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

MP3 Side 1 | Side 2

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.”


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.


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?”


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.’ ”


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.’ ”


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?’ ”


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.”


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.”


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.


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.


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...”


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.”


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.”


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.’ 


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.”


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.”


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.


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.”


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…”


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.’ ”


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.”


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.”


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.”


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.”


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’ ”.)


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.


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

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