This is Chapter 5 of a multi-chapter series. On your right is a Table of Contents to all chapters so far published.
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In this chapter of the Global Bust-Out Series, we learn more about the Bank of Credit and Commerce and International (BCCI) and its business partners (the “larger BCCI enterprise”). Although this might seem like ancient history, it is history that we must not forget because the people who were involved with the BCCI enterprise did not simply disappear when BCCI collapsed in 1991. To the contrary, most of them remained in business and only one BCCI figure (Abbas Gokal) did any jail time. This despite the fact that Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau had described BCCI as “the largest banking fraud in world financial history.”
Recall, too, that the larger BCCI enterprise did more than operate “the largest banking fraud in world financial history.” It also deployed a variety of schemes to “bust-out” publicly listed companies, some of them among the largest savings and loan banks in the United States. This contributed to the savings and loan crisis that began in the late 1980s, and which ultimately cost American tax-payers upwards of $1 trillion in bail-outs—a portent of bigger and better things to come.
The larger BCCI enterprise “busted out” (i.e. looted and destroyed) other national economies as well, and when a few BCCI principals were brought to trial (they were sentenced to pay nothing more than fines that were fraction of what they had looted), the sentencing judge correctly remarked that the BCCI enterprise had single-handedly “shattered the integrity of the global financial system.” They had also shattered the integrity of Washington, where officials went to lengths to protect them from prosecution.
Because the BCCI enterprise was never seriously prosecuted (or exposed in the media), the people who had been involved with BCCI and the larger BCCI enterprise continued during all the years that followed not only to remain in business, but also to operate an almost precisely similar enterprise, the only difference being that the enterprise came to include some new and younger players, while people involved with the enterprise innovated new and more destructive financial schemes. More specifically, they innovated new ways to “bust-out” publicly listed companies and national economies.
Indeed, as we will see, they contributed to the great meltdown of 2008, and they are presently threatening to deliver a repeat performance.
It is no overstatement to say that miscreants who were formerly involved with BCCI and the larger BCCI enterprise presently pose the single biggest threat to the stability of the global financial system and our economic well-being. More than that, they pose a serious threat to the future of our democracy and to political stability in many other nations as well. This is, in other words, the history that accounts for our present predicament, and it is the history that has (already to the great detriment of our democracy) been covered up by officials in Washington, and ignored by the major U.S. news organizations (some of them owned by people previously linked to the BCCI enterprise).
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The BCCI enterprise, we know, had extensive business with a great many of the most prominent fixtures of the American establishment. That is to say, some of the world’s most destructive financial criminals (i.e. people formerly involved with BCCI and the larger BCCI enterprise) have had extensive business with not only some of the leading lights on Wall Street, but also with numerous politicians and officials in Washington, including nearly every U.S. politician who has ever so much as considered running for president, every politician who has ever served as president, and multiple people who have held cabinet-level positions in Washington.
In earlier chapters of this series, we discussed relationships between the BCCI enterprise and two sitting presidents, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter. As has been well-documented elsewhere, the BCCI enterprise also had extensive dealings (the Iran-Contra affair being only one example) with the administration of President Ronald Reagan, and his vice president (later President) George Bush, Sr.
Meanwhile, in the 1980s, various BCCI figures had business with George Bush, Jr., who would, of course, later serve as president. For example, a businessman named James Bath fronted investments that a Saudi sheikh and billionaire named Khalid bin Mahfouz made in an oil company called Harken Energy, which was then controlled by George Bush, Jr. Sheikh Mahfouz was the largest shareholder in BCCI, and he served as executive director of the bank throughout the 1980s. In 1985, Sheikh Mahfouz also purchased (at a premium to the market price) the Texas Commerce Bank Tower, which was then Houston’s tallest skyscraper, from James Baker, who was then President Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Treasury, and later Secretary of State under President George Bush, Sr.
We have already seen that key figures in the larger BCCI enterprise later played a key role in delivering the presidency to Bill Clinton. One of those BCCI figures, we know, was an American oligarch named Jackson Stephens. Another was a man named Michael Steinhardt, known as one of the nation’s most prominent hedge fund managers, and also known as the son of Sol “Red” Steinhardt, said by a Manhattan district attorney to be the “biggest Mafia fence in America.” It was at Steinhardt’s urging that President Clinton pardoned a criminal oligarch named Marc Rich, who had previously had extensive involvement with the BCCI enterprise, and who had been sentenced to prison for doing business (through BCCI figures) with the Iranian regime during the 1979-1980 Iran hostage crisis.
We can add to this list of captured presidents our present leader, Barrack Obama, who has faced allegations of shady dealings with a man named Nadhmi Auchi, who is widely regarded as representing the interests of Adnan Khashoggi, formerly one of the most important figures in the larger BCCI enterprise (and one of history’s most destructive financial criminals). We will return to Auchi, but it suffices to say that his business (which continues to be conducted without interference from the Obama administration) has not been good for the country. Hedge fund manager George Soros, who played a key role in delivering the presidency to Obama, also previously had dealings with the BCCI enterprise.
Therefore, it is important for us to remember that the BCCI enterprise (which had extensive links to the Muslim Brotherhood) was notable for having waged a “Financial Jihad” against Western civilization (albeit a jihad waged in partnership with some of the self-anointed leaders of Western civilization). I will remind the reader that Yossef Bondansky, who served a director of the House Task Force on Terrorism from 1988 to 2005, described the BCCI mission as follows: “providing ‘special services’ in support of worthy causes—from laundering money for terrorists, Muslim intelligence services, and mujahedeen; to clandestinely funding deals for conventional weapons, weapons of mass destruction…to shipping around and laundering huge sums embezzled by corrupt leaders.”
As we also know, the BCCI enterprise’s larger mission (i.e. “The Financial Jihad”) was: 1) to build a global financial empire that could compete with Western financial institutions; and 2) to deploy financial weapons of mass destruction to undermine the global financial system that was perceived as being dominated by the West.
Recall that numerous global terrorists (also known as prominent bankers) were directly involved with the larger BCCI enterprise, and among them were Osama bin Laden and his associate, the Blind Sheikh. Osama bin Laden, of course, was later alleged to have perpetrated the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The Blind Sheikh was alleged to have been involved in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. In addition, we know, the Blind Sheikh (co-founder of Faisal Islamic Bank, which was the most important affiliate of BCCI during the 1980s) issued a famous fatwah suggesting that it would be a good idea for his fellow jihadis (and bankers?) to “tear down the edifices of capitalism” and to “destroy their (our) economies.” Which, of course, the BCCI enterprise had already done.
In 1991, the same year that BCCI collapsed, we know, a Muslim Brotherhood leader named Hasan al-Turabi appointed Osama bin Laden to help lead a Muslim Brotherhood initiative to replace the BCCI enterprise with a global financial network that would exceed the BCCI enterprise in scope and destructive power. Bodansky (then director of the House Task Force on Terrorism) reported in 2000: “Turabi urgently needed an expert to salvage whatever was possible and rebuild a global financial system [to replace the BCCI enterprise]. By then Osama bin Laden was the most qualified individual in Khartoum to untangle this financial mess. In late summer 1991, Turabi approached bin Laden and asked for help.”
Osama bin Laden agreed to help—and he pursued his task with enthusiasm. By 2000, he had played a key role in helping the Muslim Brotherhood rebuild a global financial network and he had done more than merely replace the BCCI enterprise. He and other Muslim Brotherhood billionaires had built what was, without doubt, one of the greatest financial empires the world has ever known. That financial empire remains in business today—and it is not only one the most powerful financial empires on the planet, but also one the world’s leading transnational organized crime syndicates, involved in all of the activities—from narco trafficking and the smuggling of radioactive materials, to the perpetration of destructive financial crime—that characterized the BCCI enterprise of the 1980s.
In addition, the global financial network/organized crime syndicate that Osama bin Laden helped build, like the BCCI enterprise before it, was operated in partnership with some elements of the American establishment, and with the full connivance of officials in Washington.
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The director of the House Task Force on Terrorism reported (in 2000) that Osama bin Laden built a global financial network in collaboration with what he referred to as “The Brotherhood Group,” a close-knit network of no less than 130 extremely wealthy financial operators in the Persian Gulf states. The director of the House Task Force on Terrorism reported further that: “The key members of the Brotherhood Group have a well-known and established financial presence in the West—sixty five of them have major companies and businesses in the United States.”
In Chapter 2 of this series, we met some of those billionaires, noting that some of them (e.g. Sheikh Mahfouz) had not only been involved with the BCCI enterprise in the 1980s, but had been among the founding fathers of Osama bin Laden’s terrorist organization. In later chapters of this series, we will learn more about the global financial network that Osama bin Laden helped build, but by way of introduction to that discussion, we should meet another former BCCI figure—a man named Monzer al-Kassar—because Monzer al-Kassar veritably epitomized both the BCCI enterprise and the global financial network that Osama bin Laden and other billionaires (including Monzer al-Kassar) built to replace the BCCI enterprise.
Monzer al-Kassar was not officially an executive of BCCI, but he brokered many of BCCI’s most important business relationships (including relationships with leading figures of the American establishment), and he played a key role in many of the initiatives (including the “Financial Jihad”) that made the BCCI enterprise so special. That is to say, Monzer al-Kassar was not only a global terrorist, but also the world’s leading narcotics kingpin, a dangerous mobster, a mercenary, a murderer, an arms dealer, an intelligence asset, a sophisticated financial operator, a billionaire several times over, and one of the world’s most prominent oligarchs, famous for the lavish cocktail parties that he held for the rich and famous.
Monzer al-Kassar was, indeed, one of the most important people in the world.
Therefore, the remainder of this chapter will be devoted to Monzer al-Kassar’s long and amazing career–his immense influence over the course of world events and his many assaults on the stability of the global financial system. And we can begin by examining the contents of every single article that was published about Monzer al-Kassar by the major U.S. news organizations during the years leading up to 2008, when Monzer al-Kassar’s career came to a strange and untimely end.
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The major U.S. news organization did not publish any articles about Monzer al-Kassar.
One exception to this rule was my favorite publication, People magazine, which published fairly regular reports about the fabulous parties—attended by Hollywood celebrities, glamorous billionaires, European royalty, Saudi princes, sheikhs and emirs, not to mention Western diplomats and some of Wall Street’s leading lights–that Monzer al-Kassar hosted at his white, Parthenon-like mansion in the Spanish resort town of Marbella. People magazine described Monzer al-Kassar as “The Prince of Marbella,” and that is how he was known to his powerful and influential friends, all whom were, no doubt, avid readers of People magazine.
Another exception to the rule was Forbes Magazine, which regularly listed Monzer al-Kassar as one of the 50 “Most Powerful” people in the world. However, the Forbes list of “Most Powerful” people didn’t include much information about what, exactly, made those people so powerful. Indeed, Forbes Magazine didn’t even provide its readers with any information about Monzer al-Kassar’s parties in Marbella, and unlike People magazine, Forbes Magazine did not inform its readers as to the purchase prices of Monzer al-Kassar’s sports cars, beautiful lady friends, and cutlery.
To be fair, Forbes Magazine is, in fact, the best mainstream business publication in the United States. It is also the only major news publication to devote space (see, for example, ground-breaking stories by Forbes reporters Nathan Vardi and Liz Moyers) to some of the most important issues (e.g. manipulative short selling and the involvement of organized crime) affecting the markets. In addition, aside from its list of “Most Powerful” people, Forbes Magazine did publish one story that at least mentioned Monzer al Kassar’s name in passing, noting that he had ties to Osama bin Laden.
Aside from that, though, the major U.S. news organizations reported nothing about Monzer al-Kassar prior to 2008, when Monzer al-Kassar’s career came to a strange and untimely end, at which point the U.S. media published a few stories about him, most of those stories being false. Not just false, but false to the extent that the major U.S. news organizations completely covered up the true (and scandalous) story of Monzer al-Kassar. Indeed, this cover-up was a conspiracy of significant proportions, or at least it was a cover-up to rival the media’s cover ups of just about every other major scandal in recent history.
That is not to say that the media has been a witting accomplice to any conspiracy. To the contrary, the American media has no wits. It is also, of course, not to say that the media has ever investigated or published any story about a conspiracy. Most major media journalists simply have no time to do anything other than take dictation from official government spokesmen and other professionals in the fields of black propaganda and disinformation. (I confess, I was once a mainstream journalist, and in that capacity, I unwittingly authored plenty of disinformation and devious party lines, though I did, at least, manage to have myself permanently ousted from that profession, thereby saving myself, were it not for so many other sins, from the eternal fires of hell).
At any rate, it is inadvisable to rely on the major U.S. news outfits for stuff like…news.
Fortunately, there are other sources of information, and there is, indeed, a vast amount of information about Monzer al-Kassar contained in the following: 1) mainstream publications of just about every civilized nation other than the United States; 2) a variety of documents that can be found in the public record; 3) some excellent American blogs (see, for example, BoilingFrogsPost.com, whose authors include former U.S. national security officials turned whistleblowers, all of whom are known to rant about the abysmal state of the American media).
In addition, many of the more salient facts concerning Monzer al-Kassar can be found in books by (among others) the following people: former U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor John Loftus, former Defense Intelligence Agency employee Lester Coleman; former Israeli intelligence official Ari Ben Menashe; former Israeli intelligence official Victor Ostrovsky; and Patrick Seale, the most eminent biographer of a terrorist named Abu Nidal, who was sponsored by Monzer al-Kassar. In addition, former Israeli intelligence official turned private investigator named Juval Aviv has revealed some important information about Monzer al-Kassar.
The best book on Monzer al-Kassar is a book written in the German language, and aptly titled “Des Pates des Terrors” (translation: “The Godfather of Terror,” which is different from “The Prince of Marbella”). This book (available on Amazon to anyone who can read German) was authored under a pseudonym by a German intelligence official who quotes extensively from the files of the German intelligence services, Interpol, and other intelligence agencies that tracked (and, in some case, employed) Monzer al-Kassar. There exists an English-language translation of this book, but it has been acquired by the U.S. government, which seems disinclined to allow the translation to be published in the United States.
In other words, so far as the English-speaking citizens of the U.S.A. are concerned, this book has not yet been burned, but it has, effectively, been banned.
We will get to the story of Monzer al-Kassar in a moment (and this might seem like an overly long prelude to that story) but it is first necessary to stress that every one of the above sources has been smeared in one way or another by official U.S. government spokesmen and major U.S. news organizations. These smears are always ad hominem—the facts themselves are never addressed. And others who have attempted to relate some of the facts have been accused of weaving outlandish conspiracy theories. But because this is such an important story, it must be stressed: all of the above sources have (independently of each other) related many of the same facts, and I myself have been able to confirm certain facts to be true.
There is, moreover, a near consensus among just about everyone who has investigated Monzer al-Kassar (including many earnest employees of the U.S. government’s national security agencies, though not the official U.S. government spokesmen) as to the broad outlines of the Monzer al-Kassar story.
The story goes like this:
Monzer al Kassar was the son of a Syrian government official and a close confidant of both Hafez al-Assad, who served as president of Syria from 1971 to 2000, and Bashar al-Assad, who replaced his father as president in 2000. As of this writing in 2013, Bashar al Assad is still president, but his army is fighting “Arab Spring” rebels who are (with the support of the U.S. government and its allies) attempting to overthrow the government of Syria. The “Arab Spring” rebels have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and associated jihadi terrorist organizations, some of which were sponsored by the Syrian government until 2008, at which point the jihadi outfits (and Washington) turned on the Syrian government, and Monzer al Kassar’s career came to strange and untimely end—but we are getting ahead of ourselves.
In the beginning, Monzer al-Kassar and his family, in partnership with, and with the protection of the Syrian government, became involved in the heroin trade out of Syria and Lebanon. By the 1980s, Monzer al-Kassar was not only the world’s leading narcotics kingpin, but also a global terrorist and the proprietor of an organized crime syndicate that was closely intertwined with the operations of leading terrorist organizations (which is to say that the terrorists were also key figures in Monzer al-Kassar’s transnational organized crime syndicate).
Among the terrorist organizations intertwined with Monzer al-Kassar’s organized crime (and terrorism) syndicate were several that had been founded by people who had once been key figures in the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), but who had split with PLO leader Yasser Arafat to found their own, more radical, terrorist outfits. These included: the Palestinian Liberation Front; the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine–Special Command (PLFP-SC); the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine–General Command (PLFP-GC); and Fatah, Revolutionary Council (also known as Black September and the Arab Revolutionary Brigades), whose leader, Abu Nidal, was the world’s most notorious terrorist before Osama bin Laden achieved notoriety in the 1990s.
Monzer al Kassar’s closest friend (going back to their childhoods together) was Abu Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Liberation Front. Meanwhile, Monzer’s brother, Ghasshan, was a top official of the PLFP-SC, and various other members of Monzer’s family were members, at various times, of the PLFP-SC and the other PLO splinter outfits (i.e. all of the above). In addition, Monzer al-Kassar, in his capacity as a Syrian intelligence asset, played an important role in directing the operations of at least one faction of Hezbollah, the world’s largest terrorist organization, based in Lebanon, with operations in numerous nations across the globe, most notably in Latin America and Africa, though Hezbollah also operated (and still does operate) quite openly in a few major U.S. cities, such as Detroit and my hometown, Chicago.
All of the leaders of these terrorist organizations, and Monzer al-Kassar himself, had close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and in 1991, they all became key figures in the Islamist International, the outfit that was founded that year by Muslim Brotherhood leader Hasan al-Turabi, and whose chairman, of course, was Osama bin Laden. This runs contrary to the official party line that Osama bin Laden’s organization and the Muslim Brotherhood were comprised entirely of Sunnis who could not tolerate other Muslim sects. The truth is that the Muslim Brotherhood membership includes Muslims of many different sects, and the Islamist International, which was founded by the Muslim Brotherhood, included some people who were not even Muslims. For example, the leader of the PLFP-SC, George Habash, was a Marxist and an atheist.
Some accounts suggest that Hezbollah, which is a Shiite outfit, may even have been founded as a Shiite wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, and it is certainly the case that Hezbollah was a key component of the Islamist International. In addition, Hezbollah has carried out at least one violent terrorist attack (in 1996, on a building housing U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia) on the orders of Osama bin Laden. Presently, Hezbollah claims to have sided with the Syrian government against the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda (i.e. Muslim Brotherhood) rebels in Syria, but for reasons to be discussed, there are excellent reasons to believe that Hezbollah and the rebels share a common interest in fomenting chaos in that country.
Monzer al-Kassar, meanwhile, ascribes to Marxist tenets, and he might properly be regarded as an atheist, though he was born a member of the Alawite sect. According to most accounts, Sunni Muslims regard the Alawites as heretics, which might be true, but such theological differences are largely academic. For the purposes of our discussion, it is enough to know that the heretics, atheists, Sunnis, Shiites, and other figures in the Islamist International (one of them being Monzer al-Kassar) were united behind what a famous Muslim Brotherhood document (authored upon the founding of the Islamist International in 1991) described as a “Grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the [sic] Western civilization from within…” Perhaps more important, they were all businessmen and criminals who understood that there was money to be made by undermining not just Western civilization, but all civilization, as that concept is universally understood by law-abiding people in every nation of the world.
As for Monzer al-Kassar, he was a key figure in the jihad, as were the other terrorists in his organized crime syndicate. In addition, of course, he played a key role, along with Osama bin Laden and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders, in building a global financial network to replace the BCCI enterprise. And one purpose of that global financial network was to launder money that Osama bin Laden, Monzer al Kassar’s organized crime syndicate, and other key figures in the Islamist International, including a jihadi warlord named Gilbuddin Hekmatyar, were making from the trafficking of heroin and other narcotics.
As the director of the House Task Force on Terrorism (in 2000) reported in 2000: “Hekmatyar was getting ready to ship drugs from Afghanistan to the West and divert profits from this drug trade to support the fledgling terrorist networks [of the Islamist International]. Another system of money laundering was required for this. Bin Laden adopted a twin-track approach [using standard money laundering techniques through major banks and brokerages]…”
During the 1980s, Hekmatyar had received the greater share of the weapons and money that the U.S. government supplied for the mujahedeen’s war against the Soviets. The official party line from Washington has it that U.S. support for Hekmatyar was a basically innocent blunder, with naïve U.S. government officials unaware that Hekmatyar was not only the most virulent and anti-American warlord in Afghanistan, but also one of the world’s leading narcotics kingpins. However, many researchers (see, for example, the work of University of California-Berkley professor Peter Dale Scott) have provided ample evidence that U.S. officials were, in the 1980s, well aware that Hekmatyar and other jihadi warlords who received support from Washington were leading narco-traffickers.
By the end of the 1980s, more than 80 percent of the world’s heroin traffic originated (and still does originate) from just a few countries, namely Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, and Lebanon. In addition, most of that heroin was (and still is) supplied by a relatively few people, namely the leading jihadi warlords, terrorists, and organized crime bosses in those countries. Throughout the 1980s, most of these narco-traffickers were closely involved with the BCCI enterprise. And the role of BCCI was not merely to launder money for these narco-traffickers. During the 1980s, many of those narco-traffickers (e.g. Monzer al-Kassar) were themselves key figures in the larger BCCI enterprise.
Meanwhile these same narco-traffickers, along with other key BCCI figures, formed business relationships with many of the world’s leading transnational organized crime syndicates, including the Sicilian Mafia, La Cosa Nostra, and the Columbian drug cartels, all of which were themselves closely involved with the BCCI enterprise. In addition, as of the 1980s, there existed a global network of brokerages linked to the BCCI enterprise, and many of these brokerages were operated in partnership with leading organized crime figures. Later chapters of this series will examine these brokerages in greater detail (not least because their proprietors presently operate some of the biggest brokerages in the world), but for now it is enough to know that they specialized in perpetrating so-called “pump and dump” schemes.
See Chapter 1 of this series for fuller description of pump and dump schemes, but the short of it is that the objective is to first “pump” up the stock price of a public company, and then “dump” the stock into the market while attacking the stock with manipulative short selling. Sometimes the companies are fraudulent companies to begin with. Sometimes they are legitimate companies until such time as miscreants gain a degree of control over the company and/or its stock price. Either way, the end result is the same: the target company is “busted out” (i.e. destroyed), with the miscreants making most of their money on the “dump” end of the equation.
For reasons that are discussed in Chapter 1, the “bust-outs” of public companies not only undermine the financial system (one goal of the “Financial Jihad), but they have the added advantage of being a highly effective way in which to launder money for terrorists, drug traffickers, and other organized criminals.
Therefore, it is not surprising that some terrorist organizations, jihadi warlords, drug traffickers, and organized criminals were involved with the global network of brokerages that were linked to the BCCI enterprise in the 1980s. The terrorist organizations and jihadi warlords had grown immensely wealthy from the drug trade, and, of course, they used some of this money to fund their wars and violent terrorism. However, many terrorists and warlords were also businessmen involved not only in the trafficking of drugs, but also in the full panoply of crimes that we normally associate with transnational organized crime syndicates.
In addition, many of these terrorists were sophisticated financial operators who not only laundered money through BCCI, but also were among the BCCI figures who, along with the larger BCCI enterprise, perpetrated the various crimes that ultimately “shattered the integrity of the global financial system.”
And again: one of the most important of these BCCI figures was Monzer al-Kassar.
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As already mentioned, Monzer al-Kassar was, as of the 1980s, the world’s leading narco-trafficker. In the mid-1980s, Monzer al Kassar formally merged his drug trafficking cartel (which, of course, included leading terrorist organizations) with the operations of the Ochoa family, co-founders of the Medellin cartel in Colombia. Monzer-al Kassar had, to some extent, also integrated his narco-trafficking and associated banking operations with those of other leading syndicates, including the Sicilian Mafia, the Corsican Mafia, Turkish and Israeli syndicates, the leading syndicates and jihadi warlords in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the multiple crime families collectively known as La Cosa Nostra, and others to be discussed.
All of these syndicates operated independently of each other, and all of them, to some extent, competed with each other, but they also collaborated to such an extent that it is proper to describe them as having established what amounted to a global cartel that controlled much of the world supply of heroin, coke, crack, hashish, pot, pills, and other drugs, much as the big oil companies of the early 20th century were independent businesses that competed with each other to some extent, but also collaborated to establish a cartel that effectively controlled the global supply of oil.
Meanwhile, of course, Monzer al-Kassar, being a global terrorist, was, along with others in his syndicate, linked to multiple terrorist atrocities that killed hundreds of people, including many Americans.
Some of these terrorist attacks were perpetrated to advance political agendas (i.e. in the name of jihad, Karl Marx, the destruction of Israel, socialism, the destruction Lebanon, and various other agendas, depending on the occasion), but we will see that at least some of the terrorist attacks were perpetrated for money. That is to say, terrorism was another line of business, and the terrorists in Monzer al-Kassar’s syndicate were more than happy to rent themselves out as mercenaries to the highest bidder, whatever the bidder’s politics or religion might be.
At other times they perpetrated violent acts of terrorism to create conditions that were more conducive to their other criminal enterprises, especially the trafficking of drugs out of Afghanistan and Lebanon (where the narco-trade expanded exponentially as the nation descended into chaos during the 1980s, with much of the chaos caused by Monzer al-Kassar and his terrorist associates). Meanwhile, Monzer al-Kassar and his global crime syndicate (including those terrorist organizations), along with the syndicates that cooperated with Monzer al Kassar to control the drug trade, were involved together in other lines of business, including grand theft auto, sex slavery, murder for hire, and the trafficking of liquor, cigarettes, sophisticated weaponry, radioactive materials, and components for the manufacture of nuclear bombs.
In addition, of course, Monzer al Kassar and associated organized crime syndicates were involved together in the perpetration of destructive financial crime. Not only were Monzer al-Kassar involved with the global network of brokerages linked to BCCI, but Monzer al-Kassar (often in league with associated organized crime syndicates) perpetrated everything from securities fraud and market manipulation to mortgage fraud, Ponzi schemes, and sophisticated derivatives scams. All of which is to say: Monzer al-Kassar was precisely the sort of fellow one would expect to be employed by the government of the U.S.A.
And Monzer al-Kassar was employed by the regime in Washington. Or perhaps it is more correct to say that the regime in Washington was employed by Monzer al Kassar.
In any event, officials in Washington and Monzer al Kassar’s syndicate (including some of those terrorist organizations) had a profitable business relationship, going back to at least the late 1970s, when an American official named Edwin Wilson cut a deal with Monzer al Kassar that saw Monzer supplying American weapons to the regime of Moammar Qadaffi in Libya, while Wilson and other U.S. government officials (all of whom, notably, were also operating private businesses that profited from these deals) were supplying American troops (recruited from within the ranks of the American military) to help the Qadaffi regime train the PLFP-GC, one of the terrorist organizations in Monzer al-Kassar’s syndicate.
In 1981, Wilson was indicted for supplying explosives (indeed, he supplied almost the entire existing stockpile of C-4 military explosives then available in the United States) to the Qaddafi regime, at which point the regime in Washington denied that Wilson was an employee of the U.S. government, and also denied that Wilson had been acting in any official capacity, much less at the direction of Washington. The major U.S. news organizations, taking their cues from U.S. officials, reported that Wilson was a “former” U.S. government employee who had gone rogue, and that the U.S. government had nothing to do with Wilson’s dealings with Qaddaffi, terrorists, and Monzer al-Kassar.
It is important for us to specifically identify the U.S. officials who were most closely involved in the investigation of Wilson and the party line that was fed to the media, because these same officials have been the central players in numerous other events that will feature in later sections of the story that you are now reading, and these events will pertain to our later discussion of the global financial system in its present and deteriorating condition. There are, in fact, numerous officials whom we need to discuss in this context, but for now it will suffice for the reader to remember three names: Oliver “Buck” Revell, who was the FBI’s chief of counter-terrorism; a DOJ and FBI official named Robert Mueller (who is now director of the FBI); and Lindley Devecchio, who was chief of the FBI’s organized crime task force, and who led the FBI’s investigation of Wilson.
These were the officials who reported that Wilson was a “former” U.S. government employee who had gone rogue, and that the U.S. government had nothing to do with Wilson’s dealings with Libya and Monzer al-Kassar. And when Wilson attempted to correct the record, the FBI and the DOJ (at the direction of those same three officials) went to all lengths to discredit and destroy him. As a result, Wilson was sentenced to prison in 1982, and he remained in jail for the next 22 years, all the while protesting that his activities had been conducted in his capacity as an employee of the U.S. government, and all the while filing Freedom of Information Act requests for documents that, he said, would prove that he was telling the truth.
Ultimately, Wilson obtained enough documents to convince a judge that he was, in fact, telling the truth, and in 2004, the judge ordered his release from prison. Since then, it has been established that Wilson (who died in 2012) had, in fact, been employed as an agent of the U.S. government, and that many of his dealings—including his dealings with Monzer al-Kassar and associated terrorists—had been sanctioned by officials working at the highest levels of government in Washington. It has also been established that the Department of Justice and the FBI, among other U.S. government agencies, covered up the truth regarding Edwin Wilson and his dealings with Monzer al-Kassar.
In addition, it is now more than evident that other officials of the U.S. government continued to maintain increasingly profitable business relationships with Monzer al-Kassar in all the years following Wilson’s indictment in 1981. For example, not long after Wilson was sentenced to prison, the U.S. government hired Monzer al Kassar to work with a man named Bill Buckley, who was then the chief of the CIA station in Lebanon. Buckley seems to have been an honorable man, and it is possible that he was unaware of Monzer al-Kassar’s pedigree, but one day he found himself instructed by his superiors to work with Monzer al-Kassar to devise a scheme to kidnap militia leaders who were operating in Lebanon and Syria. As it happened, though, that plan was not carried out and Buckley himself was kidnapped by terrorists.
More specifically, Buckley was kidnapped by a Hezbollah faction that took its directions from none other than Monzer al-Kassar. And soon after kidnapping Buckley, the same terrorists kidnapped many other Americans. But that did not deter Washington from continuing to work with Monzer al-Kassar. To the contrary, Monzer al Kassar became the single most important partner of the U.S. government in the many business dealings and machinations that later culminated in what is now known as the Iran-Contra scandal. That scandal was, in fact, largely covered up by the major U.S. news organizations and by top officials in Washington—including the same DOJ and FBI officials who covered up the earlier Wilson scandal. However, much of the truth can be found elsewhere in the public record. We are especially indebted to a former DOJ prosecutor named John Loftus for some of the key facts that follow, though the facts come from a variety of sources (including those named above), and the reader is encouraged to seek out the dozens of books about the Iran-Contra scandal for a fuller picture.
In any event, it is not the purpose of this story to discuss the Iran-Contra scandal at length, but the short version is that somebody hatched a plan for the U.S. government to sell (through brokers) sophisticated American weaponry to the regime in Iran, ostensibly in exchange for the Iranian regime’s agreement to secure the release of the Americans (including Bill Buckley, the former CIA chief in Lebanon) who had been taken hostage by terrorists—namely Hezbollah terrorists, all presumed to be proxies of the Iranian government. Meanwhile, U.S. officials, having sold the weapons to the regime in Iran, used some of the proceeds to illegally fund and arm the so-called “Contras,” a collection of rebel armies that were fighting to overthrow an ostensibly Marxist regime in Nicaragua.
That, anyway, is the official story as it has been related by the major U.S. news organizations, which have provided little in the way of detail, and which have left the American public with only a vague awareness that the Iran-Contra scheme involved some mild skullduggery on the part of a few otherwise patriotic American officials who desired nothing more than to secure the release of American hostages and secretly lend support to rebels who were fighting the Communist menace in Latin America. There is, however, more to the story—and it is principally a business story. It is a story about a dubious cast of characters who made a boatload of money. That is to say, it is story about (what else?)—the famous and ever-present BCCI enterprise. Indeed, the Iran-Contra scheme was one of BCCI’s most successful initiatives.
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It is difficult to discern through the haze of disinformation who, precisely, masterminded the Iran-Contra scheme, but most accounts cite the involvement of the Saudi billionaire and BCCI figure Adnan Khashoggi and an Iranian arms dealer named Manucher Gorbinafar. They were no doubt at the center of the Iran-Contra dealings, but so too was Monzer al-Kassar, and it was certainly Monzer al-Kassar who earned the greatest profits from the Iran-Contra dealings, though the larger BCCI enterprise (and multiple U.S. government officials who were also proprietors of private companies that were in business with Monzer al-Kassar and the larger BCCI enterprise) profited as well.
In addition, there is no doubt that U.S. officials regarded Monzer al-Kassar not only as their most important business partner, but also as their point man for the political machinations that were necessary for the proper effectuation of the Iran-Contra disaster.
Indeed, Monzer al-Kassar handled every end of the operation, and from every end of the operation, he earned a massive profit for himself and his partners. It was Monzer al-Kassar who sold most of the American weapons that U.S. officials supplied to the Iranian regime, and it was Monzer al-Kassar who sold most of the weapons that U.S. officials supplied to the Contras in Nicaragua. In supplying weapons to the Contras, Monzer al-Kassar also expanded his drug empire, with the Contras and associated drug cartels supplying him with ever greater quantities of cocaine, and the coke smuggled into the United States on the same airplanes that were transporting weapons to the Contras in Latin America. The planes would fly into Latin America with weapons, and return to the U.S. loaded with coke.
All of this business was transacted in partnership with other BCCI figures as well, and much of Monzer al-Kassar’s arms dealing was conducted in partnership with not only BCCI, but also with U.S. government agents who had established private companies as proprietaries of the U.S. government (though the government agents themselves, and not the taxpayers, pocketed the profits from these companies). Monzer al-Kassar was also the man who handled the vast money laundering operation associated with the Iran-Contra dealings, and most of that money laundering was transacted through BCCI.
Meanwhile, of course, BCCI was conspiring with a cast of criminal oligarchs and mobsters to “bust out” major savings and loan banks in the United States. Some of the loot from those “bust-outs” was used to finance the Iran-Contra dealings, and a lot of that loot ended up in the pockets of Monzer al-Kassar. Still greater sums of the money that BCCI looted from the global financial system was, of course, also delivered to the world’s leading terrorist organizations, including the terrorist outfits that were intertwined with Monzer al-Kassar’s organized crime syndicate.
At the center of all this activity, we know, was Adnan Khashoggi.
At Khashoggi’s urging, U.S. officials appointed Monzer al-Kassar as the point man in the supposed effort to secure the release of the U.S. hostages (i.e. the hostages whose capture by terrorists justified the massive Iran-Contra enterprise to begin with). And, naturally, the terrorists had originally taken the American hostages on the orders of…Monzer al-Kassar.
Unsurprisingly, most of those hostages were not released, and indeed, the more weapons that U.S. officials delivered (mostly through Monzer al-Kassar and his BCCI associates, though others arms dealers were involved) to the Iranian regime, the more hostages were taken. Ultimately, a few hostages were released, but the most important of them (including Buckley, the CIA chief) were tortured and killed.
There is, moreover, some doubt as to the sincerity (or at least, some doubt as to the wisdom) of the U.S. officials who believed that they would secure the release of the hostages by supplying the Iranian regime with weapons because the Iranian regime had no control over the Hezbollah terrorists who had taken the hostages. The terrorists who took the hostages all belonged to a Hezbollah faction that took its orders not from Iran, but rather from Syria, and more specifically, from one of Syria’s most important intelligence assets…Monzer al-Kassar.
Meanwhile, Monzer al-Kassar was employed by the Soviet intelligence service, the KGB, and he was, of course, keeping the KGB apprised of Washington’s dealings with the Iranian regime and the Contras. In addition, Monzer al-Kassar and others in the BCCI enterprise, including Adnan Khashoggi, were helping the Soviets in their efforts to prop up the ostensibly Marxist regime in Nicaragua (i.e. the regime whose existence ostensibly justified the massively profitable enterprise to support the Contras by selling them guns, and buying their cocaine for resale at marked up prices in the United States).
Some chroniclers of these machinations, including former U.S. prosecutor John Loftus and the author of the German-language biography of Monzer al-Kassar, suggest that Monzer al Kassar had also taken “deep capture” to new levels—i.e. that he not only had lucrative business relationships with U.S. officials, but had also blackmailed some top U.S. officials. That is, he threatened to expose everything from their early involvement in the Edwin Wilson affair and the illegal scheme to kidnap people in Lebanon, to the subsequent Iran-Contra adventure. And to avoid exposure, officials in Washington were obliged to not only provide full protection and immunity to Monzer al-Kassar and his organized crime syndicate, but to pursue policies that were favorable to the Palestinian terrorist movement.
It might or might not be true that U.S. officials were blackmailed, but there is a vast body of evidence to support the contention that the regime in Washington did, in fact, afford its protection to not only Monzer al-Kassar but also the terrorist outfits that were part of his organized crime syndicate. This first became apparent in 1985, at the height of the Iran-Contra dealings, when Monzer al-Kassar was linked to multiple terrorist atrocities, including the hijacking that year of a luxury cruise ship called the Achille Lauro. Multiple foreign governments and news organizations reported that Monzer al-Kassar had sponsored the hijacking, and that the hijacking was perpetrated by Abu Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Liberation Front (and Monzer al-Kassar’s closest friend since childhood).
After the Palestinian Liberation Front terrorists seized control of the ship, they killed an elderly and handicapped American passenger named Leon Klinghoffer, and dumped his body into the sea. Subsequently, the ship docked at Port Said, in Egypt, and from there the terrorists were able to negotiate safe passage for themselves on a flight that was scheduled to land in Tunisia. The flight was reportedly intercepted by U.S. fighter jets, which forced the plane to land at Sigonella, a NATO base in Italy. But for some reason, Abu Abbas, who had been on the plane, was not arrested when he landed at the NATO base. And for reasons that were never explained, the Italians permitted Abu Abbas to board another civilian passenger flight, and this flight reached its scheduled destination in Yugoslavia.
The regime in Washington publicly requested the extradition of Abbas from Yugoslavia, but U.S. officials did not pursue their request with any particular enthusiasm, and Abu Abbas remained a free man. Abbas later ended up in Iraq (then an American ally) but still he was not arrested.
Some years later, Ari Ben Menashe, a former top Israeli military intelligence official, among others, alleged that the Achille Lauro hijacking and other terrorist attacks had been paid for by Israeli intelligence as part of an ongoing propaganda campaign aimed at gaining sympathy for Israel’s sometimes brutal war against the Palestinians. Meanwhile, a large cast of Israeli officials and arms dealers were involved with Monzer al-Kassar in the Iran-Contra dealings.
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Some have cast doubt on Ari Ben Menashe’s claims regarding the Achille Lauro, but there is no doubt the Israeli government was at the time funding and even arming some of the terrorist outfits that were part of Monzer al-Kassar’s crime and terrorism syndicate. The Israelis sponsored these terrorist outfits (most of them PLO splinter groups) believing (correctly as it turned out) that the more radical terrorists would harass and suck support away from Yasser Arafat and the mainstream PLO, which the Israeli government regarded as Enemy Number One.
For the same reasons, the Israelis (and their allies in Washington) sponsored the Muslim Brotherhood, and in 1988, they began to sponsor Hamas, which had been founded that year by the Brotherhood. Both the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, of course, had stated that their most important mission was to eliminate the state of Israel, but Israel anticipated (correctly, as it turned out) that the Brotherhood and Hamas would not only steal support from the PLO, but also destabilize countries (e.g. Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Jordan) that Israel considered to be enemy states.
Presently, Israel is expressing concern that the Muslim Brotherhood has seized power in some of those countries, but Israel’s prior support for the Brotherhood and Hamas is not surprising, and many analysts suggest that there was more to it than just a desire to derail the PLO and enemy states. Indeed, there is much to give credence to reports that right-wing Israeli politicians and the more radical Palestinian terrorist organizations agree that maintaining the status quo of low-intensity conflict is not just politically advantageous, but also financially lucrative for both Israeli politicians and the Palestinian terrorists.
One reason to believe this might be the case is related to the emergence of powerful Russian organized crime syndicates that accompanied the collapse of the Soviet Union, beginning in the late 1980s. Many leaders of these Russian organized criminals set up shop in Israel and obtained Israeli citizenship, and as detailed in diplomatic cables made public by Wikileaks, the major Russian organized crime syndicates quickly became among the largest funders of the same Israeli politicians who have provoked conflicts in Palestine and Lebanon. Those Russian crime syndicates were (and are) also important partners (involved in all of the lines of business already discussed) of the Palestinian terrorist outfits, including those that were part of Monzer al-Kassar’s organized crime operation.
The Russian mobsters are, in addition, big players in Israel’s flourishing “homeland security” industry, which profits from selling services that purport to provide Israel with protection from those same terrorists. The homeland security businesses (and many other businesses, including narco-trafficking and financial crime), of course, benefit from the continuing state of low-intensity conflict and chaos in Palestine and neighboring Lebanon. They also benefit so long as the Israeli government remains focused on conflict, rather than cracking down on organized crime.
Beginning in the 1980s, Monzer al-Kassar himself had developed relationships with Israeli intelligence, and this relationship might similarly have been as much about business as politics. Among other ventures, Monzer al-Kassar brokered deals (financed by BCCI) that saw Israeli intelligence selling weapons to Iran at the same time when he was leading BCCI efforts to provide a full suite of services to Palestinian terrorist organizations that were ostensibly fighting Israel.
Owing to Monzer al-Kassar, BCCI had a particularly strong relationship with Abu Nidal, who was the most murderous of all the terrorists operating at that time. Over the course of few years in the 1980s, Abu Nidal’s terrorist organization killed more than 900 innocent people (some of them Americans) in more than 20 separate terrorist attacks. During some of that time, Abu Nidal was working out of an office at BCCI headquarters in London.
Abu Nidal’s most in-depth biographer, Patrick Seale, has written that Abu Nidal had, for a time, been employed by the Mossad (Israel’s intelligence service), and that some of his terrorist attacks had been paid for by the Israelis. Indeed, by all accounts, Abu Nidal was a mercenary willing to hire himself out to the highest bidder. During the 1980s, Abu Nidal was paid by Syrian intelligence to help the Syrian government crush a rebellion that was led by the Muslim Brotherhood, and a few years later, Abu Nidal, who had been mentored by leading Muslim Brotherhood clerics, was among the terrorists who had joined the Islamist International, the outfit that was founded by Muslim Brotherhood leader Hasan al-Turabi, and whose chairman was Osama bin laden.
In subsequent years, Syria’s government became a key sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas (which of course was founded by the Muslim Brotherhood), though, of course, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas are now once again (with the support of the U.S. government and its allies, including Israel) fighting to overthrow the Syrian government.
During the late 1980s, many of the top leaders of Hamas were involved with the BCCI enterprise, and during most of the 1980s and 1990s, many of them resided in the United States. For example, Mousa Abu Marzook, political chief of Hamas (and a key figure in the Islamist International) resided in Texas, and operated quite openly there even though earnest FBI agents had linked him to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. In 1996, the FBI briefly arrested Marzook, but he was immediately released at the request of the Israeli government, which issued a statement saying that Marzook was “important to the peace process.”
The truth was that those earnest FBI agents had learned in 1993 that Marzook and other Hamas leaders in the United States had undertaken a major initiative to sabotage the peace process, and more specifically to undermine the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords that the Israeli government had signed with the PLO. Many Israeli politicians were similarly displeased with the Oslo Accords because they believed the Accords granted too much legitimacy to Yasser Arafat, the PLO leader. In other words, many Israeli politicians shared the ambition to sabotage the peace process. Meanwhile, of course, the Israeli government, or at least one faction of the Israeli government, was providing support in the form of money and even weapons to Hamas, hoping that a stronger Hamas would undermine Arafat’s authority.
Presently, Marzook resides in Qatar (one of Washington’s closest allies), where he not only has the full protection of the Qatari ruling family, but is also helping the Qataris (and Washington) support the activities of the “Arab Spring” rebels in Syria. However, back in 1996, Marzook was more friendly with the Syrian government, and at that time, Washington also had friendly relations with Syria. After he was released by the FBI in 1996, Marzook moved to Syria, where (at the request of Washington) the Syrian government provided him with full protection.
As of 2000, the director of the House Task Force on Terrorism was reporting that Marzook was among those who, along with Osama bin Laden and other key figure in the Islamist International were plotting to perpetrate a “spectacular” terrorist attack inside the United States. At the time, of course, Marzook and other key figures in the Islamist International had already been linked to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. One of them was the Blind Sheikh (co-founder of Faisal Islamic Finance, formerly BCCI’s most important affiliate). Others were terrorists who were part of Monzer al-Kassar’s organized crime syndicate, the most notable among them being Abu Nidal.
Abu Nidal had dispatched one his deputies, Mohammed Ajaj, to participate in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, after which the distinguished journalist Robert Friedman reported in the Village Voice that Ajaj was, at that time, an agent of the Israeli intelligence service. Also linked to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was a fellow named Mohammed Salameh, and the International Herald Tribune reported that the telephone number and apartment address used by Salameh were registered in the name of one Josie Hadas, who had been identified as an agent of the Mossad. This is not to say that Israel was necessarily involved in the 1993 WTC bombing, but it is to say that numerous terrorists were on the payroll of not only the Israeli government, but also the U.S. government (which was, at the time, funding not just Monzer al-Kassar, but also Abu Nidal and the Blind Sheikh).
Some years later, in 2000, Abu Nidal was reported to be among those who were, along with Osama bin Laden and others in the Islamist International, plotting to perpetrate a “spectacular” terrorist attack inside the United States. After a spectacular terrorist attack occurred on September 11, 2001, some major news organizations reported that Abu Nidal had been operating an Al Qaeda training camp in Iraq in cahoots with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. According to these reports, Abu Nidal had personally overseen the training of Mohammed Atta, identified by U.S. officials as the terrorist who piloted the first airplane that had crashed into the World Trade Center. We can, however, hope those reports were not true because it has since been revealed that Abu Nidal was, at the time, an employee of the United States government.
That Abu Nidal was an agent of the U.S. government was first reported by prominent British journalist Robert Fisk, whose reporting on terrorism and the Middle East should be required reading for all Americans because Fisk is one of several mainstream journalists (too few of them Americans) whose reporting is usually true. In 2009, Fisk, then writing for The Independent, a newspaper in England, reported that he, Fisk, had obtained a report from Iraq’s “Special Intelligence Unit M4” confirming that Saddam’s regime had killed Abu Nidal after discovering that Abu Nidal was employed by the U.S. government.
According to Fisk, the regime in Washington (using Kuwaiti and Egyptian intelligence as intermediaries) paid Abu Nidal to provide information to the American government about Iraq’s ties to Al Qaeda. Fisk did not specify as to the nature of the information provided by Abu Nidal, but we might assume that Abu Nidal either provided authentic information that Mohammed Atta received training in Iraq, or that he, Abu Nidal, helped fabricate this information, which U.S. officials proceeded to leak to the media in support of their contention that Saddam had ties to Al Qaeda.
A similar story was subsequently published by Janes, a respected national security journal, which revealed that Saddam Hussein’s regime sentenced Abu Nidal to death in 2002 after discovering that Abu Nidal had in his possession classified U.S. government documents outlining plans for the U.S. invasion of Iraq–leading Saddam to conclude that Abu Nidal was an American spy. Which was a reasonable assumption in light of all we know about the U.S. governments relationship with Monzer al-Kassar’s organized crime and terrorism operation, which, of course, included Abu Nidal.
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Back in 1988, Monzer al-Kassar was linked to another terrorist atrocity—the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The fact that al-Kassar was linked to the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing was reported at the time by a collection of mainstream journalists, most of them in Britain, but those journalists were viciously smeared by some U.S. government officials and journalists who were bent on pinning the bombing on Libyan dictator Muammar Qadaffi.
To this day, the cowed U.S. media reports that only “conspiracy theorists” believe that anyone other than Qaddaffi was involved in the Flight 103 atrocity, but the evidence is overwhelming that terrorists who worked for Monzer al-Kassar’s organized crime syndicate were the perpetrators.
In fact, it was not just “conspiracy theorists” who believed that al-Kassar was involved in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing. It was, among others, numerous U.S. government officials, government investigators in Germany (where the bomb was loaded on to Flight 103), lawyers for Pan Am, members of Congress, a private investigator named Juval Aviv (formerly of the Mossad, with extensive experience tracking terrorist organizations) who was hired by Pan Am to investigate the bombing, and a form