Report received January 15, 2000
Irangate - drugs and arms - McKee and Gannon - the death of an Israeli agent
Mr. Nir was a member of President Bush's Terrorist Task Force in 1985 together with Oliver North and Oliver Revell! Do the bells ring ?
-1- pages 1-10 secret
May 30, 1994
Mr. NIR, Amiram
Nov 10, 1950, Tel Aviv, Israel
A/K/A NIR, Yet
A/K/A “Weber, Pat”, codename
A/K/A “Mr. Miller”, codename
A/K/A “Mr. Suez”, codename
COUNT ONE, INTRODUKTION
The report on the covert relationship between Israel and the U.S. would not be complete without a chapter on Mr. Amiram Nir, who has in his time served as bothe the counter-terrorism advisor to former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and as the pointman for Mr. Oliver North in the Iran-Contra deals. Because of his untimely death in a mysterious plane crash on December 1st, 1988 in Mexico, the world may never find out the whole story behind Irangate. Yet Nir, perhaps more than any other player in the scandal, knew things that would have embarrassed, if not put behind bars, numerous American and Israeli leaders.
At the time of his death Mr. Nir was said to be in Mexico on “unspecified business”. It was also rumored that he was involved in a plot to corner the world´s avocado marked, had sold arms to the Mexican government, and faked his own death.
Four months later, in March 1989, West German arms merchant Mr. Hermann Moll added to the mystery when he told the German-based Middle East Insider that the CIA sabotaged the aircraft because Mr. Nir “knew too much”. Mr. Moll explained, that Nir was privy to details of South American drug cartel´s involvement with White House efforts to supply the Contras. He further claimed that Nir had extensive knowledge of how $ 15 million in profits from arms-sales to Iran had disappeared from secret bank accounts in Switzerland and wounded up in Contra hands.
At the age of 34, Amiram Nir was put into the newly created post of Advisor over the Israeli government in late 1984. He had previously served as party spokesperson, campaign manager in Peres´failed 1977 bid for premiership, and then later as a military reporter for Israeli Television.
Although he had achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Israeli Defence Forces, had gone through an intelligence course, the Mossad balked at his political appointment claiming he was not qualified for the post of Counterterrorism Advisor. Perhaps he wasn´t, but it´s believed that Peres needed someone from outside the traditional ranks of the Israeli intelligence community to coordinate future arms sales to Iran, and Nir fit that bill.
When the story of secret dealings between the U.S. and Iran in the Lebanese journal, Al Shiraa in November 1986, Mr. Oliver North wanted Mr. Nir to take the blame for the division scheme, but Mr. Nir refused. After resigning from government service in March 1987, Nir apparently opened a London-based regional sales office for an unidentified Israeli security firm. Friends of his said he was also involved in both arms and oil contracts in Mexico.
One story, ( which I believe was deliberately planted to create cover for Mr. Nir) was published in Newsweek in August 1989 and contended Nucal de Mexico, which purchased an avocado-packing plant in Urupan, in the Mexican state of Michoacan.
Local exporters in Urupan became riled when they discovered that Nucal was shipping between 16 and 20 tons a week and controlling more than a third of the export marked. They claimed Nucal was part of a scheme cooked up by the Israeli government, which already controls 80 percent of the European avocado market, to corner the world avocado market by selling at a temporary loss to European importers.
A Nucal employee, Carlos Mendez Vega, admits to “escorting” Mr. Nir around while he was on “avocado business” and the head of Nucal, Israeliborn Mr. Avraham Cohen, told the weekly that Mr. Nir had interviewed him for that job, implying that Mr. Nir was his boss or part owner in the firm.
Mr. Nir arrived in Mexico City from Madrid on November 28th and immediately flew to Urupan with an unidentified Italian partner. According to the Michoacan state attorney general´s office, when Mr. Nir chartered the two-engine T210 Cessna from the Aerotaxis de Urupan commuter ailine, he identifie himself as “Mr. Pat Weber” (Nir´s codename in the IRAN-CONTRA AFFAIR” Nir was Mr. Miller). Federal Judicial Police commander in Urupan Mr. Jose Luis said Mr. Nir used his own name at the hotel he stayed in.
The police report revealed there were two other passengers in the aircraft. The pilot, Guillermo Guahonte, and a 25 year old mysterious Canadian woman, Adriana Stanton, survived. A fourth passenger, Mr. Pedro Espionoza Hurtado, whose circumstances for being on the plane never ascertained, died instantaniously.
Ms. Stanton registered for the flight under the name “Ester Arriaga” but an inspector at the departure wing at the airport declared that both Mr. Nir and Ms. Stanton used their real names. A few days after the crash Mr. David Goan, whose father is Nissim Goan, a Swiss-based Jewish millionaire and one of the owners of Nucal, confirmed that Ms. Stanton worked for hi9s company in the quality control department. Mr. Nir, he said, did not. He would not confirm whether Mr. Nir owned a share of the firm nor what his relation, if any, he had to it.
When asked at her hospital room about her connection to Mr. Nir, Ms. Stanton told The Associated Press “it was a coincidence, we shared the same plane.”
On an unscheduled flight ?
Mr. Icauro Guitarroz, a spokesman for the Michoacan state Attorney General´s office said that Ms. Stanton was serving as Mr. Nir´s “guide”. Juan Manuel Ortea, an inspector at the Uruapan airport, told police Ms. Stanton was employed as Mr. Nir´s “secretary”.
Mr. Pedro Cruchet, an Argentinian citizen living in Uruapan illegally and employed by Nucal, initially identified and recovered Mr. Nir´s body for the police although he couldn´t explain how he happened to be near the crash site. When asked to prove his own identity, he claimed he´d lost his ID at a bull-fight. Mr. Nir´s body was then whisked back to Israel and quickly buried without an autopsy.
When a young woman asnwered the door to a Washington Post reporter at Ms. Stanton´s hospital room she indicated that Mr. Cruchet was present. When she went to get him another woman appeared at the door and told the journalist that Mr. Cruchet wasn´t there and that she had never heard of him. The second woman reiterated that Ms. Stanton´s presence on Mr. Nir´s rented Cesna had been “purely a coincidence” and that Ms. Stanton had no connection with “the Israeli”. She refused to identify herself other than to say she was in Mexico as a tourist from Argentina.
Mr. John Picton, a feature reporter from The Tornto Star who investigated the plane crash was tld by U.S. Intelligence sources that they had information leading them to believe that Mr. Nir wasn´t dead and had undergone a face-lift in Geneva “where the clinics are ver good, very private and very discreet” and would be able to disguise his identity. When Mr. Picton told that to Ms. Stanton´s in her Toronto home she replied: “That´s strange. It´s the second time we´ve heard that.”
She wouldn´t reveal the other source to Mr. Picton or confirm whether her daughter spoke to Picton or confirm whether she did or did not work for Nucal or Mr. Nir.
Considering the mystery surrounding his presence in Mexico and the aliases he and Ms. Stanton used, perhaps avocados were not the only commodity Mr. Nir was peddling. When asked by the Hebrew daily Yediot Aharonot in the spring of 1987 if after leaving government he might enter the arms business, he replied: “I´ve had enough of missiles.” Had he ? “I´,m going into other types of business.” He declared. Did he ?
A eek after the crash the Long Island-based daily Newsweek reported that U.S. intelligence sources in Mexico believed Mr. Nir to be the middle-man for large arms deal of Israeli weapons passing via a port in Vera Cruz on the eastern coast of Mexico. It quoted American drug enforcement agency officials as saying that there had been a steep rise in the efforts of cocaine smugglers to transport drugs from Michoacan to the U.S. and that three weeks prior to Mr. Nir´s visit a captain in the Mexican army confirmed that a “large shipment” of Israeli made weapons arrived at the Vera Cruz port and was transported to Mexico City. The sale was made, according to the captain, by a group of Israeli arms dealers, not the Israeli government.
If Mr. Nir was killed in Mexico, before he got on the plane, as most investigators of the incident seem to believe, it is likely he was silenced for what he knew about soon to be inaugurated President George Bush. When Bob Woodward of The Washington Post interviewed Mr. Nir in London six month before he was killed, Mr. Nir said he was considering the best way to sell his side of the story, as “only half of the IRAN-CONTRA AFFAIR had been made public”. Mr. Nir then asked him not to publish any parts of the interview until he got the go ahead. When Mr. Woodward contacted Mr. Nir again in early October he was told that he was still not ready to go public!
Other then perhaps Mr. Shimon Peres, Mr. Nir knew more than any other Israeli about the quantity and types of arms which were sent to Iran, how much was paid, where the money went, and who pofited from the sales. The Israeli government confiscated all of his notes and papers, which were never to be made public, and cotained records of Mr. Nir´s discussions and meetings with American and Iranian officials. The Israeli government also forbade him from answering questions to the U.S. Justice Department and congressional committees. In fact, despite his key role, he is the only player in the Iran-Contra affair who never publicly testified, or even commented on his role to the press.
His silence may never have been due more to selfinterest than selfless discretion. Mr. Nir remained in government after the rotation of the Prime Ministership from Shimon Peres to Yizhak Shamir in Octobet 1986. In March 1987, after telling his new boss that he was taking a vacation in London, he instead flew to Geneva.
There at the luxury Reserve Hotel, he met with Mr. Ghobanifar. The Saudi billionaire Mr. Adnan Kashoggi, who provided the financing in earlier arms sales to Iran, was also registered at the hotel.
That same week, by coincidence, Mr. Albert Hakim, a close business associate of general Secord who would eventually be found guilty of the misdemeanor of “supplementing” Mr. Oliver North´s government salary, was also in Geneva. It is believed that Mr. Ghobanifar held accounts at the Credit Suisse Bank, the bank Mr. Kashoggi used to finance two or more arms sales to Iran, and also the bank North, Mr. Hakim and Mr. Secord used to process Iran arms sales profits.
One month later Israeli intelligence sources discovered that an official of Credit Suisse bank resigned after his contacts with Mr. Kashoggi and Mr. Ghorbanifar were revealed. Did these bank records show that someone in the Israeli acted as a conduit to pass part or all of the $ 3,5 million in profits to the Contras ? Dod Mr. Nir personally profit from the deals (as it is widely believed that Mr. Secord and Mr Hakim did ?) Were they making another deal ?
Those same bank records in Switzerland could have become a nightmare for certain Israeli government and never allowed Mr. Nir (or Schwimmer and Nimrodi) to testify before congressional investigations. Was Mr. Peres worried that Mr. Nir would disclose that it was his role in the diversion of money from the Iranian arms sales to the Contras or that he personally authorized the establishment of the fund to initiate covert anti-terrorist operations ?
Indeed, Mr. Nir knew a great dela about U.S. and Israeli arms sales to Iran, because he was the intersection everyone’s activities passed through. He must have known who set up the Swiss accounts, who controlled them, and how much to middlemen like Mr. Ghobanifar and Mr. Secord. He sat in on crucual meetings in Teheran, Frankfurt, Washington, Tel Aviv and London. He knew about all the covert operations and where the money originated from to fund them.
In an interview with Yediot Aharonot after leaving office in March 1987, Mr. Nir said that Mr. Shamir went out of his way to protect Mr. Nir’s name end reputation in Israel and in the U.S. Mr. Peres, on the other hand, simply “left him to the dogs”. He added, “the moment you need support from him, (Mr. Peres) vanishes.”
This remark, in context as part of the one public statement he ever made about Iran-Contra, says a mouthful.
Mr. Dov Yudkovsky, then editor-in-chief of Yediot Aharonot as well as Mr. Nir’s father-in-law, pressured Mr. Peres to give Mr. Nir a position in the government.
Mr. Nir had worked hard on Mr. peres election campaign in 1984 and felt he deserved the position of cabinet secretray. When that spot was given to Mr. Yossi Beilin, Mr. Yudkovsky kept asking Mr. peres to find something else for Mr. Nir to do.
From November 1984 to December 1985 Mr. Nir spent his time trying to build contacts in the intelligence field. As an outsider, this wasn’t an easy task, but according to a close aide of Mr. Peres, Mr. Nimrod Novik, Mr. Nir was creative and dynamic. He sought out areas that others weren’t interested in. Mr. Peres had him contacting businessmen and diplomats to pick up any information he could.
Although Mr. Nir wasn’t part of the usual Israeli intelligence nerwork, he became privy to documents which explained all sensitive details of the American-Israeli covert relationship since the early 1980s. Knowledge of these operations may have led directly to his death.
While many investigators of Mr. Nir’s death have surmised that the CIA was behind Mr. Nir’s death, so far only one man familiar with CIA activities has broken his silence. He is Lieutenant Commander Robert J. Hunt. In June 1993 Mr. Hunt began providing information to investigator/author Rodney Stitch, author of the books Defrauding America and Unfriendly Skies about CIA scandals and cover-ups during the 1980s. Mr. Hunt gave Mr. Stitch simple documentation on his secret work for the CIA, and of his work for THE MOSSAD.
In a letter published in Mr. Stitch’s book dated October 4th, 1993, the Consulate General of Israel in Chicago, Yaacov Nir (no relation), confirmed that Mr. Hunt was involved in the now famous May 1986y secret trip to Teheran which included Mr. Amiram Nir. Mr. Hunt was also involved in Operation Cappucino, which sent TOW missiles from the U.S. to Iran to secure the release of American hostage Mr. Ben Weiss.
Mr. Hunt claims the CIA killed Mr. Amiram Nir in Mexico. He says he first met him at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on July 29th, 1986 while guarding the Vice-President George Bush at the meeting mentioned in the section on Bush’s Iran Contra involvement. Mr. Nir briefed Bush about the ongoing sale of U.S. arms via Israel to Iran. Mr. Hunt discovered later that Mr. Nir was secretly taping the entire conversation. Mr. Hunt says Mr. Nir was killed when Bush found out that Mr. Nir had recorded the conversation and thus had evidence linking Bush to the arms for hostages deal.
At the same meeting, Mr. Nir outlined for Bush efforts taken throughout the past year “to gain release of the hostages, and that a decision still had to been made whether the arms desired by the Iranians would be delivered in seperate shipments or for each hostages as they were released.”
Mr. Hunt says that also in attendance at the meeting were two assets of the CIA, Mr. Charles McKee and Mr. Matthew Gannon, both subsequently killed on board Pan Am Flight 103, which was blown up over Scotland Lockerbie. A number of investigative journalists have claimed that Mr. Charles McKee and Mr. Matthew Gannon were the primary targets of the Pan Am 103 bombing. Mr. Hunt says that pres. Bush discovered that Mr. Nir had secretly tape recorded the meeting and was planning to expose the activities involving Bush and arms sale to Iran. which also would have exposed many high level U.S. officials. The decision was then taken to kill Mr. Nir.
At CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, mr. Hunt had met with Mr. Oliver North and asked him what had happened to Mr. Amiram Nir. Mr. North told him that Mr. Nir was killed “because he threatened to go public with the recording of the Jerusalem meeting in 1986.”
….that the Contra leadership received direct funding from major drug dealers, and that someone of the Contra leaders themselves have been directly involved in drug trafficking.
Pilot George Morales says that after he was indicted in the spring of 1984 for drug trafficking, he was approached by Contra leaders offering him “a deal”. If he set up a contra-drug-smuggling operation, his indictment would be “taken care of by people in Vice president Bush’s office”. He agreed and flew weapons to Mr. John Hull’s ranch (a liaison to the Contras), and retourned with narcotics. (CBS West 57th St., April 6, 1987)
Mr. Morales said that his planes landed at Hull’s ranch in Costa Rica.
Mr. Gary Betzner, one of Mr. Morales’s pilots, said that he himself took two tons of small aircraft weapons and returned to Florida with a thousand kilos of cocaine. In March 1986 another pilot, Mr. Michael Tolliver, flew 28,000 pounds of weapons to Honduras and returned to South Florida with 25,360 pounds of marihuana. (Newsday, April 6, 1987)
“I smuggled my share of illegal substances, but I also smuggled my share of weapons to the Contras in exchange, with the full knowledge and assistance of the DEA Drug Enforcement Agency and the CIA.”, Betzner claims. (Newsweek, January 26, 1987)
The cocaine originated from Pablo Escobar and Mr. Jorge Ochoa, Colombian drug traffickers who worked with the Medillin cocaine cartel. The drugs were shipped to Mr. John Hull’s ranch, then sent on to the United States, Mr. Ramon Milian Rodriguez, chief accountant of the Colombian Medellin cocaine cartel, currently serving a 43 year prison for money laundering, told CBS News and the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee that he personally arranged to have $ 10 million of Colombian drug money funneled to the Contras from late 1982 through 1985.
“The cartel figured it was buying a little friendship”, Mr. Milian told congressional investigators. “What the hell is 10 million bucks ? They thought they were going to buy some good will and take a little heat off them.” (Newsday, June 26th, 1987).
When Congress cut off funding for the Contras in 1984, replacement funds had to be found. Mr. Rodriguez testified that although he had been laundering foreign payments for the CIA up through 1982, the CIA now turned to him again. He says he used Cuban controlled front companies in Miami to funnel the money to the Contras, and that the money pipeline to the Contras was arranged by CIA veteran Mr. felix Rodriguez who would call him and tell him where to drop the money.
“To have people like me in place that can be used, is marvelous for them”, Mr. Rodriguez points out. “The agency, and quite rightly so, has things that they have to do which they never admit to an oversight committee, all right, and the only way they can fund these things is through drug money or through illicit money that they can get their hands on in some way.”
General Paul Gorman, the commander of the U.S. southern command in Panama from 1982 to 1985, adds: “If one wants to organize an armed resistance or an armed undertaking for any purpose, the best place to get the money, the easy place to get the guns are in the drug world.”
If Mr. Amiram Nir was threatening to implicate Pres. Bush in operations which linked the White House in million dollars business ties with drug traffickers, it is little wonder that the CIA (i.e. Bush) came to the conclusion that Mr. Nir had to be elimenated.
Even after Mr. Nir was killed, however, there was still damning evidence that had to be destroyed.
Mr. Nir’s tapes and diaries about U.S. government involvement with drug traffickers were the target of the mysterious burglars who broke into the Tel Aviv subburb home of Judy Nir Moses, Nir’s widow, in late July 1991. The family claims they knew who sent the burglars to break into the house and that tens of recordings and documents were taken which contained information “that would attack certain people.”
The police said that the thieves did a “clean job” and that nothing else was disturbed and that the thieves knew exactly what they were looking for. There was no sign of break-in and they took no valuables.
The burglary came at an unusual time, during an Israeli police officials and middlemen were involved in the disappearance of millions of dollars paid by the Iranians for weapons. Also taken were exact details of the financial dealings in all aspects of the Iran Contra affair that Israel was involved in.
Indeed, Mr. Nir had enemies in Israel who may have wanted his personal papers and diaries destroyed for good. One of them was Mr. Yaacov Nimrodi.
Mr. Yaacov Nimrodi, an Iraqi-born Jew who spent many years in Teheran advising and training of the Shah’s secret police, became a conduit for the Israeli arms industry to Iran. When Khomeini came to power in the late 1970s, he returned to Israel. As part of the Irangate deals, Mr. Nimrodi was involved in two shipments of missiles in July and August of 1985. Mr. Nimrodi has always claimed that he never made any money from the arms sales, but arranged them for “humanitarian reasons” to help secure the release of Americans held hostage by Shiite groups controlled by Iran.
In June 1991 an Israeli police investigation was opened to determine if Mr. Nimrodi made a public declaration in a Tel Aviv court stating that he had acted on his own behalf in his arms dealings with the Iranians and thus all the profits from the deals were his. he claimed he earned $ 37 million from the Iranians, but after paying for the missiles and other expenses, says he took a loss on the deal of nearly $ 750,000. (Inside Israel, August 1993)
The police closed their investigation of Mr. Nimrodi without any of the details made public. Then in March of 1993, Mr. Yizhak Tubiahu, an Israeli businessman living in London, filed papers in a London court contending that he and Mr. Nimrodi had been equal partners in an arms business since 1993, and that Mr. Nimrodi owned him $ 1,7 million from the Irangate sales. Mr. Nimrodi doesn’t deny he was once a business partner of Mr. Tubiahu, but insists Mr. Tubiahu was not involved in the Irangate deals.
After examining the documents of arms sales which Mr. Nimrodi, Mr. Tubiahu claimed that $ 3,5 million were earned from these transactions, and thus Mr. Nimrodi owed him $ 1,75 million. With interests, the sum amounted to $ 4 million.
Mr. Tubiahu tried to verify the list of expenses Mr Nimrodi had claimed he incurred, many of which however were “anonymous payments in cash”. When Mr. Tubiahu did track down some of the people who Mr. Nimrodi listed as receiving money for various types of services, they all denied being involved in the affair or even know Mr. Nimrodi.
Mr. Nimrodi claims that Mr. Tubiahu sent a letter to senior government officials threatening that if he didn’t receive his fair share of the Irangate deals, he would tell all he knew about bribes paid to “certain politicians.”
Mr. Nir’s papers and recordings may have been stolen for another reason. It is known that from April 1990 through June 1992 until he left office, Prime Minister Shamir’s office had been gathering files and documentation on President Bush’s involvement in Iran Contra. During the entire presidential campaign of 1992 it seemed that not a week went by without some reference about the Iranian arms-for-hostages deal in the U.S. press. Those leaks were coming from Israeli sources in an effort to put pressure Pres. Bush. Mr. Nir’s death at the hands of the CIA, just weeks before Bush took office, was probably what kicked that covert slug-fest off in the first place. American-Israeli relations have never been the same since.
For more on the death, life and business of Mr. Amiram Nir, go to this page: