Ruling Could Free 'Merchant of Death'

"Lord of War"

Bout was the inspiration for the 2005 film, "Lord of War," starring Nicolas Cage as an international arms dealer who will sell to all sides of any conflict. Bout reportedly rented his planes to the movie's producers for use in the film.

Bout's net worth is not known, but has been conservatively estimated "in the tens of millions of dollars." Before his arrest, Bout lived in Moscow, Russia, and reportedly traveled on false passports because of an international travel ban.

Shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Bout -- whose arms shipments to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan were believed to have aided al Qaeda -- pitched the CIA a multi-million dollar proposal to help rout the Taliban from the country and capture Osama bin Laden, according to Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun. Bout has denied selling arms to al Qaeda.

From 2003 through at least 2005, Pentagon contractors paid $60 million to air cargo companies known to be connected to Bout to fly an estimated 1,000 supply trips into and out of Iraq on behalf of U.S. forces there.

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