign Office after Diamond Works employees were kidnaped by the rebels in 1998. At the time, UNITA guerrillas had joined the Ugandan-Rwandan war against Congo's President Laurent Kabila. Spicer has also reportedly been involved in backing governments in civil war-torn Sri Lanka and Nepal. His other companies have included Strategic Consulting International, Crisis and Risk Management, and Trident Maritime.

Ironically, Dyncorp protested the award of the Iraq RSSS contract to Aegis, citing the latter's questionable business ethics. Dyncorp has been acsused of covering up incidents involving its security personnel in Kosovo and Bosnia. The incidents involved child prostitution and other criminal activity. Nevertheless, Dyncorp, which has its own knowledge about Spicer's activities around the world, is uniquely placed to question Aegis and its involvement in Iraq. In its decision to reject Dyncorp's charge that Aegis lacked integrity, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) stated, "Once we reached the conclusion that DynCorp was reasonably excluded from further consideration, the company lacked standing to challenge the integrity of the awardee, Aegis."



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