10 June 2008

Obama and Iraq

It is one of those fascinating juxtapositions that two of the people associated with Sen. Obama have had ties to Iraq. The first, of course, is Nadhmi Auchi who I detailed in this article a while ago and tangentially in this more recent one. One of his deals in post-war Iraq was with Orascom and standing up a mobile phone network which he partnered with Egyptian entrepreneur Naguib Sawiris. Orascom would get the cellphone contract for central Iraq, which was divided into North, Central and Southern zones, thus this was the area covering Baghdad and the main telecom route north to south in Iraq. With charges of vote rigging, corruption and pure inability to deliver cell phone service or even adequate handsets, the deal would be sold off in 2005 to a Kuwaiti company and renamed Iraqna.

One thing that popped up was covered in a Newsmax article of 24 NOV 2005 (via Freeper cache) which looked at one of the firms partnering with Auchi being Huawei from China, that the People's Daily Online of 24 SEP 2004 had touted previously. Huawei, as I had looked at before, is a main arm of the People's Liberation Army of China to strong-arm their way into telecom markets globally, undercut competition, practice various forms of blackmail, shady legal deals, spy on Nations, and had dealt with both the Taliban and Saddam Hussein.

Another deal in Iraq was between Nadhmi Auchi and Antoin 'Tony' Rezko of Chicago, the second person to have ties to Iraq, and that was to supply an electrical generation facility to northern Iraq. Auchi had previously invested in Rezko's South Loop project of land dealings in Chicago which the Chicago Business News had covered on 29 SEP 2005. That was a mere $130 million investment and a follow-on to the investments that Auchi had made in the Riverside Park project, which put him in as a General Partner.

Right after that deal, Rezmar would with a joint-venture contract to build a $150 million power plant in Iraq, one of three plants with the other two going to other bidders, as seen at Chicago Business News on 29 JUL 2005:

Rezmar Corp., a real estate development company controlled by Tony Rezko, a controversial confidant of Gov. Rod Blagojevich, entered into a joint venture with a British firm in a $150-million deal to build a power plant in Iraq.

The contract, signed with Iraq’s ministry of electricity, calls for the soon-to-be named joint venture to supply power to Iraq for 10 years, according to a spokesman for Chicago-based Rezmar.

The Rezmar joint venture will be based in Jordan. Construction is slated to begin this fall.


The project will be managed by one of Gov. Blagojevich's previous top administration officials, Michael Rumman, former director of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, the state's internal operations real estate agency. Mr. Rumman, the former president of Peoples Energy Services, has been hired as a consultant.

He announced his resignation in April after a draft audit of CMS found problems at the agency.

Mr. Rumman, who speaks Arabic, says the project is slated to be built in northern Iraq.

Now looking at Peoples Energy at the Illinois State Board of Elections website, one can look them up to find all the people that they contributed to, which is a long list, to say the least. They would, however, give a couple of contributions to Barack Obama, or at least one of his associated groups:

Peoples Energy - PAC 130 E. Randolph Dr.23rd Floor Chicago, IL 60601 $200.00 4/20/1999 Transfer In Friends of Barack Obama

Peoples Energy 130 E. Randolph Chicago, IL 60601 $250.00 8/23/2000 Transfer In Friends of Barack Obama

Peoples Energy 130 E. Randolph Chicago, IL 60601 $250.00 10/19/2001 Transfer In Friends of Barack Obama

Peoples Energy 130 E. Randolph Chicago, IL 60601 $500.00 10/12/2002 Transfer In Friends of Barack Obama

Peoples Energy PAC 130 E. Randolph Chicago, IL 60601 $500.00 4/8/2003 Transfer In Friends of Barack Obama

And going through the list one sees Peoples Energy Corp. giving money to Peoples Energy - PAC and they give money to Peoples Energy. Say, if you ever wanted to hide a way to get lots of funds to a candidate, that is the way to do it: create lots of firms all linked via funding but with different names.

On the federal side, they would also continue supporting Sen. Obama, as seen at Campaign Money's search for them in 2004:

OBAMA, BARACK Senate Democrat IL -- G $1,000 08/03/2004

OBAMA, BARACK Senate Democrat IL -- G $1,000 09/14/2004

They are bi-partisan, however, giving to President Bush's campaign and many others across the US.

Now, back up to that Chicago Business article of 29 SEP 2005 and to dig a bit there:

Messrs. Rezko and Auchi were introduced several years ago by a mutual acquaintance in London. They teamed up recently on a $150 million contract to build a power plant in Iraq.

Mr. Rezko, a close confidante and fundraiser for Gov. Rod Blagojevich, arranged for Mr. Auchi to meet the Governor and State Senate President Emil Jones on a visit to the U.S. last year.

A spokeswoman for General Mediterranean said Mr. Auchi was unavailable for comment. Joseph Ryan, a local attorney representing the company, would only discuss the Riverside Park project.


The odds that Mr. Rezko’s partnership would be able to pull off the project fell this year, when city officials determined that he set up a minority front to obtain a concession for two Panda Express restaurants at O’Hare International Airport. The Daley Administration would have had difficulty explaining $140 million in tax increment financing (TIF)—the most ever requested by a developer in Chicago—to someone who skirted city rules, especially with corruption allegations sweeping through City Hall.

Real estate experts also questioned whether Mr. Rezko and his partner, Daniel Mahru, had the experience to pull of such a massive project. The developers paid about $70 million for the site in 2002.

Not bad, buy for $70 million in 2002 and sell for $130 million in 2005! What a deal!

Plus a new name to look up, Daniel Mahru, which is always a joy, no doubt about it. The Illinois site doesn't offer much, but the Newsmeat site offers a couple on the federal side:

Mahru, Daniel Chicago, IL 60622 Rezmar Inc./President OBAMA, BARACK H (D) House (IL 01) OBAMA FOR CONGRESS 2000 $1,000 primary 03/17/00


Needless to say one can also look up the Rezko support of Obama at Newsmeat as others have done, and find a plethora of family contributions. Looking at the part Daniel Mahru played with Rezko was done by James L. Merriner of Chicagomag in their NOV 2007 issue:

When Harold Washington was running for mayor of Chicago in 1983, Rezko held a fundraiser after Jabir Herbert Muhammad, who was Muhammad Ali's business manager, urged him to get involved in the campaign. Subsequently, Rezko also joined Ali's entourage, traveling the world with him for five years. Rezko apparently took little interest in boxing—he says he and Ali did watch a few matches together—but he relished putting together business and endorsement deals for the champ. "My role model in life is my father and Muhammad Ali," Rezko says.

Rezko ran Jabir Muhammad's firm, Crucial Concessions. Under Mayor Washington, Crucial won the concessions to sell food at city beaches. Rezko also directed the Muhammad Ali Foundation, formed to promote Islam around the world. But Rezko was ecumenical in his associations. Daniel Mahru's Automatic Ice sold ice to Crucial, and by 1989 Rezko and Mahru, who is Jewish, had founded Rezmar Corporation, a major development company.


Daniel Mahru was Rezko's partner in Rezmar for 16 years until the two men had, according to Mahru, "a difference of opinion" in 2005. He says they developed more than $600 million in properties, not counting a billion-dollar deal for 62 acres in the South Loop that has been stalled for years. By Mahru's account, Rezko initially showed little interest in the trappings of power. "Back in the eighties, Tony had an opportunity to go to the White House with Muhammad Ali," Mahru says. (The occasion was a dinner during the December 1987 summit of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader; Ali had been invited as a guest.) "I commented to Tony, ‘Wow, that is something I would love to do, see history in the making!' He said, ‘Dan, that doesn't make me any money. I'm not interested.'

"That changed. I think everything went to his head. After the late nineties he was more interested in being around powerful people. He went to a Christmas party at the Bush White House." Rezko cochaired a major fundraiser for President Bush's campaign in 2003.

Rezko declined to comment about Mahru, likening their breakup to a divorce. "You would hear my story; you would hear his story. I wish him no harm."

If hanging around the likes of Blagojevich and Obama went to Rezko's head, as Mahru suggests, one reason might be that Rezko had befriended them before they became famous, forming bonds of loyalty from the start. The BGA's Stewart says, "I would give the guy credit for being shrewd. He would identify young up-and-comers early. Fine, Obama, he's the editor of the Harvard Law Review, but in Chicago politics, big deal, so what. But [Rezko] approached Obama. Rod Blagojevich, he's an unimportant state legislator. What distinguishes Rezko—he didn't just give money to established figures."

Rezko read a newspaper article about Obama's Law Review election and had a colleague get in touch; in 1990 Rezko offered Obama a job at Rezmar before he had graduated from Harvard Law School. Obama declined, joining a Chicago law firm instead. There he did what he has described as a minimal amount of legal work for Rezmar. Chicago Tribune reporter David Mendell, author of the recently published Obama: From Promise to Power, says, "Rezko threw an early fundraiser for Obama at his North Shore house, and that fundraiser was instrumental in providing Obama with seed money" for his U.S. Senate race in 2004.

In our conversation, Rezko was reluctant to discuss his association with Obama, except to stress that he has had no formal role in Obama's campaigns. He would not comment on Obama's real-estate deals.

Rezko met Blagojevich in 1995, when the future governor was a state representative from the Northwest Side. Rezko helped to finance Blagojevich's runs for office, in 1996 for Congress and in 2002 for governor. The Chicago Sun-Times has reported that Rezko and his family, businesses, and business associates have contributed more than $675,000 to 15 prominent Illinois politicians since 1989. That sum includes $117,652 for Blagojevich.


The clout of Rezko and his associates reflects the growing political presence of Arab Americans as a group. Ray Hanania, author of Arabs of Chicagoland, estimates there are 250,000 people of Arab descent in northeastern Illinois. Hanania describes Rezko as "very personable and generous" and remembers that he was "a major donor" to the Arab American Democratic Club, which Hanania helped found in 1994. The club staged a major fundraiser in Bridgeview in September 2006 for Blagojevich's reelection.

One member of the club, Khalil Shalabi, was director of project development for the Illinois Department of Human Services. He left the department in October 2006 after the state's executive inspector general alleged he had arranged fundraisers for Blagojevich on state time. (Shalabi has not been charged with a crime.) Another Blagojevich appointee, Ali D. Ata, resigned as head of the Illinois Finance Authority in March 2005 after a harshly critical state audit of his agency. Ata was indicted last May as a codefendant in the Rezko case and has pleaded not guilty.

Hanania criticizes Arab American business leaders as "a small cluster of activists, and they are all in trouble. They had a push for clout empowerment, not community empowerment—you know, a hunger for being part of the system, sharing the perks among the insiders. When you connect all the names and lines, it's going to look like a spider web."

This moves the timeline for Rezko and Obama back to 1990, with Rezko noticing an article on Harvard Law Review under Obama. Even when not taking a job with Rezmar, Obama would work out of his office at the Davis law firm on Rezmar cases. It is in 1995 that Rezko both pushes for Blagojevich to go for higher office and starts raising money for Barack Obama, as seen in my previous article on Obama's early campaigns.

By this point Rezko had already teamed up with Daniel Mahru and was running not only Rezmar but a slowly building web of contacts in politics. What isn't mentioned so often is that Jabir Herbert Muhammad, son of Nation of Islam's Elijah Mohammad, would first sign most of Crucial Concessions which he started in the 1970's over to Rezko and then become a front-man for him, as seen in an article by Ray Hanania on 8 JUN 2005:

In 1997, Panda Express won the right to open a lucrative concession at O’Hare International Airport under the city’s Minority Set-Aside program which directs large contracts to companies owned by Women, African Americans or Hispanics.

The city awarded a 10-year contract for O’Hare Airport to Crucial Inc. in 1999, which the city believed was owned by an African American, Jabir Herbert Muhammad, the son of the late Elijah Mohammad.

Crucial Inc.’s annual revenues skyrocketed from under $200,000 in each year before opening at O'Hare, to nearly $6 million in 2002, according to recently published reports. Crucial Inc. has earned nearly $16 million in its first four years at the airport.

Last March, Chicago officials charged that Jabir Herbert Muhammad had acted as a front for the real owner, Rezko, who is of Syrian Arab heritage and does not qualify for minority set-asides.

According to Mayor Daley, Jabir Muhammad founded Crucial Inc. in 1976. It was certified as a minority business in 1989. Rezko had been involved with the company since 1983, serving as a vice president and general manager. In July 1997, the company’s minority status lapsed but the forms were not renewed.

Although Muhammad said he ran Crucial Inc., city officials said the company was run by Abdelhamid "Al" Chaib, and longtime friend and Rezko business associate.

In fact Muhammad Ali would sue Jabir Muhammad, as looked at in a FrontPageMag article by Andrew Walden on 11 MAR 2008:

Elijah Mohammad led the Nation of Islam until his death in 1975. Jabir Herbert Muhammad was sued in 1999 by boxer Muhammad Ali for unauthorized use of his name in connection with the Muhammad Ali Foundation. Rezko served as Executive Director of the Foundation.

That's right, son of the Nation of Islam leader getting sued by Muhammad Ali because his name was being used by the foundation being led by Rezko. And because all of these folks, Jabir Muhammad, Michael Rumman, Ali Ata, Khalil Shalabi, Abdelhamid Chaib, Daniel Mahru and Nadhmi Auchi are all connected to Rezko, they are all one-degree separated from Obama, by that alone... Auchi, of course, has direct contact in 2003 and 2004, even though Sen. Obama is very hazy about those meetings.

Now back to the electrical generation facility that led into this section and Obama's connections with Chicago resident Aiham Alsammarae. Yes, yet another name to go on this already long list of folks associated with organized crime! Who is this guy? The ex-Electricity Minister of Iraq who signed off on the power generator contracts in Iraq as a member of the Interim Governing Council of Iraq. Like Rezko he was also a graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology (Source: Wikipedia). Popping over to Newsmeat on the fellow, we can see the following contributions by him:

Alsammarae, Aiham Oak Brook , IL 60523 KCI Engineering/Businessman OBAMA, BARACK (D) President OBAMA FOR AMERICA $250 primary 01/20/08

Alsammarae, Aiham Oak Brook , IL 60523 KCI Engineering/Businessman OBAMA, BARACK (D) President OBAMA FOR AMERICA $250 primary 01/22/08

Alsammarae, Aiham Oak Brook , IL 60523 KCI Enginerring Consultants/Busines OBAMA, BARACK (D) President OBAMA FOR AMERICA $250 primary 02/06/08

Alsammarae, Aiham Oak Brook , IL 60523 KCI Enginerring Consultants/Busines OBAMA, BARACK (D) President OBAMA FOR AMERICA $250 primary 02/10/08

Alsammarae, Aiham Oak Brook , IL 60523 KCI Enginerring Consultants/Busines OBAMA, BARACK (D) President OBAMA FOR AMERICA $500 primary 02/22/08

Alsammarae, Aiham Oak Brook , IL 60523 KCI Enginerring Consultants/Busines OBAMA, BARACK (D) President OBAMA FOR AMERICA $800 primary 03/07/08

Compared to the tens of thousands Rezko has dished out over the years, this looks pretty small, and limited to just this year, to boot. He also donated some to Mitt Romney and even President Bush, so you can't complain he is only giving to Democrats, either. So what is a nice fellow who was able to escape Saddam's Iraq doing tied up with a mob figure like Tony Rezko? Why they went to school together! This as seen at Human Events in an article by John Batchelor on 03 MAR 2008:

What connects the fugitive Mr. Alsammarae to the candidate Barack Obama? The short answer is Mr. Obama's entanglement with his long-time fundraiser and friend Mr. Rezko, who was linked to Mr. Alsammarae in at least two aborted, fraudulent contracts with the CPA and the Iraqi government before Mr. Alsammarae's conviction and flight.

The long answer starts with the fact that Mr. Aiham Alsammarae, who arrived in the United States in 1976, has been an acquaintance of the Syrian-born Mr. Rezko since they were classmates at the Illinois Institute of Technology thirty years ago.

Mr. Alsammarae was convicted, in Iraq, by Iraqis, as the lead-in to the above two paragraphs by John Batchelor:

A mysterious fugitive from Iraqi justice named Aiham Alsammarae, who is also a Chicago resident, is the focus of a politically fraught episode in the association between accused political fixer Antoin "Tony" Rezko, who goes on federal trial today in Chicago for graft, and Senator Barack Obama, the most spectacular Illinois presidential candidate in half a century.

"We want him back to serve his sentence of fourteen years," said an Iraqi government official in Baghdad last week. "He stole $650 million from the people of Iraq, and from the people of the United States, and he was tried and convicted in an Iraqi court in October 2006 for his crimes. We have a four-inch-thick file of his crimes. He plundered the Ministry of Electricity. Dates, bank accounts, dummy companies, a lot of them in the States. We want him, and we want the money back."

When asked why an American citizen with a dual Iraqi citizenship, who had served as the Iraqi Minister of Electricity from 2003 to 2005, after being convicted in an Iraqi court was living openly in Chicago in 2008 rather than in Abu Ghraib, the official said, "That's what we want to know. Armed men broke him out of jail in the Green Zone. He escaped without his U.S. passport to Amman, Jordan, where he hid in the U.S. Embassy, and then to Turkey, where he called us up and bragged he had pizza and a cold beer in his hotel room. We've asked the FBI to help us. They sent us to Interpol. We filed a report. And nothing. It's been a year. We want him back."

Have to admire the audacity of that, calling up on a traceable phone from a hotel to taunt those who had convicted you! But it gets stranger as you go along, again from Mr. Batchelor:

It is then strange to discover that, three years earlier in August 2000, Mr. Alsammarae, a board member of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, appeared in Washington alongside celebrities such as Martin Sheen and George Galloway to demonstrate against the United Nations sanctions on the regime of Saddam Hussein and against the Clinton Administration's military posture toward Iraq from 1998.

One suggestion is that Mr. Alsammarae was well-connected to American intelligence. Mr. Alsammarae is said to have enjoyed a strong link, dating back to his Baathist youth in Iraq, to Wafiq al-Samarrai, the head of military intelligence in Saddam Hussein's army. Wafiq al-Samarrai is also reported to have been a Baathist official secretly linked to pre-war American intelligence. After the fall of Saddam, Wafiq al-Samarrai was an aide to President Talibani until he was identified in the Saddam trial as involved in the gassing of the Kurds; he vanished into Syria.

From mid-2003 until mid-2005, Mr. Alsammarae was the potent Minister of Electricity for the Coalition Provisional Authority, in charge of building a whole new energy structure for the devastated Iraq. He participated prominently in investment forums in the Grand Hyatt and Four Seasons hotels in Amman, Jordan. Mr. Alsammarae left his post in May 2005.

Wafiq al-Samarrai has been cleared of charges on the genocide of the Kurds by the President of Iraq as of 06 MAR 2008 (Source: Wikipedia). Mr. Alsammarae has gotten assurances that he would not be extradited, which makes things even stranger still. According to James Glanz at the NYT on 19 DEC 2006, Mr. Alsammarae had a way with words to describe his escape from Baghdad:

In a lengthy phone conversation on Tuesday, the former Iraqi electricity minister who escaped from a Baghdad jail on Sunday ridiculed American and Iraqi officials and said he fled because he did not trust the police and had received a tip that he would be assassinated within days.

The official, Aiham Alsammarae, who telephoned this reporter, said, without offering proof, that he was already outside Iraq after finagling his way aboard a flight at the Baghdad International Airport.

Incredulous Iraqi security and justice officials disputed parts of his account, saying that a figure as recognizable as Mr. Alsammarae could not possibly have slipped onto a flight when he was the subject of a manhunt.

Mr. Alsammarae, who holds dual American and Iraqi citizenship, scoffed at those assertions and said they were made by officials who spent too much time inside the protected Green Zone in central Baghdad and did not understand how the country really worked.

“Those suckers who are sitting in the Green Zone, they cannot go out and see the people they are governing?” asked Mr. Alsammarae, whose unmistakable speech patterns in English reflect his Iraqi and American backgrounds. “This is a joke.

“So why I cannot take the airport? It’s not because I am a smart cookie. Any Iraqi can do it, even if they have 10,000 court orders against him. This is Iraq.”

One fact Iraqi officials could not dispute: Mr. Alsammarae, who had been jailed four months ago on corruption charges stemming from deals made when he was the electricity minister from August 2003 to May 2005, was still free.

If correct, Mr. Alsammarae’s tale of escape would mean that he not only worked his way free of the Iraqi police guarding the jail but also eluded the thousands of Western and Iraqi security forces stationed in the dense maze of checkpoints and blast walls in the Green Zone, which is the fortified heart of the American occupation and the Iraqi government.

When asked how he could have pulled off such an escape, Mr. Alsammarae, who moved to Chicago in 1976 but returned to Iraq just after the invasion, laughed uproariously for 20 seconds. Then, recycling a famous line from an exchange about Al Capone in “The Untouchables,” Mr. Alsammarae said with undisguised glee: “The Chicago way.”

In a PBS NewsHour episode on 18 JAN 2007 he would talk with Elizabeth Brackett about his escape:

ELIZABETH BRACKETT: Fearing for his life, Alsammarae acted on a well-planned-out escape route.

AIHAM ALSAMMARAE: I called my friends, and the friends, they come. They brought the car close to the police station, and I walk out to the car, and I move out from the Green Zone. From the Green Zone, we change cars many times. And after that, we reached the airport, Iraqi international airport, and I just flew over the private jet to Amman. Simple. Two-hours-and-a-half, I'd be in Amman.

ELIZABETH BRACKETT: Although his Iraqi passport was confiscated in jail, he managed to hide a second one and then renew his American passport in Jordan.

Though Alsammarae is a U.S. citizen, he says the American embassy in Baghdad was not involved in any way in his escape. Those who helped him, he says, were mostly Iraqi friends and supporters, including the owner of the private jet.

AIHAM ALSAMMARAE: I was nervous all the way until I reach Amman, because you never know what's going to happen. Something is wrong can be done in any second.

ELIZABETH BRACKETT: Iraqi officials were stunned at how easily Alsammarae was able to escape from the heavily fortified Green Zone. A spokesman for the al-Maliki government said five additional corruption charges remain against Alsammarae and "the government will do whatever it can to bring him back."

Alsammarae calls the charges false and says he made the right decision to escape and return home to his family and his electrical engineering consulting business in suburban Chicago.

Even as he began to settle in at home, he continued to worry about the escalating violence in Iraq. He sees the solution as more political than military.

AIHAM ALSAMMARAE: We have to make some arrangements inside the congress of Iraq right now to bring the seculars back around the country. Religious people, they cannot run the country. If they are Shia or Sunni, they cannot run it. We need a people of both religions to run the country.

ELIZABETH BRACKETT: He is considered a fugitive by the current Iraq government, but Alsammarae says at some point he will return to Iraq. Why?

AIHAM ALSAMMARAE: Well, we work very hard to see Saddam Hussein leaving. And I worked since 1980. I have to do it. This is in my blood. I don't think I can give up and give all that we worked for to those guys.

If you are a politician, you will take a risk certain times, and you have to take it. And if I got killed, probably you will say, "He lost it," but looks like I succeeded, and I'm still alive and I got my papers with me. So...

ELIZABETH BRACKETT: For now, Alsammarae will spend his time trying to pull his business and his life back together.

Hey, with $650 million dollars you can do a lot of knitting your life back together, let me tell you! And with the man running BNP-Paribas as your friend, it should be damned easy to get that money out of Iraq and available to you. But he is courageous, he tells you so! He will go back even if it gets him killed... which brings up the question of why did he run if he believed in that cause? Perhaps it was more just 'opportunism' in courage, showing up long after the running away?

Mr. Batchelor takes a look at the timeline of Alsammarae, picking up after he left his post with the CPA in 2005:

Two months later it was reported in Chicago that as early as 2004, while Mr. Alsammarae was a minister with authority to approve contracts, he had joined with Mr. Rezko and the London-based General Mediterranean Holdings, headed by the billionaire British investor Nadhmi Auchi, in a contract to construct a 250-megawatt plant in the Kurdistani city of Chamchamal.

A member of the development team at Mr. Rezko's Chicago-based company Rezmar said in 2005 that Mr. Rezko possessed a "formidable overseas network of business relationships" that permitted Rezmar to join together up to 30 companies in order to begin the plant's construction as early as January 2006.

In addition, in April 2005, one month before Mr. Alsammarae left his post, his Ministry of Electricity signed a contract for $50 million with Companion Security to provide training to Iraqis to guard electrical plants by flying them to Illinois for classes.

Companion Security was headed by a former Chicago policeman with a troubled history, Daniel T. Frawley, in partnership with Mr. Rezko and in association with Daniel Mahru, the lawyer for the original contract and Mr. Rezko's former business partner. In April 2006, Mr. Frawley entered negotiations with Governor Rod Blagojevich's staff to lease a military facility in Illinois to be a training camp. In August 2006, Mr. Frawley started negotiations with Mr. Obama's U.S. Senate staff to complete the contract.

The discussions with Mr. Obama's staff continued over many months, including e-mails and conferences with an Obama staffer, Seamus Ahern. Questions raised by this contact go to the issue of whether or not Mr. Obama ever favored Mr. Rezko's commercial ties. Mr. Obama has said often that he performed no favors for Mr. Rezko.

The timeline of Companion discussions in 2006 is important to note: April 2006 Frawley speaks to governor's office; August 2006 Frawley speaks to senator's office; October 2006 indictment of Rezko revealed; October 2006 Rezko arrested upon return from Syria; October 2006 Alsammarae convicted in Baghdad and makes his first escape attempt; December 2006 Alsammarae escapes form Baghdad.


Oddly, after Mr. Alsammarae left his ministry post in 2005, he was reported that summer to be forming a Sunni political organization with participation by insurgents, some of whom threatened in public declarations to murder him. An intelligence analyst with knowledge of Syria commented that this episode may illustrate Mr. Alsammarae's
then-strong, active links to the Baathist elite in exile in Syria
, who have been a major source of money and operations to the Iraqi insurgency these last years; and that Mr. Alsammarae's freelancing rankled the so-called foreign elements in the insurgency.

The strangest of all events was not Mr. Alsammarae's arrest for theft in August 2006, nor his conviction in a Baghdad court in October 2006, but rather the two jailbreaks in October and December 2006. In the first instance, private armed men he may have hired took him from his jail cell in the Green Zone soon after his conviction in court. A report indicates that he was stopped at the Bagdad Airport carrying a Chinese passport. American officials later returned Mr. Alsammarae to Iraqi custody. At least one American with the International Police Liaison Officer program lost his job because of this first jailbreak.

This is about the time that Mr. Alsammarae's family in the United States sought help; there is a report that Mr. Alsammarae's daughter appealed directly to the office of U.S. Senator Barack Obama.

So late OCT to NOV 2006 Alsammarae fails his first jail break after already having Daniel Frawley contact Sen. Obama (APR-MAY 2005) about the Companion Security contract, run by Rezko, with Daniel Mahru from Rezmar, soon after which Mahru would have a falling out with Rezko (late 2005). This does put the contract and coordinating with Rezko, Blagojevich, Alsammarae (and then his replacement) and Frawley into the agenda and 'known persons' list for Barack Obama before all the indictments and, in the case of Alsammarae convictions, come down.

Mr. Batchelor then winds up with looking at Auchi, Rezko and Alsammarae:

The second man with much to lose regarding what Mr. Alsammarae knows is the mysterious and genuinely powerful Nahdmi Auchi of London, a British citizen who, born in Iraq in 1937, has been for decades closely linked with the Baathists. In 2005, Mr. Auchi was reported to have involved his company in the Chamchamal electrical generating plant deal that was used as a major ploy for the plundering of the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity. As recently as this month, Mr. Auchi's representative denied that Mr. Auchi's company, General Mediterranean Holding, invested in the Rezko-Alsammarae deal for Chamchamal in 2004-2005, a denial that does not explain the well-sourced 2005 published reports of the linkage.

Iraqi government officials in Baghdad speak bluntly of Mr. Auchi as a "Saddam guy," and as a member of the Baathist gang who have beggared Iraq for 50 years, a gang that now, exiled to Damascus, Syria, and headed by men wanted for war crimes in Iraq, aims to continue plundering Iraq by using their stolen fortune to corrupt other regions and perhaps some day to return to Baghdad.

A stunning 2004 Pentagon report obtained by Bill Gertz of the Washington Times has identified Mr. Auchi not only as a man who, before the fall of Saddam, had managed to "arrange for significant theft from the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program. . . .", who not only had, before the fall of Saddam, sought to "bribe foreign governments and individuals before Operation Iraqi Freedom to turn opinion against the American-led mission to remove Saddam Hussein," but also since the fall of Saddam had engaged in a "conspiracy" over cell phone contracts under the CPA by "unlawful activities working closely with Iraqi intelligence operatives."

What is most striking about this Pentagon report is that it is from the year 2004, when Mr. Auchi traveled by private aircraft to Midway Airport in Chicago and then to a fete at the Four Season Hotel, where he met with his business partner in Chicago real estate, Mr. Rezko, as well as with Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Also present that night, according to a fresh report by James Bone and Dominic Kennedy of the London Times, was State Senator Barack Obama, who had recently won the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat that next fall. Bone and Kennedy report that Mr. Auchi and Mr. Obama shook hands. Mr. Obama's aide does not now recall the handshake but does agree that Mr. Obama was present in the hotel that evening.

It may be significant that in a snapshot from the April hotel meeting that shows Governor Blagojevich making remarks to a dinner table beside a smiling Mr. Auchi, there is a third well-dressed man in the photograph, mustachioed, jovial, receding hairline, who greatly resembles other photographs from November 2004 of Iraqi CPA Minister of Electricity Aiham Alsammarae.

Mr. Alsammarae may or may not have been in the room that night. Pictures are useful indicators but his presence is not confirmed. However, he is certainly now accused and convicted of having been in a conspiracy in Iraq with two other men in that room: Tony Rezko, who is regarded by some intelligence analysts as a money-handler for unsavory
agents in his native Damascus, and Nadhmi Auchi, who is regarded by Pentagon analysts as a money-handler for Baathist-linked agents in the Middle East.

Actually one of the most powerful underworld banking figures on the planet pretty well describes Nadhmi Auchi running not only BNP-Paribas and Clearstream, but having contacts via the old Menatep banking system with Roman Abromavich, Michael Chernoy's old Trans World Commodities, Oleg Deripaska's follow-on to TWC being Rusal, but also to the Al Taqwa banking system of al Qaeda, the HAMAS/Citibank joint venture, the Iranian banking system via Marc Rich, and entree to the entire Bank of New York penetration staged by the Red Mafia, including Semion Mogilevich's YBM Magnex fraud. That is the man who just happened to shake hands with Sen. Obama in 2004 and, if Daniel Mahru is correct, also had a meeting with Rezko and Auchi in 2003.

So, just how many convicted felons are around Sen. Obama? Strange that such a 'Lightworker' can't look into the souls of such and see them as they are.

Nadhmi Auchi for the Elf/Acquataine work in the Oil-For-Food scandal, although given a 15 month suspended sentence, it was on a massive swindle and money laundering system for Saddam Hussein. If it isn't a felony, then the French, who prosecuted the deal, need to have their heads examined.

Tony Rezko for his land dealings and corruption of local political offices in Illinois.

Aiham Alsammarae for $650 million in fraudulent deals in Iraq, breaking jail, and on the run from further prosecution there. Too bad the US government is shielding the guy and even worse is Sen. Obama being close to him on the security contract via Rezmar.

What also starts to come clear is that an Iraq that is on the mend, that actually has time to get its act together domestically and start going after Alsammarae, Auchi and Rezko would put a lot of heat on Sen. Obama. Even more interesting is that Nadhmi Auchi, cousin of Saddam Hussein, is a Ba'athist and Aiham Alsammarae was working between Ba'athist insurgents and doing so in Ba'athist Syria during his attempts at negotiations between them and the government. Tony Rezko has obvious ties to organizations in Syria, even if those are damned hard to tease out as no one wants to talk about them. The possibility of Auchi using his funds to finance Ba'ath insurgents and/or organized crime in Iraq cannot be discounted as another Syrian, arms dealer Monzer al-Kassar, is one of the most wanted men in Iraq even without stepping foot in the place recently.

Something is seriously wrong when a Presidential candidate wants to pull out and try to put Iraq back into a very, very bad place of insurgents and competing criminal and religious groups that can do no one any good.

Why is Sen. Obama unwilling to go to Iraq since JAN 2006? What was he trying to accomplish there when he did go? Did it have anything to do with the various contracts Rezko was involved in? Or Alsammarae's negotiations with Ba'athist insurgents?

And why does he want to have the place turn into an unaccountable conflict zone by pulling out? That was what he wanted when the insurgency was just starting to get bad, so his aim was to have the place fall to pieces... or fall into the hands of well funded backers. Either way he wouldn't be accountable. An Iraq that is actually taking care of itself and able to get its act together could be a distinct threat to Sen. Obama, given the activities of those around him.

He could take Michael Yon up on his offer to show him, or any Senator, what Iraq is like... Yon has seen more of Iraq than nearly any American outside the US government these last few years. So far he has no takers.

What is Sen. Obama afraid of in Iraq?


Bill Baar said...

A small addition...

Prime Minister Maliki alleged Blackwater sprung Alsammarae out of the IZ per McClatchy here. Blackwater now has a campus in northern Illinois.

Thanks for this post...

A Jacksonian said...

Bill - My thanks... whenever you see Alsammarae and he has a story, it is almost always non-connected to someone else's view on things.

Mostly I will go with the beer and pizza in Turkey version as that has a few folks with it... but I would believe Blackwater doing it on contract.

A. Ross Morris said...

The Politics of the Big Lie (vs. all the little lies)

In the beginning, there was only Iowa. Iowa, innocent and unknown, was most likely tiring of all the political focus. Iowa was weary of the political saturation from the ceaseless efforts of ten presidential candidates, no twelve, okay, maybe more than a dozen. At some point Iowa just wanted it over. There were so many political ideas, ways of ‘getting IT done’, and ‘this is the right process’, that it was confusing. I mean they (the dozen or so presidential hopefuls) professed solutions that were in complete conflict with each other. They were downright divergent. They were ‘all the little lies’ to anyone who thought differently from whomever was espousing the idea or remedy of the day.
So where is a ‘Big Lie’? Was there a ‘Big Lie’ too? Yes, it was in Iowa. It happened in December. It fell from the lips of the candidate who would later claim victory (albeit: the slimmest of victories, a meager third of the vote) in the Democratic Caucus. He said (and this is a quote from the NY Times), “….the only nuclear legislation that I’ve passed. I just did that last year….” (The Big Lie). This was in response to a discussion on leaks in Illinois of nuclear plant groundwater contamination. Nuclear contamination.
Again, I quote the author, Mike McIntire from his February 3, 2008 article in the New York Times, titled, Nuclear Leaks and Response Tested Obama in Senate.
The Big Lie was told to a crowd in Iowa and was in response to nuclear plant regulation concerns. It went like this…

“…Mr. Obama scolded Exelon and federal regulators for inaction and introduced a bill to require all plant owners to notify state and local authorities immediately of even small leaks. He has boasted of it on the campaign trail, telling a crowd in Iowa in December that it was “the only nuclear legislation that I’ve passed.”
“I just did that last year,” he said, to murmurs of approval.

A close look at the path his legislation took tells a very different story. While he initially fought to advance his bill, even holding up a presidential nomination to try to force a hearing on it, Mr. Obama eventually rewrote it to reflect changes sought by Senate Republicans, Exelon (contributed over $225,000 to Obama) and nuclear regulators. The new bill removed language mandating prompt reporting and simply offered guidance to regulators, whom it charged with addressing the issue of unreported leaks…”

It is ‘The Big Lie’ because he never passed the legislation, many in Iowa believed him, and the Illinois senator was never quizzed about it. He then moved forward basing a part of his entire campaign on something he didn’t do, but said he did.
To base your first win on ‘The Big Lie’ is to have the rest of your wins cast in that shadow of your ‘First Big Lie’. Judgment is critical to Senator Obama’s presidential hopes. He has little else, no bills or legislation of his own passed, no lengthy time in the US Senate, and maybe just his veracity as his only virtue. But where is that ‘good judgment’, and veracity, if you told ‘The Big Lie’ first?

A. Ross Morris

A Jacksonian said...

Hmmm... where does the Big Lie start?

I would say that in trying to portray himself as something other than a Chicago Machine Politician is where that starts. Beats me when he first started to claim it, but it certainly wasn't something you heard going up to the Senate bid...