Victor Boot, Charles Taylor, U.S. discussed on Today, Explained


Do we have any idea the amount of people he armed? Do we have any idea how many people his arms may have killed? I don't think anyone's ever done that calculation, but if you look at the wars, you have Liberia, you have Charles Taylor, which are tens of thousands of victims of that war. And neighboring Sierra Leone, where they're fighting over weapons and the group supported by Charles Taylor, another tens of thousands. He was in the Angola conflict, arming both sides of that conflict. He was in the Democratic Republic of Congo, arming both sides of that conflict. He then was supplying weapons to the northern alliance in Afghanistan and then to the Taliban. So I think easily tens of thousands of people were directly impacted by the weapons that were being supplied by Victor boot. Okay. And we're talking about Africa and the Middle East primarily. But I think a fact that is sometimes overlooked is that he was also at various points something of an ally to the United States. Well, this is one of the reasons why I think the trade should be considered apart from whether it's just or not. The most recent case where American officials and American private security firms were colluding with Victor boot was during the Iraq War. In fact, during the Iraq conflict, when hardly anyone would fly supplies to U.S. troops on the ground, Victor boot flew hundreds of missions for U.S. and British and other forces into a war zone that was very important to us. And as my co author, Steve Ron documented in the book, American officers who are making those decisions understood who Victor boot was. In fact, they publicly acknowledged it at one point. But their tradeoff and their conversations with us was, do we let our people on the ground die from lack of ammunition and food because this guy's a criminal or do we deal with the criminal and get the people on the ground what they need? So how does he end up in prison in the United States? Initially, there is a arrest warrant put out for him by Interpol, the international police, a red notice for his arrest. He goes back to Moscow. On what grounds on what crime? Weapons trafficking and violations of numerous laws in Belgium primarily where he had had a hub of operations. And so he goes back to Moscow 2001, 2002. And then over time, the U.S. intelligence services and the British and others who are monitoring him began to pick up clear indications that the farc rebels in Colombia who at this time were a major also drug trafficking organization. We're trying to make contact with Victor boot. And so they set up a sting operation where they sent in the people who pretended to be far could have done this successfully in the past operations to present themselves to intermediaries, Victor boots as farc convinced Victor booth that they were in fact farc and got Victor boot against long odds to actually travel to a country, Thailand, they'd had an extradition treaty with the United States, which seems it seemed preposterous when it happened because he was always very cognizant of whether there were extradition treaties or not. For some reason, he decided to go to Thailand and then he said in the meetings with the undercover agents that he wanted to give them weapons. He hated Americans. He knew the weapons would be used to kill Americans. Wow, he said all that? Eduardo and commandant, they talk about how they want sniper sites for the rifles that they have so that they could quote start blowing the heads off American pilots. Boots response immediately is, yes, they let them run for a while because he was on such a role. And that's what ultimately he's convicted in the U.S. of trying to sell arms to a designated terrorist organization. The farc knowing that the weapons could be used to kill Americans. That's what he's ultimately brought down for. To his lawyers present in his defense the fact that the United States did business with him? That was raised in the trial, but not as a significant point because the trial focused in very narrowly on the events that led to the rest in Thailand. Victor boot wrote to the judge basically saying, look, I've also worked for the U.S. companies. I've flown a 140 flights. They've paid me $6 million. And so why would you be convicting me? The way the case was structured, they didn't charge him with a lot of other stuff. So it was only defending that particular charge related to that particular incident. And so he

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