More weapons for Iraq security forces likely missing
Source: BI-ME , Author: BI-ME staff
Posted: Thu August 9, 2007 12:00 am

IRAQ. A recent US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report revealed that the Pentagon cannot account for 30% of the weapons that the United States distributed to Iraqi forces from 2004 to early 2007.

According to Amnesty International research, additional hundreds of thousands of US-approved arms transfers from Bosnia to Iraq could also be missing. Amnesty International fears this shipment may be in the hands of human rights abusers inside or outside Iraq.

In a May 2006 report 'Dead on Time' Amnesty International revealed that Taos, a US company with multiple US Department of Defence contracts, subcontracted to a Moldovian/Ukrainian company called Aerocom to transport hundreds of thousands of arms from Bosnia to Iraq between 31 July 2004, and 31 June 2005, for Iraqi security forces. US military air traffic controllers in Iraq, however, said Aerocom never requested landing slots to touch down in the country. According to Amnesty, Aerocom smuggled weapons to Liberia in 2002 and was operating without a valid licence in 2004, according to the UN Security Council.

In a series of exchanges with the Pentagon, Amnesty International has noted that various US government department contracts contain a clause stipulating that actors previously involved in criminal activities should not be recipients of US government funding. Amnesty International has previously expressed concern about the US Department of Defence's new authority to train and equip security forces in Iraq and 16 other countries.

The latest system does not have the same level of controls as other Us arms exporting mechanisms, said Amnesty. Without similar safeguards, the Pentagon runs the risk of facilitating illegal or irresponsible arms deals to anywhere in the world.

Amnesty International released a report mentioning an episode in which Taos subcontracted US government-funded arms transportation contracts to Aerocom. Four Aerocom flights departed Eagle Base, Bosnia & Herzegovina, with flight plans filed for Baghdad International Airport. Yet there were no records of the flights landing. Taos executives told Amnesty International that Aerocom did not appear on any US government list that forbid interaction with the company, placing the onus on the US government to determine whether an arms transporter/broker meets the requisite security, integrity and ethical standards.



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