When there was a crash near Trier, Germany, last year, involving a road transport carrying an unmarked container from the Baumholder army base, which is a weapons depot, few would have suspected that it would unmask a mechanism of weapons trafficking including both private and private airbases: Bitburg Airport (a former US military base) and the Spangdalem Air Base.
There are even allegations from locals in Germany that another base is involved, Büchel Air Base, which houses the military wing of the Luftwaffe. This is located, most conveniently, about 60km from Spangdalem. It is already a large active facility, but a field visit in early September confirmed that even more construction is planned and the security system is being upgraded/ They told this writer that he was on the right investigating the rat line of weapons, as only recently confirmed by other sources.
The fatal road accident was never reported in the international news, not because it wasn’t noteworthy but the opposite. The Americans were doing their best to keep the German authorities in the dark about what was being transported, and it would not be politically expedient on the German side to allege that both the Americans and private contractors are using at least one of the bases for less than honourable purposes, particularly when one of these facilities stockpiled nuclear weapons during much of the Cold War.
The Büchel Air Base in the Eifel region is the only place in Germany where nuclear weapons are known to have been deployed. Once they were removed however they were not destroyed but put in underground storage facilities and new weapons delivered to replace them. Following the emptying of the Ramstein arsenals, experts say it is “likely that Büchel could return as a subject of political discussion.” And that is what has happened!
Apparently, now that it does not serve its original function, the base is also being used to provide logistic support for trans-shipments of conventional weapons to Ukraine and hotspots beyond. A German source added, “The Americans think we don’t know what is going on, and by keeping German staff away from their activities they can ensure that we are not informed – let them know, the Americans, that we are not so naïve!”
Tried and trusted suppliers
German authorities must know what is going on in foreign bases on their own territory, but continue to turn a blind eye out of political gamesmanship. Even media coverage of the fatal accident has disappeared from the internet, with reports of the death of an innocent man in another vehicle totally pulled from the internet. A cash payoff was made to the family and the story was thought to have been forgotten, at least till now.
We know that weapons sent back from Iraq and Afghanistan are ending up in places like Lebanon in the hands of Hezbollah. We know this because any weapon can be traced from source through all stages of its transport, provided you can identify who is transporting it. The longtime suspicion that American military and civilian planes, and the road transport that crashed, have been carrying weapons hasn’t been supported by open information. But now Georgian links and face-to-face interviews with locals and German military personnel have been factored in that picture appears to be changing.
It has been widely reported that most of these arms shipments are not made directly but through Jordan, Georgia, Ukraine and other Eastern European countries. Ukraine is used as the cover for the shipments because it can be said that they are being made to support the pro-American Kiev government. But that is too simple an explanation, and more is involved.
It has already been confirmed that the C-17 used for some such shipments which crashed in the Middle East last year belonged to the Qatar Air Force. Its final destination was Turkey, and a US company provided logistical support for the flights. The company concerned has been called “the CIA’s travel agent” by the US media, which strongly suggests that the cargo of that plane did not consist of humanitarian goods.
The company, Jeppesen, is well known to intelligence agencies and human rights groups. It appears to have decided that the best cover for such activities is to conduct them out in the open. It even offers courses on to how to provide logistics and ground school training, without of course explaining what this training will be used for, or who the prospective trainees are.
Jeppesen continues to sign contracts to move people and weapons as needed, with its powerful bottom line overriding any concerns of civil liberty groups. The New Yorker reported back in 2006 that Jeppesen handled the logistical planning for the CIA’s extraordinary rendition flights. The ex-employee who was the source of the story quoted its managing director Bob Overby as saying “We do all of the extraordinary rendition flights — you know, the torture flights. Let’s face it, some of these flights end up that way. It certainly pays well.”
Jeppesen has not only been active in backstopping and supplying the “moderate” Free Syrian Army but arming and equipping America’s newest strategic partners in the region, the PKK, as part of the programme of regime change in Turkey and the planned establishment of the world’s newest state, the Kurdish State long planned and plotted by successive US administrations. You don’t have those particular clients, and lack others who need arms, unless you are delivering those arms in an official capacity.
Connecting the dots
Arms smuggling and renditions using German territory are violations of German law. But this story had its beginnings in Georgia, and involves high stakes weapons dealers and other shady characters linked with Ukraine, Syria and Turkey.
It was confirmed several years ago that weapons were being transshipped by trawler-ferry from Odessa to Poti and Batumi and then driven into Turkey/Syria. It is interesting that the US government already had warehouses full of weapons in Georgia four years ago, when local journalist Jeffrey Silverman was able to get close to one of them based on a local tip.
“I was actually I was able to enter it while the guard was sleeping in the middle of the day,”
Silverman, the local Veterans Today Bureau Chief, explained. “I am walking on thin ice here, as the documentary I did last year with Russia 24 TV (Russian State TV), about the US labs in Georgia and how these were linked to gas attacks in Syria, was just repeated on Russian TV a few days ago.’’
One observer has made the following comment on Silverman’s work: “It is beyond high time that world leaders recognise “forward observers” of the calibre of Jeffrey Silverman as a rare and endangered species, to be treated as treasure not trash…. any restriction of movement for those interceding on behalf of all humanity to halt human suffering is shameful….it is upon governments and leaders who claim to be serious in their efforts to root out ISIS and all it is attached to to protect and provide safe havens for “forward observers” who are forced to survive as best they can, unpaid and unappreciated ….this man has saved untold lives of the innocent in Syria, and has not been recognised for his major contribution in stopping the US false flag gas attacks in Ghouta, a false flag run out of Georgia which was stopped in its tracks just in time by Chuck Hagel due to intelligence received.”
Silverman first tried to provide much of this information to the proper channels, as he has explained in an interview with the Georgian media. “I first tried to toss this in the direction of EUMM, as they are responsible under mandate to monitor the situation between Georgia proper and the breakaway region of Abkhazia… but when I suggested, “let’s not beat around the bush too much here, as neither of us want to give up too much information about the arms traffickers out of safety the response was as expected, “It is not in our EUMM mandate to check this.”
“I therefore asked for a copy of the EUMM mandate, so that I could see if it actually says anything about the local whorehouses and all the other things EUMM monitors are involved in, not only there (at the administrative border with Abkhazia) but near South Ossetia (another Georgian breakaway region). Again predictably, no response was ever forthcoming. But even in the Georgia media these cases are now getting some coverage. For instance, they are saying that Irakli Okruashvili, the former Defence Minister who has a detailed rap sheet dating back years, was once employed by Bet Shinn intelligence and that he and other ministers “became millionaires in several years on account of the state budget and appropriation of private businesses”.
It is based on this and other crimes that the General Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia initiated criminal cases against ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, later Defence Minister David Kezerashvili, Minister of Justice Zurab Adeishvili, Minister of Internal Affairs Vano Merabishvili, Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava and several others. There are long lists of both charges and charged. It remains interesting that many of these people landed on their feet in Ukraine, at least until Saakashvili was booted out and his citizenship revoked.
But why have none of these men been prosecuted, and why can they continue to hopscotch from country to country with impunity, even when they are wanted in Georgia for various crimes? This is because they are committed them to order, in exchange for protection. These mechanisms could only have been established with the close cooperation of intelligence agencies and those who support regime change around the world, as that is what all these crimes ultimately achieve, apart from lining the pockets of those involved.
Very loud silence
In his article “Why We Failed to Shoot from the Machine Guns of M4 type?” dated December 12, 2014, VOA journalist Zaza Tsuladze wrote about the corrupt deals of Kezerashvili and his partners, which resulted in the Georgian government purchasing low quality cartridges for over 10 million dollars which left Georgian soldiers without the bullets they needed for their American automatic weapons during the August 2008 Georgia-Russia War. This particular case came to light simply because it is a well documented one, relating to the procurement of 14 million units of military material M855 (cartridges) from Israel in February 2008.
Back in 2010, Christopher M. Matthews’ article “Bribery Probe of Arms Supply Industry Points to Georgia” described how the U.S. Justice Department’s FCPA investigation of corruption in the international defence supply industry was shining a light on the role Israeli brokers played in preparing Georgia go to war with Russia in 2008. Georgian Ministry of Defence officials allegedly accepted bribes to purchase 21 million rounds of ammunition from a US source, as described in recent media reports.
We know from the manifests presented and signed by Ukrexport, the Ukrainian state arms export company, that what Georgia was SUPPOSED to be getting was high grade technical equipment, but the army never saw any of this. Like these rounds of incompatible ammunition, and all the stuff we are now told is for the Kiev government, this equipment was illegally sold on to terrorist organisations. That is how these ministers made so much money off these deals.
It is planes from these German airbases, operated by Jeppesen, which are being used to transport them to terrorists, which explains why German staff are not allowed near them and why news reports about plane and transport crashes involving those airports are removed from the internet. It also explains the very deliberate language used in the latest denials by the Pentagon.
The US denies sending arms “bound for Syria” through the German bases, but not that weapons which end up in Syria were sent from there, whatever their official destination – a matter the US should be investigating. It also says the US acts in accordance with “the contracts it has signed”. Several of those with Jeppesen, so which take priority?
As yet we only know the names of some of those involved – the convenient fall guys in Georgia, who can be dismissed as inherently corrupt because they are foreign, regardless of who corrupted them. But we might recall here the case of Dr. David Kelly in the UK. He allegedly “committed suicide” (in an implausibly amateurish way for a doctor, while a police helicopter soon mysteriously appeared nearby) due to his exposure as the source of claims that the “dodgy dossier” Tony Blair used to go to war with Iraq had been “sexed up”. Both those who agree and disagree with this version have long assumed that however he died, it is connected with the Iraq War.
However Dr. Kelly was also a weapons inspector in Eastern Europe. As such he knew about the biolabs in the former Soviet Union which are now controlled by the US. Jeffrey Silverman had a brick thrown at his head by a US-sponsored journalist when he got too close to the Tbilisi one, which no one will admit is a biolab, despite all the staff who have got sick and died.
Given what Dr. Kelly knew, and what the US and Georgia will not admit, he could have expected much more than a brick, even if the Iraq War had never happened. So what’s the bigger picture here, and who is involved? All we can assume if that if anyone outside official circles actually knew that, they would not be around to write about it.
Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.