Is This World a Little Too Small?
The Equatorial Guinea Coup Trial Has Begun

Raymond Stanley Archer

I realized when I woke up this morning that when writing my post Is This World a Little Too Small?I had misread IOL's discussion of Raymond Stanley Archer. His testimony at the N4610 trial does not so much suggest that he worked for the American security company the Steele Foundation (which guarded Aristide prior to his removal from power), but rather that he was with Aristide after or perhaps even during.

One of the 70 alleged South African mercenaries on trial in Zimbabwe was guarding deposed Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide days before he was taken into custody. . . . He said he had arrived back in South Africa three days earlier after an assignment as a bodyguard to Aristide . . . when a man whom he identified as James Kershaw contacted him on his cellphone.

Not much time passes between Aristide's last day in power, February 28th, and Archer finding himself in jail in Zimbabwe on March 7th. And according to Archer, he was at home in South Africa for three days in between. (Here's an Aristide timeline.)

On March 1st, Aristide was flown directly from Haiti to Central African Republic in a US chartered jet. He does not leave CAR for Jamaica until March 15th, by which time Archer is already in jail.

So there are only a few possibilities here: (1) I was right in the first place; Archer worked for Steele even though Steele's usual folks are former US special forces. (2) Archer was in Haiti and then in CAR with Aristide. Or (3) Archer was with Aristide only in CAR. Of the three possibilities, number 3 makes the least sense, because Archer is finished with the job and home by March 4th. And if he worked for Steele (1), wouldn't there have been fuss about American involvement if one of the men on N4610 had been employed by a US private military firm less than a week earlier? What looks most likely is that Archer's assignment was to help get Aristide out of Haiti to CAR; that he was part of the group that escorted/abducted (depending on your source) Aristide from Haiti.

Another question: who hired him to "guard" Aristide? If it wasn't Steele, it looks to be either the US government or a subcontractor. The US chartered the plane that took Aristide out of Haiti. Presumably whoever chartered the plane also took care of personnel needs. Was it the US Department of State? Colin Powell's choice of pronouns immediately after the fact suggests as much:

Mr Powell insisted: "He was not kidnapped. We did not force him onto the airplane. He went onto the airplane willingly. And that's the truth."

Aristide's phone calls to the outside world immediately following his flight were apparently placed on a cell phone that had been "smuggled" into his room, so I doubt he did the booking, (unless of course Archer worked for Steele).

So this leaves us with a number of questions: First of all, how did a man who would have been vetted for security work either by a reputable US security firm or by the US government end up on N4610? Secondly, were any of the 10 men Archer said he recognized among the N4610 bunch similarly vetted? And had they had similar recent employment? And finally, who is "James Kershaw"?

The darkest interpretation of this odd linkage is that Archer is some kind of coup specialist, experienced at escorting heads of state from their home countries into exile.

UPDATE: In the comments on a nearby post somone who claims to have worked for Steele identifies Archer as a former Steele employee. Thanks!