“November 4, 1991.”
“FROM: PAUL BEACH”
“Subject: Meeting with Ed Williamson – October Surprise”
“— ..In this regard, Ed mentioned only a cable from the Madrid Embassy mentioning that Bill Casey was in town, for purposes unknown.”
November 5, 1991. Robert Maxwell is found dead, floating in the sea off the Canary Islands of Spain.
The “October Surprise,” as it came to be known in the press, was an operation by members of Ronald Reagan’s campaign to stop the release of U.S. hostages by Iran, which they feared would be released in October of 1980, giving President Carter a boost in public opinion before the 1980 Presidential election. “In 1983, a congressional investigation into the theft of Carter’s debate briefing book during the 1980 presidential campaign revealed that the Reagan campaign had an elaborate 24-hour-a-day operation, overseen by Casey, to monitor Carter’s efforts to free the hostages.”
“Former President Jimmy Carter has said in interviews that he received reports after late summer 1980 that the Reagan campaign was dealing with the Iranians to delay the release of U. S. hostages.”
Jamshid Hashemi, who supported the 1979 Iranian Revolution, said he and his brother Cyrus acted as interpreters between Medhi and Hassan Karubi on the Iranian side and William Casey and two other men on the American side in meetings in Madrid July and August of 1980. There they discussed exchanging arms for hostages after the Republicans came to power. In a good example of how absurd the rules of classification on this subject are, you can read the above account in a document declassified by the CIA in 2012 of a transcript of a TV report by Ted Koppel in 1991 of this event that took place in 1980 here.
William Casey, Ronald Reagan’s campaign manager and future CIA Director, had an alibi that he was not at the meeting with the representatives of Ayatollah Kmohmeini. Casey was lying. As Robert Parry explained it,
“Casey had skipped the key morning session on July 28, 1980. The significance of this confirmation of Casey’s trip to Madrid can hardly be overstated. The influential October Surprise debunking stories – ballyhooed on the covers of Newsweek and The New Republic – hinged on their joint misreading of some attendance records at a London historical conference which they claimed proved Casey was there and thus could not have traveled to Madrid.”
There is no shortage of reporting and speculation that Mossad killed Robert Maxwell because Maxwell threatened to go public with information damaging to Israel unless they fixed his financial problems. While correct to an extent, this analysis does not take into account: how Maxwell’s knowledge could have damaged the Reagan/Bush Administration; the nature of the relationship between the intelligence communities of the United States and Israel was at the time; the strange coincidence between the timing of the November 4, 1991 “Beach memo” and Maxwell’s death; or the multitude of other people related to IranContra who met fates similar to Maxwell.
Certainly Mossad was involved in Maxwell’s death, however. It’s not a secret that Robert Maxwell worked for Israel, not after his funeral. Gordon Thomas in Gideon’s Spies, The Secret History of the Mossad wrote:
On November 10, 1991, Maxwell’s funeral took place on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, the resting place for the nation’s most revered heroes. It had all the trappings of a state occasion, attended by thee country’s government and opposition leaders. No fewer than six serving and former heads of the Israeli intelligence community listened as Prime Minister Shamir eulogized: “He has done more for Israel than can today be said.” (1)
The Washington Post wrote “Israel Gives Maxwell Farewell Fit for a Hero.”
On Maxwell’s role for Israel, Thomas wrote: “Maxwell was Mossad’s high-level Mr. Fixit. He opened the doors to the highest offices. The power his newspapers meant that presidents and prime ministers were ready to receive him.” (2)
At the time of his death, Robert Maxwell had information that would have been very damaging to the United States and Israel. Maxwell knew the financial side of America’s arms sales to Iran brokered through Israel. Thomas wrote that on March 15, 1985, Maxwell set up a meeting with Nahum Admoni and Ari Ben-Manashe of the Mossad and introduced them to Viktor Chebrikov of the KGB. At this meeting an agreement was reached to deposit the profits from arms sales to Iran into banks in the Soviet Union. Robert Maxwell was paid a commission for arranging the meeting. (3)
Previous to this meeting, in March of 1981, Rafael Eitan and Air Ben-Menashe moved to New York to facilitate the shipment of American arms and software to Iran via Israel. They formed a company, Ora Limited, as a front company in this venture. (4) In March of 1983, Eitan told Ben-Menashe to hire Nicholas Davies to be a representative of Ora Limited in London. (5) Davies was employed by Maxwell as foreign editor of the Daily Mirror.
By 1991, Maxwell was in serious debt. He had overextended himself financially when he borrowed $3 billion in 1988 to buy Macmillan Publishing Group. This acquisition was on the advice of Robert S. Pirie, President of Rothschild, Inc. Maxwell sold what assets he could and stole £450 million from his employee’s pension fund, but it wasn’t enough.
As Thomas described, Maxwell considered Mossad to be the party guilty of the theft. On September 30, 1991, Maxwell called Nahum Admoni and “said that unless Mossad arranged to immediately return all the stolen Mirror pension fund money, he could not be sure if he would be able to keep secret Admon’s meeting with Vladimir Kryuchkov, the former head of the KGB.” (6) This appears to be a reference to the March 15, 1985 meeting that Maxwell brokered regarding the deposits of the proceeds of America’s sale of weapons to Iran into USSR banks.
It all hit the fan when on October 21, 1991 when Seymour Hersh published his book The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Option and America’s Foreign Policy. Thomas wrote “News of the book had caught Mossad totally by surprise and copies were rushed to Tel Aviv.” (7) This book mainly reported details of Israel’s nuclear program, but also contained Hersh’s assertion that Nicholas Davies was involved in the sales of arms from the United States to Israel to Iran. (8) Nicholas Davies was foreign editor for Maxwell’s Daily Mirror.
Two days later, on October 23, 1991, members of Parliament called for an investigation “to establish the truth or otherwise of the allegations and, if they are well founded, the extent of foreign intelligence penetration of Mirror Group Newspapers.” Maxwell promptly sued Hersh on October 25, 1991 over Hersh’s reporting.
After Maxwell’s September complaint to Admoni, Maxwell received a call from the Israeli Embassy in Madrid on October 29, 1991. The caller informed Maxwell that everything could be worked out and that he should fly to Gibraltar, board his yacht, travel to the Canary Islands by sea and wait for further instructions there. (9) Maxwell did so and arrived at the Island of Tenerife on the port of Santa Cruz October 31, where he dined with an unknown person at a Hotel. (10)
Angel Delgado, the Island’s Governor, gave a press conference at midnight the day Maxwell was found in the sea.
At a hastily-improvised midnight press conference at Reina Sofia airport in the south of Tenerife, the island’s Civil Governor, Angel Delgado, said Mr Maxwell’s motor yacht, the Lady Ghislaine, left Santa Cruz in the north of the island at 10pm on Monday and put into Puerto de los Cristianos at 9am yesterday.
But, he said, Mr Maxwell’s body was found by a fishing boat floating 19 to 20 miles from Gando on the other side of the neighbouring island of Gran Canaria – more than 100 miles from the obvious route between the points of departure and arrival. Asked to explain how the body could have got there, Mr Delgado replied: “That’s a good question.”
Gordon Thomas’ account, however, said that Maxwell ordered his captain to motor around the island for 36 hours, staying well offshore, in contrast to the 11 hours of travel that Angel Delgado reported. (11) Thomas relayed Business Age magazine’s account of how Mossad boarded the boat and killed Maxwell. (12)
In addition to the damaging information that Maxwell knew of the banking deposits of the arm sales into the Soviet Union, it’s possible that Robert Maxwell also came to possess a copy of the cable from the “Madrid Embassy” or other related information proving that William Casey was in Madrid on July 1980, thus breaking Casey’s alibi in the arms-for-not-releasing-hostages deal. The timing of Maxwell’s death with the Beach memo has not been vetted by journalists and authors.
It is noteworthy that Ghislaine Maxwell, Robert’s daughter, was the first Maxwell family member to board the Lady Ghislaine after her father’s death. She ordered the crew to destroy documents.
This would not be the first time that documents could have implicated Bush in knowledge and participation in arms-for-hostages deals. Such information would be an issue in the assassination order of Amiram Nir and the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. But first, let’s take a look at the relationship between the U.S. and Israel in the Reagan/Bush administration.
As described by Gene Tatum, National Security Decision Directive #3 signed December 4, 1981 by Ronald Reagan put the Vice President (Bush) in charge of “crisis management.” In a “crisis,” the Department of Defense, the CIA, Joint Chiefs of Staff and others would report to Bush. This group which would report to Bush was called the Special Situation Group (SSG). Subsequently, April 10, 1982, NSDD #30 added the Terrorist Incident Working Group (TWIG) to the SSG. Tatum claims that Israel and Britain both had a member in this 6-person group and that any of the 6 could “call a mission,” where “mission” clearly means “assassinate” (although you won’t find that information in the NSDD #30). (13) So, if you believe Tatum’s account, in someone like Maxwell’s case, whether “Bush did it” or “Mossad did it” isn’t much different, in that Bush could call a mission and Mossad could implement it, or vice versa.
Amiram Nir, according to Tatum, was Israel’s representative on TWIG for some time. (13) This fits with Thomas’ account that Nir “became one of the most important members of Israel’s intelligence community in 1984, when Peres appointed him to the ultrasensitive post of his adviser on combating terrorism.” (14) Arimam began working with Oliver North on the still ongoing sales of arms to Iran. Nir flew with North from Tel Aviv to Tehran on May 25, 1986 with a shipment of TOW missiles and Hawk missile spare parts. (15) Iran rejected the shipment for an unexplained reason and used the shipment for a “massive propaganda coup.” (16) (President Reagan later gave a televised speech in November 1986 denying that ransom was paid for hostages).
In July 29, 1986, George Bush flew to Jerusalem to discuss the arms for hostages operation with Amiram Nir. (17) (18) Craig Fuller, aide to Bush, took notes. “These notes were deleted from the Boren Committee report of January 1987 for ‘diplomatic’ reasons, according to the State Department.” (19)
The Boren Committee nevertheless painted a clear picture of the nature of the arms for hostages program. (20) Although they didn’t state it in these terms, the following is obvious. Bush and his cronies got money. Israel got what they wanted- a stronger Iran in the Iran/Iraq war. The hostage takers got money. Iran got arms. The only ones who got screwed were the hostages, Iraq, and the U.S. taxpayers. The only thing necessary to keep the program going was— hostages.
Amiram Nir recorded the entire July 1986 conversation he had with Bush on the program. (17) I speculate that Bush expressed a desire for continued hostage taking as a basis to keep the arms sales strong. Nir resigned from Mossad in March 1987. (21)
Oliver North, John Poindexter and two others were indicted March 17, 1988 for conspiracy to defraud the United States. They weren’t reimbursing the taxpayers for the arms they were selling.
Amiram Nir was scheduled to testify at North’s trial. Ari Ben-Menashe approached Nir in November of 1988 and questioned him about what his testimony would be. Nir made it clear that his testimony would be damaging to both the United States and Israel. (22)
Soon after speaking to Ben-Menashe, Nir was in a mysterious plane crash in Mexico on November 30, 1988. It is unclear whether he survived. He traveled to Mexico with his companion Adriana Stanton. They could have taken a direct flight to Mexico, but along the way went through, once again, Madrid, Spain, using false names. (23) One can only assume this Nir went through Madrid to gather information on the meetings with Casey and the Iranians or other information damaging to the United States and/or Israel.
On December 21, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 exploded in air after departing London over Lockerbie, Scotland. The flight originated in Frankfurt, Germany.
On board the aircraft as it left London on that December night in 1988 were eight members of the U.S. intelligence community returning from duty in the Middle East. Four of them were CIA field officers, led by Matthew Gannon. Also on board were U.S. Army major Charles McKee and his small team of experts in hostage rescue. They had been in the Middle East to explore the possibility of freeing the Western hostages still held in Beirut. (24)
Matthew Gannon and Charles McKee were also at the meeting between Bush and Amiram Nir on July 29, 1986. (17)
For insurance purposes, Pan Am hired a private investigator to prove the crash was a result of terrorism. (25)
Aviv had concluded that the attack had been planned an execute “by a rogue CIA group, based in Germany, who were providing protection to a drug operation which transported drugs from the Middle East to the U.S. via Frankfurt…
Aviv’s report claimed McKee had learned about the “CIA rogue team,” which had worked under the code name of COREA, and that its members also had close ties to another of those mysterious figures who had found his niche on the fringes of the intelligence world. Monzer Al-Kassar had built a reputations an arms dealer in Europe, including supplying Colonel Oliver North with weapons for him to pass on to the Nicaraguan Contras in 1985-86.
The report further claimed McKee had discovered the scam while pursuing his own contacts in the Middle East underworld in an attempt to find a way to rescue the Beirut hostages. Aviv stated in his report that “McKee planned to bring back to the U.S. proof of the rogue intelligence connections to Al-Kassar.”(26)
COREA used a person in the baggage handling area at Frankfurt to swap checked suitcases for ones containing drugs. Gannon’s suitcase was never discovered, leading to the theory that his suitcase contained the bomb. McKee’s suitcase was returned to Scottish investigators intact and was logged as “empty,” leading to the belief that he had documents on the arms-for-hostages scam which were confiscated. (27)
That’s the death of three people, with potentially 5 separate sets of information damaging to the George Bush on the arms for hostages scam.
- Robert Maxwell, and his meeting brokering the deposits of arm sales to USSR in March 1985;
- Robert Maxwell, and whatever information he may have gathered around the time of his death in November 1991 when the White House reported a cable had been discovered stating that William Casey was in Madrid;
- Amiram Nir, and his recorded conversation with George Bush in July 1986 on the arms for hostages program;
- Amiram Nir, and whatever information he may have gained on his layover in Madrid on his way to Mexico in November 1988 before his plane crash;
- Charles McKee, and whatever information he may have gained from his “Middle East contacts” while trying to obtain a release of hostages in Beirut.
The object of this report is not to do a full accounting of all the questionable deaths related to the arms for hostages program, but to reframe the context of the death of Robert Maxwell with other similar and notable deaths in the arms for hostages program. A full accounting would be quite lengthy. According to the EIR investigative team, just by 1989 when they published this report: “Over 20 persons with established or suspected connections to Iran-Contra operations have died over the past several years.” Those are listed in the report.
(1) Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas, Page 210
(2) Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas, Page 177
Maxwell was Mossad’s high-level Mr. Fixit.He opened the doors to the highest offices. The power his newspapers meant that presidents and prime ministers were ready to receive him. Because of who he was, they spoke to him as if he was a de facto statesman, never realizing where the information would end up.
(3) Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas, Page 176
Not until Admoni and Ben-Menashe entered Maxwell’s office suite in Mirror Newspapers headquarters in London’s High Holborn did their host announce there would be one other person present to share the bagels, lox, and coffee Maxwell had ordered must be available whenever he was in the building.
Like a conjurer producing a rabbit out of a hat, Maxwell introduced Viktor Chebrikov, vice chairman of the KGB, and one of the most powerful spymasters in the world. With masterful understatement, Ben-Menashe would subsequently admit that “for a KGB leader to be in a British newspaper publisher’s office might seem a fanciful notion. But at the time President Gorbachev was on very friendly terms with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, so it was acceptable for Chebrikov to be in Britain.”
More debatable is what the founder of Thatcherism and its free-trade principles would have made of the agenda for the meeting. Sprawled in Maxwell’s hand-tooled leather armchairs, Admoni and Ben-Menashe led the discussion. They wanted to know if “very substantial amounts” of currency were to be transferred to banks in the Soviet Union, could Chebrikov ensure the deposits would be safe? They money was from ORA’s profits in the sale of U.S> arms to Iran.
Chebrikov asked how much money was involved.
Ben-Menashe replied, “Four hundred fifty million American dollars. With similar amounts to follow. A billion, maybe more.”
Chebrikov looked at Maxwell as if to ensure he had heard correctly. Maxwell nodded enthusiastically, “This is perestroika!” He boomed.
To Ben-Menashe the sheer simplicity of the deal was an added attraction. There would be no galaxy of middlemen chipping away their pieces of commission. There would just be “Maxwell with his connections and Chebrikov, because of the power he wielded. His involvement was a guarantee the Soviets would not steal the funds. It was agreed the initial $450 million would be transferred fro Credit Suisse to the Bank of Budapest in Hungary. That bank would disburse the money to other banks in the Soviet bloc.”
A flat fee of $8 million would be paid to Robert Maxwell for brokering the deal.
(4) Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas, Page 169
…With the full approval of the prime minister, Ben-Menashe was released from all other duties to work with Eitan. The two men moved to New York in March 1981. Their purpose, Ben-Menashe would recall, was straightforward: “Our friends in Tehran were desperate to have sophisticated electronic equipment for their air force and air and ground defenses. Israel, of course, wanted to help them as much as possible in their war against Iraq.
As the volume of the New York operation increased, it became necessary to have a central holding company to process the billons of dollars involved in the purchasing and selling-on of arms. The name chosen for the company was ORA, “light” in Hebrew.
(5) Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas, Page 170
In March 1983, Ben-Manashe was told by Rafi Eitan to recruit Nicholas Davies into ORA…
Ben-Menashe remembered: “We agreed he would be our London conduit for arms, our contacts man for various Iranian and other deals. His home address would be used on ORA stationery and during the day his direct off phone number— 822-3550— would be used by our Iranian contacts.”
In return, Davies would receive fees commensurate with his newfound role as a key player in the arms-for-Iran operation. In all, he would receive $1.5 million, deposited in bank accounts in Grand Cayman, Belgium, and Luxembourg.
(6) Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas, Page 207
On September 30, 1991, further evidence of Maxwell’s bizarre behavior became public when he telephoned Admoni. This time there was no disguising the threat in Maxwell’s words. His financial affairs had once more taken a turn for the worse, and he was being investigated in Parliament and the British media, so long held at bay by his posse of high-priced lawyers and their quiver of writs. Maxwell then said that unless Mossad arranged to immediately return all the stolen Mirror pension fund money, he could not be sure if he would be able to keep secret Admon’s meeting with Vladimir Kryuchkov, the former head of the KGB. Kruchkov was now in a Moscow prison awaiting trial for his role in an abortive coup to oust Mikhail Gorbachev. A key element of the plot had been a meeting Kryuchkov had on Maxwells yacht in the Adriatic shortly before the coup was launched.
(7) Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas, Page 208
The matter for Mossad could only have become more urgent with the publication of a book by the veteran American investigative reporter Seymour M. Hersh, The Samson Option: Israel, America and the Bomb, which dealt with Israel’s emergence as a nuclear power. News of the book had caught Mossad totally by surprise and copies were rushed to Tel Aviv. Well researched, it could nevertheless still have been effectively dealt with by saying nothing; the painful lesson of the mistake confronting Ostrovsky’s publisher (also the publisher of this book) had been absorbed. But there was one problem: Hersh had identified Maxwell’s links to Mossad.
(8) The Samson Option, Seymour Hersh, Pages 309-310
Hounam and the editors at the Sunday Times did not know that as they worked, Mordecai Vanunu had been compromised to the Israelis by a Fleet Street colleague named Nicholas Davies, the foreign editor of the Daily Mirror, sister newspaper of the Sunday Mirror. Davies’s contact was Ari Ben-Menashe. He and Ben-Menashe had been partners in an international arms sales firm initially known as Ora Limited, which had operated out of Davies’s London home since 1983. Ora Limited, set up with the approval of the Israeli government, according to Ben-Menashe, was designed to get arms flowing into Iran—one of many such undercover operations around the world. “Davies was my main backup on all the Iran arms sales,” Ben-Menashe said…
…Nick had a friend in the Mossad,” Ben-Menashe recalled, and there was a casual meeting in London. Davies accepted an invitation to visit Israel; it was just a few more steps before he became an Israeli asset. As a Catholic from northern England, Ben-Menashe said, Davies was the perfect cutout, a well-dressed charmer with a strong taste for the good life.
Ben-Menashe’s files include hundreds of telexes and other documents indicating that Ora Limited was actively involved in arms trafficking with Iran at the highest levels. One 1987 cable, sent to Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, pro vided terms for the sale to Iran of four thousand TOW missiles at a cost of $13,800 each. The cable declared that a British citizen named Nicholas Davies, as a representative of Ora Limited, “will have the authority to sign contracts in Iran. . . .” An other series of documents revolved around the 1987 efforts of Ora Limited to set up a communications company in Tucson, Arizona, to be headed by Robert D. Watters, then a broadcast engineer at the University of Arizona’s television station. Watters, an expert on satellite voice communications, recalled many meetings with Ben-Menashe in Tucson and many telephone conversations with Davies in London. “I thought Nick was the money man,” Watters said. “He was there representing Ora.”
(9) Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas, Page 209.
On October 29, 1991, Maxwell received a call from a katsa at the Israeli embassy in Madrid. Maxwell was asked to come to Spain the next day, and, according to Ostrovsky, “his caller promised that things would be worked out so there was no need to panic.” Maxwell was told to fly to Gibraltar and board his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine, and order the crew to set sail for the Canary Islands “and wait there for a message.”
Robert Maxwell agreed to do as instructed.
(10) Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas, Page 209.
On October 31, after Maxwell reached the port of Santa Cruz on the island the island of Tenerife, he dined alone in the Hotel Mency. After dinner a man briefly joined him. Who he was and what they spoke about remain part of the mystery of the last days of Robert Maxwell. Shortly afterward, Maxwell returned to his yacht and ordered it back to sea.
(11) Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas, Page 209.
For the next thirty-six hours, the Lady Ghislaine sailed between the islands, keeping well clear of land, cruising at various speeds. Maxwell had told the captain he was deciding where to go next. The crew could not recall Maxwell showing such indecision.
(12) Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas, Page 209.
Gideon’s Spies, 209. On October 30, four Israelis arrived in the Moroccan port of Rabat. They said they were tourists on a deep-sea fishing vacation and hired an oceangoing motor yacht. They set off toward the Canary Islands.
In what it claimed was a “world exclusive,” headlined “How and why Robert Maxwell was murdered,” Britain’s Business Age magazine subsequently claimed that a two-man hit team crossed in a dinghy during the night from a toro yacht that had shadowed the Lady Ghislaine. Boarding the yacht, they found Maxwell on the afterdeck. The men overpowered him before he could call for help. Then, “one assassin injected a bubble of air into Maxwell’s neck via his jugular vein. It took a few moments for Maxwell to die.”
(13) Gene Tatum
General Colin Powell represented the Department of Defense; William Casey, the CIA; and Donald Gregg, the National Security Council. “FBI guys rotated in and out,” Tatum says. “It was like they couldn’t get anyone,” he concludes. Representing British Intelligence was Sir Colin Figure. Formerly head of MI6, Sir Colin transferred in 1986 to become “Security Coordinator”, one of the top slots at the Cabinet office under the premiership of Margaret Thatcher. He retired in 1989. Amiram Nir represented Israeli interests until his assassination by an “Archer” team led by Tatum-at the request of high-level Israeli individuals-in 1988. Any of these six could “call a mission”. In addition, George Bush could do likewise. Of significance, too, was the occasional representation on the TIWG of Lord Chalfont. The British lord was an adviser on “Mid-East affairs” between 1986 and 1990.
(14) Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas, Page 319
His previous knowledge of intelligence sprang from his work as a reporter with Israeli television, and then from working for the country’s largest daily newspaper, Yediot Aharonot; it was owned by the Moses dynasty, into which he had married… Nir’s marriage not only had made him the husband of one of the wealthiest women in Israel, but had also provided him with ready access to the higher echelons of the country’s political hierarchy.
Nevertheless, there was astonishment when he became one of the most important members of Israel’s intelligence community in 1984, when Peres appointed him to the ultrasensitive post of his adviser on combating terrorism.
(15) Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas, Page 319
On May 25, 1986, posing as technicians employed by Aer Lingus, the Irish national airline, Air and North flew from Tel Aviv to Tehran on an Israeli aircraft painted with Are Lingus’s distinctive shamrock logo. On board were ninety-seven TOW guided missiles and a pallet of Hawk missile spare parts. Nor was traveling on a false U.S. passport. It had been provided by North.
(16) Gordon Thomas, Page 320
The first Mossad knew of the mission was when the aircraft entered Iranian airspace. Nahum Admon’s reaction was described as “incandescent rage.”
Luckily the Iranians simply ordered the visitors out and used the mission to score a massive propaganda coup against the United States. Reagan was furious. In Tel Aviv, Admoni cursed Nir as “a cowboy.”
(17) Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas, Page 323
The commander’s story revolved around his claim that Nir had met with George Bush, then vice president, on July 29, 1986, at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, to brief him about the ongoing sale of U.S. arms via Israel to Iran. According to writer Joel Bainerman, “Nir was secretly taping the entire conversation. And this provided him with evidence linking Bush to the arms-for-hostages deal. At the meeting were McKee and Gannon, who would die in the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie.”
REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE UNITED STATES SENATE .
LTC North sent a memorandum to Admiral Poindexter, also dated July 29, proposing that Poindexter get the President’s approval to ship the remaining Hawk parts to Iran. North also sent an electronic message to McFarlane emphasizing that Father Jenco’s release had been on outgrowth of McFarlane’s mission to Iran, rather than the result of any Syrian role. The document includes a notation by Admiral Poindexter, dated July 30, that the President had approved the shipment of the remaining Hawk parts to Iran. On the same day, Vice President Bush was given a briefing in Jerusalem by Mr. Nir. The Vice President attended the meeting at the suggestion of LTC North. According to a memorandum dated a week later by an official who was present at the briefing, Nir indicated he was briefing the Vice President at the request of Prime Minister Peres. He conceded the problems encountered in the program, but argued that the Iranians with whom they were dealing were ones who could “deliver.” He also discussed the problem of the sequence of release of additional hostages. According to the memo, the Vice President made no commitments and gave no direction to Nir.
(19) Irangate, the secret government, and the LaRouche case by an EIR Investigative Team
Boyden Gray has been caught several times falsifying the public record about the involvement of Bush and of his office staff in Iran-Contra. Gray was the principal public apologist for the suppression of Bush aide Craig Fuller’s notes on the meeting of Bush with Amiram Nir in Jerusalem on July 29, 1986. These notes were deleted from the Boren Committee report of January 1987 for “diplomatic” reasons, according to the State Department. December 1987 Gray admitted that Bush had “inadvertently” issued an “incomplete” chronology on the dealings of Bush and his office with the Contras.
REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE UNITED STATES SENATE .
Documents and testimony indicate that Adnan Khashoggi and other international arms dealers, including Manucher Ghorbanifar, were interested in bringing the U.S. into an arms relationship with Iran, and had discussed this at a series of meetings beginning in the summer of 1984 and continuing into early 1985. These discussions reportedly included the idea of an “arms for hostages” deal in part as a means of establishing each country’s bona fides. Khashoggi reportedly met with various leaders in the Middle East to discuss policy toward Iran during this same period.
In May 1985, the CIA National Intelligence Officer for the Middle East prepared a five-page memo which went to the NSC and the State Department, arguing for a change in U.S. policy that would seek a more constructive relationship with Iranian leaders interested in improved ties with the West. The memo argued in part that the U.S. could permit allies to sell arms to Iran as one of the alternative means of establishing Western influence so as to offset growing Soviet inroads in Iran. Apparently using the arguments in this memo two members of the NSC staff then prepared a draft National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) which proposed a departure in U.S. policy toward Iran. Describing the Iranian political environment as increasingly unstable and threatened by Soviet, regional aims, the draft NSDD stated that the U.S. is compelled to undertake a range of short and long term initiatives to include the provision of selected military equipment to increase Western leverage with Iran and minimize Soviet influence.
JUNE 14, 1985
On June 14, 1985, TWA Flight 847 was hijacked. According to testimony by White House Chief of Staff Donald Regan, McFarlane mentioned the possibility of requesting use of the Israeli channel to Iran in briefings to the President during the crisis. Regan said that this was his first awareness of any such contacts.
In July 1985 Khashoggi sent McFarlane a lengthy paper he had written dealing with the political situation in Iran. McFarlane testified that he did not recall seeing these papers, but indicated the existence of prior “think pieces” Khashoggi had sent him on the Middle East. A staff member of the NSC testified that McFarlane gave the Khashoggi paper to another NSC staffer. Michael Ledeen, a professor at Georgetown University, and a part-time NSC consultant beginning in February 1985, appears to have played a key role in the initial contacts between the U.S. and Israel vis-a-vis Iran. According to Ledeen, while on a trip to Europe in April 1985, he spoke with a European intelligence official who had just returned from Iran. The official characterized the internal situation in Iran as more fluid than previously thought, and suggested it was time for the U.S. to take a new look at Iran. He said that the U.S. should discuss this with the Israelis, who the official believed were unusually well-informed about Iran.
JULY 3, 1985
According to testimony by McFarlane, on July 3, 1985, David Kimche, Director General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry and a former intelligence officer, contacted McFarlane and reported to him that Israel had succeeded in establishing a dialogue with Iran. Kimche stated that as a result of growing concerns with Soviet pressures, Iranian officials had asked Israel to determine whether the U.S. would be interested in opening up political talks with Iran. According to McFarlane, Kimche stated that the Iranians understood U.S. concerns regarding their legitimacy and therefore had proposed to use their influence with radical elements holding U.S. hostages in Lebanon. Although there was no specific Iranian request for arms, Kimche admitted to the possibility that the Iranians might raise the arms issue in the future.
AUGUST 8, 1985
On August 8, 1985 at a meeting of the National Security Planning Group in the White House residence, McFarlane, with Poindexter, briefed the President, the Vice President, Shultz, Weinberger, Regan, and Casey on the Kimche proposal to permit the sale of TOWs to Iran through Israel.
AUGUST 30, 1985
According to documents received by the Committee, the shipment of 508 TOWs left Israel on August 30, 1985, transited a third country and arrived in Iran on September 13. North later asserted to Meese that he was totally unaware of the TOW shipment at the time it occurred.
SEPTEMBER 15, 1985
On September 15, 1985, the Reverend Benjamin Weir was released from his captivity in Lebanon. According to testimony received by the Committee, there was reason to believe at the time that Ghorbanifar played a direct role in the event. In addition, Ledeen testified that it was clear to the Israelis that there was a causal relationship between the September arms shipment and Ghorbanifar’s role in it and the release of Weir. The view that the Iranians helped to secure Weir’s release appears to have been shared by McFarlane.
NOVEMBER 25, 1986
On November 25, McMahon learned that a CIA proprietary had flown the arms to Iran in support of an “NSC mission” without his knowledge or approval. According to McMahon, he instructed that no further CIA activity in support of the NSC operation was to be conducted without a Presidential Finding authorizing covert action. McMahon also directed that involved CIA officials brief the CIA General Counsel, Stanley Sporkin, on what had transpired.
NOVEMBER 26, 1986
This draft finding was prepared by Sporkin, approved by DCI Casey and delivered to Poindexter on November 26. The draft Finding authorized CIA to provide assistance to “private parties” seeking to free American hostages. It also contained language retroactively ratifying all previous activities undertaken by U.S. officials in pursuit of this effort and directed that the Congress not be informed until directed by the President
JANUARY 19, 1986.
On January 18, 1986, he and two other CIA officials, accompanied by the CIA General Counsel, met with North and Poindexter at the White House where they were told that the President had signed a Finding the day before and that CIA would provide support for the activity, which was to be run out of the NSC. They were also told, according to testimony, that the Finding stipulated that Congress was not to be informed because of the sensitivity of the hostage situation. Documents received by the Committee indicate that on January 21, the CIA was asked to assist LTC North in preparing for a meeting in Europe with Ghorbanifar. They did so later that day.
(21) Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas, Page 320
No longer welcome in Washington and isolated in Tel Aviv, Amiram Nir resigned as the prime minister’s counterterrorism adviser in March 1987.
(22) Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas, Page 320
But it was not avocados that brought Ari Ben-Menashe to Nir’s door on a rainy November night in 1988. He wanted to know exactly what Nir intended to reveal when he was a major witness in Oliver North’s forthcoming trial over his role in the Iran-Contra scandal. Nor made it lear his testimony would be highly embarrassing not only for the Reagan administration, but also to Israel. He intended to show how easy it had been to sidestep all the usual checks and balances to run illegal operations that would also implicate a number of countries, including South Africa and Chile. He added he was planning a book that he believed would make him the greatest whistle-blower in the history of the State of Israel. Ari Ben-Menashe arranged to meet Nir after he had made another visit to Nucal in Mexico.
(23) Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas, Page 321
On November 27, 1988, Nir and Stanton traveled together to Madrid under false names… Why they had chosen aliases for the flight tickets when they both traveled on their real passports– Israeli and Canadian– would never be explained. Another mystery was why they took a flight first to Madrid when there were several scheduled direct ones to Mexico City.
(24) Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas, Page 316
(25) Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas, Page 321
Understandably desperate to show the destruction of Pan Am 103 had been an act of terrorism for which it could not be culpable, the airline’s insurers hired a New York firm of private investigators called Interfor. The company had been founded in 1979 by an Israeli, Yuval Aviv, who had immigrated to the United States the previous year. Aviv claimed to be a former desk officer with Mossad– a claim the service would deny.
(26) Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas, Page 317
(27) Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas, Page 316
Though the Lockerbie disaster investigation was still under the jurisdiction of a Scottish team, CIA agents were on the scene when McKee’s still closed and miraculously intact suitcase was located. It was taken away from the scene for a short time by a man believed to be a CIA officer, though he would never be positively identified. Later the suitcase was returned to the Scottish investigation team, who logged its contents under “empty.”
No one queried what had happened to McKee’s belongings, let alone why he had been traveling with an empty suitcase. But at the time, no on suspected that the CIA officer might have removed from the suitcase data that explained why Pan Am 103 had been destroyed. Gannon’s luggage was never accounted for— giving rise to the belief that the actual bomb had been placed in his suitcase. No satisfactory explanation would ever emerge as to how or why a CIA officer was carrying a bomb in his suitcase.
The PBS investigative television program Frontline subsequently claimed to have solved the case of the disaster. Pan Am 103 had begun its journey in Frankfurt, where U.S.- bound passengers from the Middle East transferred on to Flight 103. Among them were Gannon and his CIA team, who had traveled on Air Malta flight to make the connection. Their baggage was similar to thousands of suitcases that passed through the hands of Frankfurt baggage handlers every day. One of them was in the payoff terrorists. Somewhere in the airport baggage bays the handler had concealed a suitcase already containing the bomb. His instruction was to spot a matching suitcase coming off a connecting flight, and substitute his suitcase, and then let it continue on into the hold of Pan Am flight 103.