It's well known that some of the 9/11 hijackers trained at US military bases. We also know that several of the hijackers were living in the same town as the NSA headquarters in the days leading up to the attack, and that their communications were being monitored by the NSA while they lived here.
But less attention is given to their time in the sunshine state, and why they chose a small area of Florida to live and receive their flight training. In the course of many of my investigations, I wind up coming back to this small area of Florida, including Sarasota, Venice, and St. Petersburg.
On August 30, 2001, in Sarasota, Florida, a Saudi oil executive working for Saudi Arabia's state owned oil company fled the country in a hurry. He left behind 3 new luxury cars, a refrigerator full of food, and an open, empty safe.
After 9/11 it would be revealed that several of the hijackers visited the home.
Quote:A US counter-terrorist agent told The Daily Telegraph: “The registration numbers of vehicles that had passed through the Prestancia community’s north gate in the months before 9/11, coupled with the identification documents shown by incoming drivers on request, showed that Mohamed Atta and several of his fellow hijackers, and another Saudi suspect still at large, had visited 4224 Escondito Circle.”
The property was owned by a man named Esam Gawwazi, with close ties to the Saudi royal family. The Washington Post noted:
Quote:In the mid-1990s, Esam Ghazzawi's name arose when investigators of the renowned corrupt bank BCCI were trying to recover assets from Saudi Prince Fahd bin Salman, and the prince argued that his assets were being held in another account under Esam Ghazzawi's name.
Coincidentally, President Bush was also in Sarasota on 9/11, reading to children at an elementary school.
Sarasota, and the area surrounding it, are not just the center of the attacks on September 11th, but the center of a vast CIA drug trafficking network which includes the very flight school and flight instructors who trained the hijackers, as well as friends of the hijackers. This angle has been mostly ignored by the media, including the alternative media, with the exception of Daniel Hopsicker.
Hopsicker has covered this angle much more thoroughly than I could hope to. His documentary is an excellent introduction to the topic.
Note that this news story is from long after Hopsicker wrote Welcome To Terrorland, in which he alleged this flight school was part of a CIA drug trafficking op. If this didn't vindicate him, I don't know what will.
Quote:The man who ran the flight school that unwittingly trained two of the 9/11 hijackers now sits behind bars, accused of drug smuggling and offering his illicit services to an undercover federal officer.
Rudi Dekkers, a Danish national who used to run the Florida flight school Huffman Aviation, came to the attention of federal authorities in October when he was introduced to an undercover federal officer as an associate of suspected drug smuggling kingpin Arturo Astorquiza, according to Texas court documents.
Though Astorquiza was the target of the federal operation, Dekkers allegedly told the undercover officer in their first meeting that he “was involved in narcotics transportation via private aircraft and that he [had] flown narcotics and U.S. currency previously without any problems.”
Quote:The official explanation of the 9/11 attack, the most spectacular crime of the still-young 21st century, relied heavily on the eyewitness testimony of a man who had been convicted just a few years earlier of embezzling $30 million.
That man's name is Rudi Dekkers. Dutch prosecutors called his 1993 conviction in the Netherlands for embezzlement "the handiwork of organized crime."
Quote:We first became interested in the story of the orphan 5.5 tons of coke after learning that Cocaine One's registered owner, “Royal Sons LLC,” had once been housed in a hanger owned by terror flight school Huffman Aviation at the Venice Fl Airport.
That's a real unlucky little airport, we thought to ourselves. Maybe they should shut it down before something really bad happens.
Compounding the seriousness of FAA malfeasance is that the DC9 airliner had been apprehended while painted to resemble an aircraft from the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security. That makes the FAA’s refusal to release the plane’s records a matter of urgent national security.
Quote:The smugglers had bought the DC-9 with laundered funds they transferred through two of the biggest banks in the U.S.: Wachovia Corp. and Bank of America Corp., Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its August 2010 issue.
This was no isolated incident. Wachovia, it turns out, had made a habit of helping move money for Mexican drug smugglers. Wells Fargo & Co., which bought Wachovia in 2008, has admitted in court that its unit failed to monitor and report suspected money laundering by narcotics traffickers -- including the cash used to buy four planes that shipped a total of 22 tons of cocaine.
Quote:Wachovia admitted it didn’t do enough to spot illicit funds in handling $378.4 billion for Mexican-currency-exchange houses from 2004 to 2007. That’s the largest violation of the Bank Secrecy Act, an anti-money-laundering law, in U.S. history -- a sum equal to one-third of Mexico’s current gross domestic product.
Quote:While there has been little or no public recognition of the fact, three aviation executives present at Huffman Aviation while terrorists were there have since been implicated or convicted of drug trafficking.
A guilty plea from Dekkers will raise that count to four.
Drug pilot #1 was Diego Texar Levine, a Venezuelan native and Hilliard’s partner in a jet charter service, piloted a Hilliard-owned Lear jet that was surrounded by DEA Agents on a runway of Orlando Executive Airport in July 2000, less than three weeks after Mohamed Atta began attending his flight school.
Agents discovered 43 lbs. of heroin on the plane. Five Venezuelan and Colombian nationals aboard the Learjet were arrested. All later pled guilty to felonies. The Orlando Sentinel called it "the largest-ever seizure of heroin in Central Florida."
Quote:Drug pilot #2: Michael Francis Brassington, a native of Guyana, was the co-pilot on that flight.
Brassington also figured prominently in a scandal that brought down the premier of the Turks & Caicos Islands. According to a British Commission’s report on Premier Michael Misick’s corruption, as not only the personal pilot but Misick’s partner-in-crime as well.
As first reported here, a Gulfstream jet Misick and Brassington used while jetting around the world belonged to a former White House Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton named Jeffrey Watson. Currently a Washington lobbyist, Watson was once called “Florida's insider at the White House” by the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.
After being charged with 23 felony counts accusing him of putting the lives of passengers in danger, including in a near-fatal crash of one of his charter company’s luxury jets at Teterboro Airport outside New York City in 2005, Brassington was convicted in a trial in Federal Court in Newark New Jersey and went to prison last year.
As if all that weren't enough, Brassington was a key figure fingered in a military procurement scandal in his native Guyana.
Quote:Drug Pilot#3: Kevin Frater, a Hilliard pilot-employee in 2000-2001, went on the lam when his business partner was arrested with more than a 100 lbs. of heroin.
Hopsicker was the first to track down Mohammed Atta's girlfriend, Amanda Keller.
The media immediately attacked and attempted to discredit her, but her claims turned out to be true. She described a man named Wolfgang Bohringer, who was a very close friend of Atta.
Quote:Although much was already known about the "bin Laden flight," Lautenberg provided additional details, including the information that the plane, a 727 owned by DB Air and operated by Ryan International, began its flight in Los Angeles and made stops in Orlando, Dulles International Airport and Boston before continuing to Gander, Newfoundland; Paris; Geneva; and Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. The aircraft, tail number N521DB, has been chartered frequently by the White House for the press corps traveling with President Bush.
This is an Amnesty International piece naming likely airlines that were used by the CIA for covert operations and extraordinary renditions:
Quote:Amnesty International and TransArms have compiled a list of companies likely to have had some level of involvement in renditions and other covert operations. This includes the owners or operators of aircraft that have been detected in known cases of rendition or in other CIA operations, as well as some of the companies – believed to be intelligence-linked – that are mentioned in both the US Army Aeronautical Service Agency’s worldwide landing permits and in US DoD fuelling contracts.
The tentative list of companies involved in covert activities has in turn formed the basis for the list of aircraft whose flights Amnesty International has tracked over the 2001-2006 period. Once the flight logs were analysed, some of these companies and aircraft were dropped from the list, because flight logs indicated that they had only flown in and out of locations unlikely to have been connected to either the rendition programme or to covert CIA activities. In a number of cases, there was mixed activity – a plane which has made repeated flights in and out of bases in Afghanistan and Egypt, for instance, has also appeared in holiday resorts or business centres in the USA – suggesting that the agency may be trying to vary its use of planes, so that individual aircraft cannot be so closely linked to covert activity.
The other indication of a shifting landscape in the world of front companies is the current list of companies with a Civil Aircraft Landing Permit (CALP) that authorizes them to land on US military bases worldwide. The 10 companies that currently hold such certificates are listed below, but equally important are those that are no longer listed. Notably absent from the 2006 list are some of the companies with the most widely and frequently reported rendition links: Aeromet, Inc; Devon Holding and Leasing, Inc; Premier Executive Transport Services, Inc; Rapid Air Trans; Raython Aircraft Company; Richmor Aviation, Inc; Stevens Express Leasing, Inc; and Tepper Aviation, Inc. The permits of all of these companies expired in 2005 and none has been renewed.
Quote:Private companies with current permits to land in US military bases worldwide:
RYAN INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES
Hopsicker one step ahead again:
Quote:Frank Zammiello's Northstar Aviation in Warrick R. I. flew four Saudis, including a Saudi Sheikh (name unfortunately redacted) on a flight which left Providence R.I. September 14, 2001 and flew to Paris.
Quote:Frank Zammiello once pledged more than $6 million to secure a pretrial release for New England mob boss Raymond J. “Junior” Patriarca, when he was facing racketeering charges.
Quote:Zammiello also figured in a famous case involving a nightclub owned by the son of mob boss Cadillac Frank Salemme.
According to the U.S. Attorney the club "was a business operated on behalf of La Cosa Nostra and run by people closely associated with the Mafia."
Quote:Opined the Boston Herald, "The relationship between DiSarro and Providence real estate developer Frank J. Zammiello, a known friend and partner of the jailed New England crime boss (Patriarca), suggests the South Boston club may be under the control of organized crime.”
"Cadillac Frank" Salemme also figured in the corruption trial of former Boston FBI honcho John Connelly.
But we may never learn more than we do now about John Connelly—known as “Zip” to his Mob buddies—and his 30-year crime spree.
When the House Government Committee attempted to hold hearings on corruption in the Boston FBI, they were thwarted in the Spring of 2002 by President George W. Bush.
Bush shocked the Congressional watchdog committee’s chairman, conservative Republican Dan Burton, by claiming executive privilege to keep Congress from gaining access to documents generated by the Boston FBI.
Quote:The Florida congressional house elections took place on November 7, 2006, in districts 1 through 25. Elections progressed normally, except in District 13 of Sarasota County, where over 18,000 ballots cast on the electronic voting machines registered no votes.
Quote:Sarasota elections officials have called off plans to run an audit on the results of next month's primary elections that would make sure the tallying machines work correctly.
Quote:There is consensus on one point, however. Although Republican Vern Buchanan was certified the winner by only 369 out of more than 238,000 votes and is now representing the 13th Congressional District of Florida (CD13) in the U.S. House of Representatives, if the “missing” votes had been recorded, Democrat Christine Jennings would almost certainly have been elected (Stewart, 2006).
Quote:Revelations in the case of the Lebanese man accused of being the ringleader of a plot to bomb the PATH Tunnels in New York City to deluge lower Manhattan and Wall Street in a torrent of water have begun to shed light on other terrorism investigations in the U.S., perhaps even on the very nature of the terrorist threat.
As many as a dozen relatives of Assem Hammoud have already been accused or convicted in the U.S. of terrorist-related crime, The MadCowMorningNews has learned, members of what has been called the Hezbollah-Hammoud Syndicate in Detroit. Their number includes a self-admitted member of Hezbollah in Sarasota questioned by law enforcement authorities in late September of 2001 about his suspected foreknowledge of the 9.11 attack.
Quote:But Assem Hammoud's most intriguing relative in the U.S. is the Dearborn clan member who moved to Sarasota Florida, where he was quite a busy boy...
Wissam Hammoud owned a cell phone store in Sarasota which supplied mobile phones to Mohamed Atta... bragged of helping Hezbollah buy assault weapons and night-vision goggles (the group needed them so they “could kill Jews at night”)... was convicted in February in a Federal Court in Tampa of soliciting the murder and beheading of a Federal Agent...and suspected of having foreknowledge of the 9.11 attack.
“In September 2001, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement interviewed Hammoud because someone had anonymously called saying Hammoud had made a comment that the Oklahoma City bombing was small compared with what was coming,” reported the Tampa Tribune on Jan 6 2004, in a story headlined “Man Bragged Of Ties To Terror, Records Say.”
Quote:The little-known fact is that at 6 a.m. on the morning of September 11th four Arab men posing as journalists attempted to gain access to President George W. Bush at the Colony Beach Resort on Longboat Key in Sarasota, where he had spent the night, for the purpose of ending his life.
The evidence is in two separate local news reports which lead to only one conclusion: terrorists were looking to kill George W. Bush.
Secret Service agents guarding the President in Sarasota received a dramatic predawn warning of an imminent threat to the President. The plot was very likely coordinated by terrorist ringleader Mohamed Atta himself, at that moment preparing to board a commuter flight from Portland, Maine to Boston, but who had been seen three days earlier in Longboat Key by numerous credible witnesses.
“The warning of imminent danger was delivered in the middle of the night to Secret Service agents in Sarasota guarding the President,” reported Monica Yadov of ABC’s Sarasota affiliate, “and it came exactly four hours and thirty-eight minutes before Mohamed Atta flew an airliner into the World Trade Center.”
Is this why Bush was in Sarasota? Were they trying to kill him or meet with him?
Quote:The Roaring Twenties ended early for Sarasota. Florida was the first area in the United States to be affected by the financial problems that led to the Great Depression. In 1926 development speculation began to collapse with bank failures on the eastern coast of Florida, much earlier than most parts of the country.
Quote:Sarasota became identified as an epicenter of the 2008 real estate crash. It followed financial credit problems that began with poorly financed mortgages failing because of massive real estate speculation that began in the late 1990s and escalated dramatically during the early 2000s.
Quote:The seizure that gripped European financial markets on Thursday can be partly traced to an unlikely place. Like the proverbial butterfly that flaps its wings and sets off a tidal wave on the other side of the world, Sarasota, Florida is at the centre of the US housing bust that sent shockwaves through global markets.
Quote:A block away from the Venice Florida airport stands an opulent three-story red brick building that is a monument to the rivers of money flowing through the Stephens financial empire.
Looking eerily-reminiscent of the plush digs of the law firm in the Tom Cruise movie "The Firm," or a particularly-ostentatious Southern Governors’ mansion, the building seems out of place alongside the weed-strewn airport perimeter.
This was the national headquarters of Jackson Stephen's Beverly Enterprises. It is a stone’s throw from the Venice Airport.
Gleaming like a movie set and basking in Florida's Indian summer, the building still houses Stephens former law firm, local political powerhouse Boone Boone & Boone, a firm which worked so closely with client Stephens that at least one of his executives was permanently housed there.
"I don’t think you could safely say that they (Boone & Boone) runs everything in town," said one local observer. "But you could safely say they run almost everything. They exert a strong influence here, including out at the airport."
Quote:He was named in the BCCI criminal bank scandal, in the death of Vince Foster and the stolen Promis software scandal of the Justice Dept, and in the 1996 campaign finance scandal involving allegations of Red Chinese money.
Most notably, Jackson Stephens has already been named in one intelligence-related aviation scandal: the gun-running and cocaine smuggling at Mena, Arkansas during the 1980’s that was behind Iran Contra and Whitewater.
Quote:More about Stephens: he was the chief domestic campaign contributor to both George Bush Senior and Bill Clinton.
Quote:Interestingly enough, the Venice Airport also surfaced briefly in the questioning of Oliver North during the Iran Contra hearings, when a man with a local aviation business named Joe Duncan was alleged to have run guns to the Contras from the airport.
Quote:Stephens' colorful curriculum vitae also includes the fact that he was roommates with President Jimmy Carter at the US Naval Academy.
Quote:BCCI handled money for Saddam Hussein, Manuel Noriega, Hussain Mohammad Ershad and Samuel Doe. Other account holders included Medellin Cartel and Abu Nidal.
Quote:The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency held numerous accounts at BCCI, according to William von Raab, former U.S. Commissioner of Customs. Oliver North also used and held multiple accounts at BCCI. These bank accounts were used for a variety of illegal covert operations, including transfers of money and weapons related to the Iran-Contra scandal, according to Time Magazine.
The CIA also worked with BCCI in arming and financing the Afghan mujahideen during the Afghan War against the Soviet Union, using BCCI to launder proceeds from trafficking heroin grown in the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands, boosting the flow of narcotics to European and U.S. markets.
Quote:Jackson Stephens: BCCI's Principal U.S. Broker?
A second, and inconsistent, account of BCCI's initial entry into the U.S. was provided to the Washington Post in 1978 by participants in the FGB takeover battle, and later reiterated in filings with the Federal Reserve by Lance and BCCI attorney Robert Altman. By this account, the initial contact between BCCI and FGB came from Arkansas multi-millionaire and FGB shareholder Jackson Stephens.
Quote:According to the Federal Reserve:
At the suggestion of T. Bertram Lance ("Lance"), Abdus Sami ("Sami"), a senior BCCI officer from its inception and a close associate of Abedi, met with Jackson Stephens ("Stephens") to discuss the purchase by a BCCI client of the interest of Lance and others in NBG. . . During the meeting, Stephens, who was dissatisfied with his investment in Financial General, told Sami that Financial General might be a good investment for BCCI clients.
Quote:The effort started in the late ‘70s. Stephens brought Bert Lance, President Jimmy Carter’s soon indicted former budget director, together with BCCI principals including Agha Hasan Abedi, Ghaith Pharoan and Khalid Mahfouz (all later criminally charged as well). After 9/11, they and many of their Arabian banking colleagues were directly linked to, or themselves named Specifically Designated Global Terror financiers.
Quote:He teamed up with China-born billionaire Mochtar Riady, who, along with his son James, would later be convicted of secretly funding Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns with $ millions from the Chinese government.
Quote:During those same years, equal opportunist Stephens also arranged Mideast bankers’ multi $million bailouts for George W. Bush’s failing oil ventures.
Quote:Stephens’ BCCI incursion, and his other ventures were represented by Hillary Clinton and her Arkansas law firm partners Vince Foster (later White House Counsel before death by reported suicide), and Webster Hubbell (later #3 in the US Justice Department before serving 20 months on multiple fraud convictions).
While Clinton was Arkansas Governor, Stephens’ billionaire buddies, the Riadys, bonded with Bill and Hillary through their global conglomerate (and Chinese government partner), the Lippo Group. James Riady moved to Little Rock to be closer to his new friends.
Quote:Stephens gave $100,000 to the Reagan-Bush campaign in 1980, another $100,000 to the Bush dinner committee in 1990, and was a Bush Ranger (minimum $200, 000) for Bush in 2000 and 2004.
But through the first half of the ‘90s, Stephens, and his China-tied Lippo partners’ favorite recipient was Bill Clinton. Stephens was Clinton’s 2nd biggest contributor over his political career.
Quote:Stephens’ Systematics, meanwhile, reportedly utilized a cutting edge computer program named PROMIS, secretly equipped with “back door control” ability, in IT management contracts with banks across the country.
Quote:Ptech, though known by FBI Bin Laden Unit Chief (later whistleblower) Robert Wright to be headed by a major Al Qaeda financier, and funded by Stephens’ former BCCI colleagues, was placed in charge of software management at every critical US Government agency- Defense, State, Justice, Energy, Transportation, the White House itself.
Ptech and a quasi government entity named MITRE, utilized PROMIS software to create the FAA’s National Airspace System, in control of operations on 911.
So in Venice Florida you've got Jackson Stephens' law firm down the block from the airport which trained the hijackers. Then next door to the airport you've got the Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey Circus winter quarters.
Quote:Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Winter Quarters in Venice, FL
Sarasota was largely developed by the Ringlings.
What the hell does that have to do with anything?
Quote:Henry Ringling North
John Ringling North
Quote:Edmund Michael Burke (August 6, 1916–February 5, 1987) was a U.S. Navy Officer, O.S.S. agent, C.I.A. agent, general manager of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, CBS executive, President of the New York Yankees, the New York Knicks, New York Rangers and Madison Square Garden.
Quote:Over lunch, Smith recounted a campaign of surveillance and dirty tricks Feld had unleashed on her in the wake of her 1990 magazine piece in the now-defunct Regardie’s magazine. Feld, he said, had hired people to manipulate her whole life over the past eight years. Feld had spent a lot of money on it, he said. He may have even tried to destroy her marriage. In fact, Pottker would eventually learn of a massive dirty tricks operation, involving former CIA officials and operatives, that would target Ringling enemies such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other groups, not just Pottker.
Quote:“My name is Clair E. George,” it began. “I was the deputy director for operations (DDO) of the Central Intelligence Agency from July 1984 through December 1987 during which time I was responsible for the CIA’s covert operations worldwide.” In 1990, when Pottker’s article was published, George declared, he was “a paid consultant to Feld Entertainment and its affiliates on international issues.”
Pottker may not have known it — she declined to be interviewed for this story — but Clair George had been the CIA’s third-highest ranking official until he was convicted of lying to a congressional committee in 1987. President Bush, the current president’s father, himself a former CIA chief, had pardoned Clair George on Christmas Eve 1992.
They attempted to control this woman's life, set her up with a book deal to divert her from writing about the Ringling owners, wiretapped her phones, threatened her, attempted to seduce her to destroy her marriage...all for writing about the current owners of Ringling Bros.
And they did it using Clair E George.