"How did it come to pass that an opposition's measure of a president's foreign policy was all or nothing, success or "failure"? The answer is that the political absolutism now normal in Washington arrived at the moment--Nov. 7, 2000--that our politics subordinated even a war against terror to seizing the office of the presidency." - Daniel Henninger - WSJ 11/18/05
"the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts." - George Orwell

Monday, June 11, 2007

Who in the world is Monzer al-Kassar and What does he have to do with Transnational Terrorism – Dumb Looks Still Free

An amazingly thoughtful and intellectual site "Dumb Looks Still Free," posted regarding Monzer al-Kassar, his bio and links to terrorism. It is a long read, however it is also an indicator of the complicated subject we find ourselves faced with.

From Dumb Looks Still Free:

"[The following is a 'rush job', so spelling and syntax are not what I would like them to be]

So, just who *is* Monzer al-Kassar?

We get a look into his life in the larger work done by Antonius Johannes Gerhardus Tijhuis at Leiden University in the Netherlands by way of a paper he did on this subject: Transnational crime and the interface between legal and illegal actors. And in Chapter 3 - Individuals and Legitimate Organizations as Interface, he would examine the business of mixing up legal and illegal activities by a few individuals, and concentrate on Mr. Kassar along with Viktor Bout and Faoud Abbas. These three range from pretty evenly divided between the legal and illegal with Mr. Kassar, to the very little legal, but enough to give cover, in the case of Mr. Abbas.

From that chapter we get a brief overview of Mr. Kassar's life, from his early dealings in the 1970's with the Mafia and Terrorists as he served as intermediary for drugs and guns, using stolen vehicles, which got him pulled over in 1979 in Paris. Over that span he would work his way closer to a drug wholesaler and finally find himself in business in Morocco when the wholesaler was in jail there. The ever enterprising Mr. Kassar then would utilize the kidnap for ransom fever going on in Lebanon to help alleviate his problems by offering the French the opportunity to get some French hostages freed. A lovely snippet on the ability of Mr. Kassar to influence folks that should be arresting him is described with this:

The primary example here is Al Kassar who, for example, closed a deal with the French government. While being sentenced to eight years in Paris, he negotiated without any problem with the French authorities and several opportunities to arrest Al Kassar were ignored.
So much for this 'rule of law' concept! Yes he could, indeed, influence people and he could help the French... if they would just ship some arms to Iran. Such a good deal! How could the CIA pass that up? Well, from what we see in the Iran/Contra business, it didn't.

Thus comes in Ollie North, Richard Secord and a lively crew of folks looking to purloin some weapons, get some cash, free some hostages and get arms to the Contras all in a few easy steps. They would set up a business they called the 'Enterprise' and it would work with an international arms dealer who had a direct line to Iran: Mr. Monzer al-Kassar. Mr. Kassar had moved offices to Poland so as to avail himself of Soviet bloc arms, which were a bit cheaper and easier to sell than Western ones. So the 'Enterprise' would look to get a ship to do the go between work, owned by a Portugese company: Defex.
So now a bit from Chapter 8 of the Walsh Report on Iran/Contra:"


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