[ Editor’s Note: We have another investigative journalism report from Seth Ferris in the Republic of Georgia, that 21st century “Casablanca” in terms of it being a backwater crossroads of international intrigue.
Reporting on such activity is dangerous, but often having a high profile and an American patron can add a level of protection, as such a person cannot be quietly disposed of without attracting more press attention than gangsters used to operating in the shadows (and their foreign government sponsors) prefer to have.
Georgia is small enough for many people to be unaware of what is going on. And with Western media generally disinterested, that makes it easier for someone who is interested to get interviews — particularly if they live there and are exposing themselves. There is not much competition for such work. It does not pay well and chances for a Pulitzer Prize are slim.
But Seth Ferris was the classic hook up for VT. We made the decision some years ago to pull back from the over-fished blogging phenomena and begin looking for people doing real investigative journalism versus those doing opinion, because research is involved. VT’s interest does not rest in those who rewrite condensations of the news, because they have no academic, career, or active sources for information.
Like Seth, we wanted to take a step further and offer what the others were not because it was too much work for them. Our rewards potential is slim, but there is a hell of a lot less competition. One of our big rewards is our virtual corporate media blackout. The is our Reverse Pulitzer Prize of sorts, and we continue to get it every day when none of our major stories are ever picked up, like our nuclear 9-11 series… Jim W. Dean ]
Introduction by Gordon Duff, Senior Editor, Veterans Today
– First published … February 16, 2016 –
To the casual observer, seemingly unrelated stories do not interrelate, nor do they support the scenario of a global threat. To the professional working in the arena of intelligence “fusion,” unrelated stories can, and often do, support threat hypotheses, occasionally of global import. This is the purpose of “intelligence” as a scientific discipline.
This story began in 2009, when the air forces of Turkey and Israel undertook joint air attack training scenarios presupposing the “enemies” to be Armenia and Iran. Soon thereafter, an American exploration ship leased to Germany but crewed by Israelis, the USS Grapple, landed in Georgia at the port of Poti, heavily guarded by fast torpedo boats.
This ship offloaded bunker buster and cluster “runway denial” munitions, which were soon trucked into Azerbaijan to a secret air base, home to a “lost” Israeli F15 squadron and drone unit.
Soon thereafter, as a next step according to our hypothesis, the US spent $100m for a $30m public health facility in Tbilisi which was soon turned over to a combined CIA and Georgian secret services unit. Reports begin to spread, backed by considerable hard evidence, that the production of biological and chemical weapons was underway.
This was followed by Bechtel and British Petroleum, and their private security forces, partnering with Ukrainian and Turkish special operations groups and contractors from the shadowy and very obscure “Google Ideas Group” while Sarin moved south through Turkey into Syria and thousands died.
These false flag attacks were intended to bring about an American “no fly zone” and ensuing air attacks on Syria, a response to an American “red line” but also a violation of a Russian “red line” as well, intended to bring the world to the brink of world war and, just perhaps, beyond the brink.
By July 2014, we were being told that a missile had shot down Malaysian Airlines flight 17 over Ukraine. However, we noted that Kiev-backed fighters were within weapons range when the plane was brought down, a task that would have required the assistance of a radar capability only found in the region on one of the “lost squadron” F 15E Israeli aircraft hiding in Azerbaijan.
In late 2015, workers from the Tbilisi “research facility” – the Lugar Lab, begin getting sick, being sent home with cases of Swine Flu, one of the diseases the facility was studying. Soon thereafter, a massive outbreak of Swine Flu hit Novorussia/Eastern Ukraine and spread into Russia, hitting Moscow. In Ukraine alone, 3.6 million were reported sick with hundreds dying.
Behind each of these events are a thousand facts, all of which needed to be sifted and investigated on the ground, sometimes at great personal danger to the journalists involved. The story below is part of this tale, a piece in the mosaic of what may well end up being the tinderbox that lights the fire that burns us all… Gordon Duff
The Georgian Connection – A Country Caught between Two Fires
The illegal supply of weapons from Ukraine and former Eastern Bloc Countries, such as Serbia, is nothing new to political observers and those involved with organised crime and military intelligence.
But now others are asking about the rat line of weapons transport to Turkey and Syria via Georgia, which they have heard about time and again but are now taking seriously. Questions are being posed about the possibility of weapons being transshipped by trawler from Odessa in the Ukraine into Turkey and Syria.
Unraveling this story has been a project dating back years, to when one of the weapons storage sites was accessed during an off period. But one reason it has taken so long is because those who are supposed to be interested in such subjects are only too willing to turn a blind eye.
For example, the European Union Monitoring Mission, EUMM, is responsible by mandate to monitor the situation between Georgia proper and the breakaway region of Abkhazia, including the weapons complements held by both sides. Therefore it should be very interested in the discovery of arms storage sites near that very administrative border, as they may well not be registered, and therefore not be checked by the EUMM.
When I informed the EUMM that such a site existed, and apparently belonged to a par of known arms traffickers, twin brothers, Revaz and Murtaz who work with US and Turkish intelligence, its response was: “It is not in our EUMM mandate to check this.”I asked for a copy of this mandate, but of course did not receive one, although it is in fact public information.
But now a joint investigation is underway involving Veterans Today, an American-based intelligence journal/network, and a major British news organisation –which won’t name itself, but is a surprising partner for VT to say the least.
Finally the compliant mainstream media is interested in opening eyes about what has been happening in Georgia, and how that mechanism is now being used to not only support terrorists in Syria but assist the Turkish regime in its dirty war against its own citizens—the ethnic Kurds.
Some of us are old enough to remember Air America from the Vietnam era –or at least old enough to remember the movie about it. The role US corporation Jeppesen played in the illegal Rendition Program and many other covert operations is a matter of public record.
It provided crucial flight planning and logistical support services to the aircraft and crew, including filing flight plans, planning itineraries, obtaining landing permits, and arranging for fuel and ground handling to take place.
All this is traceable in flight plans and other documents filed with national and inter-governmental aviation authorities in the United States and across Europe. It can also be demonstrated that Jeppeson has been involved in CIA torture sites. Most unusually, some of the clients of its travel service cannot be sued in US Courts as a matter of US National Security.
Jeppeson has now established a flight and ground logistics school in — you’ve guessed it — Georgia. If it wanted to choose a country to base a school for training people in the logistics of covert operations, this would be it.
Not only does Georgia have a long history of being involved in such operations, it is smack in the middle of all the current conflict zones, making it the logical place to transport weapons and other materials in and out of – which is one of the reasons places like Syria became conflict zones to begin with.
The alleged weapons warehouses controlled by Revaz and Murtaz, often protected by armed guards, are in the village of Natsuluku, which is in the Zugdidi region, not far from the administrative border with Abkhazia.
As an unfailingly reliable source wrote,
“The twins (family name Khurchulava or Kharchilava) hold the key to understanding what is going on with Turkey and Syria, at least in terms of the supply of military hardware for alleged freedom fighters. They are most likely supplying the Kurds too, and it is all about money and not about who is right or wrong.”
Of course trafficking weapons is not their official business. Murtaz deals in spoiled meat, Revaz ran the tea factory in Natsuluku. They are very well-known at local level, but for the wrong reasons, as they are tied up with the local enforcers and have done corrupt deals with the Georgian Ministry of Defence.
Few outside the region know much about them, but what can be verified is that one twin was once the Nikora supermarket food product manager in Poti, an arms trading hub for at least 20 years, the other connected with some elements of the Russian military when the Soviet Union collapsed and Soviet designed and manufactured weapons began showing up throughout the world.
Georgia had a lot of internal trouble as a result of these exports and the need for the West to control them. They continue today, the trade being linked with certain members of the Georgia-based International Chamber of Commerce and of the previous Georgian government, who most probably initially obtained their positions through this untouchable Western-run connection, as most people would if they could.
A few years ago some torture sites were discovered in the same region that the twins’ arms storage depot is in, which is still controlled by criminal elements supportive of the previous Georgian government, whose members stand for election on its ticket.
It has yet to be proven, but it is probable that these were constructed on the basis of plans provided by the School of the Americas. Jeppeson has longstanding connections with this school.
Paperwork is everything
These connections, though damning, do not constitute proof of an illegal US arms supply operation supplying Turkey. So here is a summary of the documents I possess, which are in the process of translation to English where appropriate, which spell things out a little more clearly.
- Documents 1 and 2 say that Ukraine was sending weapons to Georgia during the war in South Ossetia in 2008. They give the dates of sending, the names and quantity of the weapons and the receiving companies. Among these weapons were the following: 35 T-72 Main Battle Tanks and the technology to shoot down SU-25’s, exact quantity unknown. In the majority of cases, the receiving company is UKREXPORT in Georgia.
- Document 3 says how much the infrastructure of the Georgian Ministry of Defence was improved. It says that in 2007 the MOD’s budget was 513,270,000 GEL, but it then received an extra 442,100,000 GEL (the rate then being around 1.65 to 1 USD). Among the priorities these additional funds were allocated to meet were; the modernisation of tanks, improvement of air defence systems, purchase of night fighting technology and armaments, etc.
- The rest of the money was granted for the following: salaries, social care, missions, air tickets, additional equipment to be sent to Iraq and equipment for reserve group trainings.It appears, however, that this money was spent on transiting fighters to Turkey and Syria.
- Document 4 says that on the initiative of then-Georgian President Saakashvili, based on a joint MOD and NATO recommendation, salaries were being increased. In order to undertake this reform the ministry needed an additional 3,600,000 GEL. The Georgian government had also decided to send 1,150 soldiers to Iraq, increasing to 2,000 by the end of the year. In order to do all this and participate in joint operations Georgia needed an extra 21,100,100 GEL.
- Documents 5,6,7 says how much money was spent under various headings such as salaries, housing for military families and infrastructure improvements including the reconstruction of the military bases in Vashlijvari and Gori. These figures do not correspond with the allocated sums.
- Document 8, which is an order made by a commander in August 7, says that the commander of battalion II-s-60, Ormotsadze (surname) was being sent to Gori. The reason is not given, but it is thought that he was sent to get stocks of weapons out of the conflict zone, the same weapons that were later alleged to have been lost to the Russians. This document does not clarify whether the mission was completed but it is believed to have been. It is signed “D.Lanchava.”
- Document 9 is a list of shipping companies, the quantity of weapons sent and their destinations. A wide range of heavy weapons, including APCs, transport air defence systems, artillery, etc. were sent to UKREXPORT via the port of Illichevk.
- Document 10 is an organisational tree of offshore companies registered in Seychelles. It shows how much was paid to, and how much moved between, these front companies. Some of these companies are registered with Georgian nationals, and their ID numbers are given, meaning that they can be traced through the public register. One of the companies named is Bel Trading, which was listed in the Wikileaks document about arms trafficking which can be found on the Internet, which outlines the trafficking mechanisms and a breakdown of various other shell companies, both in Georgia and offshore.
Even before the new Georgian government came to power, layers of competing and vested interests, with short term political agendas, were shaping its policy; national security was not its guiding principle. The evidence makes clear that many of the purchasing decisions of the Ministry of Defence were economically and politically driven, especially in the run-up to the 2008 Georgia-Russia war.
Georgian and international media outlets have documented cases of corruption in arms and food procurement, such as the case of Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), and the scandal back in 2008 of substandard weapons and ammunition being supplied to the Georgian Army.
It is clear that many of the instances of corruption in the Georgian MoD were discussed when Robert Muller, the former FBI Director, visited Georgia in early May 2010 and held closed door meetings with the former Minister of Internal Affairs Vano Merabishvili, now in prison, and Minister of Justice Zurab Adeishvili, a current member of the Ukrainian government.
Muller’s visit only lasted a few hours but still, to this day, the full details of how widespread the corruption was have not been revealed. But the Georgian media has published the names of specific individuals involved, and there are clear connections between them, with people such as David Kezerashvili, the former Defence Minister, and Temur Alasania, Saakashvili’s uncle, having many business connections with the international military-industrial complex and with John McCain, the former US president candidate.
The Georgians listed above conducted a real power struggle, deriving from their respective positions in government and their still-existing spheres of influence and networks of patronage.
Even on a micro level, an audit of the Georgian MOD revealed many instances of corruption, notably the purchase of 3,000 bullet-proof vests costing a total of 2,800,000 USD from Ukraine. It was determined that these were of low quality, totally unsuitable for military purposes.
Another case was that of the multi-launch systems which rained down tube-launched cluster M-85 Israeli-made cluster bombs on Georgian villages and troops, including Georgian troops “friendly fire” near the front in 2008. There was also at least one case of electronic warfare technology being junked, lost, and the unit which operated it shut down two weeks before the Georgian-Russian war. The technology of this “disappearance” is well-documented.
Now we are starting to understand why these things happened. At what point will it be too late to stop all the connections which are now appearing before our eyes? What is most important in the final analysis is that we soon be able to a case for US military aid to Ukraine being transshipped through Georgia and Turkey to Syria