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Tipped Kettle


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back  The top secret Israeli-US program to establish "Al Qaeda" WayneMadsenReport     and Haaretz, Tipped Kettle below
July 28, 2010 -- The top secret Israeli-US program to establish "Al Qaeda"

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 Mujaheddin 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 mujaheddin 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 mujaheddin 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 mujaheddin 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 mujaheddin 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 laudering of Saudi proceeds for the radical Sayyaf and Bin Laden mujaheddin 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.


Haaretz, Tipped Kettle
The truth about Israel, Iran and 1980s U.S. arms deals Recently declassified Pentagon documents reveal a strange, not to say illicit, 1980s operation called 'Tipped Kettle,' in which weapons stolen by Israel from the PLO in Lebanon were transferred to the Contras and to anti-American elements in Iran

By Amir Oren

The collection of declassified documents published two weeks ago by the Pentagon reveals infighting among branches of the U.S. administration and intrigues in foreign countries - including 1980s' Israel. The impression one gets is not especially positive. The Americans are publishing the documents now not because they are trying somehow to suggest to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu how he should behave, but because the law obligates them to reveal records in due course following a review, unless there is a genuine reason to keep them secret. In the aforesaid period Netanyahu served as deputy to Moshe Arens, when he was Israel's ambassador to Washington, D.C. (1982-83 ). Arens' staff then also included Gen. Menachem Meron, the military attache in Washington, and spokesman Nachman Shai. Arens and his aides constituted an island of sanity in their relations with the administration of U.S. President Ronald Reagan, at a time of hostility in the U.S. capital toward the government of Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Defense Minister Ariel Sharon.

IDF soldiers with weapons captured during the first day of the Lebanon war.

Photo by: IDF Spokesman's Office The recently revealed documents deal with an operation dubbed "Tipped Kettle," involving weapons the Israel Defense Forces looted from the Palestine Liberation Organization during Operation Peace for Galilee in Lebanon, and their transfer to the Contras - opponents of the socialistic Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. That was the first episode, of rather questionable legality according to U.S. law, in a more complex story whose second installment, in 1985-1986, became known as the Iran-Contra scandal. Part II was patently illegal - a blatant effort by the White House to violate a Congressional order and to cook up a strange deal involving the sale of American weapons (originally supplied to the IDF ) to anti-American Iran, for use in its war with Iraq; the release of Western hostages being held in Lebanon by Iranian-controlled Hezbollah; and the financing of Contras' activities thanks to the difference between the sum paid by the Iranians and the true value of the weapons - minus a profit for those engaged in the deal.

By the end of that decade, during the trial of U.S. Marine Col. Oliver North and other officials in the Reagan administration, charged with deceiving Congress and providing false testimony to a special prosecutor, Operation Tipped Kettle was also briefly mentioned in the court proceedings. Now, however, the whole picture has come into view, with its emphasis on the behavior on the Israeli side.

In the fall of 1982, Reagan's secretary of defense, Caspar Weinberger, was trying to implement a policy intended to combat pro-Soviet elements in Latin America, including the Sandinistas. Even more belligerent than he was CIA director William Casey. The CIA had direct intelligence connections with the Mossad, but in the affair of the captured weapons the American agency preferred to hide behind the Pentagon. The system of communication between the CIA and the Pentagon was called Focal Point; it had been used to facilitate connections between them since the mid-1950s. Officially, Israel was unaware then that the weapons taken from the PLO would be used not by the U.S. Army in its training bases, but rather to arm the Contras.

Though the Republicans controlled the White House at the time, the Democrats controlled Congress. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Edward Boland, achieved a majority for a series of bills named for him, which limited the administration's ability to help the Contras. In one of the bills, passed in the fall of 1984, all U.S. intelligence agencies were prohibited from any such activity. (North tried to outsmart the law, claiming, after he came under investigation, that the National Security Council, which coordinated the operations, was not an intelligence agency. )

The legislation meant, in effect, that without the specific approval of Congress, no money could be formally budgeted in this case. Therefore, Casey, North and their colleagues had to use subterfuge to supply the arms, for example, by way of "donations" from foreign countries - Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Brunei - or circuitous deals with South Korea, Taiwan, China and especially Israel. The loot captured from the PLO during the war, at a cost of hundreds of Israeli dead, was particularly suitable for use by the Contras. And if Kalashnikov rifles fell into the hands of the Sandinistas, there would have been fewer questions about its source.

'No policy problem'

The first of the Pentagon documents concerning Operation Tipped Kettle was sent by Weinberger to Casey on November 17, 1982. The subject: rifles, machine guns and light mortars for infantry fighters "captured by Israeli forces in Lebanon." The Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency "can offer assistance in helping to acquire significant amounts of these types of weapons presently available in Lebanon." The letter didn't say from whom exactly the weapons would be purchased - from the Christian Phalange forces, from other organizations or from Palestinians in areas outside IDF control. The State Department, added Weinberger, had "no policy problem with this effort as long as it is not publicized."

"In a separate action, our efforts to obtain captured weapons directly from the Israeli government have been delayed while their military attache, MG Meron, is out of the Washington area. He should return within the next few days and the subject will be raised at that time ... We are prepared to meet your request through the Focal Point System," wrote Weinberger.

In March 1983, four months later, Weinberger sent Casey a second letter, declaring, "I am glad to report significant progress." In February, back in Israel, the Kahan Commission of inquiry report on the massacres in the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in Beirut was submitted, as a consequence of which Ariel Sharon was dismissed as defense minister. At that point, staff from the embassy in Washington took over at the ministry in Tel Aviv: Arens was at the top, Meron became director general, and Shai was media adviser.

Weinberger reported that "a joint DoD/CIA survey team visited Israel and was shown about 300 metric tons of captured weapons and ammunition suitable for your purposes. Shortly after Ambassador Arens became the new Israeli MOD, the DoD was informed that these weapons would be provided to the U.S. at a small percentage of their market value. This charge, which I understand will be agency funded, would only be for packing and handling and is anticipated to be in the neighborhood of $100,000. My staff is in the process of setting up the movement of these weapons to the U.S. Due to the weight and bulk of these items they will have to be moved by surface transport and thereby will not be available until the May/June timeframe."

That same day, the U.S. Navy was instructed to provide transport for "military items ... that will be shipped from the Israeli port of Ashdod ... to the East Coast of the United States."

Weinberger updated Casey: "The shipment will be available for CIA pickup" and "can remain packed in the 34 Land/Sea containers until reaching their destination. The Land/Sea containers are the property of the Government of Israel and will need to be ... returned to Israel."

The shipment included 20,000 rifles and submachine guns, 1,000 machine guns, 90 recoil-less rifles, 110 mortars, 1,000 hand grenades and a large amount of ammunition. "The then newly appointed Israeli minister of defense, Moshe Arens, made the final decision that these weapons were to be provided on a gratis basis to DoD. This was one of MOD Arens' first actions ... and was clearly a signal of his desire to improve U.S./Israel relations," according to the Pentagon documents.

Israel, with one-time and well-calculated generosity, did not lose much money here: In the 1980s, private arms dealers sold similar Kalashnikov rifles, made in Yugoslavia, for $210 each. The market value of all the Kalashnikovs in the shipment in question was only about $4 million; 60-mm. mortars were sold for about $1,500 and 81-mm. mortars for about $5,000.

Added costs

A year later, the CIA's appetite was whetted again; now there were additional factors in the equation. Weinberger's new undersecretary for international security, Richard Armitage, became a close friend and regular visitor of the new military attache, Gen. Uri Simhoni; the same was true of Weinberger's senior military assistant, Gen. Colin Powell.

In June 1984, Weinberger received a memo from Armitage describing the process by which the looted weapons had been transferred a year earlier. Armitage mentioned that the mission was accomplished as a result of talks between Maj. Gen. Richard Secord and Meron, and a decision by Arens. In February 1984 the Pentagon was asked to find out whether there were additional weapons available in Israel "under the same financial terms" - i.e., "available for operational use at little or no cost." In contacts with the Israeli government a few months earlier, in March, it turned out that there were additional weapons stolen from the PLO caches, including Katyushas and anti-aircraft weapons, but that they were "for sale." A joint Pentagon-CIA survey delegation, headed by the liaison officer with Israel (whose name is erased, apparently a Col. Forster ), went to Israel to examine the items.

"Contacts with the GOI," noted Armitage dryly, "revealed that they had placed a value of over $77M on these weapons, while DoD sources estimated the cost of the weapons at around $27M." Or, according to another estimate, $35 million. The head of the U.S. Army Museum, an expert on Soviet weapons, estimated the value at only $17 million.

Armitage's deputy, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Edward Tixier, Secord's successor, was traveling to Israel to discuss a different matter and said he would speak privately to director general Meron to discuss transferring the second collection of captured weapons to the Pentagon at little or no cost. If Tixier succeeded, the weapons could arrive in the U.S. at the end of July and be sent immediately to the CIA.

Prior to the Armitage-Simhoni meeting on May 24, Armitage wrote to a liaison officer subordinate to him that "the chances of the U.S. ever obtaining these weapons is poor if they are not in our possession by July 23, 1984 (the date of the upcoming Israeli election ). Our contacts in the Israel MOD (to include both Mr. Arens and Gen. Meron ) could be gone the following day, and establishing relations with new players could be time-consuming."

According to the recently declassified documents, Israeli activity was frozen at the time, because of "the confusion in the GOI over what direction U.S. policy in Central America is heading and the role that Israel can and should play in relation to the topic. If you feel that timing is right you may which to discuss the issue of payment for these weapons. Because Israeli funds would have to be found to cover specific project related costs (packing, crating, shipping ), we should offer to pay these line items. We should not offer to pay anything for the weapons for two reasons: the weapons will be used to further Western interests, and in the grand scheme of U.S./Israeli relations, a good will gesture on the part of Israel (at a low dollar cost for them ) would be most helpful with the GOI is requesting U.S. assistance on major projects such as funding for the new SAAR-5 missile-attack boat, the Lavi, the F-4 upgrade, the upgrading of the Merkava tank, and the usage of FMS funds off-shore, to mention a few.

"Prior to moving any of this equipment, there needs to be a lead time of several weeks, so that our EOD [explosive ordnance disposal] and logistics people can do the planning required to make this operation work. There is no time to spare if we are to complete this effort prior to Israeli elections."

In order to save time, Meron suggested that packing of the weaponry begin - this time, over 100 containers were needed - while internal consultation in Israel continued.

The Arens-Meron camp, the Americans reported to their dispatchers, had two problems: IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Levi, eager to speed up the withdrawal of the IDF from Lebanon, gave top priority to establishing a security zone and therefore also arming of the forces of Saad Hadad - which became the South Lebanon Army - with the weapons in question. The IDF's security assistance unit, headed by Col. (res. ) Zvi Reuter, and foreign relations department, demanded monetary compensation. Above all, the clock was ticking: Soon there would be a new Knesset and perhaps a new defense minister, who would bring in a new director general.

In the last telegram from Tel Aviv, bearing the censored signature of the liaison officer, there is an hour-by-hour description of the consultations, maneuvering and bargaining: hints that the price could be reduced if a way could be found to increase the aid; anger in the Pentagon at the Israeli chutzpah; examination of alternatives; encrypted telegrams from the embassy; bridging proposals; a "gentlemen's agreement" without signatures.

The elections came and went and the race between Labor, headed by Shimon Peres, and Likud, headed by Yitzhak Shamir, ended in a tie. A week later, before the Peres-Shamir government was formed, Arens signed an approval of the transaction: Weapons worth $30 million to $40 million in exchange for the expectation of an increase in military assistance. Arens was forced to vacate the ministry in favor of Yitzhak Rabin, who like him was pro-American, but Meron remained in the post of director general for two more years.

The Tipped Kettle papers end with an internal memo, with no addressees or signatories, which was written on the day the Iran-Contra affair was exposed, in November 1986. It reports that Reuter, the head of security assistance , complained that the debt for the second transaction had yet to be paid. The complaint was examined in the Pentagon and it revealed an astonishing finding. The Israeli military attache's office in Washington and the international branch of the Defense Department had reached a secret arrangement: In return for Israel waiving the payment, the U.S. defense contractor Numax was to retain its security clearance and government contracts after being purchased by Israel.

What the officers and ministers, the officials and ambassadors are doing in secret today will be revealed, thanks to the Americans in another 25 years.