The government’s star witness

Guarded at all times by armed U.S. marshals, white-haired Andrew Smulian took the dock Wednesday and testified against his former partner, Viktor Bout. Smulian, 70, recounted a critical January, 2008 meeting with Bout at his home and office in Moscow, where, he said, the men began laying plans to deliver arms to two FARC leaders who turned out to be informants working for U.S. narcotics agents. Smulian conceded a past career as a South African military intelligence operative, saying he took reconnaissance photographs of the country’s neighboring military installations during the period he also met and worked with Bout in the late 1990s. Smulian insisted he never saw Bout’s planes loaded with arms in that period, but later joined the Russian on a trip to an international defense exhibition in Dubai. There, he claimed, Bout introduced him to the Russian’s alleged Bulgarian arms supplier, Peter Mirchev, and the inventor of the AK-47, Mikhail Kalashnikov.

 When the two men began doing business again in late 2007, Smulian testified, a wary Bout grew intrigued about a proposed arms deal with the FARC that turned out to be a DEA sting. In January, 2007, Smulian said, he met with Bout in snow-swept Moscow, a session, he said, that led to their role in plans to provide the faux terrorists with 100 Igla anti-aircraft missile systems and other weapons.

AP, By Stephen Braun, “Hunched on the witness stand, Smulian, a white-haired figure with a thick moustache, testified Wednesday that he flew to Moscow and met with Bout in late January 2008. Over three days, he said, they discussed plans to arrange the delivery of anti-aircraft missile systems and other weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, a terrorist group known for using cocaine deals to support terrorist operations.”

NYT, “A Russian man accused of being a weapons trafficker was ready, willing and able to provide arms, training, money-laundering services and even political assistance to a terrorist organization that he believed planned to kill United States citizens, a former associate of his testified on Wednesday in Federal District Court in Manhattan.