All over the world people were murdered with the use of an arsenal from Polish armaments plants. We were the fifth power in the world in terms of arms exports, and our arms industry employed a quarter of a million people. But is there really anything to be proud of?
International trade in the countries of people's democracy was necessarily export / import oriented within the socialist community. This happened not only because of the pressure from Moscow's Big Brother, but for extremely prosaic reasons - trade with capitalist countries had to be done in hard, convertible currency.
And the Polish government has always dramatically lacked this. Especially when it was necessary to pay off foreign currency debts or import goods unavailable in the Soviet bloc. The pathetic hunt for dollar savings of citizens in the bizarre system of "internal export" (the Pewex chain of stores) could not do the trick. Our backward economy had little to offer our Western partners - raw materials (mainly coal), agricultural produce and low-processed products. With one exception.
The Polish authorities, led by General Jaruzelski, were very eager to trade weapons with terrorists and dictators. After all, what mattered was the inflow of much-needed foreign currencies.
In the 1980s, the Polish arms industry employed a quarter of a million workers, and we were the fifth power in arms exports in the world! The only problem was that guns were most likely bought by those who should never get their hands on them. However, the communist authorities of Poland did not mind.
Very soon after World War II, the Soviet Union began to support Arab states against pro-American Israel - its satellites, of course, followed their example, and Poles supported the most radical branches of the Palestinian Liberation Organization with technology without batting an eye. In the 1970s alone, the Central Board of Engineering (Cenzin), the state-owned arms export company, signed contracts worth nearly $ 10 million with Palestinians.
As Przemysław Gasztold writes in his book "Killer systems. The services of the People's Republic of Poland and international terrorism ” Palestinians, in addition to Kalashnikovs ($ 104 each), were also interested in "anti-aircraft guns, mortars, missiles and plastic explosives." LOT Polish Airlines collaborated in smuggling weapons to their destination - of course, there were some spectacular mishaps. In 1981 at the airport in Beirut, a whole arsenal of weapons spilled out of torn, badly made Polish leather bags ...
Ships for Gaddafi, tanks for Saddam
Often, for security reasons, terrorists preferred to obtain supplies through legal intermediaries, and usually also through shady autos. The Libyans had such excellent relations with the Poles that they did not even hide what the destination of the ordered weapons was. Of course, most of the weapons were ordered by Gaddafi just for himself - in just one decade (1973-1983) he signed with Cenzin 41 contracts worth 700 million dollars by investing in the purchase of Polish tanks, helicopters and landing ships.
We also had excellent relations with Iraq - when in May 1981 a small plane with Ibrahim Barzan al-Tikriti, Saddam Hussein's half-brother, landed at the Okecie airport in Warsaw, he was received with the greatest honors. Suffice it to say that not only the Minister of Foreign Trade met with him, but also Deputy Prime Minister Mieczysław Jagielski and Wojciech Jaruzelski himself!
The delighted Iraqi satrap quickly agreed to sign a $ 100 million contract. The authorities of the Polish People's Republic knew perfectly well that the Polish weapons, which were of interest to the head of Iraqi intelligence, would be used to launch a great offensive against Iran, but no one had the slightest scruples.
The Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi (on the right) was eagerly supplied with Polish weapons. Pictured with Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Jasir Arafat.
Dictators, terrorists and middlemen
The Iraqis left the contract to an intermediary - the Polish terrorist organization Fatah Revolutionary Council, better known as the Abu Nidal OAN Organization, responsible for dozens of terrorist attacks around the world, which killed thousands of victims. The man who supplied the terrorists and dictators with weapons on the Vistula River was Samir Najmeddin, who was also a lover of Polish women and alcohol. Only one agreement from 1986 between Cenzin and the Polish branch of OAN, i.e. the Warsaw branch of S.A.S Trade and Investments Company Inc., amounted to 211 million dollars.
As we read in the book "Murderous Arrangements":"terrorists earned so much left cash from trading with the Polish People's Republic that they had a problem with legalizing it". For (un) luck they could count on the help of the Polish services in their money laundering.
Warsaw is the seat of a terrorist organization
Abu Nidal's terrorists took a special liking to the Polish "Rak" submachine guns due to their simplicity, durability and efficiency. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Polish "Crayfish" sold to Najmeddin were used, inter alia, in in attacks in Paris, Rome, Istanbul, Vienna and even New Delhi.
Submachine gun "Cancer". Abu Nidal's favorite weapon of terrorists.
Edward Gierek or Wojciech Jaruzelski apparently did not mind, it was a classic situation of "win - win":Polish products found buyers for foreign currency, and then they were used to organize attacks in the countries of the "rotten West", which could be used in propaganda about the superiority of socialism over capitalism.
Interestingly (and even a bit funny), the Polish services guarded "their terrorists" like an eye in the head, because Czechoslovakians, Romanians and Bulgarians were constantly trying to "buy" our dollar "sponsors" - "when the stake was millions of dollars in arms trade, everyone He was diligently guarding his own interests from demoluded people "(after the book" Killer deals. The services of the People's Republic of Poland and international terrorism ").
Contracts for everyone who pays - even for the CIA
Another intermediary who made an unimaginable fortune thanks to the sale of Polish weapons was Monzer al-Kassar, who had diplomatic passports issued by the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, Syria and Iraq. For Cenzin, he guaranteed long-term, stable cooperation with the largest recipients of weapons in the Middle East. As Przemysław Gasztold estimates, only this one intermediary provided Poles from 4 to 8 million dollars a year for many years.
Polish weapons even went to Nicaragua.
In 1985, al-Kassar brokered, for example, the sale and transport of 1.2 million pieces of Polish ammunition and 1,000 rockets for the Portuguese company with LOT Polish Airlines. The weapon was later found in Nicaragua, in divisions financed by the CIA. In turn, 10,000 Polish Kalashnikovs, worth $ 6 million, were sent to the rebels via Bulgaria. The economy of the Polish People's Republic was already in such a catastrophic condition that Poles carried out armaments contracts for foreign currencies even at the request of American intelligence ...
How much dirty money did the authorities of the People's Republic of Poland earn?
The attempt to answer the question of how much money the communist authorities in Poland earned from selling weapons to dictators and terrorists is basically a hopeless task. The vast majority of these suspicious trading operations were perfectly concealed, and many documents were meticulously destroyed after 1989. From preserved, fragmented data, it is possible to estimate these dirty gains in billions of dollars (and remember the much higher dollar value decades ago!).
These are not exaggerated data - in the best years, the annual exports of Polish arms industry exceeded one billion dollars , we can only speculate what percentage of these transactions was assumed to be illegal. In the structure of the Polish People's Republic trade exchange with many countries, arms exports accounted for as much as 20-40% of the value. The importance of these measures for maintaining the communist regime in Poland grew even more in the 1980s - the decade of economic collapse and economic sanctions imposed on the People's Republic of Poland.
It was really the last resort of foreign exchange. Without arms exports to boycotted warlords and assassins hunted all over the world, communism in Poland would have ended much earlier.