Procurement: July 28, 2003

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If the UN went through a strenuous weapons-collection and destruction campaign in the early 1990s, after the Liberian Civil War, how were President Taylor's loyalists and the LURD rebels able to rearm? On March 26, 2003, President Taylor openly declared that Liberia would import weapons for self-defense and provided the UN with a list of weapons it had already procured. The UN concluded that these weapons were obtained in Serbia from the arms manufacturer Zastava, using a false Nigerian end-user certificate in 2002. There was also probably another 50 tons of Serbian military equipment shipped from Belgrade to Liberia via Kinshasa, using an end-user certificate from the Congo. 

Serbian government was cooperated with the UN in determining who at Zastava exported the weapons and although Zastava is suffering for it's complicity. As of June, the company was only working at 25 percent of its production capabilities.

The actual smugglers included the Belgrade-based company Temex, Moldavian registered Aerocom, Belgiums Ducor World Airlines and freight forwarders Interjug AS. The chief sanctions buster was Temex executive Slobodan Tesic, who traveled to Liberia with business partners Orhan Dragas and Jovan Aleksic in order to broker the deal. Aerocom and Ducor World Airlines then illegally transported the weapons to Liberia, using paperwork provided by Interjug AS. 

In addition to hundreds of thousands of AK-47 (7.62x39 mm) rounds, the Serbians also shipped ten 12.7 mm 'Black Arrow' M93 long-range rifles and a few hundred RPGs.
The most-commonly seen evidence of these new weapons is in recent news photographs. There you see many of the 5,000 M70 AB2 AK-47s distributed from June to August 2002 to government forces throughout Liberia, several hundred of which were promptly captured by LURD rebels. LURD also had previously acquired stocks of RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, PKM general purpose machine guns, RPK and RPD light machine guns and a small number of FN FAL rifles.

LURD also has nine 'Strela' SA-7 man portable surface-to-air missiles, in all probability given these weapons by Guinean forces after the Guineans captured the weapons from the Liberian-backed during fighting in 2000 (although LURD claimed to have actually captured them). They probably came from one of international arms dealer Victor Bout's sanctions busting shipments to Liberia in May 2000. - Adam Geibel

 


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