SPECIAL REPORT: The top secret Israeli-US program to establish “Al Qaeda”
By Wayne Madsen
Press clips gathered by the CIA and discovered in the National Archives’ stored CIA files point to an agency keenly interested in any leaks about the highly-classified CIA-Mossad program to establish Osama Bin Laden and the most radical elements of the Afghan Mujahidin as the primary leaders of the anti-Soviet rebels in the 1980s.
WMR has pored through the CIA files and a complicated picture emerges of America’s and Israel’s top intelligence agencies, in cahoots with Saudi Arabia, establishing financial links and carve out intelligence programs to provide manpower and financial support to Bin Laden and his allies in Afghanistan. It was these very elements that later created the so-called “Al Qaeda,” which the late British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook described as nothing more than a “database” of CIA front organizations, financial supporters, and field operatives. However, one component omitted by Cook in the Al Qaeda construct is the Israeli participation.
Thanks largely to the CIA station chief in Riyadh in 1986-87, millions of dollars from the Saudi government, particularly then-deputy Prime Minister Prince Abdullah, now King Abdullah, and wealthy Saudi businessmen were funneled to the most radical leader of the Afghan rebels, Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, for whom militant southern Philippines Muslim rebels named their organization, the Abu Sayyaf group.
Accounting for only two percent of the mujahidin guerrillas in the field in Afghanistan, Sayyaf’s group began receiving hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of recruits from other countries, more than other six major mujahidin groups fighting the Soviets. The tilt to Sayyaf was a result of the intercession of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Saudi intelligence, the CIA, and Mossad. Another key Saudi intermediary was Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who the Bush family has dubbed “Bandar Bush” because of his close links to the Bushes, and who was the Saudi ambassador to the United States on 9/11.
The Reagan White House’s intermediary with Sayyaf’s group during 1986 and 1987 was Michael Pillsbury, the Assistant Undersecretary of Defense for Policy who continues to serve as a Pentagon consultant. Eventually, with the urging of Salem Bin Laden, and his older brother Osama, the CIA gave the green light for Sayyaf to bring into Afghanistan a dedicated group of Arab fighters, recruited from countries such as Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab countries. Some of the Syrian volunteers were refugee survivors of Syrian President Hafez Assad’s massacre of Sunni Muslims in Hama in 1982. Ironically, the first Arab training camp was established in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistani border and was known as Maasada, or the “Lion’s Den.” Masada is the site of the Roman siege of Jewish forces in 72 where the Jews committed suicide rather than surrender to the Romans. Masada is Hebrew for “fortress.”
Although the roles of Oliver North, National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, Iranian Jewish interlocutor and con-artist Manucher Ghorbanifar in using the Israelis as a pass-through for weapons transfers to the Iranians are well-known, not much has been reported on Israel’s role in providing financial and military assistance to Bin Laden’s and Sayyaf’s mujahidin forces at Maasada in Afghanistan during the war with the Soviets.
The CIA kept articles, mainly written by Jack Anderson and Andrew Cockburn, on the highly-classified but leaked CIA-Mossad-Saudi operation. Two CIA front companies, Associate Traders of Vienna, Virginia and Baltimore, Maryland, and Sherwood International Export Company, a license State Department arms broker with offices in Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Miami, and London, arranged for 60,000 rifles, bought for $3.6 million from the Indian Defense Ministry in September 1983, to be shipped with a false end-user certificate for Portugal, to be shipped to “Any UK Port.” In fact, the rifles were actually delivered to Saudi- and Pakistani-controlled mujahidin forces in Afghanistan, including those controlled by Bin Laden and Sayyaf.
Sherwood also used what was believed to be a Mossad front, Shimon Ltd., registered in the Cayman Islands, to ship $1.8 million worth of Brazilian rifles to Nicaraguan contras in Honduras and Costa Rica. Again, a false end-user certificate was used, one that stated the ultimate destination of the Brazilian rifles was Baltimore. Another Israeli firm, Tahal Consulting, and the Israeli ambassador in San Jose, Costa Rica, David Tourgeman, were involved in providing further military logistics support to the contras in Costa Rica and Honduras.
Sherwood’s Cayman Islands subsidiary Cromwell, Ltd., used the same registration agent in the Caymans that was used by Shimon Ltd. Shimon was discovered to have shipped $9.4 million in military equipment to Lagos, Nigeria, a shipment that was actually destined to Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA guerrillas in Angola. Joint CIA-Mossad operations to send weapons to guerrilla groups in Asia, Latin America, and Africa was code-named KK MOUNTAIN by the CIA. The specific CIA-Mossad operation to transfer weapons to the Nicaraguan contras and other forces around the world during the 1980s was called Operation Tipped Kettle by the CIA. Among the recipients of Israeli expertise and weapons in Tipped Kettle were the Medellin drug cartel’s death squads and Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega. Tipped Kettle also involved the secret transfer of arms by Israel to Iran. Some of the key Israeli players in Tipped Kettle were Lt. Col. Amatzia Shuali; Noriega adviser Michael Harari; Amiram Nir, counterterrorism adviser to then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres; and former Mossad deputy director general David Kimche.
The money laundering for the arms shipments was conducted through the First National Bank of Maryland in Baltimore, which initiated the money transfers through off-shore banks in the Cayman Islands and Panama. The ultimate destination of the funds was Switzerland, from where the weapons purchases were made without either the CIA’s or Mossad’s fingerprints. Tipped Kettle also involved the laundering of Saudi proceeds for the radical Sayyaf and Bin Laden mujahidin groups through Swiss bank accounts.
Another firm used in Tipped Kettle was Bophuthatswana International Ltd., a joint CIA-Mossad front, with a “do business as” [DBA] name of B International, operating from an office on Madison Avenue in New York. The firm was listed by the Justice Department as a registered agent of the apartheid-era self-proclaimed Republic of Bophuthatswana, an entity only recognized by South Africa. Mossad also used other apartheid republics in South Africa, including Ciskei and Transkei, to mask their illegal weapons smuggling operations. Tipped Kettle also involved the apartheid regime of South Africa and the military dictatorship of Argentina. The network was also used to smuggle arms to Argentina during that nation’s Falklands war with Britain.
CIA’s Operation Tipped Kettle: The trinity of CIA, Mossad, and Saudi Arabia provided weapons and cash to Osama bin Laden and Rasul Sayyaf in Afghanistan during 1980s.
Now, some 25 years later, there appears to be another Mossad weapons smuggling operation, operating with a wink-and-a-nod from Langley, that has appeared in the Pacific Northwest.
An individual named Oliver King was arrested May 19 in Washington State. King, charged with weapons smuggling, was reported to be an Iranian-born citizen of Canada. However, King, 35, is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and has alleged links to the CIA, the Department of Defense, and the National Security Agency, according to published press reports. According to a July 15 report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, King’s McMinnville, Oregon gun shop partner said King told him he was an agent of Mossad. King earlier told an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives that he was a veteran of the IDF.
The Post-Intelligencer reported that INTERPOL records consist of a rap sheet for King that includes convictions for fraud, assault, and weapons charges while living in Denmark. INTERPOL files also reveal that King has claimed phony degrees from the Danish Technical Institution. Seattle-based Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Roe has insisted that King was born in Iran, although his reported service in the IDF and Mossad would negate such a claim, unless King is an Iranian Jew. King is said to have been born Hamid Malekpour in Tehran.
King was arrested by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents after he was tracked from the Canadian border to his associate’s gun shop in McMinnville, called McMinnville Hunting and Police Supplies, and then to a rented storage unit in Ferndale, Washington, south of Blaine. The gun shop, located at 1000 Office Plaza on Highway 99 West, turned out to be an empty office. The Yamhill Valley News Register reported on May 24 that the gun store serves customers by appointment only. Local McMinnville and Yamhill County law enforcement officials were not aware of the federal investigation of the gun shop, which had failed to re-file for its Oregon state corporate license in February. The situation is reminiscent of local law enforcement seeing local criminal cases against Israeli art students and movers pre-empted by the FBI and other federal agencies before and after 9/11.
From the storage unit, ICE agents seized a sniper rifle, semi-automatic weapons, high-powered scopes, and ammunition from King’s storage unit and car. King is said to have been a resident of Canada since 2003 but his firearm’s dealers license was revoked by Canadian authorities because of suspicions he was smuggling weapons. King’s firearms license in Canada was issued under the name Hamid Malekpour. ICE’s arrest of King capped an investigation that lasted for over a year. A previous search of King’s car at the Blaine, Washington border crossing in February 2009, yielded a resume that claimed King operated businesses in Switzerland, Denmark, and the United States.
An Iranian visa issued this year and two issued last year were found in King’s passport, which was not due to expire until 2013. Subsequently, the passport was revoked for unknown reasons. King gave ICE agents conflicting stories on the reason for his last visit to Iran: consulting for an unnamed company, a hunting trip, and to visit relatives. After the questioning, King returned to his stated home in Vancouver, Canada. The similarities between King’s operations and Operation Tipped Kettle are striking. In the subsequent months, King crossed the border to the U.S. 18 times and said he was visiting a post office in Blaine.
In March of this year, ICE agents witnessed King stop on the shoulder of Interstate 5 and witnessed him performing “counter-surveillance” tactics. On May 19, at the Blaine crossing, King produced a newly-issued Canadian passport, without the Iranian visas that appeared in his original passport. In fact, the new Canadian passport bore the issue date of May 19, the same day King was arrested. King was then arrested at a storage unit in Ferndale after he picked up several boxes from the McMinnville “gun shop.” King claimed he was a “consultant” and that the guns did not belong to him but the owner of the McMinnville gun shop, a man named Amir Zarandi. When arrested, King denied being a Canadian citizen and said that he lived in Seattle. An BATF agent said King told him that he was a veteran of the Israeli army and that he was born in Israel.
King paid the rent for the gun shop with Canadian cashier’s checks and no required federal firearms license logbooks or export licenses for weapons were found when federal agents searched the premises. Agents found no office equipment except for a single stool. Empty boxes from established weapons manufacturers and distributors were found in the shop. McMinnville Hunting and Police Supplies’ actual owner said he met King at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam and said King told him how he got around export controls to move ammunition from Iran to Israel. King also said he knew how to ship guns and ammunition via the Netherlands and Israel to Chile because Israel has no requirement for tracking such shipments. The owner reiterated that King told him that he worked for Mossad.
The Seattle PI also reported that Danish officials had a record of King being born in Germany, not Iran or Israel but also a huge rap sheet, including forgery, violence, assault, offenses against public authorities, fraud, extortion, and violations of Denmark’s weapons laws. King’s attorney, who recently withdrew from the case, said King had official contacts within the CIA, NSA, and Department of Defense prior to his arrest. Roe admitted that a search of King’s computer turned up evidence on “foreign parties” operating in foreign countries. King has been indicted on charges of being an alien in illegal possession of firearms and ammunition and making false statements to federal officers. King remains in federal custody.
Aside from the Seattle P.I., most main stream media has been downplaying King’s Israeli nationality, with KOMO-TV in Seattle reporting on May 26 that King was an Iranian with three Iranian visas in his Canadian passport. No mention was made of Israel. A recent report in the Seattle Times also made no mention of Israel or Mossad. However, Roe has convinced a federal judge to postpone King’s trial, originally scheduled for August 9, because the government is seeking an additional indictment against King and others. Roe says the investigation is complex and involves witnesses in several other countries, including Iran, Denmark, and Canada. But curiusly, Roe did not mention Israel. King fits the profile of an Israeli Unit 269 or Sayeret Matkal agent, a special commando assigned by the IDF to agencies like Mossad to carry out special missions deep within foreign locations.
The King case has all the markings of a renewed Operation Tipped Kettle, with the govermnent dragging its feet on prosecution and the Israeli connection being buried by everyone, save the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. As with the Israeli movers and “art students” detained before and after 9/11, a covert Israeli intelligence operation, involving Iran and U.S. security agencies is being swept under the carpet.
Madsen is a regular contributor on Russia Today. He has been a frequent political and national security commentator on Fox News and has also appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, and MS-NBC. Madsen has taken on Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity on their television shows. He has been invited to testify as a witness before the US House of Representatives, the UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and an terrorism investigation panel of the French government.
As a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. He subsequently worked for the National Security Agency, the Naval Data Automation Command, Department of State, RCA Corporation, and Computer Sciences Corporation.
Madsen is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Association for Intelligence Officers (AFIO), and the National Press Club