The Associated Guild of Free Traders is a front organization for pirates who wish to appear as ordinary traders. The Guild began as a legitimate organization, but was subverted by the treacherous McGowan and soon devolved into the rapacious band of freebooters it is today. Their aggressive raids on merchant craft have betrayed their true nature, however, and military vessels from every faction, even the normally sluggish Federation, now attack Guild members on sight. (This even includes other pirates, perhaps resentful of the competition.) The bitterest enemies of the Guild, however, are the members of the Association of Free Traders, which was formed by surviving Guild leaders who escaped McGowan's purge.
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The Nova ship identification system distinguishes between the rival groups by identifying members of the AFT as "Assoc," as opposed to the Guild, who are identified as "Fr.Trad".