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FTR #373 The Ties That Bind, Part VI

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Further developing connections between a number of different terrorist incidents and elements, this program focuses on Islamofascist links to attacks outside of the Middle East, as well as evidentiary tributaries connecting these attacks to the milieu of the 9/11 attacks.

1. The program begins with discussion of Dawud Salahuddin (nee David Belfield), an Afro-American Islamist, who murdered a supporter of Iranian Shah Reza Palavi (Ali Akbar Tabatabai). Salahuddin was heavily influenced by Said Ramadan, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood. Significantly, Salahuddin’s contact with Ramadan came in the United States. “In May of 1975, Salahuddin met Said Ramadan, an Egyptian lawyer and Islamic scholar, who was the guest speaker at a prayer service at the Islamic Center, a large mosque on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington. Ramadan, the founder and head of the Centre Islamique, in Geneva, had been living in exile in Switzerland since the nineteen-fifties. Salahuddin describes Ramadan, who was his adviser and spiritual guide until his death, in 1995, as “the international point man for the Muslim Brotherhood.’ (The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928, was, according to Salahuddin, the inspiration for almost every militant group in the Muslim world. Ramadan’s father-in-law [Hassan Al Banna] was its founder.” (“Annals of Crime: An American Terrorist;” by Ira Silverman; The New Yorker; 8/5/2002; p. 29.)

2. “During the summer of 1975, Ramadan stayed with Salahuddin in a house in Washington about a mile from the Howard University campus. They often talked through the night. ‘I don’t think another human being, including my biological parents, knew me any better,’ Salahuddin said. One subject they discussed was Salahuddin’s personality, particularly his capacity for violent action. Ramadan, he said, assured him that if he were to commit such an act he wouldn’t be emotionally scarred by it-it would ‘be accomplished and simply forgotten.'” (Idem.)

3. “In December of 1979, Salahuddin called Ramadan in Geneva to seek his advice about working for the Iranians as a security guard. It was ten months after the overthrow of the Shah, and Ayatollah Khomeini, now in power in Iran, was on guard against a counter-revolution. Salahuddin said he remembers Ramadan telling him to do everything he possibly could on Khomeini’s behalf. ‘His tone was emphatic,’ Salahuddin said, ‘and for me it was taken as a command.'” (Idem.)

4. “Salahuddin told me that Ramadan hadn’t known about his plans to kill Tabatabai, but an article in the Washington Post on August 8/1980, reported that there were three calls around the time of the murder to Ramadan’s Geneva home from pay phones near the Iranian diplomatic office. A law-enforcement source involved in the Tabatabai case told me that investigators believed the calls were made by a Salahuddin ‘handler,’ a Khomeini operative in the United States who was not charged in the murder.'” (Idem.)

5. “The man who recruited him to kill Tabatabai, Salahuddin told me, was ‘someone in Washington’ who was ‘passing along instructions’ from the Iranian government. He would not divulge the identity of his ‘contact,’ and would say only that he believes he met him at the Iranian student center: ‘At no point did I advertise myself as a hit man, though it was clear to people who knew me that I had no profound fear of violence or of the authorities.’ Salahuddin said that he was given ‘a chunk of cash’ (actually, five thousand dollars) and five weeks to get the job done.'” (Idem.)

6. In the years following the killing of Tabbatabai, Salahuddin worked as a representative for Ramadan. “Salahuddin also traveled in the militant Muslim world as a kind of diplomat for Said Ramadan: ‘I presented myself as Ramadan’s envoy, and that was with his encouragement.’ Salahuddin wrote that in 1986 he made ‘certain representations on behalf of Ramadan to Muammar Qadafi’ through one of Qaddafi’s cousins, and in 1995 he said he delivered a message from Ramadan to President Burhanuddin Rabbani, in Afghanistan, warning him that the Taliban had ties to the C.I.A. From December of 1986 to May of 1988, Salahuddin said, he served in Afghanistan as a soldier with the mujahideen.'” (Ibid.; p. 30.)

7. The program then reviews Ramadan’s relocation to Munich (Germany), allegedly undertaken because of the historical and operational connections between the Brotherhood and the Third Reich. ” ‘Why Munich, why Germany?’ I asked Rifaat Said. ‘Because there, one finds old complicities that go back to the late 1930’s, when the Muslim Brothers collaborated with the agents of Nazi Germany. . . By soaking up the savings of these Muslim workers, Yussef Nada, like Said Ramadan, took advantage of an extremely favorable context and used it as a springboard for the Muslim Brothers’ economic activities.'” (Dollars for Terror: The United States and Islam; by Richard Labeviere; Copyright 2000 [SC]; Algora Publishing; ISBN 1-892941-06-6; p. 153.)

8. The program then highlights Ramadan’s relocation of the Brotherhood’s base of operations from Munich to Geneva, in order to coordinate activities with those of the Algerian FLN and its Nazi banker Francois Genoud. “Let us mention only the incident of the treasure of the FLN, at the center of which the banker Francois Genoud may be found. Ramadan and the Muslim Brothers thought that they could play a part in the Algerian process as they had done in Palestine in 1947. Said Ramadan thus left Munich to settle in the city of Calvin.” (Ibid.; p. 154.)

9. Next, the program focuses on the Oklahoma City bombing and a possible link between that attack and some of the hijackers implicated in the 9/11 attacks. A motel located at some distance from Norman, Oklahoma (where some of the alleged hijackers apparently took flight training) may provide documentation of connections between Atta and accused 20th hijacker Zaccarias Moussaoui. Atta allegedly tried to book rooms at this motel with Moussaoui and another of the suspected hijackers. This is significant for several reasons. For one thing, the motel was farther away than other, reasonably-priced motels. Atta, for whatever reason, wanted this motel. The following account may establish a hard link between Atta and Moussaoui. This same motel was apparently frequented by Mujahid Menepta, an associate of Mousssaoui, who visited the motel in the time before the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. This same motel was also reported to have been host to Tim McVeigh and alleged Middle Eastern and/or Iraqi nationals, with whom he may have been conspiring. It is also worth noting that legal authorities in this country do not appear to have been overly eager to pursue these leads, perhaps out of a desire to avoid having to reopen the investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing. “What happened at the nondescript roadside motel outside Oklahoma City was just fleeting encounter during the twisted cross-country odyssey of the terrorists who would carry out the September 11 attacks. Mohammed Atta, alleged leader of the plot, and two companions wanted to rent a room, but couldn’t get the deal they wanted, so they left.” (“The Terrorist Motel” by Jim Crogan; L.A. Weekly; 7/26/–8/1/2002.)

10. “It was an incident of no particular importance, except for one thing. The owner of the motel remembers Atta being in the company of Zacaraias Moussaoui, the so-called “20th hijacker,’ who was arrested prior to “September 11 and now faces conspiracy charges in connection with the terror assaults.'” (Ibid,; p. 1.)

11. “If this recollection is correct, the entire incident, and its absence from the public record, raises new questions about the FBI investigation of Mousaoui and even the 1995 destruction of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Already the FBI has endured a withering political and media critique for failing to aggressively investigate Moussaoui and his contacts during his four weeks in custody prior to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Some FBI officials have responded by characterizing Moussaoui as only a minor player. But the report from the motel owner, if proven, could change that. And it also could force the FBI to reopen its investigation of Middle Eastern connections to the 1995 Oklahoma City blast, because convicted bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols reportedly stayed at the same motel, interacting with a group of Iraqis during the weeks before the bombing. (Ibid.; p.1)

12. “At press time, the erratic Moussaoui, who is representing himself, was attempting to plead guilty and bring his trial to a close. The 34-year-old French citizen of Moroccan descent had previously filed some 94 hand-scrawled, rambling motions attacking the government’s case and its right to prosecute him.” (Idem.)

13. “But that circus obscures a conundrum of a different sort. The government’s case, outlined in its new six-count conspiracy indictment, is largely circumstantial, lacking any definitive link between Moussaoui and the 19 hijackers identified by federal authorities. All of which makes the apparent shelving of the Moussaoui-Atta sighting all the stranger. In fact, even though multiple sources contend that the FBI interviewed the motel owner, there’s no indication that prosecutors were told. It’s possible that the FBI found the motel owner’s identifications wrong or his story unreliable. But it’s still odd that, in interviews with the Weekly, Justice Department prosecutors seemed to know nothing about the motel encounter, especially because agents reportedly told the motel owner they would pass the information on to Moussaoui’s defense time.” (Ibid.; pp. 1-2.)

14. “The motel co-owner, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the incident occurred around August 1, 2001, just six weeks before 9/11. ‘They came in around 10 or 11a.m. and started talking to my desk clerk,’ he said. Even though he was working about 10 feet away from the trio, the owner didn’t really pay any attention at first. ‘They were asking my clerk, who no longer works here, about a weekly rate for our rooms.’ (The former clerk could not be reached for comment.)” (Ibid.; p. 2.)

15. “The motel, explained the owner, sets aside some rooms with small kitchenettes to rent on a weekly basis. ‘But they were all taken.’ He said the clerk explained the situation, but the visitors were persistent. ‘Finally, my clerk asked me to talk to them.'” (Idem.)

16. “The motel owner said that Moussaoui and a man who appeared to be Marwan al-Shehhi-who helped crash a jetliner into the south tower of the World trade Center-were friendly and said a few things, but Atta was clearly the leader. ‘He did most of the talking and seemed very serious,’ said the owner, adding, ‘I was standing face to face, about two feet away from Atta, and talked to the three of them for about 10 minutes. Atta asked if he could rent one of the other rooms at a weekly rate, and I told him no.” (Idem.)

17. ” ‘I asked him what they were doing here in the area. And Atta told me they were going to flight school. I thought he meant [Federal Aviation Administration] training in Oklahoma City. But Atta told me no, they were taking flight training in Norman.” (Idem.)

18. ” ‘I said I didn’t understand why they wanted to rent one of my rooms, since we were about 28 miles from Norman and there are a lot of reasonably priced motels a lot closer. But he said they had heard good things about my place and wanted to stay there. I told them I was sorry, but we couldn’t accommodate them. Atta finally said okay. Then they all thanked me for my time and left.'” (Idem.)

19. “After the attacks, said the motel owner, he recognized his visitors in photos from television reports. ‘I was really stunned,’ he said. Then he decided to call the FBI hot line. The motel owner said he didn’t hear right back from the FBI. In the interim, he also spoke to a former law-enforcement officer who was investigating reported sightings of Mujahid Abdulquaadir Menepta at the same motel during the mid-1990’s. Menepta, reportedly a friend of Moussaoui’s, was arrested 30 years ago in Colorado for aggravated robbery and served more than three years in prison.” (Idem.)

20. “After September 11, Menepta publicly defended Moussaoui, calling him a ‘scapegoat.’ The FBI arrested him as a material witness and subsequently charged Menepta with a federal gun violation. He pleaded guilty and in April 2002 was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison. He was never charged with any terrorism-related crime. But during the preliminary hearing on the gun charge, Alcohol, Tobacco and firearms Agent Jeffrey Whitney testified that a confidential source placed Menepta at a meeting of a radical Islamic group in St. Louis where he allegedly threatened to shoot any police officer who entered the mosque. Menepta’s attorney challenged the credibility of this report in court.” (Ibid.; pp. 2-3.)

21. “A former desk clerk at the motel-a different clerk from the one who purportedly dealt with Atta and Moussaoui-told the Weekly that he remembered Menepta because in 1994 and 1995-prior to the Oklahoma City attack-Menepta frequently visited the motel office. There, he bought coffee and talked for hours to this clerk.” (Ibid.; p. 3.)

22. “The clerk and his wife, who both formerly worked at the motel, said they picked Menepta’s picture out of a photo lineup prepared by a law-enforcement officer who had interviewed the motel owner. This officer, who also spoke to the Weekly on condition of anonymity, said that after the motel owner told him about the Moussaoui sighting, he contacted a member of Oklahoma’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes the FBI. The FBI finally acted on the tip. The motel owner said that on December 19, 2001, he went to FBI offices in Oklahoma City for a formal interview, where he was debriefed by an FBI agent and by Oklahoma City Police Sergeant Jerry Flowers. ‘We talked for several hours, and I told them everything I knew.’ The motel owner said he would have taken a polygraph exam but was not asked to do so. The Weekly’s law-enforcement source corroborates the December 19 interview.” (Idem.)

23. “The motel owner never heard from prosecutors in Moussaoui’s case but got one more call from the FBI several weeks later. ‘The agent told me they had passed on a copy of my statement to Moussaoui’s defense team, and I might be getting a call from them. But I was under no obligation to talk to them. However, I don’t know if that was the truth. Since then, I have never heard from anyone connected to Moussaoui’s case.'” (Idem.)

24. “One reason for the FBI’s apparent lack of interest might be this motel’s alleged connection to Timothy McVeigh and a group of Iraqis who worked in Oklahoma City. According to the motel owner and other witnesses and investigators interviewed by the Weekly, McVeigh and several of these Iraqis were motel guests in the months preceding the 1995 bombing. Witnesses also claimed they saw several of the Iraqis moving barrels of material around on the bed of a truck. The motel owner said the material smelled of diesel fuel and he had to clean up a spill. Diesel fuel was a key component of the truck bomb that blew up the Federal Building.” (Idem.)

25. “The motel owner said he and his staff reported this information to the FBI in 1995. ‘We did have an ATF agent come out and collect the originals of the room registrations for that period, but we never heard back from them. And I never could get the registrations returned.’ He added that his previous experience with the FBI made him reluctant to contact them about Moussaoui. ‘But I decided it was my duty to tell them what had happened. So I did.'” (Idem.)

26. “Former Oklahoma City TV reporter Jayna Davis also interviewed motel staff and former guests. In the process, she collected signed affidavits about their contacts with McVeigh and the Iraqis. She tried twice to give the Bureau this information, but the FBI refused to accept her materials. (The Weekly first reported on her investigation in an article published in September 2001.)” (Idem.)

27. “The Weekly’s law-enforcement source said he has reviewed Davis’ material and considers it credible. ‘Last December I personally took the documents to the Joint Terrorism Task Force,’ he said. ‘I told them they should do their own investigation.’ The response was not encouraging. He said he was later informed that the Bureau brought in an analyst, ‘but I was told it would probably go nowhere. They were afraid the whole Oklahoma City bombing can of worms would be opened up and the FBI would have to explain why they didn’t investigate this material before.'” (Ibid.; pp. 4-5.)

28. “The Weekly contacted numerous local and federal investigators and agencies, including the Oklahoma task force, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI and the Justice Department. All declined to comment. Prosecutors on the Moussaoui case also declined official comment, but their reactions suggested they knew nothing of the motel encounter.” (Ibid.; p. 5.)

29. “After being told about the motel owner’s interview and allegations, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Spencer responded with a one-word question about the sighting: ‘When?’ Spencer then declined further comment. Another Moussaoui prosecutor, David Novak, also declined comment. But Novak wanted to know the name of the motel owner.” (Idem.)

30. “Other substantial connections already tie the Sooner State to Moussaoui and, separately, several 9/11 hijackers.” (Idem.)

31. “According to the Moussaoui indictment, on September 29, 2000, Moussaoui made e-mail contact with Airman Flight School in Norman. Then, on February 23, 2001, he flew from London to Chicago and then to Oklahoma City. What he did in the next few days is unknown or at least not accounted for in the indictment. But on February 26, Moussaoui opened a bank account in Norman, depositing $32,000. From February 26 to May 29, he attended flight school in Norman. Then he suddenly quit the school. Between July 29 and August 4, Moussaoui made calls from public pay phones in Norman to Germany. On August 1 and 3, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh wired Moussaoui a total of about $14,000 from two train stops in Germany to somewhere in Oklahoma. This wire transfer does imply a connection to terrorist plotters because al-Shibh, an alleged al Qaeda member, wired money to other hijackers. On August 3, Moussaoui purchased two knives in Oklahoma City. And on August 10 or 11, an acquaintance drove Moussaoui from Oklahoma to Minnesota for enrollment in a new flight school. Authorities arrested Moussaoui in Minnesota on August 17 on an immigration violation. As has been widely reported, Moussaoui attracted attention because he said he was interested in flying a plane but not learning how to take off or land. He was in federal custody when the 9/11 attacks occurred.” (Idem.)

32. “As for the terrorists who took part in 9/11, Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi visited the Airman Flight School in Norman in July 2000, according to the Moussaoui indictment. (The motel owner identifies al-Shehhi as the third person with Atta and Moussaoui when they allegedly inquired about a room.) And on April 1, 2001, Nawaf al-Hazmi, who helped hijack American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon, was stopped for speeding in Oklahoma and given two tickets. The Oklahoma State trooper found no outstanding warrants and turned al-Nazmi loose. The media has since reported that the CIA had been tracking al-Hazmi, but never told the immigration service or the FBI that he was a suspected terrorist during his 21-month U.S. stay. Authorities have never publicly accounted for Atta and al-Shehhi’s whereabouts during the time of the alleged motel encounter.” (Idem.)

33. “The Moussaoui indictment lays out a tantalizing possible association between Atta and Moussaoui, but never puts the two in the same place at the same time. The link could exist, however, along a dusty Oklahoma roadside, off Interstate 40, at a small motel that is indistinguishable from hundreds of others, except for its possible connection to terrorists.” (Idem.)

34. Following discussion of the “terrorist motel” in Oklahoma, the program highlights assertions in a recent book that French intelligence had alerted U.S. authorities of Moussaoui’s Al Qaeda links well before 9/11. “One single but striking example can illustrate this cultural difference: the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, the French citizen arrested in the United States on August 17, 2001-less than a month before the attacks-for visa violations, who turned out to have been enrolled since February 2001 in a flight school in Oklahoma frequented by several of the suicide pilots of September 11. The so-called twentieth suicide bomber, whom the world discovered after the attacks on the World trade Center, was not unknown to the Western intelligence services. It is even certain that officials of these services, among them the director of the CIA, had him in mind when these murderous attacks occurred. Indeed, the director of the CIA admitted having a thick file on the suspect one month before the attacks.” (Forbidden Truth; Jean-Charles Brisard & Guillaume Dasquie; Copyright 2002 [SC]; Thunder’s Mouth/Nation Books; ISBN 1-56025-414-9; p. 53.)

35. “Officially, however, neither the FBI nor the CIA had serious evidence that would allow Moussaoui to be interrogated before the attacks. As proof of this, a request for special surveillance s part of an antiterrorist procedure had been refused to the FBI on the grounds that evidence for his involvement in terrorism was insufficient. Mousaoui was therefore held at an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) location in Minneapolis and wasn’t transferred to FBI custody until after September 11. The European intelligence services, notably the French had already alerted the FBI to the Moussaoui case, at least once in August 2001-but the information sent, according to the Americans was insufficient to put him under surveillance. This official version is acknowledged freely. The FBI did not hesitate in certain cases to contact investigative journalists bout the matter in order to assure them, without material proof, that the information I their possession was if not insufficient, at least inadmissible.” (Ibid.; pp.53-54.)

36. “We can reveal, however, that one month before the attacks on September 11, French counterintelligence services relayed evidence, the ‘insufficiency’ of which remains to be proven. History will judge. Indeed, according to corresponding ac counts taken from highly placed sources who have seen the relevant files, the French alerted the Americans about Moussaoui at this stage-“and not for the first time:–and passed on unambiguous intelligence, leaving no doubt as to the suspects terrorist links. It was shown to the American via the usual channels that that Moussaoui had made his way to Afghanistan that he was trained in 1998 in a camp controlled by Al Qaeda and that a strong possibility existed that he had been in contact with members of its network in Europe. Another twenty-page document that includes an interrogation o his brother which confirms the information, was also sent to the American services.” (Idem.)

37. “So nearly one month before the Sepember 11 attacks, or at least since the arrest of Moussaoui on August 17, the U. S. authorities had two fundamental pieces of evidence before them: They knew that the suspect apprehended on American soil was linked to the Al Qaeda network, which in itself should have been cause enough for prompt serious investigations and they knew that he taken part in flying lessons for civil aircraft.” (Ibid.; pp. 54-55.)

38. FTR#88 highlighted an alleged link between the Oklahoma City bombing and the AMIA bombing in Argentina, through Argentine members of the security services belonging to the American white supremacist Tom Metzger’s White Aryan resistance. (“AMIA Bomb Plotters’ Connection;” La Nacion; 7/27/97.)

39. FTR#328 set forth allegations of involvement of Imad Muganiyeh in the AMIA bombing, a similar attack on the Israeli Embassy to Argentina in 1992 and Al Qaeda. Monzer Al-Kassar (a key operative in the Iran-Contra scandal who worked for operations run by the elder George Bush) is another individual whose name has cropped up in connection with both of the Argentine bombings. FTR#’s 109, 328, 341 discuss the links between the milieu of Al Kassar and the Syrian born former President of Argentina, Carlos Menem. A former Iranian intelligence operative claims that the AMIA bombing was perpetrated by Argentina and that the Menem government was bribed to cover it up. It may well be the Al Kassar was operating on contract for the Iranians on either or both of the attacks. “The Iranian government organized and carried out the bombing of a Jewish community center here eight years ago that killed 85 people and then paid Argentina’s president at the time, Carlos Saul Menem, $10 million to cover it up, a witness in the case has said in sealed testimony.” (“Iran Blew Up Jewish Center in Argentina, Defector Says” by Larry Rohter; The New York Times; 7/22/2002; p. 1.)

40. “A 100-page transcript of a secret deposition, provided to The New York Times by Argentine officials frustrated that the case remains unsolved, supports long-held suspicions of Iranian involvement and adds to the questions surrounding the conduct of an inquiry that has been rife with irregularities from the start.” (Idem.)

41. “Evidence has disappeared, leads have been ignored and witnesses have been threatened and apparently bribed. According to the witness, a high-level defector from Iran’s intelligence agency who gave his name as Abdolghassem Mesbahi, Mr. Menem, who was president from 1989 to 1999, benefited for years from his ties to Iranian intelligence officials.” (Ibid.; pp. 1-2.)

42. “They courted him as a valuable contact, Mr. Mesbahi said, for his combination of rising political power, Muslim ancestry and connections to Argentina’s small but influential Syrian-Lebanese community. Mr. Menem, who is once again a leading candidate for president, has already been tainted by political corruption scandals and spent six months under house arrest last year on charges that he had overseen an illegal arms smuggling operation while in office.” (Ibid.; p. 2.)

43. “But the bombing of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Aid Association on July 18, 1994, the worst terror attack ever carried out here, continues to haunt him and all levels of the Argentine government as a symbol of the absence of accountability that in recent months has brought this country to the brink of collapse.” (Idem.)

44. “Argentine and German officials describe him [Mesbahi] as a senior operative who has provided valuable information about Iranian terrorist operations in Europe and Asia through the mid-1990’s. He defected to Germany in 1996, reportedly because he was upset at his agency’s involvement in the killing of dissident intellectuals in Iran and abroad.” (Ibid.; pp. 2-3.)

45. “Mr. Mesbahi said the planning for the attack in Buenos Aires began in 1992, led by Mohsen Rabbani, cultural attache at the Iranian Embassy at the time, and supervised by Hamid Maghashan, a senior official of the Iranian intelligence agency. One cell focused on ‘cooperating with members of the Argentine police, corrupting them or threatening them to collaborate with the attack,’ Mr. Mesbahi said, according to the transcript. ‘Another devoted itself to obtaining the explosives’ in Brazil, he said.” (Ibid.; p. 3.)

46. “Nilda Garre, who led the Argentine government’s antiterrorism unit in 2000 and 2001, and other Argentine officials said Mr. Mesbahi’s account had been confirmed by another Iranian who had visited the Argentine Embassy in Tehran twice. Immigration and Foreign Ministry records here confirm, the officials said, that several Iranians who were said to have been involved in the plot visited Argentina in the months preceding the bomb attack.” (Idem.)

47. “Mr. Mesbahi said that after the attack, negotiations took place in Tehran with an emissary, a bearded man of about 50, sent by Mr. Menem. The result was that ‘$10 million was deposited into a numbered account that Menem had indicated,’ Mr. Mesbahi said, paid from a $200 million Swiss account controlled by Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was Iran’s president at the time, and by a son of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.” (Idem.)

48. “Early this year the Swiss government acknowledged that it had been asked to look into information supplied by the Iranian informant. Eamon Mullen, the Argentine government’s chief prosecutor in the case, said in an interview that investigators had confirmed that a deposit had been made into an account controlled by Mr. Menem at the bank by Mr. Mesbahi and in the amount he had specified.” (Idem.)

49. “In his testimony, Mr. Mesbahi said Iran’s contacts with Mr. Menem began in the mid-1980’s when he was the governor of La Rioja Province. Because Mr. Menem was of Arab descent and they believed him to share their anti-Jewish sentiments, the Iranians covertly funneled money to Mr. Menem in hopes that he would be elected president and pursue policies favorable to Iran, Mr. Mesbahi said.” (Ibid.; p. 4.)

50. “Argentine officials say the bombing at the Jewish community center was strikingly similar to an attack on the Israeli Embassy here in 1992, in which 28 people died. In both cases a car bomb was used, the targeted building was undergoing repairs and police officers on a security detail inexplicably vanished just before the explosion.” (Idem.)

51. There are substantive indications that in fact, a vigorous cover-up of the crime has occurred. ” ‘From the start the Argentine government, especially in the person of Judge Galeano, has never shown a will to investigate and clear up this matter,’ said Alberto Zuppi, a lawyer and former Justice Minister who now represents Memoria Activa, an association of the families of bombing victims. ‘Everything has been done so as not to get to the bottom of this matter,’ Mr. Zuppi said, ‘and the result is that much time and evidence have been lost.'” (Ibid.; p. 5.)

52. “Questions have been raised in particular about an unusual videotape of a meeting between Judge Galeano [who oversaw the case] and Carlos Alberto Telledin, a car thief who was jailed shortly after the community center attack because he had briefly owned the van used in the bombing. The videotape, stolen from Judge Galeano’s office and later broadcast on television, shows the two men discussing a $400,000 payment that Mr. Telledin says he received.” (Idem.)

53. “Judge Galeano declined numerous requests for an interview. But Claudio Lifschitz, formerly Judge Galeano’s chief investigator, said the judge Galeano had been acting to protect his patrons in the intelligence service, who reported to Mr. Menem, particularly from the testimony of the Iranian defector, Mr. Mesbahi, who was known as Witness C.” (Idem.)

54. “According to Ms. Garre, a former deputy interior minister who is now a member of Congress, 66 cassettes of intercepted telephone conversations disappeared simultaneously from the offices of the Federal Police and intelligence services. She also said police logbooks had been altered and electronic address books and planners of various suspects erased as part of an official cover-up.” (Ibid.; p. 6.)

55. The involvement of the Argentine intelligence services and federal police in the AMIA bombing was among the alleged motives for the coverup. ” ‘Not only has there been no support for getting to the bottom of this case, you can also say that some government organs have actively sabotaged the investigation,’ Ms. Garre said. ‘State intelligence and the federal police are clearly involved,’ she added, ‘but there is also evidence pointing to the involvement of agencies ranging from Immigration to the Foreign Ministry.'” (Idem.)

56. One should bear in mind the links of Menem, his ex-wife Amira Yoma, Menem aide Alfredo Yabran (also implicated in the 1992 and 1994 bombings), Monzer Al-Kassar and Al Kassar associate (and Syrian intelligence agent) Ibrahim Al-Ibrahim (formerly a brother-in-law of Menem) to the tiny town of Yabrud, Syria. All of these personages are from that town. “In addition, Judge Galeano appears to have steered away from some areas of inquiry that other investigators think might have yielded useful information. ‘If the Iranian track has hardly been looked at, said Ariel Said, the lead investigator of a congressional committee looking into irregularities in the case, ‘the local Islamic community, which is predominantly Syrian-Lebanese and directly linked to Menem, has been looked at even less.'” (Idem.)

57. Argentine investigators have allegedly linked Monzer Al-Kassar to both bombings. (“Government Worried About Visit of Al-Kassar;” Clarin; 8/2/98.)

58. As noted above and in FTR#’s 109, 328, Al-Kassar, a Syrian intelligence officer close to him, former Argentine president Carlos Menem’s first wife and Menem associate Alfredo Yabran are all from the same city in Syria. (Idem.)

59. The recent discovery of a Swiss bank account opened in Mr. Menem’s name lends credibility to the allegations about Menem’s alleged complicity in the AMIA bombing. The account is an institution absorbed into the Bank of Gothard (Banco del Gottardo), itself an institution utilized by terrorist networks, including Al Qaeda. “A scandal over the Swiss bank accounts of Argentina’s flamboyant former president, Carlos Menem, flared again yesterday, casting doubt on his bid to recapture the presidency. Eduardo Duhalde, the interim President, has requested a meeting with his Swiss counterpart Kaspar Villiger, at the United Nations General Assembly next month to discuss two accounts linked to the former president.” (“Doubt Over Menem’s Election Bid as Bank-Account Scandal Flares” by Thomas Catan and Frances Williams; Financial Times; 8/17-8/18/2002; p. 2.)

60. “The second account reported to have been opened while Mr. Menem was president, was at a Zurich institution since absorbed by Gothard bank. Swiss investigators are understood to have linked the account to a Liechtenstein foundation controlled by Ramon Hernandez, Mr. Menem’s personal secretary. It is said to contain about $6m.” (Idem.)

61. “The investigations in Switzerland and Argentina broadly center on two sets of allegations the first is that Mr. Menem received millions of dollars in payoffs for carrying out illegal arms shipments to Ecuador and Croatia. The second is that he received a $10m bribe to cover up alleged Iranian involvement in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that claimed 85 lives. Both Mr. Menem and Iran vehemently deny the allegation, which was made several years ago by a high-level Iranian defector.” (Idem.)

62. Noting the evidentiary tributaries between these different terrorist incidents and some of the links between these disparate events and the overlapping milieux of Nazis/white supremacists and Islamofascists, one should not lose sight of the possibility that some or all may have been orchestrated by what Mr. Emory calls the Underground Reich.


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