defence lords of war
Merchants of destruction
The global arms trade has had its share of warlords, middlemen, go-getters, path-finders, fixers and agents. They have insight into the needs of both buyer and seller, the infrastructure and logistics to procure and ensure timely delivery as well as the financial backing to procure and sell. Here are some of the greatest deal crackers of all times
Dale Stoffel, formerly a technician in US National Guards with expertise in advanced radar, electronic warfare, and electronic intelligence, left the service to join some defence and intelligence contractors. His new job was to buy missiles and other weapons produced in the former Communist bloc countries for Pentagon and US intelligence agencies who wanted to analyse them. Charmed by the lifestyle that people associated with the arms trade were living, Stoffel then decided to venture out on his own. He made his name by procuring a $40-million order from the Iraqi Ministry of Defence to refurbish Soviet-era T-55 tanks and artillery. It was, however, a short-lived success; his bullet-ridden body landed up in a Baghdad morgue after he was gunned down on his way into Baghdad along with Joseph Wemple, 49, his friend and colleague.
Hailed as Russia’s most famous arms dealer, the world’s most recognisable gunrunner and the Russian version of Osama bin Laden, Viktor Bout reportedly has a reputation as large as the money he has made through the arms trade. He is learnt to have made a cool $50 million in profit by selling arms to al-Qaeda and Taliban in the late 1990s, delivered weapons in Afghanistan and helped arm both sides in Angola’s civil war besides selling weapons to governments in Central Africa, Congo, Sudan and Libya. He also helped the French government ferry equipment after the genocide in Rwanda. A former Soviet military intelligence officer, Viktor had a flair for flying and it was this that helped him set up a fleet of around 60 aircraft, mostly military planes lying unused on Russian airfields, to help run his defence operations. Bout, the businessman, dealer and transporter of weapons and minerals supported former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s regime to destabilise Sierra Leone…Read More