SPECIAL REPORT. SS Poet chartered by a company located within a nest of covert activities...
The nexus of CIA fronts connected to Egypt, Iran, and Oman at the Poet's charter agent's address may have helped seal the ship's fate...
The ill-fated U.S.-flagged vessel SS Poet, which transported an illegal arms shipment to Iran on behalf of the Reagan-Bush campaign in October 1980 to ensure that there would be no U.S. hostage release by Iran prior to the November 4 election, was chartered by a shipping agent located in a virtual hive of covert CIA programs.
The Poet departed from Philadelphia's Girard Point marine pier on October 24, 1980, ostensibly with corn for Port Said, Egypt, but, in reality, with weapons in its rear number four cargo hold that were bound for Iran. The U.S. Coast Guard later concluded the ship was lost at sea without a trace or even a distress call.
On February 23, 2009, We reported: "The ill-fated SS Poet, which transported arms to Iran on behalf of the 1980 Reagan-Bush campaign to prevent an October 'surprise' U.S. hostage release that would have benefited Jimmy Carter's re-election campaign, was chartered by Hawaiian Eugenia Corporation, the Poet's owner, to Israel in the months before its voyage to Iran. According to the September 16, 1982, Congressional report on the disappearance of the Poet, the ship was bought by Hawaiian Eugenia in May 1979. The Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt were signed on September 17, 1978, and the pact ensured a steady supply of U.S. arms to both Israel and Egypt. EATSCO was established by Edwin Wilson, later convicted and jailed for smuggling U.S. weapons to Libya, as a CIA arms smuggling front company in 1979. Longtime CIA covert operations officer Thomas Clines headed up EATSCO and another CIA front, API Distributors, Inc., an oil well drilling supply company with operations in Houston. Clines' Systems Services International Inc., founded in 1978, held a 49 percent stake in EATSCO. Clines also owned International Research and Trade Ltd. (IRT), incorporated in Delaware in December 1980 and International Research and Trade Ltd. incorporated in Bermuda in April 1979. EATSCO's President was Hussein K.E.I. Salem, identified as a former Egyptian military intelligence officer, who held a 51 percent share in the firm. The two companies were located in the same Arlington, Virginia office building as the Poet's charter agent, Universal Shipping Company, 1911 North Fort Myer Drive, in the Rosslyn area."
We have examined address and phone records from 1980 maintained in the Arlington County Library and what has become obvious is the address of 1911 North Fort Myer Drive in Rosslyn was, in 1980, a virtual nest for various CIA covert operations front companies.
A number of companies associated with Wilson, Clines, and Ted Shackley are found at 1911 North Fort Myer Drive in 1980. They also share the same three number telephone exchange (522) with the Poet's charter agent, Universal Shipping Company:
1911 North Fort Myer Drive, Arlington, Virginia (703 area code):
Universal Shipping Company (SS Poet's charter agent) 522-5780 + extensions
Systems Services International (SSI) Corporation (Clines and Wilson) 522-4435
International Research and Trade/IRT Ltd. (Clines) 522-4407 + extensions
API Distributors, Inc. (Clines) 522- 4441
[Wilson's CT Corporation System aided in the registration of API using the services of the Washington law firm Dickstein, Shapiro & Morin. Wilson's Inter-Technology Inc, was the CIA cover firm to ship weapons from the U.S. to Muammar Qaddafi's government in Libya. API and Wilson's freight-forwarding firm Around world Shipping and Chartering, Inc., shared office space in Houston for shipments of weapons to Libya]
Research Associates International (RAI), Ltd. (Shackley) 522-3253
[Shackley also had another firm TGS International. Both RAI and TGS had contracts with Oman and connections to the Iranians].
Located in the same suite of offices at 1911 North Fort Myer was the Egyptian American Transport and Services Co. (EATSCO), co-owned by Egyptian military intelligence officer Hussein K. Salem and Clines. Salem's 51 percent ownership was through another front company called Tersam USA.
The fate of the SS Poet and its 34 crewmen was sealed at this "nest of spies" across the Potomac from Washington, DC.
EATSCO also maintained an office at 7777 Leesburg Pike, Suite 307 Falls Church, Virginia, although the Chesapeake and Potomac telephone book for 1980 also lists an address of 777 Leesburg Pike in Falls Church.
The Haines Criss Cross Directory for 1982 also lists at 1911 North Fort Myer the following firm:
It is not known if this has any relation to EATSCO, which was also known as EATS and ETS.
Former CIA officer Rafael Quintero also worked for API Distributors as did his old CIA colleague Ricardo Chavez. Quintero was a top CIA officer who was in charge of covert operations against Fidel Castro in Cuba and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Quintero also worked with CIA Bay of Pigs veteran Felix Rodriguez in supplying the Contras from bases in El Salvador.
Another company at the same address and with the same three digit telephone exchange, United Overseas Corporation (UOS), that was involved in a 1986 lawsuit against Barber Steamship Lines over damage caused to 5 of 14 containers of textiles from New York to Freetown, Sierra Leone aboard the M/V Tampa. Barber Steamship argued that UOS's recovery for water damage should be limited to $2500. The steamship company apparently thought textiles bound from New York to the odd destination of Sierra Leone were not worth more than the insured value. The court found for UOS. It would not be the first time the Tampa would be caught up in controversy. The Norwegian-owned ship rescued 438 Afghan "boat people" from the Indian Ocean in August 2001. However, the Australian government refused to let the ship drop off the Afghans on Christmas Island casing a diplomatic crisis between Australia, Norway, and Indonesia. In October 2006, the Tampa was involved in a cocaine-smuggling incident involving New Zealand and Australian authorities.
United Overseas Corporation 522-5720 + extensions
On February 20, 1986, the French Navy apprehended the crew of the Silver Sea, a Panamanian-registered vessel, after it pulled into a safe harbor in a restricted French military zone near Brest to avoid a storm. The Silver Sea was en route from Southampton to west Africa.
The ship was chartered by Atlantic Tug and Shipping Limited on the island of Guernsey but Guernsey had no listing for an office or telephone number for the firm. The Silver Seahad drawn the attention of Southampton dock workers since it had been suspiciously idle at the port since September 1985. The crew of 13 were all British citizens who were smuggling arms and material to Sierra Leone for a coup against President Joseph Momoh. The plan was dubbed "Operation Archangel" and was devised by British mercenary John Banks, who recruited mercenaries in 1976 to fight a secret CIA war against the government of Angola.
Discovered by French law enforcement officials on the Silver Sea were arms, including machine guns, bazookas, and hand guns, as well as ammunition, sophisticated communications gear, two Land Rover command vehicles, fatigue uniforms, and other war material. French authorities charged the ship's captain, William Sutton, with illegally importing prohibited war material into France. The Silver Sea was en route, at the time, to Gibraltar, where it would embark some 60 mercenaries and then to Yugoslavia to pick up additional arms. After dropping off the weapons and mercenaries in Sierra Leone, the Silver Sea was due to take part in a diving mission for sunken treasure in the West Indies. Considering the ties of wreck salvaging company Oceaneering International to CIA covert activities, it is not surprising that the British would also combine deep sea treasure hunting with covert operations.
In 1987, Sutton was again in the news when it was revealed that he used the Silver Sea to smuggle weapons to the Nicaraguan contras with the approval of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Labor Party foreign policy MP frontbencher George Foulkes charged that the arms smuggling deal was worked out with Thatcher on a visit by Lt. Col. Oliver North and CIA director William Casey, the man at the heart of the shipment of weapons to the Iranians on board the Poet in the October Surprise, to 10 Downing Street.
The presence of a firm called Perceptronics at 1911 North Fort Myer Drive is also noteworthy in relation to EATSCO's sole source contract to deliver weapons and weapons systems to Egypt. On May 12, 1994, Perceptronics announced from its Woodland Hills, California headquarters that it received "a contract for approximately $2.7 million from the Armament Authority of the Arab Republic of Egypt for delivery of Precision Gunnery Training Systems (PGTS) for the TOW missile, plus associated spares, tools and training support."
Perceptronics, Inc. 525-0184
The indictments of North and his superior, National Security Adviser John Poindexter, in 1988 in part, involved the illegal export of TOW missiles to Iran. The indictment of North and Poindexter stated: "In January 1986, as part of the United States initiative, the defendant OLIVER L. NORTH negotiated on behalf of the United States with a representative of elements in Iran the transfer of 4,000 TOW missiles to Iran at a price of $10,000 per TOW missile, with 1,000 of the 4,000 TOW missiles to be delivered in the first installment. At the same time, the defendant NORTH directed the representative of the Iranians to deposit the $10 million payment for the first 1,000 TOW missiles into the Enterprise's secret Swiss bank account - Lake Resources, the same bank account then used to finance the Contra resupply operation. The defendant NORTH also advised the defendant JOHN M. POINDEXTER that the representative of the Iranians had offered to pay $10,000 per missile.
Generating the Profits
In early 1986, the defendants OLIVER L. NORTH and RICHARD V. SECORD agreed to retain for the Enterprise a substantial part of the $10 million payment for the first shipment of TOW missiles by having the defendant SECORD transmit to the United States through the CIA substantially less than was paid for these missiles on behalf of the Iranians. In furtherance of this plan, the defendant NORTH told an official of the CIA that a price of $6,000 per TOW missile was too high and should be reduced, without revealing that the Iranian representative had already offered to pay $10,000 per missile. Thereafter, the price to be paid to the CIA was reduced to approximately $3,469 per TOW missile, for a total of $3.7 million for 1,000 TOW missiles, including costs."
The TOW missiles from U.S. Army stocks were sold at below-cost price to the Iranians through a network of middlemen. The Iranian agent Manucher Ghorbanifar received a 5 percent cut, Saudi financier Adnan Khashoggi reaped 15 percent, Israeli middleman Yaacov Nimrodi netted 20 percent, and 60 percent went to North's Swiss bank accounts.
Secord was also a major player in the 1980-81 weapons smuggling operations staged out of 1911 North Fort Myer Drive and the Clines, Wilson, and Shackley firms.
Casey ensured that all of the CIA's front companies involved with the Poet affair, October Surprise, Iran-contra, and other illegal activities were kept at arms length from Langley and, at least as far away as Rosslyn. To help him ensure "plausible deniability" Casey was assisted by his old friend from the Securities and Exchange Commission, Stanley Sporkin. Casey named Sporkin the CIA's General Counsel where he served until he was named a federal judge by President Reagan in 1986. Sporkin was the legal brains behind the secret deals on illegal weapons shipments to Iran.
Some Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee opposed Sporkin's nomination to the federal bench for obstructing an FBI investigation of improper contacts between a CIA officer and Israeli intelligence agents between 1983 and 1984. Sporkin was accused of impeding the FBI's investigation of CIA officer Charles Waterman, a top CIA Middle East officer who was, according to press reports at the time, believed by the FBI to have violated national security in an incident involving the Israelis.
A major conduit for U.S. weapons deals with Iran was Uri Lubrani, Israel's point man for its activities in Lebanon in the 1980s and Israel's ambassador to Uganda from 1965-68 and Israel's last ambassador to Iran. Lubrani was reportedly wired into Uganda's politics and Wilson's partner, Frank Terpil, was involved in covertly shipping weapons to Idi Amin, a one-time ally of Israel and a graduate of Israel's paratrooper school.
However, Sporkin also was the person who helped bury Wilson and his associates after the CIA's covert weapons smuggling programs to Libya, Uganda, and other countries was revealed. On November 19, 1982, Sporkin wrote the following in his Weekly OGC [Office of the General Counsel] report for DCI/DCCI [Director of Central Intelligence/Deputy Director of Central Intelligence] [William Casey/John McMahon]:
"The conviction of Edwin Wilson was a signal victory for the CIA and the Intelligence Community in general. The Wilson case demonstrates that, as a result of close cooperation between the Department of Justice and CIA and judicious application of the Classified Information Procedures Act (Graymail Act), criminals can be brought to justice in the face of spurious claims of CIA involvement and without compromising sensitive information."
Sporkin's claims that the CIA and Justice worked together in a legal fashion against Wilson were rejected in 2003 when a federal judge ruled that the Justice Department had acted improperly in the Wilson prosecution. Wilson was released from prison in 2004 after his conviction of illegally exporting explosives to Libya was thrown out. Wilson had always maintained he was acting on behalf of the CIA. Certainly, Sporkin had a few things to hide in the second page of his November 19, 1982 report dealing with the Wilson affair, where only Sporkin's name is left unredacted.
There was one other company of interest located at 1911 North Fort Myer, which may have had knowledge of the Poet's final days. The firm, Tetra Tech, which was headquartered in Pasadena, California and was a subsidiary of Honeywell until going it alone, had three listings in Haines' 1981 directory:
Tetra Tech Energy 522-1180 + extension
Tetra Tech, Inc. 558-9400
Tetra Tech International 243-7700
Sometime after the Poet unloaded its weapons and spare parts cargo at Bandar Abbas, Iran, the ship was attacked and sunk with all hands lost by, what I was told by a former covert CIA agent, an Israeli team. Tetra Tech International, which shared the Rosslyn building with the Wilson/Clines/Shackley/Secord team and the Poet's charter agent, had a contract to manage the development of and provide security for Oman's strategic Masandam Peninsula, an area off-limits to those without authority. Tetra Tech's President was James H. Critchfield, a former head of the CIA's Near East and South Asia Division and the agency's chief intelligence officer for energy matters until he officially retired in 1974. At the CIA, Critchfield monitored Iraq and was reportedly involved in supporting the Baathist coup that would eventually bring Saddam Hussein, a longtime CIA asset, to power. Critchfield later became the top adviser to the Sultan of Oman Qabus bin Said.
George Watts started the Rosslyn branch of Tetra Tech. He was also executive director of the Western Dredging Association, which, according to Haines' 1981 directory, also had an office at 1911 North Fort Myer. Watts had worked on the Aswan High Dam in Egypt and on engineering projects in Iran and Saudi Arabia.
The Masandam Peninsula is on the Oman side of the Strait of Hormuz, through which the Poet had to transit on its way to Iran. At the time of the Poet's voyage, Iran and Iraq were at war and many ships were sunk in naval action by the two sides. Some 40 percent of the population of Masandam are Iranian or of Iranian stock. The remainder are nomadic people and Arabs, some of whom owe more allegiance to the Emirs of Fujairah and Ras al Khaimah, of the United Arab Emirates, than to the Sultan of Oman. In such a territory, it is easy to cut deals, even if they might involve Israeli commandos intent on sinking a U.S. flagged vessel to silence all the witnesses to an arms deal that, if exposed, could have landed Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and William Casey to life terms in prison for treason.
Ashland Oil was investigated by the SEC for paying bribes to Omani officials in return for contracts in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The bribes were allegedly paid to two top advisers to the Omani government, Timothy Landon, a British military officer, and Yehia Omar, a Libyan expatriate. Landon and Omar were reportedly CIA assets. Omar reportedly received a commission on the sale of U.S. TOW missiles to Oman in 1975. Landon was said to be Critchfield's agent in Oman for Tetra Tech. Ashland Oil had a direct connection to the Sultan's place in Muscat through a CIA non-official cover (NOC) agent who served as a security adviser to the Sultan. Later, Ashland's Chairman, Orin Atkins, became a top energy adviser to Sultan Qabus. In fact, some U.S. diplomats in Muscat complained that the CIA was actually running the Omani government. However, such CIA influence would have been perfect to arrange for the disposal of the Poet in 1980 by Israelis operating in Omani waters from land bases in Oman without any notice.
We previously reported how Ashland figured into the CIA's takeover of the Chester, Pennsylvania Sun Shipyard. Most of the Poet's crew lived in the Philadelphia and south Jersey area. On February 20, 2009, We reported: "In 1975, Ashland Oil had purchased Levingston Industries, reportedly for 'CIA purposes.' Ashland Oil reportedly admitted to CIA involvement. In a convoluted business deal involving a company called Penn-Texas Corporation, Girard Bank of Philadelphia - which was taken over by Mellon Bank, and Casey and company, Sun Shipyard became an asset of Pennsylvania Shipbuilding, Inc. in an asset "flip" involving little money. Levingston was one of the companies involved in the CIA takeover of Sun Ship, the yard that built the Hughes Glomar Explorer for the CIA to raise a sunken Soviet submarine in the Pacific -- "Project Jennifer."
Another CIA connection to 1911 North Fort Myer was the presence of Tracor, Inc.
Tracor, Inc. 528-8551
The Deputy Director for Central Intelligence in the first few years of the Reagan administration under Casey was Admiral Bobby Ray Inman. After he retired, Inman went on to head Tracor, headquartered in Austin, Texas.
There are a number of people who are still alive today who have knowledge about the fate of the Poet and the criminal conspiracy involving its disappearance. Covering up a capital crime such as the mass murder of 34 U.S. citizens and nationals on the high seas does not enjoy a statute of limitations....
June , 2007 -- Connection between SS Poet and firm tied to covert arms shipments to Iran.
WMR has discovered a possible link between the CIA front firm, Egyptian American Transport and Services Corporation (EATSCO), formed in 1978 to facilitate secret CIA arms shipments to various countries in the Middle East, and the covert and treasonous shipment of U.S. arms to Iran in October 1980 on board the doomed SS Poet. The secret deal involved rogue CIA agents working with vice presidential candidate George H. W. Bush and Reagan campaign manager William Casey to keep U.S. hostages prisoner in Iran.
EATSCO's cover mission was to support the implementation of the 1978 Camp David accords.
The Iran weapons smuggling plan was cooked up by Bush, Casey, and CIA officials Donald Gregg and Robert Gates as a way to ensure President Jimmy Carter's electoral defeat.
We reported on EATSCO last November: "On Nov. 17/18/19, 2006, WMR reported on the presence of an aircraft linked to Viktor Bout's international weapons smuggling network at Mogadishu airport. WMR reported that the "Boeing-707, registered in Ghana with registry number 9G-GAL, marked with “SACHA” on the fuselage, used the call sign 9QCTA. The plane landed in Mogadishu at 0700 GMT on November 13, 2006. The plane reportedly made previous stops with arms and ammunition at Mogadishu."
WMR has recently learned the aircraft, which is actually registered "9G-OAL," is owned by Johnson's Air of Ghana. Johnson's Air appears to have been founded around 1995 by Kansas City-based Farhad Azima (and may now be operated by Farzin (also spelled Farsin) Azima, Farhad's brother). Azima is well known for his connections to highly placed (and "well-oiled") American friends in Houston and Washington, DC and first became known for his role in the Iran Contra scandal of the 1980's. One of Azima's Boeing 707s was used to ship 23 tons of arms and ammunition to Iran in return for the release of U.S. hostages in Lebanon. The plane was leased to Race Aviation, owned by Farzin Azima. Farhad Azima served on the board of Kansas City's Indian Springs State Bank, which, along with its directors, were sued by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation after the bank collapsed in 1984 after making insider loans and engaging in deposit fraud.
Global also had a contract with the Egyptian American Transport and Services Corporation (EATSCO) to ship U.S. arms to Egypt. EATSCO was a CIA front company connected to CIA officers Thomas Clines, Edwin Wilson, and Ted Shackley and Egyptian intelligence officer Hussein Salem.
Farhad Azima, an Iranian expatriate, is chairman and CEO of the Aviation Leasing Group of Companies (ALG), which owns and operates some 50 aircraft, including those operated by Buffalo Airways of Waco, Texas. In 1976, Azima founded Global International Airways (the same year that James Bath became the sole U.S. agent for Salem Bin Laden, the older brother of Osama Bin Laden, and who was heavily involved in procuring airline service companies in and around Houston). Azima also acquired a controlling interest of Capital Air, which maintained a large aircraft overhaul operation in Smyrna, Tennessee. In 1983, following the crash of a Global International press plane in Brazil that was accompanying President Reagan on a trip to that country, Global International had its operations suspended by the FAA for safety reasons -- ironic since Azima's company now provides training to the FAA. Azima has friends in both the GOP and Democratic Party -- including former DNC Chair Don Fowler and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson."
EATSCO was likely the cut out used to procure the weapons that were shipped to Iran to fulfill and agreement hammered out in Paris between Iranian representatives and Bush and Casey. The October Surprise was not the first secret deal between Bush and the Iranians. The same network used in October 1980 was used to secretly supply weapons to the Iranians in return for the freeing of Western hostages in Iran during the 1980s. That deal resulted in the Iran-contra scandal that nearly toppled the Reagan administration. In violation of the law, the arms smuggling network, overseen by Oliver North, was used to supply weapons to the Contras in Nicaragua. Ironically, EATSCO had previously been used to supply Palestinian weapons to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. The person who served as EATSCO's silent partner in the 1970s would surface again as a major player in Iran-contra. He was Air Force General Richard Secord.
One of EATSCO's primary agents of influence in Egypt was reportedly Egyptian Vice President Hosni Mubarak. After President Anwar Sadat, one of the co-signers of the Camp David Peace Accords, discovered the role of his vice president in the CIA's covert arms shipments, he ordered an investigation. Sadat was assassinated in 1981 while attending a military parade. Mubarak became president. The investigation was killed.
Our intelligence sources have previously revealed that the Poet was used to secretly ship weapons to Iran. To eliminate witnesses to the arms transfer, the CIA interlocutors, Bush, and Casey ensured that the Poet was sunk, either by the Iranians or by the Iraqis, who were then engaged in a bitter war with Iran. A third party attack on the vessel also cannot be ruled out. In any event, the ship was reported lost without a trace in the Atlantic and the Coast Guard was ordered to conduct a bogus search for the ship, in the same manner that the Navy was ordered to conduct a fake search for the sunk U.S. nuclear submarine, Scorpion, in 1968.Very little has been written about the fate of the SS Poet and its 34-man crew. The Bush crime family would like to keep it that way....