Australian accused of funding private Somali army

The Somalia Monitoring Group, a team of specialists appointed by the United Nations Security Council to investigate suspected arms embargo breaches, claims Lafras Luitingh is a leader of a group which is helping to train and equip a large militia force.

Mr Luitingh was granted Australian citizenship in 2009.

He lives in a glamorous penthouse apartment on Sydney Harbour and his neighbours are wealthy merchant bankers and socialites.

As well as the penthouse, he is a half-owner of an apartment overlooking Sydney’s Bondi Beach and, according to UN investigators, he controls a string of companies and bank accounts in Australia and around the world.

When the ABC called his Sydney apartment, Mr Luitingh was not home.

The places where he does business are far removed from his idyllic waterfront homes. He is a former South African mercenary and still very much in the guns-for-hire business.

For the past two years, he has been working in war-torn Somalia.

Since the collapse of the government there in 1991, the country has been ruled by gun-toting warlords and become a haven for pirates and Islamic extremists.

There is no banking system, no border controls, and for the past two decades the UN Security Council has imposed a complete arms embargo there.

“Most of the requests the monitoring group made for information about what supplies were being brought into the country, the nature of the program, Saracen either failed or refused to answer,” he said.

“There were a number of large shipments of military assistance for the force, and Saracen never sought to explain what these shipments were for to the monitoring group.”

The men behind Saracen and Sterling are mostly former South African mercenaries and prominent among them is Mr Luitingh.

He is a former member of special forces in the apartheid-era South African defence force and went on to join a notorious covert unit known as the Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB).

The CCB was responsible for a campaign of bombings and assassinations of political opponents of the apartheid regime.

During hearings of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Mr Luitingh was named as the handler for a CCB assassin.

The assassin was jailed for life, after shooting dead an anti-apartheid campaigner in Johannesburg.

After the collapse of apartheid, Mr Luituingh and some of his former colleagues went on to form the infamous guns-for-hire outfit known as Executive Outcomes.

“Executive Outcomes is a private military company that hires mercenaries,” Mr Vines said.

“It used people who had been very active in the apartheid system in South Africa to provide security services across Africa.”

Mr Vines says he has studied Executive Outcomes in depth.

“Mr Luitingh has been involved with Executive Outcomes right from the very beginning, as a key fighter and officer,” he said.

“He was active in Angola and Sierra Leone. In fact, he was the one who did the entry negotiations for Sandline into Sierra Leone.”

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