Behind the Numbers


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The British medical journal Lancet recently took greater notice of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) than all western media outlets combined.  A group of physicians reported that about 4 million people have died since the “official” outbreak of the Congolese war in 1998 (1). The BBC reported the war in Congo has claimed more lives than any armed conflict since World War II (2).  However, experts working in the Congo, and Congolese survivors, count over 10 million dead since war began in 1996—not 1998—with the U.S.-backed invasion to overthrow Zaire’s President Joseph Mobutu.  While the western press quantifies African deaths all the time, no statistic can quantify the suffering of the Congolese.

Some people are aware that war in the Congo is driven by the desire to extract raw materials, including diamonds, gold, columbium tantalite (coltan), niobium, cobalt, copper, uranium and petroleum. Mining in the Congo by western companies proceeds at an unprecedented rate, and
it is reported that some $6 million in raw cobalt alone—an element of superalloys essential for nuclear, chemical, aerospace and defense industries—exits DRC daily.  Any analysis of the geopolitics in the Congo requires an understanding of the organized crime perpetrated through multi-national businesses, in order to understand the reasons why the Congolese people have suffered a virtually unending war since 1996.

Some people have lauded great progress in the exposure of illegal mining in DRC, particularly by the group Human Rights Watch (HRW), whose 2005 report “The Curse of Gold” exposed Ugandan officials and multi-national corporations smuggling gold through local rebel militias. The cited rebel groups were the Nationalist and Integrationist Front (FNI) and the People’s Armed Forces of Congo (FAPC). The western companies targeted by HRW were Anglo-Ashanti Gold, a company headquartered in South Africa, and Metalor, a Swedish firm. The HRW report failed to mention that Anglo-Ashanti is partnered with Anglo-American, owned by the Oppenheimer family and partnered with Canada-based Barrick Gold described below (3).  London-based Anglo-American Plc. owns a 45% share in DeBeers, another Oppenheimer company that is infamous for its near monopoly of the international diamond industry (4).  Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, a director of Anglo-American, is a director of Royal Dutch/Shell and a member of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Advisory Board (5).  The report also suppressed the most damning evidence discovered by HRW researchers—that Anglo-Ashanti sent its top lawyers into eastern DRC to aid rebel militia leaders arrested there. 

Several multi-national mining companies have rarely if ever been mentioned in any human rights report. One is Barrick Gold, who operates in the town of Watsa, northwest of the town of Bunia, located in the most violent corner of the Congo. The Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF) controlled the mines intermittently during the war. Officials in Bunia claim that Barrick executives flew into the region, with UPDF and RPF (Rwanda Patriotic Front) escorts, to survey and inspect their mining interests (6).

George H.W. Bush served as a paid advisor for Barrick Gold.  Barrick directors include: Brian Mulroney, former PM of Canada; Edward Neys, former U.S. ambassador to Canada and chairman of the private PR firm Burston-Marsteller; former U.S. Senator Howard Baker; J. Trevor Eyton, a member of the Canadian Senate; and Vernon Jordan, one of Bill Clinton’s lawyers (7). 

Barrick Gold is one of the client companies of Andrew Young’s Goodworks International lobbying firm. Andrew Young is the former Mayor of Atlanta, and a key organizer of the U.S.-Uganda Friendship Council. Young was chosen by President Clinton to chair the Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund in October 1994. Goodworks’ clients—or business partners in some cases—include Coke, Chevron-Texaco, Monsanto, and the governments of Angola and Nigeria (note weapons transfers from Nigeria cited below). Young is a director of Cox Communications and Archers Daniels Midland—the “supermarket to the world” and National Public Radio sponsor whose directors include Brian Mulroney (Barrick) and G. Allen Andreas, a member of the European Advisory Board of The Carlyle Group.

Barrick Gold’s mining partners have included Adastra Mining—formerly named America Mineral Fields (AMFI, AMX, other names), formerly based in Hope, Arkansas, Bill Clinton’s hometown. Adastra had close ties with Lazare Kaplan International Inc., the largest diamond brokerage firm in the U.S., whose president, Maurice Tempelsman, has been an advisor on African Affairs to the U.S. Government and has been the U.S. Honorary Consul General of the Congo since 1977 (8).

Maurice Tempelsman accompanied Bill Clinton during his African tour in 1998, and he sails with the Clintons off Martha’s Vineyard. He serves on the International Advisory Council of the American Stock Exchange, and is a director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, a
”scientific” front for his offshore diamond mining—raking the seabed into oblivion.

Adastra also purchased a diamond concession on the Congolese-Angolan border from the Belgian mercenary firm International Defense and Security (1998), and currently has cobalt and copper concessions in Congo’s Katanga (Shaba) province (9).  Adastra is a member of the Corporate Council on Africa, along with Goodworks, Halliburton, Chevron-Texaco, Northrop Grumman, GE, Boeing, Raytheon, Bechtel and SAIC—the latter two being secretive intelligence and defense entities involved in classified and supra-governmental “black” projects.

In April 1997, Jean-Ramon Boulle, a co-founder of Adastra (then AMFI), received a $1 billion dollar deal for mines in the Congo at Kolwezi (cobalt) and Kipushi (zinc) from Laurent Kabila’s Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Zaire (ADFL) before they were even officially in power.  The ADFL were even allowed to use Boulle’s private jet (10).  Meanwhile, directors of Adastra are also former directors of Anglo-American (11).  Other Clinton-connected founders of Adastra include Michael McMurrough and Robert Friedland—both involved in shady, criminal, offshore businesses in Indonesia, Africa, Burma and the Americas (12).

Barrick sub-contracts to Caleb International, who has also partnered with Adastra in the past.  Caleb is run by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s half-brother Salim Saleh, the former acting General of the UPDF. When Uganda withdrew from the Congo in 2002 following a so-called “peace” agreement, Saleh began training paramilitary groups to act as Ugandan proxies to sustain the flow of minerals into Uganda (13).

Salim Saleh is a shareholder in Catalyst Co. of Canada, who has a 100% interest in Uganda’s Kaabong gold fields (14).  He is a part owner of Saracen, a private military company created by the mercenaries-for-hire firm Executive Outcomes (15).  The U.N. Panel of Experts on Illegal Exploitation of Congo’s Mineral Resources recommended Salim Saleh be put on a travel ban and have his assets frozen, but nothing was done.

Recent interventions by the armed U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Congo (MONUC) have concentrated on disarming or eliminating the Forces for the Democratic Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a rebel group that opposes Rwanda, and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group that opposes Uganda.  (Note that the Rwanda military has partnered with its erstwhile “enemies”—the FDLR—when necessary to secure resource plunder while Uganda has its own pattern of complicity with its “rebel” enemies.  Rebel alliances are to perpetually shifting.) The removal of these rebel groups will effectively clear the eastern Congo for large–scale multi-national mining. The Mai-Mai militia, whose stated goal is “to protect Congo from Rwandan and Ugandan invaders,” has committed documented human rights abuses, yet they appear to be off the agenda for MONUC.  The Mai-Mai operate in northern Katanga (Shaba) province and in the Kivus. 

Katanga’s militias and racketeering are connected to criminal networks of businessmen, including Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, Billy Rautenbach, John Bredenkamp, and Marc Rich. U.S. diamond magnate Maurice Tempelsman has profited from Katanga concessions since the Kennedy era.  Lawrence Devlin, the old CIA station chief of Lubumbashi under Eisenhower, maintained Tempelsman’s criminal rackets with direct ties to Zaire’s former President Mobutu, and was subsequently employed by Tempelsman (16).

The Forrest Group has the longest history of exploitation in the Congo, gaining its first mining concessions before the Congo declared independence from the Belgians. The group, which includes the Ohio-based OM Group, has numerous concessions in Katanga (Shaba).  Chairman George Forrest is the former chairman of the Congo’s state-owned mining firm GECAMINES, and owner of the New Lachaussee weapons manufacturing company.

Coltan ore is widely used in the aerospace and electronics industries for capacitors, superconductors and transistors after it is refined to tantalum.  The U.S. is entirely dependant on foreign sources for tantalum, an enabling technology for capacitors essential to aerospace weaponry and every pager, cell phone, computer, VCR, CD player, P.D.A. and TV.  U.S. import records show a dramatic jump of purchases from Rwanda and Uganda during the time they were smuggling tantalum and cobalt out of the Congo.

Sony dramatically increased their importation of coltan following the release of their Playstation 2, while Compaq, Microsoft, Dell, Ericsson, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Nokia, Intel, Lucent, and Motorola are also large-scale consumers (17).  Sony’s current Executive Vice-President and General Counsel Nicole Seligman was a former legal adviser for Bill Clinton through the D.C. firm Williams and Connelly, LLP, whose clients included Bill Clinton and Oliver North (18).  Sony Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer Robert Wiesenthal is a former banker with First Boston, a supporter of Refugees International’s “humanitarian” relief efforts at Rwandan refugee camps in Eastern Congo, just before the fall of Mobutu in 1995; Wiesenthal was also financial adviser to Cox Communications, OM Group, Time Warner and The New York Times (19).

Walter Kansteiner, the son of a coltan trader in Chicago, is the Assistant Secretary of State for Africa and former member of the Dept. of Defense Task Force on Strategic Minerals. Kansteiner’s speech at The Forum for International Policy in October of 1996 advocated partitioning the Congo (then Zaire) into smaller states based on ethnic lineage (20). Ironically, while the speech was given, Laurent Kabila and his ADFL were beginning their march to overthrow Mobutu with the aid of Rwanda, Uganda, and the U.S. (21). Kansteiner is a trustee of the Africa Wildlife Foundation—another euphemistic front for resource acquisition in Congo.

Bechtel, a U.S. aerospace & construction company, provided satellite maps of reconnaissance photos of Mobutu’s troops for the ADFL invasion of Congo in 1996; they also created infrared maps of the Congo’s mineral deposits (22).  The Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), led by Paul Kagame, the current Rwandan President graduate of  the U.S. Army officers school at Fort Leavenworth, used Bechtel’s NASA maps to locate Rwandan Hutu civilians that fled the cataclysm in Rwanda in 1994.  An estimated 800,000 refugees were hunted down and killed in the Congo’s forests (23).  Bechtel’s friends in high places include former Secretary of State George Shultz (Board of Directors), former Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger (Bechtel Counsel) and retired U.S.M.C. general Jack Sheehan (Senior Vice President), who is also a member of the Defense Policy Board at the Pentagon (24).  Riley P. Bechtel is on the Board of J.P. Morgan (25). Bechtel’s Nexant Company is the prime contractor on the Uganda-Kenya pipeline project, believed to ultimately facilitate petroleum transport out of the Semliki Basin of Lake Albert.

The U.N. Panel of Experts named New England-based Cabot Co. for conducting unethical business practices (26).  Cabot is one of the largest tantalum processors in the world.  The current Deputy Director of the U.S. Treasury, Samuel Bodman, was CEO and chairman of the board for Cabot from 1997-2001 (27).  Current Director John H. McArthur is a Senior Advisor to Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank (28).

Private Military Contractors (PMCs) are also big business in Africa.  Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, helped build a military base near Cyangugu, Rwanda just next to the Congo-Rwandan border. ”Officially,” Brown and Root was there to clear land mines, but instead housed mercenaries from Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI) who trained the RPF and Laurent Kabila’s ADFL for invasion of the Congo in 1996, and the Rwandan army’s re-invasion in 1998, after
Laurent Kabila threw out the Rwandans, Ugandans, Bechtel and the IMF (29).  The French intelligence service reported that U.S. Special Forces and mercenaries from MPRI participated in the murder of Rwandan Hutu refugees on the Oso River near Goma in 1996 and even claims to have turned over the bodies of two American soldiers killed in combat near Goma (30).  The circumstances surrounding the unofficial recovery of these two U.S. soldiers remain very mysterious (31).

MPRI is based in Arlington, Virginia and is staffed and run by 36 retired U.S. generals.  It is contracted by the Pentagon to fulfill the African Crisis Responsive Initiative (ACRI).  This program includes the Ugandan military, and it supplied military training in guerrilla warfare to Ugandan officers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in July 1996.  During the invasion of the Congo in 1998, Ugandan soldiers were found with ACRI equipment while Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have implicated Ugandan battalions trained by ACRI in rapes, murders, extortion, and beatings of Ugandan civilians (32).

Executive Outcomes founder Tony Buckingham has established other Private Military Companies that operate around Africa. Buckingham’s Heritage Oil & Gas works closely with his PMC Sandline International to manipulate the petroleum options around Lake Albert, and is believed to have signed concession deals with warring armies and governments on both sides of the Uganda-Congo border. Branch Energy is another Buckingham affiliated company operating in the Great Lakes region.

Investigations of illegal weapons sales to Rwanda last year, in violation of the U.N. arms embargo on the region, have been hampered by the Rwandan government’s refusal to provide a list of serial numbers of the 5000 AK-47s delivered there. The shipping country, Bulgaria, also refused to provide serial numbers, and would only confirm that the weapons were sold legally to a non-embargo country, Nigeria, en route to Rwanda and DRC.  The governments of Uganda, Congo, South Africa and Equatorial Guinea—a major U.S. petroleum protectorate—are equally culpable in supporting the clandestine arms sales to the region (33).

Weapons shipments arriving by boat from Tanzania, and the Government of Tanzania’s role in supporting war in DRC, are never questioned. This may have something to do with Barrick Gold’s mining licenses in Tanzania’s Masaai territories. Aircraft flying between Tanzania, DRC, and from Kenya, are allowed to do so without proper documentation, record-keeping or customs oversight.

Another shady “untouchable” arms dealer operating behind the scenes in the region is an Indian-American named Mr. Kotecha. Kotecha’s interests in South Kivu are substantial, and he is openly fingered as dealing in money laundering, arms, coltan and diamonds. After the first U.S.-sponsored invasion of the Congo in 1996, Kotecha is known to have repeatedly boasted of being the “United States Consulate” in South Kivu. Kotecha holds a U.S. passport and owns a mansion in California.

When an outspoken local defender of human rights working for a small NGO (Pascal Kabungulu of Heritiers de la Justice) was assassinated during the summer of 2005 in Bukavu, the alleged killers, including a local Congolese military commander, were identified but MONUC and the international “community” took no action. The killing revolved around his role in exposing the Congolese commanders’ involvement in contraband smuggling (which continues today).

A U.N. Panel of Experts in a forthcoming report will challenge many airlines and companies for undertaking illicit flights (illegal, secret, unregistered or falsely registered) into and out of DRC.  One of many notable companies apparently connected to Victor Bout’s arms trafficking networks is Simax, an Oregon-based company using an address in Sierra Leone. However, the U.N. Panel of Experts has once again ignored certain western agencies—with histories of illicit activities—whose flights remain equally surreptitious and unaccountable. At the top of the list is the International Rescue Committee (IRC)—directors include Henry Kissinger —whose flights in and out of Congo, and internal flights to and from isolated airports in eastern DRC, are completely unmonitored by MONUC arms embargo inspectors. In Bukavu, for example, all light aircraft are subject to MONUC arms embargo inspections, but IRC flights are not within the MONUC mandate. As one MONUC Military Observer admitted, “The IRC should be subject to the same standards as everyone else; otherwise we have to assume they are shipping weapons, because they do not let us confirm they are not.”

Similarly, while the U.N. Panel of Experts have investigated and reported on certain illegal criminal networks and activities in Congo, they never attend to the top-level deals brokered behind closed doors by executives from Adastra, Anglo-American, the companies of Sweden’s Adolph Lundin (a close friend of George H.W. Bush), who have control of mining concessions in Lubumbashi, Kolwezi and Mbuji Mayi areas in the Katanga (Shaba) and Kasai provinces. U.S.-based Phelps Dodge is partnered in Katanga copper/cobalt mining projects with Lundin’s Tenke Mining.  Phelps Dodge director Douglas C. Yearly is also a director of Lockheed Martin, and the World Wildlife Fund—partnered with USAID and CARE in “conservation”—read: acquisition—projects all over Congo while CARE’s “humanitarian” agenda is also funded by Lockheed Martin.

“Conservation” interests provide the vanguard of western penetration in Central Africa: USAID, WWF, AWF, and Conservation International lead the charge. Evidence from USAID cases all over Congo quickly contradicts all fanfare about USAID bringing “sustainable” or “community development” projects.  Most notable are the Central Africa Region Partnership for the Environment (CARPE) and Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), two programs pressing hidden military, intelligence and economic agendas. Notably, National Geographic is involved in furthering the mythologies of conservation, democracy, community development, or the lip service paid to respecting and supporting indigenous people.

On to Part 2

Photos

Rape has been used as a systematic means of instilling terror in the
people all over DRC. This girl (20) fled Eastern DRC and crossed the
country on foot to find some refuge in Western DRC.

FDLR “genocidaires — children with guns — in eastern DRC.

Pakistani troops with MONUC — Operation Iron Fist, Eastern DRC, with FDLR militia near Ninja, South Kivu

The people of DRC are subject to the most egregious war crimes and crimes against humanity, as in the rural areas of South Kivu. FARDC soldiers (Forces Armee Rep of Congo) in background.

Uraguayan special forces MONUC hunting FDLR in Kahuzi Beiga National Park under Operation Falcon Sweep.

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