Tracking International Arms Dealers with Python and pieces of string: When bloggers declared war on Viktor Bout Alexander ...
Who is Viktor Bout? <ul><li>World's leading gunrunner </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ex-Soviet intelligence officer </li></ul></ul>...
How's that work? <ul><li>Aircraft </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fleet of (mostly) ex-Soviet heavy lift planes </li></ul></ul><ul><...
Why aren't you in jail? <ul><li>Key deception tactics: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Registration of aircraft and companies in wea...
<ul><li>Key deception  STRATEGY : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Make yourself useful to both sides </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>...
So what the fuck is it to do with ME? <ul><li>May 2004: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Le Monde and FT stories </li></ul></ul><ul><...
Operation Firedump <ul><li>End 2005: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Effort to enforce compliance with the UNSC resolution </li></ul...
EU Blacklists <ul><li>First EU Blacklist issued 2006 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A whole complex of companies based in Romania, ...
Automation (Yes, the bit you're waiting for!) <ul><li>In mid-2004 I realised.. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>SHJ and DXB put all t...
First cut, June '08 (IBM ManyEyes) What do we know about these places – Khartoum, Kandahar, Kabul, and Baghdad?
But soon I wanted more... <ul><li>I wanted to see as well as hear.. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>So I realised I needed geocoding...
If you can see this...The live demo has gone wrong....again
If you can see this...The live demo has gone wrong....again
Viktor Arrested.... <ul><li>Bout was arrested in Thailand... </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Andrew Smulian awaiting trial in New Yo...
Thank you <ul><li>Thanks to everyone who helped... </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cargodog </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Carlos </li><...
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Tracking International Arms Dealers with Python and Bits of String

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Alexander Harrowell's presentation at OpenTech 2008 on the bloggers' campaign against Viktor Bout

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Tracking International Arms Dealers with Python and Bits of String

  1. Tracking International Arms Dealers with Python and pieces of string: When bloggers declared war on Viktor Bout Alexander Harrowell http://yorksranter.wordpress.com/ ULU, Malet Street WC2 - 5 th July 2008
  2. Who is Viktor Bout? <ul><li>World's leading gunrunner </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ex-Soviet intelligence officer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Linguist </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stationed in Mozambique in the 1980s </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Why should you care? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Starting in 1993, became the leading supplier to a generation of genocidal civil wars </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The only business that can sell you a resource war in a box </li></ul></ul>
  3. How's that work? <ul><li>Aircraft </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fleet of (mostly) ex-Soviet heavy lift planes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Constantly shifting registries </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Integrated logistics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Weapons from ex-Soviet stockpiles in eastern Europe </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>High-value exports from conflict zones (diamonds, electronics minerals, drugs) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Impunity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Flags of convenience for aircraft and corporate registry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dubai and Sharjah Airports – the base and critical network node for the whole system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sharjah Airport Free Zone – economic development area which may have been designed with Viktor Bout in mind </li></ul></ul>
  4. Why aren't you in jail? <ul><li>Key deception tactics: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Registration of aircraft and companies in weak and corrupt polities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fast-fluxing entire jets between jurisdictions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Typosquatting – lots of very similar names, different enough to defeat trivial database searches </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But that's not the half of it.... </li></ul>
  5. <ul><li>Key deception STRATEGY : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Make yourself useful to both sides </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Or rather, N>1 sides – this is fourth generation warfare... </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>For all to be safe, all must be implicated </li></ul></ul><ul><li>1994 – Logistics for Operation TURQUOISE in Rwanda </li></ul><ul><li>1996 – Same for the Taliban (and Abdul Rashid Dostum) </li></ul><ul><li>1998-2001 – Same for Charles Taylor and Foday Sankoh </li></ul><ul><li>1996-2004 – Same for DRC Warlords </li></ul><ul><li>2001-? - Same for US Dept of Defence in Afghanistan </li></ul><ul><li>2003-Today – Same for Coalition in Iraq </li></ul><ul><li>2008 – Same for FARC </li></ul>Why aren't you in jail(2)?
  6. So what the fuck is it to do with ME? <ul><li>May 2004: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Le Monde and FT stories </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>TYR starts researching... </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>DESC Fuel contracts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>TYR efforts to identify aircraft and companies </li></ul><ul><li>Early 2005: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Revelations over CIA rendition flights </li></ul></ul><ul><li>End 2005: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>UNSC asset seizure list issued </li></ul></ul>
  7. Operation Firedump <ul><li>End 2005: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Effort to enforce compliance with the UNSC resolution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bloggers search for aircraft registered to banned firms </li></ul></ul><ul><li>3C-QRF </li></ul><ul><ul><li>BAC111 aircraft used by Chichakli as private jet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Location of meetings with JP Bemba </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>SEIZED EARLY 2006 AFTER CAMPAIGN </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Irbis Air Company ceases ops </li></ul>
  8. EU Blacklists <ul><li>First EU Blacklist issued 2006 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A whole complex of companies based in Romania, Moldova and Bulgaria named </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Despite their bases being in Sharjah, they shut down </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Original effort to shut down Aerocom in 2004 didn't stick </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This did </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Second EU blacklist issued May, 2007 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Second swath through the system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Biggest in terms of aircraft </li></ul></ul>
  9. Automation (Yes, the bit you're waiting for!) <ul><li>In mid-2004 I realised.. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>SHJ and DXB put all their movements on the Web! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Started checking them daily </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Matching real activity with political claims </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Matching aircraft and locations with other data </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Didn't do much with this for a while.... </li></ul><ul><li>.... </li></ul><ul><li>Eventually, wrote a Python script to scrape both airports </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Filter the good guys </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Report to me </li></ul></ul>
  10. First cut, June '08 (IBM ManyEyes) What do we know about these places – Khartoum, Kandahar, Kabul, and Baghdad?
  11. But soon I wanted more... <ul><li>I wanted to see as well as hear.. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>So I realised I needed geocoding </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Next thought – that's actually difficult </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>BIG problems cleaning up and standardising data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Much munging of strings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How many ways CAN you spell Kandahar? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In Unicode! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Solution – BeautifulSoup, SQLite, Pyparsing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the aim – visualise the data and DISCOVER yer NETWORK! </li></ul></ul>
  12. If you can see this...The live demo has gone wrong....again
  13. If you can see this...The live demo has gone wrong....again
  14. Viktor Arrested.... <ul><li>Bout was arrested in Thailand... </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Andrew Smulian awaiting trial in New York </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bout awaiting extradition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Chichakli on the run in Russia – some say he's dead </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But the planes fly on.... </li></ul><ul><ul><li>so the work goes on (to coin a phrase) </li></ul></ul>
  15. Thank you <ul><li>Thanks to everyone who helped... </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cargodog </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Carlos </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>747-100 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>SpeshAlphaAlpha </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Kathryn Cramer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Angus Gascoigne </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>DuaneG </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Soj </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Laura Rozen </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>and many others </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Our inspiration </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Chris Lightfoot RIP (1978-2007) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>PRESENTE! </li></ul></ul>
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