Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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More U.S. Action On Viktor Bout
The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took the unusual step of redesignating arms trafficker Viktor Bout and some of his henchmenfor their activities in arms trafficking in the troubled Democratic Republic of Congo. The move was authorized by an Executive Order signed Friday by President Bush.

The designations coincide with the publication (with Steve Braun) of this Foreign Policy piece on Bout's network, a preview of our upcoming book.

Bout and one of his close associates, Sanjivan Ruprah, were already "Specially Designated Individuals" by the U.S. and on similar lists in the United Nations, for their support of the Liberian regime of Charles Taylor. Today's announcement includes, for the first time, Douglas Mpano and Dimitri Popov. Both worked for the Bout-associated Great Lakes Business Company and Compagnie Aerienne des Grands Lacs.

As a practical matter the new EO means only that Bout's activities have been further investigated and more evidence found of his bloody trade. It also means that, if for some reason his designation were revoked by one group, it would remain in effect because of the other designation.

The more interesting case is that of Sanjivan Ruprah, who, in the immediate aftermath of 9-11, established contacts with the U.S. intelligence community and made the astounding offer to have Viktor Bout supply the Northern Alliance with millions of dollars of U.S. weapons and materiel to fight the Taliban. Bout had barely halted his flights to the Taliban when the offer was made, and he had sold a small fleet of aircraft to the fundamentalist regime.

Of course Ruprah and Bout stood to make many millions themselves in the process, as Bout subsequently did in flying for the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is no indication their preposterous plan was ever actually implemented, but it certainly got serious consideration up to fairly senior levels of the intelligence community food chain.

Bout's "Great Lakes" company was one of his premier companies left operating in Africa. Popov and Mpano were his long-time associates who helped run his endless supply of weapons to the various wars in the region.

It is a small step, but one worth taking, to further crimp, however moderately, Bout's ongoing operations.
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