By Trowbridge H. Ford
When the ‘shock and awe’ campaign against Saddam Hussein started in Iraq, all kinds of security services knew that there would be devastating blowback because of all the propaganda that had been used to justify it, especially that he had weapons of mass destruction (WMD), so they took steps to limit it if at all possible. Director Meir Dagan’s Mossad was the instrument of choice in the killings as it had provided the leading disinformer, and been given the green light by the various security services concerned to make sure that no officials were in a position to exploit it. And Dagan’s problem-solving dealt mainly with shooting its source.
It was feared that Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic – the politician who had seen that Slobodan Milosevic was sent to The Hague to answer war crimes charges for the actions by his forces in Bosnia – would be the first to exploit the opportunity, so he was gunned down while he was meeting with like-minded Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh in Belgrade in March, 2003 for fear that they would tighten the screws upon Israel because of the excesses it had engaged in to justify the war.
The killing of Djindjic was a good example of the old adage: “a stitch in time saves nine.” While there had not yet been any opportunity on the ground to determine whether the Iraqi dictator had any WMD, his failure to use either nuclear or chemical ones during the bombing campaign to soften it up for invasion proved that he didn’t have them. He had planned to do so before any Gulf war if he had had them. Then was the ideal time to use them – when American troops and those of its allies were massing in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf states – and since he hadn’t, they knew that the gig was up. And then was the time to kill a likely troublemaker like the Serbian Prime Minister, so it was then done.
Once this was accomplished, it then became a question of when the propaganda to justify it started to unravel, and who would become the most dangerous whistleblower. The obvious suspect was Jurgen Möllemann. the maverick Free Democrat Party (FDP) leader from North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany, given the razor-thin majority that Gerhard Schroeder’s Social Democrats had in the Bundestag. Möllemann had started out as a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), but switiched to the FDP, being elected to the Bundesrat in 1972. He served as a minister of foreign affairs and secretary of state for education and then economic affairs in the coalition governments of Helmut Kohl.
He had to resign, however, in January 1993 after it was discovered that he had urged several chain stores to buy products made by a relatives’ company. Then he resigned from the party in late 1994 when he was not asked by FDP leader Klaus Kinkel to attend coalition talks with Kohl’s CDU. In June 1995, he stood against Wolfgang Gerhardt for the FDP leadership, but failed badly in the election. He still kept the leadership of the party’s delegation in the the North-Rhine Westphaia parliament.(1) Out of government, he made big commissions by brokering arms deals, with the help of the Mossad, for Arab governments, thanks to his connections in Lebanon, Syria, and Israel.
In the lead-up to the 2002 Bundestag election, Möllemann tried to make the most of his leadership of the German-Arabic Society, championing the Palestinian cause, and claiming that the Federal Republic was as occupied as Palestine, thanks to the control that Jews had on its politics. He brought Syrian-born, Green Party representative Jamal Karsli, who claimed the Israeli Defense Force treated Palestinians with “Nazi methods”, into its ranks, hoping that more Greens would follow suit. Möllemann supplied $981,000. allegedly out of his own pocket, for the printing of eight million leaflets, attacking Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for his leadership of Israel. “Mr. Möllemann also accused a prominent German Jewish chatshow host, Michael Friedman, of encouraging anti-semitism because of his ‘intolerant, spiteful manner.’ ” (2)
It was thought that Möllemann’s attacks upon Jews hurt the FDP in the election, and he resigned from the party in March after he claimed in his best-selling book, Klartext (Frankly Speaking), that FDP leader Guido Westerwelle was being blackmailed by the Mossad, though keeping his seat in the Bundestag. “…Dogged by allegations of anti-semitism and sleaze,” he became the object of an investigation for fraud, and alleged illegal use of FDP funds.
At the same time, the misuse of intelligence about Saddam’s alleged WMD by the BND, the Geman foreign intelligence agency, was finally being exposed. Well before the 9/11 attacks, Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, code-name Curveball, told the BND while out of work that he knew all about Iraq’s illegal weapons programs, especially its mobile trucks for the production of chemical and biological weapons. He was granted asylum by the Germans on March 13, 2000, and later in the year, he was flown to Dubai where he was interviewed by his former weapons boss in Iraq, Dr. Basil Latif, who determined that his claims were all lies and flights of fantasy. British MI6 agents witnessed the exposure of his fabrications which even he ultimately acknowledged. As a result, the BND ordered him to keep a low profile in the small town of Erlangen, outside of Nurnburg.(3)
Shortly before the second vote in the UN on invading Iraq, al-Janabi was coerced in going along with his lies or his family would be expelled to Morocco. In January 2003, he was specifically asked if Iraq was still producing WMD at an alleged birdseed-producing plant, and if Saddam had mobile trucks to distribute them, and he agreed. Consequently, they were the centerpiece of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech on the resolution at the UN. Curveball knew what was coming from him when he got going. “He was, after all,” Mark Chulov and Helen Pidd most belatedly concluded in The Guardian, “Powell’s main source, a man his German handlers had feted as a new ‘Deep Thoat’ – an agent so pivotal that he could bring down a government.” (4)
While that quickly proved to be the case with Saddam’s, it soon began to threaten that of Curveball’s handlers, that of the Federal German Republic. Washington, which had not been brought into his debriefings, was still convinced that finding Saddam’s WMD was “a slam-drunk”, to use the basketball terminology that DCI George Tenet had confided to the President. On May 29th, the President proclaimed at a Polish press conference: “We found weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and said, Iraq had got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They’re illegal. They’re against the United Nations resolutions, and we’ve so far discovered two. And we’ll find more weapons as time goes on.” (5)
The truth was just the opposite, and Bush and Tenet started fearing it. Bush nearly exploded a few days later when he learned at a stopover in Qatar that neither SoD, Donald Rumsfeld, nor chief administrator of Iraq, Paul Bremer, were doing anything about finding the WMD. Each thought the other was responsible, and was doing the searches. As a result, the President looked to appoint David Kay to run the new, 1,400-man Iraq Survey Group. Kay was a veteran nuclear weapons inspector who also had a Ph.D. in political science, and had uncovered after the first Gulf War how close Saddam was to having nuclear weapons despite Israeli assurances to the contrary because of its having destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor there a decade earlier.
“Instead Kay had uncovered the covert funding for a nuclear program code-named ‘PC3’,” Woodward wrote, “involving 5,000 people testing and building ingredients for a nuclear bomb such as calutrons, centrifuges, neutron initiators, high-explosive lenses and enriched-uranium bomb cores. Saddam was on a crash program to build and detonate a crude nuclear weapon in the desert as a demonstration to the world, to say, ‘Now we’ve got one.’ ” (6) If Washington had known about Saddam’s program, there might not have been the Gulf War. Little wonder that Kay did not now have much confidence in what the Israelis were claiming, and the Mossad knew it
And just at this time, it was claimed that Curveball was a cousin of one of Ahmed Chalabi’s aides.(7) Others contend that he is the younger brother of the aide. Chalabi was the head of the Iraqi National Congress, based in London and funded by Dick Cheney’s office, and the Israelis were hoping that a post-Saddam regime in Iraq would be supportive of their interests, especially in reconnecting the Iraqi pipeline from the oilfields to Haifa. Then Chalabi’s nephew, Salem, became the prosecutor of Saddam, and hoped to write the new Iraqi Constitution. Seems most likely that some of the money ended up in Möllemann’s German-Arabic Society, and helped pay for the leaflets, attacking Ariel Sharon’s government. In sum, it seems that Möllemann was working with Chalabi’s group, hoping to use the Anglo-American ouster of Saddam to assist Iranian aims.
How the Mossad and the BND determined this was the result of eavesdropping on Möllemann’s e-mails and writings on his computer, thanks to the equipment that Joseph “Kobi” Alexander had developed at Verint, a subsidiary of Converse Technology. Its STAR-GATE system was intercepting and storing a large percentage of the world’s voice and data communications “…through wiretaps built, installed, and maintained by a small, secret Israeli company run by former Israeli military and intelligence officers.” (8) In addition, Verint could automatically access vast amounts of stored and real-time data from anywhere, and its associated system PerSay could mine messages simply on the basis of a target’s voice. While Bamford stressed the capability it gave Israel’s Unit 8200 to eavesdrop on what America’s National Security Agency (NSA) was doing, it also applied to what Deutsche Telekom and Richard Branson’s Virgin group were up to. “They undertake a wide range of technical operations and human operations,” a former Unit 8200 official told Bamford. “The denials are laughable.” (9)
And the use of Chalabi’s information in the war in Iraq did not stop with the toppling of Saddam’s regime. Operation Highlander, NSA’s program to locate and eliminate suspected terrorists in Iraq, became so leaderless and disorganized that it ultimately resorted to using his lists of targets, as its linguists Adirenne Kinne and John Berry explained to Bamford. “It was part of a plan to decapitae the Iraqi leadership at the start of the war.” (10) While Kinne was trying to rescue some American NGO aid workers from harm, she received a fax from the INC, listing where WMD could be found, including the Palestine Hotel where the main jouralists covering the war were staying, but failed to take action on it.
The fax should have been sent immediaely as a CRITIC, “…the NSA’s highest-priority message, designed to reach the president’s desk within five minutes.” (10) In defending herself for the delay, Kinne explained that Chalabi had no credibility – what colleague Berry shot down by stating that she was just a collector of information, not its evaluator. She responded that it was the first time she had been queried about where a fax was, believing that Washington knew about it because it was behind Chalabi being able to have it intercepted in the first place – what she was reminded of chillingly when an article in U.S. News and World Report confirmed that the INC had been feeding misinformation to coalition forces during Saddam’s ouster. She was particularly appalled at seeing the Palesine Hotel on the list since American journalists would not believe that they were being spied on and attacked, and targets were hit in highly populated areas, killing many innocent people.
In this context, Möllemann planned to cash in on all the illegal actions he had helped happen, as he explained in a piece on his personal computer: “The United Nations must officially establish and charge that Washington and London and some others led an illegal war (according to international law) on Iraq, if the United Nations doesn’t wish to become the laughing stock of the world. But simply that, and our morale indignation will not take us further. Central Europe has to prepare itself for substantial long-term investments in research as well as in military. If Europe will not do this, it will remain the drawf in international politics – which we already are – and also Europe will become the economic pygmy.” (11) In case Shroeder’s government did get the message, Möllemann added getting rid of impediments to economic expansion, and the sacred cows when it came to protecting the labor force.
Little wonder that when the BND got the message – thanks to Deusche Telekom’s ability to eavesdrop on Möllemann’s cellphone calls, to collect his e-mails, and mine his writing on his computer through its Verint programs – he became a target tó be disposed of And Meir Dagan’s Mossad was obliged to take him out because of its support of Chalabi and his INC. Little wonder that just before DCI Tenet discusaed on June 5th with David Kay the terms under which he would lead the Iraq Survey Group (12), Möllemann discovered that when he made another of his famous parachute jumps over Marl, near Köln, the canopy ripped away from the harness, and the emergency chute failed to open, as he struggled to regain control during the last 1,000 meters of his descent. He died instantly.
Just that morning the Bundestag had stripped him of his parliamentary immunity because of his alleged illegalities, making it look like he had mysteriously killed himself since it was first reported that there was nothing wrong with his parachute (13), and he jumped with nine friends. Of course, it made the two events look somehow covertly connected. As the real facts of the tragedy started to emerge, the authorities started claiming that it was a suicide, though he had not taken any drugs, had not left a suicide note, and those who knew him best, like former FDP leader Hans-Dietrich Gensher, thought that he would never do such a thing.
The biggest reason why the mysterious death didn’t die was because Bild, the biggest tabloid in Germany, while playing it down, failed to mention the similar myterious death that German politician Uwe Barchel had suffered in 1987. Christopher Bollyn wrote an article, “The Bizarre Death of Jurgen Möllemann,” making note of the failure, and using Victor Ostrovsky’s 1994 claim in The Other Side of Deception: A Rogue Agent Exposes the Mossad’s Secret Agenda.that one of its kidons had done the killing (14) While the claim seems to have been a bit of disinformation that the Mossad agent provided to help get the Iran-Contra covert operators, especially Ted Shackley’s people, out of trouble, repeating it now just got Dagan’s operators into unexpected difficulties, particularly when the article started getting exposure, even in Germany.
With the growing uncertainly about why and how Möllemann died, his killers apparently killed Royal cadet Stephen Hilder of the Royal Military College of Science in Oxfordshire, England in the hope of making such parachute accidents look quite common – which was certainly not the case – and setting a precedent for killing in Britain if that became necessary with the more damaging whistleblower about Saddam’s alleged WMD, Dr. David Kelly appearing on the scence. About two weeks later, Andrew Gilligan started getting traction on the “sexing up” claim in the dossier about Iraq’s WMD, appearing before the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee as a witness – what Kelly had expressed grave doubts about. The controversy was about how many sources Gilligan had, and was one of them Kelly.
On June 30th, he finally wrote his line manager at the MoD, Dr. Bryan Wells, that he had had an unauthorized meeting with Gilligan, but that he did not believe that he was one of his sources. On July 4th, Kelly was interviewed by Wells’ superior at the MoD, Richard Hatfield, who decided that Kelly was probably not Gilligan’s source. (15) Seems this information was learned by the killers though the Verint capability they had which exploited Richard Branson’s Virgin network, and realized that they had to act quickly to contain the growing difficulty before it became totally unmanageable..
Kelly’s letter was like Kay’s complaints about how poor the US Army’s pursuit of Saddam’s alleged WMD had been. No sooner did Wells and his superiors at the MoD start discussing what Kelly had done, and what it should do about it than the parachute assassins, apparently Mossad ones again, cut the straps on Hilder’s main and auxiliary parachutes, resulting in his failling 13,000 feet to his death while performing in the British Collegiate Parachute Championships on July 5th over Hibaldstow Airport in Lincolnshire.
Of course, the police originally suspected murder, arresting Hilder’s fellow skydivers as suspects, but no case could be made against them. Then the police suspected other divers or spectators at the show had done it, creating only a sense of paranoia among the sky diving community since no likely suspects were found. Ten months later, the Humberside police finally resorted to claiming that it was a suicide, Hilder, while packing his chute, “had sabotaged it himself.,” and that no one else could have been involved. (16) The police based the claims upon the facts that scissors in the boot of his car had fibers on it from the parachute. But since others could have had access to all, this really didn’t solve anything. The Coroner for North Lincolnshire Stuart Atkinson ultimately didn’t buy it, ruling it an “unexplained death,” and it still is.
While the murders of Möllemann and Hilder gave the Mossad and British Intelligence Services breathing time to deal with the growing problems, they did not solve them, as shall be seen.
5. Quoted from Bob Woodward; Bush at War, Part III: State of Denial, pp. 209-10.
6. Ibid., p. 215.
8. James Bamford, The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America, p. 241.
9. Quoted from ibid., pp. 242-3.
10. Ibid., p. 147.
12, Woodward, op. cit., p, 213ff.
15. For the timeline about developments, see this link:
See also earlier artilce on the topic – https://flyingcuttlefish.wordpress.com/2011/12/31/assassination-djindjic/