BIG BUCKS FROM SMOKING GUNS Mon Mar 3, 4:25 AM ET http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tm...030303/en_pagesix/big_bucks_from_smoking_guns By Richard Johnson WARFARE in the Middle East could be profitable for Donald Zilkha, one of the largest investors in Colt's Manufacturing Inc., and his pal Sami Sindi, a sales representative for the gunmaker in the trigger-happy region. Last year, Saudi-born Sindi - whose ex-father-in-law, Nemir Kirdar, runs Bahrain-based Investcorp - was quietly contracted to sell the coveted Colt M16 rifle in the tumultuous Middle East. Sales are strong. In fact, the deal has worked out so well, Zilkha and Sindi are already working on new deals outside Colt's. But retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Bill Keys, Colt's president and CEO, pointed out that Colt only sells to countries approved by the State Department, America's allies. "The relationship isn't between Zilkha and Sindi, it's between Colt's and Crescent Venture Partners," Keys said. Crescent is the East 55th Street firm where Sindi works. The secretive Zilkha bought a 16 percent interest in Colt's when the Hartford, Conn., company went bankrupt in 1994. In his efforts to curry favor in Congress, where defense contracts can be won or lost, Zilkha has made campaign contributions to lawmakers such as pro-gun control Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer, who received $1,500 in 1998. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which helped elect Frank Lautenberg, Barbara Boxer and Ted Kennedy, got $10,000 from Zilkha. It is said that Zilkha's influence has helped Colt's M4 become the rifle of choice for the armed services. But Keys said simply, "It's the best rifle in the world." Colt has the monopoly on making the M4 until at least 2009. There are rumors that Zilkha is trying to buy other small arms makers such as Remington, Smith & Wesson, Heckler & Koch, Vector Arms, and Fabrique National, which owns Browning and Winchester. But a spokesman for the financier denies it. The business of international arms sales must be a nice diversion for Zilkha and Sindi from their marital splits. Zilkha's divorce from his wife, Valerie, has been made a bit sticky by the fact that he has a 3-year-old son with a Guatemalan woman who worked in his office. Sindi finalized his divorce in December from his glamorous Iraqi-born wife, Rena, who came out with a book last year, "Be My Guest," about some of the spectacular parties she has thrown.