The man who has the TFG`s ear
The Indian Ocean Newsletter
March 10, 2012
A British marketing and media specialist is involved in the recent public relations and security contracts in Mogadishu and Garowe.
The CEO of Market Evolution, a British company specialised in consumer market studies, Toby Constantine, has acted as the go-between for the Transitional Federal Government(TFG) in Mogadishu and the Puntland administration in Garowe for several recent contracts. The firm Frontier Media Partners created by Constantine last year, was associated with the contract to set up a coastguard unit in Somalia inked last month between the TFG defence minister, Hussein Arab Essa, and the Kenya based security firm Halliday Finch International.
This company will provide training and logistics support for these coastguards. It is headed by Sam Mattock, a British ex-serviceman who worked for Control Risks in Nigeria (from 2004 to 2006) and subsequently founded Halliday Finch International with Toby Constantine as one of the directors. Prior to that, in October 2011, Constantine had been appointed advisor to Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud, known as Farole, the President of Puntland, the autonomous regional administration in the north east corner of Somalia, for the development of mineral and fishing resources. He won this contract in partnership with the Moffett Group, an American public relations company headed by the former Democrat congressman, Toby Moffett.
The connection with this American group was not too hard for Constantine to establish, because he is Toby Moffett`s son-in-law, having married his daughter Julia Moffett in 2005.
© Copyrights 2012 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved
Somalia: Halliday Finch Signs Contract For Standing Up TFG`s National Coast Guard
March 05, 2012
“With the help of several members of the international community and in partnership with Halliday Finch International we will deliver, under the auspices of the TFG Ministry of Defence and through theTFG Anti-Piracy Task Force, a National Coast Guard capability with immediate effect. In developing a national capability we recognise that we need the help and assistance of our regional partners and we will establish many of the training facilities and bases in their areas. Halliday Finch International will provide training and logistic support as well as other services.”
This is great news for Halliday Finch and I hope they can get in there and do some good. I wrote briefly about them in a prior post because they were mentioned as a replacement for Saracen after a UNSC resolution was passed.
Might I also add that HF has some serious connections. They are the personal protective detail for Sir Richard Branson when he visits Africa, they protect The Elders, and are the go to company for numerous celebrities that come to Africa for whatever reason. In other words, CEO Sam Mattock knows how to gain influence and rub elbows with the power brokers in Africa. Hence why this company has been able to edge their way into places like Somalia without a lot of protest or attention.
Now will they perform and actually deliver a good service? Can they produce results and truly help the TFG in their goal of fighting piracy? Who knows and time will tell….
Another point I wanted to make is the money involved. According to the first article, the source of funding for this contract is very intriguing. Will they really make enough money from `fishing licenses`, or will this purely be a donor venture? I didn`t know they could potentially make that much from fishing licenses, but you never know. Also, from my prior post, it was Kuwait that donated this $52 million.
Now that the contract has been signed, Halliday Finch is seeking both national and private donors to fund the operation. Qatar, Mauritius, Nigeria and Angola have expressed interest, and the firm has already secured the $52 million required for the first year of operation. Halliday Finch has predicted that the 10-year project will cost approximately $900 million, and the organisation hopes that some proportion of the funding will eventually come from domestic revenue streams, including the sale of fishing licenses.
The other thing that perked me up was the quote from the press release. I would be curious about the full scope of services that HF will be delivering. Because to me, this could include a whole host of things, and especially in a failed state like Somalia.
Also, will they be using any sub-contractors in Somalia, like SKA or even Bancroft Global?
Halliday Finch International will provide training and logistic support as well as other services.“
Who knows and we will check in on this from time to time. A private security company trying to make things work in a place like Somalia, will have to work pretty damned hard to deliver and I wish them well. -Matt
Saracen`s secrets revealed by Puntland paper trail
February 26, 2012
THE PAPER trail left by Saracen`s military contract in Puntland is as filled with clues about what`s really going on as it is with dead ends seemingly aimed at corporate camouflage.
Though it has been controlled and staffed by South Africans (associated with Saracen SA, which does not exist as a company in the SA registry), the contract is in fact held by a shadowy Beirut-registered entity styled as Saracen Lebanon SAL (Soceite Anonyme Libanaise), founded in March 2010.
Both Saracen SA and Saracen Lebanon are satellites of Saracen International, established as a limited company in the opaque British Virgin Islands registry in 2005.
Investigations by the Associated Press and the UN established that Saracen Lebanon listed as a director a certain Ukrainian national of Palestinian origin by the name of Jamal Muhammad Balassi - who was not in Lebanon to answer the UN`s questions. His two fellow directors both have records for financial fraud, and denied any knowledge of the company`s activities, according to the UN`s Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group report of June 2011.
Further investigations established that Balassi was an employee of a company linked to American private military contractor Erik Dean Prince.
Prince was the founder of the notorious Blackwater PMC, one of the primary contractors to the US military in the invasion of Iraq, but disposed of the company amidst a welter of multi-million dollar lawsuits over Blackwater`s activities. Prince at the same time removed himself from the fray, relocating to the UAE.
Prince`s documented involvement in the Saracen enterprise, it has emerged, went back nearly two years earlier when he held a meeting with Saracen SA kingpin Lafras Luitingh in Washington DC in October, 2009.
This meeting was followed by another in the UAE in December the same year, where Luitingh held a meeting with a consortium of still-anonymous donors. At the meeting he outlined a programme aimed at fighting rampant piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and the training of a personal security detail for the president of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia. Prince was also reportedly present.
By March 2010, with the ink barely dry on the Saracen Lebanon registration, Luitingh was in Somalia meeting officials of the TFG, and signing memoranda of understanding covering a training programme for TFG security forces and a heavily-armed coast guard to fight piracy in the Gulf of Aden.
By October 2010, it was all systems go.
Luitingh was in Mogadishu with a skeleton staff of Saracen personnel, and took receipt of a first consignment of armoured vehicles fitted with gun turrets.
It wasn`t long before the commander of the UN-mandated AU peacekeeping forces in Somalia sounded the alarm, complaining of "unknown military groups in the mission area", and the Somali parliament demanded the TFG reveal details of contracts with "foreign companies illegally operating in our area".
By the time the scandal blew up, and the TFG cancelled its contracts with Saracen, Luitingh and his associates had already regrouped, concluding deals with the Puntland administration and withdrawing its already substantial material to the Puntland port of Bossaso.
© 2012 Independent Newspapers (Pty) Ltd
Dogs of war muddy efforts for Somali peace
February 26, 2012
A company of mercenaries with South African links operates in the region in defiance of a United Nations arms embargo
EIGHT months after the SA-linked private military company Saracen International was fingered by the UN Security Council as the "most egregious threat" to peace and security in the failed state of Somalia, Saracen continues to run and train a private army in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
Saracen, one of a cluster of shadowy private military contractors born from the ashes of the SA and British mercenary outfit Executive Outcomes, after nearly 18 months of military activity in the region, has yet to secure permission to operate as a security provider in a region so volatile that Somalia has not had a functioning central government for some 20 years.
Approached by Weekend Argus, Tlali Tlali, spokesman for SA`s National Conventional Arms Control Committee, confirmed that neither the SA arm of the Saracen operation, nor any of the individuals associated with the Somali adventure, had applied for accreditation as legitimate security contractors.
UN Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) co-ordinator Matthew Bryden confirmed the company had failed to seek or secure authorisation to operate as a private military contractor in Somalia, after being fingered in the Monitoring Group`s June 2011 report.
Weekend Argus understands the UN is in possession of compelling evidence that Saracen has continued with military training and deployment in defiance of the UN`s arms embargo. The continuing violations of UN Resolutions 1973 and 1976 are expected to be addressed in detail in the SEMG`s forthcoming mid-year annual report.
Saracen`s operation in Somalia is headed by EO stalwart and - until the mercenary outfit was disbanded - holding company director Lafras Luitingh.
Luitingh is also a director of Australian African Global Investments (AAGI), the company primarily involved in logistical supply and procurement for the operation.
The Saracen operation, funded by anonymous donors in the United Arab Emirates, has also been linked to American private military contractor Erik Dean Prince, formerly head of the notorious Blackwater, now operating out of Abu Dhabi as Xe Services. A third shadowy connection uncovered in respect of the Saracen programme is former Mogadishu CIA bureau chief Michael Shanklin.
Originally contracted under the auspices of Somalia`s fragile Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to train an anti-piracy task force, and to take care of presidential security, Saracen has since early 2011 been exclusively contracted to the administration of Abdurahman Farole, "president" in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, and based near the Puntland port of Bossaso.
The transfer of base and allegiance followed the cancellation of the TFG contract in the wake of allegations of violations of the UN arms embargo in February 2010.
Shortly before the TFG deal was cancelled, a flight chartered by Saracen was grounded by the authorities in Somaliland - another of the semi-autonomous regions that make up the failed Somali state, and an unauthorised cargo of combat uniforms, military webbing and other material impounded. The cargo - enough to equip more than 500 soldiers - was vaguely detailed in the flight manifest as "safari equipment".
At present, Saracen apparently controls, on behalf of Farole, the largest military presence in Somali territory, with the exception of the nearly 20 000 strong Amisom peacekeeping force.
Photographs in the possession of Weekend Argus show its troops are equipped with state-of-the-art hand-held light machine guns, as well as heavier machine guns mounted on vehicles, and AK47 assault rifles.
After being fingered for "egregious violation of the arms embargo", and "representing a threat to peace and security in Somalia" in June 2011, Saracen undertook to suspend all operations, but said it would maintain a presence to secure equipment already inside Somali territory, and to perform humanitarian functions like building clinics and delivering famine relief.
However, Weekend Argus investigations have revealed Saracen has routinely exceeded its avowed brief, and seems to have been pursuing different and shadowy agendas.
At present the Saracen base outside Bossaso has capacity for an estimated 1 500 soldiers - three times the number of soldiers trained at the time Saracen agreed to suspend operations.
Moreover, over the past year, according to UN sources, Saracen is known to have brought 15 000 tons of material into Puntland in defiance of the UN arms embargo.
Other intelligence indicates that in the second half of 2011, the Puntland port was closed off for 10 days while Saracen material was unloaded.
It remains unclear exactly what the cargoes were.
Meanwhile, Saracen has deployed forces to a military command centre at Qow in the Puntland hinterland, according to sources.
There is also evidence that Saracen is operating at least four helicopters in Puntland - after UN monitors blocked the unloading of two Alouettes on a vessel linked to Saracen.
In addition, the operation is suspected to have access to at least six ocean-going vessels, as well as several inflatable attack vessels.
Funded to the tune of some $50 million (R384m) a year for an initial period of three years, the avowed purpose of the Saracen operation was to train an anti-piracy force on behalf of the Puntland administration.
However, even in the June 2011 SEMG report the concern is expressed that "there were indications that the Puntland authorities may have had alternative objectives in mind for the force".
Some of those "alternative objectives" may be linked to a "massacre" of "innocent nomads" carried out by Puntland security forces armed and trained by Saracen, according to one Puntland faction.
© 2012 Independent Newspapers (Pty) Ltd
Mystery anti-piracy program
January 12, 2012
Stephen Heifetz, a lawyer with Steptoe & Johnson, has signed a contract with the autonomous administration of Puntland, north of Somalia, to advise on the establishment of a maritime security force. Heifetz, who was formerly with the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security, also works for Sterling Corporate Services (SCS), which is unknown in maritime security circles but which has been taking an interest in anti-piracy. Heifetz`s project with Puntland recalls the efforts of Pierre-Richard Prosper, a lawyer with Arent Fox, to mount a security force in Somalia last year (IOL 631). The idea there was to set up a local anti-piracy unit with the help of a private security firm, Britain`s Saracen. The Obama administration vetoed the project, preventing it from happening. Erik Prince, Blackwater`s founder, reportedly took an interest in the project, before backing out.
© Copyright 2012 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved
Billionaire mercenary `training anti-piracy forces`
United States Giles Whittell Washington
January 22, 2011
America`s best-known mercenary is helping to train thousands of soldiers to strengthen Government forces in the Somali civil war and confront pirates operating off the Horn of Africa, according to Western officials and the African Union.
Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of the Blackwater private security company, is a prime mover behind secret contracts to train two 1,000-strong anti-piracy forces, one of which would also take on the al-Shabaab movement, which has links to al-Qaeda in the lawless northern Somali province of Puntland, officials say.
Mr Prince moved his base of operations to Abu Dhabi last year after Blackwater staff faced a series of criminal and media investigations into the killing of 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in 2007. The company has been renamed Xe Services and he is in the process of selling his stake in it for a reported $200 million (£125 million).
His appetite for risk and reward in the world`s most dangerous countries appears to be unaffected, however. According to a recent African Union report Mr Prince provided the seed money for an effort by the separate South African-based Saracen International security company to win contracts to protect Somali officials in Mogadishu, where the Government controls only a small part of the city.
Saracen has confirmed that it signed a contract with the Somali Government last March. By that time Mr Prince had already spent two years seeking a role in the struggle against piracy in the busy shipping lanes off the Somali coast — a struggle in which governments have been quick to deploy naval assets but reluctant to confront the pirates on Somali territory.
In 2008 Mr Prince paid for the refurbishment of a 56-metre (183ft) oceanographic vessel as a pirate-hunting ship, with unmanned spotter planes and .50 calibre machineguns. Since Saracen`s involvement in the Somali civil war became known, the UN has launched an investigation into whether its activities breach an international embargo on shipping arms to the region, and the US State Department has expressed "concern about the lack of transparency" on the role of the company. Somali officials say that Saracen`s activities in their country are being funded by an unnamed Middle Eastern country. A recent intelligence report seen by The New York Times and endorsed by Western security officials names the United Arab Emirates as the country and Mr Prince as a participant.
Saracen`s chief operating officer, Lafras Luitingh, was a founder of Executive Outcomes, the South African mercenary force that courted controversy throughout the 1990s by involving itself in conflicts from Sierra Leone to Papua New Guinea. He refused to comment on Mr Prince`s alleged involvement in his Somali operations this week, but a spokesman said: "It is well known that [Mr Prince] has long been interested in helping Somalia overcome the scourge of piracy. To that end, he has at times provided advice to many different anti-piracy efforts."
Mr Prince is a former US Navy Seal who founded Blackwater in 1997 and won US Government security contracts worth an estimated $900 million over the next decade.In Kabul, Blackwater personnel have been accused of using US taxpayers` money for ransacking weapons stores intended for Afghan security forces.
Under its new name the company has agreed to pay a $42 million fine for violating US rules on arms exports to Afghanistan.Erik Prince founded the private security firm, Blackwater
© 2011 Times Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved