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

For The Record  

FTR #554 Conversation with Daniel Hopsicker

The Wonderful World of Makram Chams

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Introduction: Documenting the career of Makram Chams, this program sets forth some facets of a man who must be the most remarkable convenience store owner of all time. In addition to being an intimate associate of, and apparent collaborator of, 9/11 hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, Chams has apparently worked as a “consultant” for Titan Corporation, a major defense contractor. Chams also was part owner of a casino boat, another of whose partners—Max Burge—owned the planes that operated out of Huffman Aviation. (Huffman was the flight school through which Atta and other 9/11 hijackers infiltrated. For more about Huffman Aviation and Hopsicker’s work, see—among other programs—FTR#’s 477, 482, 483, 484.) Burge had worked with Frederick Geffon, whose ‘Royal Sons’ company owned a DC9 that was busted in Mexico with 5.5 tons of cocaine on board. Tracing the ownership of the DC9, the broadcast notes that the plane has belonged to a series of intelligence fronts associated with the CIA and Iran-Contra drug smuggling. Among the previous owners of the plane was Adnan Khashoggi, an Iran-Contra scandal player, financier of Al Qaeda and partner of John Gray, the New Age guru who has financed the 9/11-disinformation movement. Some convenience store owner!

Program Highlights Include: The use of Chams’ convenience store as an apparent meeting point for the 9/11 hijackers; the delivery of a wire transfer of $70,000 to the hijackers at Chams’ store; Chams’ association with a wealthy Saudi who took possession of a trunk filled with what may have been gold; the association of Zacharias Moussaoui (the 20th hijacker) with the wealthy Saudi and Chams; Chams’ sister’s allegation that Chams worked with the FBI in San Diego; the alleged relationship of Glenn Kovar (one of the owners of the DC9) with the President, congress and the Department of Homeland Security; a delineation of the complex ownership structure of the DC9 busted in Mexco with 5.5 tons of coke.

1. Perpetuating his journalistic trend of connecting dots between a number of past and present events, Daniel Hopsicker has linked a DC9 at the center of a massive cocaine bust in Mexico to the Titan corporation and—as we shall see—the CIA. At the center of this concatenation is a Venice (Florida) convenience store owner named Makram Chams, for whom the broadcast is titled. “A MadCowMorningNews investigation into the ownership of the DC9 airliner caught carrying 5.5 tons of cocaine in Mexico last month has uncovered explosive new details about some of the many lingering mysteries still surrounding the 9.11 attack. San Diego defense contractor Titan Corporation, already implicated in the fraudulent bankruptcy of a shadowy St. Petersburg FL company which owned the DC9 ‘Cocaine One’ flight busted in Mexico, employed a Lebanese contractor who assisted Mohamed Atta and other terrorist hijackers in Venice, Florida. For Titan, the revelation marks the latest in a remarkable series of recent scandals, including employees charged with torture and rape at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, a record $26 million fine and conviction for fixing a Presidential election in the African nation of Benin, and growing infamy for being the biggest money backer of disgraced and soon-to-be-jailed former Congressman Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham.”
(“5.5 Ton Coke Bust Reveals New Details of 9/11 Attack” by Daniel Hopsicker; Mad Cow Morning News; 5/17/2006.)

2. In his book Welcome to Terrorland: Mohammed Atta and the 9/11 Coverup in Florida, Daniel Hopsicker noted some of the activities of Makram Chams in Florida. Providing assistance for Atta and fellow 9/11 hijacker Marwan Al-Shehhi, Chams owned a Kwik-Chek convenience store that was the destination of a $70,000 wire transfer to the hijackers from the UAE. Chams left town shortly after the 9/11 attack, abandoning his convenience store.

“The story begins when, while researching ‘Welcome to TERRORLAND’ three years ago, we discovered that Makram Chams, a Lebanese national, had provided significant logistical support for Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi. Chams, we learned, had even entertained recently-convicted Zacharias Moussaoui in his apartment in Venice. Makram Chams owned a Kwik-Check convenience store in Venice, where the biggest overseas money transfer to the terrorists, $70,000 from the UAE., was sent, according to the testimony of FBI agents during the 9.11 Commission hearings. Actually the FBI testimony never mentioned Chams, or his store. They did however show the receipt for the money order at the final hearing of the 9.11 Commission, which we attended. And we were already familiar with the address where the money order went: 201 Nokomis Avenue. Makram Cham’s Kwik-Chek… Strangely, Chams left town soon after the 9.11 attack, abandoning a thriving convenience store which has stood vacant ever since.”

(Idem.)

3. Chams has now surfaced in Saudi Arabia, having filed a lawsuit against Titan, a major defense contractor. Chams appears to have worked as a consultant to Titan Corp.

“In a story in the Sarasota Herald Tribune, reporter Earle Kimel, who first broke the story of Mohamed Atta’s American girlfriend, Amanda Keller, called Chams’ abandoned store ‘A pocket of urban blight in the otherwise smartly tailored suit of downtown Venice.’ An understanding of what Makram Chams had been doing while in Venice–and for whom–had eluded us, and been one of our biggest unanswered questions, one which might shed light on whether the U.S. Government possessed guilty foreknowledge–or even culpability–in the 9.11 attack. Our search for Chams had been unsuccessful. No one knew where he was, or why he’d left. But now Chams has re-surfaced in Saudi Arabia, where he worked in an unlikely capacity: as a contractor for American defense firm Titan Corp.

(Idem.)

4. The program relates how Daniel uncovered Chams’s identity:

“News of Makram Chams’ current whereabouts came to us when a researcher recently sent this addendum to Titan Corp’s 2005 SEC filing: ‘On March 14, 2005, Makram Majid Chams, a former consultant of Titan filed a claim with the Preliminary Committee on Labor Disputes Settlement in Saudi Arabia. Mr. Chams alleges that Titan wrongfully terminated his consulting agreement and that he was defamed by Titan’s publication in a local newspaper of a mandatory notice that he is no longer representing Titan. The plaintiff is seeking approximately $21.9 million in damages. We intend to defend our position vigorously.’ Was the man suing Titan in Saudi Arabia, ‘Makram Majid Chams,’ the same ‘Makram Chams’ who’d lived in Venice? The answer was ‘yes.’ A marriage announcement in the Sarasota Herald Tribune from January of 1998 gave us the full name of the Makram Chams who’d lived in Venice, identical to the name of the man suing Titan in Saudi Arabia. ‘Makram Majid Chams,’ said the announcement, had married ‘Rim Ghazi Abou Zein, both of Venice.’ The news was nothing short of astonishing. The man who’d assisted terrorist hijackers in Venice…working for an American defense contractor in Saudi Arabia? What was Chams doing for The Titan Corp? What made him think they owe him $22 million dollars? And most importantly… Was Makram Chams already working for Titan while in Venice?”

(Idem.)

5. Relating information presented in Welome to Terrorland, the program reviews Venice cab driver Bob Simpson’s experience with Chams, an unnamed Saudi prince and a man who appeared to be Zacharias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker. Simpson relates that Atta and Al-Shehhi frequented Chams’s convenience store, and that Chams associated with the hijackers at a Venice apartment.

“While we didn’t know the answers to any of these questions, one thing we did know was that Bob Woodward would not be on the case. The major media steered completely clear of stories about what was clearly the biggest 9.11 crime scene that wasn’t reduced to rubble: Venice, Fl., home to three of the four terrorist pilots. We decided to take a closer look at Makram Chams. A Venice Yellow Cab driver, Bob Simpson, first told us that the Middle Eastern man who owned the convenience store had been close to the hijackers, and that Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi frequently met at an apartment in Venice which he rented. (Watch him talk about it.) Simpson had been questioned closely by the FBI three days after the Sept. 11 attack. ‘I heard a voice say ‘this is Special Agent Joe Anderson from the FBI calling,” he told us. ‘My heart sort of skipped a beat. Then he said, ‘Don’t worry, you haven’t done anything wrong.'”

(Idem.)

6. More about Bob Simpson’s experiences with Makram Chams, Atta and Al-Shehhi.

“‘He asked if I’d seen pictures of the terrorists, and if I had, wanted to know if I recognized any. I said yes, I recognized Mohamed Atta. I’m the day driver for Yellow Cab in Venice, and he was in my cab a bunch of times in August,’ cabbie Simpson explained. ‘The night driver had him even more than I did.’ Simpson picked up Atta at the convenience store owner’s apartment on several occasions. He told the FBI he had been asked to drive to Orlando by a relative of the Middle Eastern man who owned the convenience store. ‘Their (the terrorists) best friend used to live upstairs on the second floor,’ stated Simpson, pointing to the Burgundy Square Apartments in downtown Venice. I saw Atta and Al-Shehhi there.’ ‘They were always hanging out together at the store. Most of the time, I’d be called by their friend, or they would call saying pick them up there at the market.'”

(Idem.)

7. In addition to the information that cab driver Simpson provided (and is presented in Welcome to Terrorland), Daniel relates that a Venice psychiatrist had encountered Atta at Chams’ Kwik-Check. Atta’s “dead eyes” impressed the psychiatrist.

“That the terrorist hijackers spent much time hanging out in Makram Chams’ Kwik-Check was independently confirmed by numerous observers, including a local psychiatrist who contacted us recently. ‘Nokomis Ave runs right behind the hospital in Venice,’ stated the psychiatrist. ‘Each day as I left the hospital for the office I’d head north on Nokomis. At the corner of Nokomis and Miami there was this little (Kwik-Chek) convenience store run by middle-eastern types.’ ‘Half the time I’d be late for the office and I’d stop in there and grab something awful for lunch. A woman and a large man were usually behind the counter. Some days I’d go in there and no one would be behind the counter but there would be loud talking in the back.’ ‘A few times I saw Atta in there, hanging around. Once I made eye contact with him—dead on! Emphasis on ‘dead’ because when we locked eyes a chill went through me and I thought: ‘He’s got ‘dead’ eyes.’ ‘When you become a shrink you sometimes get attuned to what might be going on with a person just from seeing how they look—their faces and eyes—on the street or in public. The chill I got when I saw Atta was not the chill of fear. It was a chill about how sick he looked. He looked to be one of the most depressed persons I’d ever laid eyes on.’ ‘He looked so depressed that it was as if he was already gone. In retrospect I feel he may have been just as happy to die for the sake of ending it all as he was to die for Allah.’ ‘A couple of weeks after 9/11 the convenience store closed up,’ stated the psychiatrist, who has since moved out of state. ‘I was down there last summer visiting the old psych unit crew, nurses and staff, at a yearly reunion at Sharkey’s, and the store was still closed up. I found a reference to the store on the TERRORLAND website, and it got me thinking.’ ‘I wish I’d paid more attention back then… but who knew?‘”

(Idem.)

8. Recapping information presented in Welcome to Terrorland, the broadcast relates Simpson’s account of encountering an apparent Saudi prince (or rich businessman) who retrieved a very heavy chest from the Venice apartment. The extremely heavy weight of the chest struck Simpson as unusual. That enormous weight may well have indicated that the chest contained gold. Zacharias Moussaoui may well have been the “big bald guy” who helped Simpson carry the chest down.

“Cabbie Simpson told of how he had picked up a wealthy Saudi businessman at the Orlando Airport after picking up the convenience store owner at the apartment in Venice. The FBI expressed interest in the rich Saudi, he said. ‘They were especially interested in a rich Saudi guy that I’d been sent to pick up at the Orlando Airport. They said they already knew that he’d ridden in my cab because they’d gotten my cab number from a surveillance camera at the airport.’ ‘He flew in on a private jet, and was dressed in Armani and shades, with his wife, who wore traditional Arab clothing. After clearing international customs, they proceeded back to a Venice apartment rented by the convenience store owner. Six weeks later, he drove the wealthy Saudi’s wife back to the Orlando Airport, Simpson told the FBI. Again they left from the convenience store owner’s Venice apartment. When he arrived to pick up his fare, Simpson was asked to come up to the apartment to help carry a chest down to the cab. ‘The chest was so heavy it took two people to carry,’ Simpson said. ‘A big bald guy who was there helped me carry the chest down.’ The man who helped him carry the chest down the stairs to the cab, said Simpson, was Zacharias Moussaoui.”

(Idem.)

9. “Cabbie Simpson had been so clearly impressed with how heavy the chest had been that we too were intrigued. We called a man we knew to have worked for many years in American intelligence to ask what he thought made the chest so heavy. ‘Gold,’ he replied immediately. ‘There was gold in that chest.’ The identification of Moussaoui in Venice confirmed what we had reported exclusively nearly four years ago, when we learned that the second Dutch national flight school owner at the Venice Airport, Arne Kruithof, was questioned for two days by officials taking depositions from potential witnesses in Moussaoui’s trial. Further confirmation of Moussaoui’s presence in Venice came much later from an unlikely and usually highly-dubious source: Rudi Dekkers. Continuing the FBI cover-up about the terrorist’s activity in Venice, jurors in the trial of Zacharias Moussaoui were never told that Moussaoui had been there. They did however, hear testimony which confirmed the allegation in ‘Welcome to TERRORLAND,’ of a systematic cover up by the FBI of the fact that Venice was the terrorist’s main base of operations.”

(Idem.)

10. Jurors in the Moussaoui trial were given information about Atta and Al-Shehhi’s presence in a single engine plane belonging to Huffman Aviation. This was two months after the FBI’s chronology states that Atta left Venice. Daniel also presents yet another detail about the wonderful world of Makram Chams: that he was a co-owner of a casino boat in Florida. This is no ordinary convenience store owner! Note that Suncruz casino boats are at the epicenter of the Jack Abramoff scandal. For more about Suncruz, Jack Abramoff and the murder of Gus Boulis, see—among other programs—FTR#516.

“In February 2001, the jurors were told, Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi had been spotted in Clearwater Florida flying a single-engine plane registered to Huffman Aviation…almost two months after the FBI’s official chronology states Atta left Venice and Huffman for good. We had initially thought that Makram Chams was probably an Arab operative sent in early to smooth the way for the hijackers. Then we discovered that Chams had been a PARTNER in 1997 and 1998 in a gambling boat called ‘Vegas in Venice,’ which cleaned up in Venice for two years. This information only added to our puzzlement. We wondered: Where does an immigrant, bootstrapping himself up in America through the time-tested method of owning a convenience store, get the JUICE to be a partner in a gambling boat? People kill to get jobs like that in Florida. Just ask Jack Abramoff.

(Idem.)

11. Next, Daniel Hopsicker connects the wonderful world of Makram Chams with a DC9 that was recently busted in Mexico with 5.5 Tons of Cocaine aboard. (Hopsicker dubs that plane “Cocaine One.”) One of the partners in the casino boat in which Chams was a partner is Max Burge—the owner of the planes used at Huffman Aviation!! And Burge had apparently done business with Frederic Geffon, the part owner of “Cocaine One.” Geffon’s ‘Royal Sons’ used Huffman Aviation’s address in some of its ads.

“The controlling partner in the gambling ship in which Makram Chams was a partner is Ian Goldfarb, from Gladwyne, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia. The only other local partner in the casino ship, we were shocked to discover, was Max Burge, who we’d interviewed during research for ‘Welcome to TERRORLAND,’ because Burge owned the planes used at Huffman Aviation. Small world. But it soon got even smaller… Frederic Geffon from ‘Royal Sons,’ the aggravated part-owner of ‘Cocaine One,’ told us that he had done business with Burge. Royal Sons had used the address of Huffman Aviation’s hanger at the Venice Airport in a few airplane ads. This is inexplicable, at least it is to Royal Son’s Frederic Geffon, who denies ever placing plane ads with a Venice Airport address. His denial rang a little hollow with his claim that anyone could have placed ads claiming to be him. Possible, perhaps. But also, we think, highly unlikely.

(Idem.)

12. Adding depth to our understanding of the wonderful world of Makram Chams, Daniel relates information from Chams’s sister. She claims that Chams was in San Diego helping the FBI. Hopsicker concludes that Chams was working for Titan Corporation while still in Venice. Hopsicker notes that Titan Corporation has touched many bases, including the Randy “Duke” Cunningham scandal. Titan personnel also appear to have been involved in the Abu Ghraib scandal. In weighing the allegation made by Chams’ sister, one should not lose sight of the fact that San Diego was another area frequented by 9/11 hijackers. Two of the hijackers were put up in San Diego by an FBI informant. Was Chams functioning in a similar fashion? (For more on the San Diego connections of the 9/11 hijackers, see FTR#507.)

“We finally found someone who knew what had happened to Makram Chams. It was his sister, May Chams. She was then working at the same pharmacy in Venice where we discovered, much later, that Mohamed Atta had brought his father, less than two weeks before the attack. We persisted in questioning May, in the face of her obvious hostility, and were finally rewarded. ‘Mak is in San Diego,’ she told us,’ helping the FBI.’ Only now does her statement make sense to us. But, if Makram hotfooted it to San Diego on ‘business’ after the 9.11 attack, it would be a strong indication that he had a relationship with Titan Corp… while he was still in Venice. It has since been revealed that Titan trains mercenaries, and provides mercenaries for operations. Current operations. Ongoing operations…”

(Idem.)

13. Foreshadowing information contained in his next story, Hopsicker highlights the apparent presence in the complicated background of ‘Cocaine One” of Adnan Khashoggi. Khashoggi was a major player in the Iran- Contra scandal, channeled money to Osama bin Laden and has been a partner with John Gray, a financial backer of the so-called “9/11 Truth Movement.”

“Disclosures in the Duke Cunningham scandal lead directly to Titan. Before it is done, this may present someone with some very thorny problems. As a result of our investigation so far, for example, we will be reporting in our next story that by delving into the relationships between the corporations involved in the 5.5 ton cocaine caper we have been able to uncover evidence of the unmistakable presence, behind the scenes in the scandal, of Saudi billionaire Adnan Khashoggi… The very same Adnan Khashoggi who has been a force behind a well-financed disinformation campaign billing itself the ‘9.11 Truth Movement.’ The U.S. military has a 1200-man psychological warfare battalion, we learned recently. They probably aren’t all working in Iraq. In all likelihood, a psy-op has been waged against the American people to draw attention from questions about who the terrorists were associating with–and what they had been doing–while they were in the U.S.”

(Idem.)

14. “Questions with answers. Someone would prefer they not become public. But you won’t find much about any of this on the innumerable websites of the ‘9.11 Truth Movement.’ Most seem to be utterly fascinated currently with speculation about materials which might have been secreted inside the Twin Towers which could have made them collapse. They used to utterly fascinated with proving that no plane hit the Pentagon. Before that there were utterly fascinated with the idea that the planes were flown by remote control. And on and on. Controlling the debate is easy when a billionaire is footing the bill. Advantage Khashoggi. But it ain’t over till its over… And there’s a DC9 sitting in Mexico tonight whose anxious owners know something about this powerful truth: It ain’t over.”

(Idem.)

15. Presenting an article that received only passing discussion in FTR#554, this discussion highlights Hopsicker’s theory that CIA director Porter Goss’s resignation was due to the bust of the DC9 in Mexico. As this article demonstrates, that plane was part of a CIA-connected air fleet, elements of which figured in the Iran-Contra drug smuggling operations. (For more about the Iran-Contra drug smuggling, see AFA#’s 29-34—available from Spitfire—as well as FTR#’s 01, 503. For more about links between the Iran-Contra drug smuggling and the milieu of 9/11, see FTR#’s 482, 483, 484.)

“The ‘mystery’ of Porter Goss’ resignation last month as CIA Director is apparently directly related to the huge seizure in Mexico several weeks earlier of over 5.5 tons of cocaine, according to government documents recently obtained by the The MadCowMorningNews. After Goss’s surprise resignation last month he told reporters his reason for resigning was ‘just one of those mysteries,’ offering no other explanation for his sudden departure after almost two years on the job. Goss’ resignation appears to be connected to the unprecedented withholding by the Federal Aviation Administration of the registration records for the DC9 (N900SA) which more than six weeks ago was caught carrying a cargo of five-and-a-half tons of cocaine, neatly packed into 126 identical black suitcases at a jungle airstrip in the Yucatan. At the time of the plane’s seizure on April 11, FAA officials stated the aircraft’s title records would become available to reporters within two weeks. Six weeks later that statement, in a phrase famous from the Watergate Scandal, has been rendered ‘inoperative.’

(“Porter Goss Resignation ‘Mystery’ Solved: DC9 with 5.5 Tons of Cocaine Was CIA Plane” by Daniel Hopsicker; Mad Cow Morning News; 5/25/2006.)

16. The actual ownership of the DC9 was obscured, due to the FAA’s reluctance to disclose the registration information of the plane. The DC9 and its sister plane have belonged to a series of front companies associated with the CIA. Many of those front companies have been looted, leaving investors holding the bag.

“However, the MadCowMorningNews was successful in obtaining the FAA records last week of the confiscated plane’s sister ship, an identical twin DC9 (N120NE) owned and operated by the same partnership. Both aircraft, painted to resemble U.S. Government aircraft from the Department of Homeland Security, were parked for several years at the general aviation terminal at Clearwater St Petersburg International Airport. The registration records reveal that the past ‘owners’ of ‘Cocaine One’s’ identical twin are well-known ‘front’ companies of America’s Central Intelligence Agency. The twin to the DC9 bursting with 5.5 tons of cocaine is a CIA plane. The plane’s owners over the past two decades, in fact, comprise a virtual Who’s Who of aviation companies known to serve as ‘fronts’ for the CIA, whose true identities came to light during the Iran Contra Scandal. Moreover, the FAA’s reluctance to release the registration of ‘Cocaine One,’ which should already be a matter of public record, is the clearest possible indication that those registration records will disclose the same thing. At least three companies to which ‘Cocaine One’s’ twin was registered have been looted, to the overall tune of almost $300 million dollars. The plane’s owners have left a trail of tears for investors, engaging in massive financial fraud, of a particular kind… Sociologists call it ‘state-sponsored crime.’

(Idem.)

17. The present owner of the DC9 known as “Cocaine One” and its sister plane is SkyWay Aircraft, a company owned by Glenn Kovar.

“Innocent investors and shareholders get swindled, the bad guys get away, and newspapers go silent. There is clearly something about these particular DC9’s which give their owners a license to treat shareholders and investors like marks, and steal millions from ordinary citizens. Working backwards from the present, the plane’s registered owner at the time it was busted was SkyWay Aircraft, the only tangible asset of SkyWay Communications Holding, a firm whose existence, as we’ve previously seen, served as nothing more than a meager excuse to run a penny stock fraud scam which bilked investors of a reported $40 million dollars… in less than three years. SkyWay shareholders will no doubt be gratified to learn that the bankruptcy of the firm seems not to have adversely affected the firm’s top officers financially.”

(Idem.)

18. Glenn Kovar—chairman of SkyWay—claims to have connections to the congress and the president of the United States.

“SkyWay’s 74 yr. old Chairman Glenn Kovar is currently building a six bedroom vacation chalet on a lake several miles north of Ducktown, Tennessee, tucked away in a picturesque rural setting boasting splendid whitewater rafting. Kovar, apparently eager to beginning to fill the six bedrooms in his new manse, has an online dating profile which reveals, among other things, that he’s eager to convey that he’s a romantic kind of guy, the kind who likes to take long walks on the beach at sunset. The affect is somewhat marred by the fact he don’t spell two good: ‘basicly i’m a romantic, touch and snuggle person,’ Chairman Kovar enthuses. There is also this nugget, which we hope a prosecuting attorney someday asks him about, preferably under oath: ‘i’m fortunate to be a senior advisor to the us congress and have dined with the president.’ Who might that be, Chairman Glenn? Do tell.”

(Idem.)

19. Glenn Kovar and his son Brent are allegedly working with the Department of Homeland Security. This is interesting, considering the fact that SkyWay appears to have lost $40 million of investors’ money. The DC9’s previous owner (before SkyWay) was Genesis Aviation, owned by Adnan Khashoggi.

“Beyond mocking a man who needs mocking, in the same way Southern lawmen talk about a particularly brutal criminal who ‘needs killing,’ these details are important because, incredibly… Kovar and his son are preparing another scheme. A source in Ducktown contacted us after speaking with the obviously relaxed Glenn Kovar, and told us us Kovar and his son Brent are in business together in a new venture, working hand in hand with the Dept. of Homeland Security. The development is troubling, in the same way going to bed on an ordinary school night and waking up in Oz might be. But SkyWay, which only lost $40 million of investors’ money, is an absolute paragon of excellence, corporate governance-wise, when compared to the DC9’s previous owner… Genesis Aviation is one of several dozen company fronts, all of which contain the name ‘Genesis’ in the title, controlled by one of the key figures in the Iran Contra scandal, Saudi billionaire and long-time CIA asset Adnan Khashoggi.

(Idem.)

20. “Last month the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Khashoggi and Ramy Al Batrawi, his lieutenant for the past 20 years, with stock fraud in U.S. District Court for Central California. The men are accused of orchestrating a $130 million fraud involving the stock price of GenesisIntermedia. When the helpful Khashoggi worked with Oliver North to sell arms to Iran, Ramy El-Batrawi was there, as president of a Khashoggi company, Jetborne International, indicted for illegally ferrying TOW missiles to Iran, an ‘enterprise’ which netted someone—though not the U.S. Government or the Contras it was supposedly funding—a tidy bit of change. Apparently neither man learned that crime doesn’t pay, because Adnan and Ramy’s recent pilferage make the Kovars look like kids stealing a candy bar from a 7-11 after school. ‘Just three months after the company’s Initial Public Offering (IPO), the nearly $17 million raised in the offering was gone,’ read one wire service story. ‘The creative dealings of defendant El-Batrawi partly explains how this money disappeared so quickly,’ reported the AP.”

(Idem.)

21. “‘El-Batrawi had a side deal called ‘Trade Your Way to Riches,’ and he thus arranged to have its mailing lists sold to Genesis for $3.8 million of the proceeds lifted from the IPO. Additionally El-Batrawi gave himself $362,149 for flying himself around in his private plane to promote the deal on the IPO road show.’ Another area where Glenn and Brent Kovar might learn something from past master Khashoggi is how, in your financial fraud’s aftermath, to make yourself scarce…”

(Idem.)

22. Another of the plane’s previous owners was Finova Capital, a front company that owned the C123 military cargo plane owned by Barry Seal (the subject of Daniel’s first book.) This same plane was shot down over Nicaragua, precipitating the investigation known as the Iran-Contra scandal.

“‘Lawyers for Mr. El-Batrawi and Mr. Khashoggi could not be immediately located for comment,’ reported the L.A. Times. ‘An SEC lawyer, Kara Brockmeyer, said the agency had not determined who their lawyers were. Mr. El- Batrawi has no listed telephone number in Los Angeles, and Mr. Khashoggi’s whereabouts is not known, according to the complaint.’ The SEC may be interested to learn what The MadCowMorningNews discovered El-Batrawi doing a year ago. The high-roller was spending millions gambling in Vegas, where he flew by private jet. The TV show ‘Casino Diaries’ even profiled him in action. The DC9 has also been ‘owned’ by Finova Capital, revealed in the early 90’s as a CIA front which also ‘owned’ the C123 military cargo plane used by notorious drug smuggler and CIA pilot Barry Seal, which was later shot down over Nicaragua with Eugene Hasenfus onboard.'”

(Idem.)

23. Hopsicker notes that the DC9 was previously owned by Greyhound Leasing, which also owned another drug smuggling plane belonging to Barry Seal. That plane later became the favorite plane of then governor of Texas George W. Bush!!

“The crash cracked open the Iran Contra Scandal, and inspired an ambitious burst of emergency damage control by Lt. Colonel Oliver North, who embarked on a three-day shredding spree reportedly designed to remove any trace of Barry Seal’s name from his files. U.S. officials vehemently denied the plane belonged to the CIA. At the time the plane was registered to General John Singlaub’s Southern Air Transport. Much later, Southern Air Transport went bankrupt, and the proceedings revealed that the company had been owned by an entity called Finova Capital, a CIA front company set up in Arizona and headquartered in Canada to escape American financial disclosure requirements. By that time, in 1998, no one was paying any attention, so the CIA’s use of front companies had once again been successful. Before Finova, the DC9 belonged, or, to use the spook phrase, ‘been parked’ with a company called Greyhound Leasing of Phoenix, AZ.”

(Idem.)

24. Greyhound leasing also experienced some unusual financial difficulties.

“Greyhound during this time period also ‘owned’ a Beech King Air used by CIA pilot and drug smuggler Barry Seal. After his death it became the favorite plane of then Texas-Governor George W. Bush. But no good deed goes unpunished, and Greyhound Leasing soon came up a little short. The company had somehow ‘misplaced’ $120 million dollars. The company’s accountants wrote that ‘fraudulent and dishonest acts . . . resulted directly in a loss of $119,684,598.’ That’s just a few bribes short of $120 million dollars. Not so, replied the company’s hapless general counsel, who responded weakly that the loss has been reduced to a mere $72 million. The massive fraud included checks written on napkins in Swiss restaurants and set afire after being cashed, the reported blackmailing, and sheepish looks all around.”

(Idem.)

25. Symptomatic of the extraordinary history of the companies figuring in the background of “Cocaine One” is the situation of Sheldon Player. After looting $55 million from Greyhound Leasing, Player only received five years in prison. The company’s chairman never went to prison, but became the head of a new company based in Mclean, Virginia. Mclean is part of an area of Northern Virginia that is home to many key CIA facilities, including the agency’s headquarters in Langley.

“The troubling question which puzzled business reporters in Phoenix were never able to puzzle out was this: Why were they giving money away down at Greyhound Leasing during the 1980’s? The disposition of the resulting criminal trial of the major player in the scheme is yet another illustration of the fact that, in America, being connected means never having to say you’re sorry. When Sheldon Player was sentenced for stealing $55 million from Greyhound Leasing, he received a five-year sentence. That’s one year for each $11 million he stole, which is a deal that—were it offered to ‘ordinary’ Americans—would have people lining up around Phoenix’s Federal Courthouses to sign up for. The company’s chairman, lucky fellow, never went to prison. Instead he resigned his position at Greyhound and had soon been appointed as the new president and chief executive officer of Finalco, an equipment finance and brokerage company based in Mclean, Virginia, the home of the CIA.”

(Idem.)

26. “This all began when Mexican soldiers arrested the Colombian co-pilot and the two Mexican pilots of a corporate jet sent to await the DC9’s arrival. ‘But the DC-9’s pilot escaped,’ reports a story on the website of the magazine Flight International, ‘fuelling conspiracy theories.’ Fuelling conspiracy theories in today’s America amounts to putting out fires with gasoline. And we certainly don’t want to appear to do that… So, we hasten to add, there is no doubt that this is all just a series of freak coincidences. There is also no doubt that the DC9 ‘Cocaine One’ still sitting on a runway somewhere in Mexico will eventually be shown to belong to someone with a swarthy complexion and a foreign-sounding last name. We’d like to hasten to add that as a direct result of the martial spirit and can-do attitude of our current ‘war-time’ President, there is also no doubt that Osama bin Laden will be caught and brought to justice, perhaps sometime this century. Thank God our President was able to steal the 2000 election from Al Gore… Who knows where we’d be today if he hadn’t done that.”

(Idem.)

27. For more about the background of “Cocaine One,” see Daniel’s article “Aircraft’s Owners in 5.5 Ton Cocaine Bust Include Tom De Lay Appointee, ‘Royal Sons LLC'”.)

Discussion

2 comments for “FTR #554 Conversation with Daniel Hopsicker”

  1. A Saudi prince is under arrest in following what was described as the biggest drug bust ever as Rafik Hariri International Airport. What was he smuggling? Some cocaine and two tons of Captagon, the stimulant of choice for fighters in Syria:

    The Telegraph
    Saudi prince held after seizure of two tons of amphetamines at Beirut airport
    Prince Abdel Mohsen Bin Walid Bin Abdulaziz was held with four other men in what was described as the biggest ever drugs bust

    By Richard Spencer, Middle East Editor

    5:24PM GMT 26 Oct 2015

    A Saudi prince has been detained at Beirut airport in Lebanon after two tons of an amphetamine drug popular with Syrian rebels was found on a private jet.

    Prince Abdel Mohsen Bin Walid Bin Abdulaziz and four other men were held after what was described as the biggest ever drugs bust at the city’s main Rafik Hariri International Airport, according to local media and security sources.

    They were allegedly “attempting to smuggle about two tons of Captagon pills and some cocaine”, a security source was quoted as saying..

    Captagon is a brand name for the widely used amphetamine phenethylline.

    Although this type of amphetamine has been prescribed in the past to treat childhood and other behavioural disorders, it is now used overwhelmingly as a stimulant in the Middle East.

    It has long been banned in the West.

    It is the drug of choice for front-line fighters on both sides in the Syrian war, allowing a heightened state of alertness.

    It is unclear where the pills allegedly found in Beirut were ultimately to be sold, although the plane was said to be heading back to Saudi Arabia.

    That would fit one of the more unexpected side-effects noted of the Syrian war – the country’s growing role as an exporter of illegal drugs.

    There have been reports that Syrian suppliers to both sides of the conflict have become so successful in manufacturing Captagon that it is now an export product, smuggled through Lebanon to a broader Middle East market.

    It has been a bad few weeks for the Saudi royal family’s minor princes. Prince Majed bin Abdullah was arrested last month in Los Angeles for allegedly trying to force a woman to perform oral sex, though charges were dropped last week.

    “It is unclear where the pills allegedly found in Beirut were ultimately to be sold, although the plane was said to be heading back to Saudi Arabia.”
    Keep in mind that Captagon is so widely used in Syria that it’s now produced there and exported so the prince may not have been taking the drugs to Syria conflict but instead taking it back home. It’s a reminder that ISIS’s many wealthy sponsors might sometime be getting more in return than just the accomplishment of long-held strategic objectives (and oil).

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 7, 2015, 5:10 pm
  2. Apparently suitcases containing cocaine are also very heavy.

    Rudi Dekkers had a partnership with an aviation company at this airport for example.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1603792.stm

    Posted by adam | May 2, 2016, 7:55 am

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