(RepublicanNews.org) – On December 8, the Biden administration announced they had brokered a deal to obtain the release of basketball star Brittney Griner, jailed in Russia for importing a small quantity of marijuana. In exchange, the US agreed to release arms dealer Viktor Bout, who had served 10 years of a 25-year sentence in a federal penitentiary. But who is Viktor Bout, and how did he earn his notorious nickname, “Merchant of Death?”
Who is Viktor Bout? The US released an infamous arms dealer to secure Griner’s release.https://t.co/MEqadja8eK
— WGN TV News (@WGNNews) December 8, 2022
Viktor Anatolyevich Bout’s origins are unclear, but he was probably born in Dushanbe in the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic on or about January 13, 1967. When the USSR collapsed, Bout was a lieutenant in the Soviet Army. He reportedly served as a translator and may speak as many as six languages fluently.
After leaving the disintegrating Soviet Army, Bout acquired three ex-Soviet transport aircraft and started an air freight business in Liberia. Although he did legal work for organizations, including the US government and the UN, this business was primarily a front for illegal arms trading. Bout visited Afghanistan many times in the 1990s but denied having supplied the Taliban or al Qaeda. In 1994 he began shipping weapons to the anti-Taliban resistance led by Ahmed Shah Massoud.
Although intelligence agencies suspected Bout of shipping weapons into several war-torn African countries, his expert personal security measures made it impossible to pin anything on him. Then, in 2008, he finally came unstuck.
Bout agreed to supply anti-aircraft missiles to FARC, a far-left Colombian terrorist group, which wanted them to shoot down US counterinsurgency aircraft. In reality, the arms merchant’s FARC contact was a DEA agent, and on March 6, 2008, agents arrested Bout in Bangkok. Two years later, the US extradited him to face trial.
Now, he’s free again — just as Russia is desperately trying to buy weapons…
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