Old boys network in Iraq?

The Yorkshire Ranter points us in the direction of what could be a major new development in the Tim Spicer story.

According to journalist Doug Farah, US Military contractors are still being flown around Iraq by an airline owned by Viktor Bout, a notorious international arms dealer accused of supplying weapons to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Farah suggests that Bout’s continued presence could be explained by the network which links him to Spicer, whose company Aegis has a $293 million security contract in Iraq.

One of Spicer’s main business partners in the 1990s was Anthony Buckingham, and oil entrepreur with interests in Africa. Together they founded Executive Outcomes, a forerunner of Sandline (see above). One of Buckingham’s interests in Africa was Branch Energy in Kenya. On the board of directors of Branch Energy was Sanjivan Ruprah, international arms dealer and frequent partner of Viktor Bout. As Ray O’Hanlon wrote in the the Sept. 29, 2004 issue of Irish Echo, "there is only one degree of separation between Ruprah and Tim Spicer, Buckingham being the connecting dot. This is not to suggest a direct link between Ruprah and Spicer, but suffice it to say, all these individuals have been swimming in the same opaque sea."

O’Hanlon’s story helped to fuel the Irish-American campaign against the Aegis contract because of Spicer’s role in the Peter McBride case.

Further details of these connections, and of Buckingham’s presence in Iraq, appeared in my 24 December, 2004 story on the campaign for Antiwar.com

The controversy has prompted those concerned about the role of Western mercenaries in Africa to make common cause with campaigners at the Pat Finucane Center and the Irish National Caucus (INC) in Washington. Earlier this year, Botswana-based German journalist Dr. Alexander Von Paleske contacted the head of the INC, Fr. Sean McManus with details about Spicer’s record.

Dr. Paleske believes that the Aegis contract may be vulnerable because of Spicer’s links with British businessman Tony Buckingham, a key figure at Sandline.

Buckingham is alleged to have been the only British businessman in a 1995 delegation to Iraq to discuss oil deals with Saddam Hussein. Members of the delegation stayed at the al-Rasheed Hotel, where the floor was decorated with a picture of the elder George Bush, intended as a calculated insult to the former U.S. president.

Ironically, Buckingham’s company Heritage Oil has co-sponsored training for Iraqi oil ministry officials in the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s fall.

Earlier this month, the company announced it had signed a joint venture agreement in Iraqi Kurdistan, with a plan to produce over 50,000 barrels of oil a day.

Perhaps the greatest concerns center on Sanjivan Ruprah, former chief executive of Branch Energy, a company founded by Buckingham.

Ruprah, who was arrested in 2002 in Belgium, is a close associate of Viktor Bout, a Russian businessman accused of supplying weapons to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

"Spicer’s activities in Sierra Leone [the arms to Africa affair] are well documented, as well as the involvement in Papua New Guinea. To give [a contract to] this man, Spicer, whose gang boss had contacts to Saddam Hussein and links to weapons suppliers to al-Qaeda, and who was shamefully trying to protect British soldiers who killed an innocent Irish man, is an absolute scandal," Dr. Paleske said.






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