Sana’a (GPA) – In 2015 after resistance forces took control of Yemen’s capital city, an American Red Cross ‘aid’ worker was arrested on suspicion of being a U.S. spy. His story exposes the critical role so-called Non-Governmental Organizations play providing logistical and military support for imperialist powers and possible takfiri groups.
In 2015, Florida-born Scott Darden worked in Yemen for a New Orleans-based logistics company called Transoceanic Developments. Transoceanic’s website describes their work as delivering “key cargo to the most difficult areas of the globe” in areas like Somalia, Libya, and, of course, Yemen. The company works with NGO agencies, governments, and private companies moving cargo (relief aid, construction equipment, telecommunication materials, etc.) into conflict zones.
Military Contractor or Aid Worker? Why Not Both?
Darden worked for Transoceanic Development as Yemen’s country director with the supposed job of delivering aid and reconstruction materials. U.S. officials have just recently confirmed, however, that the Transoceanic Development project was actually– secretly– working in tandem with U.S. military special operations in Yemen.
Six current and former U.S. officials merely confirmed that the secret contract with Transoceanic Development did in fact exist and Darden was a part of it. However, they still refuse to provide any details since this specific operation in Yemen is currently highly classified. This could likely mean that either this operation or similar operations are still on-going and releasing too much information could compromise more American-Saudi spies disguised as aid workers on-the-ground.
Scott Darden’s own background provides a glimpse into the interwoven relationship between groups like UNICEF or the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and U.S. military operations. Darden was born to a Catholic family in Florida, raised in Atlanta, and studied at Georgia State University. But in the 80’s and 90’s, Darden traveled to Saudi Arabia to study Arabic and eventually converted to Islam. Whether or not his religious conversion was to advance his spy career cannot be sure — but it definitely raises some questions. His own wife describes him as a “man of many secrets”.
The NGO-Military Link
About ten years ago, Darden worked for another shipping and logistics company in Kuwait called Maersk. It was here he developed relationships with U.S. military contractors and began working with U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
His LinkedIn profile helps to expose a clear link between so-called NGO aid agencies and U.S. military operations. According to LinkedIn, Darden worked for UNICEF and the Red Cross. On paper, he was indeed an ‘aid’ worker while providing clandestine undercover services to the U.S. military. Although no documents have been released, it wouldn’t be outrageous to assume that weapons are also entering conflict zones through Transoceanic contracts.
In Yemen, Darden worked for Transoceanic helping provide aid to the Red Cross. His job was to oversee employees in ports like Aden, Hodeidah, and Sana’a — all areas with strong resistance (anti-imperialist and anti-Saudi) control. So while Darden was, in fact, delivering aid, he was also setting up U.S. sleeper cells: safe houses and supply networks for U.S. commando units.
In 2015, resistance forces swept Yemen’s capital city of Sana’a looking for anyone with ties to the imperialist American or Saudi regimes. This is when they found Darden hiding in a safe house he had likely helped build. He was promptly arrested, imprisoned, and later released in coordination with Oman. Darden’s story provides a clear example as to why sovereign nations and resistance groups like Ansarullah must shun international NGOs at all costs: they work in tandem with U.S. military operations under the guise of humanitarian relief.
This story is just one small exposure of a much more extensive network. It could help provide insight into how takfiri groups like al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or al-Nusra in Syria manage to thrive thanks to NGOs. In Yemen for example, Saudi Arabia has imposed an air and sea blockade over Yemen. Any aid that enters the country from NGOs like the Red Cross must first be delivered to the improvised government in Aden — which is controlled by Saudi-backed forces. Take into account that Saudi-backed troops work alongside al-Qaeda fighting the common enemy of Ansarullah and well, you do the math.
Founder and editor of Geopolitics Alert, Randi Nord is a US-based geopolitical analyst and content strategist. She covers US imperialism with a special focus on Yemen, Iran, and Lebanon. Born in Detroit, Michigan, she started learning about the media’s pivotal role in selling “humanitarian” interventions as a teenager during the aftermath of 9/11 and Iraq war. Randi Nord has lived in the Empire’s neoliberal tropical paradise (Kingdom of Hawai’i) and Lebanon. She frequently participates in the UN Human Rights Council as a guest of NGOs speaking about Yemen.