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Sunday, May 21, 2006
Roger Khan ups the ante
- opens up on US meet, security
Roger Khan

Fugitive businessman Shaheed 'Roger' Khan yesterday gave details about a meeting he had with US officials about the crime situation in the country, and said the embassy's denial of it was part of a plot with the opposition and the security forces to neutralise him and other crime-fighters in order to destabilise the government.

Khan, in a statement issued by his lawyer Glenn Hanoman yesterday, also said he was not and had never been affiliated to either the PPP/C or the PNCR and that he blamed both parties for the current state of affairs in the country. Hanoman had told Stabroek News on Friday that he had not heard from the businessman for three days and had received calls enquiring whether Khan had turned himself over to US authorities.

Khan also maintained that he was involved in security efforts, including the Guyana Defence Force investigation into missing AK-47 rifles and that he briefed senior army officials, whom he named, daily. "I wish to make it abundantly clear that my past, present and future energies to combat crime in Guyana has as its motive the prevention of the loss of innocent lives and the arrest and capture of factions and groups [like] the armed resistance," he said, while denying affiliation to either of the main political parties, and blaming both for the current state of affairs in the country.

Khan is wanted in the US on drug trafficking charges and locally for questioning, but he has managed to elude authorities while maintaining his innocence of the charges against him.

In his latest public statement, Khan that his meeting with the American officials took place on March 6 at the Ocean View International Hotel and was facilitated by leading members of the private sector. He said Deputy US Ambassador, Michael Thomas, and three others were present at the meeting.

US embassy spokesperson, Christine Meyer had said a week ago, after a Grand Jury indictment for trafficking cocaine into the US prompted the businessman to speak out, that as far as she knew there had been no meeting between Khan and US officials.

He said he spoke personally with US Regional Security Officer Brandon Lee at least five times before the meeting, to work out the specifics such as place and time. He added that telephone records would show "a flurry of calls" between private sector personalities, who were unnam-ed, and the US embassy, in addition to calls from the mission to the hotel. He also said that close friends, who accompanied him to the meeting, were willing to come forward to substantiate his claim. He said hotel staff on duty the same day could also verify his claim.

"It is important to note that this meeting took place days after the US State Department issued its International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 2006, naming me as a known drug trafficker and, more importantly, while a Grand Jury in New York was in the midst of deliberating on evidence alleging my involvement in attempt/conspiracy," he pointed. In this regard, he claimed that his being named as a "drug trafficker" in the State Department report was to "mischievously influence" the Grand Jury to return an indictment.

Khan said he went to the meeting in good faith and with a clear conscience and discussed the crime situation in detail with the officials, including what he said were the political motives behind the failure of the police force to deal with the armed criminals in Buxton. He also revealed the nature of his relationship with the police commissioner, who he accused of negligent policies that failed to check the armed group in the village.

Khan also explained his "involvement with the Guyana Defence Force's attempts to recover the missing AK-47's," and claimed that he supplied the GDF with information about who were responsible for the larceny of the weapons. He said there was a deliberate attempt by the army to divert the investigation.

In February, the army revealed that 33 AK-47 assault rifles and other weapons were missing from the Camp Ayanganna storage bond. Khan said he was in daily contact with three senior army officers (all of whom he named) on the status of the investigation and that this was done with the knowledge of Chief-of-Staff Brigadier General Edward Collins.

"To my disbelief, just 13 days after the meeting took place, on March 19, I became the subject of one of the largest joint operations ever undertaken in the history of the joint services," he said.

Khan said it was no coincidence that the ongoing joint services campaign has so far failed to recover any of the stolen weapons and he felt it due to the "unwillingness or disinclination on the part of the security forces." According to him, this was revealed in the taped conversation purportedly between the Police Commissioner and PNCR MP Basil Williams.

He said instead, the security forces have focused their operations on persons allegedly involved in drug trafficking who are unlikely to evoke public sympathy or government support. "The purpose of that focus is to drive underground, the only persons who have the will and the capability to stand up to the group of armed bandits and have demonstrated the inclination to do so - thereby removing the only impediment to the criminal and political operations of the so-called armed African resistance fighters," he declared.

In this context, he was of the view that it was clear that even if the governing PPP/C won the next election it would be vulnerable to instability through politically directed terrorist and savage conduct by an armed criminal group operating unopposed.

"In this state of affairs, the PPP/C government can easily be destabilised directly by the politically directed criminal elements that are part and parcel of civil society. There will be no effective law enforcement and social mayhem will reign - as was done in Haiti in the case of President Aristide," he said. He said sporadic terrorists acts, such as brutal slayings would force PPP/C supporters to migrate or refrain from voting. Alternatively, he said in the event that the PPP/C was successful, it would be destabilised by criminal groups and the failure of the security forces. He said the suppression of persons such as him, who are "fiercely antagonistic" to the bandit elements, was key to this latter plan.

Khan in recent public statements has claimed that during the crime spree in 2002/2003, he worked closely with the crime-fighting section of the police force and provided it with assistance and information at his own expense. He said his participation was instrumental in curbing crime during that period. Additionally, he said he also assisted with intelligence after US diplomat Steve Lesniak was kidnapped. Lesniak was kidnapped and taken to Buxton but was later freed after a ransom was paid.

Khan has been speaking publicly since the US District Court, Eastern District of New York unsealed an indictment on May 3, which charges that he conspired to import cocaine into the US between January 2001 and March 2006. Under US law, Khan faces a maximum of life in prison for the offence based on the amount of cocaine imported.

The US Embassy in Georgetown has invited Khan to apply for a US visa through the normal procedures in order for him to travel to the United States so that he can be processed through the country's judicial system. So far, there has been no official extradition request.

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