Tracing Bulgarian arms shipments to Syrian islamists

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Tracing Bulgarian arms shipments to Syrian islamists

It’s April 6, 2017. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The Denmark-flagged Marianne Danica cargo ship has arrived in the biggest seaport in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The ship had left Burgas ten days earlier (March 28) loaded with tons of weapons, a fact confirmed by Marinetraffic.com satellite tracking data. The ship was declared as carrying a Hazard A (Major) dangerous cargo, which in accordance with the International Cargo Classification system denotes weapons and explosives. The dangerous cargo is unloaded within 8 hours of the ship arriving in Jeddah, and the ship sets return course to Burgas. The Bulgarian weapons shipments are not meant for Saudi Arabia which could not use it in any event, as its military uses only Western weapons.
Tracing Bulgarian arms shipments to Syrian islamistsTracing Bulgarian arms shipments to Syrian islamists

In December 2016, Trud reporters discovered Bulgarian weapons manufactured at VMZ-Sopot, in 9 An-Nusra jihadists’ storage facilities in eastern Aleppo in Syria. An-Nusra is considered a terrorist group due to its ties with Al-Qaeda. In spite on the ban on exporting weapons due to the war in Syria, two million shells and 4 thousand Grad rockets have made their way from Bulgaria to the jihadists in Aleppo, as demonstrated by our investigation in Syria.

Tracing Bulgarian arms shipments to Syrian islamists 

The boxes in markings in the Bulgarian language, which indicate Bulgaria was the country of origin, contain 122mm Grad rockets. They are some of the most dangerous weapons to Aleppo civilians. Moreover, these jihadists have used 73mm rounds [the article does not make clear whether they are for SPG-9 RCLs or for the Grom cannon arming BMP-1 IFVs] and RPG anti-tank rockets.

 

Tracing Bulgarian arms shipments to Syrian islamists

Tracing Bulgarian arms shipments to Syrian islamists

Tracing Bulgarian arms shipments to Syrian islamists

Tracing Bulgarian arms shipments to Syrian islamists

After our information was published, Prosecutor’s General office began an investigation, and we continued to look for traces of Bulgarian weapons beyond the port from which they were shipped–Burgas.

It turns out this was only one of many regular Burgas-Jeddah trips made by Marianne Danica during the recent months. According to Marinetraffic.com archives, this ship departed Burgas on March 7 and arrived in Jeddah on March 17. After a 12-hour port stay for unloading, it return to Burgas on March 28 at 9am. In the morning, Marianne Danica received a new batch of weapons and 9 hours later it was once again on its way to Saudi Arabia. The trips followed one another without a break, the ship did not stop anywhere else along the way. It only stopped for a few hours at Burgas and Jeddah. In the course of one month, it made two trips back and forth between Bulgaria and Saudi Arabia, carrying Bulgarian weapons.

 

Tracing Bulgarian arms shipments to Syrian islamists

Tracing Bulgarian arms shipments to Syrian islamists

Trud asked the VMZ-Sopot arms manufacturer for comments but, in spite of numerous requests, we have not received a single answer. The Saudi embassy stated that it will not explain where Saudi Arabia sent Bulgarian weapons, even though the Saudi military uses only Saudi weapons which are incompatible with Bulgarian munitions.

In an exclusive interview with Trud, Colonel Malik Al-Kurdi, a commander within the Free Syrian Army which is the West’s ally in its effort to overthrow the Syrian government, said that Saudi Arabia, together with intelligence services of 15 other countries, sends weapons to Syrian jihadists under the guise of aiding “moderate opposition” (the full interview is included below).

 

Tracing Bulgarian arms shipments to Syrian islamists
http://www.chemring.co.uk/
Tracing Bulgarian arms shipments to Syrian islamists
http://www.chemringordnance.com/

Tracing Bulgarian arms shipments to Syrian islamists
https://www.orbitalatk.com/

Tracing Bulgarian arms shipments to Syrian islamists
http://vmz.bg/

 

Our investigation has shown that VMZ-Sopot has a contract on supplying weapons with two US firms, Chemring and its affiliate Chemring Ordnance, and Orbital ATK. Both firms are US government contractors. In 2016 alone, Chemring obtained two contracts worth $47 million for supplying weapons which are not compatible with US systems (in this instance, Bulgarian), under the Non-Standard Weapons Acquisition Program. According to the official information about the company on the internet, these weapons are intended for US needs and for its allies. Orbital ATK received a contract to procure non-US weapons worth $50 million under the same program on January 27, 2016. Orbital ATK did not respond to Trud inquiries concerning which US allies were receiving VMZ-Sopot weapons.

In its reply to Trud, Chemring claimed that the information is confidential and recommended contacting VMZ-Sopot.

Tracing Bulgarian arms shipments to Syrian islamists

The ship’s owner, H. Folmer & Co. also refused to comment. Our investigation has shown this is not the first time the ship was used to transport weapons to problem regions. Amnesty International accused Marianne Danica in supplying tear gas to Egypt for use by the Hosni Mubarak regime on November 26, 2011 during the Arab Spring when hundreds of protesters were killed by the president’s forces on Tahrir Square in Cairo. The ship was chartered by a US firm, and after the ensuing scandal the US State Department spokesman confirmed the US firm even obtained the required export license.

From the interview with FSA representative Malik Al-Kurdi.

Tracing Bulgarian arms shipments to Syrian islamists

–How do you go about obtaining weapons?

–  There is a headquarters comprising representatives of 15 countries, located in Turkey and Jordan. The weapons reach us through that HQ–how, it’s not our concern, we only care that the weapons arrive. We have clearly warned the Americans and Europeans that the weapons which are passing through the FSA General HQ are going to organizations which the West has declared to be terrorist organizations. It’s a double game–on the one hand, these organizations are labeled as terrorists, but on the other–they are receiving weapons through that HQ. It was surprising and embarrassing, but we still have no explanation. Even the FSA was deprived of weapons deliveries and received very little. Those who received the weapons were supposed to adhere to a certain ideology. By that I mean radical Islamism.

More than 15 foreign intelligence services are freely operating on Syria’s territory. Even the weapons deliveries through FSA HQ are under their control. These services belong to the US, UK, France, Persian Gulf countries (Saudi Arabia, Qatar) and others. These services control weapon distribution among the rebels, with some going to the FSA but the majority being earmarked for the radical Islamists.

–Am I correct in understanding that what’s happening currently in Syria is the result of 15 countries supporting and financing Al-Qaeda?

–Yes, we can definitely say that, but the foreign intelligence services are acting in a contradictory manner. They can accuse someone of being a terrorist even as they are supporting them in order to obtain certain goals, in accordance with their political priorities, without even realizing that.

–How did you receive those weapons for terrorist groups in Syria?

–There are special networks which which handle the direct deliveries of these weapons, as part of deliveries to the FSA HQ. Another part of this aid is being sent as cash to these organizations, to allow them to procure weapons on the black market or obtain them directly from the intelligence services.
The FSA General HQ has the role of the intermediary between the countries providing the weapons and the militant units. The weapons are supplied in accordance with already prepared lists, and the HQ cannot make major changes to it.

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  • dutchnational

    Sounds like good investigating reporting.

    Follow up will be interesting.

  • Barba_Papa

    Another example of European hypocracy. East-European countries are the ones that raise the most stink about having to give Syrian refugees asylum, and yet they’re the only ones making money by selling and shipping weapons to the Jihadis that cause the very exodus of refugees.

    But at least that makes them a 100x more smarter then West-European countries. Who vilify the Assad regime, and are the ones who also pay for these weapons to be shipped. And who seem unable to see that if Al-Nusra and its associated headchopper outlets take over the flow of refugees from Syria will increase exponentially. Do they really think that under Al Nusra rule democracy will magically take hold in Syria and all the Syrians of non-Muslim and non-Sunni faiths will stay? And make no mistake, they WILL come to Europe.

    • Evgeniy Georgiev

      You do know NOTHING! Our PM (Bulgaria) The IDIOT Boyko Borisov, commits in a live video that his party is 100% founded by a German organisation “Hanns Seidel Foundation” and he is doing what the foundation asks him to do!
      Bulgarians kicks him off for the 2nd time last year, only for him to be elected for a third! The elections are fake! What to do, germans money are much more powerful that several countries like Bulgaria…
      For us only thing left to do is to go to war against our government… hope germans will not send their support for the government… But, war is not far away…

      • Evgeniy Georgiev

        http://www2.hss.de/
        Bulgarian website, Partners page, position 1 – “GERB” Current ruling political party in Bulgaria for a THIRD time, after 2 unsuccessful tries, which lasted of 2 years each (out of 4)
        http://www2.hss.de/bulgarien/bg/partnori.html
        So, you should be aware that a ship loaded with military weapons is not possible to exit any country without the knowledge of its government…
        Oh, one other thing, according to the Wikileaks, the same IDOT – current PM of Bulgaria (Boyko Borisov) is managing trafficking drugs (cocaine) channel between Brasil and Bulgaria. Pure COCAINE from IS (ISIS)!

      • Derapage

        Europe sucks! We need to start a political revolution against this shit.
        You have all my moral support :-)

    • Bob

      Bulgaria is a weak and recent NATO member – they can essentially be told what to do by the NATO leadership. That is not to excuse Bulgaria’s actions by any means – Bulgaria is happily making huge profits out of this – arms are now the leading profitable sector in Bulgarian manufacturing and indusrty – profits are up fourfold in last years.
      Now, the Islamist’s based in Syria require ex-Soviet weapons and munitions designs and Bulgaria continues to manufactures these (patent free). The Islamist’s need ex-Soviet weapons designs for two reason. First, is plausible deniability, by flooding Syria with the same designs that Syrian State army uses, both the militants and their NATO/GCC sponsors can claim they are simply captured state arsenal weapons and thus there are very few media questions being asked about where the huge volumes of arms and munitions are coming from. Second, is that for any actual captured hardware from the Syrian state army, militants actually need tank, Grad, cannon, and artillery shells to operate any of these systems – and these are being supplied from Bulgaria – although a batch of recent production Czech made Grads have been identified in south Aleppo as well.
      Bulgaria is the profiteer, Saudi Arabia is the financier and distributor, and the US is the project director in this whole exercise of flooding Syria with mass flows of weapons and munitions to maintain an armed Islamist insurgency by groups largely ranked as terrorists in any other states.

      • Thegr8rambino

        Exactly 100%

      • Emil

        I’ve written that down, but I will say that again- neither Saudi Arabia is under embargo, nor Qatar. Bulgaria is selling weapons to a companies that have all the needed licenses and these companies are re-selling to countries legally and officially. What happens with the cargo after that is not responsibility of Bulgaria (manufacturer VMZ) or the ship owner of Marianne Danica or the distributor….

        • Bob

          Actually, Saudi Arabia transfers the weapons to Turkey – a NATO state that has joint military/ intelligence NATO/ GCC control room to strategically assistance Syrian based militants. This is not resale – this is the direct supply of weapons from Saudi Arabia into a NATO state, and quite possibly flown into NATO airbases, under whose authority the weapons are then illegally trucked into Syrian territory for coordinated distribution to range of sponsored militant factions – several of whom who are officially listed as terrorists by NATO states. Any serious independent investigation of this process would find conduct in violation of international laws regarding weapons smuggling and arming of known and listed terrorist factions.

        • Ace

          You have a valid point.

          Still, VMZ and the ship owner know very well that the weapons are for delivery to the scum of the earth to prosecute an aggressive war against Syria as a proxy for the US, UK, France, Turkey, Israel, SA, Qatar, etc.

          Is that what decent people support? A stupid question where the arms trade is concerned, I suppose.

    • Mustrashh

      I really don’t think it’s bulgaria fault here. You really believe Bulgaria can make these sorts of sales on it’s own? Or is it more likely that they have been ordered to do so?

      I’m not from Bulgaria, but then again, lots of governments are nothing more then puppets. Even Trump has become one of those puppets, so it is hard to believe one small Bulgaria could be independent.

      • Derapage

        OFC they have been ordered to do so by US. Then when Syria will be under Westerm influence, all these weapons will end up in landfill to be replaced by NATO standards. Double business!

      • Barba_Papa

        I don’t believe in this line of thinking. Bulgaria is an independent country which can make up its own minds in regards to arms sales. And when some Saudi prince shows up with a big suitcase full of cash I doubt Bulgaria is going to ask for permission from Brussels or Washington. And neither would any other nation that sells and manufactures weapons. The Netherlands talks big about human rights, and about all other sorts of noble causes. And yet we’re not only in the top 10 of arms manufacturers in the world, we’re perfectly willing to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia as I type this. Bullshit may talk but money always walks.

        So, Bulgaria probably even more so, as its economy doesn’t seem to be doing much so I’d say that probably makes them even more inclined to say yes to anyone who wants to buy arms and munitions.

        • Mustrashh

          Private contractors would sell directly to ISIS if that was allowed. I’m not debating that, ‘coz it’s true.

          But I am from Croatia. A lot of our firearms have ended with ISIS as well. Thru Qatar and Saudis, ISIS gets those weapons. But funny part is, old guns and ammo from 90’s is also there. It was to be destroyed, but somehow ended up in ISIS hands.

          My country is very opposed to USA and EU war of terror on Syria. Actually, people are, government does what EU/USA says. Left and right wing, it doesn’t matter.

          Problem is that people simply don’t care enough to raise voice. Nowhere in EU or USA. Our own governments are terrorists and killing millions. But no one cares.

  • John Marks

    Why aren’t these shipments blown out of the water?

    • Emil

      Because it’s a legal cargo. What happens with these guns after the shipment is delivered is responsibility of the recipient, namely Saudi Arabia and not the ship owner, either the manufacturer VMZ

  • Kirov

    the solution: sink the ship while going thru the saudi gulf and together we sing happy new year

    • Thegr8rambino

      Hahahaha yes I will sing with you!

  • FlorianGeyer

    It would be perfect karma for the gun running ship to blow up in a Saudi port. preferably along side a few laden oil tankers :)

  • χρηστος

    a very dirty war in Syria…..EU supporting terrorists?just because US doesnt like the Syrian president?and in return it counts innocent people killed …..madness

    • Ace

      The US has a whim. Therefore it’s okay if people die. The UN can be ignored, as Wondernikki has informed us.

  • gustavo

    Very good gathering of evidences about something that we already knew.

    • Ace

      I did not know these details.

  • gustavo

    Of course, everything is directed by USA-NATO-Israel. Jordania, Saudis, and Qatar are only collaborators.

  • Emil

    With the very same arguments you can blame any other country of the world….It’s like to declare Russia a state of Evil because AK-47 is Russian and all terrorists love that gun….. or to blame Toyota, because ISIS drives Toyota!! Bulgaria exports weapons to countries that are not under embargo either by UN or any other organization and what happens after the sale is responsibility of the recipient and not manufacturer. All the listed companies are licensed and have valid documents to make the deals. If the ship was transporting illegal cargo, why no authority is stopping it?

  • Sophie Mangal