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

Blood from Stones

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The UAE and Viktor Bout
One way to determine how a person or entity will act in the future is to see how they have acted in the past. As the debate over the UAE ownership of ports heats up, it is worth looking at how the leaders there have handled another important security issue related to radical Islamic terrorism--Viktor Bout. The response is deeply troubling.

Viktor Bout, the world's largest illegal weapons dealer, made $50 million selling weapons to the Taliban, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. He continues to feed murder and mayhem across Africa by selling weapons to rogue regimes and nonstate actors. And he continues to maintain several dozen aircraft, registered to different and constantly changing companies, IN THE UAE--one of only three countries in the world to recognize the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

Bout and 30 of his companies are designated by the U.S. Treasury Department and the United Nations Sanctions, meaning every country is bound to freeze the assets of those companies and individuals. Yet the UAE has made no move to go after Bout's aircraft, even though one of his designated companies, IRBIS, continues to fly openly, and has not even bothered to change its name. His aircraft sit on the runways of Sharjah, and his pilots continue to fly daily from there, including recent flights for the U.S. military and its contractors.

The United States, for the past EIGHT YEARS has been asking the UAE to crack down on Bout's illicit activities there, with no results. The latest high-level U.S. delegation was in UAE last week, asking the rulers to please shut down IRBIS, as required by UN charter. The answer was that the rulers would continue to study the issue.

Not a very auspicious way of handling a know aider and abettor of terrorist organizations, one with an outstanding Interpol red notice and one designated by the United Nations. It does not build confidence in the ability of UAE rulers to handle future problems.

One of the reasons is that Bout has a partnership with a member of the UAE's ruling family, a prince who ran an airline with him and has reportedly helped insure that Bout's operations are untouchable. If it happens with Bout, one can only imagine other terrorists with business or family connections receiving the same kind of protection, perhaps with deadlier results.
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