09 June 2007

A dot to connect dots with: Monzer al-Kassar

For quite some time I have been pointing out the problem of Transnational Terrorism, organized crime and the unaccountable shipment of goods and money via various routes legal, illegal and gray. And today, a serious dot in the black comes to light and a major h/t to Instapundit for the link to the Washington Times article on three men indicted with threatening America. And with that the first *real* break into crossing between the various realms comes to the forefront! Let me give you some of the meat of the article:

Three arrested in arms plot to kill Americans
By Jerry Seper
June 9, 2007

A suspected international arms dealer was arrested yesterday in Spain and charged with conspiracy to sell millions of dollars in weapons to a State Department-designated foreign terrorist organization in Colombia to kill Americans.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Karen P. Tandy said Syrian national Monzer Al Kassar, 61, of Marbella, Spain, along with suspects Tareq Mousa Al Ghazi, 60, of Lebanon, and Luis Felipe Moreno Godoy, 58, also of Marbella, were arrested as they prepared to finalize a multimillion-dollar deal with the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, to pay for the weapons.

Mr. Kassar was arrested on the U.S. charges by Spanish authorities in Madrid; simultaneously Mr. Ghazi and Mr. Moreno Godoy were arrested in Romania.

"Monzer Al Kassar commands a global munitions empire, arming and funding insurgents and terrorists across the globe, particularly those who wish to harm Americans," Mrs. Tandy said. "He operates in the shadows, the silent partner behind the business of death and terror."

According to a federal grand jury Indictment unsealed in New York, since the early 1970s, Mr. Kassar, an international weapons trafficker, has been a ready source of weapons and military equipment for armed factions engaged in violent conflicts around the world.

The indictment said he provided weapons and military equipment to Bosnia, Brazil, Croatia, Cyprus, Iran, Iraq, Nicaragua and Somalia, among other countries, some of which went to known terrorist organizations, such as the Palestinian Liberation Front.

According to the indictment, to carry out his weapons-trafficking business, Mr. Kassar developed an international network of criminal associates, including co-defendants Mr. Ghazi and Mr. Moreno Godoy, as well as front companies and bank accounts in Bulgaria, Iraq, Poland, Romania, Spain and Syria and the United Kingdom.

Additionally, it said, Mr. Kassar engaged in money-laundering transactions in bank accounts throughout the world to disguise the illicit nature of his proceeds.

Between February 2006 and May 2007, the indictment said, Mr. Kassar, Mr. Ghazi and Mr. Moreno Godoy agreed to sell to the FARC millions of dollars worth of weapons -- including thousands of machine guns, millions of rounds of ammunition, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and surface-to-air missile systems.
Anyone paying *any* attention to the scads of articles and verbiage put forth will immediately tie Mr. Kassar in with testimony from Ralf Mutschke, Interpol's Assistant Director, Criminal Intelligence Directorate in his 13 DEC 2000 written testimony presented to the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime:
In recent years, South American drug cartels have been forming alliances with East European/Russian Organized Crime Groups in order to support and diversify their operations. East European groups have offered drug cartels access to sophisticated weapons that were previously not available. Helicopters, surface-to-air missiles, rocket-propelled grenades, and even submarines are on the drug cartels’ "shopping list." The East European groups provided new drug markets in Russia, the former Soviet Republics, and Eastern Europe, while consumption was decreasing in the U.S. In 1993, Russian police intercepted a ton of South American cocaine which had been shipped to St. Petersburg by one Russian crime syndicate working with a Colombian drug cartel. In another example, a Russian crime leader was arrested in January 1997 in Miami by U.S. agents for the exportation of cocaine from Ecuador to St. Petersburg (Russia) and then to the United States. In exchange for these services, drug cartels pay for transactions with high quality cocaine. East European/Russian crime syndicates and corrupt military officers are supplying sophisticated weapons to Colombian rebels in exchange for huge shipments of cocaine. Although the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) receives most of the arms, some of them are distributed to Hezbollah factions.
Yes, the same weapons type and groups involved and since Mr. Kassar has been around so long it starts to hit well within his long-term ability to be that very same individual mentioned! And why is that likely? Well, in testimony given on Human Rights Abuses in Syria, in 12 MAY 1992, Dennis DeConcini puts forth the following:
Lebanon also provides Syria with much needed infusions of hard currency from its drug trafficking operations. The State Department has estimated that 49 metric tons of opium came from the Syrian controlled Bekaa Valley in Lebanon last year. An article in the New Republic in January of this year reported that, `Between 20 percent and 35 percent of heroin imported into the United States comes from Syrian-occupied Lebanon.' In fact, the drug business has become so important to President Assad that the Washington Post reported in January 26 of this year that `to a large extent, the glue that keeps the Syrian machinery together is the personal enrichment of Assad's military from narcotics trafficking.'

Terrorism is another nefarious international activity in which Syria continues to be involved. At times Syrian drug trafficking and support for terrorism appear to run hand in hand. According to an April 27 Time magazine article, it was Monzer al-Kassar, a Syrian drug dealer, who planted the bomb on Pan Am flight 103 which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland. Time's assertions have been supported by Vincent Cannistraro, the former head of the CIA's investigation of the bombing. He was quoted in a New York Times article as saying it was outrageous that Libya could have been fully responsible for the bombing. If this report is true, it is not the first time that Syria has been responsible for the loss of American life.

Published reports have linked Syria to the 1983 attack on the U.S. Marine barracks which killed over 200 soldiers. Syrian intelligence has also been implicated in the unsuccessful 1986 bombing of a El Al airliner in London. In addition to its individual acts of terrorism, Syria has been used as a safe haven and training ground for other terrorist organizations.

The Islamic fundamentalist group, Hezbollah, has been receiving its training in Syria. Upon completion of training in Syria, the Hezbollah have their weapons escorted by the Syrians into Lebanon. Hezbollah is the same group that has declared its purpose to be to destroy the cancerous Zionist entity. It also has made more than a dozen attacks on Israeli civilians between 1990 and 1991. Last October, Syrian Vice President Khaddam described the Hezbollah attacks against Israel as brave actions.
Helllllo Mr. Kassar!! Here you have a Syrian drug dealer turning to weapons sales and having immediate entree to Hezbollah, access to the Syrian weapons production market, and then spreading that influence overseas to so as to make FARC nastier and start supplying Hezbollah in South America. Plus taking a role in blowing up Pan Am 103. Even if that last doesn't prove out, the former makes Mr. Kassar the absolute key in unlocking the hard terror links between Syria, Eastern European and Russian Mafias, Albanian organized crime, Algerian terrorists, Hezbollah, FARC and, possibly, even the latest Caribbean plot.

But the goodness doesn't stop *there*! Oh, no! We can now switch over to Saddam Hussein's early bank of choice: BCCI. In the 1992 Congressional Report on BCCI we get this lovely view of Mr. Kassar that needed to be looked into:
4. BCCI's relationships with convicted Iraqi arms dealer Sarkis Soghanalian, Syrian drug trafficker, terrorist, and arms trafficker Monzer Al-Kassar, and other major arms dealers. Sarkenalian was a principal seller of arms to Iraq. Monzer Al-Kassar has been implicated in terrorist bombings in connection with terrorist organizations such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Other arms dealers, including some who provided machine guns and trained Medellin cartel death squads, also used BCCI. Tracing their assets through the bank would likely lead to important information concerning international terrorist and arms trafficker networks.
Makes you just want to go out and hug a Congresscritter, doesn't it? Ok, maybe not that far... but this is great stuff! Why, its like Mr. Kassar has just been working all his life to be a major drug dealer, arms trafficker and influence peddler amongst the rich and terrorists. And it doesn't stop *there*, heavens no!

How long has Mr. Kassar been at this sort of thing? Well, lets take a look at the 1993 Walsh Report on Iran/Contra:
The Undelivered Shipment and Distribution (July-September 1986)

In July 1986, the Enterprise paid Defex (Portugal) $2.6 million and $500,000 to another dealer, Monzer Al Kassar, for contra weapons. In late July, a shipment of arms left Portugal for Central America aboard the recently acquired Enterprise freighter, the Erria.8 According to Thomas Parlow, the Erria's Danish shipping agent, the freighter was carrying arms picked up in Poland and Portugal.9

8 Clines, Hakim and William Haskell, an associate of North, traveled to Copenhagen in April 1986 to purchase for approximately $320,000 the Erria, which the Enterprise had leased a year earlier for a weapons shipment to the contras. The ship was purchased by the Enterprise in the name of Dolmy Business Inc., a Panamanian shell company. Thomas Parlow became the Erria's Danish shipping agent. According to Parlow, Hakim would telephone Parlow to direct movement of the ship, and Parlow would communicate those directions to the ship's captain. (Parlow, FBI 302, 3/5/87, pp. 2-3.)


The Iran/Contra Diversion

Because of the commingling of Enterprise funds, it was not possible to determine precisely how much money was diverted from the Iran arms sales proceeds to the contras. After direct U.S. sales of arms to Iran began in February 1986, the amount of proceeds diverted to the contras that could have been proved at trial was $3.6 million. It probably was at least $1.1 million more.51

51 The $3.6 million diversion estimate does not include expenditures OIC could not provide evidence for at trial but were, in fact, contra-related, including: the purchase of a $200,000 Jetstar by the Enterprise for contra-related travel; a $500,000 weapons purchase from Monzer Al Kassar, who was not available to testify; and about $535,000 that was used to purchase, operate and insure the Danish freighter, the Erria, which was not used exclusively for contra operations.

Independent Counsel arrived at the diversion figure of $3.6 million by calculating the Enterprise's total contra-related expenses following the first direct U.S. shipment of arms to Iran in February 1986, less the amount of funds in Enterprise accounts specifically deposited on behalf of the contras. The Enterprise's contra-related expenses after February were conservatively estimated at $6.7 million. The amount deposited for the contras was $3.1 million. Thus, the amount that was clearly diverted from the arms sales was $3.6 million.

North, in his testimony, attributed to Nir and Ghorbanifar the idea for a diversion of arms sales funds to the contras. In the Poindexter trial, although uncertain, he fixed the date in December 1985 or January or February of 1986.52 As early as November 14, 1985, North's notebooks show that he discussed with Nir a plan to obtain the release of the hostages by payments to certain Middle Eastern factions. The questions they discussed included: ``How to pay for; how to raise $,'' and a possible solution was to set up a ``joint'' Israeli-U.S. ``covert op.'' According to the Israelis, North apparently told Israeli defense officials in a meeting in New York on December 6, 1985, that he intended to divert funds from the arms sales to the contras.53
Yes, indeed, there he is with all the big boys. Literally, this man has all the keys and tickets to get entree to every single terrorist organization, organized crime ring and rogue regime on the planet.

This man and his confederates, that I haven't looked at yet, need to have every single contact they *know* come out. This is the first true break in the multiple internetworks ever seen since the early days of terrorism melding with organized crime.

And Monzer al-Kassar was there.

[UPDATE] More from Wretchard at The Belmont Club.

Next post in the series: More on the dots...
And after that: Monzer Al-Kassar and Transnational Terrorism


Beto_Ochoa said...

e-mail me. I have some info for you on this.

A Jacksonian said...

Beto Ochoa - Sent my latest with return... any help appreciated!

Matt said...

For whoever's interested, here's the indictment.

And some background on Al Kassar.

A Jacksonian said...

Matthew - My thanks!

Two posts forward of this is a deep run down of Mr. Kassar's life... the Frontline story misses a lot on him. Actually, most of the news reporting on him before now has been too highly aimed at just one thing and not on the sweep of his life. It is that sweep, dating back from the 1970's and continuing to today that makes hi even MORE important than indicated in this post. Much, much more important.

Haiffa said...

Hello everyone....i am monzer alkassars daughter, please get your facts right about the Man..he is accused for being a terrorist wich is inssane...why would a man like him do such a thing thats the question...he has everthing he wants,hes 64 turning 65 in july 1st he never harmed anyone, he loves his family more than anything in the world and to risk such a thing is not the Monzer and a Father to 4 children, you dont know what his family are going through,i hope no one goes through what we have been going through the past year,they dont mention anything about what he has done good in the world,its always the bad and thats what people believe in and want to hear, to be falsly accused of something he hasnt done and if he did do it he has legal rights..but i guess every media translates it in a different way and if you wish to believe in that the truth will come out soon,"we might lose the battle,but win the War" thats what my father said to me before they took him to the states, their is justice in this world everyone knows that he is an international arms dealer whats wrong with that helping the government in a legal way the DEA fabricated all of this to extradict him to the USA, because they wasted soo much money going to spain and not finding what they want so the only way to accuse him is to say hes a terrorist...please deffine what a terrorist is?and you may not know it but in the middle east George bush is a terrorist to us...so how can you say this word, when the only terrorist is The American Government what kind of people are they,with no heart.if you have any questions please at least try to find the right source.I just wanted to make it clear to the world.... My dad is not a killer but a fighter for the truth and nothing but the truth November 3rd is the court case i hope he comes out of it because his accusations can make him stay in jail for 20 years or more do you think thats fair?only time will tell

A Jacksonian said...

Haiffa - Thank you, and I do understand what you say.

You are also on the inside, looking out. Even just the circumstances around where your father has been and what has happened do not look good. For his skill, courage and ability to outwit others, I give him appreciation: he has shown those in depth and capability. I cannot claim to know him, just 'of him'.

I want the chips to fall where they may across the board: for those things falsely accused or attributed to your father I want facts and reliable sources willing to stand up and testify without intimidation from any side. If he has done good, that is in the balance, as are his ills. There are people in many lands that point to him as a source of corruption, trouble and giving venue to others to deal death.

I am willing to let those in my Nation who had done wrongly to be held accountable for their actions, and endorse that via legal means.

That goes for your father, too.

I am more than willing to let those who have taken wrong actions pay the price, without respect to Nation, race, creed, gender or, indeed, anything about them outside of their actions. It is time to end this era of private war and it is your father that has been at a nexus point in it, for good and ill.

Your father can help end this era and set the world on a better course by naming names, dates, transfers and who was involved. That honesty will gain hearing and understanding. And if it takes down the powerful and corrupt, so be it: I would prefer that to seeing him take secrets from that shadow world he lived in these many decades to his grave.

That will tell of him to those that matter: the generations yet to come. As you say your father is old... yet it is never too late to tell your life in full, and be judged on it. It is not me who will render any verdict, nor any court in any land: it is those that will write of us in the future, and judge our character by our actions.

Let us close mourning of the dead, to deal with those that dealt unwanted death by their private war upon them. A man doing that, even late in life, will show he understands his actions, admits to them and will be judged by them and in that telling will be a better man than he is now.

America has learned to detest the actions, as with Benedict Arnold, but come to understand the man who did them and appreciate his circumstances. And even a horrific criminal like Al Capone would come up guilty on tax charges, and serve time as penance for his past, leaving his story not well told and leaving generations to piece together the man who was a criminal and yet still got the garbage collected in the wards he worked in. Americans respect those brought to justice, by and large, if not in their lives then after their passing. That is the full judgement I want history to have and for those that came to him to get things done...

I respect your father's abilities and greatly.

It is up to him if he will let later generations judge him fully.

I will pass into history unknown, uncared about and unread. Your father, for good or ill, will be a part of history that matters. It will be up to him how he comports himself: it always has been and always will be thus. And by his actions and inactions we will come to know him, not just 'of him'. It is that which I want most of all, this telling of a man, so our children can know him.