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Lord of War
July 25, 2007 11:58 AM   Subscribe

Busting the Merchant of War. "The Bush administration finally nails a notorious supplier to terrorists—after he spent 30 years hiding in plain sight." [Via Disinformation.]
posted by homunculus (15 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 


From the article:

Over lunch at his estate in the south of Spain, 61-year-old Syrian arms dealer Monzer al-Kassar is a courteous host, insisting his guests take at least a taste from the platter of lamb with yoghurt, the stuffed grape leaves or the eggplant. Underneath the circular table, his ageing white poodle Yogui begs for scraps.

Why do all storieslike this about arms dealers, or drug kingpins, slave traders etc, always begin by portraying the person as some aristocratic gentleman? It's like they are trying to conform the reality of the person to meet our expectations of what these criminals are like, which is in turn shaped by the movies.

This article, and others like it, read like celebrity profiles. Anyone who is involved in gun running is usually a thug. They can dress well, live in luxury, and they are still thugs. You don't move in the circles necessary to be a success in that business unless you are a thug.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:10 PM on July 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


But still doing business with Victor Bout...
posted by growabrain at 12:16 PM on July 25, 2007


Ok, perhaps they can look a little closer to home to bust the next war criminal/terrorist. I think he also lives in a large, heavily secured mansion. But he's not usually mistaken for anything resembling an aristocratic gentleman.
posted by ninjew at 12:16 PM on July 25, 2007


after he spent 30 years hiding in plain sight

Which means that Clinton did nothing, nothing, to address this. If Bush hadn't had to spend so much time cleaning up after his messes...
posted by namespan at 12:19 PM on July 25, 2007


But what Kassar didn't realize was that the men he was talking to weren't from the FARC at all. They were confidential informants, secretly working for the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office and New York officials with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Spokespeople with the U.S. Attorney's office refused to comment for this story, but according to the indictment they prepared, the feds spent a year inventing a nonexistent conspiracy to arm Colombian rebels, establishing their informants' radical bona fides with Kassar, and setting up New York bank accounts with which to lure him in. For the next four months, they allegedly convinced Kassar to set in motion an elaborate multinational scheme to defraud port officials around the world and deliver high-powered weapons into the hands of a paramilitary force bent on murdering as many Americans as they could.


That's some crazy deep-cover work. Are we sure this isn't viral marketing for Miami Vice 2?
posted by quin at 12:22 PM on July 25, 2007


Which means that Bush Senior did nothing, nothing, to address this, but he had to clean up after Regan mess !
posted by elpapacito at 12:23 PM on July 25, 2007


This is great news!
Now we can go after that fucking sonofabitch who sold Saddam those chemical weapons...
posted by Thorzdad at 12:27 PM on July 25, 2007


It's only okay to provide weapons to violent insurgents if they're right-wing. FARC bad, AUC and Contras good.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:27 PM on July 25, 2007


pastabagel -- I suspect it's because the arms dealer won't read past the first paragraph, and thus the writer gets to stay amongst the living.

If these articles lead with "A vicious bastard who once hit an orphan with a three legged dog, john q drugrunner barely qualifies as human. A lack of morals and humanity informs his every actions, and he eats fast food continually", I suspect the journo in question would be shortlisted for a nasty surprise.
posted by boo_radley at 12:29 PM on July 25, 2007


Well, naturally, Reagan left a mess, with all the work Reagan had to do cleaning up after Carter.
posted by namespan at 12:48 PM on July 25, 2007


They finally arrested Cheney? Rock on!
posted by facetious at 2:03 PM on July 25, 2007


Is namespan for real? I can't tell if it's a joke. If it's not, I'd be interested in hearing about namespan's personal knowledge of the activities of the DEA and ATF agencies during clinton's administration. also bush senior's and reagan's.
posted by shmegegge at 2:50 PM on July 25, 2007


"Hiding in plain sight" is a bit of an understatement. Al-Kassar is notoriously ostentatious and a bit of a celebrity in Spain, where he has been linked with almost every shady deal since the eighties.
Actually, it's a bit surprising that his arrest has made so little noise. That may have something to do with the general downfall of the whole Marbella set.
posted by Skeptic at 2:55 PM on July 25, 2007


The US sells more arms to other countries than any independent operator. Just sayin'.
posted by bardic at 3:06 PM on July 25, 2007


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