The strange and fun thing about the terror-bombing plot in the UK is its links to the US, via a bit of net-chat picked up by police monitoring discussion groups. H/t to Confederate Yankee for pointing out this UK Telegraph (06 JUL 2007) story on that:
Police found details of the discussions on a site run by one of a three-strong "cyber-terrorist" gang.And as is pointed out at CY the actual likelihood of this *succeeding* are quite small. Still, as this UK Daily Mail article (05 JUL 2007) points out, those arrested used the basic plans for their attacks in the UK:
They were discovered at the home of Younis Tsouli, 23, Woolwich Crown Court in south-east London heard.
One message read: "We are 45 doctors and we are determined to undertake jihad and take the battle inside America.
"The first target which will be penetrated by nine brothers is the naval base which gives shelter to the ship Kennedy." This is thought to have been a reference to the USS John F Kennedy, which is often at Mayport Naval Base in Jacksonville, Florida.
The message discussed targets at the base, adding: "These are clubs for naked women which are opposite the First and Third units."
It also referred to using six Chevrolet GT vehicles and three fishing boats and blowing up petrol tanks with rocket propelled grenades.
Investigators have found no link between the Tsouli chat room and the group of doctors and medics currently in custody over attempted car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow.
The court heard how Tsouli and his friends Waseem Mughal, 24, and Tariq Al-Daour, 21, had direct links to al Qaeda in Iraq led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The trial, which is taking place at the high security court, is the first prosecution involving the online distribution of radical material.Apparently this plot came to us via the late Zarqawi's gang which received training in Bosnia. And in this lovely modern age of electronics, there is no need to have an Anarchist's Cookbook or some such, as seen at an earlier Telegraph story on this:
The US car bomb plan, which emerged during the two-month trial, has similarities to the failed attacks in London and Glasgow but investigators say they have found no link between the two groups. As the national terror threat level was reduced from critical to severe, details were uncovered today of the links between last week's bombing suspects.
Kafeel Ahmed, 27, who drove the Jeep into Glasgow airport, is the brother of Sabeel Ahmed, 26, the doctor arrested in Liverpool. They are cousins of Mohammed Haneef, 27, the Indian doctor arrested in Australia. The three are believed to have studied together in Bangalore.
Kafeel Ahmed, who is still in hospital with 90 per cent burns, studied technology in Cambridge and police suspect he may have been the bomb maker.
It is there in 2005 that he is believed to have met the alleged mastermind of the plot, Jordanian Dr Mohammed Asha.
Ahmed's accomplice in the Glasgow attack, Iraqi doctor Bilal Abdullah, 27, was also in the city at that time.
The three internet bombers being sentenced today appeared to be leading normal lives, studying and living with their parents.
The court hear Tsouli had come to the UK with his family from Morocco in 2001. His father worked for the Moroccan tourist board. He was given indefinite leave to stay in August 2005 - two months before his arrest.
Mughal, a British citizen, had a degree in biochemistry from Leicester University and was studying for a masters.
Al-Daour, born in the United Arab Emirates to Palestinian parents, was granted British citizenship in May 2005.
The three only came to attention in October 2005 when detectives followed a trail from two terrorists arrested in Bosnia. They were found to be in possession of a vast collection of extremist material on their laptops.
In one message Tsouli wrote the day before the 7 July bombings, he said: "The only thing that would stop me from joining the brothers in Iraq is to attack the bastards here in London."
Al-Daour, 21, of Bayswater, west London, who was born in the United Arab Emirates, today admitted inciting another person to commit and act of terrorism wholly or partly outside the United Kingdom which would, if committed in England and Wales, constitute murder.Yes, your very own formulas for jihad on CD! Plus whatever the latest fashion in "martyrdom vests" that goes with the well dressed jihadi this season. What is disturbing, however, like in the Anarchists finding cheap weapons in the 19th century to assassinate Kings, Princes and Presidents, this new era offers a much, much higher body count with successful materials processing formula AND cheap arms. Notice how this group funded itself? Not through al Qaeda. Not through Hezbollah. Not via an Islamic Charity. No, they did it the old fashioned way: bank and credit card fraud. Jihad on the cheap on a DIY basis! No need for expensive overhead of a massive organization, just a few tips and tricks on how to fraudulently get funds, cheap CDs to give you a shopping list, and a bit of training here or there (say, Bosnia) that can easily be re-taught to others.
Moroccan-born Tsouli, 23, of Shepherd’s Bush, west London, and British-born Mughal, 24, of Chatham, Kent, admitted the same charge on Monday. They are due to be sentenced tomorrow.
They also admitted conspiring together and with others to defraud banks, credit card companies and charge card companies.
Material on their computers, if printed out, would stand tens of thousands of feet high.
Al-Daour had CDs containing instructions for making explosives and poisons, including a recipe for creating a rotten meat toxin which, in its pure form, is “the most toxic substance known to man”, the court was told.
A leaflet on how to use a rocket-propelled grenade, and pages from “The Book of Jihad”, as well a video about the September 11 terror attacks.
Police found instructions on causing an explosion with “rocket propellant’’ and constructing a car bomb, and a video film about a “Martyrdom Operations Vest’’ - a reference to a suicide bomb vest. In one on-line conversation, when Al-Daour was asked what he would do with £1 million, he replied: “Sponsor terrorist attacks, become the new Osama.”
In another conversation, he said suicide bombings were permissible but he did not like them unless they killed many people because “a Muslim life is worth more than that”.
So it is now 'amateur hour' for jihad! And we have seen the amateurs crawling out of the woodwork with their plans and attacks and variety of strangeness that leaves them just one step away from the 'big time' and instant martyrdom. But do notice that there is one name that does pop up that we should be reminded of: Kennedy. Yes, the USS John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier and the John F. Kennedy airport give a lovely juxtaposition of places, from the sunny tropical climes of Florida to the temperate and seasonal NYC, and the name, itself, is emblematic of a popular President who was assassinated. As one of the prior JFK Airport suspects put it, this would serve to kill Kennedy *again*. Sort of like burning someone in effigy, only a bit more on the dark side. And since that brings up those lovely terrorists, lets remember that THOSE folks had ties via Florida, also. From my first view of the JFK plot, we see this little tidbit from 15 AUG 2005 Trinidad Express via ttgapers:
The John Doe witness is said to have told US authorities of a Muslimeen connection to a terrorist cell in Karachi, Pakistan, and of criminal jobs assigned to him by the Muslimeen hierarchy, including gun smuggling, drug trafficking and the payment of laundered funds to key members of the Mucurapo Road organisation.No one said terrorism had to be all high-tech! And Florida is *just* the place to be, apparently, if you are in the tropical terrorism mindset, as it served as a point for previous plots and movement of arms for terrorist uses. One such was brought out in the trial of Shueub Mossa Jokhan and Imran Mandhai in USA v. Shueub, Jokhan, et.al., with thanks to the MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base for the summary:
He told of being directed to rendezvous with a key lieutenant in Brooklyn, New York, and of the latter providing him with false US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) documents and a social security card.
According to US sources, John Doe also testified about a key lieutenant of the Muslimeen supplying him with smuggled cocaine which he, in turn, sold to dealers in Connecticut. He is said to have returned almost all of the proceeds of the drug sale to his Muslimeen contact in the US and other high-ranking members of the group, keeping only a small fraction to cover his expenses.
The John Doe witness, who is said to have had some involvement in the May 30, 2001 failed attempt to smuggle a shipment of machine guns and assault rifles into this country, told US investigators of a Muslimeen plan to take possession of some of the weapons for the group's private use. He is also reported to have been privy to discussions relating to a Muslimeen plan to sell the rest of the weapons to the underworld. Transcripts of taped telephone conversations show a key Muslimeen official detailing plans to sell the AK-47 rifles in Trinidad for US$4,000 apiece.
Small, who has challenged legal efforts to extradite him to the US to stand trial on gun-running charges, was identified by co-conspirator in the aborted arms deal, Keith Andre Glaude, as the consignee to the shipment of 60 AK-47s and Mac-10 machine pistols with silencers, which was intercepted en route to Trinidad by US undercover agents in Fort Lauderdale.
Glaude, a former close associate of Small and another T&T national resident in the US, told investigators of the Muslimeen plan to ship the weapons cache to Trinidad concealed in a shipment of hollowed out furniture.
US agents, who lost track of the guns used in the 1990 uprising, report that the planned method of transportation for the arms cache in 2001 was almost a blueprint of the one used for the April 1990 shipment, which had its origins in Broward County and involved weapons concealed inside a stack of hollowed out plywood.
Synopsis: Between May 2000 and May 2001, Imran Mandhai and Shueyb Mossa Jokhan plotted to wage Jihad by blowing up various electrical power stations and Jewish businesses in South Florida. With the assistance of a civilian informant, the FBI discovered Mandhai and Jokhan had acquired numerous firearms and explosives, and they had scouted out numerous targets.Now this is interesting because of who *else* is associated with the case, as seen in my second article on Radical Islam in the Caribbean, there is a bit of activity in the area. This comes from the testimony of Janice L. Kephart suring Hearing before the House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims on 08 JUN 2006:
On May 16, 2002, a 2-count indictment was filed charging Mandhai and Jokhan with violations of 18 USC § 841, conspiring to destroy by means of fire or an explosive any building, vehicle, or other real or personal property used in interstate or foreign commerce; and 18 USC § 373-0101, solicit and commit a crime of violence.
Mandhai pleaded guilty to 1 count of the indictment. He was sentenced to 140 months of imprisonment and 3 years probation.
Jokhan pleaded guilty to 1 count of the indictment. He was sentenced to 58 months of imprisonment and 3 years probation.
There were also reports prior and subsequent to 9/11 U.S.-sought Adnan El- Shukrijumah was living in Trinidad near schools that share his last name. In addition, two men with ties to Trinidad have been arrested in the United States. Keith Andre Gaude, a Jammat linked to bin Ladin, pled guilty on September 19, 2001 to unlawful possession of a machine gun. BATF officials stated he had come to Florida to “buy as many as 60 AK-47 assault rifles and 10 MAC-10 submachine guns with silencers."And who, praytell, is Adnan El-Shukrijumah? Janice Kephart does a wonderful summary of someone on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorist list:
In 2002, Trinidad native and U.S. naturalized citizen Shueyb Mossa Jokhan was sentenced to 58 months in federal prison for a “jihad” mission that included bombing an electrical power station and a National Guard Armory. According to the FBI, “these attacks were then to be followed by a list of demands to be placed on the United States government and other governments around the world. The defendants also sought to acquire AK-47 type assault weapons for their jihad training and operations, and sought to obtain the release from custody of an individual described as a "mujahedin" fighter committed to jihad.”
Born in Saudi Arabia, Adnan El-Shukrijumah, aka “Jafar the Pilot,” has spent 15 years in the United States (mostly in South Florida), speaks fluent English, and has been employed as a teacher.Yes, the man associated with 9/11 that no one can lay their hands on, associated with Zacarias Moussaoui, Jose Padilla, Richard Reid and the lovely convict Imran Mandhai. Bet you didn't think that Florida was a nice traffic point for the 'poor and jihadi', as opposed to the 'rich and famous'! El-Shukrijumah is the #1 reason to take any threat via Florida *seriously*: his contacts there via Imran, Jokhan and his extended network via Jamaat al-Muslimeen in Trinidad, all point out to someone who is relatively well connected, able to evade authorities with ease, has his own private pilot's license and has this nasty habit of hooking up with folks plotting terrorist activities in Florida and environs.
El-Shukrijumah trained with Jose Padilla to partner in the dirty bomb plot, helicopter plots, and the New York and New Jersey financial infrastructure plots discovered in the summer of 2004. A Department of Homeland Security document quoted in Newsweek states that “KSM has identified Adnan el-Shukrijumah, a Saudi born permanent U.S. resident alien, as an operative with standing permission to attack targets in the United States that had been previously approved by Osama Bin Ladin.”
FBI Director Robert Mueller called him “a trained operative who poses an operational threat to the United States” who the FBI considers to be armed and dangerous. In late 2000 or early 2001, El-Shukrijumah was under investigation for his relationship to Imran Mandhai, convicted in Florida of conspiring to bomb a National Guard armory, power stations, Jewish businesses, and Mount Rushmore prior to 9/11. Mandhai was associated with Hakki Cemal Aksoy, convicted in 2002 for firearms violations and asylum fraud and in whose apartment bomb making manuals and notes were found.
El-Shukrijumah had previously applied for naturalization, but the INS interior enforcement office in Miami noticed that the application was fraudulent. The INS agents working the case met with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami, and even discussed seeking a search warrant for El-Shukrijumah’s residence. Without further information linking El-Shukrijumah to terrorist activity, the matter was dropped.
As an LPR, El-Shukrijumah easily traveled to and from attended training camps in Afghanistan, where he was most likely schooled by Ramzi Binalshibh, famous for his role as emissary between KSM and 9/11 ring leader Mohamad Atta. El-Shukrijumah is a skilled bomb maker and a Florida trained pilot, and authorities have found a document that ties him (via one of his aliases) to the Oklahoma flight school where Zacarias Moussaoui trained. He may have been friendly with Atta as well, as I describe an immigration officer’s witnessing of receiving a request for help with travel documents in May 2001 from El-Shukrijumah on behalf of Atta and likely another 9/11 pilot in 9/11 and Terrorist Travel. According to Attorney General John Ashcroft, El-Shukrijumah “scouted sites across America that might be vulnerable to terrorist attack.” In addition to surveilling high-profile targets in New York’s financial district, El-Shukrijumah surveilled the Panama Canal.
Back in the United States, he was also involved in an aborted plot with Jose Padilla to blow up apartment buildings in the United States. He was also likely Padilla’s first partner in the dirty bomb plot, but differences between them ended the joint venture. There are also reports that El-Shukrijumah attempted to procure radioactive material from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. In March 2004, El-Shukrijumah attended a terrorist summit in Pakistan and met with a number of key al Qaeda members, including Abu Issa Al-Hindi, Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, and Mohammed Babar. IN past months he has been spotted in Mexico. He reportedly met with members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang (known as MS-13) in Honduras, although Interpol denies the existence of evidence of such a meeting. In September 2004, the Aviation and Security Association reported, “An alert airline crewmember saw and then confronted a suspicious acting person at Kansai International Airport in Japan. El Shukrijumah was this suspicious person.” However, law enforcement was not notified.
Reporting indicates that since El-Shukrijumah fled the United States after 9/11, he has tried to get back into the United States using various passports. He has a Guyanese passport, but may also hold passports from Saudi Arabia, Canada, and Trinidad. However, unless authorities made a decision to permit Shukrijumah his freedom for law enforcement or intelligence reasons, or know that he did manage to enter the United States on one of these passports undetected and law enforcement knows about it, I do not place much credence in these reports.
These connections are not just the recent 'spontaneous jihad' type, but are far longer reaching going at least as far back as the Jamaat al-Muslimeen coup in Trinidad in 1990, in which arms were shipped via Florida to Trinidad. A larger connection to the area was revealed after 9/11 as seen in this BBC report on 01 OCT 2001:
There are reports that US investigators have uncovered evidence of financial transfers linking Osama Bin Laden to the 11 September attacks on America.Somehow everyone wants to think of Florida for the fun and sunshine and not for al Qaeda operatives like Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi doing flight training and financial transactions, or Shukrijumah working with a Pakistani to blow up some electrical substations and a National Guard Armory, or for folks associated with Jamaat al-Muslimeen looking to move weapons through Florida to Trinidad. Then there is the Jose Padilla case, also a El-Shukrijumah link, which started to get going in Florida with a jury selection that began on 16 APR 2007, this from FOX News:
According to FBI sources, Mustafa Mohamed Ahmad, a suspected Bin Laden financial operative, transferred money to Mohamed Atta, one of the hijackers, in the days running up to the attacks
Furthermore Atta and two of the other hijackers transferred some $15,000 back to an account under the same name just two days before the attacks.
Mr Ahmad, also known as Sheikh Saeed, is one of 27 individuals or groups with a known link to Bin Laden who have had their assets in America frozen.
He worked as a financial manager for Bin Laden when he was based in Sudan and is believed to be a financial operative for the al-Qaeda organisation.
Cash transfers were made to Atta via a money service in Florida on 8 and 9 September from an account in Dubai, under the name of Mustafa Ahmad.
Atta is believed to have been the ringleader of the 19 hijackers.
Atta and two other hijackers - Waleed al-Shehri and Marwan al-Shehi - then each sent $5,000 from the US to an account in Dubai, also under the name of Mustafa Ahmad, two days before the attacks.
The money is believed to have been unused surplus from the fund for the attacks, which investigators say may have amounted to about $500,000.
Moved to Pakistan
The man who collected the funds in the UAE then travelled to Karachi in Pakistan on the day of the attacks using a Saudi passport, according to Sheikh Abdullah, the son of UAE President Sheikh Zaid bin Sultan al-Nahayan.
Records also show that the man had arrived in the UAE at the end of June from Qatar.
MIAMI — Five years after his arrest at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, Jose Padilla heads to court — but with no mention of the "dirty bomb" allegations that first made headlines.Yes, Americans can go overseas to fight and fund things! And if you get involved with organizations attacking the US or its Armed Forces you can, indeed, be brought in for crimes under the US Code. When you do things that are contrary to the Foreign Policy of the Nation, however, like arming folks against a Nation that the US has *not* declared war on, like Russia in the Chechen conflict or the actual Governments that asked for help from the US in the Balkans, or supporting Foreign Terrorist Operations, then one really does have need to realize that they have gone just a bit too far. Because some of those lovely folks from Chechnya, Bosnia and elsewhere have shown up in places like Glasgow and London, trying to blow up places or just burn them down. Actions do, indeed, have consequences to them and not all consequences are *good ones*.
Padilla and two co-defendants are accused of being part of a support cell that funneled fighters, money and supplies to Islamic extremists in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia, Tajikistan and elsewhere around the world. Jury selection was to begin Monday.
Padilla, held for 3 1/2 years as an enemy combatant, and co-defendants Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi face charges of conspiracy to "murder, kidnap and maim" people overseas and of providing support to terror groups. All three pleaded not guilty. They could face life in prison if convicted.
In 2002, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft announced Padilla's arrest and said authorities had thwarted an Al Qaeda plot to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in a major city. Those allegations have been dropped.
Padilla was hastily added to an existing case in Miami in November 2005, a few days before a Supreme Court deadline for Bush administration briefs on the question of the president's powers to continue holding him in military prison without charge.
Padilla claimed he was tortured while interrogated in military custody — a charge repeatedly denied by the Bush administration — and sought unsuccessfully to have his case dismissed for "outrageous government conduct."
Federal officials claim Padilla admitted involvement and training with Al Qaeda during his brig interrogations, as well as the proposed "dirty bomb" plot and 50,000 intercepted telephone calls and bugged conversations in Arabic with purported code words.
Yet there's little proof that the three were directly responsible for any specific acts of terrorism. In court papers, prosecutors listed generalized victims such as Serbian and Croat forces in the 1990s Bosnian war, the Russian army in Chechnya and "moderate" Muslim governments in Libya, Tunisia and elsewhere.
Defense lawyers say providing assistance to one faction in these conflicts does not necessarily amount to a crime.
"Killing only becomes murder under certain specific circumstances," said Hassoun's lawyer, Jeanne Baker. "Defending Muslims is not committing murder."
Padilla's voice is only heard on eight of the FBI wiretaps and he is mentioned on about 20 others. One of those says he had gone to "the area of Usama," an apparent reference to bin Laden's Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.
Now it is time to go off on a tangent to normal terrorism and look at another aspect of how terrorism and crime work together. The other aspect is the arms shipping one, and one of the big movers and shakers is one Jean-Bernard Lasnaud (born Francois Lasnosky). From the folks at Nisat on their text of The Arms Fixers from a PBS Frontline Special we get a quick look at what he was involved in from Florida:
According to Argentine sources, the arms dealer based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and acting through the Caribbean Group of Companies had been one of the key organizers of the trafficking ring that comprised many official and private individuals. Jean-Bernard Lasnaud was traced by the American Federal Bureau of Investigation to be a resident of Fort Lauderdale. According to the register of corporations of Florida, Lasnaud was a director of several companies, among them the Caribbean Group of Companies, which was used for some of the Argentine operations.And who was in charge of Argentina? Carlos Menem.
Official documents in Argentina show that Lasnaud had also been in Argentina in order to supervise the loading of the Fine Air cargo aircraft to Ecuador in February 1995, and to inspect a cargo bound for Croatia in December 1995. A Panamanian company, Tornasa, acted as a go-between for the transactions between Lasnaud and Palleros. According to the Florida registrar of corporations, Lasnaud’s Caribbean Group of Companies was officially incorporated on 13 March 1995, this was a few weeks after Palleros had sold the cargo bound for Ecuador on to Lasnaud.
Argentine journalists are in possession of Lasnaud’s e-mail correspondence with a former Argentine navy captain, Horacio Estrada, who was found shot dead in his apartment in August 1998. A few days before that, Estrada had sent a written testimony to the Argentine judge investigating the case. Estrada, a veteran of former military junta death squads, had been prosecuted for 21 cases of torture in 1987. He was reportedly also connected to Tornasa, the Panamanian go-between company.
In the course of 12 days before Estrada died, Lasnaud had sent the Argentine officer over 90 e-mail messages. Once decoded, the correspondence showed an intensive trade of illicitly smuggled weaponry, from small arms to armoured personnel carriers, naval vessels, helicopters and small aircraft. In one of the messages, dated 25 August 1998, Lasnaud had an order for 1,500 Argentine-produced rifles for shipment to Sierra Leone. In other messages, it was Lasnaud who offered Estrada a Bell helicopter, 50 mobile anti-air missile launchers, M113 armoured personnel carriers and NATO-standard small arms and ammunition. Argentine investigators opined that that it would be very hard to prosecute Lasnaud if he could ever be found, due to the intricate network of go-between companies and countries that were used for the transactions.
Who was Carlos Menem's designated Arms Dealer? Monzer al-Kassar.
Yes we have just played 'Six Degrees of Monzer al-Kassar'! Yes, everyone who is anyone apparently has contacts in Florida, and Mr. Lasnaud is no exception, apparently. From his Trade Prince screen we get his connection to General Equipment Corporation and the types of things used as cover for arms shipments. From his Strategic Consultants & Advisors page, we get Mr. Lasnaud's credentials:
Captain French Foreign Legion [ret.]Yes, go from the war fighting to 'consultancy' business to better run guns! Well, a bit more than guns as seen from the Kathmandu Post of Nepal on 13 MAR 2003 via nepalnews.com:
131st Black Panther Commandos
Jean-Bernard Lasnaud, born in Neuilly s/Seine, France, is the president and chief executive officer of General Equipment Corporation, Inc. as well as Auverland America. Jean-Bernard brings four decades of advisement, consulting and business experience to the Company.
He graduated as an electrical engineer at Ecole Violet, Paris.
He enlisted in the army and served in the Special Forces of the French Foreign Legion, 131st Black Panther Commandos and was detached to special intelligence branch of the 5th bureau, psychological action, retiring as Captain (Res.).
In his early years, he was involved in international business trade with Renault of France dealing mainly in Africa and Latin America. His assignment was to promote the commercial position of the heavy truck division.
Jean-Bernard left Renault and in the 70's made a career change to consulting.
The experience gained in dealing with Heads of State and Ministries in both Africa and Latin America enabled him to act as an advisor and consultant to many of these countries, especially in the fields of Ministries of Defense, civil aviation and intelligence gathering.
To accommodate these areas, two offices were opened: Johannesburg in South Africa to cover Southern Africa and Montevideo, Uruguay to cover South America.
In 1986, Jean-Bernard moved to the United States to consolidate all operations in South Florida to better cover Latin America.
General Equipment Corporation, Inc. was opened in order to offer these countries sales, advising and consulting in the fields of Defense, Aviation, Transportation and Energy.
Auverland America was also set up to distribute the Auverland products in North, Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean.
Jean-Bernard is fluent in English, French, Spanish and German.
Int’l arms dealers eyeing NepalThis is not the 'small arms' business we are talking about anymore. Mr. Lasnaud was quite 'in' with the Menem regime as seen in this 2005 review of European Arms Exports to Latin America, an IPIS background report by An Vranckx MAR 2005:
Tilak P Pokharel
Jean Bernard Lasnaud is an international arms dealer who brokers sales of tanks, rocket launchers and even Scud missiles from South Florida in the United States. With the proper end-user certificate, one can order a fighter plane or a field hospital from Lasnaud’s website. Despite nearly three-year long arrest requests from Argentinean jurists, US authorities have allowed him to live peacefully.
Like Lasnaud, Lebanese citizen Sarkis Soghanalian is another major player in the international arms trade – both of them receiving pat from the US. With more than 40 years of experience and billions of dollars in brokered deals, Soghanalian insists that all his deals - whether they were with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or rebels in Central America – were done with the approval of the US government, according to a web portal on international arms deal.
With the Maoist insurgency and the counter-insurgency drives both gaining strength in Nepal, deadly international arms dealers such as Lasnaud and Soghanalian, who have international backing, might be eyeing Nepal as fertile soil for their businesses. And their wishes could be fulfilled if we have the leader like Sher Bahadur Deuba who went ahead with many myopic arms deals during his tenure. Due to his shortsightedness, now the arms have started coming after his collapse from power, and at a time when the truce has been declared from both the warring sides. Apart from the deals, which have come to the media, we cannot rule out other secret deals the government has made. Whatever justifications and reasons the arms dealers give (‘curbing terrorism’ has been the reason behind the inflow of weaponry into Nepal) while ‘legally’ selling armaments and military hardware to a state, they are simply after profit and we cannot deny that they are supplying the same to the rebelling organisations through ‘illegal’ channels, from which certain share of profits reaches to them.
Deuba was following the footsteps of US President George W Bush who sees military solution as the only resort to solve problems emerging out of discontent and injustice. Deuba’s failure was imminent largely because of following the Bush Path. Let’s hope that the present PM Lokendra Bahadur Chand doesn’t follow the Deuba or Dubyman suit and committedly strives for solving the problem through negotiations. Otherwise, the Nepalis will lose and the global arms traders will benefit, with foreign helicopters and planes with arms and ammunition ruling our skies.
(Re) exporting military equipment to a belligerent nation constitutes an obvious infringement on the arms embargo that had been set at the time. To make the situation look even worse, Argentina was one of the guarantors in the multilateral arrangement to contain Ecuador - Peru tension. The political responsibility for the Argentinean arms transfer was later ascribed to then president Carlos Menem. The case was investigated along with a string of corruption affairs, in which the former president was named as well. Menem was revealed to have signed three presidential decrees between 1991 and 1995, that allowed the sale of military equipment that belonged to the Argentinean armed forces. Panama and Venezuela were inaccurately mentioned as end users on the export certificates that substantiated these sales. The material was in actual fact shipped off to destinations under international arms embargo, not only to Ecuador, but also to a belligerent party in former Yugoslavia. The deals were brokered with the aid of Jean-Bernard Lasnaud, a French citizen and resident of the United States. Lasnaud - whose real, Polish name is Lasnosky - was arrested in Switzerland in May 2002. He there testified that he assisted in the sale of 10000 small arms and 10 million pieces of ammunition to Ecuador in February 1995, in a deal worth about US $7 million, which he concluded with colonel (r) Diego Palleros. The latter represented Fabricas Militares, the Argentinean state company that holds FN production licenses. In October 2004, Palleros, Carlos Menem and his former minister of economy were convicted for having trafficked ammunition, canons and machine guns made by an Argentinean state company to Ecuador and Croatia.And lest you think Mr. Lasnaud has just a nodding acquaintance with the events in Argentina that swirled around Carlos Menem and Monzer al-Kassar, he was extradited by Argentina in regards to the AMIA Jewish Center bombing there, as seen from multiple sources, but the Lebanon Wire Special to the Daily Star on 10 MAR 2003 gives some of the most pointed details:
Argentinean arms, including Belgian designed FN FAL 7,62 mm rifles, ended up into the hands of non-state actors and common criminals as well, such as the Rio de Janeiro drug mafia. Statistics on weapons confiscated in Rio by the Brazilian police, further reveal that FAL are but one of several FN products that circulate illegally. 9 mm pistols that circulate there too, appear to have been manufactured in the Belgian factory in Herstal. And yet, “According to Brazilian legislation, the use and possession of automatic weapons and 9 mm semi-automatic pistols is forbidden for civilians. That factor rules out the possibility that these weapons were legally exported to Brazil, for commercialisation by authorized sales agents. That is, the chances are very high that seized Belgian weapons reached Rio de Janeiro through illicit channels”.
Argentina seeks Iranians’ arrest for 1994 blast warrants renew interest in attack on jewish centerNow we are getting somewhere! By placing high level Iranian agents in Argentina under Menem's rule, plus Monzer al-Kassar working there to help Syria, we now get Mr. Lasnaud to aid on a few things for arms shipments, mostly illegal ones, out of Argentina, which require high level connections to do so. With this we have a whole new list of folks to look at! The most tenuous connection, using Florida as a good geographic location for arms, narcotics and personnel movement has shifted from the present to the past. In Florida we hear from the latest cyber-jihadis about their wanting to do something the the JFK aircraft carrier's home base and the strip joints across the street from that base. That then takes us to Imran Mandhai and Shueyb Mossa Jokhan with their connection to El-Shukrijumah. Also going through Florida were the previous arms shipment to Jamaat al-Muslimeen in the 1990 coup and the more recent try with Mr. Glaude just after 9/11. Florida also proves to be the good base for French ex-pat Jean-Bernard Lasnaud and his outward connections to Carlos Menem, Monzer al-Kassar, and illegal arms shipments to places like Bosnia, which Mr. Kassar also shipped arms to during that period. Those connections shift the emphasis from al Qaeda, with the recent plotters, Mandhai, Jokhan and El Shukrijumah, thence onto JaM and its successful 1990 smuggling operation and the second, less so with Mr. Glaude, to that of Iran/Hezbollah and Mr. Lasnaud, Carlos Menem, and Monzer al-Kassar, plus a whole slew of Foreign Intel operatives from Iran and Imad Mugniyah.
Islamic Republic, Hizbullah top list of suspects in a move seen as convenient for Washington’s ‘axis of evil’ campaign
Special to The Daily Star
BEIRUT: In a move that implicates Iran in international terrorism as the United States prepares to invade Iraq, which with the Islamic Republic is part of George W. Bush’s “axis of evil,” an Argentine judge has issued arrest warrants for four Iranians suspected of involvement in the bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires nine years ago.
In January, Argentine newspapers said the country’s intelligence service alleged in a recent report that Hizbullah carried out the July 18, 1994, bombing of the seven-storey Argentine Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA), in which 85 people were killed and 200 wounded.
But the international arrest warrants issued by Federal Judge Juan Jose Galeano on Friday only named Iran’s former intelligence minister, Ali Fallahian; the former cultural attache at the Iranian Embassy in Buenos Aires, Mohsen Rabbani; and Iranian Foreign Ministry official Barat Ali Balesh Abadi. Galeano also upheld an existing warrant dated Aug. 9, 1994, for Ali Akbar Parvaresh, a former member of the Iranian parliament who visited Buenos Aires on a diplomatic passport in December 1993 and was linked to the bombing by an Iranian informant.
Galeano’s action was seen in some quarters as a major breakthrough in an investigation that has dragged on inconclusively for nearly a decade, with dwindling expectations that any of the perpetrators will ever face trial. Argentine authorities, along with the US Central Intelligence Agency and Israel’s Mossad, which have both been deeply involved in the investigation, have repeatedly accused Iran and Hizbullah. Both vehemently deny any involvement.
It is far from clear how evidence deemed solid enough to issue arrest warrants now has emerged so many years after the bombing, the worst terrorist attack in Argentina, and an investigation that has been impaired by repeated unexplained delays, disappearing witnesses and evidence, and allegations of an official cover-up by former President Carlos Menem who headed Argentina from 1989 to 1999. Galeano, who has headed the investigation since the bombing, has filed some 70 complaints against security services for obstructing his investigation.
And to implicate Iran now, as the Middle East teeters on the brink of potentially explosive turmoil, raises suspicions that perhaps the Americans are raising the stakes with Tehran, where many fear the Islamic Republic may be next on the Bush administration’s hit list for “regime-change.”
Still, Iran and Hizbullah were prime suspects right from the start, not only in the 1994 bombing but also in the March 17, 1992, bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires that killed 29 people and wounded more than 200.
In August 1994, Galeano named as suspects two former secretaries at the Iranian Embassy, another embassy employee, and Parvaresh. In 1994, Buenos Aires was close to severing relations with Tehran until the Supreme Court quashed the arrest orders for the four Iranians, citing insufficient evidence.
Whether that resulted from pressure by Menem’s government is not known. Menem, whose parents were Syrian immigrants, is currently under investigation over allegations he was involved in illicit arms sales to Ecuador and Croatia between 1991 and 1995 when both countries were under United Nations embargoes.
Swiss authorities are investigating Geneva bank accounts linked to Menem as well as, at Buenos Aires’ request, allegations that Menem was paid $10 million by Tehran to cover up Iranian involvement in the AMIA bombing. Menem, who is seeking to run for the presidency again, denies any wrongdoing. In October, Swiss judicial authorities froze $10 million in two accounts linked to Menem in the gun-running investigation and in December extradited Jean-Bernard Lasnaud, a French-American arms dealers, to Argentina where he is wanted in connection with that probe.
Despite the complaints of an official cover-up in the AMIA attack, in May 1998, the Argentine government, claiming to have proof of Iranian involvement in the bombing, expelled seven Iranian Embassy officials. That happened after a former high-ranking Iranian intelligence official named Abdolghassem Mesbahi, then held by German authorities in protective custody following his defection in 1995, claimed that Mohsen Rabbani, the cultural attache at the Iranian Embassy in Buenos Aires until December 1997, had been a key figure in planning the bombing.
According to a sworn statement given to Galeano in May 2000 (he had another in April 1998), Mesbahi said the motive for the AMIA attack was a feud between Vevak, Iran’s intelligence service, and Mossad in Latin America: “In 1994, the building was attacked because it was assumed that a Mossad center was functioning there,” he claimed. “When the bombing took place, it was said in Iran that it had killed eight Mossad agents.”
Mesbahi claimed that Fallahian was the overall coordinator of the bombing operation, which was organized on the ground by a Lebanese identified only as “Ahad” (The One) and prepared by Rabbani and a Vevak agent known as Hamid Nagashan.
Mesbahi, who had reputedly been the No. 3 man in Vevak, alleged that Rabbani received assistance from Argentine police officers and four Iranian agents who had infiltrated Argentina through the Paraguayan border town of Ciudad del Este. That is in the lawless region where the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay converge and which the CIA, FBI and Latin American authorities say is a hornet’s nest of Middle Eastern extremists, including Lebanese Shiites, drug smugglers and money-launderers.
According to Argentine sources, the alleged Iranian connection was corroborated by telephone conversations at the Iranian Embassy intercepted by Argentine intelligence and the testimony of Ismanian Khusrow, one of eight Iranians who were temporarily detained for interrogation in May 1998.
“We have taken these actions against Iran only because of very damning evidence we now have that links Iran to the bombings,” Argentina’s then foreign minister, Guido Di Tell, declared following the expulsions. But no charges were leveled against Tehran and no-one has ever explained why.
Those Argentine moves were prompted after Galeano flew to Germany to interview Mesbahi, who was described at the time by a Western diplomat as perhaps “the most valuable and well-informed defector from Iran in the past decade or more.” Iranian authorities say Mesbahi fled to avoid facing fraud charges. Whatever, his testimony under the pseudonym “Witness C’’ during the Berlin trial of an Iranian intelligence agent and three Lebanese Shiites accused of the 1992 assassination of Kurdish dissident leader Sadegh Sharafkandi was crucial in convicting them in April 1997.
The German court ruled that the killings had been ordered by Iran’s leadership. It stopped short of naming names, but did indict Fallahian, who was then running Iran’s intelligence ministry as he had in 1992 and 1994.
On Sept. 2, 1999, Argentina’s Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant for Imad Mughniyeh, a former Hizbullah security chief and high on the US’ most-wanted list, on charges that he commanded the “terrorist group” which bombed the Israeli Embassy in 1992. The court cited “conclusive evidence” that Hizbullah was behind that attack. Since Sept. 11, the US hunt for Mughniyeh, who left Beirut when the Lebanese civil war ended in 1990 and reputedly works for Iranian intelligence these days, has been stepped up by the Americans.
But he, as well as all the other Arab or Iranian suspects named in the two Buenos Aires bombings, remain at large and as things stand these days they are unlikely to ever be apprehended or face trial. The only people arrested for the AMIA bombing are several police officers and a car thief allegedly linked to the bombers. Their trial, which began last year, is not expected to shed much light on the bombing.
Now as my Caribbean articles have handled the al Qaeda side, and my articles on Monzer al-Kassar has scoped out his breadth of contacts, it is now time to delve a bit deeper into Iran beyond my articles that review their 2000 work and Bosnia work. Luckily some of the above already starts to shift that focus and the AMIA Jewish Center bombing in 1994 is a prime focal point for individuals and events, to see just how the shift of them changed then. The Daily Star special does a great job of summarizing things to get a flavor of the individuals involved, and a handy-dandy listing of the Iranians there at the time should prove useful. Thus a quick look at some of these individuals is now in order.
One of the things that Mr. Fallahian was indicted for is the Mykonos restaurant assassinations of 17 SEPT 1992 in Germany of three Iranian Kurds from the Iranian Democratic Party and their translator. Others have been convicted for parts of that, but Mr. Fallahian still has a warrant out on him from Germany. From this 27 MAY 2005 Iran Focus Profile on Mohammad-Reza Iravani, we get a look at Mr. Fallahian and his time as head of the Iranian secret police, VEVAK:
By that time, Ali Fallahian, a village mullah from the southwestern province of Khuzistan before the 1979 revolution, had become VEVAK chief. Some VEVAK officials killed out of necessity, knowing that the clerical regime would not survive without an iron grip on society. Fallahian was different. He enjoyed killing and took immense joy at torturing others. An indescribably brutal man even by the standards of VEVAK, Fallahian tortured and killed thousands of political activists, intellectuals, and even ordinary citizens during his fourteen years as the chief or deputy chief of VEVAK.Let us dispel any notions of Mr. Fallahian being 'wrongly impugned' with this. He is later cited in the murder of 120 dissidents in the "serial killings" murder spree in Iran to subdue unrest. The assassination of defectors and dissidents abroad was part of a plan designed by the special operations group to remove such individuals in an attempt to not only intimidate others that decried the regime, but to also spread fear in those communities so as to remove hope of outside help to those living inside Iran.
His motivations for these killings were often as much political as economic or even personal. He ordered the murder of businessmen who refused to bribe him. A crude womanizer, he murdered some of the women with whom he had an affair to leave no witness behind. One of these victims was Fatemeh Qaem-Maqami, an air hostess in Aseman Airways. Fallahian met her on a flight to Mashad and forced the married woman to have an affair with him. According to the confessions of a former VEVAK official that was published in Iran, a few months later, Fallahian decided that Qaem-Maqami knew too much. He ordered his deputy, Saeed Emami, to “liquidate” her. Emami arranged a meeting with the hapless woman and sent a VEVAK assassin, Saeed Haqqani, to kill her by shooting three bullets into her head and chest.
In 2003 Tarek Reed would also charge Iran, citing Mr. Fallahian as one of the prime movers, for the kidnapping of Tarek's father Frank Reed in 1986 by Hezbollah in Lebanon and holding him hostage for 3 years. While the case does have some problems, it has received a partial motion to go forward.
Mr. Fallahian is also wanted by the Argentinians for crimes against humanity for the AMIA bombing, as they reported on 11 NOV 2006:
London, Nov. 11 - On Thursday, an Argentinean federal judge issued an arrest warrant for eight Iranian officials involved in the deadly bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in 1994. Among those sought is the former head of Iran’s notorious secret police.They also cite the 1997 warrant from Germany and one from APR 2006:
The warrant was issued to Interpol for the arrest of Hojjatoleslam Ali Fallahian, who for years headed Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral also ordered the detention of former Iranian President Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, and the former commandant of the Revolutionary Guards.
The officials have been charged with "crimes against humanity" for masterminding the bombing of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association, which killed 85 people and wounded more than 200.
This is not the first time the former intelligence chief has appeared on Interpol's list of wanted individuals.
Fallahian, who is currently an advisor on security affairs to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and a member of the Assembly of Experts, is believed to have plotted other high-profile terrorist strikes and assassination of Iranian dissidents elsewhere in Europe and the Middle East.
The warrant issued in April 2006 by the Swiss judge called on law enforcement agencies to arrest “Ali Fallahian, former Minister of Intelligence and Security of the Islamic Republic of Iran and transfer him to the Canton Vaud Prison in Lausanne, Switzerland”. Fallahian was charged with masterminding the assassination of Prof. Kazem Rajavi, a renowned human rights advocate and elder brother of Iranian opposition leader Massoud Rajavi.All part of the assassination work going on at the time. Ali Fallahian was also part of the main outreach to Egyptian Islamic Jihad and al Qaeda in this period as seen from The Jamestown Foundation 11 SEP 2003 look at Iran and al Qaeda:
Kazem Rajavi, then the representative of the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in Switzerland, was gunned down in broad daylight by several MOIS agents on April 24, 1990 as he was driving to his home in Coppet, a village near Geneva.
The Swiss judge’s ruling added that prior to the assassination of Kazem Rajavi, Fallahian had also ordered the assassination of Massoud Rajavi.
Iran's relationship with al Qaeda is strongest through the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ). Throughout the 1990s, the leader of the EIJ, Ayman al Zawahiri, was a frequent guest of Ali Fallahian, Iran's then-Minister of Intelligence, and Ahmad Vahidi, the then-head of the Quds Force, a special operations unit active abroad. Since February of 1998, when the EIJ joined forces with al Qaeda to form the "World Islamic Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders," al-Zawahiri has become bin Laden's right-hand man and chief of ideology.Iran and al Qaeda would suffer some downturns after that, but with 9/11 Iran would see al Qaeda as a co-enemy with America and things would start to improve again. But this only happened due to the outreach performed by Mr. Fallahian with Ayman al Zawahiri. Yes, that's right, Iranian Shia Fallahian working WITH Ayman al Zawahiri.
As the cultural attache with the Iranian Embassy in Argentina, Mr. Rabbani was well placed to conduct his part in the AMIA bombing in 1994. Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center have a page on that bombing, and looks at the points involved with the preparation leading up to the actual bombing:
The preparatory phases of the bombingNow while the folks at the ITIC want to point out high level similarities to the Mykonos bombing, I want to take a different tack and look at the previous Israeli Embassy Bombing in 1992 in Argentina. The reason why is that the previous one would set a bit of 'how to do it' for the later bombing, but be done just a bit more slickly. This is drawn from a MAR 2000 Middle East Intelligence Bulletin on links between Syria and the 1992 Israeli Embassy bombing in Argentina:
Upon the decision to carry out the AMIA bombing, in August 1993, all involved parties in Iran and Hezbollah set out to advance the goal: The gathering of target intelligence was accelerated; various operational aspects were examined; a political working plan was drawn up for the exploitation of the bombing and the repair of possible damages; and the logistical groundwork for the bombing was put into place.
To illustrate the above process: At the end of 1993, Mohsen Rabbani, then still in office in Argentina, had already conducted several checks regarding the purchase of a Renault Traffic van – the same car brand eventually used for the car bomb. Around the same time, Rabbani had on several occasions left Argentina and stayed in Iran. In March 1994, he returned to Argentina, where he stayed until the bombing.
It appears that by the summer of 1994, operational preparations had already reached an advanced stage. Following a new evaluation of the situation conducted by Iran and Hezbollah, the decision was presumably made to carry out the bombing. After an additional month-and-a-half of final preparations, the bombing was indeed perpetrated. During May and June 1994, Hezbollah leaders issued a number of communiqués about the organization’s “long arm” whose reach extends throughout the world. These may be seen in retrospect as laying the propaganda groundwork in anticipation of the bombing.
In June 1994 and during the days preceding the bombing, in mid-July, several “incriminating signs” were evident (ex post facto), consisting of changes in the routine behavior of those involved in the preparations. For example, ten days before the bombing, the head of the Iranian intelligence agency in Buenos Aires left Argentina hurriedly and unexpectedly. Furthermore, Iran’s ambassador to Argentina as well as its ambassadors to Chile and Uruguay could not be found at their respective offices at the time of the bombing.
This report hypothesizes a "Syrian connection" to the bombing of the Israeli embassy and the AMIA building, mainly through the presence and suspicious activities of a Syrian, Monzer al-Kazzar and an Argentine, Alfredo Yabran, and their link to then presidential candidate Carlos Menem's trip to Syria in 1988 and his promises concerning the Condor II missile and the installation of nuclear reactors in return for campaign funding. The report accuses investigators of a cover-up, noting that any possibility that sectors of the Syrian government or its surrogates could have been involved in the preparation or execution of the bombings have been ignored.A bit lengthy, but shows how a skilled operative works so as to make the trail harder to identify - cash payment for a truck, obfuscating a travel trail so one appears to be outside of a country when they have actually returned to it, and generally doing everything to insert a layer of distance between oneself and the actions being supported. Truly the work on the Embassy Bombing was done by a complete professional, while the more haphazard work on the AMIA bombing was done by terrorists. Professionalism *shows* in such work.
According to the report, taped testimony that tied certain people with the main suspects disappeared due to the negligence of the security services. The involvement of foreigners intimately associated with the previous government has been ignored, and they have been freed of suspicions "thanks to the lies spilled by civil employees of the government." These manipulations were to be expected since "all those investigated and soon rejected suspects were related, in one way or another, intimately with sectors of the previous government, including ex-president Carlos Menem himself." Suspicious activity by a number of Syrians are described in the report, including Mohamed Alem, Narman al-Hennawi, Ghassam al-Zein, Hassan Iasin Satin, Ali Chedade al-Hassan, Yalal Nacrach, Jacinto Kanoore Edul, Nassif Haddad, Javier Haddad and Monzer al-Kassar.
While there had been a successful attempt during the years since the attack to show that the Iranian track was antagonistic to the Syrian one, the Argentine group believes that both tracks "not only are not antagonistic to each other, but are interrelated with each other."
"The intent to show their antagonism is due, above all, to a real ignorance of the geopolitical alliances that were established in the Middle East, the deep relations that both sides maintain, the communion of interests, and, mostly, the clear objective to want to deviate the attention of public opinion from any indication that will involve the former government with suspects of the attacks, knowing, beforehand, the international scandal that this signifies."
In the petition filed against al-Kassar, Public Prosecutor Rivoli pointed out that the unfulfilled promises by al-Kassar (to invest millions of dollars in the country) were for the purpose of realizing activities, publicly acknowledged, such as the sale of armaments. While al-Kassar was settling himself in Argentina under the protection of the former government (he was able to obtain an Argentine passport in "record time"), Ibrahim al-Ibrahim was installing himself in the Customs of Ezeiza, and Yabran was strengthening his power over the fiscal deposits, the post office, and the transfer of wealth. Separate investigations affirmed that the establishment of the trio in "neuralgic sectors of power" facilitated the creation of a "real parallel customs" or "free zone" from where all types of merchandise entered, circulated, and exited without any control. Thus the suspicions that part of the technological secrets of the Condor II left through Customs and that the "exogenous" material that blew the embassy of Israel entered.
Incidentally, it was in 1991 that the illegal sales of arms to Croatia and Ecuador began. A witness, whose identity has not been disclosed and who presumably belonged to the organization led by al-Kassar, declared before the Swiss judge that the Syrian arms trafficker was the intermediary between the Argentine government and Croatian President Tujdman for the resulting arms into Argentina. The witness, of Spanish origin, affirmed that the cargo was destined for Croatia, moving through the Spanish port of Malaga.
Al-Kassar is also linked with the presidential nephew, Yalal Nacrach, known as the "Hezbollah " of Menemism. Yalal appears tied to the arms cause, among others, via the deposits in the famous account of Daforel on the part of the Eltham Trading investment fund with the investigations of the scandal of the sale of arms. Four hundred thousand dollars was deposited in the Daforel account, which Palleros earmarked as the payment of a bribery to a "high-level industrialist tied to the power."
Another element which the report indicates links al-Kassar with the Argentine arms traffic is an Ecuadorian government document, classified as "top secret," published by the Ecuadorian daily Posdata on September 11, 1998, which states that the intermediaries for the arms operation were al-Kassar and Jean Lasnaud. Most importantly were the suspicious relations that maintained ties between the arms operation and some of the suspects in the attack on AMIA.
On March 17, 1992, the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires was blown up, product of a supposed car bomb that exploded in front of the diplomatic headquarters. The expert of the Supreme Court of Justice, Oscar Laborda, who later worked for AMIA, demonstrated that the explosive contained 65 kilos of extraneous material known as C-4 or Sentex. His conclusions were similar to those reached by the American agency for the Control of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
At the same time that the Israeli, American, and Argentine experts were debating over the origin of the explosive, then-Minister of the Interior, Josè Luis Manzano, was receiving through the intermediation of a high-placed English diplomat, confirmation that al-Kassar was at that time in Argentina. Manzano was alarmed when he read that the Syrian had entered the country through the Ezeiza airport on Iberia flight 6940, originating from Spain.
Another file processed by the Spanish secret services has information that ties al-Kassar with the attack on the embassy and would be used by the secret service as a form of blackmail against the arms trafficking so that al-Kassar would continue to perform "some jobs" for Spanish spies. The source, who preferred to remain anonymous, also demonstrated that the same file was the one used by Anserment to accuse al-Kassar in the triangulation of the Sentex.
The then prosecutor of the Swiss district, demonstrated, in his indictment against al-Kassar, that based on the evidence from the Spanish Ministry of Mines, the investigations of the journalist, Bermudez, and the information from Spanish intelligence, there was a definite possibility that al-Kassar had triangulated part of the Sentex from Spain, going through Damascus, and reaching Buenos Aires via the fiscal deposits of Ezeiza.
According to Anserment's investigation, the Sentex was bought in a Spanish factory by Cenrex Trading Corporation, LTD of Varsovia. The prosecutor was able to establish that the owner of the firm was none other than Monzer al-Kassar, under the alias of "Monzer Galioun." His investigation also showed that the material, which had been destined for the Democratic Republic of Yemen, was never shipped. He also pointed out that part of the cargo of the triangulated Sentex was sent to Syria, and from there, left for Buenos Aires in 1991, a few months before the attack on the embassy.
According to the majority of those who investigated the attack on the embassy (but not all), the explosion resulted from a Ford F-100 truck, which had been rented by a person with false identity, using the alias "Elias Griveiro Da Luz." This person paid $21,000 for the truck, 50 percent more than its value on the market. According to the report, it can be established that the money used to pay for the truck originated at a house of currency exchange in the Lebanese city of Biblos, a subsidiary of a larger house of exchange, the "Society of Change in Beirut," which was the property of al-Kassar.
The Syrian arms trafficker pointed out to the daily, Clarin, and later in a broadcast on "Hora Clave" that he had "abandoned the sale of arms and had dedicated himself to construction and the managing of the most important exchange house in Beirut," which, by chance, was none other than the Society of Change in Beirut, the most important in the Lebanese capital. The Justice department did not bother to investigate if the $21,000 originated from the holding company "Al Khaled Kassar," with headquarters in Damascus and immense interests in Lebanon. According to journalists, the holding company belonged to Ahmed Jibril, leader of the pro-Syrian movement, the Palestine-Comando Special Popular Liberation Front, to Rifaat Assad, brother of the Syrian president, and al-Kassar.
The Court also did not investigate the movement of Customs between the end of 1991 and the beginning of 1992, which the reporting opposition group had demanded, despite the fact that organizations such as the CIA, DEA, and others had denounced Ezeiza, which was directed by al-Ibrahim.
The report affirms that the investigations of the attack on the embassy of Israel have been relegated to absolute silence, investigating false trails to the point of condemning "generically" an organization, Islamic Jihad, which because of the investigators' lack of knowledge of the prevailing reality in the Middle East, did not even try to learn when and in which context that organization makes a public appearance. It was more than 20 years ago when Islamic Jihad appeared "for the one and only time" in the attack against the US marines in Beirut, only to disappear from the map right after.
"The Trail that Menem Fears" details the relationship between Customs, the house of exchange, the trafficking of arms, the meeting of al-Kassar and Yabran in Falda del Carmen, the relationship with Yamal Batich, Ibrahim al-Ibrahim, as well as former president Menem (the actual target of this report), all of which it concludes leads to a Syrian connection to the bombings of the Israeli embassy and AMIA. Its principal "proof," however, is the resistance to following the various leads, which may have proven this Syrian connection.
Luckily those involved in the UK plot and the cyber-terror threats in Florida are definitely not professionals or even skilled ideologues. They are, however, just a step or two away from finding someone who *is* that skilled. It will not be Monzer al-Kassar, however, and it might actually take a bit for the transnational terrorism internetwork to spit up someone or some way for such connections to be made. The internetwork works better with better connections, and as long as there are arms, narcotics and folks looking to overthrow society or just carve their piece from it, such well connected capabilities will show up again. And quickly.