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Caught Red Handed; British Assassins in the Horn of Africa
#1
Caught Red Handed; British Assassins in the Horn of Africa

by Thomas C. Mountain

May 17, 2011

In early February of this year, 2011, a six man squad of British mercenaries were caught red handed in the midst of preparing an attempt to assassinate the top leadership of the Eritrean government in the port city of Massawa on the Red Sea.
Of the six, four were apprehended and two managed to escape, abandoning their mates while blazing out of Massawa Bay into the Red Sea in an inflatable speed boat, never to be seen again by Eritrean eyes.
A search of the vessel they arrived on uncovered a cache of tools of the assassin's trade. Included was a small arsenal of automatic weapons, a sophisticated satellite communications system, state of the art electronic target range finders, and most damning, several sniper rifles.
All of those arrested have since been confirmed as employees of a British "security" firm akin to the notorious US company Blackwater/Xe. At least two of the four are former British Special Forces. As in the case of Richard Davis, the CIA killer caught in the act in Pakistan, the British Foreign Office has been claiming Geneva Convention protections for these gun thugs all but confirming their being on an official mission for the British Government.
Their arrest took place just a few hundred yards from our Red Sea home in Massawa, and happened while we were there. In the weeks and months that followed, each time I have driven by that spot, I have felt a sick feeling in my stomach, for the salt embankment they were hiding behind has an unobstructed view of the site where just a few days later all the top leadership of the Eritrean government would be gathering for the annual outdoor celebration of the 1990 capture of the Port of Massawa by Eritrean liberation fighters.
These professional killers were discovered almost by accident by a woman taking a shortcut home through an adjacent out-of-service salt flat. The woman noticed, as all good Eritreans should, that sa'ada, white people, were taking photos (with telephoto lenses) somewhere they were not allowed. These Brit "diplomats" took their sweet time scoping out their firing points and parameters of their potential killing field for their discoverer had to walk almost a mile to the nearest police station to report this and then the police had to drive the roundabout route to the spot in question.
But for the vigilance of one Eritrean woman, Eritrea might have experienced an unthinkable disaster, the loss of Eritrea's President and only god knows how many of Eritrea's top leaders.
This is not the first time I have written about an attempt to assassinate Eritrea's leadership. In 2002 and 2003, I wrote of how during the western backed Ethiopian invasion of Eritrea in 2000, a series of long range artillery attacks destroyed Eritrean front line command centers within minutes of President/Commander-in-Chief Issias Aferworki departure. In one case, there is strong evidence that a missile caused the destruction, and if this is true, it is almost certain to have been launched by a U.S. Fighter aircraft at high altitude.
Again, the question must be asked, why would the west want to kill Eritrea's leaders?
Maybe it's because Eritrea's economy is once again about to don the mantle of the fastest growing economy in Africa, and this without significant western aid projects or predatory loans from the IMF and World Bank.
More likely it's the fact Eritrea has long been a thorn in the side of western attempts to dominate the Horn of Africa, one of the most strategically important regions in the world. With some 40% of the world maritime traffic passing Eritrean shores every day, including much of the world's oil and the entire trade between China, Japan and India with the EU, the Horn of Africa may not be of concern to the average westerner, but those in power in western capitals know better.
The policy of the USA and its western allies is one of "crisis management" here in Africa. The west creates a crisis and then manages, or exploits the war and chaos that follows, to divide and conquer, the better to loot and plunder the natural and human resources of a region.
Eritrea has been the main obstacle to the western implementation of this policy in the Horn of Africa, and this explains this desperate attempt to assassinate Eritrea's leadership.
The saying is "that all roads to peace in the Horn of Africa run through Asmara [Eritrea]" and I have witnessed firsthand its truth. Peace in Sudan was born and nurtured here in Asmara, first in Eastern Sudan, then with the South, and now the ongoing Dafur peace efforts.
A grand attempt was made here in Asmara to reconstitute a new government in Somalia, though this was sabotaged by the west and its Ethiopian enforcers.
The denizens of the intelligence offices in the west responsible for Africa remember all too well how, a short two decades ago, it was a rag tag, afro coifed army of Eritrean guerilla fighters driving captured Ethiopian tanks that smashed their way across northern Ethiopia, drove the dictator Mengistu from power, and brought peace to Ethiopia for the first time in 30 years.
This past year I have witnessed a disparate collection of leaders of far flung ethnic based Ethiopian guerilla fighters gathering here in Asmara, beginning to build a consensus on how to construct a new, national unity government to help keep the peace in Ethiopia once the Meles Zenawi regime is driven from power.
All of this is the main threat to the west's implementing its policy of "crisis management" in the Horn of Africa.
With its empire in decline, suffering defeat after defeat, unable even to drive Muammar Gaddafi from power despite the combined airpower of most of NATO's European members, one would be wise to expect ever more desperate measures from the western regimes.
The western elite may loudly preach about the rule of law, but reality is that international law is the law of the jungle where only the strong survive. Eritrea is not only surviving, but ever so slowly growing stronger and more influential every day, which should help explain why British mercenaries brought their assassins tools to Eritrean shores.
Note: Some of the information in this article comes from the independent.co.uk, including the employment confirmation of the British mercenaries, their background, and the British Foreign Office claims of Geneva Convention protections for them. First hand interviews with Eritreans directly involved are the basis for the rest of the story.
http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2011...of-africa/
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Reply
#2
I think he means Raymond Davis not Richard Davis in his reference above.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Reply
#3
Magda - excellent find.

Here's some more.

The spin ("concern") from Australian ABC - back in February, but confirming some details:

Quote:Concerns mount for WA skipper arrested in Eritrea

Updated Wed Feb 16, 2011 11:55am AEDT

A West Australian pearling company says it is becoming increasingly concerned for the welfare of one of its skippers arrested in Eritrea two months ago.

47-year-old Adrian Troy, of Broome-based Arrow Pearls, was arrested in late December after re-fuelling a vessel at Port Massawa.

He was contracting to a British-based security firm at the time of his arrest by the Eritrean navy.

It is understood repeated attempts by British and Australian authorities for consular access to Mr Troy have been unsuccessful.

The company's owner Steve Arrow says family and friends are becoming distraught.

"We have just not been able to get any third party, independent assessement of his health and safety," he said.

"As much as there's a bit of a brave front, some members are really starting to become very, very upset."

Mr Arrow says they are trying to let the world know about his plight.

"The view is now that we just try and keep a fairly high personal profile for Adrian and hope that some sort of negotiations with the Eritrean Government will allow them to see that he's just a normal Australian worker and he was doing a job," he said.

The Federal Government says it is deeply concerned by the failure of Eritrea to respond to requests for access to Mr Troy.

A spokesperson for the Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd says a consular officer has been despatched to Eritrea to follow up on the requests.

This article names the private "Security" company as Protection Vessels International (PVI):

Quote:Is There a Link Between the Detained Britons with acts of Espionage and Assassination Attempts?

May 3rd, 2011

TesfaNews,

The issue of the four ex-Royal Marine British nationals, who were arrested on late last December in Eritrea, has taken a new turn after the country's president disclosed some shocking details of the incident.

According to his recent interview with the state-run TV, he disclosed that they were caught with "countless amounts of arms, including sniper rifles" which are commonly used for assassination purposes.

According to the Sun Newspaper, which has blown the story "out of proportion" in the first place, there were six of them (four ex-Marine guards and two civilian crew members) who works for a private security firm called Protection Vessels International (PVI) that provides a guarding service for merchant vessels while they sail through the pirate infested Gulf of Aden. While they were sailing through the Eritrean Red Sea, they opted for a fuel stop to Massawa port.

Type of PVI guard Vessel

According to this same source, they were later approached by the Eritrean navy and asked for their papers before an exchange of shots were occurred. During these battle, two of the ex-marines has escaped by make use of one of their guarding speed vessel while the remaining four Britons (two ex-Marine and two civilian crew members) has been detained.

No casualties has been reported on either side but the government on its 8th April Press Release accuses the Britons of "committing offences and mistakes against the country."

Various concerned groups around the world, who happen to follow the story from the start, wanted, however, some kind of clarification on the issue before they throw their whole weight to the rescue of the convicts:

Why the vessel that was guarded against the supposed "pirates" was found with 'countless amounts of arms'?

Where was the destination?

Is it related with acts of destabilizing the country?

Knowing where the president's new office and residence is located, that is the port city of Massawa, is there any relationship between the "sniper rifles" and an assassination attempt?

As any vessel while entering the territory of the host country, why the guards fail to cooperate with the host's navy when asked about documentations?

Why the shoot out and who started it?

Why the escape? They were supposed to guard the vessel in the first place not to abandon it and escape!

How many of the Eritrean navy has died or injured during the shoot out and who is responsible?

Why the British government is trying to cover up the whole issue with a threat of robust action' and negative media campaign against Eritrea?

The truth must come out by all means. The people and government of Eritrea has all the right to safe guard their security and territory. They also have the right to investigate the matter to the core regardless of the time it consumes.

The UK government shouldn't have to worry about the safety of the four nationals unless it has something to do with the whole issue and fear for any kind implication.

They are in good hands and innocent until proven guilty!
"It means this War was never political at all, the politics was all theatre, all just to keep the people distracted...."
"Proverbs for Paranoids 4: You hide, They seek."
"They are in Love. Fuck the War."

Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

"Ccollanan Pachacamac ricuy auccacunac yahuarniy hichascancuta."
The last words of the last Inka, Tupac Amaru, led to the gallows by men of god & dogs of war
Reply
#4
Protection Vessels International (PVI):

Quote:Protection Vessels International

Program Partner
Protection Vessels International are a leading supplier in Maritime Security, we are the largest supplier of armed security teams and escort vessels to commercial shipping transiting in The Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. We have completed over 850 transits through high risk areas and operate to the highest standards and strictest rules of engagement. PVI security teams are all UK nationals who have served in The Royal Marines and are considered the most professional and experienced in the industry.
http://www.pviltd.com

Quote:[Statement issued by Gray Page on 24 March 2011]

Reducing the number of ships that are hijacked by Somali pirates is a realistic prospect in the near‐term if shipowners and operators are willing to adopt a security posture onboard their ships that is directly and robustly proportional to the threat, an industry forum heard today.

Almost 100 delegates, including the former UK Shadow Home Secretary David Davies, were attending an event hosted jointly by Gray Page and Protection Vessels International. They heard that merchant shipping faced a more widespread threat from Somali pirates than at any time over the past three years*, with a fall in incidents in the Gulf of Aden notably offset by an increase in attacks and hijackings in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, where pirates roam on "mother ships" largely unchallenged by naval forces.

Up to now, shipping industry bodies have been reticent to support the implementation of more robust security options ‐ such as "armed guarding" ‐ on merchant ships, and most ship‐owners and operators do not currently employ armed guards onboard their vessels when transiting high risk areas. Instead, most rely on other "preventative measures", such as razor wire, water hoses, warning signs and dummies.

James Wilkes, Managing Director for Gray Page commented: "Understandably, there continues to be a lot of debate about the merits and consequences of employing armed guards on merchant ships and we understand that, in an ideal world, this is not what the industry would want to be doing. However, it is time for shipping to emerge from its comfort zone and face up to the facts and realities of the threat posed by Somali pirates".

Dom Mee, the founder and Operations Director from Protection Vessels International added: "There is a growing demand from the shipping industry to stem the exponential rise in Piracy. PVI is responding to this by providing an armed escort for vessels transiting through established key shipping lanes. Indeed there is palpable relief from Masters and Crew to have PVI staff on board during a transit. We employ high calibre individuals from a British Military background and use established Rules of Engagement based upon deterrence and self‐defence."

James Wilkes added: "Our view ‐ informed by real experience and a thorough analysis of the situation in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean over the last three years ‐ has been for some time that the armed guarding of merchant ships in these circumstances is a rational and reasonable response to the threat. We believe that fewer vessels would be attacked and hijacked if they employed professional armed guarding services".

Dom Mee continued: "Be in no doubt, piracy is extremely expensive, to ship owners, insurers, charterers and the customer. The human cost of losing a crew to hostage for extended periods of time also cannot be underestimated. The use of private maritime security against the average ransom payment of $3‐4m demonstrates a clear cost benefit advantage to the sustainment of international maritime trade." "PVI operates in a challenging environment, providing a high quality response to a clear and present threat to global trade. Until a land based solution is implemented to address the causes of Piracy, it will continue to flourish leaving ship owners and operators little choice but to adopt more robust form of deterrence to counter the threat."

* Attacks and hijacks in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean rose from sixty‐six [Sept. 2008 Feb. 2009] to one‐hundred and thirty‐four [Sept. 2010 Feb. 2011], according to IMO and the Office of Naval Intelligence.

About Gray Page:
Founded in 2003, Gray Page is a specialist maritime investigations, intelligence and crisis management company.

Helping clients solve commercial and operational problems in difficult and sensitive circumstances, Gray Page provides a full range of risk‐management services including investigative due diligence, claims and litigation support, crime investigation and crisis response and management.

Highly regarded for their knowledge and expertise in the field, the company's piracy experts have helped clients respond to piracy attacks in "hotspots" around the world for almost two decades. Since 2008, Gray Page has provided assistance to ship and cargo owners, insurers, government agencies and military forces in more than 20 cases of ship hijacking in the waters off Somalia.

About Protection Vessels International:
PVI is a maritime security company, specialising in the provision of embarked security teams and escort vessels for merchant shipping transiting high risk areas of the world's oceans.

A leading provider within the sector, it consults and advises on all aspects of maritime security, with the provision of patrol boats to escort shipping, security teams aboard vessels and training for ship's crews to deal with various security situations. Through deterrence and prevention, PVI is capable of providing robust physical defence for vessels as and where required.

The company was founded by Dom Mee, a former Royal Marine, in 2008 and is based in Tiverton, Devon and Hatfield, Hertfordshire.

http://www.cargosecurityinternational.co...caid=13142
"It means this War was never political at all, the politics was all theatre, all just to keep the people distracted...."
"Proverbs for Paranoids 4: You hide, They seek."
"They are in Love. Fuck the War."

Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

"Ccollanan Pachacamac ricuy auccacunac yahuarniy hichascancuta."
The last words of the last Inka, Tupac Amaru, led to the gallows by men of god & dogs of war
Reply
#5
Excerpt from trade press interview with PVI's Dom Mee:

Quote:Rules of Engagement

Dom explained the Rules of Engagement (ROE) used by the onboard teams deployed by PVI.

"We have based it loosely on the [Royal Navy] model, [and it] has then gone through our company lawyers. It does get adjusted slightly to certain flag states…[and] it is commercialised [and adjusted] for different flags. So there is no one glove that fits all….. the flag state approve our actions. At the same time we work with our TLs [Team Leaders]. We send a copy [of the ROE] to the Coalition [Forces] as well. I think the key thing is… and we have demonstrated this on the ground, is that using lethal force is [used] when all else is lost… and there is no way that you can stop this happening to endanger your life. It is down to the individual to make that decision." He added: "if someone is pointing an AK47 at one of our guys and he thinks he is going to be shot dead, the right of self defence still remain. Whatever [the] scenario, it all boils down to the inherent right to defend yourself…"

I asked what legal support they have

"We have to use our company lawyers at every stage…….we are on the radar of a lot of people ….. and it's important that we do things right. To offer it [armed protection] illegally down there is getting harder."
"It means this War was never political at all, the politics was all theatre, all just to keep the people distracted...."
"Proverbs for Paranoids 4: You hide, They seek."
"They are in Love. Fuck the War."

Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

"Ccollanan Pachacamac ricuy auccacunac yahuarniy hichascancuta."
The last words of the last Inka, Tupac Amaru, led to the gallows by men of god & dogs of war
Reply
#6
Former "Royal Marine Commando" Dom Mee is sufficiently well connected to have been give broadsheet newspaper space to refute claims that a video obtained by the British press portrayed, in the words of The Times: "loutish bullying, fuelled by alcohol, with a sinister homo-erotic streak running through it. The pictures were reminiscent of Abu Ghraib."

Quote:We're a band of brothers, not a gang of louts

The video of naked Marines fighting did not show a strange initiation rite. The men had already been initiated in the hell of war

Dom Mee The Observer, Sunday 4 December 2005

Naked, drunk and brawling: the video images of Royal Marines were plastered across newspapers this week under headlines that warned of brutal initiation rites and bullying.
I served 15 years with the Marines, including nine as a corporal with 40 Commando. I know about the initiation rites. It's different every time, but for the lads in that video, some of them just 18, it probably began in a C-130 Hercules heading for Iraq and the 'line of departure' - current jargon for a war zone.

The first time a Royal Marine goes into battle, that's the initiation. When the machine-guns open up and the bombardment starts, with the mortar rounds landing behind you and the aerial support raining bombs, nothing in your life has prepared you for the terror. It goes deeper than fear for your life: hell is all around and it is trying to claw its way inside.

Then the training kicks in. You do what you've learned, operating your weapon, staying alive, keeping to the rules drummed into you during the 30-week course that earned you a green beret. You fight and you kill and you see the dismembered bodies of women and children, and you are still only 18 years old. But now you have been through the initiation. You survived the test. Some of your friends won't have. You don't understand how you feel about everything you have been through, and you know you'll never be able to describe it to anyone who hasn't been there.

All the men in the video had completed a tour of duty in Iraq, despite inaccurate claims that they were raw recruits. They had been through an initiation more intense and binding than anything that can happen in any other walk of life. They've been through hellfire.

Humiliation rituals are for secret societies and gangs of petty criminals: they're make-believe. Life in the Marines is not make-believe. The footage deplored by editors shows men letting off steam, competing for a laugh. It's clear what's going on: two commando troops from the same company have challenged each other to a contest, in private, away from MoD land and out of sight of the public.

Both sides want to win. That's the way we are. We're warriors, and we're intensely competitive in everything. When we're partying, we don't play snap and drink cocoa. The challenge matches are usually football or rugby, and the emphasis is on contact sport.

There's a moment on the tape when the situation goes out of control, and a man is knocked unconscious by an NCO. That's bad, and against the whole spirit of the Marines. But what the news has not shown is what happens next, where the NCO is grabbed and restrained by two Royals. Everyone present knew the man had gone too far, and he quickly saw it, too.

Outsiders might think the men were naked to make them weak or humiliate them. In fact, nakedness makes us equals. A band of commandos have nothing to hide from each other, because nothing can be hidden: in battle the real man is laid bare. 'Naked bar' parties, where you don't get a drink if you don't strip, are the norm - you're stripping yourself of your ego and your bull. I've been stark naked with men who are closer than brothers to me, in the Arctic wastes of Norway, cold enough to freeze my balls off but also profoundly happy.

The media's over-reaction stems from ignorance. Most ex-Marines I've asked are fuming, not at the video but at comments like that in the Times: 'It looked like the worst kind of loutish bullying, fuelled by alcohol, with a sinister homo-erotic streak running through it. The pictures were reminiscent of Abu Ghraib.'

That last smear makes my blood boil. The Royal Marines have served in the worst scenarios throughout the war in Iraq, and there has not been one human rights allegation against them. They have behaved with complete humanity in an inhuman situation, maintaining perfect discipline even when securing towns that the Americans could not make safe.

Loutish bullying? It's physical banter, hard games played by tough men. Banter is constant, never-ending in the Marines: it is like therapy; how we deal with the demons we can't name. It keeps us sane. I had a mate who fought back-to-back with me in Northern Ireland, and coped, but then took a desk job, away from his band of brothers. Cut off from their banter and their mick-taking, he had a breakdown.

We send young men to war. The ones who come back are no longer young. We have to be honest enough to face that.

Dom Mee is a maritime explorer and former Royal Marines commando

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/dec/04...ry.comment
"It means this War was never political at all, the politics was all theatre, all just to keep the people distracted...."
"Proverbs for Paranoids 4: You hide, They seek."
"They are in Love. Fuck the War."

Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

"Ccollanan Pachacamac ricuy auccacunac yahuarniy hichascancuta."
The last words of the last Inka, Tupac Amaru, led to the gallows by men of god & dogs of war
Reply
#7
Letter to the Editor: UK Ambassador to Eritrea Says Assassins' Article Wildly Inaccurate'

by Editor

May 19, 2011

20 May 2011
Dear Jeremy R. Hammond,
I was appalled to read the wildly inaccurate article published by your magazine on 17 May 2011, "Caught Red Handed; British Assassins in the Horn of Africa".
The British government is dealing with a very serious consular case in Eritrea, where three British nationals and one dual British-Australian national have been held without charge or consular access since 23 December 2010. This is a flagrant breach of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, which states that consular access should be facilitated in a "timely manner". It is greatly concerning that the Eritrean government has now held these men for almost six months while refusing all requests for contact. The families of the men in particular are deeply worried by the situation.
The British government knew nothing of the men's activities until we were made aware of their detention. Mr Mountain's article is conspiracy theory at its most spurious; indeed, it would be laughable if it were not for the serious implications of such malicious allegations for the men concerned. It is deeply disappointing that a respectable publication such as yours is willing to show such disregard for journalistic integrity.
Yours sincerely,
Sandra T Haywood
Sandra Tyler-Haywood
HM Ambassador to the State of Eritrea
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Reply


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