This takes up from my previous post on this. Next post in the series is here.
This post not checked for spelling or syntax. Read at your own risk.
Also blogging: Howie at The Jawa Report v3.0 Beta, Wretchard at The Belmont Club, See-Dubya at Junk Yard Blog.
Picking up with Mr. Kassar, lets dig a bit deeper just on him and see where he is operating. For that we head on over to Globalsecurity.org and their very brief view of him:
Mundhir al-KassarTheir confidence level on this is HIGH. It is, indeed, the same man due to his connections to the Hassan family, and currently has a CCCI warrant out for his arrest for work with the insurgency in Iraq. So this individual is NOW tied directly into the Syrian/Ba'athist/al Qaeda insurgency in Anbar and, most likely, elsewhere in Iraq.
Iraqi insurgency Arms Dealer
Affiliation Iraqi insurgency1
Role Arms Dealer1
Alias(es) Mundhir al Kassar1
Narrative and Notes
Reliable Kassar has connections with the Sabawi Ibrahim al Hassan family, to include Umar, Bashar and Ayman. He is a known weapons dealer and terrorist supplier. A Central Criminal Court of Iraq arrest warrant for Kassar and a reward for information leading to his capture are pending.1
1 U.S. Central Command press release. "Iraqi Government releases 41 Most-Wanted list." July 3, 2006.
Now you can't have pontification and blow-hards without having Sen. John Kerry involved and he does, indeed, involve himself in actually wanting something done about Mr. Kassar. On 30 JUN 1992 as part of Iran/Contra:
Mr. President, Watergate brought down a Presidency, but I must say that Watergate was trivial compared to Iran-Contra. Iran-Contra was nothing less than an effort to subcontract the foreign policy of the United States of America to a bunch of professional arms smugglers, including notorious terrorists like Manzer al-Kassar, drug dealers like Manuel Noriega, and nut cases like polygraph-failing Manchuer Ghorbanifar. It revolved around a scheme to sell weapons to a government responsible for murdering hundreds of American Marines, holding Americans hostage and supporting international terrorists around the world. It involved a specific, planned effort within the White House to evade both the letter and spirit of U.S. law, and it betrayed publicly stated American commitments to isolate terrorist States and to punish--not reward--those who take hostages.Now if only Sen. Kerry would have had *that* attitude towards Saddam Hussein... but that is, apparently, too much to expect for the long haul. Not enough 'nuance'. While he does use it to decry things done by the Executive, it is strange that the lackadaisical attitude of such a Senator towards holding hearing to find out the EXTENT of Mr. Kassar (and others) influence against the United States is not done. But, I've hit Sen. Kerry on that *before*. And that is surprising, really, as Sen. Kerry was involved with uncovering the BCCI scandal! From the Executive Summary of that report, lets see where Mr. Kassar is situated:
16. INVESTIGATIONS OF BCCI TO DATE REMAIN INCOMPLETE, AND MANY LEADS CANNOT BE FOLLOWED UP, AS THE RESULT OF DOCUMENTS BEING WITHHELD FROM US INVESTIGATORS BY THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT, AND DOCUMENTS AND WITNESSES BEING WITHHELD FROM US INVESTIGATORS BY THE GOVERNMENT OF ABU DHABI.Now there is a happy coincidence of names, places and organizations. Yes, Mr. Kassar is directly involved with Iraqi arms dealer Sarkis Sarkenalian, but, also coming from Syria, he would also have a more than peripheral connection to the Central Bank of Syria and its connection to the Foreign Trade Mission of the Soviet Union in London, as seen above. Also the shifting of Banque de Commerce et Placement to the Cukorova Group in Turkey as a means to help the BNL (Banco Nazionale del Lavoro) arms and equipment sales with Iraq. And as BCCI was *also* connecting to the Keating 5 Scandal and Marc Rich, we have possible 'twice removed' connections with: Sen. John McCain and the Clintons.
Many of the specific criminal transactions engaged in by BCCI's customers remain hidden from investigation as the result of bank secrecy laws in many jurisdictions, British national security laws, and the holding of key witnesses and documents by the Government of Abu Dhabi. Documents pertaining to BCCI's use to finance terrorism, to assist the builders of a Pakistani nuclear bomb, to finance Iranian arms deals, and related matters have been sealed in the United Kingdom by British intelligence and remain unavailable to U.S. investigators. Many other basic matters pertaining to BCCI's criminality, including any list that may exist of BCCI's political payoffs and bribes, remain sequestered in Abu Dhabi and unavailable to U.S. investigators.
Many investigative leads remain to be explored, but cannot be answered with devoting substantial additional sources that to date no agency of government has been in a position to provide.
Unanswered questions include, but are not limited to, the relationship between BCCI and the Banco Nazionale del Lavoro; the alleged relationship between the late CIA director William Casey and BCCI; the extent of BCCI's involvement in Pakistan's nuclear program; BCCI's manipulation of commodities and securities markets in Europe and Canada; BCCI's activities in India, including its relationship with the business empire of the Hinduja family; BCCI's relationships with convicted Iraqi arms dealer Sarkis Sarkenalian, Syrian drug trafficker, terrorist, and arms trafficker Monzer Al-Kassar, and other major arms dealers; the use of BCCI by central figures in the alleged "October Surprise," BCCI's activities with the Central Bank of Syria and with the Foreign Trade Mission of the Soviet Union in London; its involvement with foreign intelligence agencies; the financial dealingst of BCCI directors with Charles Keating and several Keating affiliates and front-companies, including the possibility that BCCI related entities may have laundered funds for Keating to move them outside the United States; BCCI's financing of commodities and other business dealings of international criminal financier Marc Rich; the nature, extent and meaning of the ownership of other major U.S. financial institutions by Middle Eastern political figures; the nature, extent, and meaning of real estate and financial investments in the United States by major shareholders of BCCI; the sale of BCCI affiliate Banque de Commerce et Placement in Geneva, to the Cukorova Group of Turkey, which owned an entity involved in the BNL Iraqi arms sales, among others.
The withholding of documents and witnesses from U.S. investigators by the Government of Abu Dhabi threatens vital U.S. foreign policy, anti-narcotics and money laundering, and law enforcement interests, and should not be tolerated.
But just a quick back up to the BNL scandal so that we can get some perspective on it:
LESSON NO. 4: WAR AND OILSo there is a long view of BNL and Iraq, which I am still working on. It is very, very hard to imagine an international arms dealer, drug trafficker and terrorist supporter connected *with* BCCI not getting any wind of this happening in his own back yard. And the scope of the BNL scandal covering: farm commodities, technology sales, arms support equipment sales, manufacturing equipment sales, computer sales and even 'dual use' equipment to Iraq and other Nations, like China, proved to have disasterous consequences. And there was Mr. Kassar sitting in Syria in contact with BCCI that held a bank that helped in the distribution of this entire suite of funds. Especially since the Central Bank of Syria was connected to BCCI and money laundering affairs, which Mr. Kassar had taken part in not only recently, in the Columbia affair cited by the Washington Times on 09 JUN 2007, but 12 MAY 1992, Dennis DeConcini puts forth the following:
Henry B. Gonzalez, (TX-20)
(House of Representatives - February 21, 1991)
Mr. GONZALEZ. Mr. Speaker, this is the second in a series of special orders that I have planned concerning the Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives' investigation of the Banco Nazionale del Lavoro, otherwise known as the BNL, scandal.
As explained in the first special order on February 4, the BNL scandal is a sensational bank fraud and regulatory blunder in which former employees of the Atlanta agency of the BNL, which is really an Italian Government-owned bank, were able to loan Iraq $3 billion without presumably reporting those loans to its headquarters in Rome or to the Federal Reserve and State banking officials.
I brought out also in the first special order that in effect the alarming thing about this, as we first began to look into it more than a year and a half ago, was that it revealed an absence of suitable regulatory oversight on the part of our American regulatory system, which means that the United States is the only nation in the industrialized world, West or East, that permits such a tremendous volume of foreign money, in effect better than $635 billion right now, with little or no accountability or regulatory power exerted from the national interest standpoint of the United States.
The bank regulatory failure in this case is and continues to be the main focus of attention of the Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs. The committee will pursue legislative remedies to ensure that entities like BNL are properly supervised.
As a matter of fact, this morning in the Washington Post there was a considerable story in which it was reported that the Federal Reserve Board was looking into a Washington-based bank's control or ownership influence by Iraq or Iraqi elements.
Well, let me say that if that is coming to light, it is coming too late, as in the case of BNL.
What continues to be disturbing to me is that nobody knows what the type of activity involving this huge amount of money in the United States, in which foreign entities owned by foreign governments can, in the exercise of their business, be acting contrary to the basic national policy as set forth by our own Government.
The second main facet of the investigation deals with BNL's relationship with Iraq. The committee is investigating the role BNL played in upgrading the military capability of Iraq, which is quite considerable.
If our boys, as it looks now, unfortunately and tragically will be the case, will go into the ground fighting, they will be facing death or serious bodily harm by missiles or chemical weapons actually funded and paid for by U.S. businesses and guaranteed by the American taxpayer.
As astounding as this is, it is and has happened, and continues to, incidentally.
BNL was one, not the only one, but probably one of the more significant, sources of funding for a complicated Iraqi scheme to obtain sophisticated Western technology and know-how.
BNL financed the sale of chemicals, specialty steel products, sophisticated computer controlled industrial machinery, electronic components, computers, and engineering and construction services. Much of this technology had civilian as well as military uses.
Evidently the United States and other Western nations ignored the true intentions of Iraq, though personally I think that those intentions were well-known, except that at that time, and I think in view of what is happening today, and being that we seem to have very short memories nowadays, we find it difficult to evoke the environment that existed during the Iraq-Iran War for 8 years, and the years immediately following the truce, in which we actually had, as a matter of Government policy, been aiding and abetting the Iraqis against the Iranians.
That sounds unbelievable today, but it is true. Truth is stranger than fiction.
It is equally true that 47.6 billion dollars--worth in an 8-year period of sophisticated weaponry was provided Iraq by not only the United States but almost every other country, including the so-called People's Republic or People's Country of China which used the technology that our licensing agreements enabled the Chinese to produce, such as the Silkworm missile which, incidentally, was the missile that sank or damaged and killed 37 of our sailors just a few years ago fired by an Iraqi source when our Navy was flying the flag for Kuwaiti oil tankers and patrolling the gulf.
Incidentally, the reason that all this financing could be done by the Iraqi Government through its central bank and through these foreign government-owned banks with either branches or agencies, as they call them, in the United States, and the one particularly in Atlanta, is that President Reagan in 1983 saw fit to remove Iraq from the list of nations that he himself listed as terrorist nations. And when he removed Iraq from that designation it opened the sluice gates for considerable commerce and weapons trading.
The BNL was also a major source of agricultural financing for Iraq. BNL financed the sale of over $850 billion in United States agricultural products to Iraq; $720 million of that amount was guaranteed and ultimately is being paid for by the United States Department of Agriculture's Commodity Credit Corporation, or the taxpayer.
Between 1983 and 1990, the CCC granted credit guarantees which enabled Iraq to purchase a total of $5.5 billion in United States farm products. In addition, the Export-Import Bank granted Iraq a $200 million insurance policy to protect United States companies against the potential risk of loss related to exporting goods to Iraq, and of course they did suffer that loss and, of course, the taxpayers pay that guarantee or insurance.
These United States Government guarantees were very important to Iraq. It not only permitted Iraq to purchase high-quality food for its people and its army, it freed up a like amount in foreign exchange, more importantly, which was used to purchase the technology and military goods from various countries around the globe.
The BNL scandal which burst onto the scene publicly in August 1989 played a key role in the disintegration of United States-Iraq relations. As we are now tragically aware, the break in United States-Iraq relations ultimately ended in war.
Revelation of the BNL scandal was important to United States-Iraq relations because of several reasons. BNL was a major bank participant in the Commodity Credit program with Iraq. Alleged violation of CC regulations by BNL in Iraq, still being investigated by our United States attorney in Atlanta and by the Department of Agriculture, made and compelled the administration, this administration, to rethink the billions of dollars in agriculture credit guarantees provided to Iraq. Iraq received $1 billion in agriculture credit from 1989.
Mind you, it was in August 1989 that we had the first exposure of the deal, but at that time the climate was very favorable in our country and in our Government as a matter of policy toward Iraq, as contradistinguished from Iran. The Department of Agriculture was in the midst of granting Iraq another $1 billion program for 1990 when the BNL scandal surfaced.
Facing pressure from possible irregularities in the Iraq program, the Agriculture Department was reluctantly forced to limit the program with Iraq in 1990 to $500 million. The Iraqis were incensed, because Iraq was effectively bankrupt and had little money to purchase food with. It was counting on an increase in the CCC program, and not a huge cut in the program. This was a blow at the time for Iraq. Iraq took the lowering of the $500 million level as an insult. They claimed this action was indefensible because they were not violating American law at that time, as indeed they were not since Mr. Reagan removed them from the list in 1983, and that no formal charges had been filed against them because of the BNL scandal.
Lowering the level of the CC credit to $500 million also placed increased pressure on Iraq's already scant resources.
The implication of the BNL scandal did not end there. As I have mentioned earlier, BNL was a major source of financing for a complicated Iraqi technology procurement network. During the 1980's, Iraq established ownership or control of a sophisticated network of United States and European front companies whose primary mission was to obtain Western military technology and know-how and export it back to Iraq.
Of course, the Iraqis were very secretive in their dealings and were careful to conceal their true affiliation. During the latter half of the 1980's they relied heavily on these BNL loans to finance the procurement of much of the Western technology they were seeking, including the so-called big gun, the chemical weapons component and other missile and munition facilities, one of which plants was established in Baghdad.
But BNL loans were not ordinary financing. BNL contracted to loan Iraq $2.155 billion at interest rates that were not economically feasible. In addition, a good portion of those loans did not have to be paid back for many years; they were long term, which is incredible. The Small Business Administration has not in many years been able to do anything one-tenth as much for any U.S. businessman.
The former employees of BNL were operating like a charity, not a bank. The BNL raid in August 1989 put an end to this practice at that point and certainly put a damper on the Iraqi procurement of a long list of United States and Western technology. About $1 billion at that point had not yet been disbursed under the charity loan schemes when BNL was raided in August 1989.
The BNL scandal also made the Baghdad diplomatic community worry that Iraq was so desperate for credit it was willing to engage in illegal activity. Iraq feared its already tarnished financial reputation because of their defaults would be further damaged by BNL's scandal, and they were worried that the scandal would possibly jeopardize high-profit Iraqi projects being constructed by foreign companies.
While BNL money and United States credit guarantees would not have been siginficant to a financially strong nation, it was critically important to a country like Iraq because it was in such a poor financial shape after the terribly inhuman 8-year war with Iran.
By the end of 1989, Iraq had already defaulted on most of its debts with the governments and private companies of most Western countries as well as with Japan and Korea. Until the BNL scandal, the United States had almost been the only exception in this rule. Iraq had remained relatively current on its United States obligations.
But limiting United States Government credit programs because of BNL and stopping the flow of BNL lending to Iraq was eventually the proverbial last straw that broke the camel's back in that effectively rendering Iraq bankrupt.
The impact of the BNL scandal and its effect on Iraq is echoed in the words of the Iraqi Foreign Minister during his meeting with Secretary of State James Baker just prior to the allied offensive against Iraq. Iraq had offered many excuses for its brutal invasion of Kuwait. Among others, it accused the United States, other Western nations, Israel, and Kuwait of conspiring to destroy it economically. Related to the United States role in this supposed scheme, Tariq Aziz, the diplomat and Foreign Minister, stated in his Geneva meeting with Secretary Baker, and I am going to quote:
The United States actually implemented an embargo on Iraq before August 2, 1990. We had dealings with the United States in the field of foodstuffs. We used to buy more than $1 billion of American products. Early in 1990, the American administration suspended that deal which was profitable for both sides. Then the United States Government decided to deny Iraq the purchase of a very large list of items.
Evidently, to the Iraqis, the impact of the BNL scandal was a key factor in the decline of United States-Iraqi relations.
As we know, Saddam Hussein reacted to his dire financial straits by invading Kuwait which ironically, along with several other Arab nations, had loaned Iraq tens of billions of dollars during the conflict with Iran.
To summarize, the failure of our bank regulatory system to detect the $3 billion in shady loans to Iraq, coupled with billions in questionable credits to Iraq, along with our inability to stop Saddam from importing BNL-financed technology which was used for military purposes, is being used now in which our soldiers will confront, all worked together to cause our war with Iraq.
Hopefully the committee's investigation of BNL will shed light on how these failures occurred. I would hope an understanding of these failures would work to reduce the risk of more Iraqis on our horizon, even now especially before we are forced to risk many more lives of our soldiers.
I would like to take this opportunity to demonstrate another important reason for proceeding with the Banking Committee's investigation. I have obtained from a source I must protect a memorandum that indicates a top-ranking administratrion official from a Cabinet-level Department had knowledge that BNL was used for purchasing military goods. This administration official was concerned that the revelation of BNL financing of military articles would be bad for his particular program, because it would cause considerable adverse congressional reaction and press coverage.
He stated in this memorandum:
In the worst-case scenario, congressional and other investigators would find a direct link to financing Iraqi military expenditures, particularly the Condor missile.
The astounding contents of this memorandum shed significant light on the administration's and the Federal Reserve Board's efforts to thwart our Banking Committee and its investigation of BNL. To date, they remain silent on the topic of BNL financing of military articles.
With all the lessons we could learn from the BNL scandal, let me say by way of parentheses, I am submitting in furtherance of what this comment from this official implies, in this Record, Mr. Speaker, at this point, an article in the Financial Times of London, an article of February 21, 1991, entitled `Warning Forced Bechtel Out of Iraq Chemical Project,' and believe it or not, this involves a former Secretary of State, George Shultz, who after he left the secretaryship went back to his employer, the Bechtel Corp., which is where he had come from, and this article by Alan Friedman, reporting out of New York for the London Financial Times, says, `I said something is going to go very wrong in Iraq, and if Bechtel was there, it would get blown up.'
Lebanon also provides Syria with much needed infusions of hard currency from its drug trafficking operations. The State Department has estimated that 49 metric tons of opium came from the Syrian controlled Bekaa Valley in Lebanon last year. An article in the New Republic in January of this year reported that, `Between 20 percent and 35 percent of heroin imported into the United States comes from Syrian-occupied Lebanon.' In fact, the drug business has become so important to President Assad that the Washington Post reported in January 26 of this year that `to a large extent, the glue that keeps the Syrian machinery together is the personal enrichment of Assad's military from narcotics trafficking.'Yes, backing up to 1986 and possibly all the way to 1983 with the Embassy bombings and Marine Barracks bombings, Mr. Kassar had that exact, same need, that was being supplied by the Central Bank of Syria and BCCI. One of the follow-ups to BCCI was to look particularly at just that thing, as cited in the BCCI report in 1992:
Terrorism is another nefarious international activity in which Syria continues to be involved. At times Syrian drug trafficking and support for terrorism appear to run hand in hand. According to an April 27 Time magazine article, it was Monzer al-Kassar, a Syrian drug dealer, who planted the bomb on Pan Am flight 103 which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland. Time's assertions have been supported by Vincent Cannistraro, the former head of the CIA's investigation of the bombing. He was quoted in a New York Times article as saying it was outrageous that Libya could have been fully responsible for the bombing. If this report is true, it is not the first time that Syria has been responsible for the loss of American life.
Published reports have linked Syria to the 1983 attack on the U.S. Marine barracks which killed over 200 soldiers. Syrian intelligence has also been implicated in the unsuccessful 1986 bombing of a El Al airliner in London. In addition to its individual acts of terrorism, Syria has been used as a safe haven and training ground for other terrorist organizations.
The Islamic fundamentalist group, Hezbollah, has been receiving its training in Syria. Upon completion of training in Syria, the Hezbollah have their weapons escorted by the Syrians into Lebanon. Hezbollah is the same group that has declared its purpose to be to destroy the cancerous Zionist entity. It also has made more than a dozen attacks on Israeli civilians between 1990 and 1991. Last October, Syrian Vice President Khaddam described the Hezbollah attacks against Israel as brave actions.
4. BCCI's relationships with convicted Iraqi arms dealer Sarkis Soghanalian, Syrian drug trafficker, terrorist, and arms trafficker Monzer Al-Kassar, and other major arms dealers. Sarkenalian was a principal seller of arms to Iraq. Monzer Al-Kassar has been implicated in terrorist bombings in connection with terrorist organizations such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Other arms dealers, including some who provided machine guns and trained Medellin cartel death squads, also used BCCI. Tracing their assets through the bank would likely lead to important information concerning international terrorist and arms trafficker networks.Has it really taken 15 years to follow this up? Or is this, as I suspect, just another one of those times where the pure criminality of the individual involved has brought him out of the woodwork *again*? Because Mr. Kassar was *also* involved in the Iran/Contra deal which had utilized BCCI for funding transactions. And if Mr. Kassar was involved with the late Mr. Cyrus Hashemi and London BCCI, that also gives him entrance to the Soviet trade delegation there because he is *also* from a client State of the USSR: Syria. And as Syria is already involved there, having a connection between Mr. Kassar and Mr. Hashemi is not only possible, but nearly mandatory for the types of wheeling and dealing going on to get drugs, arms and cash moved around from the Middle East to Latin America.
5. The use of BCCI by central figures in arms sales to Iran during the 1980's. The late Cyrus Hashemi, a key figure in allegations concerning an alleged deal involving the return of U.S. hostages from Iran in 1980, banked at BCCI London. His records have been withheld from disclosure to the Subcommittee by a British judge. Their release might aid in reaching judgments concerning Hashemi's activities in 1980, with the CIA under President Carter and allegedly with William Casey.
6. BCCI's activities with the Central Bank of Syria and with the Foreign Trade Mission of the Soviet Union in London. BCCI was used by both the Syrian and Soviet governments in the period in which each was involved in supporting activities hostile to the United States. Obtaining the records of those financial transactions would be critical to understanding what the Soviet Union under Brezhnev, Chernenko, and Andropov was doing in the West; and might document the nature and extent of Syria's support for international terrorism.
Now, inside the actual BCCI report we get a look at the Kassar brothers ties to:
Yes, Mr. Kassar and his brother getting support from BCCI, working with Eastern European contacts and the Contras as part of Iran/Contra. That coming out from a former manager in BCCI itself. Also note the support to Abu Nidal and how that runs in its own similar courses, also cited by that same manager, who then becomes a prime link to knowing what moved between those organizations.
In the United Kingdom, a key window on BCCI's support of terrorism was an informant named Ghassan Qassem, the former manager of the Sloan Street branch of BCCI in London. Qassem had been given the accounts of Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal at BCCI, and then proceeded, while at BCCI, to provide detailed information on the accounts to British and American intelligence, apparently as a paid informant, according to press accounts based on interviews with Qassem.(66)
As of 1986, the information obtained about Abu Nidal's use of BCCI was sufficiently detailed as to justify dissemination within the U.S. intelligence community.(67)
In July, 1987, as a result of the information provided by Qassem, a State Department report concerning Abu Nidal and Qassem, declassified in 1991 at the request of the Subcommittee, describes Abu Nidal's use of BCCI.
The ANO commercial network comprises several businesses created over the past seven years with the long-term goal of establishing legitimate trading enterprises in various countries, gaining experience in commercial trade, and making a profit for the group. . . The general manager of the commercial network and the principal agent in gray-arms transactions is Samir Hasan Najm al-Din (Samir Najmeddin). He has directed many of ANO's commercial activities, both licit and illicit, from his offices in the INTRACO building in Warsaw, Poland.. . . He has maintained a general account at a major West European Bank [BCCI in London] from which he transfers money to individual company accounts at local banks. He maintains joint control of each company's ban accounts, along with the company manager, and he is responsible for forwarding all major contracts to Sabri al-Banna for final approval.(68)
Following dissemination of this material by the U.S., the U.S. coordinated efforts to shut down the financing of the activities exposed in its targeting of Abu Nidal through BCCI-London, with some success.(69)
Other terrorist groups continued to make use of BCCI, including one "state sponsor of terrorism," and the Qassar brothers, Manzur and Ghassan, who have been associated with terrorism, arms trafficking, and narcotics trafficking in connection with the Government of Syria, and with the provision of East Bloc arms to the Nicaraguan contras in a transaction with the North/Secord enterprise paid for with funds from the secret U.S. arms sales to Iran.(70)
From Wretchard comes this citation of a NY Post article, Evil Rich 'Prince' hid in plain sight:
But the photographs displayed in his home show al Kassar - arrested on terror-related charges Thursday and suspected of supporting the insurgency in Iraq - is no run-of-the-mill millionaire, the British newspaper The Observer reported in October.Wretchard then offers this link to the LA Times article on the FARC deal:
In one photo, he is shaking hands with the late Uday Hussein, the ruthless eldest son of dictator Saddam Hussein. Uday was killed by U.S. troops in July 2003.
Another photo shows al Kassar holding hands with Hassan Aideed, son of a now-dead Somali warlord depicted in the movie "Black Hawk Down."
In a third, he hugs terrorist Abu Abbas, the former leader of the Palestinian Liberation Front captured in Baghdad in 1993.
Kassar promised to provide the FARC with "C4 explosives, as well as expert trainers from Lebanon to teach the FARC how to effectively use C4 and improvised explosive devices," the indictment and federal authorities alleged.From Wretchard we get direction to Barcepundit who looks at some 2005 connections of Mr. Kassar to the Madrid bombings:
"In addition, Kassar offered to send a thousand men to fight with the FARC against U.S. military officers in Colombia," Garcia said.
Kassar, Ghazi and Moreno were charged with four separate terrorism offenses: conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, conspiracy to kill U.S. officers or employees, conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, and conspiracy to acquire and use an antiaircraft missile. Kassar and Moreno were also charged with money-laundering.
If convicted on all counts, the men face a sentence of life in prison without parole.
El Mundo explains how the police found out that one of their own was the owner of the store where the cell phones were programmed:Yes, well connected in the Transnational Terrorist realm and Rogue Nation areas!From the data obtained in the van, plus the data from the unexploded knapsack bomb, the cell phones that Jamal Ahmidam’s people bought at Bazar Top (the Indian store), and the following “release” [by which the cell phones were able to be operated from any source including calling cards] of those phones, Kalaji’s coworkers at the General Information office came to his store, Tecnología de Sistemas Telefónicos Ayman.Kalaji's Palestinian connections are strong and remain strong. El Mundo describes him as "Kalaji, who considers himself a defender of the Palestinian cause". My question is, is it wise of the Spanish intelligence services to have place in such sensitive jobs both Kalaji and members of his family?
From that very moment, Maussili Kalaji began to fully cooperate with his ex-coworkers at the Information Office, and thanks to him, and to his having written down the IMEI identification numbers of the Bazar Top cell numbers he had been asked to “release” (i.e., program so they phones would allow calling cards from any company and in any modality, prepayment, or contract), the investigators were able to find the Leganés apartment where the terrorist leader of the 3/11 trains of death had taken shelter.
. . .
He was in charge of the Syrian Monzer Al-Kassar
Maussili Kalaji thoroughly knows the Syrian community in Spain, and additionally, was the Spanish agent in charge of listening to and translating all of the telephone conversations of Monzer Al-Kassar, allegad weapons trafficker that was charged by judge Baltasar Garzón for collaborating in the Achille Lauro hijacking.
The ship’s hijacking took place in 1985, and in 1992 judge Garzón charged Al-Kassar -- Syrian resident of Marbella and representative of the Spanish government in some weapons sales to third countries – of allegedly belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (led by Abu Abbas [see link]), of murder, of belonging to an armed gang and terrorist organization, of attempted murder, illegal detention, and piracy.
Kalaji, as member of the Office of Information and by order of the judge, kept close match on Al-Kassar and his family; but eventually the Syrian friend of former Cesid director Alonso Manglano and ex-Secretary of the Interior Rafael Vera, was absolved of all charges of which judge Garzón had accused him.
And with that we now have a few names, beyond Manzar Al-Kassar to add to the kitty of terrorism, bank fraud, money launder, illegal arms shipments, narcotrafficking and undermining Nations:
Manzur Qassar (variant spelling of Monzer al-Kassar )
Mundhir al-Kassar (alias/variant)
Ghassan Qassar (brother to Manzur)
Ghassan Qassem - BCCI London branch manager
Cyrus Hashemi - deceased, major figure in the Iran/Contra deal via North/Secord connections
Sarkis Soghanalian - Iraqi Arms Dealer under Saddam
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - Customer
Medellin cartels - Possible link via BCCI, Iran/Contra, North/Secord
Hezbollah - Syrian and Iranian backed organization, most shipments coming through Syria - customer
Pan Am flight 103 - Agent for bomb and placement of same cited by Vincent Cannistraro, the former head of the CIA's investigation of the bombing
Assad Family - Ruling family of Syria
Defex - Portugese company cited in the Kassar to Contra arms shipment
Thomas Parlow - Danish National - Shipping manager in charge of the schedule for the Erria from Poland to Portugal
Clines, Hakim and William Haskell, an associate of North - Arms purchasers from Erria
Uday Hussein - deceased, Son of Saddam Hussein
Hassan Aideed - Son of Farah Aideed the Somali warlord
Achille Lauro Hijacking
Abu Abbas - International Terrorist
FARC - not only in 2007, but by implication by Interpol as early as 2000
Tareq Mousa Al Ghazi - 2007 arms deals with FARC
Luis Felipe Moreno Godoy - 2007 arms deals with FARC
This gets a good scoping on Mr. Kassar! Lots of dots heading outwards and some of the documents I am looking at see connections beyond that to things like: North Korea and AQ Khan network. The man *did* have the necessary contacts for those, but seeing if they pan out is something else, again. Also any hard ties to the BNL scandal will put *that* in a different light and all events after that, as Mr. Kassar seems to have duplicated their network but on a corporate scale for money laundering.
And I still haven't even gotten to the last two on the list. And this list grows outwards.
Also note that if there is *still* a charge out on the Klinghoffer murder, that IS Piracy.
That is something our Piracy laws can be applied to so as to bring down all of Mr. Kassar's network AND everyone who supports him.