On Wednesday, @mcculloughirvin and I published a massive dive into a U.S. military contractor. Y'all were too busy tweeting about optics then, so read it now.
thedailybeast.com/the-shady-conn…
@mcculloughirvin There are six basic allegations. The first is that an American military contractor, SOS International, made a corrupt deal with an Iraqi cartel that we call Afaq. Afaq is tied to Iraq's former Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki.
@mcculloughirvin The bones of Afaq are controlled by several Iraqi oligarchs. One of the most powerful is Essam Kzar al-Asadi. Essam is a bagman for al-Maliki and has won billions in state construction contracts
@mcculloughirvin Essam also controls major Iraqi industry, like Baghdad Soft Drinks Co., which is Pepsi's affiliate in Iraq. How he got it is unclear. english.mubasher.info/markets/ISX/st…
@mcculloughirvin Essam is connected to another oligarch, Sami Shannan Zuwaid al-Asadi. Sami is the nephew of Iraq's former acting Interior Minister, Adnan al-Asadi. The interior ministry controls the country's police and has input on contracts.
@mcculloughirvin Two other oligarchs are worth mentioning as part of this network. The first, Tariq al-Hassan, we don't know much about except that he's really rich and has interests in the tobacco and food industries. He owns a lot of stuff, but has avoided attention.
@mcculloughirvin Another group connected to Afaq is the Muften Group, controlled by the Muften brothers, Karim Noor and Farhan Noor. Like most Afaq oligarchs they've got diversified interests, but are heavily identified with food products, including the major Saudi dairy producer, Al Mara'ai
@mcculloughirvin Through Afaq and its subsidiaries and linked companies (we've identified over 80 different companies associated with the network) these oligarchs partner with Western companies doing business in Iraq and provide all sorts of services, from fuel to water to IT.
@mcculloughirvin But this story is about how they operate on military bases. In at least two cases on major Iraqi military bases, Afaq (or an Afaq company) has partnered with an American military contractor. Afaq uses connections in the Iraqi government to get the contractor the base...
@mcculloughirvin Then the contractor pays out substantial sums of their net profit at the base to Afaq, at times over 50%. They also funnel lucrative subcontracts, especially fuel, to Afaq subsidiaries. And Iraqi politicians are allegedly paid off to keep these deals running.
@mcculloughirvin This information comes from confidential sources, but also, in SOSi's case, a lot is open source. SOSi obtained an exclusive land use agreement to run 4 Iraqi military bases from the Iraqi government and Afaq. The agreement was signed by Hussein al-Asadi, who has afaq connections
@mcculloughirvin This agreement granted SOSi full control of Balad Air Base, Camp Taji, Umm Qasr's naval port and a training facility in Besmaya. Other contractors couldn't compete with SOSi for government contracts, DOD docs show
@mcculloughirvin The State Department also couldn't break SOSi's hold via the land use agreement.
@mcculloughirvin SOSi got two contracts from the Afaq agreement, at Balad, and at Camp Taji and Besmaya. SOSi lost their Balad contract, potentially via incompetence only generating $79 million in revenue (roughly $6.3 million pure profit). Sallyport, another Afaq contractor partner got Balad
@mcculloughirvin At Taji though, SOSi's approaching roughly $1.8 billion in earned and potential revenue ($144 million in pure profit) and no one has been able to challenge them for the contract. Both SOSi and Afaq have a lot to gain from this contract
@mcculloughirvin How do we know that SOSi is partnering with Afaq at Taji beyond roughly 15 former SOSi employees? There's open source information we uncovered. Afaq also owns a company called Peace Wings. We can tell Afaq=Peace Wings because they share phone numbers
@mcculloughirvin Peace Wings shares its address with another company, Shahed al Sharq. Therefore Afaq=Peace Wings=Shahed al Sharq. Shahed al Sharq is the business name that Afaq uses at Camp Taji while working with SOSi
@mcculloughirvin Another piece of evidence that Afaq is Shahed al Sharq comes from Shahed al Sharq's owner, a man named Abdel Raouf Ajeel Taher, who is a board member of Sami al-Asadi's bank.
@mcculloughirvin Oh, Afaq also listed SOSi as a freaking partner on their website too.
@mcculloughirvin So how do we know Shahed al Sharq is operating at Taji? Because even crime cartel employees have Linkedin accounts
@mcculloughirvin Look at the account of Omar al-Juboori, who is listed as a Vice President of security operations on Afaq's website. Notice how he lists his time at Peace Wings and Afaq as overlapping with SOSi.
@mcculloughirvin Omar al-Juboori, by the way, is the son in law of recently retired Iraqi Special Forces General Abdul Ghani al-Asadi. Abdul Ghani is an Iraqi national hero. But he's also part of Afaq's government network.
@mcculloughirvin Beyond that, remember how Afaq delivers fuel via subcontracts (fuel is an incredibly lucrative business). Look at these copies of a resume from Iqbal Hashem, Afaq's supposed "human resources director." Notice the bases line up with all the ones on the land use agreement
@mcculloughirvin Anyway, that's the deal with the bases. SOSi didn't answer any of our questions about their relationship with Afaq. The next deal SOSi made is over fuel. They had a company called Iraq Oil Technology, where with an Dubai based oil company they imported diesel and jet fuel
@mcculloughirvin SOSi advertised it as a new SOSi venture. SOSi's VP, Frank Helmick, who was allegedly responsible for brokering many of these deals lists himself as the Iraq Oil Technology's Director of International Operations
@mcculloughirvin One big problem. Iraq Oil Technology already existed as a subsidiary of a company called Al-Essam United Group. Guess who owns Al-Essam? That would be our oligarch Essam al-Asadi. Here's a screenshot of Al-Essam's website from 2011, years before SOSi announced Iraq Oil Technology
@mcculloughirvin In response to our story, SOSi said Iraq Oil Technology was never active. The partnership was to compete for a life support contract at the U.S. Embassy that SOSi didn't win. But sources said IOT was also used for a smaller contract called LNE-I, something SOSi's website backs up
@mcculloughirvin The next deal we heard about was one for Babylon Hotel. SOSi denied owning shares of the Babylon Hotel, which is certainly a rumor going around (Babylon Hotel is a publicly listed company and SOSi isn't listed as an owner. But guess who is, Essam and other Afaq members)
@mcculloughirvin But what we did hear is that SOSi had a business relationship with the Babylon hotel. That appears borne out by Helmick and SOSi social media posts (Ownership information here: english.mubasher.info/markets/ISX/st…)
@mcculloughirvin These are the three business deals we published our article about. Our sources told us that the FBI has been interviewing people involved in military contracting about SOSi's deal with Afaq/Shahed al Sharq at Taji
@mcculloughirvin But who are these oligarchs that SOSi got into business with. We know they're connected with Iraqi government officials, al-Maliki, Adnan al-Asadi and Abdul Ghani al-Asadi. But Iraq has a lot of powerful non governmental interests, like Iran backed Shia militias.
(Also want to note here, these are just normal employees not afaq leadership. Omar is leadership)
@mcculloughirvin And guess what, we found evidence of a relationship between Afaq and some sanctioned entities. Here's Essam and Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, a leader of Kita'ab Hizbollah, which has bombed and murdered and kidnapped. Oh al-Maliki is in the meeting too.
@mcculloughirvin We found the al-Muhandis photos on the Facebook of one of Essam's sons. They'd originally been posted by Hussein al-Maliki, the former PM's nephew. (He's next to al-Maliki on the couch). Also interesting is atmospherics from Essam's son in another post.
facebook.com/alassadee/post…
@mcculloughirvin Here's the link to sanctions on Abu Mahdi
treasury.gov/press-center/p…
@mcculloughirvin Another connection is a sanctioned financier, Aras Habib. Aras's bank, al-Bilad Bank (also sanctioned) used to own part of Essam's Soft Drinks co, and Aras and a former bank board member, Ayad Yahya used to be board members of Baghdad Soft Drinks
@mcculloughirvin We also discovered a connection to a formerly sanctioned bank, Elaf Islamic Bank, which shares a board member Imad Kassem Salman, with Sami al-Asadi's bank
@mcculloughirvin Beyond that, we also did a full report on Afaq's relationship with another military contractor, Sallyport Global Services
thedailybeast.com/doj-is-investi…
@mcculloughirvin Sallyport cancelled a $100 million IPO shortly after our report thedailybeast.com/military-contr…
@mcculloughirvin We also wrote about misconduct by Sallyport employees at Balad Air Base
thedailybeast.com/us-paid-dollar…
@mcculloughirvin Now, in terms of what I'd like to know next. If anyone has any documentation of the beneficial ownership of an Afaq company called Bright Pearl for Purifying and Bottling Water, I'd be appreciative.
@mcculloughirvin Looks like al-Maliki's office just sent a press release. Summary:
1. He denies allegations
2. Claims we're trying to get him sanctioned because America wants to monopolize power (that's pretty ironic)
3. Criticizes local press for covering our report
@mcculloughirvin The funniest part of all of this is Afaq TV, connected to al-Maliki and Essam al-Asadi, coming out to attack our reporting about the Afaq cartel. Your bet as to whether the names are a coincidence

afaq.tv/contents/view/…
@mcculloughirvin Also for any dipshit who thinks the photo was faked, it was posted by al-Maliki's nephew:

facebook.com/hussein.al.mal…
@mcculloughirvin Maliki's spokesperson tweeting out the former PM's statement:

@mcculloughirvin Arabic translation of our story:
nasnews.com/1%D8%AA%D9%82%…
@mcculloughirvin I forgot to include an extremely obvious link between al-Maliki and SOSi: Helmick bragging about his connections to al-Maliki and other senior officials in a 2012 interview:

web.archive.org/web/2012121503…
@mcculloughirvin Over the next few days, I'm going to publish Afaq linked assets and connections. Starting with Afaq Umm Qasr itself
@mcculloughirvin We found three versions of Afaq Umm Qasr. The first version, Afaq Um Qasr for Maritime Services, is registered in Jordan by Jordanian Moayad Egrab (@navistarborder). Moayad originally helped Afaq leader Sami al-Asadi get into business over a decade ago.
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder Another version of Afaq is registered in Kuwait, Afaq Umm Qasr for General Trading and Contracting W.L.L., under Nasser Bader Eid al-Mutari (We want more info on him) and Ibtissam Jabar Sadkhan, who is a member of Sami al-Asadi's bank
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder Then there's Afaq Bahrain: Afaq umm qasar logestics co. w.l.l. registered to Duha Abdulameer al Merza and Sayed Tawfiq Salman Ahmed, who owned something called Golden Fork Restaurant in Bahrain with Sami al-Asadi
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder The next two major subsidiaries of Afaq are Peace Wings and Shahed al Sharq. These are the corporate documents we've got associated with them.
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder We also learned that Omar al Juboori had connections with a company, Smart Vision Building Materials (smartvgrp.com) tied to a man Hayder Ibtesam al Khafaji who Omar worked with in Afghanistan
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder The company that Omar worked at in Afghanistan was called ACI-SCC JV, owned by one of al-Khafaji's family members. ACI has been ID'ed as an Afaq member and has/had operations in Iraq as well as Afghanistan.
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder ACI stands for Advanced Constructors International, which joined with another company, either Soufiany Construction Company or Salai Construction Company. The company also used the name Palisades Alliance. It defrauded its subcontractors in Afghanistan.
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder It was registered in Delaware but disappeared after being sued. We did find a document listing the owner as Ibtesam Mahdi al Khafaji web.archive.org/web/2011012900…
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder In Bahrain, Afaq's network (Duha Al Merza and Sayed Ahmed) and controls a number of companies that we know little about: Fresh Shrimps Fish Co. W.L.L., Bahrain Palm Group Co. W.L.L., Green field Fresh Fruits & Vegetables W.L.L, and Popeye Real Estate and Clearance Co.
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder They also controlled something called Mermaid Cargo that went by a variety of different names
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder There's also a company called Al Yakhdhoor at Balad Air Base that sources believed to have some sort of affiliation with Afaq and other corrupt entities. Yakhdhoor controls base stores. It also shares a vendor with a company called Al Muashirat which sells Bradford White products
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder Then there's Al-Essam Group, another major part of the conglomerate. Al-Essam is Essam al-Asadi's front company. One of its subsidiaries is called Al-Mabrook which was in business with the Suez/Degremont company from France to build the Rusafa water plant tradearabia.com/news/ENV_15424…
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder Al-Essam has a large number of other subsidiaries, including Iraq Oil Technology, and several other projects. Other ones worth mentioning include Al-Mersal, a telecommunications company
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder Mersal has partnered with several companies outside Iraq, according to their website, including Cisco and Motorola
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder Another Essam company is Al-Ghari Multitools, a financial company, registered to Essam's son Haider
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder Speaking of Haider, he owns a bunch of companies in London, including companies called First Management & Consultancy Ltd, F1 Autos Ltd, Palmera Ltd
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder Then there's the Muften Group led by Farhan Noor and Karim Noor Muften al-Yasiry, who grew up with Essam according to sources. The Muften group is heavily invested in food and drinks, and has a relationship with the major Saudi dairy producer Al Mara'ai.
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder Muften has got a few more companies connected to it.
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder The Muftens' are shareholders in Baghdad Soft Drinks Co which is also connected to another interesting company, an entity called Bright Pearl for Purifying and Bottling Water
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder Bright Pearl was originally owned by a company called Oasis International Waters, which was owned by another company, Al Morrell development, started by some investors from Utah who acquired a nearly $400 mil contract to build water plants in Iraq
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder In 2011, when the military pulled out, according to the then owners of Al-Morrell, Iraqi Generals made it clear they planned to take the company, so the Morrell's tried to pull out and find a buyer who had enough influence to fight off the generals. That buyer was Essam
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder Also, crowdsourcing note here, I would die to have any information about how Essam met the Morrell's in the first place w/ hard documentation. Please someone get that for me. Anyway, Essam managed to buy Pearl for roughly <$6 all told. Remember, $386 M capital investment
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder Also interesting to note this section about Iraqi politicking between Maliki and his former VP effecting Essam, since Maliki's spokesman is busy denying that Essam is connected to him. This is from Essam's former associate Paul Morrell's deposition
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder Plus these comments too
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder Basically the context of all of this is that al-Maliki was in a fight with his Vice President Tariq al Hashemi who al-Maliki tried to have arrested for murder. Hashemi fled and his allies retaliated by having Essam arrested/assets frozen to punish al-Maliki
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder So Essam had to borrow money from his partner Morrell to keep Bright Pearl afloat after he bought it. He never paid Morrell back. The deposition is Morrell explaining who Essam is and why he didn't pay subcontractors after Essam bought Bright Pearl
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder Anyway Bright Pearl is a very interesting company and appears to be connected to Pepsi/Aquafina in Iraq and is a major water provider for military contractors, including Sallyport (at least previously) and SOSi. It also was involved in a shady contract at the US Embassy
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder At the U.S. Embassy, Pearl was subcontracted through a food provider Taylors, who was subcontracted by PAE who had the prime contract. Taylors sold Pearl water at a massively marked up rate, sparking a whistleblower lawsuit.
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder They lost the case, but they never connected Pearl to Essam. All they knew is that PAE was buying water for the U.S. govt at roughly $2 more a bottle than the competitors would sell it for.
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder Key lines: "the only option we had was to give it to someone politically connected enough to deal with the Iraqi generals." He's talking about Essam.

Essam "was very closely connected to the President, Maliki"

"He was the same as Maliki. You try and keep those two separate"
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder More background on Essam's legal troubles and how al-Maliki helped him out of them (in Arabic)
imarawatijara.com/isam_asadi_mal…
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder We've got another few Afaq companies we've discovered in America. One is American Logistics Services owned by Sami al-Asadi and his former translator. Another, owned by the former translator is called Peninsula Group
@mcculloughirvin @navistarborder Latest rumor going around is that al-Maliki is terrified he's about to get hit with sanctions, and he's pretty sure Essam is, so he's trying to distance himself. Local press is picking up that thread.
alarab.co.uk/%D8%A7%D9%84%D…

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More from @ZackKopplin

5 Jun
Since campus censor @bariweiss is back on her bullshit, let me tell a story I've never told publicly before, about what real censorship by people with actual power looks like, when people with power (on campus) want to stop you talking, not like her fake outrage nonsense
When I was in college, in Texas, I was very involved with the movement to teach real science and history in schools, specifically climate change, the role of slavery in the Civil War, and evolution. Obviously that upset people and I got death threats through college.
It also, likely, upset rich donors. (And I've never wanted to tell this story, because trashing your alma mater isn't classy, don't get in the dirt with pigs, etc.) We were in Texas and I was messing with oil money, evangelicals and republican politicians
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“It'll be a miracle if no one dies due to the incompetence here.”
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