ANGOLA Ė Film shown to Security Council by Amb. Robert Fowler (Canada) 18 January 2000
The following is a rough unedited transcript of the extracts that were shown to the Council from 15 hours of videotaped interviews conducted by Ambassador Fowler with former UNITA rebels in Angola. Much of the material has been translated into English. Names are phonetic from the video tape.
Ambassador Fowler explained that he met six former UNITA officers at MONUA headquarters and that no Angolan Government representatives were present during the interviews. Three feature here.
General Jacinto Bandua: "My name is Jacinto Ricardo Bandua (literal). I was working very closely with Savimbi. I was in his military office and at the same time I held the post of chief of logistics for strategic equipment. UNITA bought a lot of material and many devices Ė tanks, mortars, mortar grenades, cannon, launching pads for missiles, ammunition and UNITA also bought a lot of tank accessories. These accessories made it possible for UNITA to rehabilitate the tanks it had captured over the sixteen years of war. Let me say here that over the sixteen years of struggle during those occasions when the South African force in the south of Angola near Dicinkulene??? area most of the Soviet equipment captured as it was not part of their doctrine was offered to UNITA. Anti-aircraft guns, long reach guns, all this equipment, throughout the peacetime was being rehabilitated by UNITA. If you add this to the material being imported, merely increased the potential or the mechanised assets for the force that UNITA was organising. In other words, with what UNITA bought, with what it had hidden, and with what it rehabilitated, the number was big. "
Colonel Jose Antonio Gille: My name is Jose Antonio Gille. I am thirty-two years old. I was the commander in charge of air operations and the major objective of that centre was to intercept all communications from the Angolan airforce. UNITA used to receive 15 to 20 flights a day. There were IL76 type of aircraft, Antonov 72s and Antonov 32s. The aircraft were bringing in T 74 type tanks, BMP 2s, BM 21s, BM 27s and some other equipment for the infantry.
Ambassador Fowler: All this equipment you mention you had seen personally?
Colonel Kangunga Kalia: My name is Kangunga (inaudible) Lucas also know by Kalia. UNITA do not contact governments. There are people. We just call them the international market of weapons. We donít know who is the boss behind it, but there are intermediates Ė people who are in contact with the UNITA -- and those guys who are kept secret by Doctor Savimbióunfortunately I was not in his camp. I donít now exactly who but it was those people who were in contact were the ones that came to UNITA. When they came, if UNITA agreed with them the rest was between those guys and the ones. UNITA doesnít know. For the payment, when they came UNITA said that as there were sanctions against UNITA, so we donít use banks. We have no more money outside. We have no dollars, but we have products. We have diamonds. Bring me the price of the material. UNITA chooses. It proposes the kind of material it needs. They then go and establish their contacts Ė their supply agents. UNITA does not control this. After they came with prices. UNITA also did not only contact one intermediator. It chooses the one who has the best price. After finding the one whose price is the best, UNITA says the way to pay is to negotiate. You have it, but I have diamonds. Say the price is 2 million dollars. UNITA asks do you have an expert who can buy diamonds. He goes away and finds his expert. At that time there were airfields in Angola and the experts would come to Angola.
Ambassador Fowler: And the payment was made in diamonds?
Answer: In diamonds. They came and evaluated. There was agreement on the value of the diamonds.
Ambassador Fowler: So UNITA had its expert in diamonds there too.
Ambassador Fowler: So the arms dealer has his expert in diamonds and UNITA has its expert in diamonds and they agree w hat is 2 million dollars worth.
Answer: Exactly. And when UNITA and the liaison man agree, they just have in their own charge the transfer of the diamonds. They knew how to sell them. UNITA is no more inside. The only thing UNITA needs is the material.
Ambassador Fowler: So you are saying that UNITA didnít talk to governments about buying weapons they just talked to middle-men.
Ambassador Fowler: These middle-men presented themselves to UNITA in competition with each otherÖ.
Ambassador Fowler: And UNITA was able to in effect to have an auction. It was able to choose the best price among the people competing to sell.
Ambassador Fowler: What about the transport?
Answer: The transport is another competition.
Ambassador Fowler: Did the arms merchant arrange the transport?
Answer: Sometimes the one that won the challenge would also come with a proposition. He would say, OK thatís my price. If you agree with that price, I will put the material where you want it to be.
Ambassador Fowler: General, we will continue the discussion on how UNITA meets its fuel requirements, and we have just agreed I think that it isnít via guys with a barrel on the back of a truck. We know that there were large air shipmentsÖ
General Bandua: From 1996 when I began to be involved in the purchase of fuel, until December 1998, they amounted to 2.3 million litres. This was just imports or acquisitions. And also as we bought we used part. When the fighting erupted, UNITA had about half a million litres.
Ambassador Fowler: In December 1998?
Answer: November. I was in charge. I was controlling this. The armoured vehicles consumed a lot and the movement of troops is another drain on fuel. By January, UNITA was at less than 100,000 litres. From then on, Savimbi was concerned to start acquiring fuel and this became the major priority. The aircraft that arrived were bringing fuel and nothing else. Thatís why the countries that I have mentioned were then offering their contribution to allow the sale of fuel by using their countries.
Ambassador Fowler: Fuel came in in drums or in bladders?
Answer: That was in drums.
Ambassador Fowler: Do you have any idea of the volume?
Answer: Yes. There were planes with 20,000 litres, and the Illushyn brought in 50,000 in containers.
General Bandua: Savimbi took all these steps because in the light of the sanctions package that was being applied there was talk about control or tracing UNITA assets placed in banks around the world. So Savimbi didnít bank any money, but rather went round keeping money in the houses of people who were his friends. In his own house he has five safes he uses to keep money.
Colonel Kangunga: He doesnít agree to use banks. He doesnít even have money that travels around in bags and suitcases. He has a lot of diamonds and the best diamonds he was able to win he has kept.
Ambassador Fowler: With him?
Answer: Yes. Close to him. But he has all his family abroad. In Angola you only have him and two nephews. All the rest of the family are abroad. So who keeps the diamonds we donít know. Savimbi has for years know been organising an airport to be able to welcome some aircraft. From what point I donít know because now I am on this side.
General Bandua: I will tell you frankly I was his aide de camp for many years. He told me many things. I tried to retain what he said. He said he would never go into exile. He didnít want to submit himself to that. He was aware of all the evil he had done everywhere. This needs to be exposed to outside scrutiny. He is here and he will stay here until he dies.
Colonel Gille: The two United Nations flights which were brought down in Huambo area, we used the same (inaudible) type of missiles. And the one who brought them down is called Gregorio. He was the one that operated the gun.
Ambassador Fowler: It was a gun or a missile?
Answer: It was portable. ( Trans. So it was not a gun. It was off-shoulder.)
Ambassador Fowler: Was it the men he commanded who brought down the aircraft or did he himself bring down the aircraft?
Answer: He personally brought them down.
Ambassador Fowler: Was he told to shoot down those aeroplanes?
Answer: What happened was we had instructions to bring down any type of aircraft that was within range of our anti-aircraft guns.
Ambassador Fowler: Including United Nations aircraft?
Answer: Everything that was aircraft. Because Savimbi said that the UN aircraft was in the service of the government.
Ambassador Fowler: So there is no doubt among UNITA forces that the United Nations was a fair target?
Answer: Yes. That was the instruction we had. When the aircraft was brought down, Savimbi gave instructions that the soldiers should bury the aircraft carcass, to make it impossible to see or visit the site, and also there was this story of the black box. In other words to make it impossible to decipher what happened.
Ambassador Fowler: Were there any survivors from the first flight?
Answer: There were none.
Ambassador Fowler: What was the reaction when the second UN flight was bought down?
Answer: The modalities were the same.
Ambassador Fowler: And their happiness?
Answer: The people were not happy.
Ambassador Fowler: Why not?
Answer: Well the people had gone into a trance and they knew that when the UN aircraft was brought down worse things would follow.
Ambassador Fowler: Like what?
Answer: That is the war would resume. That is, in brief, military action was going to follow.
Ambassador Fowler: Did that happen?
Answer: Well.. now sanctions are taking effect because UNITA is now finding a lot of difficulties.
Ambassador Fowler: What kind of difficulties?
Answer: Well the aircraft donít land normally. Now they have to be private flights and that has not been easy. Most of the aircraft have to land at night, and when it was raining there were further difficulties. So Savimbi really came out to say the sanctions were biting.
Ambassador Fowler: Did you know what he meant when he said that?
Answer: He said that sanctions were biting because not all the equipment UNITA had bought was able to be transported into the country.
General Bandua: Savimbi had issued specific orders to shoot down any aircraft of the United Nations. He was not interested whether they were just crossing Angolan airspace or whether they were based here, or what they were doing. He gave express instructions to bring down these aircraft and within five minutes of each shot Savimbi was informed. And it was Savimbi who gave instructions about each aircraft shot down in Huambo province and it was he who after the shooting gave instructions to cover them up so as not to leave any trace. And if they found any traces of human bodies, they were to be burned or destroyed, and even the bones were to be buried very far away. Those were Savimbiís orders.
Ambassador Fowler: When the first United Nations plane was shot down did you see his reaction?
Answer: I talked to him.
Ambassador Fowler: And what was his reaction?
Answer: He was happy. He said that this was a way of pressuring all those working with the United Nations to quit.
Ambassador Fowler: What happened to the individual who had fired the missile which brought down the first aircraft?
Answer: He was promoted.
Ambassador Fowler: He was promoted fairly quickly?
Answer: Within one week.
Ambassador Fowler: When the second UN aircraft was shot down less than a week later?
Answer: It was the same person who fired.
Ambassador Fowler: And Savimbiís reaction to the second one.