Tim Spicer

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Overview

Lt. Col. Tim Spicer is a twenty year veteran of the British Army, a former Scots Guard officer, a Sandhurst graduate and a veteran of the Falkland's War, conflicts in Northern Ireland and Bosnia. He went from anti-war hippie in 1970 to returning to England to join up with the Special Air Service. His military career did not really take off and he stayed in the Scots Guard for most of his time.

He served as the Brigade Major in 11 Armoured Brigade, based in Germany. The commander of 11 Armd Bde was the then Brigadier (later Major General) Jeremy J Phipps (late Queens Own Hussars), a former commanding officer of 22 SAS, and who later became Director, Special Forces.

In 1992 Spicer applied for a job as military assistant for Peter de la Billiere whose job involved the disbursement of military services in the Gulf. This was Spicer's first entrance to the world of Special Forces. It was here that, according to Spicer, he brought fellow ex-Scots Guard and future senior director of Executive Outcomes Ltd (UK), Simon Mann, into their operation.[1]

Upon leaving the army in 1995, Spicer went into the private military workplace, first CEO of Sandline International which he left in 2000; then on his own with Crisis and Risk Management Ltd. which became Strategic Counseling International which later became Trident Maritime. He immediately ran into trouble for incorrectly registering the shareholdings and directorships because he had his publicist Sara Pearson, of PR company The Spa Way, register the company at her office's address.

She helped Spicer's image, which had been badly tarnished by his own doings, with the release of a book, An Unorthodox Soldier [10]. While stating his case for the role of hired soldiers in conflicts, parts of the book have been criticized by opponents for being grossly inaccurate on some key issues. [2]

Some time in the spring of 2003, Spicer started Aegis Defense Services, at the same place he ran Trident, with his friend Mark Bullough. This soon became a smart investment as the new company won a $293 million contract from the Pentagon to oversee the largest private army in the world.

Belfast

On September 4, 1992, two Scot Guardsmen under Spicer's command shot to death unarmed 18 year-old Peter McBride in the New Lodge area of Belfast. The two Guardsmen, Marc Wright and James Fisher were convicted of murder, however due to a vocal campaign that included Spicer, they were released early and returned to their assigned duty, fighting in Basra during last sping's invasion. The court ruling supported the murder claims and recognized the barrage of lies that accompanied the susequent investigation. Spicer, however, holds onto his story despite the evidence to the contrary.

The family of Peter McBride and the Pat Finucane Center are worried about the current history of PMCs in Iraq, and they see Tim Spicer's army as a frightening sign of the future. They have asked for people in the US to bring to Congress' attention Spicer's track record before going through with the contract. They insist that hearings should at least be had before granting him the power over such a large and sensitive enterprise.[11] [3]

Papua New Guinea

After discovering a vein of copper on the island of Bougainville, CRA, an Australian subsidiary of British Rio Tinto mining company, established by force and displacement, the Panguna Copper Mine that over twenty years has turned into 7km around and .5km deep. Besides the general ecological destruction that takes place making the mine accessible, it has created over a billion tons of waste that has been poured into the Jaba river valley. [4]

In 1988 the people of Bougainville revolted under the leadership of Francis Ona. The Papua New Guinea government, with the aid of the Australian government, spent ten years waging war against the people there using phosphorus bombs, blockades of medicines, murder, torture and rape to get their copper mine back.

This is the situation Tim Spicer's Sandline walked into when they were hired by the Papua Prime Minister Julius Chan. The $36 million contract was leaked to the PNG army by Brigadier Jerry Singirok. The members of the under paid, poorly fed army felt the money could be spent in better ways, and they revolted against the government and arrested and deported most of the Sandline employees.[5]

They, however, kept Spicer around for nearly a month and had a trial to show the corruption involved in the contract. Among the evidence presented by the prosecution was a suitcase found on his person with $400,000 in it. During the precedings he admitted the operation, codenamed "Operation Oyster", involved using attack helicopters and other methods to intimidate the people of Bougainville.[6]

Before he was let go, with help from the British government, it was clear his company had accepted as part of its job description, to develop and wage forms of psychological warfare, along with standard military operations, against the people of the island.

Sierra Leone

In 1998, Sandline was contracted by the ousted president of Sierre Leone, Ahmed Kabbah to oust the coup leaders. Despite an international embargo against the country, Spicer and an Indian banker, Rakesh Saxena, set up a deal to bring 30 tons of Bulgarian arms into the African country. They were also contracted to arm and train about 40,000 militia. Along with aid from the Nigerian army, the militia was able to overthrow the RUF. Payment for these services is said to be $10 million in diamond mine concessions, which makes sense due to Sandline's close relationship to Diamondworks, a company with diamond concessions in Sierra Leone.[7]

In 1995, Kabbah had hired Executive Outcomes to fight the same group keeping him from obtaining his elected post. They were successful and kept the peace for further elections, however, the International Monetary Fund pulled funding out of the country because of the EO's presence. With no money to pay them, they left and the opposition Revolutionary United Front rose up again to drive Kabbah from power.[8]

Despite what effect the arms shipment may or may not have had, what is clear is Spicer felt confident leading Sandline through an operation that was illegal by international standards. When questioned initially about it, he claimed he didn't know of the laws enforcing the embargo. The law specifically was UN resolution 1132 which had been past in October and incorporated into British law.

Go here for many more articles throughout the investigation.

Other points

  • Spicer was consulted by the British government concerning the coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea as described by Jack Straw, "considered the case and agreed the (Foreign Office) should approach an individual formerly connected with a British private military company, both to attempt to test the veracity of the report and to make clear the (Foreign Office) was firmly opposed to any unconstitutional action such as coups. A senior Foreign Office official did so within days. The individual concerned claimed no knowledge of the plans. The Sunday Times of Britain confirmed this individual was indeed Spicer, who was thought to pass the message along to Simon Mann and Greg Wales, former business associates and fellow coup plotters. [9]

SourceWatch articles

External Resources

  • George Monbiot, Pedigree dogs of war, The Guardian, January 25, 2005. Subtitle: "Some people who engage in foreign conflicts are called terrorists. Others are about to be government-licensed".
  • Jon Swain, "Making a killing", The Sunday Times,October 23, 2005.

References

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