During the 1990’s I was discreetly contracted by specialist cargo underwriters on behalf of the world’s biggest insurance market; based within the City of London’s financial square mile.
London is home to the world’s leading insurance platform, a unique indoor marketplace!
Accommodating within and under its umbrella are the very ‘best of the best’ specialist Underwriters; men and women, who are at the cutting edge of the world’s 50 plus primary Insurance Companies.
My first assignment was to covertly visit, observe and report on the Rice trade in West Africa.
Sounded so simple!
(Extract from “Live a Life to Die For.” by Roger Davies.
Abruptly, the car pulled up to a stop in a quiet side street.
The driver reached down then twisted in his seat producing an AK-47, (a Russian semi-automatic rifle), that had lay hidden at his feet; the target was unmistakably my head.
The Missionary really started to act like a god-fearing man, praying, offering them prayers and salvation, – even reaching into his little shoulder bag and handing them religious leaflets.
My thoughts would have got me killed.
I honestly wanted him to shut up! I was actually embarrassed, if we’re going to die, let’s act like men.
Never mind turning the other cheek or praying for them; no I did not feel sorry for their difficult early starts in life. What’s more don’t they know I am a nice guy in recovery from addiction who is now going totally legit?
It would be my “pride” that was going to kill me, not the man holding the gun.
I had fought down my pride when the boss man asked for my papers and pointed to my bum bag that was under my shirt.
This was daylight robbery – both he and I knew it.
I recognized he didn’t give a shit about consequences but in my new life I did.
The Big fellow next to me started to assist me in pulling out my shirt so as to get to the bag and the wiry one was making aggressive gestures with the gun.
I handed the bag to the boss, sitting in the front passenger seat; he opened it on his lap so I could not see what he was doing. Moments later he handed it back and told me not to look in it, just put it on again.
At that moment I knew he had taken all the 2000 US dollars out. But had he also taken my passport?
Robbing me of what would be several years’ income to them; ensuring the boss and his little gang would definitely go to any length to enjoy the proceeds!
He told us to get out of the car. This is when everything hits the fan. I was trapped and my way out was blocked by the Big Fellow on one side and the missionary on the other.
Big Fellow was not to be moved. When the car stopped and the missionary opened his door for us to get out, I knew it would be the moment once we were out of the car and exposed that they would shoot me.
Before the missionary’s foot hit the road, using every ounce of my core and shoulder power I rotated my body hitting the big fellow in the stomach with an elbow strike.
Hurt and winded, he instinctively reached for the point of contact instead of grabbing me.
I kicked the missionary out of the car and sprang out, quite a feat for a 17 stone 6ft 2” lump. I barged him out the way, spun round to the blind spot at the back of the car and ran for cover.
They didn’t shoot.
I heard them shouting at each other; all of a sudden, the driver gunned the engine and accelerated away.
There was nothing remotely subtle about my exit from the car – self-preservation triggered my actions.
An onlooker would have seen neither agility of a Ninja nor a stylish James Bond in action; more the finesse of a startled Gruffalo.
My surprise action created instant confusion, making crucial decisions an absolute nightmare –
Shooting the missionary, without shooting me was not a good option! “That was lucky”.
Later I came to understand killing the locally well-known American missionary or leave him as a witness alive would cause so much political trouble.
It could be the kiss of death for them.
Rice seems such a cheap and mundane commodity; however when a metric ton of rice approximate value in 1995 is say US $300. Multiply the value by hundreds and immediately it creates a vastly different ball-game.
Insurance Market v International Criminals, with me in the middle!
On returning to the UK, I reported on what I had witnessed – they could make their own judgement.
Few weeks later, I was given my next assignments.
My instructions were to checkout “colourfully located” warehouses, in arguably, some of the World’s most dangerous “tourist” destinations!
Including, Kinshasa : Brazzaville : Pointe-Noire and the war torn streets of Luanda.