Victor Bout: where did he go.? To Jail!

Merchant of Death, the book... Former West African Bureau Chief of the Washington Post, Douglas Farah and Los Angeles Times National Correspondent, Stephen Braun detail how a small circle of U.S. officials and international investigators worked doggedly to shut down Viktor Bout's arms pipelines, only to be trumped by Bout's ingenuity and by their own inability-and, in some cases, unwillingness- to confront the dark side of the new world order.

Published in 2007:

The book ends on a rather desultory note; its last chapter includes this:
"Only the all-too-brief momentum shown by the American and European efforts to curtail Bout's operationin early 2000 and 2001 held out the promise of what might be accomplished if nations were to set aside their provincial interests and join in common efforts against the contraband arms trade. "
The interest in Victor Bout seems to have faded away and the efforts to bring him to justice have been in vain and seem to have ceased.

In my personal interpretation of the book, it became clear to me that while there was a growing sense under the Clinton Administration for a need to fight the threat against an enemy which was not bounded or identified by the borders of a country. But the G W Bush Administration returned to fighting nations and governments in the traditional style. This was probably due to the need to cut losses and focus on what was in the public eye, definitely an attitude of a fighting force considering retreat and failure.
The EU governments cannot make any claim to success in its own version of War on Terrorism, instead all efforts seem to concentrate on simply raising the barriers (ports of entry) and beefing up security. Probably in hope that the Ghosts of Terrorism would pass them by or would be discouraged by a few extra locks on the door, so to speak.

Let me make this clear: my interest never lay with the War on Terrorism (as I would assume many more such characters as V.Bout run their illegal trade, but his short-lived popularity at least brought him a movie, starred even by a Hollywood hotshot) nor was my interest directed at the illegal arms trade. Instead I was fascinated in Bout's ability to move around airplanes, by nature a transport tool that crosses international borders. And for him to continue in the international airline business.
The fact that Bout fooled the American Colossus and had himselves employed and well-payed by them for charters in Iraq, made the world laugh and forget the implications of his business dealings, where morals recede as minute seedlings facing the progressing sand dunes of the Arabian desert.

So where did Victor Bout go? more to the point: where did his planes go? Is IRBIS still around or has he changed names and/or companies and/or countries like he has done so often before..?
In the book he, VB himself, stated he had left the airline business and changed to real estate. Did he?

Irbis Air Company supposedly ceased operations in 2005, but it was rumored operations continued.

My webpage Victor Bout and Air Bas and ..... has a list of IL-18's formerly operated by Air Cess and Irbis. Let us make an update:

Registration Aircraft Type Construction Nbr previous reg. Sighting Markings
UN-75002 Ilyushin 18E1850086033C-KKR SHJ 11May03
SHJ 04Nov03
no markings
a/w, n/t
ATDB lists it anno Feb.2008 with Mega Airlines but no recent sightings on -
UN-75003 Ilyushin 18V 184006903 3C-KKJ SHJ 12Oct03 blue tail, no m/s Also listed by ATDB in Fleetlist of Mega Airlines (Feb,2008). & Planepictures
UN-75004 Ilyushin 18D 186009202 3C-KKK SHJ 14Sep02
SHJ 04Nov03
SHJ 28Dec03
green cheatline and blue tail
No t/t, blue tail
all white
Also listed by ATDB in Fleetlist of Mega Airlines (Feb.2008). incl 2007 pic!
Kazakhstan's UN- registry was changed because of confusement with United Nations (UN) operations; UN-75004 was reregistered UP-I1804 during 2008.
UN-75005 Ilyushin 18D 187010204 3C-KKL SHJ 04Nov03 Linee Aerienne Tschad Also listed by ATDB in Fleetlist of Mega Airlines (Feb.2008)
UN-11007 Antonov 12B 9346509 3C-OOZ SHJ Oct02
SHJ 11May03
DXB 12Oct03
no m/s
all white c/s
no titles
Damaged beyond economic repair on 31Mar05 while on take off at Al-Rayyan IAP (operatied by/for RPS Air Freight Co.; related to Air Bas?) in Yemen.

727 UN-B2702, Istanbul-SAW 27Mar06

Mega Airlines is described on ATDB as founded in 2005, "formed using assets -and possibly management- from Trans Aviation Global Group and Air Bas". Air Bas is a former Victor bout company, so definitely of interest.
Mega Airlines (ICAO identifyer: MGK) would be based in Atyrau, Kazakhstan. The fleetlist would include 3 Boeing 727s and 4 Ilyushin IL-18s.
Main area of operation (reportedly): Somalia. Though there actually is a place called 'Mega' in southern Ethiopia.
See Aug.2008 update at bottom page.

While the IL18s are all familiar, the 727s are listed as being UN-B2701 & UN-B2703 (resp c/n 22045 & 21584) and, a freighter, UN-B2702 (c/n 21861); the latter has images on with sightings going back to 2004.
Ron Mak sent me the photos of 727 UN-B2702, taken at Istanbul-SAW 27Mar07; he also wrote that loading crew at the aircraft wore jackets with 'IRBIS' on it. (Much the same as the An-12 of ATMA of Kazakhstan I saw in Iceland (2007) and noticed the crew wore 'Vega' -of Bulgaria- jackets!).

From the above updates, the simplest conclusion would be that Air Cess went on to become Air Bas, which became Irbis Air Company and these days operate under yet another identity: Mega Airlines.
It would still be of interest to have a look at the list of SHJ operators mentioned above, since it would be hard to believe SHJ has disappeared from the Bout network. Which airplanes do they operate and have they ever been operated by companies allegedly connected to Viktor Bout?

Please make note that I most emphatically stress I don't wish to point a finger to any airline and implicate them of any illegal activity or wrong-doing. This would rather be an excercise of elimination for anyone pondering the same matter.

I recently looked at the arrivals & departures 02/03/04Jan2008 of Sharjah Int'l Airport and came acros this selection of (to me) unfamiliar names of airlines (I have only listed those operating propellor aircraft or a mix of props & jets):

Avient Aviation (ICAO identifyer SMJ), based in Zimbabwe. Founded 2003, initially formed in 1993 as a GSA using AntonAir for covert ops in DRC (1 IL76 - 3x DC10)
South A/L (STH), Kyrgyzstan F2003. 1x An-24
South A/L (OTL), Ukraine F1999. 8 various aircraft incl An-24
South A/L of Armenia, but based at SHJ F2001. 9 aircraft including IL76, An12, An24
Asia Continental A/L (CID), Kazakhstan F2002. 8 aircraft incl 5 IL76
ATMA (AMA) Kazakhstan F2004. 7 aircraft: 1 IL76 + 6 AN12s
Gromov Air (GAI). Became Moscavia AL in 2006 (but shown arriving at SHJ as Gromov), 12 aircraft incl IL76, AN12, AN24
Tironavia / Taron Avia (TRV), Armenia F2007. 1x An12 EK-12129
Eastern Express (LIS), Kazakhstan F2006. IL76 + IL62 + An12
Aerovista Gulf Express (VGF), Kyrgyzstan F2001. Various aircraft incl IL18 + An12 (all leased out?)
Click Aws (CGK) Kyrgyzstan. F2003, based in SHJ; on EU ban since 2007. 4 IL76 + 5 An12
Associated with Click Aws Intl, Armenia F2006. Also based SHJ (!). 1 IL76 + An12
Beibars Cjsc (BBB), Kazakhstan F2006. 1x IL76 to Airlines 400 (1999-2007) renamed Red Wings (2007-) but on EU banlist (based in Moscow). I noticed on 07Feb09 Beibars was operating under this name into Sharjah.
Transliz Aviation (TLZ), Sao Tome F2007. 4x An12s (PHW), UAE F2004. Formed as wholly-owned subsidiary of Phoenix Aviation, Kyrgyzstan through AVE FZE Holding to operate jet equipment under UAE registry
Air Victory Georgia (GVI), Georgia F2004. Possibly associated with 1996-formed Victory Airline. 1 or 2 An12s.
Alok Air (LOK) Sudan F2006; 1 An24 + 1 An26 + 1 An32
National Paints, F1969, based in Bishkek,Kyrgyzstan and Sharjah, operating 2 IL-18s

Since Irbis Air Company was based in Kazakhstan, the companies Asia Continental, ATMA, Eastern Express and Beibars are of interest.
But the many subsidiaries of South Airlines, esspecially the one based in Sharjah are of immediate interest too.
And Click Airways Int'l, so confusingly similar to Iberia's subsidiary Click Air and founded in the same year 2006, arouses my interest too.
Would any of these airlines be operating aircraft at one time thought to be operating for V.Bout or one of his allegedly cooperating airlines. Do any of their aircraft appear at regular interval in African destinations formerly visited by Air Cess, Air Bas and companies as listed on: More airline names connected to Viktor Bout

I mentioned a few companies earlier on this page: Asia Continental, ATMA, Eastern Express, Beibars, South Airlines and Click Airways.
Let us have a closer look at the fleetlist (source: ATDB, feb.2008).

Asia Continental A/L 5 IL-76
(UN76020 - UN76021 - UN76022 - UN76024 - UN76025
2 Yak-40 (UN-87525 - UN-88189) &
1 leased to Venezuela UN88195 (YV-1052CP)
1 Antonov An-26 (UN-26507)
1 737-800 (TC-API)
UN76022 is ex Clickair EX-046
TC-API is leased from Pegasus (Turkey)
ATMA 1 IL-76 (UN-76487)
3 An-12 (UN-11014 - 11015 - 11017 - 11018 - 11019)
ATMA= Atyrau Airport & Transport.
5 An12s were bought from Vega A/L when this airline was banned from operating into EU.
Eastern Express 2 IL-76 (UN-76027, UN-76029) Seems also to have operated 2 AN-12 UN11020 & 11021
Beibars 1 IL-76 (UN-76472) but leased to AL400 founded in 2006, but started July 2007
South Airlines 1 An-24 (EX-46581) but became EK-46581 for
Trade Aero Space Technologies
Presently no other aircraft found for this Kyrgyzstan airline
Click Airways

3 IL-76 (EX-033, EX- 035, EX-108)
3 An-12 (EX-029, EX-169)

1 An-26 (EX-106)

This Kyrgyzstan airline is based in SHJ and is included in the EU banlist for 2007.
IL-76 EX-070 went to Eastern Express as UN-76027
IL-76 EX-100 went to Click Aws Intl as EK-76400, a reg re-allocated from an An-12.
IL-76 EX-105 went to Global Aviation as 5A-DQA; is this the same as Trans Aviation Global Group, V.Bout connected?
An-12 EX-073 went to South A/L as EK-11830
An-12 EX-166 went to Click Aws Intl as EK-11418

National Paints 2 Il-18 (EX-601, EY-75466) This textile company was initially formed in 1969 in Amman,Jordan and has set up a network through Middle east & India.
EX-601 is ex/ Santa Cruz Imperial, a name brought in connection with V.Bout and was sighted 29Feb08 at Jakarta-CGK.
Click Airways Int'l 1 IL-76 (EK-76400)
1 An-12 (EK-11418)
This airline is registered in Armenia, but based in... SHJ !
EK-76400 was formerly used for an AN-12
There is supposed to be another unidentified An-12 EK-11107 in the fleetlist

727 UN-B2702, Istanbul-SAW 27Mar06


Steve Kinder helps to illustrate some of the airframes / airlines and he sent me these, all taken on 24th December 2007 at Sharjah:

UN-11019 ATMA

UN-11021 eastern Express

S9-KHC Transliz Aviation

EX-169 Click Airways


Reported sightings:
  • UN-75002 seen at 14Feb04 at SHJ, no markings, all white, no titles [Rolf Larsson]
  • UN-75003 seen at 14Feb04, blue tail [Rolf Larsson]
  • UN-75003 seen at Jeddah 03Jan08, still in basic Air Cess livery, no titles, operating a flight for Jubba Airways [Aviation Letter - Jan.2008]
  • UN-75005 seen at Jeddah 01Jan08, in basic blue Air Cess c/s, no titles [Aviation Letter - Jan.2008]
  • I have it on good authority that the accident on 23Jul07 near Shinile, Ethiopia of an An-26 operated by Djibouti Airlines was not, as quoted an An-26, but one of Bout's IL-18's... DETAILS WELCOMED!

    Details of the accident, thru quotong from the Ethiopian Times:
    ADDIS ABABA - One person died and eight were injured yesterday when a Djibouti Airways plane crashed in Ethiopia due to 'technical problems,' Ethiopian radio reported. "One person was killed when a plane belonging to Djibouti Airways crashed around noon in Shinile zone, due to technical problems," the official radio said. "8 other passengers were injured, 5 of them have already left Dire Dawa hospital after receiving treatment for their minor injuries. The remaining 3 are said to be in critical condition and still remain in the hospital." No aviation officials were available today to give details of the accident. An inhabitant of Dire Dawa was quoted as saying the aircraft, a Soviet-built Antonov, "was carrying Qat," a psychedelic herb much used in the Horn of Africa.

    Date: 23 Jul ~1300L Shinile Ethiopia East Somali Regn Aircraft Type: AN26 of Djibouti Airlines Narrative: After departure from the airport of Dire Dawa the aircraft lost an engine & made a crash landing near the town of Shinile. Death/Injury: 1 dead/8 inj /9 onboard Remarks: Dire Dawa to Djibouti. The flight was carrying passengers as well as cargo. At least one person suffered fatal injuries.

    Report on AviationSafety Network &

    Air Bas went on to become Irbis Air and anno 2008 was operating as Mega Airlines. UN-75005 was reregistered as UP-I1801, UN-75002 became UP-I1802, UN-75003 became UP-I1803 and UN-75004 became UP-I1804. Mega Airlines also includes 5 Boeing 727 aircraft. [ Feb.2009]
    UP-I1801 was sighted in Jan.2010 at Muscat,Oman - see photo by Marco Fornier on my page Photos by Friends & Guests (26). The aircraft did not seem to carry company titles, but online reference show this IL-18D still owned & operated by Mega Airlines [ Sep.2010]

    One thing we have seen with VB's airlines for sure, is the frequent name changes of his airline(s).
    In light of this the following is of interest:
    Aviation Letter (Aug08) reported that Mega Aircompany has been renamed to Omega Aircompany...
    An as yet unidentified Ilyushin IL-18, tailnumber UP-I1804, of Omega Aircompany has been seen at Tbilisi, Georgia 11Jul08.
    I think Mega Aircompany mentioned here is the same as Mega Airlines, now renamed Omega Aircompany.
    (But an airline changing its name does not, of course, mean it is involved in illegal activities nor a Victor Bout company).

    A look at arrivals and departures of SHJ airport on 18Mar09, indicated continued operations by Click Airways, Gomel Avia, Eastern Express Air Company, South Airlines, Asia Continental and Sakavia Services.

    Beibars Cjsc and British Gulf International did not operate that day.
    The latter also had its website 'under construction'; since this air operator is an all An-12 operator and all An-12 commercial operations were banned from the U.A.E. due continued accidents and incidents with this type of aircraft, the lack of activity with British Gulf International may be easily explained.

    06 mar 08, 1121GMT - The Associated Press


    BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ A Russian arms dealer accused of breaking U.N. arms embargoes by supplying weapons to African war zones was arrested Thursday in Bangkok, Thai police said.
    Police Lt. Gen. Pongpat Chayapan, head of the Crime Suppression Bureau, said Viktor Bout was arrested in the heart of the capital Bangkok on a warrant issued by a Thai court. The warrant came out of an earlier one issued by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
    A U.S. Embassy spokesman «congratulated» the Thai police for the arrest but could not provide details about the role the Americans played in it. Details of the charges against Bout were also not immediately available.
    Victor Bout upon his arrest - AP PhotoBout allegedly has been trafficking weapons to Central and West Africa since the early 1990s. U.N. reports say he set up a network of more than 50 aircraft around the world and trade experts have said illicit diamond trade was likely one source of funds for his smuggled arms shipments.
    Although Bout has been investigated by police in several countries, he has never been prosecuted for arms dealing. A 2005 report by Amnesty International, a Britain-based human rights watchdog, alleged that Bout was «the most prominent foreign businessman» involved in trafficking arms to U.N.-embargoed destinations from Bulgaria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and other countries.
    The report also implicated Bout in transferring «very large quantities of arms» from Ukraine that were delivered to Uganda via Tanzania aboard a Greek-registered cargo ship.
    In 2003, the U.N. imposed an arms embargo on the provinces of North and South Kivu and the Ituri regions of eastern Congo, and also on groups that were not a part of the 2003 peace agreement for the region.

    Victor Bout during his arrest
    Photo courtesy NY / Associated Press

    John Fenzel wrote in his blog (abbreviated) :
    "Notorious international arms merchant, Victor Bout, was arrested in a luxury hotel in Bangkok after a month's long joint Thai-U.S. DEA sting operation. The U.S. Justice Department says it is now pursuing extradition of Bout from Thailand and plan to charge him with conspiracy to provide weapons to a foreign terrorist organization. The 41-year-old Russian had allegedly been trying to secure a major weapons deal that included the sale of surface-to-air missiles to US agents posing as Colombian FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) rebels.
    Victor Bout back in the limelightDuring recorded telephone calls and e-mails, Bout and associate Andrew Smulian agreed to sell the weapons to two underground sources working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration who presented themselves as FARC representatives who negotiated with the two arms merchants from November 2007 until February 2008. Smulian is reportedly still being sought by Thai and DEA officials.
    Lieutenant-General Pongpat Chayapan, head of the Crime Suppression Bureau, said police executed a warrant from a Thai court, based on a warrant issued in the United States at the request of the US DEA. Despite U.S. plans to pursue the extradition of Bout from Thailand, Thai authorities have indicated that they plan to prosecute Bout before he is extradited elsewhere.
    Perhaps most significant, however, is that Bout was arrested under the apparent direct supervision of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency immediately after Vladimir Putin's departure from the Russian presidency and assumption as Prime Minister. It seems intuitive, therefore--given Bout's strong former KGB/FSB connections in the Kremlin--that the order to arrest Bout was approved in the West Wing by National Security Advisor Steve Hadley with the passive (or active) approval of the President. At the very least, it represents another indirect affront to Putin himself.
    pennie for yr thoughtsThai officials will certainly face enormous pressure from Russian authorities to release Bout to their control, rather than extradite him to the United States. Given Victor Bout's massive cash reserves, his detailed first-hand knowledge of U.S. and Western European corporate corruption, and his extensive contacts at the highest levels of the Kremlin, it would be foolish to discount Victor Bout's ability to arrange his extradition to Moscow, where he would unquestionably be set free."

    [Personally, I think another fate may be considered for him, when extradited to Russia.. One that would be beneficial to many international parties concerned too... 'case closed'.. -Webmaster]


    Bangkok | December 23, 2008

    Article from: The Australian

    VIKTOR Bout -- known as 'The Merchant of Death' and thought to be the inspiration for the arms dealer played by Nicolas Cage in the movie Lord of War -- has appeared in a Thai court to fight his extradition to the US on terror charges.

    The Russian denied yesterday that he had conspired to arm Columbian rebels.

    He was arrested in Bangkok in March in a sting operation in which undercover US agents posed as Latin American rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

    "I didn't do anything wrong in Thailand. I have never been to Colombia or the United States," Bout, 41, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, told the court at the start of his testimony.

    Bout has been indicted in the US on four terror charges. Victor Bout on trial

    According to reports by UN agencies and Western governments, he delivered arms to dictators and warlords in Africa and Afghanistan, allegedly breaking UN arms embargoes.

    His extradition hearing began in June but has been repeatedly delayed, with a revolving door of defence lawyers.

    Bangkok's Criminal Court said it expected the hearing to end tomorrow but one of Bout's lawyers, Preecha Prasertsak, said he planned to seek an extension.

    At an earlier hearing, an agent of the US Drug Enforcement Administration testified that his agency had set up the operation that lured Bout from Russia to his arrest in the Thai capital.

    DEA agent Robert Zachariasiewicz told the court Bout faced US charges of conspiring to kill Americans, conspiring to kill US officers or employees, conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and conspiring to acquire and use an anti-aircraft missile. He could face a maximum penalty of life in prison.

    The original arrest warrant issued in Thailand was based on a charge of using the country as a base to negotiate a weapons deal with terrorists.

    But that charge was dropped in April and a second arrest warrant issued asking for his extradition to the US.



    Thursday February 12, 2009

    Congress Moves to Keep the Pressure on for Bout's Extradition

    "A large, bipartisan group of Congressmen, led by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) is seeking to insure the the extradition of Viktor “Merchant of Death” Bout from Thailand remains a high priority for the incoming administration.

    In a letter to new AG Holder and Secretary of State Clinton signed by 27 House members, the group asked that Bout’s extradition “remain a top priority for your departments and the United States government.”

    Bout was arrested in Bangkok in March 2008 in an elaborate sting operation set up by the DEA. Bout left his safe haven in Moscow to sell large quantities of sophisticated weapons to a group he thought represented the FARC of Colombia, a designated terrorist organization and one of the largest drug trafficking entities in the world. The undercover agents made it clear they wanted weapons that could be used to target U.S. personnel and radar installations, something Bout eagerly agreed to.

    Bout, who armed the FARC before, as well as the Taliban, Libya and a host of unsavory warlords and thugs in Africa, has been held in Thailand for almost a year as his extradition case wends its way through Thai courts. A preliminary hearing is expected in early March. He is the prototype of the facilitator that crosses among the worlds of terrorists, organized criminals and criminal states, procuring whatever they need for a price.

    The Russian government, through public and private means, have been working overtime to insure its favorite weapons dealer-who often in recent years operated under Russian government protection-is not extradited, but gets a free pass back to Moscow. A lot of Russian money of unknown origin has been sprinkled through the Thai judicial system-to the tune of several million dollars-in an effort to persuade the Thai authorities to let the case go away.

    As the Congressional letter noted, “reports suggesting the Russian government is attempting to negatively influence this process only heighten our concern. Indeed, the Russian Duma recently passed a resolution calling for Bout to be returned to Russia.”

    As Mr. Bout’s actions have threatened the security of many countries and regions and destroyed the lives of thousands of innocent individuals, the United States Congress is following his case closely, the letter noted.

    Let’s hope the Thais, mired in their own political chaos, do the right thing."

    posted by Douglas Farah


    Not extradited to the US! V for Viktor ... Bout defies US attempt to try him for gunrunning

    Caroline Davies,
    Tuesday 11 August 2009 21.16 BST

    Viktor Bout leaves the criminal court in Bangkok after a Thai judge ruled that he could not be extradited to face charges in the United States. Photograph: Narong Sangnak/EPA

    Today's result was a bitter blow to all who have sought to see Bout face trial. Though the charge sheet accused him of conspiracy to sell millions of dollars of weapons to the leftwing Farc rebels in Colombia, he is alleged to have sold or brokered arms deals in just about every world conflict of the last two decades, charges he has denied.
    But, there was just one flaw. While America may view Farc as a terrorist organisation, Thailand does not.

    Bout, dressed in faded orange prison uniform, jumped from his seat to embrace his tearful wife, Alla, before being led from the courtroom. "I am very happy," she sobbed. "The judge showed professionalism in this case."
    A burly six-footer – he has lost weight in the 18 months he has spent in a maximum security Bangkok prison awaiting the extradition decision – Bout is a regular fixture on international most-wanted lists. He is the subject of UN sanctions, an Interpol notice over weapons trafficking and money laundering charges in Belgium, and an assets freeze by the US.


    A new name surfaces as a Viktor Bout company...

    'US in new Bout extradition ploy'

    19-Feb-2010 []

    Victor Bout, the so-called Merchant of Death, must be feeling all warm and fuzzy considering the extent that Russia and the US are fighting over him.

    The latest attempt by the US to get their hands on him involves charges that he and his former business associate, Richard Chichakli, conspired to violate United Nations sanctions by trying to sell arms to the Congo and Liberia.

    From mid-2007, Bout and Chichakli – who was last reported to be living in Moscow – are accused of ferrying the arms via the US and Tajikistan using their company, Samar Airlines.

    Starting in the summer of 2007, Samar Airlines started making deals for airplanes and crews to ferry contraband between the United States and Tajikistan, the indictment said.

    According to the US Attorney who announced the indictment, Preet Bharara: “Viktor Bout allegedly made a career of arming bloody conflicts and supporting rogue regimes across multiple continents, even using the US banking system to secretly finance a fleet of aircraft.”

    The charges are a new way for the US to try and persuade Thailand, which is currently holding Bout, to extradite him for trial in the US. However, Russia is putting heavy pressure on Thailand to release the former KGB officer to it instead.

    Trapped between the two heavyweight trading partners, the Thai government delegated all responsibility for the decision to the judge in charge of the case.

    US agents posing as arms buyers for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which Washington classifies as a terrorist organisation, originally arrested Bout in March 2008 in Bangkok. The Thai judge rejected the extradition request, as Thailand does not consider FARC a terrorist group.

    The new charges, focusing on UN sanction in Africa, bypass that clause and invalidate the court’s ruling.

    Michael Braun, the US Drug Enforcement Administration agent who hunted Bout, said: “I think it is going to be far more difficult for the Thai government to release this guy to [the] Russian authorities and more likely that he will be extradited to the United States.”

    Russia no doubt disagrees.

    Interestingly, Brian Johnson-Thomas, of the International Peace Information Service, speculates that the Il-76 recently seized for trying to smuggle arms from North Korea was a set up.

    He points out that the cargo aircraft’s bizarrely long and circuitous route would have heightened the chance of capture rather than lowered it. In addition, the aircraft coincidentally was once linked to Bout.

    Johnson-Thomas therefore suggests, considering that it was the US which tipped off the Thai authorities, that Washington was behind the shipment and wanted to use the capture as a strange way of ‘gently encouraging’ the Thai authorities to release Bout to the US. [/end quote]

    It is the first time I heard of Samar Airlines, another airline named as allegedly connected to Viktor Bout. The website,, uses also the name Samar Air.

    Quoted from their website:

    "Samar Air is a licensed Air Operator and a registered Airlines in the Republic of Tajikistan since 2004. The company's main base operations is located in Khujand airport, in the vicinity of the city of Khujand where the company's headquarters are located. The Ancient city of Khujand is on the "Great Silk Way" and has old economic and politic relations with main cities in Russia and Central Asia and it is located in northern Tajikistan."

    "Due to its favorable geographical position, the Khujand airport is an important tourist centre for those seeking to visit the famous medicinal hot-springs, the enormous fruit plantations, and the surrounding lakes and picturesque mountains."

    "Samar Air main office is located in Tajikistan, in the city of Khujand at this address. In addition, the company also maintain offices in Khujand Airport, Dushanbe Airport, and in Kulob Airport.
    Samar Air also operate stations or maintains representation offices in Moscow - the Russian Federation, Sharjah - United Arab Emirates, Damascus -Syria, Sharm Al-Sheikh - Egypt, and Jeddah - Saudi Arabia. For reservation or information, please contact the locations nearest you or call our main office."

    We see Sharjah named again, has always been an important station in the Bout route network.

    The following is a quote from Douglas Farah as posted on
    Date: 23Feb2010 --Viktor Bout and Chichakli Indicted--
    The U.S. Justice Department today handed down a new indictment against Viktor Bout and his Syrian-American partner Richard Chichakli, alleging the Merchant of Death with laundering money and attempting to buy two aircraft in the Unites States through a series of front companies.

    The indictment may add to Bout's legal woes, and certainly is a blow to Chichakli, who has been happily holed in Moscow, with occasional trips to Damascus while using his website to mock the U.S. government, along with you truly and others. The indictment and Interpol alert will likely keep him holed up in Moscow, at least for a while.

    Chichakli, who prided himself on his ability to create fetching fruit platters, fled the United States when his assets were frozen by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets control. He used Lufthansa frequent flier miles to purchase his ticket, as he had no money available, and then proceeded on to Syria, before joining Viktor in Moscow.

    Bout, of course, is still in a Thai jail, awaiting an appeals court decision on whether he can be extradited to the United States to stand trial for attempts to knowingly sell surface to air missiles and other lethal equipment to undercover agents posing as FARC operatives. Last year a lower court ruled that Bout could not be extradited, and the appeals court ruling will be final.

    The charges may be used to try give the Thai court more reason to authorized Bout's extradition to the United States. It will also certainly make Chichakli, who helped Bout set up his operations in the UAE in the 1990s while acting as his accountant, a less mobile figure.

    Bout's attempt to buy the aircraft show how mobile his network - which supplied the Taliban in Afghanistan, the FARC in Colombia and other terrorist groups - had become. The indictment alleges Bout and Chichakli wired some $1.7 million through the United States on behalf of a front company named Samar Airlines, to purchase two Boeing aircraft in the United States.

    "Viktor Bout was originally charged in March 2008 with conspiring to kill Americans by selling millions of dollars worth of weapons to Colombia-based narco-terrorists. Further investigation has revealed additional criminal activities by Bout including money laundering and wire fraud conspiracy. The additional charges contained in the newly unsealed superseding indictment amply illustrate the extraordinary breadth of Bout's deadly criminal enterprise," said DEA administrator Michele Leonhart.

    The move violated the executive order that banned any U.S. company or bank from doing business with Bout. The companies doing business with Bout were not fully identified and the indictment alleges that both Bout and Chichakli hid their involvement in Samar Airlines in order to avoid sanctions.

    It is not clear what the aircraft would be used for. Bout's aging fleet of Soviet era aircraft had suffered a series of accidents, were difficult to maintain and costly to keep running. Perhaps that is one of the reasons he was keen to move over to Boeings.
    ./end quote


    Arms dealer Bout gets boot in Thai court | by Jerry Seper

    A Thai criminal court dismissed Monday, 26Apr10, a claim by international arms dealer Viktor Bout (43), that his March 2008 arrest by Royal Thai Police in Bangkok was illegal because a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent assisted in the apprehension.
    The court tossed out a lawsuit by Mr. Bout, who is accused in the U.S. of selling weapons to Marxist rebels in Colombia to kill Americans, because the whereabouts of the agent is unknown. Earlier this year, the same court rejected a similar challenge by Mr. Bout against two other DEA agents on the grounds that they were U.S. Embassy staff and had diplomatic immunity.
    The U.S. government is appealing a decision by the court denying a pending extradition request to return Mr. Bout to New York to stand trial. It is unclear when a decision on that request will be made and what impact, if any, the latest court rulings might have.
    Full article on The Washington Times

    'Suspected Russian arms dealer Bout to be extradited to U.S., Thai court rules'
    By John Pomfret
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Saturday, August 21, 2010
    'An appeals court in Thailand on Friday overturned a lower court's ruling and ordered that Viktor Bout, a 43-year-old former Russian military translator, be sent to the United States, where he faces federal charges of conspiring to sell weapons to a terrorist organization, money laundering and sanctions busting.
    The forthcoming extradition of a major reputed arms dealer to the United States could yield the Obama administration a treasure trove of intelligence about the networks that move weapons and drugs around the world and about the governments that secretly facilitate the traffic.
    That is, if he cooperates...
    Douglas Farah, a former Washington Post reporter and the author of a book about Bout, "Merchant of Death," said his reporting indicated that Russia was concerned that Bout might cooperate with U.S. law enforcement and reveal Russian connections to shady regimes. Farah's book reports that, among other ventures, Bout moved Russian-made weapons from Iran to Hezbollah forces in Lebanon in 2006.'



    His wife, Alla Bout, who has been a frequently tearful figure at Mr Bout's court hearings over more than two Alla Boutyears of detention since he was arrested, appeared outside the prison in an apparent attempt to see her husband before he left - but she was too late.

    Mr Bout was flown out of Bangkok on a charter flight hours after Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the Thai cabinet had backed an appeal court ruling which cleared the way for his extradition.

    Mr Abhisit has faced a difficult dilemma over Mr Bout's case, says the BBC's Vaudine England in Bangkok: Whether to co-operate with long-standing ally the United States or to appease Russia which has a growing tourist and business presence in Thailand.





    Outline of V Bout trial (video)

    Bout no fair trial in USA?

    Two alleged motivs for the USA not to give Victor Bout a fair trial
    1. The USA is a far bigger war profiteer than Victor Bout but want him eliminated
    2. The end game is Russia: tarnish a Russian citizen will effect Russian's reputation

    Daniel Estulin, investigative journalist, considers Bout a victim


    Following was pubLished on the internet by THE VOICE OF RUSSIA 19JUL12:

    CONDUCTED BY: George A. Mapp Jr.

    Was your transfer to Oklahoma City from Brooklyn as sudden and unexpected for you as it was for your legal team?

    The transfer wasn’t sudden or unexpected, it was clear that it was about to happen.

    How were you treated during the transfer process and what mode of transportation did they use to move you to the temporary facility?

    BOP [Bureau of Prisons] “bussed” about 25 inmates in same base to upstate’s Steward Airbase, where the infamous “Conair” MD82 was expected by several buses and vans from the region. When the plane landed, the buses and vans went to the tarmac and then some inmates were disembarked, and then they boarded us. The flight was okay, nothing special, just to sit in iron legs, shackles, belly chain, lock and box quite uncomfortable. At Oklahoma City there is a huge terminal-like building – Welcome to Federal Transit Facility Oklahoma. They called my name on public system and then they got me out first, and quite quickly I was in the SHU. (The Federal Boroughs of Prisons’ solitary confinement units are known as Special Housing Units aka the SHU.) So I spent 12 days in the SHU in full and complete isolation from news, newspaper or even TV, only on workdays they would take me for “recreation”- for one hour inside a caged roof (size 4mX4m). I was treated exactly like anybody else in the SHU. I tried to request my legal call to my lawyer and to the Embassy, but they said only after 30 days I could have a call.

    How were your conditions and treatment at Oklahoma City?

    Conditions at Oklahoma – it is clean, a shining jail, like a monument to the prison industrial complex – still same cells (size wise, same BOP menu, same attitude and even same smells.

    Did you have advanced notice of your final transfer to Marion, IL where you are currently being held?

    It was clear a week before the transfer that it will be UPS Marion, so here I am, in CMU (Communication Management Unit, a designation in the US Federal Bureau of Prisons that restricts and monitors all outside communication such as telephone calls, mail and visits. It is primarily a designation for convicted terrorists).

    Can you please describe your conditions – especially phone privileges and visiting conditions?

    CMU’s rules are quite restrictive – only 2 calls of 15 minutes per week with the special forms where you have to use available timing and mention to whom you will call and which language you are going to use, 1 week prior to your calls. Even a letter, you can only send if the address is in your approved contact list and you must use only the printed labels for the address. Here, I will again have non-contact visits (through glass).

    Since Vladimir Putin has been elected as the Russian president, there seems to have been a plethora of political support for you out of Russia – is this just coincidence or is there a connection with Putin to the political support?

    As I have very little information about the political support I really can’t comment on something that I am not aware of. I know that many in Russia are concerned what has happened to me, and why it is happening.

    Have you noticed an increase or any change in support from the Russian government since Putin’s election?

    Again, here in Marion I have very little news from Russia, and I am only calling my family to check how they are.

    Has the support from the Russian consulate and Russian government been affected by your transfer to Marion, IL? If so, how has it changed?

    I don’t know of any facts that something was affected, just last week I got a call from the Consular Section of the Russian Embassy in Washington, and soon they are planning to visit me here.

    According to The Voice of America’s James Brooke, Igor Sechin visited New York shortly after you were convicted – did Sechin visit you or speak to you during his visit?

    As I said many times, I do not have any personal connection to Mr. Sechin, never meet him before, so even to ask about his visit to NYC is useless.

    I was standing outside the courthouse last fall when The Voice of America’s Carolyn Weaver asked your wife Alla, “How long have you been in the KGB?” Do you care to comment?

    Well, in 2004 I even requested the Archive of the ex-KGB for that, and I do have an official statement, except that I never been in there service and never help any position.

    Viktor, there are many so called conflict awareness groups, arms trade organizations that have been following your case. Do you care to enlighten them to the facts and reality of the international arms trade including the major players?

    I think I am not in the position to enlighten them. As I know nothing special, which they didn’t know. What is interesting for me is who finances them and why they exist? Just their honest desire to help other nations? I never believe in these “cover stories.”

    The former CIA asset and Liberian warlord Charles Taylor has been linked to you by various publications. Have you ever met or done business with Taylor?

    I never meet Charles Taylor, and never had any dealings with his regimes.

    I was in Russia when an anonymous source notified me that you would not be sent to the ‘Supermax’ prison facility in Colorado. I was actually the first person to publish this on the Internet followed by The Voice of Russia. Was this decision and attorney general Eric Holder’s intervention a surprise to you?

    I don’t know anything of the interventions by Eric Holder – as I know he is still “the boss” of the BOP. So what kind of interventions are you talking about, this is his personal department.

    Would you plead guilty if you were guaranteed an extradition to Russia to serve out your sentence?

    That’s a 64kUSD question. I will need legal advice from my team.

    Viktor, Richard Chichakli’s name has appeared on a second DEA indictment issued in November 2010 along with your name. Do you care to comment about either your personal and/or business relationship with Richard?

    Richard is my friend, and I will not comment or speculate about him – his life is just another example of the reality of this very country.

    There have been many investigative journalists associating DEA sting operation ‘Relentless’ that ended in your initial arrest in Bangkok, Thailand to either your knowledge of or involvement in 9/11. Some like investigative journalist Wayne Madsen said, “Bout was arrested because he knew too much about 9/11 and the intelligence agencies wanted you off the streets.” Others have said that you were arrested to be indirectly blamed for 9/11. Do you care to share your thoughts on these allegations?

    Well that’s a nice idea for Hollywood. As all that happened on 9/11 itself. I have to intention to comment on their fantasies and speculations on the rumors.

    How is the appeal process going?

    Best is to check with Mr. Albert Dayan, I am looking to see him, I don’t know what has been going on for the last month.

    Do your lawyers and legal staff have direct access and communication to you? Or has it been very difficult due to your distant geographical location?

    That’s another problem, I am in contact with my attorney, Albert Dayan’s office via e-mail, but I was denied a possibility to make an unmonitored legal call to him, for which I have to wait 2 weeks for a deadline in the Court and I have to provide a docket number, then maybe I will have chance to call him.

    Has anyone from your legal staff been able to see you in person since your transfer to Marion?

    Not yet. I know Mr. Dayan was in Moscow and I’m looking to see him soon.

    Viktor, I would like to take this time to say thank you for your interview.

    Thank you and best wishes.

    This interview first appeared on Dobroyeutro’s Blog at



    Back in the news....

    Moscow Will Ask U.S. to Return Convicted Arms Dealer Bout to Russia


    The Kremlin will formally request that the United States extradite a convicted arms dealer back to Russia, the Izvestia newspaper reported Thursday.

    The request will ask the U.S. government to allow Viktor Bout, convicted on terrorism-related charges, to serve out his 25-year sentence in Russia under the 1983 Strasbourg Convention.

    Bout also plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to have his sentence overturned after the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in January, Izvestia reported.

    The Tajik-born arms dealer has previously pleaded for Trump to intervene in his case, which he claims is 'politically motivated'.

    "We would like to deal with the new administration", Bout's wife Alla told the newspaper. "We shall see if there's any real basis to Trump's claims that he would like to improve ties with Russia", she said.

    Bout was arrested in Thailand in 2008 and extradited to the United States in a bitter legal battle. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2015 for providing support to a foreign terrorist organization after trying to sell arms to Colombian FARC rebels.

    On 16Jan2017 I noticed on Facebook a 50th anniversary photo, published by his wife Alla (Jan.14th), from Sint-Petersburg, Russia:
    Victor Bout, turned 50


    A prisoner exchange with the American basketball player Brittney Griner and the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout took place on Thursday 08Dec22. Griner and Bout came face to face on an abandoned runway in Abu Dhabi. The scene reminded me of prisoner exchanges at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin.
    Victor Bout came home, after having paid with over 14 years in prison (in Thailand and US).

    Victor Bout during the prisoner exchange, 08Dec22

    Victor Bout during the prisoner exchange, 08Dec22
    VB looks well here I think.

    Victor Bout during the prisoner exchange, 08Dec22



    Comments welcomed.


    Victor Bout, the Official Website
    Website of Sharjah Aint'l Airport

    Back to Victor Bout's file

    Created 04-Feb-2008,
    Updated 09-Dec-2022