January 11, 2006:
A Czech gun runner, Dalibor Kopp, who has been under investigation for several years, has been arrested again. He was recently nabbed in Brussels, and will probably not get bail. Kopp has previously been arrested, in early 2004. But he posted bail and fled to Liberia. Kopp has been selling weapons (mostly assault rifles, machine-guns, mortars and ammunition) for over ten years. He's been doing it legally, and illegally. He was long suspected of selling weapons to countries in West Africa that were under UN arms embargos. Using brokers in Yemen and the Persian Gulf, Kopp has sold arms to Hamas (the Palestinian terrorist organization) as well as terrorist gangs and warlords in Iraq and elsewhere in the region. Kopp was widely known as the guy to go to if you needed weapons, no questions asked. But this put him on INTEROLs radar, and led to his recent arrest. Kopp is but one of dozens of small time gunrunners who mix some legitimate weapons exports with a lot more illegal stuff. Most of these operators work out of East European countries, where there are still a lot of Cold War surplus weapons available, and officials are easier to bribe.