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Helicopters, Mercenaries, Libya

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Helicopters, Mercenaries, Libya

Old 17th Mar 2021, 19:26
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Helicopters, Mercenaries, Libya

This is a very interesting story that has been running since last year but starting to make headlines in the mainstream media now. If you click on the link, you may see some pictures of AS332L's that might stir some memories!

https://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/n...i#.YFJIPp1Kg2w

Magnum Opus: the real secret soldiers of Benghazi

20 men in a Maltese-leased boat evacuated in a botched helicopter plot to assist General Khalifa Haftar and the LNA: the military connections of the paymasters in a secret and illegal mission to repurpose military assets for an assault on Tripoli


2 June 2020, 1:05pm
by Matthew Agius

General Khalifa Haftar (left) with his backers: UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Egypt President Abdel Fattah el-SisiIn August 2019, a report on the Malta Independent – since then removed from the newspaper’s website – revealed reports in the Arab press of a Malta-registered RHIB (rigid-hull inflatable boat), having been found abandoned by Libyan coast guards. The Manta 2, an MRC-1250 RHIB powered by four engines, had been abandoned by its occupants who would later squeeze into the Manta 1, their second RHIB – all 20 of them, making a crossing from Benghazi to Libya at the beginning of July. Unlike most crossings, these men were not fleeing the war in Libya, but had gone there to participate in it and partake of its spoils.

Sailing into Valletta’s busy Grand Harbour at the height of tourist season, they couldn’t but notice the difference from the ravaged port of Benghazi which they had left 18 hours before.

And what an 18 hours it had been. Mid-crossing, one of the RHIBs developed engine problems and suffered a lack of steering. After deciding against using the team’s satellite phone to call for help, team leader Steven Lodge ordered the vessel to be abandoned and the ten men it was carrying instead piled on to the second RHIB.

The Manta belonged to the ammunitions and firearms importer James Fenech’s company Sovereign Charters. It had been leased to Lodge, a representative of the UAE firm Opus Capital Asset, at €240,000 for each boat for a 90-day period. A related firm – Lancaster6 of Dubai – settled the account. Lancaster6 was owned by one-time Malta resident Christiaan Durrant, a former fighter pilot who worked alongside Blackwater founder Erik Prince at Frontier Services Group. The two men even sailed the 2017 Rolex Middle Sea Race on Prince’s yacht from Malta.

Did Fenech know Durrant? Yes, he told MaltaToday earlier this week after emerging from court, charged with having failed to obtain a permit from the Maltese sanctions monitoring board before leasing out the RHIBs for what he insists was an oil and gas personnel evacuation.

The two RHIBs – advertised on Sovereign’s website as “special forces RHIBs… for maritime security operations” – had been delivered to Benghazi on 27 June, driven by two former Royal Marines. The return party, a group of American, Australian, English and South African private military contractors, had failed their mission at the last minute. But their disappointment was probably nothing that the €73,000 they had each been paid for it couldn’t assuage.

Ditching any incriminating equipment and clothing in the sea, men prepared to make landfall in Malta. Their cover story was that they were working for oil and gas companies, providing security or geological surveys, claiming they decided to bug out because the security situation in Libya was deteriorating. Malta’s immigration police thought little of it at the time, but fined Sovereign Charters €15,000 because of the absence of visas on the men, who spent the rest of their Maltese sojourn in a five-star hotel before being released by police.

But a United Nations panel investigating PMC activity in Libya had described conditions in Benghazi as “calm and benign” at the time the 20 PMCs were evacuated to Malta.

Instead, it turns out, the men formed part of a UAE-financed plan to support Libyan renegade General Khalifa Haftar in a helicopter gunship plan. But Haftar reneging on his part of the deal - he is believed to have complained on the quality of the helicopters - must have made the already unsavoury situation on the ground in Libya all the less safe for the men: four pilots, a loadmaster, medic and 14 other PMCs.Their paymasters, believed to be Opus Capital Asset, has denied providing support to Haftar and insisted it was not a private military company, claiming instead to have been involved in a project in Jordan, under which some assets were moved to Libya during the summer of 2019. But sources say the mission, named Project ‘Opus’, was supposed to provide armed groups affiliated to Haftar of the Libyan National Army with “rotary wing, maritime interdiction, cyber and unmanned aerial vehicle capabilities”. This entailed the purchase of three Gazelle and three Super Puma helicopters, which would be moved from South Africa to Benghazi using fake documentation meant to disguise their final destination.

The helicopter deal is now the subject of a criminal investigation in South Africa.

In tandem with this, 20 personnel were initially deployed from Amman in Jordan and Valletta around 27 June, 2019, but the operation was suddenly aborted on the evening of 2 July 2019. According to an exposé in the New York Times, the operation was called off on the afternoon of 2 July 2019 after Haftar complained about the quality of the aircraft.

The sudden cancellation of the mission meant that the 20 PMCs had to make the 350 nautical mile crossing from Libya to Malta in two RHIBs which had been chartered for the operation. One of the RHIBs had to be abandoned en route and was later recovered in Zuwetina, Libya.

Money? No problem

The 20 men tasked with carrying out the mission were paid $900 per day for three months. The total salary bill came to $1,620,000, which works out at a staggering $81,000 per man. Sovereign Charterers earned $68,954 for the search operation for the lost RHIB and was compensated to the tune of nearly half a million dollars – $497,534 to be exact, for the loss. Maltese company Fieldsports, also owned by James Fenech, was paid exactly $30,003 for ‘Marine Safety Equipment’, although the precise nature of the equipment is unclear. In total, the botched operation is estimated to have cost some $18 million.

Amanda Perry, CEO and Managing Director, Vitality Management

Christiaan Durrant, Former Australian fighter pilot who worked with Blackwater founder Erik Prince at Frontier Services Group.UN investigators uncovered a tangled, incestuous web of companies and company officers related to the private military operation dubbed ‘Opus’ which was supposed to equip Haftar’s forces with helicopters and PMCs, in breach of UN sanctions.

It was Opus Capital Asset which entered into the contract for the RHIBs, but it was Lancaster6 which paid Fenech’s Sovereign Charters and Fieldsports. Indeed, Lancaster has its own Malta subsidiary. It also paid for the services of a Maltese lawyer on 3 July 2019, in case they were needed to settle any legal issues.

On the other hand, it was another Lancaster-related company, L-6 FZE, which entered into a contract for the transfer of the six helicopters, paid for by Opus Capital Assets.

Both Lancaster and Opus had shared officials: Durrant as the ultimate owner of Lancaster, while company secretary Amanda Perry as CEO of Opus Capital Assets.

Key management personnel

Amanda Kate Perry is the managing director of Lancaster6 DMCC, as well as Opus Capital Asset (BVI) and Opus Capital Assets DMCC. She is also the CEO of Vital Corporate Solutions (UAE) and L-6 FZE.

Perry is also CEO of Vital Corporate Solutions (BVI) and company secretary of Lancaster6 Limited (Malta), which in turn is owned by L6 Group Holdings Limited (BVI) and Vital Corporate Solutions (BVI).

As co-director of Umbra Aviation in South Africa, Steven John Lodge, who was also the PMCs’ team leader on the ground, wears many hats too. He is the aviation manager of Lancaster6 DMCC, a representative of L-6 FZE and Opus Capital Assets DMCC.

Lodge, as a representative of Opus Capital Assets DMCC also appeared on the BIMCO contract with Sovereign Charterers in June 2019.

Durrant is the other director of Umbra Aviation with Lodge, as well as CEO of L6 Group Holdings Limited (BVI) and a director of Lancaster6 in Malta. And Lancaster6 is a shareholder in Vital Corporate Solutions (BVI).

Finally, Opus Capital Asset Limited (BVI) is a director/shareholder in Vital Corporate Solutions (BVI).

While this may look chaotic to the unacquainted, the different companies had set roles in this complex structure.

Lancaster6 DMCC, based in Dubai, was used for bank payments.
L-6 FZE, also based in the UAE, but with different addresses, was used for procuring the Gazelle helicopters from Fulcrum Holdings in the UAE. That transaction was settled from an Opus Capital Asset FZE bank account. The Super Puma helicopters were purchased from Starlite Aviation of South Africa by L-6 FZE, the sellers being told that they were intended for a geological survey contract in Jordan. L-6FZE was also used to purchase a UAE trade licence.

Meanwhile, L6 Group Holding (BVI) was set up as a holding company on the British Virgin Islands company register. Opus Capital Assets DMCC of Dubai was used to obtain survey documents.

Opus Capital Asset Limited FZE was used to charter the RHIBs and engage lawyers to draw up a disclosure form under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). This US law was enacted in 1938 and requires “certain agents of foreign principals who are engaged in political activities or other activities specified under the statute to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities.”

Opus Capital Asset (BVI) and Vital Corporate Solutions (BVI) were also shell companies used on the British Virgin Islands corporate register.

The Maltese link to the operation – Sovereign Charterers owner James Fenech, who is currently on bail on related charges over the flouting of EU sanctions on Libya – had explained to the UN panel investigating the incident that he had only been told that the vessels were required for evacuation purposes as a number of petrochemical multinationals would, for insurance purposes, require contingency plans to evacuate their personnel.

The panel, however, discounted this explanation, observing Fenech’s known close links to private military companies through his other businesses meant that it was unlikely that he found this to be a credible explanation, considering the individuals and organizations involved in the charter of the vessels.


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Old 17th Mar 2021, 21:35
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https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/25/w...s-embargo.html

By Air and Sea, Mercenaries Landed in Libya. Then the Plan Went South.

A short-lived mission uncovered by U.N. investigators offers a glimpse into the world of those who have thrived off Libya’s chaos.
Years of conflict have left the center of Benghazi in ruins. In June, mercenaries slipped into its port prepared for more battle.Credit...Ivor Prickett for The New York Times
By Declan Walsh
  • Published May 25, 2020Updated Oct. 23, 2020
CAIRO — Two former British marines piloted their boats, a pair of military-grade inflatables, across the Mediterranean from Malta. Six helicopters were flown in from Botswana using falsified papers. The rest of the team — soldiers of fortune from South Africa, Britain, Australia and the United States — arrived from a staging area in Jordan.

To anyone who asked, the mercenaries who slipped into the war-pocked port of Benghazi, Libya, last summer said they had come to guard oil and gas facilities.

In fact, United Nations investigators later determined, their mission was to fight alongside the Libyan commander Khalifa Hifter in his all-out assault on the capital, Tripoli, for which they were to be paid $80 million.

It quickly went wrong. A dispute erupted with Mr. Hifter, a notoriously mercurial leader, over the quality of the aircraft. On July 2, after just four days in Libya, the mercenaries scrambled for their speedboats and roared out to sea, headed for the safety of Malta.
Although short-lived, the botched mission offers a telling illustration of the melee in Libya, where a war driven by powerful foreign sponsors — principally the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Russia and Egypt — has created a lucrative playground for smugglers, arms dealers, mercenaries and other profiteers who flout an international arms embargo with little fear of consequences.


Image Protesters in Berlin in January calling for an end to the conflict in Libya.Credit...John Macdougall/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesLibya is a singular magnet for its combination of oil wealth and scrappy standards of combat. With Russian, Syrian, Sudanese, Chadian and now Western mercenaries drawn to the fight, it has the rare distinction of being a mercenary-on-mercenary war — sometimes, in the case of Syrians, with men from the same country fighting each other.

“It’s a free-for-all,” said Wolfram Lacher, a Libya expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. “Everyone is bringing ever more absurd types of weapons and fighters into Libya, with Syrians on both sides, and nobody is stopping them.”

Foreign Guns, Money and Fighters

Libya, a sparsely populated oil-rich nation, has been mired in chaos since the ouster of its decades-long dictator, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, by an American-backed coalition in 2011. Peace talks established a fragile United Nations-backed government in Tripoli that Mr. Hifter aims to overthrow.

Since his first offensive in 2014, Mr. Hifter has been backed by an array of foreign forces. In the past year, a powerful Kremlin-backed private army, the Wagner Group, turbocharged his flagging assault on Tripoli. But Turkey joined the fight on behalf of Tripoli in January and has thrown Mr. Hifter’s campaign into disarray.

A large contingent of Russian fighters and their weapons retreated from the front lines south of the capital over the weekend and were flown in three planes to a Hifter stronghold, Reuters reported. Mr. Hifter’s powerful foreign sponsors will likely determine his next move.

The abortive mercenary expedition last summer was organized and financed by a network of secretive companies in the United Arab Emirates, according to a confidential report submitted to the United Nations Security Council in February. The companies are controlled or part-owned by Christiaan Durrant, an Australian businessman and former fighter pilot who is a close associate of Erik Prince, America’s most famous mercenary entrepreneur.

Image
Christiaan Durrant in a photograph taken from social media. Mr. Prince, whose close ties to the Trump administration have come under Congressional scrutiny in recent years, has provided private militia forces for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates and the leading foreign sponsor of Mr. Hifter’s war in Libya.

United Nations investigators are examining whether Mr. Prince played any role in the failed mercenary operation. Through a spokesman, Mr. Prince said he had “nothing whatsoever to do with any alleged private military operation in Libya.”

“Libya is a case study of the changing character of war,” said Sean McFate, a former private military contractor and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. “We think of war as a political activity, but in Libya it’s becoming a commercial one. You have these for-profit warriors of every stripe going in there, waging the kind of wars that Machiavelli discussed in the 16th century.”

‘Anything, Anytime, Anywhere’

The team of 20 mercenaries that deployed to Benghazi in June was led by Steve Lodge, a former South African Air Force officer who also served in the British military and worked as a private military contractor in Nigeria.

The others were also ex-military — 11 South Africans, five Britons, two Australians and one American, a trained pilot. Their mission was to prevent shipments of Turkish-supplied weapons from reaching the government in Tripoli by sea.

The plan, United Nations investigators say, was to create a marine strike force using speedboats and attack helicopters that would board and search merchant ships. Investigators believe the marine force was part of a larger operation that also involved commandos who would surveil and destroy enemy targets.

Three officials familiar with the United Nations investigation, which was first reported by Bloomberg, briefed The New York Times on its contents and provided copies of documents. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Six helicopters were bought in South Africa and trucked to the international airport in Gaborone, Botswana. Though clandestine, the operation left behind a long trail of evidence, starting with photographs published online by The Botswana Gazette of three Super Puma helicopters, strapped to trucks, being driven down a highway.

The helicopters were loaded into cargo planes, one of which was owned by SkyAviaTrans, a Ukrainian company whose motto, borrowed from a Vietnam-era C.I.A. airline, is “Anything, Anytime, Anywhere, Professionally.” The airline was cited last year in a United Nations report for transporting military items into Libya.

Flight documents listed the planes’ destination as Jordan but they landed at Benghazi airport, near Mr. Hifter’s headquarters in eastern Libya.
Two speedboats — rigid hull inflatables, a kind often used by special forces — were leased from James Fenech, a licensed Maltese arms dealer.



Mr. Lodge, the commander, negotiated the deals, but they were contracted and paid for by several Dubai-based companies controlled or part-owned by Mr. Durrant.

One of the companies, Lancaster 6, is part of a network of similarly-named companies in Malta, the Emirates and the British Virgin Islands. “Prosperity breeds peace,” reads its website.

Another, Opus Capital Asset, is run by Amanda Kate Perry, a prominent British businesswoman in Dubai who promotes women entrepreneurs and was hailed by a local magazine, Emirates Woman, as one of its 2019 “visionaries.”

Reached by phone, Mr. Lodge, who has an address in Scotland, used an expletive to dismiss the accusations of violating the arms embargo, then hung up. Ms. Perry, reached by phone, declined to comment.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Durrant dismissed the United Nations findings about the Libya mission as “simply not factual and misinformed,” and did not respond to further questions.

The Plan Hits a Snag

In Benghazi, Mr. Hifter was infuriated that the mercenaries had brought old aircraft — one official called them “clapped-out helicopters” — instead of the more powerful craft they had promised. A document obtained by the United Nations indicated that the promised aircraft included a Cobra attack helicopter and a LASA T-Bird, a crop duster adapted for reconnaissance and warfare.
Unable to come to terms with the Libyan commander, the mercenaries decided to pull back to Malta. But after leaving Benghazi on the night of July 2, one of their boats ran into trouble and had to be abandoned. All 20 men crammed onto a single boat and continued to Malta.

Weeks later, the abandoned boat was found by the Libyan Coast Guard and photographs of it
in local news media.

On his website, Mr. Durrant presents himself as an entrepreneur and a humanitarian worker, with a photo showing him holding a Kenyan baby. “To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” reads one blog post.

A good part of his recent career, however, has been linked to Mr. Prince, a self-vaunting organizer of private military ventures whose Blackwater firm became notorious for killing 17 civilians in Iraq in 2007. In recent years Mr. Prince has pitched or organized private military ventures in Somalia, Mali, South Sudan and Afghanistan.


Image
Nisour Square in Baghdad, Iraq, the scene of the shooting carried out by Blackwater contractors in which 17 Iraqis were killed.Credit...Eros Hoagland for The New York TimesFrom 2014 to 2016, Mr. Durrant worked under Mr. Prince at a company called Frontier Services Group, where he led a contentious project to convert Thrush crop duster airplanes into cheap warplanes. The project was later transferred to a Bulgarian company linked to Mr. Prince, which called it the LASA T-Bird — the same plane promised to Mr. Hifter.

In 2017, Mr. Durrant was linked to Mr. Prince’s proposal for a private air force to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan when Mr. Prince listed Lancaster 6 as a partner company in a submission to the Defense Department, The Military Times reported.
Mr. Durrant likes to flaunt his familiarity with Washington. His Facebook profile photo shows him wearing sunglasses at the podium of the press room at the Pentagon. An avid sailor, he co-owns a trimaran yacht with Mr. Prince, and last month posted photos of a catamaran emblazoned with the Blackwater logo on sale for $25,000. The same craft has been registered in Mr. Prince’s name.

Last July, as the mercenary operation in Libya was underway, Opus Capital, the Emirati firm, paid at least $60,000 to the Washington lobbyists Federal Associates to pitch the White House on what it called “geopolitical issues in Africa.”

Both Opus Capital and Lancaster 6 were cooperating with the United Nations investigators and had offered to meet them, said the spokeswoman for Mr. Durrant.

Mr. Prince had no role in the companies, she said. “He is not a shareholder, director or working in either company,” she said.

‘Joke’ of an Embargo

The international arms embargo on Libya is notoriously toothless. Anyone violating it faces a possible travel ban and an asset freeze yet only two non-Libyan nationals, both Eritrean people smugglers, have ever been sanctioned. Even senior United Nations officials call the embargo “a joke.”

Big powers cannot agree on who should be sanctioned, either because they are openly at odds over Libya, or, like the United States, have vacillating and contradictory policies.
While the United States officially supports the government in Tripoli, Mr. Trump has expressed support for Mr. Hifter, and last year his senior officials effectively greenlighted Mr. Hifter’s assault on Tripoli.


Image
Khalifa Hifter, the military commander, on a billboard in Benghazi.Credit...Ivor Prickett for The New York TimesThe mercenary operation came two months later.

The investigation into the mercenary operation is continuing. Officials say there is enough evidence already against some individuals to warrant sanctions.

But so far the only legal action has come from Malta, where the police last month charged the arms dealer, Mr. Fenech, and four of his employees with violating European Union sanctions for supplying the mercenaries with speedboats.

Mr. Fenech denied any wrongdoing. “We have just chartered 2 vessels on a bare boat agreement and have found ourselves in a very unbelievable situation,” he said in an email.

Mr. Fenech also has business ties with Mr. Prince. In 2018 they launched
, which sells ammunition for assault rifles, knives and watches under the Blackwater brand.

Libya’s chaotic war is so freewheeling that some profiteers have even managed to work both sides of the front line. But it can be risky.

On Aug. 5, a drone operated by Mr. Hifter’s forces bombed a cargo plane on the runway at Misurata, in government-held territory. It was the same SkyAviaTrans cargo plane that had delivered a helicopter to Mr. Hifter a month earlier.

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Old 17th Mar 2021, 21:43
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Investigators uncover roles of mercenaries in UAE-backed Libya helicopter gunship plan

https://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/national/102575/investigators_mercenaries_haftar_uae_libya_helicopter_gunshi p_plan#.YFJn8Z1KiF4

REVEALED • Names of pilots, loadmaster, and medic all part of team that used Malta companies to channel payments from UAE to British Virgin Islands companies


26 May 2020, 6:30am
by Matthew Agius

Left: one of the helicopters being transported through Botswana, and right, the Manta-2 RHIB found by Libyan coastguards

TWEET SHAREThe 20 private military contractors (PMCs) who were evacuated from war-torn Libya aboard two Malta-leased RHIBs and to Valletta, were aviation experts getting ready to operate assault helicopters, MaltaToday has learnt.

A full list of names in this newspaper’s possession clearly shows the men who arrived at the Valletta seaport on the Manta-1 rigid inflatable boat on 3 July were not oil and gas personnel, but PMCs with evident military experience.

The men were released from their arrest by police two days after the Maltese company that leased them the two RHIBs, Sovereign Charters, accepted to pay a €15,000 fine for immigration irregularities.

READ MORE • Suspected mercenaries were released from arrest after two days

Now police investigators have learned that the men were specialist pilots engaged to operate six utility and support helicopters, to be armed for “assault and interdiction operations”; as well as seacraft from Malta with maritime interdiction capability to target the sea supply route for weapons from Turkey to the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

They included team leader Steven Lodge, a pilot; and pilots Travis Maki of geosciences firm Bridgeporth, Ryan Hogan, and Matthew Coughlin; Andrew Furness was identified as the helicopter loadmaster in the mission; other PMCs were South Africans Sean Baker, a medic, Hendrik Bam, Christian Du Preez, Andre Greyvenstein, Gilliam and Joseph Joubert, Rudi Koekemoer, Quintan Paul, Lucas Schutte and Abel Smit; Britons Michael Allen, David Button, coxswains Sean Callaghan Louw and Andrew Scott Ritchie, a former Royal Marines commando, and Australian Richard Parish.
Business connections

The two RHIBs were leased by James Fenech’s Sovereign Charterers to UAE firm Opus Capital Asset FZE, whose managing director Amanda Perry is the company secretary of Lancaster 6 Limited, a Malta company – as well as managing director of UAE firm Lancaster6 DMCC and CEO of L-6 FZE.

Lancaster 6 is owned by former Australian fighter pilot and sometime Malta resident Christiaan Durrant, a former associate of Blackwater founder Erik Prince. Prince is the brother of the US Secretary for Education under the Trump Administration, Betsy DeVos.

Lancaster 6 owner Christiaan Durrant

Opus Capital CEO Amanda PerryFenech is now the subject of a criminal case in which he is charged with breaching EU sanctions on Libya. Durrant is the CEO of the BVI-registered company L6 Group Holdings, which ultimately owns Lancaster 6.

In information seen by MaltaToday, the UAE companies Lancaster 6 and L-6 FZE supplied ‘Project Opus’ with three SA341 Gazelle helicopters and three AS332 Super-Puma helicopters – procured from South Africa – as well as the two Malta RHIBs.The helicopters were to be armed with 7.62mm medium machine guns and destined for Haftar’s forces, which are supported by the UAE, as well as Russian mercenaries and Egypt.

In addition to these, plans were in the works for the procurement of an AH-1F Cobra attack helicopter – a deadly gunship normally armed with missiles, rockets and a three barrel 20mm autocannon.

James Fenech (left) with Nicola Bandini, with whom he has an ammunitions components firm in Italy that has a trademark agreement for Erik Prince’s Blackwater AmmunitionInvestigators found that Fenech’s Sovereign Charterers leased the two RHIBs – Manta-1 and Manta-2 – to Opus Capital Asset FZE, represented by Steven John Lodge, for €2,500 per day each for a ninety-day period from 20 June to 17 September 2019, a total of €240,000 per RHIB.

The account was settled by funds transferred from a Lancaster6 DMCC bank account.

The six military helicopters were procured from South Africa in June 2019, transported by flatbed truck to Botswana and subsequently to Benghazi.

The 20 private military contractors were deployed to Benghazi from Amman, Jordan in late June 2019, arriving on board a commercial turboprop cargo plane.

The operators’ cover story was that the equipment was procured for a “geophysical and hyperspectral survey of Jordan”. False documentation, including false customs declarations and air waybills allowed transit of the helicopters through Botswana and finally into Libya.

http://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/25/world/middleeast/libya-mercenaries-arms-embargo.html, the operation was aborted on the afternoon of 2 July 2019 after Haftar complained about the quality of the aircraft, with the 20 private military operatives being evacuated from Benghazi to Valletta on board the two RHIBs. One of their boats ran into trouble and had to be abandoned. All 20 men crammed onto a single boat and continued to Malta. Weeks later, the abandoned boat was found by the Libyan Coast Guard and photographs of it
in local news media. Both Opus Capital and Lancaster 6 were cooperating with the United Nations investigators and had offered to meet them.
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Old 18th Mar 2021, 00:55
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Moral to the story, don’t try a bait and switch with a warlord?
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Old 18th Mar 2021, 01:31
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They must have balls of steel.. to think about getting into those helicopters, that said it apparently is the least of their problems!
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Old 18th Mar 2021, 22:17
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And there's more in here. This is a very long and detailed article, too big to copy onto here, but very interesting reading.

https://theintercept.com/2021/02/26/...-weapons-opus/

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Old 19th Mar 2021, 00:40
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This is the link to the UN report and the principal source of information in the articles above. The three Super Pumas referred to in the report are the former G-TIGG, G-BLXR and G-TIGO.

https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/...df?OpenElement
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