Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #516 Interview with Daniel Hopsicker About the Venice, FL Cover-up

Recorded June 26, 2005

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Updating the heroic 9/11 research done by Daniel Hopsicker, the program sets forth details of a low-level cover-up operation in Florida, as well as evidentiary tributaries connecting GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the SunCruz casino boats in Florida, the gangland murder of Gus Boulis (SunCruz’s previous owner), and a visit to a SunCruz ship made by Mohamed Atta and other 9/11 hijackers. Hopsicker’s ground-breaking research into the Florida activities of Atta and other 9/11 hijackers is at variance with the official version of events. Recently, a man claiming that eyewitnesses had mistaken him for Atta has come forward, in order to impugn information from Daniel’s book. The “second Mohamed” looks nothing like Mohamed Atta and is seven inches taller. Articles with information differing with the FBI’s version of events have been deleted from the Lexis-Nexis database relied on by journalists and investigators. Both the Congressional and “independent” Kean Commission relied on the FBI as its sole investigative resource. One of Atta’s German associates has filed a nuisance lawsuit against Daniel, in what is probably another attempt at undermining Daniel’s work. An associate of the elder George Bush, the late Gus Boulis’ gangland style slaying was similar to that of another Bush associate—the late Don Aronow. The visit by Atta and company to a SunCruz gambling ship just before 9/11 also suggests that Atta’s Florida activities were conducted in conjunction with a criminal milieu.

Program Highlights Include: Refutation of the “second Mohamed’s” claim that Amanda Keller deliberately confused him with Atta when talking with journalists; attempts by other German associates of Atta at discrediting Hopsicker’s work; GOP lobbyist (and SunCruz vice-president) Jack Abramoff’s links to the Christian right; checks written by Abramoff’s partner to a mob enforcer in the run-up to Gus Boulis’ murder; Boulis’ fears for his life, expressed before his murder; fears of others around Boulis that they might be killed.

1. One of the central elements of discussion concerns a low-level disinformation operation apparently directed against Daniel Hopsicker’s investigations into the milieu of Mohamed Atta and the mysterious flight schools in the Venice, Florida area. (For more about this, see—among other programs—FTR#’s 482, 483, 484.) One element of this apparent disinformation effort is an attempt by a French-Arab man named Mohamed Arajaki to pass himself off as the “Mohamed” that Amanda Keller knew in Florida. (Ms. Keller is Mohamed Atta’s former girlfriend.) In addition to the obvious fact that this “second Mohamed” looks nothing like Atta, Mr. Arajaki is 6’ 2” tall—Atta is 5’ 7” tall. Be sure to consult the pictures of Arajaki in Daniel’s article. “More than three years after the 9/11 attack, intrigue continues to swirl concerning knowledge of the terrorist hijackers movements, activities, and associates while in the U.S. preparing the assault. A mysterious French-Arab man resurfaced last week who authorities had dubbed the ‘5th terrorist pilot’ and a ‘Second’ Mohamed in Venice, FL. In an email, he alleged that a number of eyewitnesses, including the girl who had lived with him, had all mistaken him . . . for Mohamed Atta.”
(“‘Disappearing’ the News: The ‘Second’ Mohamed in Venice” by Daniel Hopsicker; Mad Cow Morning News; 5/3/2005; p. 1.)

2. In addition to the sudden appearance of the second Mohamed, newspaper articles about Atta’s activities in Venice are being removed from the Lexis-Nexis database used by journalists world-wide. The articles in question contradict the “official” version of Atta and company’s activities in Florida. “It was HE they’d known in Venice, not the terrorist ringleader, he asserted. And he suggested the confusion might owe something to their common name, ‘Mohamed.’ Before dismissing the claims of this supposed ‘Second Mohamed,’ we must first consider a curious story from the Sarasota Herald Tribune, which seems to back him up. It was while reviewing his allegations that we discovered that crucial early news reports filed in Venice during the week after the attack in the local Sarasota Herald Tribune have been removed from the newspaper database Lexis-Nexis, relied on by journalists and investigators worldwide.” (Idem.)

3. Another element of the apparent attempt at suppressing inconvenient truths about Atta’s activities in Florida is a lawsuit filed against Daniel Hopsicker by “Stephen”  (last name withheld by request), one of Atta’s numerous German associates in Florida. He claims he did not know Atta. Significantly, others of Atta’s European associates have also contacted Hopsicker to deny having associated with Atta in Florida. (For more about Atta’s German associates, see—among other programs—FTR#477.) “Missing are stories reporting that Mohamed Atta was living across from the Venice Airport at the Sandpiper Apartments during the spring of 2001, with Amanda Keller, a pink-haired American stripper. Also at this time, as if the air was not already filled with enough intrigue for several spy novels, two more alleged European associates of Atta chose this precise moment to step forward and deny having associated with the terrorist ringleader, including a German pilot named “Stephan”, who recently filed a lawsuit against us in Katherine Harris’s hometown of Sarasota, Florida. There’s nothing like having a home court advantage.” (Ibid.; pp. 1-2.)

4. “So . . . if the September 11th attack is a dead issue, as some allege, why the conspicuous flurry of activity? Perhaps it’s a signal that there remains something of major value still hidden and waiting to be found beneath the garbled official account of the chronology and movements of terrorist ringleader Mohamed Ata.” (Ibid.; p. 2.)

5. Articles about Atta and company’s activities in Florida have been deleted from the Lexis-Nexis database. “The series of events which led to the discovery of ‘disappeared’ news about Atta in Venice began with notice that we were being sued—again—this time by “Stephan” , who according to Amanda Keller was one of a handful of Atta’s European associates in Florida. Stephan, apparently, begs to differ. One clear message seems to be that the Mad Cow Morning News will need to place the budget line for ‘Defense attorney’ under ‘re-occurring expenses.’ (See related story on how to get our new video free as a premium for a contribution to our free press fund.)” (Idem.)

6. “Today the missing stories can only be found in one place we’re aware of: the microfiche record kept of the paper-as-printed in the Sarasota Library. What this means is that—unless you already knew about them—these stories effectively no longer exist. Just to make sure they never go away, we are making them available here. Both contain mostly unremarkable interviews with numerous local eyewitnesses whose paths crossed with those of the terrorists. Their testimony matter-of-factly contradicts the FBI’s official account, which states Atta moved to Venice soon after arriving in the U.S., and left for good in December of 2000.” (Idem.)

7. “ ‘FBI Links Third Terrorist to Venice’ was the headline of the first, on Sept. 16, written by Herald Tribune staff writers Robert Eckhart and Michael Werner, in which law enforcement officials matter-of-factly confirm to reporters that before moving to Venice, Mohamed Atta lived 30 miles to the south in rural Charlotte County. ‘Atta lived for several months in rural Charlotte County before moving to Venice Sheriff Bill Clement said at a news conference Thursday. Clement said the Sheriff’s Office had forwarded several tips to the FBI about Atta, who used an alias in Charlotte County.’” (Ibid.; pp. 2-3.)

8. “Atta had gone to flight school at the Charlotte Airport, local authorities discovered, when a local business owner took advantage of one of Atta’s few slip-ups. . . The terrorist ringleader had inadvertently forwarded a five-page screed which included the picture of a dead Middle Eastern child to an aviation business at the Charlotte Airport. The horrified owner immediately passed it on to the County Sheriff. So local law enforcement got it before the FBI. Then the well-meaning Sheriff released it to the media, much to the subsequent displeasure of the FBI. He must have thought he still lived in a country where there is something called the ‘people’s right to know.’” (Ibid.; p. 3.)

9. Hopsicker notes that the FBI account, at variance with verifiable facts about Atta’s Florida activities, is the sole investigative source relied on by both the Joint Congressional Intelligence Committee and the so-called “independent” Kean Commission. “This information contradicts the FBI’s account. But it also throws into question the entire chronology of the crime, from Atta’s arrival in the U.S. to his subsequent movements, which is disturbing because the FBI’s investigation was the sole investigative source relied on by both the Joint Congressional Intelligence Committee inquiry and the later ‘independent’ 9/11 Commission. Both ‘investigations’ knew only what the FBI told them . . . a truly chilling prospect.” (Idem.)

10. “The second account was published two days later with the headline: ‘Fourth Terrorist Suspect May Have Ties to Venice.’ It too quoted credible witnesses whose testimony is almost laughably at odds with the FBI’s version of events. Reporter Earle Kimel noted the discrepancies: ‘Huffman flight instructors have said they believe Atta left the area shortly after receiving his pilot’s certification,’ he reported. However, Atta may have been in Venice as recently as April. Charles Grapentine, the manager of Sandpiper Apartments on Airport Avenue in Venice, said he remembers seeing Atta at the complex for about three weeks in April. He said Atta was living in the apartment of Amanda Keller.’” (Idem.)

11. “Here’s a taste of what they are trying to hide. If these witnesses testified before cameras in front of something like Sam Erwin’s Watergate Committee, we would live in a better world than we are apparently allowed. For example, the apartment manager’s wife Paula Grapentine, told the Charlotte Sun that Atta had had ‘a lot of visitors.’ That could have opened what legendary Sen. William Fulbright used to call, ‘an endless can of worms.’ And the owner of the Sandpiper Apartments, Vicky Keyser, told authorities the students smoked a strange tobacco, which smelled like marijuana. This is far from only reference we will hear concerning the terrorist hijackers and drugs.” (Idem.)

12. “And here’s an interesting find: One week after the attack, Brian Ross of NBC News reported a curious discovery with possible significance to the story of Mohamed Atta’s supposed German associates: ‘And yet more evidence of the overseas money trail had been found at a flying school in Punta Gorda. The owner says FBI agents seized records relating to at least 12 foreign students whose tuition was paid with foreign wire transfers. They were very interested in the German transfers, and they were very interested in the Middle Eastern transfers,’ Byers told Ross. But. . . .the FBI says the hijackers received ‘no outside help.’ So why were they interested in ‘the German transfers?’ We’ll have to remember to ask German pilot Stephan” when we dispose him during our lawsuit.” (Ibid.; p. 4.)

13. “Any ordinary mortal who starts talking about things like ‘A Second Oswald’ is labeled a conspiracy theorist. But somehow when the FBI conjures up a ‘Second Mohamed’ no one even blinked. The sole surviving report mentioning Atta at the Sandpiper in the Lexis-Nexis newspaper database is a Sept. 23, 2001 article in the Sarasota Herald Tribune, in which authorities take plans to refute the earlier reports. Ironically this only serves to call attention to the fact that the earlier stories are no longer there.” (Idem.)

14. “Under the headline ‘Fifth Pilot Trainee Vanishes’ on September 23, 2001 the Sarasota Herald-Tribune pair reversed itself, and now reported authorities were saying Amanda Keller had not lived with Mohamed Atta, but with another Mohamed. ‘He told the people he lived with in Venice earlier this year that he was moving to Paris,’ read the report. ‘The man, known as Mohamed, stayed at Amanda Keller’s unit in the Sandpiper Apartment complex on Airport Avenue in April.’” (Idem.)

15. “This ‘Second Mohamed,’ who had until then completely escaped mention was a man about whom authorities otherwise knew little. . . . ‘Investigators have identified a fifth man of Middle Eastern descent who trained to fly in Venice, but they don’t know if he was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks because they can’t find him.’” (Idem.)

16. “While they may not have known if he was involved with the 9/11 attack, authorities were completely sure about one thing . . . The numerous eyewitnesses told police, reporters and the FBI that terrorist ringleader Atta had been living at the Sandpiper Apartments during the Spring of 2001 had not in fact seen the terrorist ringleader. . . They had seen this man. He was the ‘second´ Mohamed. No sniggering was apparently allowed. According to statements the FBI made to Amanda Keller while questioning her, ‘Mohamed Arajaki’ was an alias of Atta’s. And the FBI Terrorist List—mistakenly released to the public a month after the attack by the Finnish Government, to the Bureau’s consternation—also listed ‘Mohamed Arajaki’ as one of Atta’s numerous aliases.” (Idem.)

17. Incredibly, the “second Mohamed” claims Amanda Keller simply fabricated her story about associating with Atta in order to gain publicity. In fact, she was frightened and actually shunned publicity, until Daniel Hopsicker tracked her down! “But Amanda Keller was far from alone in identifying Mohamed Atta as the man she had lived with for several months. In the days after the attack every one of the local newspapers in the area—the Sarasota-Herald Tribune, Chrlotte Sun, and Venice Gondolier—ran eyewitness accounts of Atta at the Sandpiper, across the street from the Venice Airport. ‘Charles Grapentine, the manager of Sandpiper Apartments on Airport Avenue in Venice, said he remembers seeing Atta at the complex for about three weeks in April. He said Atta was living in the apartment of Amanda Keller. In a telephone interview late Friday, Keller said she met Atta through a friend and let him stay in the apartment with her and her then-boyfriend, Garrett Metts, because she felt sorry for him. She said authorities told her not to say anything at all about Atta,’ the paper reported. ‘I can’t really discuss anything,’ she said. ‘I’m afraid I’ll get in trouble.’” (Ibid.; pp. 4-5.)

18. “Another story just three days after the attack reported: ‘Flight School May Have Charged Suspected Terrorists Extra Rent.’ The local Venice Gondolier reported Huffman Aviation rented an apartment for $550 a month at the Sandpiper, and then turned around and sublet it to students at an outrageously high markup. Rudi Dekkers had been gouging the terrorists. We couldn’t muster any indignation over it.” (Ibid.; p. 5.)

19. “The secret history of 9/11 contains items like the one from the Charlotte Sun stating Amanda had been introduced in Key West to two men from Germany who said they were Mohamed’s friends. ‘FBI agents seized records from a financially troubled flight school at the Charlotte County Airport, Professional Aviation, that recruited students from Tunisia and went out of business in the spring of 2001, after tipsters said they saw Atta there late last year or early this year,’ the Charlotte Sun-Herald reported. The FBI in Tampa would neither confirm nor deny that any agents were interviewing people in the North Port area,’ Charlotte Sun reporter Elaine Allen-Emrich wrote. Asked for more information about Atta’s wild weekend, an FBI spokesperson identified only as Pam stated ‘We recommend that you check in with CNN for current information. Any press statements can be found on televised stations like CNN.’” (Idem.)

20. “Yet ‘Mohamed Arajaki’s’ email naively assumes he has only Amanda Keller to ‘discredit’ to make the story go away. ‘The only common points between Atta and myself are that I am from an Arabic background, I was in Venice at the wrong time at the wrong school . . . (And) I forgot, my family name starts with an ‘A’ as well,’ the email stated. ‘It is true that she met a certain Mohamed but it was not Mohamed Atta, but myself. The only person to blame is Amanda as she knew she was lying. Do a little bit of investigation and you will find things about Mohamed Arakji, because I am the Mohamed she knew, not the other one.’” (Idem.)

21. Note also, that the second Mohamed claims Keller fabricated her Atta story in order to sell it to Hopsicker. But Hopsicker paid her nothing, and she actually was afraid for her safety. “Upset about what he termed ‘the enormous lies you have been publishing about Amanda and Mohamed Atta,’ he wrote, ‘Unfortunately for you and myself, we had to deal with this serial liar psycho.’ She took facts and turned them to sell a story. I hope it did not cost you too much to buy nothing but lies.’ In point of fact, we paid Amanda nothing. We’d been puzzled about why her story hadn’t already been told in the tabloids. . . ‘Terrorist’s Girlfriend Bares All’ would sell a lot of papers in the check-out line.” (Idem.)

22. “Amanda Keller never went looking for publicity. We went looking for her. We didn’t feel like ‘checking with CNN.’ The accusation that Keller was a gold-digger looking for a payday in the deaths of 3000 people is a lie. As if anticipating it might not fly, the email offered a second explanation for how a half dozen ordinary citizens had mistaken him for Mohamed Atta. . . . ‘Also you must know that it is very easy to mistake one Arab guy for another.’ We were glad we hadn’t said that.” (Ibid.; p. 6.)

23. “ ‘Amanda mentions transvestites in Key West, my friend got grabbed by a group of them in the street, as it was funny, I took a picture as well,’ stated the email. We dug out Amanda’s comments about the trip to Key West: ‘So we went by Diva’s (in Key West) and it was the first time I ever saw a drag queen,’ she told us. ‘And I was standing there talking to them, so they had their pictures taken with a drag queen. Peter, Mohamed and Stephen were all standing next to the drag queen, who stuffed his hand down all their pants in the pictures, and Peter and Stephan both laughed it off, but Mohamed got really angry,’ said Amanda.” (Idem.)

24. “Somewhere there are photographs of terrorist ringleader Mohamed Atta being groped by a drag queen in Key West. The truth is always stranger than fiction. Still, given the numerous reports of Atta’s un-Islamic proclivities, it’s not at all unbelievable. Mr. ‘Mohamed Arajaki’ sent along several photos of himself . . . Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. We never believed any credible witness would mistake terrorist ringleader Atta for anyone else, and seeing this man’s photo only reinforced the conviction. . . Could you mistake this man for Mohamed Atta? We couldn’t either.” (Idem.)

25. Turning to another of Daniel Hopsicker’s ground-breaking stories, the program highlights the links between GOP lobbyist and king-maker jack Abramoff and a casino boat operation in Florida. In addition to the fact that the previous owner of the casino boat operation was murdered in February of 2001, the broadcast notes that almost six months to the day later (September 5th of 2001), Mohamed Atta and some associates apparently visited one of the SunCruz ships. “The Mad Cow Morning News has learned exclusive new details about the gangland-style hit in Florida of Gus Boulis, whose murder figures prominently in lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s rise to power. The ‘secret world’ of Jack Abramoff being probed by investigators today has definite connections and unmistakable links to the one inhabited during their final year in the U.S. by Mohamed Atta and the other hijackers. So as the scandal embroiling House Major Domo Tom Delay and Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff grows hotter, there may be new revelations about the 9/11 attack”
(“The Secret World of Jack Abramoff: Terrorists, Torpedoes, & Republican ‘Muscle’” by Daniel Hopsicker; Mad Cow Morning News; 6/21/2005; p. 1.)

26. The purpose of Atta’s apparent visit to the SunCruz casino boat is unclear. It may have been to obtain or launder funds. “One of the most amazing things about this most amazing scandal—hundreds of millions in slush funds beats Oval Office blowjobs by a mile—is that some of the same names in the Abramoff scandal also surface in connection with Mohamed Atta’s. Less than a week before the 9/11 attack, for example, Atta and several other hijackers made a still-unexplained visit onboard one of Abramoff’s casino boats. What were they doing there? No one knows. [Emphasis added.]” (Idem.)

27. “There remains a strong suspicion that Atta’s terrorist cadre-supposedly unknown and friendless and burrowing into the woodwork—was able to call on the assistance, when necessary, of a friendly global network. Could it be that this network is the same one being probed so gingerly today by investigators looking into Jack Abramoff? What could a scandal involving Indian casinos and gambling boat ‘cruises to nowhere’ & pay-for-play government officials have to do with the story of 19 hijackers planning a mass murder in supposed isolation in Florida? Let’s take a look. While Abramoff’s Indian gaming troubles may be getting the most publicity, his other major ‘area of concern’ is where the real scandal resides. Involvement with Mob-run casino boats may turn out to be a faux pas, even for Republicans. . . .” (Ibid.; p. 2.)

28. “ . . . What the Abramoff scandal is about at the core can be simply stated as: Vegas without rules. And what the politicians are arguing over is the biggest slush fund in the history of the world. Democrats don’t want to eliminate it. They just want in on the action. Who owns Florida’s gambling boats? No one is certain. There is virtually no state or federal oversight. No one licenses the operators. No one ensures that the games aren’t rigged. No one ensures that the boats aren’t used to launder money. No one investigates whether organized crime is involved.” (Ibid.; p. 3.)

29. “And while ex-felons can’t vote in Florida-as many became aware during the memorable presidential election in 2000-this disadvantage is more than offset, for some, by the fact that an ex-felon can run a gambling boat in the state with no fear at all of flunking the background check. The reason? There is none. This situation clearly suits some people just fine. . . While Governor Jeb Bush may be minutely concerned with what happened to Terry Schiavo fifteen years ago, on this issue of real interest—massive corruption—he phones in his regrets. Just why might that be? . . .” (Idem.)

30. “ ‘There is a weird report just a day or two after 9/11 that someone reported to the FBI that three of four of the hijackers were seen gambling on a SunCruz boat,’ wrote a source in Miami. ‘The FBI interviewed everyone who might have seen them, that very day by all reports.’ Sure enough. We found an Associated Press story on Sept. 26, 2001 headlined ‘SunCruz Casinos Turns Over Documents in Terrorist Probe.’” (Ibid.; pp. 3-4.)

31. “ ‘SunCruz Casinos has turned over photographs and other documents to FBI investigators after employees said they recognized some of the men suspected in the terrorist attacks as customers. . . . Names on the passenger list from a Sept. 5 cruise matched those of some of the hijackers. . . . Two or three men linked to the Sept. 11 hijackings may have been customers on a ship that sailed from Madeira Beach on Florida’s Gulf Coast.’” (Ibid.; p. 4.)

32. In addition to their visit to the SunCruz casino boat, Atta and other hijackers also visited Las Vegas. Were they laundering money during these visits? (Another possibility concerns the possibility that neo-fascist elements involved with anthrax were active in the Henderson, Nevada area. Henderson is outside of Las Vegas. For more about the anthrax connection, see FTR#419.) “Less than a week before the 9/11 attack, Atta and several other hijackers were aboard one of Abramoff’s casino boats. What no one seems able to answer is this: What possible thrill could gambling offer men getting ready to die in less than a week? To this date, their Sept. 5 visit to a gambling vessel overrun with retirees remains unexplained. The gambling motif in the terrorist’s timeline doesn’t end there. The hijackers had no apparent reason to visit Las Vegas. . . so why did they?” (Idem.)

33. “On June 28 at Boston’s Logan Airport, Mohamed Atta boarded a United Airlines flight and flew first class nonstop to San Francisco. He bypassed the bohemian North Beach district, and didn’t take the cruise to Alcatraz. . . . Atta headed for Vegas. On Aug. 10, Hani Hanjour and Nawaf Alhazmi used first-class tickets for a United flight from Dulles Airport near Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles Airport near Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles International Airport, then on to Las Vegas. The story of the terrorists’ Las Vegas connection may never be known, admitted the Las Vegas FBI.” (Idem.)

34. “ ‘Islamic fundamentalist’ Atta may have felt right at home in the world of fast cash and unlicensed gambling boat ‘cruises to nowhere’ of Republican lobbyist (and observant Jew) Jack Abramoff. He would almost certainly have been comfortable with the ‘gangland-style hit straight out of Goodfellas’ that cemented Abramoff’s prominent position in that industry. At the time of the Sept. 11 attack one of Abramoff’s chief claims to fame was as the proud owner of the SunCruz line: a dozen unlicensed gambling boats plying the waters off the Florida coast in a fashion which in any other state would have been considered criminal.” (Idem.)

35. “How did Jack Abramoff get lucky enough to be the guy passing out all that long green? Where did Jack Abramoff get his ‘juice?’ Short answer: Not everyone is savvy to opportunities presented by riders in obscure legislation. Not so the connected, the covert, the—dare we say ‘blessed?’ ‘Elite deviance’ is a sociological term for a condition in a society in which the elite in the society come to believe that the rules no longer apply to them. Casino boats turned out to be a elite deviant’s dream. One time-honored way to get rich is to marry money. Another is to kill someone that has it . . . In Abramoff’s case, it appears that Gus Boulis, the owner of the lion’s share of the casino boats in Florida, had to die first.” (Idem.)

36. The three-man consortium of which Abramoff was part secured SunCruz from Gus Boulis, who was murdered gangland-style. There is more about Boulis’ murder below. “Three men formed an ownership group that apparently made Boulis the proverbial offer he couldn’t refuse. They bought SunCruz from him, even though it wasn’t for sale. When Greek tycoon Gus Boulis was gunned down in his BMW on February 6, 2001 Fort Launderdale police investigators immediately began scrutinizing SunCruz Casinos. Suspicion focused on the recent sale of the fleet. Boulis and one of the three men had been carrying on a very public feud. ‘We certainly aren’t lacking in suspects,’ said a homicide detective drolly.” (Ibid.; pp. 4-5.)

37. “Less than two months later, SunCruz announced plans to move a 150-foot, $10-million floating casino to the Northern Marianas. Almost every article we’d read cites Abramoff & Delay’s interest in the Marianas being sweat-shop related. Meaning they’re in favor of them. Their primary focus wasn’t sweatshops. It was gambling.” (Ibid.; p. 5.)

38. “ ‘Read about SunCruz and it sounds like a South Florida version of ‘The Sopranos,’ reported the South Florida Business Journal. ‘Feds go after owner Gus Boulis. Former Miami Subs kingpin forced to sell. New SunCruz chairman says Boulis threatened him. Boulis whacked.’ As if to confirm the account, other newspaper reports mentioned a climate of fear after the Boulis murder. ‘The shooting death. . . cast a pall of fear over the people who knew him, with some of his closest associates admitting concern at being connected with a man targeted by a hit man,’ the local Sun-Sentinel reported the day after the hit.” (Idem.)

39. Note that people familiar with details about the SunCruz case declined to discuss it, out of fear. In FTR#’s 482, 483, 484, we noted that the same climate of fear surrounded many who had known details of the bogus flight schools used by Atta and company to infiltrate the United States. “ ‘There are a lot of people who aren’t talking for reasons of personal safety,’ said Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Mike Reed. Another associate declined to discus anything about Boulis with the paper. . . ‘I’ve got my family to worry about,’ he said, on condition of anonymity. Even a cursory look at the executive management of the cruise-to-nowhere company that Boulis founded turns up violent thugs and organized crime figures. But that’s pretty typical of South Florida. . . What is unusual are that in with SunCruz’s mobbed-up crew are prominent Republican Party members with long-standing, deep ties to the religious right.” (Idem.)

40. In addition to Abramoff’s ties to the GOP, he has strong ties to the Christian right. Abramoff’s links to both organized-crime related elements and to the Christian right is reminiscent of Jerry Falwell’s financial links to Wally Hilliard, who co-owned Huffman Aviation with Ruki Dekkers. (For more about the Falwell/Hilliard relationship, see FTR#’s 482, 483, 484.) “Two SunCruz executives, Jack Abramoff and Ben Waldman, are walking examples of the strange alliance between the family-values party and the gambling industry. Both men have strong ties to Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, which is adamantly opposed to gambling; Waldman was Robertson’s top aide in the televangelist’s run for the presidency. Abramoff, who perhaps wisely only took the title of vice president (less heat) has been connected to the Christian right since a student at Brandeis University, where as head of the College Republicans he enlisted Top Christian Ralph Reed as his top deputy. The two have remained close friends ever since.” (Idem.)

41. The program notes that Abramoff’s partner in the SunCruz operation was no stranger to the world of gangland violence. His mother was murdered in a gangland-style hit. A former boyfriend of Madonna’s was convicted in that case. “A man named Adam Kidan became SunCruz’s new chairman. Kidan’s mother had been murdered in a gangland-style hit in New York. Madonna’s one-time boyfriend and South Beach restaurateur Chris Paciello, was eventually convicted in the case. Today he is in Federal Witness Protection, and word is there are several movies about him in development. Just another American success story.” (Idem.)

42. “The Seminole Tribe of Florida led the way in parlaying mom-and-pop bingo parlors into today’s $19 billion a year Indian casino industry. Along with legendary chief James Billie (Wrestles with Alligators), Rob Tiller was seminal figure in this growth. Tiller is also a South Florida aviation insider and former business partner of terror flight school owner and secretive financier Wally Hilliard. He even met Atta and Marwan one day after a meeting with Hilliard, he says, with whom he was working on an airline start-up called Havana Air. Small world.” (Ibid.; p. 6.)

43. Boulis feared for his life in the run-up to his murder. “A week before Gus Boulis was murdered, Tiller was called to take a meeting with him. Tiller says Boulis was scared. Boulis hadn’t wanted to sell. Now he was worried he’d be whacked. ‘He called me to a meeting at the Ocean Reef Club. Very Snooty. You can’t even land there without permission. I flew my airplane down to meet him,’ Tiller recalled. ‘He said, ‘I want out. People think I make a lot more money than I really do. I don’t need the headache anymore. I want to sell my casino boats to the Seminoles.’” (Idem.)

44. Boulis’s submarine sandwhich shops were apparently fronts for money-laundering. “What was Tiller’s response? ‘I said, ‘Gus, you’re sure rocking a lot of people’s boats here.’ A couple days later, I hear he’s been blown apart dead. See, Gus wanted to muscle his way into the casino business in a real bad way. His Miami Subs were everywhere. He was using them to launder money, big-time, for somebody.’ Who might that be? Even asking the question brings a shiver. At the time Boulis was murdered, suspicion focused on company chairman Adam Kidan, also an active Republican and campaign contributor. He had been in Israel at the time of the murder. His alibi held.” (Idem.)

45. Before Boulis’ murder, Abramoff’s partner Adam Kidan had written $30,000 in checks to a Mob enforcer who had worked for John Gotti. “But then news surfaced that just before Boulis’s death Kidan had written at least $30,000 in checks to a reputed Mob enforcer named Anthony Moscatiello, a one-time associate of crime boss John Gotti. Moscatiello is apparently what is known in criminal parlance as a ‘torpedo.’ (We’re not quite sure what that means, but it doesn’t sound good.) This is a paper trail some U.S. Attorney (in Manhattan, perhaps) would describe as ‘to die for.’ But things work differently in South Florida. To date no one has been charged in the murder of Gus Boulis.” (Idem.)

46. “The official back-story on Boulis is he left his native Greece as a teenager and came to North America, bought a Toronto sandwich shop and turned it into a successful company with franchises all across Canada. After his Canadian success, he moved to Florida in the early 1980’s (to retire to the Keys, he said). But Florida’s money-making opportunities overrode his desire for shuffleboard, and soon he was building another successful fast-food chain, Miami Subs, and then building and deploying the crown jewels in his empire, his SunCruz Casino fleet.” (Idem.)

47. “What explained Boulis’ success in a restaurant business where failure is far more common? The question strikes some as naïve. ‘Miami Subs was the first take out place ever to serve Dom Perignon through the takeout window,’ snickered Tiller. ‘Word was he had made his money in Canada in the sub business. But I learned later it was nothing but a Laundromat.’ We were once more back in the precincts of money laundering, which seems more and more like one of Florida’s major industries. We pictured dollar bills drying in the sun all over the state, after being washed through the Everglades.” (Ibid.; p. 7.)

48. Boulis’ murder was reminiscent of the gangland-style murder of Don Aronow. Like Aronow, Boulis was an associate of the elder George Bush (according to Rob Tiller). (For more about Aronow, see FTR#512.) “No doubt this is all just freak coincidence. Still, even with our suspicious minds, when we learned who Tiller thought was responsible for Boulis’ death, we were shocked. Tiller referred us to the manner of the Boulis hit. . . A man in a BMW was driving down a quiet side street after an evening meeting at his Fort Launderdale office when a car slowed to a stop in front of him. A second car boxed the BMW in from behind, then a dark Mustang appeared from the opposite direction. The Mustang’s driver pulled alongside and pumped three hollow-point bullets into the BMW driver’s chest. ‘Boulis was murdered in the exact same way as Don Aronow, Bush’s other partner,’ he stated. Bush’s other partner? The question hung in the air. Something is really going down bad here,’ Tiller stated. ‘Don Aronow. Gus. Jim Shore . . . All tied in to Bush.’” (Idem.)

49. As noted in FTR#512, the world of terrorism and Al Qaeda significantly overlaps that of organized crime.“When NBC’s Dateline did a story recently about sources of terrorist funding right here in the U.S., they made bold to announce ‘the emerging threat of a new alliance between al Qaeda and common criminals.’ But it was hardly time to stop the presses. . . .” (Idem.)

50. At the beginning of the program, Daniel informed the audience about a death threat that had allegedly been made by Sam Koutchesfahani against Joe Chicchese, a former business associate. (Koutchesfahani is discussed in FTR#507.) More can be found about this in a Mad Cow Morning News article published after this program was recorded.

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