The composition of this group of straw owners, composed of a fascinating collection of people with often interlocking connections through various other enterprises, says a lot about the circles the CIA runs in.
Among the few who lent their names to the registration of more than one of these CIA planes is the granddaughter of Texas oil tycoon H.L. Hunt, who back in the 1930’s was known as the richest man in America. Hunt’s other singular distinction is having been accused by Russian newspaper Pravda of being behind the JFK assassination.
A disquieting discovery
The investigation uncovered
incontrovertible, if unsurprising, proof of involvement in the operation
by the Mob (in this case, the Chicago Outfit) by Texas oil interests,
Saudi financiers, and, of course, the CIA.
But unearthing new evidence about the CIA’s role in the drug trade for the past 50 years no longer provides much grist for the gossip mill. Time marches on. Gary Webb was right. Everybody knows it.
One sign of the times is that where once there was outrage over CIA involvement in drug trafficking, today many seem glad to see the Agency developing outside interests that don’t require access to a dungeon.
What is eye-opening however is the disquieting discovery that those involved in the enterprise, like Adnan Khashoggi and his lieutenant Ramy El-Batrawi, both of whom have long histories in past CIA operations, also used their ability to operate with impunity—their get out of jail free card—to act like the worst sort of double-dealing flimflam men, bunco artists and grifters.
They were doing the CIA “double-dip.” Keeping one eye on incoming flights at St Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport for news of a drug plane’s safe return to Florida, and one eye on the fine print in SEC filings.
Khashoggi and El-Batrawi used a slick financial stock scheme to game the system, and plunder hundreds of millions of dollars from investors and taxpayers in what became known as Stockwalk, which led to what was then (2004-2005) the largest brokerage bankruptcy since the Great Depression.
Khashoggi and El-Batrawi participated in the wide-spread looting of the American economy. But they were far from acting alone.
Was the plundering systematic?
sheer number of clearly CIA-connected entities engaged in massive
financial fraud, for example, by stripping companies of their assets and
using bankruptcy laws to walk away, that I encountered while pursuing
links to drug trafficking in St. Petersburg was astonishing. A big
question today: Was the plundering systematic?
But first,today, a brief explanation of the overt role in the drug trafficking operation played by the two Saudi men. Khashoggi lieutenant Ramy El-Batrawi supplied one of SkyWay’s twin DC-9’s.
Once I’d obtained the FAA registration records for the two DC-9’s, N900SA and N12ONE, it soon became obvious that both planes had been sheep-dipped through a number of owners of convenience to hide the identity of their true owners, the CIA.
Start here: Sometime in June of 2003 someone made the decision that SkyWay’s fleet of planes needed beefing up with a second DC-9.
Khashoggi and El-Batrawi had one. But there was a problem. Given the controversy over the massive fraud involved in the bankrupting of Khashoggi and El-Batrawi’s GenesisIntermedia, by 2003 El-Batrawi’s aviation company, Genesis Aviation, was not exactly the CIA’s most discreet aviation front company.