(Rapaport…December 2, 2005) The United Nations moved to freeze assets and ban travel of two men linked with (whom they call gunrunner) Victor Bout due to previous arms sales in Liberia and the link with arms and diamonds in Sierra Leone. The men are said to have helped former President Charles Taylor who is wanted for war crimes in Sierra Leone. Taylor has already been indicted for fueling a civil war in Sierra Leone through arms-for-diamond deals with rebels, but he has been granted asylum in Nigeria for the time being.
A sanction committee, run by the Security Council, listed Richard Ammar Chichakli of Texas and Valeriy Naydo of the United Arab Emirates as two businessmen whose assets and travel will be frozen worldwide.
At press time, Chichakli was not available for comment; however, he contends that he has been setup by both the United States and the United Nations and he writes on his blog that he is being “wrongfully persecuted and placed in exile by the United States government without charges, trial, evidence, or due process.”
Additionally the United Nations listed 30 companies to freeze including: Air Bas, Air Cess, CET Aviation Enterprise, Centrafrican Airlines, San Air General Trading FZE, and Trans Aviation Global Group Inc.
The United Nations says Bout runs a network of cargo companies across the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, and in the United States. Bout is accused of brokering arms for fueling wars diamond-rich areas of Sierra Leone, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Liberia.
A committee statement says Chichakli lives in a suburb of Dallas, and is Bout’s chief financial manager. He “plays a significant role in assisting Bout in setting up and managing a number of his key firms and moving money,” the panel said.
They described Naydo as a former pilot and Bout’s second in command out of South Africa as well as chief executive officer of Bout’s CET Aviation, the holding company for Centrafrican Airlines, which was linked to illicit arms deals with Liberia.
Liberia’s newly elected president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, expanded upon the fate of Taylor after saying earlier in the week that she had not made a decision whether or not to ask for his extradition to Sierra Leone. Nigeria has said that a new president in Liberia could make such a decision and it would therefore honor that request.
Johnson-Sirleaf said other national leaders in Africa were close to reaching a consensus to the fate of Taylor. While Johnson-Sirleaf ran for public office in Liberia she said that Taylor’s fate was up to the Special Court of Sierra Leone, and apparently did not rule out setting up a war crimes court in Liberia as well. Other political analysts in Liberia suggested Johnson-Sirleaf could pardon Taylor “in the spirit of national reconciliation.”
Taylor’s former wives Jewel Taylor, Enid Tupid Taylor, and Agnes Taylor, and his former aide Edwin Snowe are also on the travel ban list. Jewel was elected to Liberia’s Senate in November. Press reports from Africa indicate that Enid, Agnes, and Snowe still hold strong ties in Liberia’s newly elected government.