The Ablyazov files: Dr. Anthrax revisited
Eyebrows could well have been raised both in and outside Ukraine following the unexpected move by the country’s judicial authorities to seize a piece of property not just connected with one of Mukhtar Ablyazov’s numerous embezzlement schemes, but also with an even more notorious figurehead from Kazakhstan in modern “political business” namely Kanatzhan Alibekov alias Kenneth Alibek, the very person who set up the “anthrax conspiracy” scam in the USA, where neither prosecutors nor courts every made the slightest move against him. Why the property involved has been seized, a half-ruined factory building in Borispol, an ancient township in the north of the country with little commercial value, has not been explained. The question is now whether the move went against the wishes of the government concerning its one-time protegee, now “wanted”, Mukhtar Ablyazov, or whether it conceals a game to thwart attempts to clinch a sort of compromise with Russia on Ukraine’s breakaway regions in the east. In any case, it is worth recalling some facts.
“Kyiv’s Holosiyivsky district court has arrested the Pharmex Group pharmaceutical plant (earlier Max-Well, Boryspil in Kyiv region), the ultimate beneficiary of which is Alexander Shyshkin, the former deputy of the State Duma of Russia, the press service of Ilyashev & Partners law firm reported on Nov. 6,” a news report in the Kiev Post [https://www.kyivpost.com/business/kyiv-court-arrests-pharma-plant-ex-deputy-state-duma.html] was to read. “The assets were arrested under a claim of BTA Bank, a civilian in a criminal case related to the embezzlement of over $6 billion from the bank and money laundering in collusion with foreign citizens,” the law firm was quoted as declaring.
The story goes back to the year 2008, the refurbishment of an old chemical plant in Borispol, a satellite town of Kiev, was started up. The new factory to which it was to become the home was set to produce a range of pharmaceutics, including anti-infection and anti-virus cocktails, meant to be marketed mainly in the USA as a remedy against eerie attacks from the dark side of the world using biochemical weaponry – in particular waves of smallpox microbes. None of the drugs the firm in charge claimed to produce was ever licenced either in Ukraine or elsewhere in the world. The company, named Zdorovye (Health), was registered in Ukraine. Its president, a Kazakh by origin called Kenneth Alibek (originally Kanatzhan Alibekov) was flown in from the USA: a last-minute defector from the now derelict Soviet Union who was also the founder and owner of a US-based company called Max-Well – a rather haplessly chosen name considering the bad end good old Robert had come to in the early 1990s.
“Exceptional academic performance”
That is how the tale began – but the entire picture became clear only much later. “The law firm said that the scam with the pharmaceutical plant in the amount of around Hr 3 billion was a part of unlawful deals of the former owner of BTA Bank Mykhtar Ablyazov,” the news report continues. “The court referred to Article 5 of the Convention of the Council of Europe on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism, obliging thee state to take measures and arrest property in which the proceeds of the crime were converted, the firm said.”
So who was, and is, “Kenneth Alibek”? His original (and probably self-posted) biography describes him as a “Distinguished Professor of Medical Microbiology” and “Director of Education” at the US George Mason Institute. “His exceptional academic performance while studying military medicine at the Tomsk Medical Institute and his family’s noted patriotism led to his selection to work for Biopreparat, the secret BW (biological warfare) program overseen by the Soviet Union’s Council of Ministers,” the article posted in Wikipedia apparently in the course of 2009 accompanied by a warning that the text should be considered “biased” reads. “His first assignment (1975) was to the Eastern European Branch of the Institute of Applied Biochemistry (IAB) near Omutninsk, a combined pesticide production facility and reserve BW production plant intended for activation in a time of war. […] He was soon transferred to the Kazakhstan Scientific and Production Base in Stepnogorsk (another reserve BW facility) to become the new Director of that facility. Officially, he was Deputy Director of the Progress Scientific and Production Association, a manufacturer of fertilizer and pesticide. At Stepnogorsk, Alibekov created the most efficient industrial scale assembly line for biological formulations. In a time of war, the assembly line could be used to produce weaponised anthrax. […] In January 1992, not long after his return from the US, Kenneth Alibek, protesting against BW work continuation, resigned from both the Soviet Army and from Biopreparat and became jobless. In October 1992 he emigrated with his family to the US, despite being forbidden to do so by the KGB.”
Alibek’s self-proclaimed pacifism in his days in the waning USSR would turn out to be a well-prepared hoax and once in the USA the dove turned swiftly into a hawk, urging the American authorities to develop pretty much the same chemical armory he claimed to have “protested” against back home. Still pretending to be the equivalent to the biblical master-smith able to turn swords into ploughshares, Alibek continued to display his scheme. “Since moving to the US, Alibekov — who simplified his name to Kenneth (Ken) Alibek — has provided the government with a detailed accounting of the former Soviet BW programme and has testified before the US Congress on numerous occasions,” the biography continues. “He has provided guidance to the intelligence, policy, national security, and medical communities and has returned to the pure biomedical research that captured his interest as a medical student.”
The ‘anthrax antibiotic’ and how to ‘sell fear’
It took a decade before Alibek’s scheme in its true intentions and acts would fall through. In late August 2002, a shower of revelations poured down on the defector’s head – and not for the first time. Among them was an exhaustive report by a watchdog called Tetrahedron, LLC (“Health Science Communications for People Around the World”). “Three veteran investigators have independently narrowed the field of anthrax mailings suspects to a single Russian defector affiliated with two heavily implicated defense contractors and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA),” the report was to read. “Kanatjan Alibekov, alias Ken Alibek, the President of Hadron Advanced Biosystems, should be re-interrogated by the FBI, according to three researchers who arrived at this conclusion independently. They say Stephen Hatfield-the military virologist cited by FBI officials in recent weeks as a chief subject was not likely involved in the mailings at all. The three men include: Dr. Leonard G. Horowitz – a public health and emerging diseases expert, Michael Ruppert – a retired Los Angeles Police Department homicide detective, and Stewart Webb – a federal whistle blower credited with supplying key evidence to federal prosecutors during the 1989 Housing and Urban Development (HUD) scandal. All three investigators say overwhelming evidence implicates Dr. Alibekov and the parties he served before and during the anthrax mailings, including the CIA. This, they propose, might best explain why the FBI’s inquiry has floundered.
The report, which was among others traced Alibekov back to what happened on his first public appearance while already attempting to cash in on his so-called peace efforts in the wake of his stranded defection – notably in the form of the company under his responsibility, at the time Hadron. “On May 20, 1998 Dr. Alibekov testified before the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress as a Program Manager for the Battelle Memorial Institute (BMI)-a leading military contractor and one of few institutional suspects identified by the press,” the report relates. “William Broad of the New York Times (Dec. 13, 2001), upon Dr. Horowitz’s earlier urging, cited BMI as the chief CIA contractor for project “Clearvision”-an effort to produce the deadliest Ames strain anthrax ever developed. It was hyper-concentrated, silica-laced, electro-magnetized, and extremely transmissible. The facts indicate Dr. Alibekov, one of two leading anthrax experts contracted by the CIA at the time of “Clearvision,” may have managed the entire programme during which the germ was sent from BMI to the BMI administered and supplied Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah. From here or BMI’s anthrax lab in West Jefferson, Ohio, the never-before-seen anthrax weapon was transferred to envelopes and mailed from four locations including Trenton, N.J. and St. Petersburg, FL in early October, 2001. The mailings killed five people while scores of others were victimized by the ensuing fright and toxic side effects from taking CIPRO-the ‘anthrax antibiotic’, according to experts and news reports.”
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Charles van der Leeuw
FUGITIVE LONG-FINGERED GENTRY FROM THE PLAINS
The story of Mukhtar Ablyazov, one-time major shareholder and chief executive of Kazakhstan’s BTA bank, tells how well over 10 billion US dollar is supposed to have been reaped through his network of close to 800 fake companies.
“More suspicious ties to the Russian defector and Hadron Advanced Biosystems were realized when investigators learned of the second leading BMI and CIA anthrax contractor, and close personal friend of Dr. Alibekov, Dr. William C. Patrick, III. Suspiciously, Dr. Alibekov and BMI had contracted with this anthrax ace in the Spring of 1998 to predict the dispersal and damage capability of mailing such a hyper-weaponized germ much like the one sent to select members of the media and legislators on Capitol Hill. The three independent investigators each cite economic and political motives for the targeted anthrax mailings. Given the high grade and technical difficulty in producing and handling this grade of anthrax, they reasoned, “white collar criminals” with access to military or pharmaceutical labs most likely acted on behalf of those who benefited most from the attacks and ensuing fright. Hadron and its affiliates, including DynCorp and BMI, lead the pack of corporate and institutional suspects, the investigators say.”
A handsome hundred million US dollar
The affair leads straight into the heart of the “East-West mafia war” in the wake of the implosion of the one-time Second World – with politics out of the way leaving the option for one-time players open to get straight to business. “Dr. Alibekov’s interrogation and lie detection at Hadron’s Advanced Biosystems,” the report quoted Ruppert as stating, “may not only solve the anthrax mailings mystery, but also shed light on the recent untimely and inexplicable deaths of several biological weapons experts. The retired homicide detective suspects Dr. Alibekov’s comrade-in-arms, another top Soviet biological weapons director, Dr. Vladimir Pasechnik, was most likely murdered. Pasechnik defected to Great Britain three years before Dr. Alibekov defected to America, Mr. Ruppert recalled.”
If the anthrax hoax that hit the USA back in 2001 and the multi-billion banking hoax that left Kazakhstan’s leading bank BTA in a state of near-bankruptcy have one thing in common it is that in both cases the culprit has appeared to be a Kazakh national. Bad publicity for the nation – therefore, if they are being exposed the news is all the better for it. But the cases also appear to be interconnected. Kanatzhan Alibekov, alias Kenneth Alibek alias Dr. Anthrax has “sold fear” in the words of a devastating article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times back in summer 2007, pocketing tens of millions in American taxpayers’ money from government funds. But in the process he now also appears to have enabled his banking sector’s counterpart Mukhtar Ablyazov, at the time at the helm of BTA, to funnel a handsome hundred million US dollar away – beyond doubt against a hardly less handsome commission through a factory in Ukraine meant to produce panaceas against “sick bombs” spreading diseases, as a variety of “dirty bombs” referring to home-made atomic explosives. Remarkable but hardly surprising detail: the sick bombs never existed to begin with and the money has equally passed behind veils.
The Ukrainian link, as described before, must also have included the entry of Ablyazov and consorts – even though Alibek never mentioned them in the open. “Alibek created this new pharmaceutical production company, MaxWell Biocorporation (MWB), in 2006 and serves as its CEO and President. Based in Washington, D.C., with several subsidiaries and affiliates in the United States and Ukraine,” his apparently authorised biography reads. “MWB’s main goal is said to be the creation of a new, large-scale, high-technology, ultra-modern pharmaceutical ‘fill-and-finish’ facility in Ukraine. Off-patent generic pharmaceuticals produced at this site are supposed to target severe oncological, cardiological, immunological, and chronic infectious diseases.”
“Extradition” or escape route?
The rest of the story came out more recently. Inhabitants of Borispol formed a protest group that warned the authorities that produce coming from Alibek’s factory could and probably would endanger public health. They also revealed that it was never Alibek’s facility to begin with. The property and the equipment had been bought with money from BTA’s Ukrainian subsidiary, then still under control of BTA proper but soon to diverted through stock issue manipulations to a number of “new” shareholders directly and indirectly controlled by Ablyazov and after loan payments fell into default taken over by a Ukrainian subsidiary of Eurasia Holdings, Ablyazov’s Russian umbrella to lay his hands on property and other collateral against loans granted by BTA through its Russian subsidiaries for similar purposes.
Initially, Kenneth Alibek appeared on the scene in Borispol as president of Zdarovye, as the enterprise had been called. In the course of 2008, though, Alibek was replaced by a new henchman of Ablyazov, Razumny, along with other new board members including Rysbek Toktomyshev and Anwar Ayzhulov. The strange thing is that neither Maxwell and Zdarovye nor the three men involved are on BTA’s blacklist consisting of companies it suspects to have been instrumental in diverting Ablyazov’s loans and their collateral at the time he carried out his master-scheme.
All this explains a lot indeed – even though it does not explain why the new clique in power in Ukraine, led by “chocolate king” Poroshenko back by his swastika-adorned proxies, has chosen this very moment to sort out a case which, in terms of stolen funds under the previous regime, is only one out of tens if not hundreds. What happened since the so-called Maidan Revolution is that the number of new cases on that list has only increased rather than decreased. In both categories, the name Ablyazov appears in the files more than once. It remains to be seen whether, if it is true that Ablyazov is also somehow connected with the funding of the so-called Azov Legion, a paramilitary force outside the law but condoned by the government, the culprit might well be spotted in Ukraine after all should it appear that the latter’s government’s request for extradition has in reality been a trick to let their “friend” escape from Kazakh and Russian justice. Far-fetched? In cases such as Ablyazov’s, nothing appears to be far-fetched…