SUDAN WATCH: Faina cargo: Final destination of the tanks is a compound N.E. of Juba controlled by the military wing of the South Sudan Army?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Faina cargo: Final destination of the tanks is a compound N.E. of Juba controlled by the military wing of the South Sudan Army?

According to the following article by British journalist Fred Bridgland in Johannesburg, the mystery of what happened to 33 Russian-made T-72 combat tanks discovered by Somali pirates aboard a Ukrainian ship they hijacked ten months ago has been solved.  I wonder how Mr Bridgland can be so sure.  The story has taken so many twists and turns I think he ought to have prefaced the statement 'has been solved' with a few words such as 'it would appear'.  

See Jane's intelligence report reprinted at Sudan Watch July 19, 2009: MV Faina cargo: 100 tanks were ordered by Government of South Sudan - and note this excerpt that shows Mr Bridgland has jumped to conclusions and made stuff up by stating that the 'final destination of the tanks is a compound northeast of Juba controlled by the military wing of the South Sudan Army':
"... Since March, however, eyewitness reports, some corroborated by photographic evidence, have placed the tanks elsewhere. At the same time, extensive construction has been ongoing at a military compound of the Sudan People's Liberation Army.

Jane's began an extensive satellite imagery canvass of the area in March, aiming to trace the movement of T-72s from Mombasa towards South Sudan. While the analysis does not conclude that the tanks aboard the Faina were in transit towards their ostensible rightful owners, it does show a pattern of tanks making their way north.
Also, note Mr Bridgland states that South Sudan is stockpiling weapons in case civil war reignites.  How does he know, I wonder.  Considering he is a veteran reporter, I find his irresponsible reporting disgraceful. More on him at the end of this blog post.  

From Sunday Herald - 'Scotland's award-winning independent newspaper' Saturday, 26 July 2009, by Fred Bridgland in Johannesburg
Murky global arms trail leads to volatile South Sudan
SUDAN: Tanks traced via satellite imagery to region stockpiling weapons in case civil war reignites
From Fred Bridgland in Johannesburg
THE MYSTERY of what happened to 33 Russian-made T-72 combat tanks discovered by Somali pirates aboard a Ukrainian ship they hijacked ten months ago has been solved.

The tanks, with enormous fire-power and each weighing 41 tonnes, have begun arriving - in breach of a peace agreement - in the semi-autonomous province of South Sudan, according to Jane's, the world's leading military intelligence publisher.

The T-72s aboard the MV Faina were one of three clandestine tank and heavy weapons deliveries to South Sudan accidentally revealed to the world by the pirates. The tanks were being sent to South Sudan in preparation for a new war in case Sudan's 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) - brokered by Norway, Britain and the US - collapsed.

Fortunately, the 110-year-old Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague last week reached a decision on the disputed Abyei region which has probably saved the CPA and has paved the way to a referendum on South Sudan's secession and independence from Sudan in 18 months' time.

South Sudan is certain to vote for independence from Sudan, Africa's biggest state, setting a precedent in Africa, whose organisations have previously maintained that the continent's post-colonial boundaries are inviolate.

The oil-rich and well-watered Abyei region straddles the border between South Sudan and the powerful north, with its capital in Khartoum, and was claimed by both sides. North-South fighting there last year left more than 100 dead and the main town, Abyei, reduced to ashes. It also threatened to trigger again the country's 22-year civil war which was ended by the CPA. It is estimated more than two million people died in the conflict, with four million becoming refugees.

The five-judge Permanent Court of Arbitration redrew Abyei's borders and the compromise has been accepted by both the Sudan government in Khartoum and the semi-autonomous South Sudan administration in Juba.

In a story worthy of John Le Carré, Jane's, citing satellite and intelligence evidence, traced the circuitous journey of the tanks and other weapons aboard the MV Faina from 25 September last year, the day Somali buccaneers hoisted themselves aboard the ship and the 17-member crew surrendered. The Faina's captain, Vladimir Kolobkov, died of a heart attack soon after the hijack and his captors put his body in the ship's freezer for later return to his family.

Once aboard, the pirates discovered that, in addition to the T-72s, there were also six anti-aircraft guns, 150 grenade launchers and thousands of tonnes of small arms and ammunition.

The pirates demanded a ransom of US$20 million for the release of the Faina, its crew and cargo, triggering more than three months of negotiations. Finally, with the Faina surrounded by the United States' 5th Fleet and the pirates threatening to blow up the ship unless their demands were met, they settled for $3.2m, paid in dollar bills which were parachuted on to the Faina's deck from a light aircraft.

The question was: where would the Faina head next? Its original destination was the Kenyan port of Mombasa. The Kenyan government claimed the Russian tanks were intended for its army, even though its small armed forces were entirely equipped with British and American weaponry.

However, Edward Mwangura, head of the Mombasa-based non-profit East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, which works to free ships held by Somali sea raiders, said he was convinced the tanks were intended for South Sudan. Among his evidence, he said, was the Kenyan government's inability to produce certificates proving ownership of the weaponry.

Mwangura was arrested by Kenyan security forces and charged with "making alarming statements to foreign media touching on the security of the country".

But Jane's last week confirmed the accuracy of Mwangura's allegation. The popular Seafarers' Assistance chairman, subsequently released from detention, is to be the subject of a Hollywood film with Oscar-nominated actor Samuel L Jackson as Mwangura.

Jane's said that once the ransom had been paid the tanks were unloaded in Mombasa and taken to Kahawa army base outside Nairobi.

It said satellite imagery surveillance from March onwards showed "a pattern of tanks making their way north" from Nairobi to the South Sudan border.

Again via satellite imagery, Jane's identified the final destination of the tanks as a compound northeast of Juba controlled by the military wing of the South Sudan Army.

Quoting intelligence reports, Jane's said there had been at least three ship deliveries of tanks, totalling more than T-72s, via Mombasa for South Sudan, the first of which had been in November 2007.

The defence publisher concluded: "South Sudan is assembling an armour fleet, preparing for any eventuality in its enduring dispute with Khartoum."

While other mysteries surrounding the incident remain, it has been established that the owner of the Faina - which has had at least three previous names and is registered in Belize - is a Ukraine-based Israeli named Vadim Alperin.

He has links to Mossad, Israel's national intelligence agency, and Mossad front companies in Kenya.

A photograph newly published on a US intelligence website shows Alperin meeting the Faina on arrival in Mombasa in February with the chief of Ukraine's foreign intelligence service, Mykola Malomuzh, by his side.
Note that Fred Bridgland saw fit not to name the US intelligence website from which he lifted information for his article. I wonder why hacks are so stingy with giving credit and links to other people's websites and writings.  Maybe they think readers are stupid. Some of us can spot their sticky fingers. It has taken me years to understand how news reports on Sudan originate enabling me to notice widespread plagiarism by professional reporters. Here's another thing, who is he to say 'South Sudan is certain to vote for independence from Sudan' without prefacing the line with words such as 'in my view'?  More on his dangerous writings in a postscript below.

The following photos and captions are from www.militaryphotos.net (12 Feb. 2009) and www.fresh.co.il  (13 Feb. 2009).  Sorry, name of original source, author of captions, photographer(s) were not published at the websites.

MV Faina

Photo: A US Navy helicopter patrols Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009, on the Mombasa coast, Kenya, awaiting for the Ukrainian ship Faina, which is expected to arrive at the Mombasa port Thursday accompanied by a U.S. warship. The seizure of the MV Faina loaded with Soviet-era tanks and other heavy weapons was one of the most brazen acts in a surge of pirate attacks on the shipping off the Somali coast. The ship was held by Somali pirates for more than four months. 

MV Faina

Photo: A Kenyan navy boat moves towards the MV Faina, a Ukrainian ship carrying 33 Soviet-era T-72 tanks plus other weapons, near the port of Mombasa, 500 km (310 miles) from the capital Nairobi, February 12, 2009. The Ukrainian ship laden with tanks and freed by Somali pirates after a five-month hijack approached port in Kenya on Thursday with debate still ranging over ownership of the sensitive military cargo. 

MV Faina

Photo: Kenyans look at Ukrainian ship MV Faina, escorted by the Kenyan navy, as it arrives at the port of Mombasa, 500 km (310 miles) from the capital Nairobi, February 12, 2009. The Ukrainian ship laden with tanks and freed by Somali pirates after a five-month hijack approached port in Kenya on Thursday with debate still ranging over ownership of the sensitive military cargo. 

MV Faina

Photo: Crew members of the Ukrainian ship MV Faina shakes hands on arrival at the Kenyan coastal sea Port of Mombasa, some 500km from Nairobi, February 12, 2009. The Ukrainian ship laden with tanks and freed by Somali pirates after a five month hijack approached port in Kenya on Thursday with debate still ranging over ownership of the sensitive military cargo.

MV Faina

Photo: The chief of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine Mykola Malomuzh, right, with the owner of the ship Faina, Vadim Alperin, left, stand on the dock after the ship docked at the Kenyan port of Mombasa Thursday, Feb.12, 2009. The Ukrainian cargo ship Faina which was hijacked by Somali pirates with its 20-man crew, and carrying tanks and other heavy weapons was released Thursday Feb. 5, 2009, after pirates received an airdropped ransom of $3.2 million. 

MV Faina

Photo: Crew members of the ship Faina that docked at the Kenyan port of Mombasa Thursday Feb. 12, 2009 stand for a minute silence for the captain of the vessel who died on the ship. The Ukrainian cargo ship Faina which was hijacked by Somali pirates with its 20-man crew, and carrying tanks and other heavy weapons was released Thursday Feb. 5, 2009, after pirates received an airdropped ransom of $3.2 million.  

Postscript
A few searches on Google reveal that Fred Bridgland has written articles published in The Times and The Scotsman.  I found this extract at www.coldtype.net:
Death In Africa
How a Revolutionary Leader Plotted to Kill His Deputy and His Family
By Fred Bridgland

EXCLUSIVE - A 50-Page e-book. Fred Bridgland, then a young Reuters correspondent, won his 15 minutes of fame in 1975 when he exclusively revealed the secret South African military invasion of Angola, backed by the CIA, MI6, the French Secret Service and Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda. Bridgland subsequently wrote a highly controversial biography of Jonas Savimbi, leader of an Angolan liberation movement and a friend of Che Guevara. Savimbi’s brilliant young deputy, Tito Chingunji, helped Bridgland research the book and became his closest African friend. But, after the book was published, Savimbi executed Chingunji, his wife and children, parents and his entire extended family. He also threatened Bridgland with death. ColdType’s 50-page essay is a treatment Bridgland has completed as a proposal for new book on his friend Chingunji’s murder and telling the true story of the madness that gripped Savimbi and his guerrilla movement.
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