Thursday, May 28, 2009

An old-timey Victor Bout post

9Q-CSA is, or was, an Antonov 26 with a Victor Bout pedigree operated by Services Air in the Congo. On 26 May, it crashed at Isiro-Matari, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DROC), killing the three Russian crew members. A Congolese loadmaster suffered severe injuries.
Isiro is in the war-torn northeast DROC, in the midst of the prime mineral-smuggling region of the Congo. It is very possible 9Q-CSA crashed because it was overloaded with coltan or casserite, valuable minerals essential in the production of electronics that are the most lucrative natural resources of that part of the Congo.

"Services Air" is a Kinshasa-based air cargo and passenger airline founded by Congolese warlord Kpama Baramoto, who had been former President Mobutu's secret police chief. They are a comparatively active in the DROC, having recently acquired four ex-Fed Ex 727s.
9Q-CSA was leased from OBC (Original Butt Company) Aerolift. It is the third (count 'em, 3) Antonov connected with Victor Bout crashed in the Congo by Services Air. The others were An-12s 9Q-CER, crashed at Mbuji-Mayi, DROC in 2006, and the famous 9Q-CIH, formerly 9L-LEC, the actual An-12 used in the movie "Lord of War", in which Nicolas Cage played Victor Butt, which crashed at Entebbe in 2005. That's about as distinguished a connection with Victor as you can get.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Zawahiri in Quetta?

There are news reports today that Pakistani intelligence claims that al Qaeda #2 Ayman al-Zawahiri is hiding near Quetta, Pakistan. This is somewhat newsworthy because most leaked intelligence puts the Z-man in North Waziristan. The official party line has held that Zawahiri and his boss Osama have been holed up in caves or huts in remote and tribal Waziristan. While I believe he has been there, I've never been very impressed with the theory that either he or Osama are hunkered down in some remote area, unable to travel or move around. They are surrounded by fanatical devotees, who are surrounded by a very, very friendly population. I think they can travel pretty much at will, not just around Pakistan, but around South Asia and the Middle East.

I've long suspected that Quetta would be a popular location for a fugitive arch-terrorist. It is a cosmopolitan, well developed city in wild and largely-independent Baluchistan, offering better access to Iran and the Arabian Sea than many other locations in Pakistan. It offers lots of good places to hide - more so than remote Waziristan - as well as a lot of creature comforts that I expect city boys like Osama and Z-man probably appreciate. All in all, Quetta probably makes better sense as an uber-terrorist hideout than some hut in the boonies.

So will we find him there? I doubt it because I doubt we are looking there, although really I have no idea.