'It's a tip of an iceberg': Bulgarian journo reveals how US-
Sun Sep 8, 2019 04:28
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'It's a tip of an iceberg': Bulgarian journo reveals how US-purchased arms end up with ISIS in Yemen

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Published time: 5 Sep, 2019 06:53
Edited time: 6 Sep, 2019 12:24

'It's a tip of an iceberg': Bulgarian journo reveals how US-purchased arms end up with ISIS in Yemen

Mortar shells shown in an Islamic State propaganda video have put a Bulgarian journalist on the scent of an alleged US-run arms shipping network supplying militants in the Middle East, she told RT in an exclusive interview.

This story began back in June, when Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists in Yemen demonstrated several Serbian-made 82mm mortar shells in their propaganda video. Independent investigative journalist, Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, believes that the deadly munitions ended up with the jihadists after going through US hands.

Tracing origins
Clearly visible on one of the shells is a mark that reads '82 mm M74HE mortar shells KV lot 04/18.' The letters KV stand for the Serbian state arms manufacturer Krusik, located in the town of Valjevo, while the digits 04/18 refer to lot 04 produced in 2018. One should not jump to any conclusions, however, as it is not the Serbs who were responsible for the shells suddenly appearing in the hands of terrorists, according to Gaytandzhieva.

A trove of "explosive" leaked documents she said she received from an "anonymous source" shows that the lot in question was part of a deal between the Serbian arms factory and a Pentagon contractor, Alliant Techsystems LLC. It was part of a purchase of more than 100,000 such shells "for the needs of the US government."

"In the shipping documentation and on the labels on the mortar shells' containers, there is a name of… the importer… that purchases the weapons on behalf of the US government," the journalist told RT, citing the documents.

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"There are indications and information about a US federal contract, under which these weapons were purchased, and this is absolutely verifiable in the case of Alliant Techsystems LLC, the company, which purchased the mortar shells and this particular lot of weapons pictured in the ISIS video in Yemen."

Some leaked documents published by Gaytandzhieva do indeed mention a contract between Alliant Techsystems LLC and the Pentagon, which was allegedly aimed at supplying the Afghan National Army. "This lot was purchased under a $50 million contract between Alliant Techsystems and the US DoD for the delivery of non-standard US weapons to Afghanistan," the journalist said.

Gaytandzhieva believes, however, that this case is just the tip of the iceberg. It could be a part of a far-reaching arms supply scheme involving up to "three million pieces of weapons – rockets and mortar shells – that have been diverted either to Syria or to Yemen."

'Corporate international weapons shipment network'
The leaked documents, which include emails, internal memos, photos and correspondence between the American arms dealers and the Serbian arms factory Krusik, have helped Gaytandzhieva to "expose the existence of a secret US special command unit code-named "Task Force Smoking Gun." That unit has allegedly operated an arms depo since at least 2017, which is used in shady arms shipping operations by the US and its allies.

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"I found that four private American companies were US government contractors and they were commissioned by the Pentagon to deliver non-US standard weapons to different destinations. According to the other leaked documents, I found that one of these destinations was Syria.

"This is a whole international weapons shipment network," the journalist explained to RT, adding that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are also using it for its operations alongside the US. "The scheme is using different routes and diplomatic flights diverting weapons via a third party to their final destination, which appears to be Syria or Yemen."

Gaytandzhieva said that she investigated at least "350 diplomatic flights carrying weapons for the last three years" by the same Azeri state-run company that delivered the mortar shells to Afghanistan in 2018. "They made technical landings with stays varying from a few hours to up to a day in intermediary locations without any logical reasons such as needing to refuel the planes," she wrote in a separate report investigating this particular issue.

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"That means that this international weapons shipment network has never [ceased to exist] and continues [it operations] to this date."

RT has managed to independently verify parts of Gaytandzhieva's report by finding the contracts between Alliant Techsystems LLC and the Pentagon that she mentions in the US Federal Procurement Data System. It has also been established that the company has regularly worked for the US Department of Defense since at least 2016.

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Saudi-led coalition strike on prison in Yemen kills at least 100 people – Red Cross
Published time: 1 Sep, 2019 13:51
Edited time: 2 Sep, 2019 15:18

Saudi-led coalition strike on prison in Yemen kills at least 100 people –

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Red Cross
Red Crescent medics stand at the site of Saudi-led air strikes on a Houthi detention centre in Dhamar © Reuters / Ahmed al-Ansi

A Red Cross official has estimated that Saudi airstrikes killed at least 100 people at a Yemeni prison. Medics have been dispatched to the scene of what looks like the deadliest strike in Yemen this year.

Airstrikes pounded the detention center located in a college building in Dhamar City on Sunday. The facility housed some 170 detainees.

"We estimate over 100 people were killed," International Red Cross head in Yemen, Franz Rauchenstein, told AFP. Rauchenstein said that rescue teams are combing the rubble for survivors, but their chances of success “are very low.”

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Body bags lined up at the site of a Saudi-led airstrike on a prison in Dhamar, Yemen © Reuters / Mohamed al-Sayaghi
Earlier, the Red Cross dispatched medical teams to the strike site, carrying medical supplies to treat 100 people and 200 body bags, amid reports that “dozens” of detainees at the prison were feared dead.

“Today’s event is a tragedy. The human cost of this war is unbearable. We need it to stop," said Martin Griffiths, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen. "I hope the Coalition will launch an enquiry into this incident. Accountability needs to prevail.”

ICRC Yemen

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An ICRC team carrying both urgent medical supplies that can treat up to 100 critically wounded persons and 200 body bags to be donated is on its way to Dhamar province #Yemen following air strikes which are reported to have killed or wounded dozens of detainees.

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The Saudi-led coalition, which has waged an air campaign against the Houthis for four years now, claims it targeted a military facility “in accordance with international humanitarian law.”

The attack looks set to be the deadliest this year by the Saudi-led coalition. The Saudis have faced fierce international criticism for their air campaign, which has often seen non-military targets struck by warplanes. As many as 40 civilians were killed in strikes on the port city of Aden last month, while one year earlier, Saudi aircraft bombed a school bus, killing at least 40 children, all under 15 years old.

Further back, Saudi strikes targeted a Houthi prison before, in the port of Hodeida in 2016. At least 58 people were killed in the airstrike, many of them prisoners awaiting trial. The coalition said at the time that the prison was used by the Houthis as a command center.

Sunday’s strike came as Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom was in Jordan on a mission to revive peace talks. Sweden has played mediator in the conflict since a UN-brokered peace deal was signed in Stockholm last December.

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