Starting in 2017 we featured a series of reports on the work of investigative journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, who after authoring a bombshell report for Sofia-based Trud Newspaper, was interrogated by Bulgarian authorities and fired from her job as a correspondent for the outlet.
She had uncovered a massive covert weapons shipment network to terror groups in Syria via diplomatic flights originating in the Caucuses and Eastern Europe under the watch of the CIA and other intelligence agencies based on uncovering leaked emails, flight logs, and weapons purchasing receipts.
As Forbes reported at the time, the issue of Western sourced weapons and state funds covertly diverted to ISIS as part of efforts to back “rebels” fighting Assad in Syria was briefly taken up by the Council of Europe, based in part on Gaytandzhieva’s own fearless investigations and being fired for the original report.
Forbes had detailed in an unprecedented instance of a major mainstream US outlet paying attention to the scandal:
“On January 23, 2017, a motion for a resolution on European weapons and funds for Daesh was tabled at the Council of Europe by Mr Pieter Omtzigt MP and others. It received support from several members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (the Assembly). The motion has not been discussed in the Assembly and commits only the 48 parliamentarians who signed the motion.”
In a surprising admission for the establishment publication, Forbes continued to emphasize the “clear chain of supply” of weapons from European states to ISIS militants in Syria:
“The recent motion for the resolution makes clear that the mere fact that the weapons were produced in Bulgaria or Romania does not imply the states as cooperating with Daesh. However, there exists a clear chain of supply that cannot be neglected. The motion further refers to a case of a Bulgarian journalist and whistleblower, Ms Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, who, after uncovering such weapon trafficking, was allegedly dismissed from her job.”
Though the Council of Europe motion did not make much headway, and with the illegal weapons pipeline across Eastern Europe and the Balkans continuing, as more recent investigations of Gaytandzhieva reveal, her work was vindicated by similar reports in such mainstream outlets as Foreign Policy, Buzzfeed, Wired, and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN).
Since then, the investigative journalist and weapons trafficking expert has founded a monitoring and research site called Arms Watch, which can be described as a ‘WikiLeaks of covert arms trade’ of sorts, given the vast leaked documentation published there on covert US weapons shipments being channeled to the Middle East via the Balkans.
It defines its mission as involving “independent investigative journalists, war correspondents and volunteers” who “track weapons, governments that fuel wars, and document war crimes” — and features dozens of explosive leaked documents and emails exposing continuing covert arms shipments to bad actors in the Middle East.
Most recently Arms Watch published emails exposing how British shell companies were used as cover for a US government program to arm militants in Syria, called in internal memos ‘Task Force Smoking Gun’.
Years after the height of the CIA billion dollar program ‘Timber Sycamore’, and after the US Department of Defense ‘Train and Equip’ program, more and more details of the nuts and bolts of covert aid to jihadists in the Levant are falling into place. This includes the following, as documented in one of Arms Watch’s latest reports:
“New leaked documents expose for the first time a secret US Special Operations Command unit code named Task Force Smoking Gun. It has been deployed in Croatia since 2017 and tasked with diverting tons of arms and ammunition from Europe to Syria.
“Recently I anonymously received explosive documents about arms deals between the US Government and the Serbian state owned-arms manufacturer Krusik, including contracts, e-mails, internal memos, photos, delivery schedules, and packing lists of weapons with lot numbers and their buyers. Among the leaked documents I also received scanned passports of arms dealers and government officials from the US. They have visited Krusik to buy weapons for the Pentagon Train and Equip program for militants in Syria.”
The “tons of arms and ammunition” had the close involvement and coordination of a British ‘middle-man’ of sorts, in the form of a British broker using front companies.
Founder of Arms Watch, Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, in a previous Bulgarian television report from Aleppo documenting an illegal arms ‘rat line’ from the US and Europe into Syria.
Citing a leaked email allegedly from a British arms dealer, the report continues:
“We have received the attached list of items for the US Government. The request is for USG Special Operations Command, end user Iraqi Ministry of Defence (via Kuwait)”, writes a British arms dealer, Lynn Timckle, director of the UK-based Imber Enterprises Limited in a leaked e-mail to the Serbian arms manufacturer Krusik. The e-mail dated 21 January 2016 includes the US Government list of weapons that need to be purchased from arms factories across Eastern Europe.”
The exhaustively documented story, including related emails, flight logs, passports, and weapons End User Certificates can be viewed at Arms Watch.
Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, you are a hero and the best of humanity. Thank you for inspiring us and giving us hope!