Sunday, August 10, 2008

HQ in Algeria was blown up, with 13 dead, Now for Damage Control ... or fixing the blame

I am a freelance investigative reporter based in the Middle East and former Soviet Union and here is a story that I want to publish. My sources are confidential and you can read between the lines of the real story and you know how lifting the lid on a can of worms is usually difficult. The UN system is no exception, so it is hard to say quite how worm-ridden the sector actually is. Nor, despite some investigative coups, does its true color get the attention that it actually deserves.

I hope you will immediately consider my pitch for publication.

Here is the first draft of the investigative article.

Best regards, Jeffrey Silverman

I thought I would give your publication the first opportunity, as the target audience is the most appropriate.

HQ in Algeria was blown up, with 13 dead, Now for Damage Control ... or fixing the blame

The UN HQ in Algeria was blown up, with 13 dead, the irony of this is that there is a budget to implement security, create stand offs to harden the targets but it was all ignored there was even an extra budget called MOSS/TARR to implement additional security measures besides the normal yearly budget and all went to waste no one did anything money disappeared and now who pays for the loss of 13 lives due to the security at the Office in Algeria.
Someone needs to be held to account for that – and the sooner the better. How much is the value of one life saved – and how much more can be done at the international level in fulfilling UN mandate when corruption is rooted out.

Al Qaida took responsibility for the bombing but this begs the question as who is really at fault, and who will be the fall guy or “guys and gals.” It is easy to give credit or take credit; it is more difficult to fix blame where it really belongs. It is almost impossible, based on the sorted track record of the UN to accept their mistakes and take appropriate action to keep their house in order. The UN is more into damage control than to solving problems. Part of the problem is connected to networks of patronage and good old boy connections. Now it is time to looking for a fall guy. This is not the first time and unless there is organizational chance, such things can happen again and again.

It is clear from well placed sources that HQ they are looking for a fall guy for all the dead in Algeria even with all the money gone they are lining their pockets and it is very sophisticated in how they are doing it but the budget was there and they took the money and people died because of it a bit on criminal side due to the body count. As an investigative reporter dogging these kind of things; I know there is a connection in Lebanon between Iraq and Hezbollah with arms smuggling, the weapons from the US Army that are being given to the Iraq's is being sold in Beirut through Hezbollah brand new M4's with the 203 grenade launchers going for about 7000 USD. It is because of this nexus that I have been able to get close to what happened with the latest UN body bag count. It was this chase that leads me to this story via Georgia and Armenia – chasing fake passports and arms dealers that operate with the full support of the US government.

However, I am more interested in plane crashes involving Georgians and Armenians, arms from Jordan with end user certificates for the Georigan Ministry of Defense. However, I have not been able to find connection to the Congo, as far as I know at this time. Anyway, there is always a story to be told, and better shared. Money cascades down through various levels in the UN. At each there is a problem of interests that detract from the intended mission – spending money is paramount, how it gets spent is more the reality.

“The South African Mafia” inside UNDP

We all know the UN system is replete with ‘mafia’ from various nationalities. However within the small office that provides for the security of UNDP the South African Mafia has become so well entrenched that even if you lack the basic qualifications you can land yourself a nice L-4 post and make yourself a home if you know the right people and of course come from the right country (and know who to show your appreciate to, and how the payment system works). Below that comes a thriving level of intermediaries.

Let us talk specifics, at least what can be easily verified. Certainly this mess and total cock-up must have been allowed to exist with the full knowledge of senior management, if not ... then let the reader be the judge.

Mr. Leon Terblanche The former, recently de-throned P-5 Chief of the UNDP Security Unit was a South African with dual nationality in Canada. Mr. T managed to institutionalize himself as the Security Chief for several years even though he lacked any real security background. Mr. T. was a former South African military officer working in the engineers with military explosives and de-mining. He worked on several de-mining projects prior to getting the security post with the support of his friend ms. Janie McClusker of UNFPA.

Mr. T. was replaced only this past year after failing to compete for his own post, failing also in his diligent effort to re-align the post to a D1 ranking. His one success as Chief was to successful dis-enfranchise the Security Unit from all of the other business units where he was seen by many as the ultimate dis-enabler for UNDP by how he managed the security office. Only when truly qualified candidates were allowed to apply, and following years of his poor management was he finally removed only to be exiled as the UN Security Officer for all of the UN in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

Jan A.B. (JAB) Swart A engineer of Mr. Terblanche, Mr. Swart managed to have his close “friend;s create and hire him into the UNDP Security Unit. Again Mr. S. possessed no security background but was given a comfortable P-4 post. One hand washes the other, as Mr. S. had previously given Mr. T. a post when working as a project manager with UNOPS, and so Mr. Swart assumed his P4 post. In Mr. T’s effort to re-align his post as a D1, he moved his friend Mr. S into an unofficial post as Deputy Security Chief and proposed that while he was made a D1 that Mr. S be made a P-5 in the process.

Mr. T. went so far as to have Mr. S. drafted his own individual new and approved Terms of Reference, TOR, as Deputy Chief. But with the failure of Mr. T. to realize his dream of D1, Mr. S. re-thought and did not press for his post to be re-aligned. Once the realization of his dismal failures became evident Mr. T. formally wrote to his friend JAB as his Deputy Security Chief – and in spite of the fact that the post is entirely fictitious but anyway, he was now, appointed him in his stead as he prepared for his demoted repositioning to Belgrade. There is a story within a story here to be told.

Ah, it is indeed good to be King.

As Deputy Security Chief Mr. S. manages, if what he does can truly be called management, the important MOSS supports funds for UNDP. Where have all the millions of dollars gone (over $11,000,000 so far) when our friends in Algeria worked from a non-compliant office and paid the ultimate price. Did Mr. S. do anything to ensure that adequate measures were in place? Did he authorize the finances to make the necessary changes? What about the other offices around the world? It is a lot of money Mr. S. how did you spend it? Did your good friend in Moldovia get his piece whilst Algeria sat at risk?

Carla Naude. Ms. Naude, is perhaps the best qualified of the South African Mafia although her portfolio is focused that of premises security. Ms. Mafiosa sits in a nice P4 post having no previous UN experience no field security experience and now finds herself responsible for covering Mr. S. as he tries to dodge the bullets for Algeria and the $11,000,000 of funds spent so far to ensure security compliance for our offices worldwide. The question becomes “Will she do it?” and what does she “owe” Mr. S. or his predecessor?

Mr. Scotty Saunders. Another friend of Mr. T. and Mr. S. This South African is the arrogant and undermining “Senior” Field Security Advisor for Iraq and as usual for the South African Mafia does not possess the required education or background to achieve such an important and well positioned post. He also serves as a nice L4. Maybe his on-line effort to gain the education he lacks will qualify him for a comfortable P5 or D1 in the future.

Mr. Johannes Vandermervwe. Mr. V not surprisingly comes from UNOPS where he worked on de-mining programmes. Having no security background apart from his years in the South African military as an engineer (certainly no pattern) it is understandable that he was the perfect selection for the coveted UNDP Regional Security Officer posted in Bangkok.

Mr. Vandermerve, with his wife having to depart her high-level job at UNOPS, where Mr.'s T., S. and V. worked on de-mining programmes together allowed Mr.'s S. and T. to repay Mr. and Ms. Vandermerve by not only selecting Mr. V for the Bangkok post but moreover lobbying for a raise from the normal basic pay for a new L4 and made sure that Mr. V was provided with a full 200 series contact with all of the benefits. This would not seem unusual until you realize that serving security staff in similar positions in the Arab States and African regions were not also provided the same level of contract and had to fight hard almost to the point of contract expiration to gain parity with Mr. V. It was certainly no problem for Mr.'s Terblanche and Swart to get their good friend and co-mafioso in with a nice raise and benefits above the non-South African's in the same positions.

Mr. Johann Poltgieter. Mr. P., another friend of Mr. Swart has managed to get posted as the Field Security Officer, L3 to UNDP in Israel the West Bank and Gaza, hired through the P.A.P.P. office. Of course it was nice that for this particular recruitment that the UNDP Security Office was not managing the recruitment like before and only guided the selection process since Mr. P. apparently was unsuccessful in several attempts to secure similar posts in UNDP elsewhere due to his lack of experience and failure in the interviews process. Possibly with guidance on how to answer the questions and how to address the questioning of the interview panel from Mr. Swart, and perhaps with even a little added influence as Mr. Swart repositioned the former Advisor for P.A.P.P. to Somalia, from L-3 to L-4, the new post for Mr. Poltgieter was realized.

So it is clear. Of six South Africans in the UNDP Security Office none have had the required security background training or experience that is normally required for these posts. The one at the top of the pile has been removed only to another security post outside of UNDP. The second in the line of succession remains in a fictitious unofficial post placing many of us at risk on a daily basis hoping for his coveted P-5 to materialize. The rest of the South African mafia remains in their posts quietly hoping for Mr. Swart to get promoted and continue the patronage process.

Mr. Swart as the Deputy Chief is responsible for all 'Field Support’, which includes supporting the Regional Security Officers and security support to our country offices. Mr. S. even as a fictitious Deputy Chief has also apparently been granted rights to receive all of the risk reports from the department of safety and security. It would not take too much research to prove that Mr. Swart must have received the reports that indicated there was a threat against our colleague's offices in Algeria. Did his Regional Security Officer give Mr.Swart any indicators of the risk? With millions of dollars at his fingertips why didn't Mr. Swart use any to help Algeria prepare? Maybe something could have been done. Maybe someone should look at this. But that would mean that UNDP would really be trying to address the failures of Mr. T. and Mr. S. Maybe fewer of our friends in Algeria would have died, or none at all.

Over $11,000,000 has been spent to protect us but still the Algeria tragedy occurs. Everyone seems to get a piece of this pie but where was poor Algeria? Who is next?

It is comforting for the rest of us to now that UN reform and management in UNDP recognizes the value of retaining these uniquely qualified and well-positioned staff who are fully aware of the value of properly addressing national balance after all South Africa is from the ‘South’ in terms of North & South balance. And of course we can all feel comfortable knowing that the Human Resources effort to place “the right people in the right places” includes selecting and assigning non-qualified un-trained and in-experienced managers and security officers to positions where they can provide for UN security and protection. I am sure our real friends in Algeria would have appreciated the effort as much as we do.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can see the connect that to all the hardware that is being exported Georgia and Armenia - and my problems.

AQIM is a rag-tag outfit of thugs who have jumped the religious
bandwagon in the struggle against the infidel, so goes the official line. In addition, they are a dangerous group, dispersed, not very well organised, and are in it for the money and the power. Not much else is really known about these guys. They are not the type one approaches for an interview. They have claimed responsibility for several bombings in Algeria but their reach and scope is exaggerated by their reputation and the media. However, I believe they were responsible for the bombing of a UN building several years ago in Algiers. I know the Algerian authorities are really fighting these guys. But overall – thugs with guns and US government support.