Russian researchers in the group proposed a “third cut” explanation for these events: that they furthered the needs, not just of the “Russian government” or the Berezovsky circle, but also of a CIA-linked international drug connection (of the type exemplified by Adnan Khashoggi).

Developing on their arguments, I myself suggested in particular that “the events of the Russian 9/11” were part of a larger quid-pro-quo discussed at the meeting, including a rerouting of Afghan heroin through Pristina airport in Kosovo, which Russian troops had just occupied.[11] I noted that Dunlop had reported very selectively from his chief source “Yasenev,” particularly with reference to the Far West group’s involvement with other intelligence agencies, and with drug trafficking. I proposed in short that what might have been at stake in the quid quo pro was a major realignment of politics for the sake of the drug traffic itself.

Dunlop did transmit the drug allegations concerning one participant at the meeting,

a Venezuelan banker named Alfonso Davidovich. In the Latin American press, he is said to be responsible for laundering the funds of the Columbian [sic] left insurrection organization FARC, which carries out an armed struggle with the official authorities, supported by the narcotics business.[12]

For almost four years after 2005 I was (according to Google) virtually the only western source of information about Far West Ltd. My essay, charging them with the provocation of terrorist violence and involvement with drug trafficking, was highly relevant to the argument in this chapter, that those who profit from enduring violence can also at times induce it.

My article was also largely based on controversial sources. But in June 2009, for the first time, a western mainstream newspaper, Australia’s Sunday Herald Sun, mentioned Far West Ltd. This was because an Australian citizen, Sarfraz Haider, was one of four people murdered in connection with a Far West smuggling plot I had referred to.[13] According to the Sun, Haider’s murder

was the culmination of a bizarre plot — worthy of a spy thriller — in which nuclear missiles were allegedly stolen from the Russians and sold to Iran for $63 million. ….Up to 20 nuclear-capable Kh-55 missiles — with a 3000km range — and four 200-kiloton nuclear warheads were stolen by a shadowy group of former Russian and Ukrainian intelligence and military officers…. [O]ne version of events, supported by documents obtained from the Ukrainian parliament and the investigations of the Haider family, is that they ended up in Iran and China.

Letters written by Hryhoriy Omelchenko, a former intelligence colonel to Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchenko, give details of the arms deal. The letters also confirm Mr Haider, 53, was suspected of being part of the arms trafficking gang that sold the missiles to Iran and China…..While wrangling with lawyers and local officials over his father’s estate in Cyprus, Sam Haider was contacted by a man called Ruslan Saidov, who claimed to be a friend and business associate of Sarfraz…. “He said the theft of the missiles was masterminded by the partners of an intelligence and military consultancy firm called Far West Ltd.”[14] [Saidov is in fact an officer of Far West.]

This Australian story corroborated an earlier one in the Ukrainian press, linking Far West to the smuggling and the murder:

three other people who had taken part in the smuggling of the Ukrainian missiles had already been killed. The first was Valeriy Malev, who headed [arms export company] Ukrspetseksport: he was killed in mysterious circumstances in a car crash on 6 March 2002. In January 2004 the general director of the company S.H. Heritage Holding Ltd, an Australian citizen, [Sarfraz Haider?], crashed while driving a quadrobike (according to information from the investigation, the missiles were transported to Iran under a fictitious contract from that company with the Iranian SATAK Co. Ltd of NIOC for the supply of gas turbine equipment). In the same month the Ukrainian businessman Serhiy Petrov, the former head of the consultancy firm Far West Ltd, was blown up in his car in South Africa.[15]

The case itself was reported aroused considerable attention in 2005. Jane’s Intelligence Digest, March 18, 2005, noted: “There is no doubt that the sale of the missiles to Iran and China could only have taken place with the knowledge and cooperation of senior Ukrainian officials. … there is … mounting evidence to suggest that the sale of missiles to Iran was undertaken with the assistance of the Russian security services.”[16]

Moisés Naím, editor of Foreign Policy, later used the case to argue that, in smuggling where government officials are involved, illicit networks rather than state organizations can be the main players.[17] This important point, consonant with my own argument here, complicates the notion of a false flag operation: events attributed to the Ukraine government may in fact have been intended by subordinate officials, at least partly, to embarrass and destabilize it.

However in the course of his argument Naím wrote that “these deals were motivated by profit, not politics.” This claim was sharply contested by a Russian news agency, quoting Ukrainian sources, which claimed that the Kh-55 smuggling was initiated by American neocons, including Cheney and Rumsfeld, in order to create a casus belli against Iran.

In 2005 Filin denied the involvement of Far West in the illegal Kh-55 sales, even as he announced that his company Far West had passed $3 million in bribes concerning other deals with the same Ukrainian state agency Ukrspetsexport.[18] According to Pravda-info, he and two other co-founders of Far West, Ltd., Anton Surikov, and Alexei Likhvintsev, met with representatives of the Bush Administration. Later Filin cited fear of criminal persecution by US law-enforcement agencies as the reason for his and his partners’ hasty relocation from Europe to Brazil and Dubai. According to Filin, he and his partners were warned by a high-ranking U.S. official that they would be brought to justice for their role in the 2001 Kh-55 affair.[19] Later Filin attended the inauguration of President Evo Morales in Bolivia, where he adopted a new and militantly anti-CIA stance, denouncing the CIA as “absolute and universal evil.”[20]

Filin’s switch-hitting in matters of alliance with official intelligence agencies may have been more a matter of theater than of substance. Even so, it corroborates  a “fourth-cut” explanation for Far West’s provocations which I shall develop below. This is that Far West’s principal aim is to promote conditions that facilitate its own business prospects (including drug trafficking), and specifically the chaos that makes for future contracts as well as allowing for illegal crops to be harvested and trafficked with impunity. In would be interesting to learn if, after the exposure of the Kh-55 scandal, Far West continued to operate its “export” business out of the US-controlled airports of Bagram and Manas. An affirmative answer would indicate the tolerance, if not indeed complicity, of U.S. personnel in Far West’s activities.

A Fourth-Cut Account of Far West Ltd: an Ongoing Destabilization Machine

The ensemble of evidence now gathered suggests a fourth-cut explanation for the Russian 9/11: that it was not an ad hoc conspiracy, but part of an on-going connection for destabilization operations – not primarily to support either Russia or the United States, but to promote chaos in order to weaken legitimate government in the Caucasus, create an environment for entrepreneurial violence, and facilitate drug trafficking.[21]