Archive for the ‘Kenya’ Category

Meanwhile, this is good news. As more and more ships from various parts of the world – like China and Iran – arrive in pirate country, somebody’s made vaguely sensible arrangements to put them on trial in Kenya, which is what has been done with the ones captured by Northumberland. This is a much better idea than returning them to the tender mercies of Somali rivals, or alternatively to their home base, or any evil nonsense promoted by tiresome Internet hard men. (You know who you are.)

I’m not sure whether to be pleased, or worried that China and Iran are apparently cooperating in an exercise designed to be more law-abiding than some British courts, and far more so than whole swaths of the US defence establishment. This is incredibly important; I keep saying that a primary reason for the success of some Islamist movements is that they offer some form of legal order, rather than Franz Neumann’s Behemoth.

After all, dogs have an innate appreciation of justice, so we should surely accept that it matters for human beings too. As a modest proposal, now the EU has taken over the lead in combating piracy in the Gulf of Aden, could we perhaps give the naval task force a further mission – to compel EU-flag fishing vessels to respect the Somali EEZ? (We wouldn’t have legal authority to stop anyone else without a UN resolution, but it’s a start.) I agree they have plenty on their plate, which is why I’m going to make a second modest proposal.

Rather than frigates, EU states participating in this could instead deploy some of their sizeable fleet of amphibious assault ships, with a deckload of helicopters, a dock of small craft, and a tankdeck containing a mix of marines for boarding parties, and medics, engineers etc to support the UN’s aid activities.

Celtel terminates its roaming charges between East African markets. Now, SMS credit transfer is a currency acceptable across East Africa. How long before this is recognised? How long before more operators start interworking? GSM airtime – the African single currency. You heard it here first.

Remember the Kenyan mystery-man and press censorship crisis back in April? (See here, and here.) You may recall that the mysterious Armenians who threatened to set crocodiles on the cops were “Artur Margaryan” and “Artur Sargysan,” probably DRC/Dubai minerals scamsters, who were somehow associated with a giant seizure of cocaine.

Well, we now have some interesting new information. Consider closely this list of airline contacts from a Russian commercial database, trapped in the Google cache by chance. Note that the General Director (no less) of Air Van is listed as…Sargysan. Now, this may not be the same man. But there are reasons beyond the simple scumminess of the whole affair to think there are connections.

What is Air Van? It’s a dubious airline, based inevitably in Dubai, with an Armenian registration – well, until the Armenian authorities killed its AOC in November, 2005. Being based in the UAE, of course, this doesn’t seem to have stopped them. However, they have found it expedient to move assets out of the entity “Air Van” – transferring their brace of Boeing 747 classics, EK-74701/serial 21352 and EK-74702/serial 21054, to Buraq Air Transport of Tripoli, where they join no less than four Ilyushin 76 aircraft on lease from Viktor Bout’s GST Aero. Air Van has also been known to turn up in Iraq during 2004, and leases aircraft regularly to IRS Airlines in Nigeria – an airline foul enough to offend Nigerian authority to the point where its AOC was revoked, although it somehow got it back.

We may as well link to this thread on PPRuNE, regarding who’s behind IRS and Air Van, not to mention our old pals Financial Advisory Group. It’s Imad Saba again, it seems. But there is more. In February last year, we had a report on the UNSCR report on arms to Liberia. In there was lots of good stuff, like words, and 707s laden with mortar bombs scraping their engine cowls down the Robertsfield runway as UN peacekeepers blazed away at them and terrified airporthands lunged for cover, what cover there might be on an airfield. In there was also much detail on a particular arms shipment – including something called “Gatewick Aviation Services” of Dubai, who chartered a Johnsons Air plane to move the guns from Iran to Liberia.

I pointed out that the cover-story used by one of the participants was crap, and that “Astral Aviation” of Kenya was just another front company, its aircraft coming from Phoenixavia, Air Bas, and Asterias Commercial, and one of them then being transferred to GST Aero.

Now, Air Van has a website at airvanairlines.com. It is incomplete and content-free, but look what happens when you do a WHOIS lookup.

Domain Name: airvanairlines.com

Created on…………..: 01 Aug 2002 13:07:31
Expires on…………..: 01 Aug 2006 13:07:31

Registrant Info:
AIR-VAN AIRLINES
ALI K.FARD
P.O.BOX:52404
DUBAI, — 52404
AE
Phone: 97142271525
Fax..: 97142288951
Email: gatewick@emirates.net.ae

Well, who’dathoughtit? Gatewick is Astral is Air-Van and all of them are not a million miles from GST, Air Bas, Imad Saba, or FAG. And Gatewick, that supposedly stole Astral’s callsign, is actually Air Van. And Air Van’s boss is supposedly one Sargsyan. Who causes trouble in Kenya with bling, crocodiles and allegedly, tonnes of cocaine. And Air Van’s 747s were exported from the US to Swaziland, supposedly for Ariana Afghan Airlines, back in 2002…but ended up with IRS, still in their United Airlines colours and even using the UAL callsign, before coming to Air Van. Rather like the missing 727..

Remember this post and a firm calling itself Aerospace Consortium FZE, of Fujairah, that was mysteriously settling bills relating to entirely different firms in Kenya using Phoenix Aviation, Johnsons Air, GST Aero and Asterias Commercial planes to send mortar bombs to Liberia?

Take a look at this: not sure about sourcing, but a company of the same name involved in a fraud in Iraq.

Federal investigators in Texas were informed by a whistleblower that the extra 50 cents per kilogram of cargo that was supposedly imposed by Aerospace Consortium (which supplied aircraft to EGL) were in fact, phony. The charges were added to 379 air cargo shipments costing a total of $13.2 million over several months

Mike Lockhart, an assistant U.S. attorney in Beaumont, Texas, told CorpWatch that the investigators subpoenaed EGL, seeking information about the surcharges, and were given a letter from Aerospace Consortium explaining the reason for the charges. The documents “looked very suspicious, not what you would expect to see at all,” he said. The charter company was also unable to provide any evidence of the insurance increase.

Remember this post and a firm calling itself Aerospace Consortium FZE, of Fujairah, that was mysteriously settling bills relating to entirely different firms in Kenya using Phoenix Aviation, Johnsons Air, GST Aero and Asterias Commercial planes to send mortar bombs to Liberia?

Take a look at this: not sure about sourcing, but a company of the same name involved in a fraud in Iraq.

Federal investigators in Texas were informed by a whistleblower that the extra 50 cents per kilogram of cargo that was supposedly imposed by Aerospace Consortium (which supplied aircraft to EGL) were in fact, phony. The charges were added to 379 air cargo shipments costing a total of $13.2 million over several months

Mike Lockhart, an assistant U.S. attorney in Beaumont, Texas, told CorpWatch that the investigators subpoenaed EGL, seeking information about the surcharges, and were given a letter from Aerospace Consortium explaining the reason for the charges. The documents “looked very suspicious, not what you would expect to see at all,” he said. The charter company was also unable to provide any evidence of the insurance increase.