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Special Reports Last Updated: Aug 13th, 2009 - 00:33:55

Thai court ruling stands to potentially expose U.S. and Israeli connections to arms and other smuggling
By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Aug 13, 2009, 00:18

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(WMR) -- A Thai judge has rejected an American request to extradite Tajikistan-born arms dealer Viktor Bout to the United States on charges that he tried to sell surface-to-air missiles to U.S. agents, including Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) operatives, in Bangkok who posed as representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Bout was arrested by Thai authorities in March 2008 and has been held in a Thai maximum security prison since his arrest. Thai prosecutors, acting on the behest of the Obama Justice Department, announced they would appeal the decision. The United States has tremendous influence over the Thai king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and also considered a U.S. citizen. It can be expected that the Obama administration will use its leverage over the Thai king and his royal advisers to win the extradition case against Bout on appeal.

Thai Criminal Court judge Jitakorn Patanasiri ruled the U.S. case against Bout was a political one and that Thailand, unlike the United States, does not recognize FARC as a terrorist organization. In their case against Bout, Thai prosecutors could only rely on newspaper articles as evidence.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it welcomed the Thai judge�s decision. The appeal by the U.S. proxies in Bangkok sets the stage for yet another diplomatic tug-of-war between Washington and Moscow.

Not only will the Thai decision send shock waves through the offices of the Colombian narco-fascist regime in Bogota, but also through the Pentagon, CIA, Tel Aviv, and the United Nations. During his arms smuggling career, Bout�s myriad airline companies, based in such places as Moldova, Bulgaria, Ukraine, D.R. Congo, Sharjah, Ras al Khaimah, South Africa, Uzbekistan, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Angola, Kyrgyzstan, Equatorial Guinea, Umm al Qaiwain, Kazakhstan, Swaziland, and even Texas and Florida, flew missions for clients ranging from Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, the Taliban government in Afghanistan, the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, the U.S.-supported Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, Israeli blood diamond dealers, and reportedly �Al Qaeda.� Some of Bout�s aircraft were also chartered by the UN for peacekeeping operations in Africa.

Bout is reportedly a former KGB officer, an allegation he denies; speaks Russian, Portuguese, French, and English, and has traveled under numerous passports with a number of aliases, including �Vadim Markovich Aminov,� �Vitali Sergitov,� and �Viktor Boutov.�

If Bout returns to Moscow and begins talking to the media, there is also the possibility that his former arms network revelations may expand to ensnare top Republicans in the United States. WMR reported on one such link on December 16, 2005, involving Gambia and right-wing GOP circles and then-CIA director Porter Goss.

On October 23, 2006, WMR reported the following concerning Bout�s activities in Afghanistan on behalf of the U.S.-led NATO military force: �WMR has learned from an intelligence source in Afghanistan that the aircraft of the enigmatic Viktor Bout, who works as a Pentagon contractor, flew arms and passengers for the Taliban and �Al Qaeda,� and maintains close links with the Russian-Ukrainian-Israeli criminal syndicates in Israel, Eastern Europe, Russia, and Africa (and is officially protected by Condoleezza Rice), continue to be seen in Afghanistan. A Kyrgyzstan-registered Boeing 737 aircraft (tail number EX-311) was seen at Kabul�s civilian airport at the end of July 2006.�

A few weeks later, on November 17, 2006, WMR reported: �A Ghanaian Boeing 707, suspected of being involved with Russian-Israeli mafiosi facilitator Viktor Bout�s worldwide arms trafficking and smuggling network of charter flights, was recently spotted off-loading 40 tons of ammunition at Mogadishu Airport in Somalia. The ammunition was for the Islamic radical forces of the Union of Islamic Courts, a fundamentalist group that has captured control of much of Somalia . . .�

Bout�s ties to aviation companies in Plano, Texas and near Orlando, Florida were reported by WMR on November 22, 2006. Both were nexuses for pre-9/11 aviation activity involving Arab student pilots and Israeli �art students.�

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright � 2009

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).

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