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The Battle of the Diamond & The Peep o’ Day Boys

The Battle of the Diamond & The Peep o’ Day Boys

 

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The Battle of the Diamond was a planned confrontation between the Catholic Defenders and the Protestant Peep o’ Day Boys that took place on 21 September 1795 near Loughgall, County Armagh, Ireland.

The Peep o’ Day Boys were the victors, killing some 30 Defenders, with no casualties in return. It led to the foundation of the Orange Order and the onset of:

 

“the Armagh outrages”.

 

Background

In the 1780s, County Armagh was the most populous county in Ireland, and the centre of its linen industry. Its population was equally split between Protestants, who were dominant north of the county, and Catholics, who were dominant in the south. Sectarian tensions had been increasing throughout the decade and were exacerbated by the relaxing of some of the Penal Laws, failure to enforce others, and the entry of Catholics into the linen industry at a time when land was scarce and wages were decreasing due to pressure from the mechanised cotton industry. This led to fierce competition to rent patches of land near markets.

 

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By 1784, sectarian fighting had broken out between gangs of Protestants and Catholics. The Protestants re-organised themselves as the Peep o’ Day Boys, with the Catholics forming the Defenders. The next decade would see an escalation in the violence between the two and the local population as homes were raided and wrecked

Planned confrontation

 

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The Diamond, which was a predominantly Protestant area, is a minor crossroads in County Armagh, lying almost half-way between Loughgall and Portadown. For several days groups from both sides had been arriving at the crossroads. The Defenders had made their base on Faughart Hill in the townland of Tullymore, less than a quarter of a mile south-west of The Diamond.

The Peep o’ Day Boys, which historian Connolly states were of the “Orange Boys” faction,encamped on a hill in the townland of Grange More to the north-east.

Word of a planned confrontation appears to have been widespread well before it took place, even being gossiped about by militia-men stationed Dublin and Westport.[

Catholic Bernard Coile, from Lurgan, County Armagh, who had rose to become a merchant in the linen industry, called upon the local two parishes to agree to a non-aggression pact. This appears to have succeeded in regards to the Lurgan area, were no Lurgan men were amongst the combatants. There would also seem to have been adequate time for preparations, with one County Tyrone militia-man sending home a guinea to purchase a musket for the Defenders,  and Peep o’ Day Boys scouring Moy, County Tyrone for gunpowder.

The fact word seems to have been so widespread meant that the government could not have been unaware that trouble was stirring.

The Peep o’ Day Boys are cited in three accounts of the battle as possessing Volunteer muskets, with additional weapons provided by local squires.  One account, by Charles Teeling, who had given up hopes of being a mediator, stated that on his return to Lisburn, County Down, he saw re-formed Volunteer corps with all of their equipment heading for The Diamond.

The Defenders on the other hand may not all have been armed and possessing lesser quality firearms.

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The days before the battle

The numbers had increased so much that by Friday 18 September 1795, a local magistrate, Captain Joseph Atkinson, who lived about a mile north of The Diamond, called for a peace conference between four Protestant landowners and three Catholic priests.  A priest accompanying the Defenders persuaded them to seek a truce after a group called the “Bleary Boys” came from County Down to reinforce the Peep o’ Day Boys.

At some point large numbers of Defender reinforcements from counties Londonderry and Tyrone are claimed to have been prevented from crossing the River Blackwater by James Verner and his sons who led a detachment of the North-Mayo militia, based in Dungannon, northwards to seize the boats by the river.

The Defenders failed to await substantial reinforcements from Ballygawley, County Tyrone and Keady, County Armagh, and were starting to become panicked by the situation, being on enemy soil and winter not far away.

The landowners summoned by Atkinson were: Robert Camden Cope, of the grand Loughgall Manor, MP for County Armagh and Lieutenant Colonel of the Armagh Militia; Nicholas Richard Cope and his son Arthur Walter Cope, proprietors of the much smaller Drumilly estate; and James Hardy, the squire of Drumart.

The priests were father’s: Taggart, possibly Arthur Taggart, parish priest of Cookstown, County Tyrone, who was notoriously erratic; McParland, future parish priest of Loughgall from 1799, possibly Arthur McParland; and Trainor. William Blacker claims a leader of the Defenders, “Switcher Donnelly”, was also present.  According to Patrick Tohall, there is reason to doubt the sincerity of all the delegates at this peace conference. He claims some may have used it to blindside the genuine peace-makers, with the two armed sides seeing the clash as inevitable.

On Saturday 19 September, the priests who had stayed the night in Atkinson’s house, left apparently satisfied at the outcome.  There are conflicting accounts of what happened next. According to Tohall, writing in 1953, the local Catholics had obeyed the priests, and this is evidenced by none of them being counted amongst the eventual combatants. He goes on to state that the priests seemingly failed to go to Faughart Hill and persuade the Defenders.  Blacker, who was there on the day of the battle on the Protestant side, however said when he was being questioned by a government Select Committee meeting on the Orange Order on 4 August 1835, that the Defenders had agreed to disperse and that the Peep o’ Day Boys would do likewise.

Later that day there was sporadic shooting, which didn’t trouble Atkinson, and this was followed on Sunday 20 September by overall quietness.

Some Defender reinforcements from County Tyrone however made it to The Diamond and appear to have encouraged their comrades to become:

“determined to fight”

and a decision seems to have been taken that night to advance the next day. Blacker claims:

“a large body of ‘Defenders’ not belonging to the County of Armagh, but assembled from Monaghan, Louth and I believe Cavan and Tyrone came down and were disappointed at finding a truce of this kind made, were determined not to go home without something to repay them for the trouble of their march”.

 

The battle

On the morning of 21 September, the Defenders, numbering around 300, made their way downhill from their base, occupying Dan Winter’s homestead, which lay to the north-west of The Diamond and directly in their line of advance.  News of this advance reached the departing Peep o’ Day Boys who quickly reformed at the brow of the hill where they had made their camp.  From this position, they gained three crucial advantages: the ability to comfortably rest their muskets, allowing for more accurate shooting; and a steep up-hill location which made it hard for attackers to scale; and a direct line-of-sight to Winter’s cottage which the Defenders made their rallying point.

This has been claimed as showing that the Peep o’ Day Boys had more experienced commanders.

The shooting began again in earnest,  and after Atkinson gave his weapon and powder to the Peep o’ Day Boys, he rode to Charlemont Garrison for troops to quell the trouble. There was no effective unit stationed in the garrison at the time, despite the fact a detachment of the North-Mayo Militia was stationed in Dungannon and a detachment of the Queen’s County Militia was at Portadown.

The battle according to Blacker, was short and the Defenders suffered “not less than thirty” deaths.  James Verner, whose account of the battle is based on hearsay, gives the total as being nearly thirty, whilst other reports give the figure as being forty-eight, however this may be taking into account those that died afterwards from their wounds.

A large amount of Defenders are also claimed to have been wounded.  One of those claimed to have been killed was “McGarry of Whiterock”, the leader of the Defenders. The Peep o’ Day Boys on the other hand in the safety of the well-defended hilltop position suffered no casualties.  Blacker praised the Bleary Boys for their prowess in the fight.

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200th Anniversary Battle of the Diamond Parade 1995

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Aftermath

 

See also: Orange Order and Peep o’ Day Boys § The Armagh outrages
In the aftermath of the battle, the Peep o’ Day Boys retired to James Sloans inn in Loughgall, and it was here that James Wilson, Dan Winter, and James Sloan would found the Orange Order, a defensive association pledged to defend :

“the King and his heirs so long as he or they support the Protestant Ascendancy”.

The first Orange lodge of this new organisation was established in Dyan, County Tyrone, founding place of the Orange Boys.

One historian claims that the victors saw the battle as:

“a Godly conquest, construed as a sanction for the spoliation of the homes of the Philistines”.

This saw violence directed firstly at the Catholics in the vicinity of The Diamond who had refrained the participating in the battle, before spreading throughout the county and further afield.

The winter of 1795–6, immediately following the battle, saw Protestants drive around 7,000 Catholics out of County Armagh in what became known as “the Armagh outrages”. In a sign that tension over the linen trade was still a burning issue, ‘Wreckers’ continued the Peep o’ Day Boys strategy of smashing looms and tearing webs in Catholic homes to eliminate competition.

This resulted in a reduction in the hotly competitive linen trade which had been in a brief slump. A consequence of this scattering of highly-political Catholics however was a spread of Defenderism throughout Ireland

 

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The Peep O’Day Boys of Ulster

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See : Peep o’ Day Boys

 

 

 

 

 

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Daniel Turner – Forever 18

Daniel Turner

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We are raising funds to help towards the funeral costs for Daniel Turner , a beautiful eighteen year old boy who tragically died suddenly last week after an  epileptic  fit.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his mum Rebecca and girlfriend Lauren and all his friends and family at this desperately sad time.

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Daniel went out with  our daughter Autumn for three years and was like a member of our family during this time and will always hold a special place in our hearts and minds .
We use to feed him and look after him when he had a fit and as a family we always worried that he was taking his medicine and looking after himself.

Although they had drifted apart over the past year  his death has hit Autumn and us hard and  our hearts are broken for his mum , Lauren  and all those that loved and cared for him.

Life can be so unfair sometimes and the sadness of Daniel’s sudden death is a reminder how fragile and precious life is.

Rest Easy Daniel and fly high !

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All funds will go directly to Daniels mum and any  funds left over after the funeral expenses will go to an epilepsy charity chosen by his Mum.

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Dread Pirate Roberts & The Silk Road

Dread Pirate Roberts

 

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Ross Ulbricht

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The Silk Road

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Silk Road was an online black market and the first modern darknet market, best known as a platform for selling illegal drugs. As part of the dark webit was operated as a Tor hidden service, such that online users were able to browse it anonymously and securely without potential traffic monitoring. The website was launched in February 2011; development had begun six months prior.

 Initially there were a limited number of new seller accounts available; new sellers had to purchase an account in an auction. Later, a fixed fee was charged for each new seller account.[

In October 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shut down the website and arrested Ross Ulbricht under charges of being the site’s pseudonymous founder “Dread Pirate Roberts”.

On 6 November 2013, Silk Road 2.0 came online, run by former administrators of Silk Road.

It too was shut down, and the alleged operator was arrested on 6 November 2014 as part of the so-called “Operation Onymous“. Ulbricht was convicted of eight charges related to Silk Road in the U.S. Federal Court in Manhattan and was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole

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The Silk Road: who was the real Dread Pirate Roberts

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History

Operations

 

Silk Road was founded in February 2011. The name “Silk Road” comes from a historical network of trade routes started during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) between Europe, India, China, and many other countries on the Afro-Eurasian landmass. Silk Road was operated by the pseudonymous “Dread Pirate Roberts” (named after the fictional character from The Princess Bride), who was known for espousing libertarian ideals and criticizing regulationTwo other individuals were also closely involved in the site’s growth and success, known as Variety Jones and Smedley.

In June 2011, Gawker published an article about the site  which led to “Internet buzz” and an increase in website traffic. Once the site was known publicly, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer asked federal law enforcement authorities to shut it down, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Department of Justice.

In May 2013, Silk Road was taken down for a short period of time by a sustained DDoS attack. On 23 June 2013, it was first reported that the DEA seized 11.02 bitcoins, then worth a total of $814, which the media suspected was a result of a Silk Road honeypot sting.

 

The FBI has claimed that the real IP address of the Silk Road server was found via data leaked directly from the site’s CAPTCHA, but security researchers believe that the PHP login page was manipulated to output its $_SERVER variable and real IP following site maintenance reconfiguration.

Henry Farrell, an associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, analyzed Silk Road in an essay for Aeon in 2015.

He noted that Ulbricht created the marketplace to function without government oversight but found it difficult to verify anonymous transactions. To sustain a steady stream of revenue, he started increasing oversight to ensure low transaction costs. To do this, he added measures to ensure trustworthiness with implementation of an automated escrow payment system and automated review system.

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The dark Web, Silk Road

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Arrest and trial of Ross Ulbricht

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Thanks in part to off-duty research conducted by IRS criminal investigator Gary Alford, Ross Ulbricht was alleged by the FBI to be the founder and owner of Silk Road and the person behind the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts” (DPR). He was arrested on 2 October 2013 in San Francisco  at 3:15 p.m. PST

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in Glen Park Library, a branch of the San Francisco Public Library. Ulbricht was indicted on charges of money launderingcomputer hacking, conspiracy to traffic narcotics, and attempting to have six people killed.Prosecutors alleged that Ulbricht paid $730,000 to others to commit the murders, although none of the murders actually occurred. Ulbricht ultimately was not prosecuted for any of the alleged murder attempts.

The FBI initially seized 26,000 bitcoins from accounts on Silk Road, worth approximately $3.6 million at the time. An FBI spokesperson said that the agency would hold the bitcoins until Ulbricht’s trial finished, after which the bitcoins would be liquidated.

In October 2013, the FBI reported that it had seized 144,000 bitcoins, worth $28.5 million, and that the bitcoins belonged to Ulbricht. On 27 June 2014, the U.S. Marshals Service sold 29,657 bitcoins in 10 blocks in an online auction, estimated to be worth $18 million at current rates and only about a quarter of the seized bitcoins. Another 144,342 bitcoins were kept which had been found on Ulbricht’s computer, roughly $87 million.

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What are bitcoins?

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Tim Draper bought the bitcoins at the auction with an estimated worth of $17 million, to lend them to a bitcoin start-up called Vaurum which is working in developing economies of emerging markets.

Ulbricht’s trial began on 13 January 2015 in Federal Court in Manhattan. At the start of the trial, Ulbricht admitted to founding the Silk Road website, but claimed to have transferred control of the site to other people soon after he founded it.  Ulbricht’s lawyers contended that Dread Pirate Roberts was really Mark Karpelès, and that Karpelès set up Ulbricht as a fall guy.

However, Judge Katherine B. Forrestruled that any speculative statements regarding whether Karpelès or anyone else ran Silk Road would not be allowed, and statements already made would be stricken from the record.

In the second week of the trial, prosecutors presented documents and chat logs from Ulbricht’s computer that, they said, demonstrated how Ulbricht had administered the site for many months, which contradicted the defense’s claim that Ulbricht had relinquished control of Silk Road. Ulbricht’s attorney suggested that the documents and chat logs were planted there by way of BitTorrent, which was running on Ulbricht’s computer at the time of his arrest.

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What is BitTorrent?

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On 4 February 2015, the jury convicted Ulbricht of seven charges, including charges of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and computer hacking. He faced 30 years to life in prison.  The government also accused Ulbricht of paying for the murders of at least five people, but there is no evidence that the murders were actually carried out, and the accusations never became formal charges against Ulbricht.

During the trial, Judge Forrest received death threats. Users of an underground site called The Hidden Wiki posted her personal information there, including her address and Social Security number. Ulbricht’s lawyer Joshua Dratel said that he and his client “obviously, and as strongly as possible, condemn” the anonymous postings against the judge.

“They do not in any way have anything to do with Ross Ulbricht or anyone associated with him or reflect his views or those of anyone associated with him”,

 

Dratel said.

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In late March 2015, a criminal complaint issued by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California led to the arrest of two former federal agents who had worked undercover in the Baltimore Silk Road investigation of Ulbricht, former Drug Enforcement Administration agent Carl Mark Force IV and Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges.

The agents are alleged to have kept funds that Ulbricht transferred to them in exchange for purported information about the investigation. The agents were charged with wire fraud and money laundering.

In late November 2016, Ulbricht’s lawyers brought forward a case on a third DEA agent, who they claim was leaking information about the investigation and tampered with evidence to omit chat logs showing conversations with him.

In a letter to Judge Forrest before his sentencing, Ulbricht stated that his actions through Silk Road were committed through libertarian idealism and that “Silk Road was supposed to be about giving people the freedom to make their own choices” and admitted that he made a “terrible mistake” that “ruined his life”.

On May 29, 2015, Ulbricht was given five sentences to be served concurrently, including two for life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

He was also ordered to forfeit $183 million. Ulbricht’s lawyer Joshua Dratel said that he would appeal the sentencing and the original guilty verdict. On May 31, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied Ulbricht’s appeal, and affirmed the judgment of conviction and life sentence, in a written opinion authored by the Honorable Gerard E. Lynch, United States Circuit Judge.

The Supreme Court declined to review the case.

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Other trials

In February 2013, an Australian cocaine and MDMA (“ecstasy”) dealer became the first person to be convicted of crimes directly related to Silk Road, after authorities intercepted drugs that he was importing through the mail, searched his premises, and discovered his Silk Road alias in an image file on his personal computer.

Australian police and the DEA have targeted Silk Road users and made arrests, albeit with limited success at reaching convictions. In December 2013, a New Zealand man was sentenced to two years and four months in jail after being convicted of importing 15 grams of methamphetamine that he had bought on Silk Road.

Dutch drug dealer 23-year-old Cornelis Jan “Maikel” Slomp  pled guilty for large scale selling of drugs through the Silk Road website and was sentenced in Chicago to 10 years in prison on 29 May 2015 with his attorney, Paul Petruzzi, present.

Dealer Steven Sadler was sentenced to five years in prison. There have been over 130 other arrests connected with The Silk Road, although some of these arrests may not be directly related to The Silk Road, and may not be public information due to legal reasons.

Products

In March 2013, the site had 10,000 products for sale by vendors, 70% of which were drugs. In October 2014, there were 13,756 listings for drugs, grouped under the headings stimulantspsychedelicsprescriptionprecursors, other, opioidsecstasydissociatives, and steroids/PEDs.

Fake driver’s licenses were also offered for sale. The site’s terms of service prohibited the sale of certain items. When the Silk Road marketplace first began the creator and administrators instituted terms of service that prohibited the sale of anything whose purpose was to “harm or defraud”.

This included child pornography, stolen credit cards, assassinations, and weapons of any type; other darknet markets such as Black Market Reloaded gained user notoriety because they were not as restrictive on these items as the Silk Road incarnations were.

There were also legal goods and services for sale, such as apparelartbookscigaretteseroticajewelery, and writing services. A sister site, called “The Armory”, sold weapons (primarily guns) during 2012, but was shut down because of a lack of demand.

Buyers were able to leave reviews of sellers’ products on the site, and in an associated forum where crowdsourcing provided information about the best sellers and worst scammers.Most products were delivered through the mail, with the site’s seller’s guide instructing sellers how to vacuum-seal their products to escape detection.[78]

Sales

 

flowchart depicting Silk Road’s payment system. Exhibit 113 A, entered into evidence at Ulbricht’s trial.
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Based on data from 3 February 2012 to 24 July 2012, an estimated $15 million in transactions were made annually on Silk Road. Twelve months later, Nicolas Christin, the study’s author, said in an interview that a major increase in volume to “somewhere between $30 million and $45 million” would not surprise him.

Buyers and sellers conducted all transactions with bitcoins (BTC), a cryptocurrency that provides a certain degree of anonymity. Silk Road held buyers’ bitcoins in escrow until the order had been received and a hedging mechanism allowed sellers to opt for the value of bitcoins held in escrow to be fixed to their value in US$ at the time of the sale to mitigate against Bitcoin’s volatility. Any changes in the price of bitcoins during transit were covered by Dread Pirate Roberts.

The complaint published when Ulbricht was arrested included information the FBI gained from a system image of the Silk Road server collected on 23 July 2013. It noted that, “From February 6, 2011 to July 23, 2013 there were approximately 1,229,465 transactions completed on the site. The total revenue generated from these sales was 9,519,664 Bitcoins, and the total commissions collected by Silk Road from the sales amounted to 614,305 Bitcoins.

These figures are equivalent to roughly $1.2 billion in revenue and $79.8 million in commissions, at current Bitcoin exchange rates…”, according to the September 2013 complaint, and involved 146,946 buyers and 3,877 vendors. According to information users provided upon registering, 30 percent were from the United States, 27 percent chose to be “undeclared”, and beyond that, in descending order of prevalence: the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Canada, Sweden, France, Russia, Italy, and the Netherlands. During the 60-day period from 24 May to 23 July, there were 1,217,218 messages sent over Silk Road’s private messaging system.

Similar sites

The Farmer’s Market was a Tor site similar to Silk Road, but which did not use bitcoins.[84] It has been considered a ‘proto-Silk Road’ but the use of payment services such as PayPal and Western Union allowed law enforcement to trace payments and it was subsequently shut down by the FBI in 2012.

Other sites already existed when Silk Road was shut down and The Guardian predicted that these would take over the market that Silk Road previously dominated. Sites named ‘Atlantis‘, closing in September 2013, and Project Black Flag, closing in October 2013, each stole their users’ bitcoins.

In October 2013, the site named Black Market Reloaded closed down temporarily after the site’s source code was leaked. The market shares of various Silk Road successor sites were described by The Economist in May 2015.

Book club

Silk Road had a Tor-based book club that continued to operate following the initial site’s closure and even following the arrest of one of its members. Reading material included conspiracy theories and computer hacking. Some of the titles included mainstream books as well as books such as The Anarchist Cookbook and Defeating Electromagnetic Door Locks. Most of the titles on this book club were pirated. This book club still exists as a private Tor based chatroom.

Direct successors

 

Silk Road 2.0

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Alert placed on the Silk Road’s homepage following its seizure by the U.S. government and European law enforcement

On 6 November 2013, administrators from the closed Silk Road relaunched the site, led by a new pseudonymous Dread Pirate Roberts, and dubbed it “Silk Road 2.0”. It recreated the original site’s setup and promised improved security.

The new DPR took the precaution of distributing encrypted copies of the site’s source code to allow the site to be quickly recreated in the event of another shutdown.

On 20 December 2013, it was announced that three alleged Silk Road 2.0 administrators had been arrested; two of these suspects, Andrew Michael Jones and Gary Davis, were named as the administrators “Inigo” and “Libertas” who had continued their work on Silk Road 2.0.

Around this time, the new Dread Pirate Roberts abruptly surrendered control of the site and froze its activity, including its escrow system. A new temporary administrator under the screenname “Defcon” took over and promised to bring the site back to working order.

On 13 February 2014, Defcon announced that Silk Road 2.0’s escrow accounts had been compromised through a vulnerability in Bitcoin protocol called “transaction malleability”.

While the site remained online, all the bitcoins in its escrow accounts, valued at $2.7 million, were reported stolen. It was later reported that the vulnerability was in the site’s “Refresh Deposits” function, and that the Silk Road administrators had used their commissions on sales since 15 February to refund users who lost money, with 50 percent of the hack victims being completely repaid as of 8 April.

On 6 November 2014, authorities with the Federal Bureau of InvestigationEuropol, and Eurojust announced the arrest of Blake Benthall, allegedly the owner and operator of Silk Road 2.0 under the pseudonym “Defcon”, the previous day in San Francisco as part of Operation Onymous.

Others

Following the closure of Silk Road 2.0 in November 2014, Diabolus Market renamed itself to ‘Silk Road 3 Reloaded’ in order to capitalise on the brand. In January 2015, Silk Road Reloaded launched on I2P with multiple cryptocurrency support and similar listing restrictions to the original Silk Road market.

This website is also defunct.

Advocates of deep web drug sales

Meghan Ralston, a former “harm reduction manager” for the Drug Policy Alliance, was quoted as saying that the Silk Road was “a peaceable alternative to the often deadly violence so commonly associated with the global drug war, and street drug transactions, in particular”. Proponents of the Silk Road and similar sites argue that buying illegal narcotics from the safety of your home is better than buying them in person from criminals on the street.

 

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The Story of Dread Pirate Roberts

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More information on Ross Ulbricht

 

Uncle Sam – Extracts from my Autobiography Belfast Child

Uncle Sam

uncle sam

Extracts from my Autobiography Belfast Child

 

Finally the day for Uncle Sam to be released from jail arrived and the whole family along with friends and acquaintances gathered to give him a welcome home party he would remember. All day long preparations were made for the night’s celebration and the house was awash with food and alcohol of every description. When Sam finally walked through the door a huge cheer rang out and after the greeting and hugs the party got into full swing. Although dad had only been dead a few months and the pain was still tearing me apart inside, I really enjoyed myself that night and for a while forgot about the state of my life.

Uncle Sam was dad’s younger brother and was well respected throughout the estate and surrounding areas. He was lovable rogue and with his swarthy good looks and mischievous manner all that knew him loved him and all the local women fancied him. Also, more importantly he was a Loyalist Soldier and had served time for a cause he believed in.

For your information:

I am writing this as a ten year old child growing up in Loyalist West Belfast during the 1970’s  and the worst  years of the Troubles . My daily life was engulfed and controlled by the “war” going on around me and the loyalist paramilitaries lived and operated among us.

Many were friends and family and that was all perfectly normal in our world. At the time there was no escape from the madness that was stalking the streets of Belfast and many normal , honest , decent men joined the paramilitaries in response to the continuing and never ended terror campaign of the IRA and other republican groups. Sadly the paramilitaries also attracted many psychopathy killers whom used the “war” to feed their dark desires at the expense of the innocent. 

As a loyalist child  I was completely submerged in the Loyalist  culture & traditions  and at the time I was way to young to understand or differentiate between republican terrorists and the nationalist community and like those around me I had been raised from an early age to hate and mistrust all Catholics and the hated Antichrist in Rome.

Thankfully as I grew older my hatred of all Catholics faded and I was to go on to have many catholic friends during my mod days and later life.

Now I don’t judge  any man or women based on their religious beliefs . In fact I don’t give  two flying fecks who or what you worship,  providing they are peaceful and respectful of all others , thats OK by me.

I still have a problem with Nationalism and the call for a United Ireland, but I respect democracy and peoples right to exercise their democratic rights. But that don’t mean I agree with them and I never will.  That means I wish to maintain the status quo in Northern Ireland and hope and pray our people can learn to live more harmoniously together and our children have a better future than the long , dark soul destroying days my generation lived through

Amen!

See The Loyalist Mod

All male members of the family looked up to Uncle Sam and we all wanted to be just like him when we grew up. That night we were permitted to stay up into the wee hours and when the adults were full of drink the talk soon turned to dad and I was proud to hear them all talk about what a great man dad was and how they all missed him terribly and wished things could be different.

Although we were a very close family, we were typical of the area and emotions were something men never showed and that night I felt proud when I went to bed, knowing that dad’s memory would live long in this house and others were sharing my grief at losing him.

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After Uncle Sam had settled back into life outside jail, his thoughts naturally turned to how he could earning a living and bring some money in for the family. Whilst in jail he had done a course in painting and decorating and on his release he let it become known around the estate that he was available for hire at a very reasonable rate. Before long the work started to come in and if he had a job at the weekend Wee Sam and I went with him and helped in any way he seen fit, which included cleaning up the mess behind him and making endless cups of tea. If we were really lucky and the owner of the house was out, Uncle Sam would sit chain smoking and watch us paint the bottom section of the wall to the best of our ability. At first he was making good money and Wee Sam and I were more than pleased with the few quid he give us after completely the job.

After a while the work started to dry up and Uncle Sam pondered long and hard to come up with a new means of earning some money.

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Suddenly one day he proclaimed that he was going to set up a door to door business selling firewood and half an half later the three of us were on our way to Glencairn Park behind the house , with a wheel barrel and a chain saw he had borrowed from a reluctant neighbour. When we had walk some way into the forest Uncle Sam stops, gazed around for a moment and before we knew what was happening shouted “ timber” as the tree first let out an agonizing groan and thundered to the ground below.

After Uncle Sam had chopped the tree into manageable sizes, wee Sam and I loaded the wheel barrel with as much as possible and taking a handle each swayed our way back to the house were we dumped the wood in the back garden and went back for more. Later that night we all gathered in the back garden and bagged the wood into bags , before setting off and selling it door to door around the estate. After a short time money was pouring in and we had established a large client basis throughout the estate.

Although what we were doing was highly illegal, we carried on oblivious to the laws we were breaking and chopped down trees on an industrial scale. In Glencairn and the surrounding areas we followed our own rules and pretty much ignored the laws of the land. Business was that good I was able to save enough money to buy myself a second hand chopper from the bike shop down the Shankill. Sadly all good things come to an end and one day as we were making our way to our favourite felling spot, a team from the forestry department apprehended us and Uncle Sam was read the riot act.

1 the riot act

The game was up and we watched with shock as Uncle Sam shamelessly agreed to everything they were saying and promised never to do it again. Wee Sam and I were bitterly disappointed and begged Uncle Sam to chance  his mind. As we made our way home empty handed he explained that because he was out on licence, the last thing he need was the police paying him too much attention or he might end up inside again. What he said made perfect sense and Wee Sam and I reluctantly agree with him. “Besides, as Uncle Sam pointed out winter would soon be over and sales would dry up with the changing weather.

1 loyalist prisoner aid

 

Another scheme Uncle Sam got me involved in was selling his UDA sweepstake cards. As a member of the UDA he was not only expected to pay a weekly donation or dues to the cause, he was also expected to help raise money for loyalist prisoners and their families. The UDA was run along very strict guidelines and had its own welfare department that raised and distributed money were most needed. This was done in a variety of ways, mostly illegal and generated huge sums of money for the organisation.

At the weekly meeting sweep cards were handed out to all present to sell and most members would take £25.00 quid’s worth and sell then to their friends and family. As with anything he couldn’t be arsed to do it himself, he recruited Wee Sam and me.One Saturday he handed us a bundle of sweep stakes and told us if we sold them all he would give us two quid each, which sounded like a fair deal to me. After giving us instructions on what we were selling and how best to sell them and how much they costed, he sent us of and told us not to return until they were all sold.

1 a pint of harp

He would wait for us in community centre, he informed us solemnly as though he was getting the short end of the stick, when in fact we knew that he would be having a few pints and playing cards with his mates.

Equipped with the necessary information wee Sam headed to the top of the estate and I headed to the bottom and knocked on the first door I came to. After a moment or two a woman’s head appeared round the door and I immediately went into my sales pitch, which I had been working on for a few days and perfected on the walk down the Road.

“Excuse me misses, would you like to buy one of these?

You write your name, pick two numbers between 1 and 50 and if you win you win £25.00.

Price 20p a go,…

most people buy a sheet of five and its  only £1.00 in total…….Oh and the profits go to the prisoners and their families “

“Ah…god love you love, thinking of the prisoners. Go on”, I’ll have two sheets she replied”

and I was in business.

I took this like a duck to water and before long I was outselling Wee Sam on an embarrassing g scale. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was a natural sales man and years later would have a successful career in London selling everything from life insurance to industrial chemicals, but much more of that later.

Eventually Wee Sam threw the towel in and I took over the whole operation. That’s not to say it was always easy. Lots of people turned me away, some were nice about it and others told me fuck off and never darken their door again. but even back then I was a natural sales man and the insults just rolled over my head and I apologized for interrupting them and wishing them a good day I  made my way next door and another  potential sale.

It wasn’t long before I had built up a substantial client basis and when on the job I knew exactly which houses to call at and which were best avoided. For my efforts I got £2.00, which was duly spend on sweets and other treats I had promised myself.

 

1 car bomb

 

As I pounded the Roads of Glencairn selling my sweep stakes the war raged on around me and like most people I took it in my stride. I took some pride in the face that I was contributing to the cause, by raising money for the prisoners and their families . One morning when we were all getting ready to leave the house for school, there was a sudden commotion outside the front door and we all rushed into the front garden to see what was happening.

There were loads of armed RUC personnel frantically running from door to door, evacuating the inhabitants into the field outside the community centre. Uncle Sam and Gerry gathered us all up and we went to join the dozens of other families milling about the field. After having a chat with one of the local leaders we heard Uncle Sam explain to Gerry that the IRA had planted a bomb under the car of one of our neighbours, who was a member of the UDR ( Ulster Defence Regiment ) .

This news sent waves of fear and anger through the gathered crowd. How dare the IRA enter our estate in the dead of night and try to kill one of our people. Apparently the man in question had left the house to check the car over before dropping his children at school and going through his normal security checks had discovered the bomb under the passenger’s side of the vehicle. Had he been less vigilant the bomb would have gone off killing not only him, but also his three children and anyone else in the vicinity. This relisation filled everyone gathered with outrage and resentment and once again our hatred of the IRA and their Catholic supporters was justified.

After they were sure that everyone in the immediate vicinity was evacuated, the army bomb disposal unit sent a robot in to detonate the bomb and we all watched in awe as the ground below us shook violently and the robot along with large sections of the car was blown high into the sky to smithereens. We were all kept of school that day and naturally the talk was of how close we had been to being caught up in the bomb that morning and possibly being killed. Wee Sam and I knew the children of the man in question and often played with them after school, so it was with sadness that a few days later we watched them pack their belongings onto a removal van and drive out of the estate never to be seen again.

Like Wee Sam, David and Pickle I felt an immense hatred towards Catholics and Nationalists that day and longed for the day I would be old enough to take up arms and join the war against the IRA and their Catholic supporters. Although I was too young to understand the complexities of the conflict between us and the nationalists I understood that we hadn’t started this war and all the pain and suffering in Northern Ireland was a direct result of the IRA and nationalist call for a united Ireland.

Northern Ireland’s Protestants were a remnant of colonial Britain and we clung to our sovernty like a comfort blanket and the IRA & nationalists were trying to rip our blanket away from us. We felt abandoned and Britain seemed to have turn her back on us The Americans and wider outside world sympathised with the romantic notion of a United Ireland and offered us no support. No one seemed to understand our position and we were living under the brutal, daily menace of the most brutal terrorist organisation of the century and this isolation feed the fears of the loyalist and ensured a steady stream of new recruits for the loyalist paramilitary groups.

During the mid 70s relationships between the two warring sides had reached a new low and innocent people from both sides became legitimate targets in tit-for-tat murder campaign like never before, between the nationalists and loyalist paramilitaries. The violence was out of control and as a child I watched in horror and disgust as the nightly news told of the latest IRA atrocity, as the death toll mounted. Like most of the people around me I rejoiced when news of an IRA or other republican member being killed or even better executed came through and I mourned the passing of any loyalist killed. I hated Catholics with a passion and blamed them on all the troubles of our country and like all around me I saw them as my natural enemy. In response to the increase of IRA atrocities and through self-preservation the loyalist paramilitaries, with the blessing of their people, stepped up the campaign and the streets of Belfast flowed with the blood of the innocent and guilty alike.

See:  The Loyalist Mod

See: Autobiography on home page

The Loyalist Mod: Death of a fellow Mod & A catholic friend! Noddy Clarke R.I.P

The Loyalist Mod

Death of a fellow Mod & a catholic friend!

Noddy Clarke R.I.P

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Newspapers Reports of the crash

By the mid 80s I was completely emerged in the Mod culture and I started slowly to migrate away from the loyalist run discos and clubs of my childhood and teens years. As I grew older and more confident ( wiser) I started to explore further afield and go to clubs and gigs in and around Belfast city centre and for the first time  in my life I was meeting and mixing with Catholics on a social level and I gradually came to realize they weren’t that different from me after all.

I”m the one with shades on

My evolving Mod identity was opening up a whole new world to me and I grabbed it by both hands and jumped on for the ride of my life.

As a young, self confident adult my Mod days were the best years of my life and if I had to live my life again I wouldn’t change a thing from that time. Well, maybe one or two things regarding beautiful women I was too stoned or to blind to see what they were offering me.

The Norns love to toy with destinies of mortal men.

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Me when I thought I was immortal & would never grow old

Prior to this my only interaction with my catholic counterparts was our nightly riots with the catholic kids from Ardoyne  & the Springfield Road and like  those around me I hated them all with a passion. I was living in the epicenter  of loyalist Northern Ireland and  I had been brought up to hate and mistrust Catholics from an early age. Like my peers around me I blamed them for the war that was ripping Northern Ireland apart and I could never forgive them for their treacherous support of IRA terrorists and other republican groups

My childish subconscious mind seemed to filter out the worst horrors the loyalist paramilitaries were visiting on the catholic population, but when a republican terrorist was killed I celebrated and praised those responsible.  We were fanatical in our hatred of the IRA and all things republican and the call for a united Ireland drove us buck mad with rage.

I was living in the Loyalist goldfish bowl and my horizons were dominated by the so called Peace Wall.

Welcome to my world.

My loyalist identity and culture was hardwired into my DNA and at first I struggled with the conflict of mixing with catholic Mods/folk from the other side, whom  I had always considered my enemies.

But my priorities were also evolving and my lifelong prejudices against all catholic’s was fading away .  I embraced the Belfast Mod movement with passion and enthusiasm and became a well known Face among the Mods and Mod clubs of Belfast and beyond.

 

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I’m the one wearing shades

Up until this stage in my life  I had been blanketed within the Loyalist culture and felt safe in the knowledge that the tight knit community I belonged too , was a part of , would work as one to protect me  and other children and shield us from the worst evils of mankind.

Which was kinda hard considering I was living in one of the most violent, deadly places on planet earth at the time?

 

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The paramilitaries ruled our daily lives and this was all perfectly normal for us.  From an early age I was subconsciously aware that I lived in a messed up land and many of my family, friends and neighbours were involved with one of the various loyalist paramilitary or community groups.

I grew up with people who would become loyalist killers, others were killed by republicans and the never ending feuds between loyalist paramilitaries added to the ever growing butcher’s bill. Some also killed themselves to escape the madness going on around us and many ended up serving life sentences for terrorist activities.

Every death was someone’s personal tragedy and at times the slaughter seemed never ending.

I remember as a child attending family/local  funerals and when I  looked around  I was surrounded by loyalist legends and Godfathers  , paramilitaries leaders  and killers .Then I got really angry and annoyed because the police had loads of spotters out , recording the funeral and taking pictures of all those present and generally disrespecting us as we buried our dead. When someone died in our world the whole community suffered as one and our ties were much stronger for our shared suffering at the hands of republican terrorists.

But I loved this messed up land and as a proud wee prod I hated the IRA and all they stood for.  In my childish loyalist mind I looked up to the loyalist warlords and those that served them. After all they were taking the war to the IRA and fighting for God and Ulster and our continued freedom, weren’t they?

That made me feel safer, somehow. Twisted or what?

 

At times it felt like the loyalist people were under siege and I remember as a child during the strikes of the 70’s I was terrified as I stood at the top of Glencairn , looking out over  all of Belfast and watching thick black smoke  belch into the air  and the  whole sky seemed to be on fire. Loyalist paranoia was so acute at times that we were actually anticipating civil war to break out at any moment and I wondered  and worried if I and those I loved would survive the battles to come.

I was also a committed Christian for most of my childhood and teens and a pacifist by heart and I never felt comfortable with the never ending murder of innocent people, regardless of political or religious background.  In fact I hated it and I couldn’t understand why God in all his wisdom would let such things happen and the first cracks began to  appeared in my Christian faith. Living in loyalist Belfast my God was of course a loyalist God and my people were fighting the wicked IRA and despised the antichrist in Rome, Pope John Paul II ,  the head of the hated Catholic Church.

 

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But I digress; I’m suppose  to be telling the story of Noddy Clarke.

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My old scrapbook from  my Mod days.

I’d met Noddy and his girlfriend Maria in the Mod clubs and pubs of Belfast, mostly the Delta & Abercone and I quickly became friends with them and enjoyed having a chat & chill with them when our paths crossed. Noddy (Gerard Clarke) was a beautiful, gentle wise soul and he was one of those rare people who seemed to have time for everyone and seemed genuinely interested in what you had to say.  He was a top bloke and I had a lot of time for him and Maria. Maria was also a beautiful person and friendly to all.

The fact that they were catholic never entered my mind and this was testament to how far I had moved on from the entrenched prejudices of my childhood.  Although I no longer hated catholic’s my hatred of the IRA and republican terrorists never waned and still beats in my heart today. I can’t forget or forgive the past, but I want peace in Northern Ireland and if that means dancing with the devil, so be it.

The Belfast Mod scene was at its height at the time and as I moved in the same circles of the Faces and wannabies I got drunk (and high) on the joy of it all. I was young, seemingly acceptable to the female species   and my life was one long never ending party and I Really never wanted it to end.

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Me during my Mod days

There were always some big events happening in the Mod calendar and I travelled all over Northern Ireland and London with a group of about thirty hardcore Mods, attending all dayers and concerts. Noddy & Maria were often at these events and our love of the Mod culture transcended hundreds of year’s sectarian conflict and suspicion and give me a hint of a better future.

 

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Mods in Carnaby Street

Once a group of about thirty of us travelled to London for a Mod all dayer  , taking place in the  Ilford Palais. The concert wasn’t until the Sunday and as it was only Friday we decided to visit the most iconic Mod address in the World, Carnaby Street. As a Mod  it felt like the  pilgrimage to Mecca muslims make and for  me walking on the hollowed paved  streets of Carnaby Street It felt almost like a holy experience  and I was hypnotised by sheer joy of just being there and drinking in the  Mod culture it had given birth too.

But my joy was to be short lived.

 

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I’ve  absolutely no idea who he is , but he fits into the story nicely.

As we walked the legendary streets and drank in the super cool atmosphere suddenly we heard a massive roar and what sounded like a football stampede and then three terrified young Mods ran past us as if the devil was on their tails.

Time stood still as we waited to see what had scared them so much and made them take such desperate flight.

Then from a side road about fifty phycho looking skinheads appeared from nowhere, many of them wearing Chelsea and Rangers football scarf’s, covered in loyalist and swastika tattoos and they were obviously baying for blood, Mod blood to be exact.

The moment they spotted us they stopped dead and some even grinned at the Mod bounty fate had delivered them.  We were in some deep shit and I searched my mind frantically for a way out.

There was only a few of us  together at this stage and my heart leaped into my throat as I anticipated the beating  I was about to receive. But growing up in the badlands of loyalist West Belfast  I was use to brutal violence and  then two things  came to my mind at once.

Firstly I was use to gang battles between Mods and Skinheads and had fought in many in the backstreets of The Shankill & Ballysillian/Silverstream (a story for another day) and survived largely intact. But here we were vastly outnumbered, on foreign soil  so to speak and these guys wanted to rip us apart, limb by limb and savour every moment of our agony and shame.  Then I considered the Rangers scarfs and an idea started to take shape in my terrified brain.

Rangers was the team of choice for much of the protestant population of Northern Ireland and along with Chelsea and Linfield they were inextricably woven into the core of our loyalist culture. I hoped these baying skinheads or some of them at least would hold the same pride and love for Queen and country as me and I thought this might just save us.

I glanced over at the leaders in the front row and as they hurled insults and threats my heart sunk when I saw some of them had pulled out weapons and knifes and were preparing to attach  us  and I braced myself ready for a battle we could never win.

My survival instinct kicked in and once again my destiny was  in the hands of the gods , gods I no longer trusted. I took a deep breath and played my hand.

“Stay back “

I told the others beside and behind me, aware that some of them were catholic’s and possibly in more danger  than me, if that was at all possible in my current situation. I stepped forward and looking for the top boy I calmingly suggested they all slow down and tell me what the problem was?

You could have heard a pin drop as he looked me up and down as though I’d just insulted his life scarred mother and I could tell he were moments away from lunging at me and all hell kicking off.

Then I heard a familiar accent calling out from the skinhead crowd and hope returned.

“Are youse from Belfast? ”

And everyone paused to hear my reaction.

“Feckin right I said, from the glorious Shankill Road! “

Hoping and praying I’d made the right call.

“Really,  he asks, who do you know? “

I wheeled off a few names of Skinheads and badboys I knew and had grown up with on the Shankill and Glencairn and this satisfied them and we were safe for now at least. It turned out the guy “Biff” had grown up in Glencairn and now lived and worked in London and was involved with other loyalists living in the capital. They were a right nasty crew and I pity anyone who had the misfortune to come across them, especially if you weren’t a WASP .  Also if they had known some of the Mod present were catholic’s, nothing would have stopped them kicking the shit outta of me and the others and I silently thanked the gods for delivering us from evil.

With the situation defused I told the others to look around a bit and I’d catch up with them later . I didn’t want these badboys chatting with them and finding out some of them were catholic and undoing all my capital work. Biff insisted I joined him and a few others from home for a pint or two in the Shakespeare’s pub and it must have looked a bit weird a 60’s dressed Mod, wearing eye liner and a Beatles suite drinking and laughing with a load of phyco, Nazi skinheads.

But I had spent my life growing up among loyalist killers and paramilitaries and nothing really phased me anymore.  I didn’t particularly like Biff and his crew, but chatting with him over a few pints I realized there was much more to him than the stereotypical skinhead. His English girlfriend had just given birth to their first child and he was “trying to get on the straight and narrow “ whatever that meant!

After a few hours of drinking and snorting speed with Biff and the others I left them in the pub and return to the sanity of my Mod mates

I was to come across Biff and his crew later that weekend, when they and dozens of other Skin heads/Punks ambushed and attacked Mods coming into/out of the all dayer in the Ilford Palais. Luckily I was safely inside , stoned out of my mind and living the Mod dream and I didn’t concern myself with the  antics of those fools , although I did have a chat with Biff whilst grabbing some fresh air and a fag outside.

In one of those cruel twists of fate many years later I was to meet Biff  again, but this time he was down on his luck and tragically living rough under a shop front in Tottenham Court Road, London.   I was working in the city at the time and suited and booted I stopped to give a homeless guy a fag before realising it was Biff. He was in a right mess and obviously on hard drugs and my heart broke for him as I tried to remind him of our previous encounters and he looked at me with in utter confusion on his face. Maybe it was my suite and the passage of years that had confused him or the drugs had addled his mind but I left him with a heavy heart that day.

Thereafter whenever I was in central London I always looked out for him and did on a few occasions find him and shared a fag or two with him. And slip him a few quid.  When I moved jobs out to Kingston I lost contact with him and never saw him again, but I often think of him and hope he found his feet again and somehow turned his life around. How fickle fate can be.

Back in Belfast and the 80’s and my Mod odyssey continued and I was involved with all aspects of the Mod movement and all the joys that brought with it. I’d come into some money on my eighteenth birthday and was now the proud owner of a Vespa and took part in scooter runs all over Belfast and Northern Ireland.

I was gradually getting heavily into the 60’s Mod scene and my dress reflected this as I emulated the dress codes of The Small Faces and other Mod bands of that era. I was also doing a lot of drugs at the time and had many mind blowing experiences on a variety of drugs and to be honest sometimes I’m surprised I survived this period of my life. Drugs were an escape from the madness of life in war torn Belfast and I was going through the whole Psychedelic phase of my Mod life and was living the dream, so to speak.

See: Getting stoned with Paul Weller.

 

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Me on front of Mod Book

Around Oct 86 a group of about fifty Belfast Mods  , including myself , Noddy and Maria signed up for a Mod all dayer in Dublin’s CIA hall .As the day approached we were all anticipating a great day out and couldn’t wait to meet and mix with the Dublin Mods who had organised the event. We had clubbed together for an Ulster Bus to take us to the event, drop of and pick us up when it was over. Being nice kind  people we had a whip round for the bus driver and collected enough for him to have some  lunch , but sadly he would spent it on booze and was half tore by the time we returned, but we didn’t know of this until afterwards.

 

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The all dayer was a great success and I remember vividly chatted to Noddy and Maria by the huge staircase in the lobby. Little did I know in a few hours times Noddy would be dead and Maria seriously ill in hospital, fighting for her life.

When the event was over we all made our way to the bus pick up point and began the long , slow , boring journey home. It was a miserable dark , cold night and rain pelted down the windows of the bus as we left Dublin and headed for the motorway and back to sunny Belfast. After a while we’d all settled down and I remember chatting to those around me, including Noddy and Maria about the day gone and upcoming events we were looking forward to in the near future.   As we came into Drogheda  I noticed the rain was  bucketing it down and visibility was very poor and  somewhere in the back of my mind a little voice whispered the bus was going too fast and the driver was  driving a bit  erratically and it started to worry and concern me.

A girl called me up to the middle of the bus and I went and sat in the seat behind her, by the window and chilled with her for a while. I’d had a few drinks and some pills and I was half way between sleep and a drug infused haze when suddenly I became aware that the bus was out of control and to my horror I watched out the window as it  drifted  in and out of lanes , narrowly missing fast moving traffic coming from both ways  , before  skidding to the  right and  crashing with a huge bang  into the side of a bridge or brick wall, that brought it to  a violent , shuddering stop.

I was thrown forward and banged my head on the seat in front of me and was almost knocked out by the force of it. . Time stood still as I waited for the pain to kick In and in the background I could hear the sound of breaking glass , car horns and alarms going off  , cars skidding and crashing and as the lights blinked out  screaming filled the air all around me and  for a moment I thought I must be dreaming , on a bad trip or having a messed up  nightmare.

 

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But this was no nightmare and the horror had just begun.

As I recovered from the stunned shock of what had just happened my eyes drifted around the bus and all I could see was bodies, blood, broken glass and wreckage strewn all over the place. It looked as though a bomb had gone off and many of those inside were injured and I could see and smell destruction all around me. I glanced to the back of the bus and to my utter disbelief the whole back section of the bus had been ripped off and the seats which Noddy , Maria and others had sat on had completely disappeared . Looking out of the gaping hole my heart almost stopped as I saw bodies and debris littering the road and I could clearly see Noddy  and  laying lifeless on the rain soaked road , illuminated by vehicles caught up in the accident and others who had stopped to help and or gawk in amazement at what they were witnessing .

As my traumatised mind tried to process all this I picked myself of the floor and checking for injuries   I  was relieved to see I was mostly in one piece , although my head was bleeding and I think I may have been slipping  into shock.  Looking around my eyes could hard believe what my pounding brain was telling me and as I turned and looked out the window to my  left , I froze in terror as I watched in slow motion as a car lost control , crossed lanes and crash violently at speed into the bus right below where I was sitting. I’d automatically braced myself for the impact and my whole body rocked as the shockwaves of the crash reverberated through the bus and my aching body.

From this point on everything becomes hazy , as if I was watching events happen to someone else and I felt  oddly detached from my own body and mind. I should have been panicking and fighting to get off the bus and the danger below me , the car could have blown up or engulfed me in fire at any moment.   But I just sat there for what seemed like ages and although I could see everything around me and hear ambulances/fire brigades approaching, I seemed frozen to the spot and  just couldn’t move. I was in deep shock.

 

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Eventually someone guided me of the bus and I walked as if in a trance to where Noddy lay on the damp wet ground, lifeless and standing in the pouring rain I looked down on him and bowing my head I said a silent prayer for Noddy, Maria and the other injured and I cursed a God who would let such a thing happen.  I’d almost given up on a God who seemed to ignore the suffering of mortal men.

After a while ambulance crews came to check on me and the other walking wounded and patched us up were necessary. Eventually we were lead to a hotel or conference room, I can’t remember which and given hot drinks and interviewed by the Gardia . I honestly can’t remember anything about what happened next. I don’t know if we stayed in the hotel over night or how we got back to Belfast , but next thing i know I’m laying on the sofa at home and being fused about by my sisters and other family members. The Ulster News had carried the story about the crash and fatalities/injured and in those days there were no mobile phones and my family had spent hours not knowing if I was alive or dead. I should have called them from the hotel the night before but I was away with the fairies and it had not even entered my battered brain to call and let them know I was alive and well.

The Belfast and Northern Ireland Mod community was reeling from the accident and the death of one of their own and many gathered outside the City Hall in sombre groups, chatting and remembering Noddy and those injured in the crash. Maria was still in hospital fighting for her life and many others were scarred emotionally and physically and would never fully recover from the trauma of what they had gone through.

I was still numb to it all and hibernating at home and licking my wounds and I couldn’t face a world that seemed so unfair. In fact I refused point blank to talk about the accident and months later when many of those involved in the crash began the process of suing Ulster Bus and claiming compensation I wanted nothing to do with it and probably missed the opportunity for substantial payout.

I  was probably suffering from PTSD , but being Belfast i just got on with life and the wounds festered for years to come.

noddy funeral

Eventually the day arrived for Noddy’s funeral and Mods travelled from all over Northern Ireland and Dublin to attend his send off.  Dozens of loyalist Mods including me travelled into the heartland of republican Belfast, The Falls road on our scooters and we formed an honour guard as we buried one of our own. I recall standing outside Noddy’s house and being in nationalist Belfast I felt vulnerable and nervous as I clocked those around me whom seem to stare right through us, trying to discern if we were catholic or protestant.

But today was not about religion and as I paid my respect to Noddy’s friends and family I felt nothing but love and gratitude from them and I came away wondering why we couldn’t always live in peace and harmony and move on from centuries of the suspicion and mistrust that ruled and ruined our daily lives.

I often think of Noddy and wonder what he would be doing now if he was still alive and feel sadness at the grief the Gods put us mortal men through. .

R.I.P Friend.

 

Whilst living and socialising within the Mod subculture of Belfast /Northern Ireland, I was taught a valuable life lesson , for the first time in my life a person’s religion background had become completely irrelevant to me and I felt kinda liberated by it all . I foolishly wished the rest of Northern Ireland felt the same love and freedom as me, but I’ve always been a dreamer and some dreams take longer than others.

Back then I had many close catholic friends among the Belfast Mod scene and I dated a few catholic girls, who at face value seemed to be no different than the protestant girls I had dated thus far.

Hmmm, they lied to me again! But they are stories for another day.

Being a proud product of protestant Belfast and growing up in the hallowed streets of the loyalist Mecca , The glorious Shankill Road and Glencairn , I have always been prejudged and pigeon holed by people who don’t know me or understand my culture .  I have worked all over London and throughout the UK and you would be amazed at the assumptions people make when I first meet them.

Once I got chatting to a Muslim guy I worked with  ( and I’m going back about 25 years)   and  after telling me how much he admired the IRA and the republican movement ‘s “ freedom fighters”  he  then asked me if, by any chance  I was a member of the IRA?

Hmmm….. that was one work relationship than ended immediately I can tell you.

Another time I was in a bar in the West End and went to order a drink at the bar. I noticed an older  guy sat on a stool and it was obvious he only had one leg. When he heard my Belfast accent he turned and growled at me

“ is that a Belfast accent I hear? ”

 

“Yes “  says I as I absently order drinks.

He looks me right in the eye and say “ My other leg’s in Belfast”

Hmmm.

Anyways turns out he was in the Army and was blown up by  a SF/IRA bomb back in the day. Once I told him where I was from, I was a bit surprised when he grabs me , told me he loved the loyalist people of N.I  and almost hugged  me to death . He insisted I sit down with him and have a few beers, which I was more than happy to do. I’ll always make time for army veterans, especially those who served in Northern Ireland. He was happy for some company and to share a few stories from the “bad old days” and the encounter soothed my soul.

Back in Belfast and in the 90’s some of my loyalist friends had been arrested and charged with multiple terrorist related offences , including murder. The news shocked and saddened me, more so because some of them had been Mods and shared my love of the Mod culture  and music and mixed happily with catholic’s we met along the way. Although I had absolutely nothing to do with this , I was living in London at the time , many of the Belfast’s catholic  Mods started to give me a wide berth and  when I was home and went out clubbing I could sense their nervousness around me and I couldn’t really blame them , but it made me sad none the less.

 

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Me and David Holmes

I was guilty via association and that is a curse and legacy that has followed me through my entire life and I know I will probably never shake off. Just because I’m proud of my loyalist culture and traditions it doesn’t mean I’m a hater or bigot or would wish harm on anyone.  It simply means I am happy with the status quo and wish to maintain and celebrate the union with the rest of the UK.  That shouldn’t make people prejudge me, but it does and the piss’s me right off. Many peace loving loyalist/protestants will understand where I’m coming from, especially those living abroad.

We didn’t start the “war” and the world has largely ignored the suffering and tribulations of the loyalist people because they are blinded by the actions of few .And yet SF/IRA seem to be have been forgiven all and lauded by many. The mind boggles.

Go on Surprise me

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Thanks for taking the time to read extracts from my Autobiography Belfast Child, which I hope to get published one day soon.

Its a work in progress , so be gentle on me!

 

See: Steve Marriott Jan 1947 – April 1991 All or Nothing

See: Getting stoned with Paul Weller.

See: Home page for more chapters of my amazing life story

 

 

loyalist

ˈlɔɪəlɪst/Submit

noun

a person who remains loyal to the established ruler or government, especially in the face of a revolt.

“Tory loyalists”

a supporter of union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

noun: Loyalist; plural noun: Loyalists

a colonist of the American revolutionary period who supported the British cause.

noun: Loyalist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Viktor Bout – “The Merchant of Death”

   Viktor Anatolyevich Bout

“The Merchant of Death”

Viktor Anatolyevich Bout (Russian: Виктор Анатольевич Бут; born 13 January 1967) is a Russian arms dealer.

He was arrested in Thailand in 2008 before being extradited in 2010 to the United States to stand trial on terrorism charges after having been accused of intending to smuggle arms to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) for use against U.S. forces.

On 2 November 2011, he was convicted by a jury in a Manhattan federal court of conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens and officials, delivery of anti-aircraft missiles, and providing aid to a terrorist organization

Viktor Bout
Viktor Bout.jpg
Native name Виктор Анатольевич Бут
Born Viktor Anatolyevich Bout
13 January 1967 (age 51)
DushanbeTajik SSRSoviet Union
Other names Vadim Markovich Aminov, Viktor Bulakin, Victor Anatoliyevich Bout, Victor But, Viktor Budd, Viktor Butt
Known for Convictions for criminal intent to traffic arms and conspiracy to kill

A former Soviet military translator, Bout had reportedly made a significant amount of money through his multiple air transport companies which shipped cargo mostly in Africa and the Middle East during the 1990s and early 2000s.

Bout was equally willing to work with Charles Taylor in Liberia, the United Nations in Sudan, and the United States in Iraq,  and he may have facilitated huge arms shipments during the 1990s into various civil wars in Africa with his private air cargo fleets.

 

 Bout was not driven by ideology; it was all just (extremely lucrative) business. Indeed, when it suited him, and them, he also carried supplies for the British and American governments. He even put his planes at the disposal of UN peacekeepers

 

Bout says he has done little more than provide logistics, but former British Foreign Office minister Peter Hain called Bout a “sanctions buster” and described him as “the principal conduit for planes and supply routes that take arms from east Europe, principally Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine, to Liberia and Angola”

In cooperation with American authorities, Royal Thai Police arrested Bout in Bangkok, Thailand, on March 6, 2008. The United States ambassador requested his extradition under the Extradition Act between the Kingdom of Thailand and the United States, which was eventually mandated by the Thai High Court in August 2010.

Before his extradition to the United States in November 2010, Bout expressed confidence that this U.S. trial would eventually lead to his acquittal, but this did not occur. From January 2011 to June 2012, Bout was incarcerated in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, New York City.

Following his conviction, he was sentenced on 5 April 2012 to 25 years imprisonment by a U.S. judge. In June 2012, he was transferred to the United States Penitentiary, Marion, Illinois.

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Viktor Bout – “The Merchant of Death”

 

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Viktor Bout – interview from prison

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Personal History

UN documents and Bout himself both state his birthplace as DushanbeUSSR, (now the capital of Tajikistan) possibly on 13 January 1967, but a few other birthplaces have been suggested: A 2001 South African intelligence file listed him as Ukrainian in origin.

Soviet military service

There is some confusion regarding Bout’s military career although it is clear he served in the Soviet Armed Forces. Having graduated from the Military Institute of Foreign Languages, he is said to be fluent in six languages.  These include Persian and Esperanto, which he had mastered by age 12,  and in the early 1980s he was member of the Esperanto club in Dushanbe

Bout’s personal website states that he served in the Soviet Army as a translator, holding the rank of lieutenant.  He is thought to have been discharged in 1991 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

But other sources state he rose to the rank of major in the GRU(an arm of the Soviet military that combines intelligence services and special forces), that he was an officer in the Soviet Air Forces, that he graduated from a Soviet military intelligence training program, or that he was a KGB operative.

Bout was involved with a Soviet military operation in Angola in the late 1980s.He has said he was in Angola for only a few weeks. Bout’s web site states that he began an air freight business in Africa around the time of the collapse of the USSR.

1990s

Bout’s nickname, “Sanctions Buster”, is due to his being implicated of facilitating the violation of UN arms embargoes in Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of Congo during the 1990s. Bout’s air freight companies provided service to the French government, the UN, and the U.S. Bout has reportedly shipped flowers, frozen chicken, UN peacekeepers, French soldiers, and African heads of state.

Alleged Russian government and intelligence ties

It is thought that Bout was of help to Russia’s intelligence agencies, and he is alleged to have connections to ranking Russian officials, including Igor Sechin. The language institute Bout attended has been linked to the GRU.

Bout allegedly worked alongside GRU-affiliated, and former Russian deputy prime minister, Igor Sechin, in Africa in the 1980s although both men deny this allegation.  According to a 2002 United Nations report, Bout’s father-in-law Zuiguin :

“at one point held a high position in the KGB, perhaps even as high as a deputy chairman”.

Orders and warrants regarding Bout

 

Bout’s strategy of constantly moving location, owning numerous companies, and frequently re-registering aircraft made it hard for authorities to make a case against him. He has never been charged for the alleged African arms deals to which he owes his notoriety.

Interpol

Belgian authorities requested that Interpol issue a notice for Bout on charges of money laundering, and in 2002 an Interpol red notice on Bout was issued. Bout’s website states that because he failed to appear in court a Belgian warrant (not the Interpol notice) for his arrest was issued but later cancelled.

The site has a document in Dutch to support the claim that the Belgian case against him was dismissed due to his lack of a fixed residence and because the case could not be prosecuted in a timely fashion.

On the date of his arrest in Bangkok, an Interpol red notice was requested by the United States against Bout. The alleged crime was conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Executive Order 13348

Bout’s U.S. assets were among those frozen in July 2004 under Executive Order 13348. The Order describes him as a “businessman, dealer and transporter of weapons and minerals” and cites his close association with Charles Taylor.

CAR trial

Charged in 2000 with forging documents in the Central African Republic, Bout was convicted in absentia, but the charges were later dropped.

Thai arrest and extradition

The DEA wanted him just as badly as MI6 and the CIA. The reason it succeeded where others had failed was that it had the foresight to engage the help of a maverick Englishman, a former SAS soldier who had also run an air-freight company in Africa

Bout was arrested in Thailand on an Interpol red notice, and on 16 November 2010 he was extradited amid protests by the Russian Government.

Arrest

The Royal Thai Police arrested Bout in Bangkok on 6 March 2008. The culmination of a sting operation set up by Drug Enforcement Administration agents, Bout had allegedly offered to supply weapons to people he thought were representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels. 

Extradition hearing

After months of delay, the Criminal Court in Bangkok began an extradition hearing for Bout on 22 September 2008. In February 2009, members of the United States Congress signed a letter to Attorney General Holder and Secretary of State Clinton expressing their wish that the Bout extradition:

“remain a top priority”.

 

On 11 August 2009, the Criminal Court ruled in his favor, denying the United States’ request for extradition and citing the political, not criminal, nature of the case. The United States appealed that ruling. On 20 August 2010, a higher court in Thailand ruled that Bout could, in fact, be extradited to the United States.

Extradition

 

Viktor Bout in the custody of DEA agents on 16 November 2010 after being extradited to the United States

On 16 November 2010 Bout was extradited to the United States; the Russian government called the extradition illegal.

Russia’s protests and other actions

Russia called the Thai court decision in 2010 politically motivated. Its Foreign Ministry took steps to prevent Bout being extradited to the U.S.; Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested that Bout was innocent.

On 18 November 2010, shortly after Bout’s extradition to the United States, Russian President Medvedev‘s aide Sergei Eduardovich Prikhodko said that Russia had :

 

“nothing to hide” in Bout’s criminal case stating, “it is in our interest that the investigation … be brought to completion, and [Bout] should answer all the questions the American justice system has.”

On 18 January 2013, Russian government officials announced that “judges, investigators, justice ministry officials and special services agents who were involved in Russian citizens Viktor Bout’s and Konstantin Yaroshenko’s legal prosecution and sentencing to long terms of imprisonment” would be added to a list of U.S. officials who will be denied Russian entry visas in response for the U.S. “Magnitsky Act“, under which certain Russian officials are ineligible to enter the U.S.

Prosecution and conviction in the United States

The day after his Bangkok arrest, the U.S. Department of Justice charged Bout with conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, conspiring to kill Americans, conspiring to kill American officers or employees, and conspiring to acquire and use an anti-aircraft missile.

Additional charges against him were filed in February 2010. These included illegal purchase of aircraft, wire fraud, and money laundering.

Bout was convicted by a jury at a court in Manhattan on 2 November 2011.On 5 April 2012, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison (the minimum sentence) for conspiring to sell weapons to a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist group.

District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the minimum sentence was appropriate because:

“there was no evidence that Bout would have committed the crimes for which he was convicted had it not been for the sting operation”.

 

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement denouncing Bout’s sentence as “a political order”. During the trial, Bout’s lawyers also implied that he was a political prisoner.

Bout’s wife Alla said shortly afterwards that the judge conducted the trial in a proper way. Viktor Bout pointed out that if the same standards were applied to everyone, all American gun shop owners—”who are sending arms and ending up killing Americans”—would be in prison.

In June 2013, a co-conspirator of Bout’s, Richard Ammar Chichakli, was extradited to New York on charges that he conspired to buy aircraft in violation of economic sanctions.

In September 2013, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld Bout’s conviction after rejecting Bout’s contention that he had been the victim of a vindictive prosecution and that there was no legitimate law enforcement reason to prosecute him.

As of 2014, former US Attorney General John Ashcroft is representing Bout in over turning his conviction via a new trial.

In the media

The 2005 film Lord of War is purportedly based on allegations about Bout’s personal history and black-market activities.

A documentary about Bout, The Notorious Mr. Bout, from Market Road Films and directed by Tony Gerber and Maxim Pozdorovkin, received its premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

In 2007, Stephen Braun and Douglas Farah published a book about Bout: Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

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Lord of War Trailer

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operation manhunt HEADER

See:  Operation Man Hunt: Viktor Bout – The Merchant of Death

Operation Man Hunt: The Hunt for Viktor Bout – The Merchant of Death

Operation Man Hunt

operation manhunt HEADER

The Hunt for the Richest, Deadliest Criminal in History

My Thoughts?

A great book that reads like a Hollywood script and  a range of characters straight out of a Ian Flemming novel.  Enough twists and turns to keep me interested and guessing and compelling  insights into the murky waters of international arms dealing.

I did form the opinion that Bout was entrapped and although I had no sympathy for him it did leave  a bitter taste in my mouth.

Well worth a read though!

The Night Manager meets Narcos‘ Saul David

‘To catch this criminal took incredible courage and skill. This is James Bond meets Jason Bourne’ Bear Grylls

The new bestseller from the author of Zero Six Bravo

By 2007 Viktor Bout had become the world’s foremost arms dealer. Known as the ‘Merchant of Death’ he was both “Public Enemy No. 1” to the global intelligence agencies and a ruthless criminal worth around six billion dollars.

For years Bout had eluded capture, meanwhile building up a labyrinthine network of airlines selling weapons to order to dictators, rebels, despots and terror groups worldwide. He was hunted by the CIA, NSA, MI6, as well sought by the United Nations for being their top global sanctions buster. Holed up in Moscow – from where he ran a suite of offices selling anything from AK47s to state-of-the-art helicopter gunships and anti-aircraft missiles – he was shielded by a Russian state that was a partner in his dark dealings. In short, Bout appeared utterly invulnerable and beyond any hope of capture.

Step forward former SAS man Mike Snow. After serving in the Regiment, Snow had worked as a bush pilot in Africa, where he’d got to know Bout well. Via its own secretive, shadow network, Snow was approached by the US DEA, the Drugs Enforcement Agency. The DEA agents had one question for him: was Snow able to get to Viktor Bout?

This is the incredible tale of OPERATION RELENTLESS, the top-secret mission that Snow and a handful of DEA operatives launched to entrap Viktor Bout – a story that ranges from the steamy jungles of Colombia to the ice-bound streets of Moscow, and from horrific bloodshed and tyranny in the Congo, to a snatch operation like no other. It may read like an implausible thriller, but every word of Operation Man Hunt is true.

Buy the book

 

From the Inside Flap

They claimed they were the A-Team – the guys who could get one of the world’s most wanted men, notorious Russian arms-dealer Viktor Bout. More commonly known as ‘The Merchant of Death’, Bout was “Public Enemy No. 1” to the global intelligence agencies who hunted him, worth an alleged six billion dollars.

For decades Bout had run a labyrinthine network of airlines selling weapons to fabulously wealthy dictators, bloodthirsty rebels and fearsome terror outfits. Reputedly the United Nations top global sanctions buster, he was holed up in Moscow, shielded by a Russian state complicit in his dark dealings. But like modern-day bounty hunters the A-Team claimed they could nail Bout, and where an alphabet soup of agencies – MI6, CIA, NSA and others – had failed.

To capture Bout the US DEA – the Drugs Enforcement Agency – put together a cast more extraordinary than any fiction: The Bear, a stir-crazy bush-pilot and former SAS man; Carlos, former intelligence agent and undercover known as ‘The King of Sting’; ‘El Commandante’, a former narco-trafficker and arms-dealer extraordinaire; plus Dutch and Polski, ex-US military and crack DEA operators.

If they couldn’t get Bout, no one could.

Written with Lewis’s signature dramatic verve, and based upon exclusive interviews, DEA wire taps and court transcripts, this is the explosive story of the ultra-secret mission known as OPERATION RELENTLESS. It ranges from the steamy jungles of Colombia to the ice-bound streets of Moscow, and from horrific bloodshed and tyranny in Africa’s heart of darkness to a snatch mission like no other. It may read like an implausible thriller, but every word is true.

Reviews

 

” To catch this criminal took incredible courage and skill.

his is James Bond meets Jason Bourne”

Image result for bear grylls

Bear Grylls

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review 4

 

Buy the book

See: Victor Bout The Merchant of Death

 

The Execution of the Lincoln Conspirators – 1885 Life & Death

The Execution of the Lincoln Conspirators

 

Execution of the Lincoln conspirators, 1865

A century and a half ago on the  July 7th , 1865 — one of the last grim scenes in the tragedy of the Civil War was played out — and caught on camera — at what is now Fort McNair, in Southwest Washington.

the Lincoln conspirators, 1865.jpg
The Lincoln Conspirators
Mary E. Surratt — the first woman to be executed by the federal government — Lewis Powell, George Atzerodt and David Herold had been convicted by a military tribunal of conspiring with John Wilkes Booth in the murder of Lincoln.
John Wilkes Booth-portrait.jpg
John Wilkes Booth, assassin of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.

Booth had been killed 10 weeks earlier while trying to escape, after shooting Lincoln in Ford’s Theatre on April 14.

All the condemned were local Southern sympathizers implicated in the plans, first to kidnap Lincoln and later to kill him, Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward.

 

Image result for Secretary of State William Seward.

Secretary of State William Seward.

Seward survived a brutal knife attack by Powell the night Lincoln was shot. Johnson escaped harm when Atzerodt lost his nerve and failed to execute his part of the operation.

Herold had helped Booth escape and was “the getaway guy,” as one expert put it.

And by most accounts, Surratt knew of the plot and abetted the plotters from her boarding house on H Street NW.

 

Image result for mary e. surratt boarding house

The four were lined up — their arms handcuffed, their feet shackled — as an officer read the execution order and the photographer, Alexander Gardner, aimed two cameras from about 100 feet away.

Mary E. Surratt

Image result for Mary E. Surratt

“to be hanged by the neck until he [or she] be dead”

 

Mary Surratt — Surratt owned a boarding house in Washington where the conspirators met. Sentenced to death, she was hanged, becoming the first woman executed by the United States federal government.

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Mary Elizabeth Jenkins Surratt (1820 or May 1823 – July 7, 1865) was an American boarding house owner who was convicted of taking part in the conspiracy to assassinate U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. Sentenced to death, she was hanged and became the first woman executed by the US federal government. She maintained her innocence until her death, and the case against her was and is controversial. Surratt was the mother of John H. Surratt, Jr., who was later tried but was not convicted of involvement in the assassination.

Born in the 1820s, Surratt converted to Catholicism at a young age and remained a practicing Catholic for the rest of her life. She wed John Harrison Surratt in 1840 and had three children by him. An entrepreneur, John became the owner of a tavern, an inn, and a hotel. The Surratts were sympathetic to the Confederate States of America and often hosted fellow Confederate sympathizers at their tavern

See Here for more details:  Mary Elizabeth Jenkins Surratt

 

The condemned Lincoln conspirators on the scaffold, 1865

Adjusting the ropes for hanging the conspirators. 

 

David Herold 

Image result for David Herold

David Herold — An impressionable and dull-witted pharmacy clerk, Herold accompanied Booth to the home of Dr. Samuel Mudd, who set Booth’s injured leg. The two men then continued their escape through Maryland and into Virginia, and Herold remained with Booth until the authorities cornered them in a barn. Herold surrendered but Booth was shot and died a few hours later.

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David Edgar Herold (June 16, 1842 – July 7, 1865) was an accomplice of John Wilkes Booth in the assassination of Abraham Lincolnon April 14, 1865. After the shooting, Herold accompanied Booth to the home of Dr. Samuel Mudd, who set Booth’s injured leg. The two men then continued their escape through Maryland and into Virginia, and Herold remained with Booth until the authorities cornered them in a barn. Herold surrendered, but Booth was shot and died a few hours later. Herold was sentenced to death and hanged with three other conspirators at the Washington Arsenal, now known as Fort Lesley J. McNair

See here for more details: David Herold

Adjusting the ropes for hanging the conspirators. White cloth was used to bind their arms to their sides, and their ankles and thighs together.

White cloth was used to bind their arms to their sides, and their ankles and thighs together.

 

Lewis Powell

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Lewis Powell — Powell was a former Confederate prisoner of war. Tall and strong, he was recruited to provide the muscle for the kidnapping plot. When that plan failed, Booth assigned Powell to kill Secretary of State William Seward. He entered the Seward home and severely injured Seward, Seward’s son, and a bodyguard.

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Lewis Thornton Powell (April 22, 1844 – July 7, 1865), also known as Lewis Payne and Lewis Paine, was an American citizen who attempted to assassinate United States Secretary of State William H. Seward on April 14, 1865. He was a conspirator with John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln the same night.

Powell was a Confederate soldier wounded at Gettysburg. He later served in Mosby’s Rangers before working with the Confederate Secret Service in Maryland. He met Booth and was recruited into an unsuccessful plot to kidnap Lincoln. On April 14, 1865, Booth resolved to assassinate Lincoln, Seward, and Vice President Andrew Johnson.

Powell was given the task of killing Seward. He was assisted by David Herold, who guided Powell to Seward’s home and kept horses ready for the escape. Powell severely injured Seward, and Herold fled before Powell could exit the Seward home. Powell lost his way in the city, and three days later arrived at a boarding house run by Mary Surratt, mother of co-conspirator John Surratt. By chance, the police were searching the house at that moment, and arrested Powell. Powell and three others, including Mary Surratt, were sentenced to death by a military tribunal and were executed at the Washington Arsenal.

See here for more details : Lewis Powell 

Close-up: the death warrant for the four is being read aloud by General John F. Hartranft.

Close-up: The death warrant for the four is being read aloud by General John F. Hartranft.

 

George Azterodt

Image result for George Atzerodt

 

George Azterodt — German-born Azterodt was a carriage painter and boatman who had secretly ferried Confederate spies across Southern Maryland waterways during the war. Recruited by Booth into the conspiracy, he was assigned to kill Vice President Andrew Johnson, but lost his nerve and stayed in a hotel bar, drinking, instead.

Image result for George Atzerodt

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George Andrew Atzerodt (June 12, 1835 – July 7, 1865) was a conspirator, with John Wilkes Booth, in the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. Assigned to assassinate U.S. Vice President Andrew Johnson, he lost his nerve and did not make an attempt. He was executed along with three other conspirators by hanging.

See here for more details:  George Azterodt

Close-up: A white bag was placed over the head of each prisoner after the noose was put in place.

Close-up: A white bag was placed over the head of each prisoner after the noose was put in place.

The conspirators stood on the drop for about 10 seconds, and then Captain Rath clapped his hands. Four soldiers knocked out the supports holding the drops in place, and the condemned fell.

The conspirators stood on the drop for about 10 seconds, and then Captain Rath clapped his hands. Four soldiers knocked out the supports holding the drops in place, and the condemned fell.

Close-up: The bodies continued to hang and swing for another 25 minutes before they were cut down.

Close-up: The bodies continued to hang and swing for another 25 minutes before they were cut down.

After last rites and shortly after 1:30 PM, the trap door was opened and all four fell. It was reported that Atzerodt yelled at this very last moment: “May we meet in another world”. Within minutes, they were all dead. The bodies continued to hang and swing for another 25 minutes before they were cut down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Necklacing – South African Justice?

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela 

dies at 81 

Image result for bbc news Winnie Mandela

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Anti-apartheid campaigner dies at 81

Winnie Mandela raises her fist in a black power salute after announcing that a massive pop concert will be held to mark the 70th birthday of her husband in 1988

Mrs Madikizela-Mandela (pictured in 1988) became a symbol for the anti-apartheid movement in her own right

South African anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has died aged 81, her personal assistant says.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was the former wife of South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela.

The couple – famously pictured hand-in-hand as Mr Mandela walked free from prison after 27 years – were a symbol of the anti-apartheid struggle for nearly three decades.

However, in later years her reputation became tainted legally and politically.

Family spokesman Victor Dlamini said Mrs Mandela “succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones” following a long illness, which had seen her go in and out of hospital since the start of the year.

Retired archbishop and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu praised her as a “defining symbol of the struggle against apartheid”.

“Her courageous defiance was deeply inspirational to me, and to generations of activists,” he added.

See BBC News for full story

 

 

Necklacing

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South Africa

Necklacing is the practice of summary execution and torture carried out by forcing a rubber tire, filled with petrol, around a victim’s chest and arms, and setting it on fire. The victim may take up to 20 minutes to die, suffering severe burns in the process.

 

In South Africa

The practice appears to have begun in the Eastern Cape area of South Africa in the mid-1980s. One incident sometimes cited as the first recorded instance of necklacing took place in Uitenhage on 23 March 1985 when a group of people killed Benjamin Kinikini, a local councillor who was accused of having links to a vigilante group.

Kinikini and members of his family were dragged out of their house, stabbed to death, and their bodies set on fire.

Two of those judged to be the perpetrators, Wellington Mielies, 26, and Moses Jantjies, 23, were hanged on 1 September 1987.

But in this case the victims were killed by stabbing, and not by burning tires.

Something similar seems to have happened in the killing of Matthew Goniwe and his fellow anti-apartheid activists by the police in July 1985.

Necklacing was used by the black community to punish its members who were perceived as collaborators with the apartheid government.

These included black policemen, town councilors and others, as well as their relatives and associates. The practice was often carried out in the name of the African National Congress, although the ANC executive body condemned it.

In 1986 Winnie Mandela, then-wife of the imprisoned Nelson Mandela, stated

“With our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country”

 

which was widely seen as an explicit endorsement of necklacing, which at the time caused the ANC to distance itself from her,although she later took on a number of official positions within the party. The number of deaths per month in South Africa related to political unrest as a whole from 1992 through 1995 ranged from 54 to 605 and averaged 244.

These figures are inclusive of massacres as well as deaths not attributed to necklacing.

The first victim of necklacing, according to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, was a young woman, Maki Skosana, on 20 July 1985.

Moloko said her sister was burned to death with a tire around her neck while attending the funeral of one of the youths. Her body had been scorched by fire and some broken pieces of glass had been inserted into her vagina, Moloko told the committee. Moloko added that a big rock had been thrown on her face after she had been killed.

 

Photojournalist Kevin Carter was the first to photograph a public execution by necklacing in South Africa in the mid-1980s. He later spoke of the images:

I was appalled at what they were doing. I was appalled at what I was doing. But then people started talking about those pictures… then I felt that maybe my actions hadn’t been at all bad. Being a witness to something this horrible wasn’t necessarily such a bad thing to do.

He went on to say:

After having seen so many necklacings on the news, it occurs to me that either many others were being performed (off camera as it were) and this was just the tip of the iceberg, or that the presence of the camera completed the last requirement, and acted as a catalyst in this terrible reaction.

The strong message that was being sent, was only meaningful if it were carried by the media. It was not more about the warning (others) than about causing one person pain. The question that haunts me is ‘would those people have been necklaced, if there was no media coverage?’

See Kevin Carter

Author Lynda Schuster writes,

‘Necklacing’ represented the worst of the excesses committed in the name of the uprising. This was a particularly gruesome form of mob justice, reserved for those thought to be government collaborators, informers and black policemen. The executioners would force a car tire over the head and around the arms of the suspect, drench it in petrol, and set it alight. Immobilized, the victim burned to death.

 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu once famously saved a near victim of necklacing when he rushed into a large gathered crowd and threw his arms around a man accused of being a police informant, who was about to be killed. Tutu’s actions, which were caught on film, caused the crowd to release the man.

Some commentators have noted that the practice of necklacing served to escalate the levels of violence during the township wars of the 1980s and early 1990s as security force members became brutalized and afraid that they might fall victim to the practice.

In other countries

This practice of lynching is found in Haiti. It was prominently used against supporters of Jean-Claude Duvalier‘s dictatorship at the beginning of the democratic transition, from 1986 to 1990.

In the early 1990s, university students in AbidjanCote d’Ivoire were plagued by burglars stealing from their dormitories. The students took matters into their own hands by capturing the alleged thieves, and then executed them by placing tires around their necks and setting the tires on fire. Ivorian police, powerless to stop these necklacings, could do nothing but stand by and watch

In 2006, at least one person died in Nigeria by necklacing in the deadly Muslim protests over satirical cartoon drawings of Muhammad.

The practice is widely used by drug dealers in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, Southeast Region), where it’s called micro-ondas  (allusion to the microwave oven). Journalist Tim Lopes was a notable victim.

Necklacing was also widely used in the armed insurrection led by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna in Sri Lanka. A graphic description of one such necklacing appears in the book The Island of Blood by journalist Anita Pratap.

See Kevin Carter

 

 

Eugen Weidmann – The last public execution by Guillotine, 1939

The Execution

of

Eugen Weidmann

Eugen Weidmann BirthFactxDeathCalendar Weidmann Eugen

by Guillotine

 

Eugen Weidmann
Eugène Weidmann IJ.jpg

 

Born February 5, 1908
Frankfurt am MainGermany
Died June 17, 1939 (aged 31)
VersaillesFrance
Occupation Career criminal
Criminal charge Conspiracy, kidnapping, fraud, robbery, murder, resisting arrest
Criminal penalty Death
Criminal status Executed by guillotine on June 17, 1939
Motive Personal gain

Eugen Weidmann (February 5, 1908 – June 17, 1939) was a German criminal and serial murderer who was executed by guillotine in France in June 1939, the last public execution in that country. (Executions by guillotine continued in private until Hamida Djandoubi‘s execution on September 10, 1977).

 

Early life

Weidmann was born in Frankfurt am Main in Germany to the family of an export businessman, and went to school there. He was sent to live with his grandparents at the outbreak of World War I; during this time he started stealing. Later in his twenties he served five years in Saarbrücken jail for robbery.

During his time in jail Weidmann met two men who would later become his partners in crime: Roger Million and Jean Blanc. After their release from jail, they decided to work together to kidnap rich tourists visiting France and steal their money. They rented a villa in Saint-Cloud, near Paris, for this purpose.

Kidnapping

Their first kidnap attempt ended in failure because their victim struggled too hard, forcing them to let him go. In July 1937, they made a second attempt, Weidmann having made the acquaintance of Jean De Koven, a 22-year-old New York City dancer visiting her aunt Ida Sackheim in Paris.

Impressed by the tall, handsome German, De Koven wrote to a friend:

“I have just met a charming German of keen intelligence who calls himself Siegfried. Perhaps I am going to another Wagnerian role – who knows? I am going to visit him tomorrow at his villa in a beautiful place near a famous mansion that Napoleon gave Josephine.”

 

During their meeting they smoked and “Siegfried” gave her a glass of milk. She took photos of him with her new camera (later found beside her body, the developed snapshots showing her killer).

Weidmann then strangled and buried her in the villa’s garden. She had 300 francs in cash and $430 in traveller’s cheques, which the group sent Million’s mistress, Colette Tricot, to cash. Sackheim received a letter demanding $500 for the return of her niece. De Koven’s brother Henry later came to France offering a 10,000 franc reward from his father Abraham for information about the young woman.

On September 1 of the same year, Weidmann hired a chauffeur named Joseph Couffy to drive him to the French Riviera where, in a forest outside Tours he shot him in the nape of the neck and stole his car and 2500 francs.

The next murder came on September 3, after Weidmann and Million lured Janine Keller, a private nurse, into a cave in the forest of Fontainebleau with a job offer.

There he killed her, again with a bullet to the nape of the neck, before robbing her of 1400 francs and her diamond ring. On October 16, Million and Weidmann arranged a meeting with a young theatrical producer named Roger LeBlond, promising to invest money in one of his shows. Instead, Weidmann shot him in the back of his head and took his wallet containing 5000 francs.

On November 22, Weidmann murdered and robbed Fritz Frommer, a young German he had met in jail. Frommer, a Jew, had been held there for his anti-Nazi views. Once again the victim was shot in the nape of the neck. His body was buried in the basement of the Saint-Cloud house where De Koven was interred. Five days later Weidmann committed his final murder. Raymond Lesobre, a real estate agent, was shot in the killer’s preferred fashion while showing him around a house in Saint-Cloud. Five thousand francs were taken from him.

Arrest

Officers from the Sûreté, led by a young inspector named Primborgne, eventually tracked Weidmann to the villa from a business card left at Lesobre’s office. Arriving at his home, Weidmann found two officers waiting for him. Inviting them in, he then turned and fired three times at them with a pistol. Although they were unarmed, the wounded Sûreté men managed to wrestle Weidmann down, knocking him unconscious with a hammer that happened to be nearby.

Weidmann was a highly co-operative prisoner, confessing to all his murders, including that of de Koven, the only one for which he expressed regret. He is reported to have said tearfully:

“She was gentle and unsuspecting … When I reached for her throat, she went down like a doll.”

 

The murder trial of Weidmann, Million, Blanc and Tricot in Versailles in March 1939 was the biggest since that of Henri Désiré Landru, the modern-day “Bluebeard“, 18 years earlier. One of Weidmann’s lawyers, Vincent de Moro-Giafferi, had indeed defended Landru. Also present was the French novelist Colette, who was engaged by Paris-Soir to write an essay on Weidmann.

Weidmann and Million received the death sentence while Blanc received a jail sentence of twenty months and Tricot was acquitted. Million’s sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.

 

 

Execution

Eugen Weidmann Eugen Weidmann Photos 2 Murderpedia the encyclopedia

On June 17, 1939, Weidmann was beheaded outside the prison Saint-Pierre in Versailles. The “hysterical behaviour” by spectators was so scandalous that French president Albert Lebrun immediately banned all future public executions.

Unknown to authorities, film of the execution was shot from a private apartment adjacent to the prison. British actor Christopher Lee – who was 17 at the time – witnessed the event. He would later go on to play headsman Charles-Henri Sanson in a French TV drama about the French Revolution, in which his character made prolific use of the device.

Books about Eugen Weidmann

 

 

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The Guillotine

guillotine is an apparatus designed for efficiently carrying out executions by beheading. The device consists of a tall, upright frame in which a weighted and angled blade is raised to the top and suspended.

The condemned person is secured with stocks at the bottom of the frame, positioning the neck directly below the blade. The blade is then released, to quickly fall and forcefully decapitate the victim with a single, clean pass so that the head falls into a basket below.

 

Marie Antoinette‘s execution on 16 October 1793

 

Controversy

 

Retouched photo of the execution of Languille in 1905. Foreground figures were painted in over a real photo.

From its first use, there has been debate as to whether the guillotine always provided a swift death as Guillotin had hoped. With previous methods of execution intended to be painful, there was little concern about the level of suffering that they inflicted. Because the guillotine was invented specifically to be humane, the issue of pain and suffering was seriously considered.

Living Heads

 

languille-headless

Henri Languille

The question of consciousness following decapitation remained a topic of discussion during the guillotine’s use.

The following report was written by Dr. Beaurieux, who experimented with the head of a condemned prisoner by the name of Henri Languille, on 28 June 1905:

Here, then, is what I was able to note immediately after the decapitation: the eyelids and lips of the guillotined man worked in irregularly rhythmic contractions for about five or six seconds. This phenomenon has been remarked by all those finding themselves in the same conditions as myself for observing what happens after the severing of the neck …

 

I waited for several seconds. The spasmodic movements ceased. […] It was then that I called in a strong, sharp voice: “Languille!” I saw the eyelids slowly lift up, without any spasmodic contractions – I insist advisedly on this peculiarity – but with an even movement, quite distinct and normal, such as happens in everyday life, with people awakened or torn from their thoughts.

 

Next Languille’s eyes very definitely fixed themselves on mine and the pupils focused themselves. I was not, then, dealing with the sort of vague dull look without any expression, that can be observed any day in dying people to whom one speaks: I was dealing with undeniably living eyes which were looking at me. After several seconds, the eyelids closed again […].

 

It was at that point that I called out again and, once more, without any spasm, slowly, the eyelids lifted and undeniably living eyes fixed themselves on mine with perhaps even more penetration than the first time. Then there was a further closing of the eyelids, but now less complete. I attempted the effect of a third call; there was no further movement – and the eyes took on the glazed look which they have in the dead

 

See: here for more information