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The following is an unauthorized version of the Report of the Panel of Experts to the United Nations on Sierra Leone.
This is not the official report. The official report has not yet been released. The report posted here is subject to change by the sanctions committee.



A. Direct Flights Into RUF Territory

199. Having no access to the sea, the RUF can import weapons and related matériel only by road or by air. The role of aircraft in the RUF's supply chain is vital, especially over the past two years, as their sphere of influence in Sierra Leone has widened. Given the state of the country's roads, it would be impossible to supply RUF operations such as those undertaken at Pamelap in Guinea late in 2000, for example, without aerial support.

200. Most Sierra Leonean landing strips in the areas under RUF control were destroyed or have not been maintained because of the war. The landing strip at Yengema is probably not operational, and although the airstrip at Magburaka was rebuilt during the AFRC period in 1997 and is now in rebel territory, there are few reports of fixed-wing aircraft landing there or elsewhere in RUF-held territory.

201. The absence of reports in itself, however, is not very meaningful, as there is a total lack of governmental oversight of Sierra Leonean airspace, due to insufficient infrastructure at the country's airports and in the sub region in general (see Part III, below).

202. This problem notwithstanding, it is known that the RUF have been supplied with weapons by helicopter on a sporadic basis before 1997 and on a regular basis since then. Helicopters originating in Liberia land at Buedu, Kailahun, Makeni, Yengema, Tumbudu, Yigbeda and elsewhere in Kono District. More recently, newly delivered Mi-8 transport helicopters have been used for this purpose, including for the delivery of surface-to-air (SA-7) shoulder-launched missiles.

B. Weapons Flights into Liberia

203. Virtually all of the weapons shipped into RUF territory are transhipped through at least two other countries between their point of origin and RUF territory in Sierra Leone. In virtually all cases, the last transit point before shipment into Sierra Leone is Liberia. The weapons reach Liberia in a variety of ways - occasionally by sea but most frequently by air. The Panel went to considerable lengths to document some of these shipments in order to demonstrate how the supply chain works.

Case Study: Burkina Faso Delivery of Ukrainian Weapons

204. A shipment of 68 tons of weapons arrived at Ouagadougou on 13 March 1999. It included 715 boxes of weapons and cartridges, and 408 boxes of cartridge powder. The inventory also included anti-tank weapons, surface-to-air missiles, and rocket propelled grenades and their launchers.

205. This shipment has now been well documented. Documentation provided in April and June 1999 by the Ukraine government to UN Sanctions Committees shows that the weapons were part of a contract between a Gibraltar-based company representing the Ministry of Defence of Burkina Faso, and the Ukrainian state-owned company Ukrspetsexport. An aircraft of the British company Air Foyle, acting as an agent for the Ukrainian air carrier Antonov Design Bureau, shipped the cargo, under a contract with the Gibraltar-based company, Chartered Engineering and Technical Services. A Ukrainian licence for sale of the weaponry was granted after Ukrspetsexport had received an end-user certificate from the Ministry of Defence of Burkina Faso.

206. The end-user certificate was dated 10 February 1999. The document authorized the Gibraltar-based company to purchase the weapons for sole use of the Ministry of Defence of Burkina Faso. The document also certified that Burkina Faso would be the final destination of the cargo and the end-user of the weaponry. The document is signed by Lieutenant-Colonel Gilbert Diendéré, head of the Presidential Guard of Burkina Faso. During a visit by a Panel Member to Ukraine, this sequence of events was reconfirmed.

207. The authorities of Burkina Faso, in correspondence with the United Nations Sanctions Committee on Sierra Leone, denied allegations that the weapons had been re-exported to a third country, Liberia, and during a visit to Burkina Faso the Panel was shown weapons that were purportedly in that shipment.

208. The weapons in question, however, were not retained in Burkina Faso. They were temporarily off-loaded in Ouagadougou and some were trucked to Bobo Dioulasso. The bulk of them were then trans-shipped within a matter of days to Liberia.

209. Most were flown aboard a BAC-111 owned by an Israeli businessman of Ukrainian origin, Leonid Minin. The aircraft bore the Cayman registration VP-CLM and was operated by a company named LIMAD, registered in Monaco. Minin was, and may remain, a business partner and confidant of Liberian President Charles Taylor. He is identified in the police records of several countries and has a history of involvement in criminal activities ranging from east European organised crime, trafficking in stolen works of art, illegal possession of fire arms, arms trafficking and money laundering. Minin uses several aliases. He has been refused entry into many countries, including Ukraine, and travels with many different passports. Minin offered the aircraft mentioned above for sale to Charles Taylor as a Presidential jet, and for a period between 1998 and 1999, it was used for this purpose. It was also used to transport arms.

210. Regarding the shipment in question, the aircraft flew from Ibiza in Spain to Robertsfield in Liberia on 8 March 1999. On March 15, two days after the arrival of the Ukrainian weapons in Ouagadougou, the plane flew from Monrovia to Ouagadougou. On March 16 the plane was loaded with weapons and flew back to Liberia. On the 17th, it returned to Ouagadougou. After a flight to Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, the plane flew again from Ouagadougou to Liberia with weapons on the 19th. On the 25th the plane flew again from Liberia to Ouagadougou and returned on the same day with weapons. On the 27th the plane flew again to Ouagadougou and from there to Bobo Dioulasso for the weapons that had been trucked there. The aircraft made three flights over the next three days between Bobo Dioulasso and Liberia. On 31 March the plane flew back to Spain. Because the plane had a VIP configuration, it had only limited cargo capacity, which is why so many flights were necessary.

211. A second plane, an Antonov operated by a Liberian company named Weasua, is reported by eye-witnesses to have flown part of the cargo to Liberia from Bobo Dioulasso.

212. Minin's BAC-111 was used for an earlier shipment of weapons and related equipment from Niamey Airport in Niger to Monrovia. This occurred in December 1998, shortly after Minin purchased the plane and started to operate it in the region. On 22 December 1998, the BAC-111 made two trips from Niamey to Monrovia. On the second trip, it took a consignment of weapons, probably from existing stocks of the armed forces of Niger. The weapons were off-loaded into vehicles of the Liberian military. A few days after these events, the RUF-rebels started a major offensive that eventually resulted in the destructive January 1999 raid on Freetown.

C. The Inner Circle of the Taylor Regime

213. President Charles Taylor is actively involved in fuelling the violence in Sierra Leone. He and a small coterie of officials and private businessmen around him are in control of a covert sanctions-busting apparatus that includes international criminal activity and the arming of the RUF in Sierra Leone. Over the years - before President Taylor's inauguration and after - this group has contracted foreign businessmen for the financing, sourcing or facilitating of these covert operations. The sanctions-busting is fed by the smuggling of diamonds and the extraction of natural resources in both Liberia and areas under rebel control in Sierra Leone. In addition, the sovereign right of Liberia to register planes and ships, and to issue diplomatic passports, is being misused in order to further the operations of this group.

214. The role of Liberia as a transhipment platform for arms to the RUF is crucial. However, arms are brought into the region from elsewhere. Many businessmen close to the inner-circle of the Liberian presidency operate on an international scale, sourcing their weaponry in Eastern Europe. The Panel focussed on a limited number of individuals, but there are many more examples of the significant presence of criminal organisations in the region.

215. A key individual is a wealthy Lebanese businessman named Talal El-Ndine. El-Ndine is the inner-circle's paymaster. Liberians fighting in Sierra Leone alongside the RUF, and those bringing diamonds out of Sierra Leone are paid by him personally. Arms shippers and brokers negotiate their payments in his office in Old Road, Monrovia. El-Ndine also brings foreign businessmen and investors to Liberia, individuals who are willing to cooperate with the regime in legitimate business activities as well as in weapons and illicit diamonds. The pilots and crew of the aircraft used for clandestine shipments into or out of Liberia are also paid by El-Ndine. They are mostly of Russian or Ukrainian nationality and they invariably stay at the Hotel Africa in Monrovia.

216. The manager of this hotel is a Dutch national named Gus Van Kouwenhoven. Van Kouwenhoven started his hotel and a gambling business in Liberia in the 1980s. He is also a member of President Taylor's inner circle, through his contacts with Taylor's economic advisor, Emmanuel Shaw. Shaw, a former Liberian finance minister, owns a number of facilities at Robertsfield, including all the hangars. Van Kouwenhoven is responsible for the logistical aspects of many of the arms deals. Through his interests in a Malaysian timber project in Liberia, he organises the transfer of weaponry from Monrovia into Sierra Leone. Roads built and maintained for timber extraction are also conveniently used for weapons movement within Liberia, and for the onward shipment of weapons to Sierra Leone.

217. Simon Rosenblum, an Israeli businessman based in Abidjan, has logging and road construction interests in Liberia. He too, is very close to the Liberian President and carries a Liberian diplomatic passport. His trucks have been used to carry weapons from Robertsfield to the border with Sierra Leone.

218. Minin and Van Kouwenhoven are linked to Liberia's timber industry, which provides a large amount of unrecorded extra-budgetary income to President Taylor for unspecified purposes. Three companies are involved: Exotic and Tropical Timber Enterprise (ETTE), Forum Liberia and the Indonesian-owned Oriental Timber Company.


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