Arms For Hostages
from: Ollie North 11-04-07

"Since United States contact with Iran, there's been no evidence of Iranian government complicity in acts of terrorism against the United States." - President Ronald Reagan, November 13, 1986

In 1984, the CIA chief for the Middle East, William Buckley, was kidnaped by the Hezbollah which was operating out of Iran. Close sources to Reagan confirmed that he would do anything to obtain the release of Buckley. However, he was murdered several months later. This was followed by more abductions: Benjamin Weir, Father Jenco, Terry Waite, assistant to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and several professors from the American University in Beirut. The CIA and the National Security Council now moved to attempt to negotiate with Iran.

The NSC was composed of Vice President Bush, Secretary of State George Shultz, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, CIA director William Casey, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, and National Security adviser Robert McFarlane. On June 7, 1985, the NSC was given permission to deal with Iran which could exert pressure on the Hezbollah to release the American and British hostages.

The secret funding of arms, which was sold to "moderate Iranians," was orchestrated primarily by North. Then the profits from the sales were used to send more weapons to the Contras in Central America. North controlled the secret and illegal treasury which financed "the Enterprise." This consisted of CIA agents turned arms merchants, dummy CIA corporations, and clandestine Swiss bank accounts. The Enterprise took in $48 million in cash. Some was pocketed by arms dealer Albert Hakim and by General Richard Secord. Some of the money was funneled into the Middle East to pay for North's failures in attempting to liberate the American hostages in Beirut.
Soon after the NSC was given permission to communicate with the Iranian regime, six separate arms deals took place.
**August 1985. 96 TOW missiles but no hostages were released. A DC-8 flew from Israel to Iran and transferred $1,217,410 into the Swiss bank account of arms dealer Ghorbanifar.
**September 1985. 408 TOWs were sold to Iran. One American hostage, Benjamin Weir, was released a day later.
**November 1985. 18 Hawk missiles were shipped to Iran via a Portugal and Israel. North arranged for the transfer of one million dollars which was placed into the bank account of Lake Resources, a CIA operated front to launder money in Florida. 80 Hawks were to be delivered; however, 62 were never delivered. North and Secord testified later that the money received covered the payment for the aircraft. $150,000 was actually spent for transportation, and $850,000 was diverted to the Contras.
**February 1986. 1,000 TOWs were sent to Iran in increments of 1,000 each and at $10,000 per missile. $10 million was placed in the account of Lake Resources. $3.7 million was used to pay for the TOWs. Of that amount, $6.3 million was profit.
**May 1986. $16.5 million was paid to the United States for spare parts for Hawk missiles. $6.5 million was given to the government, and $10 million was deposited in the bank account of Lake Resources. Two months later on July 26 Father Lawrence Jenco was released, and the remaining Hawk parts were sent on to Iran.
**October 1986. 500 TOWs were sold to Iran, David Jacobsen was released. $3.6 million was given to the United States. $2 million was paid for the missiles, while $1.3 million became profit.
On November 25, 1986, after a Lebanese newspaper broke the story of arms-for-hostages, Attorney General Edwin Meese revealed that illegal funds had been diverted to the Contras. Reagan downplayed the weapons which were delivered to Iran. He stated that TOW missiles were "hand held" and that they all could be "transported in one cargo plane." Reagan also asserted, "The TOW anti-tank missile is a purely defensive weapon. It is a shoulder-carried weapon. And we don't think that in this defensive thing -- we didn't add to any offensive power on the part of Iran." The TOW missile weighed 56.3 pounds and was four feet long. The complete system required a crew of four people. In addition, TOWs could be used offensively by Iran to attack Iraqi tanks.
It took several days before North's White House office was sealed, so he and his secretary, Fawn Hall, were able to shred damaging papers in this time period.
Reagan attempted to convince the public that his administration was not dealing with Khomeini but with "moderate elements" within the country. Reagan sent both McFarlane and North on a goodwill trip to Teheran to meet with Khomeini and to present him with an autographed Bible and a cake in the shape of a Bible. The Khomeini government refused to allow them to meet with anyone, and they only waited on the Teheran tarmac for several hours before returning to the United States. Because McFarlane's frustration level increased and because he continued to wrestle with the unethical American covert operations, he resigned as Reagan's NSC adviser and was replaced by Navy Admiral John Poindexter.
The next year, a joint Congressional hearing was created to investigate Iran-Contra. The committee granted immunity to North, thus forcing him to testify. North bragged that the United States carried out an illegal covert operation to fund the Contras in Central America. Since the Boland Amendment prohibited the funding of the Contras in their effort to overthrow the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua, the NSC sought other avenues. The first was to convince Congress to allocate funds for "humanitarian aid." However, this money was used illegally to arm the Contras and was terminated after several months. Therefore, the NSC had to look for other sources of funds.
North testified that he took it upon himself to carry out "Operation Democracy." He boasted that the profits from the illegal arms sales to the Khomeini regime were placed in secret Swiss bank accounts and that dummy CIA fronts such as Lake Resources in Florida. These funds were used to purchase weapons with which to arm the Contras in Central America. This was carried out by North along with Hakim, Secord, and Singlaub.
North skimmed $50,000 from a secret cash account which was set up by the Contras. Secord helped arrange for weapons which were illegally obtained with profits from the sales to Iran and then shipped south to the Contras. Hakim was a military sales agent who worked as a middleman with Secord. Hakim was quoted after President Carter's aborted hostage rescue in Iran in 1979: "He couldn't have been happier when the Carter administration needed." Air Force General John Singlaub, who was president of the World Anti-communist League, became involved in raising funds overseas for the Contras in 1981.
On the domestic front, North solicited donations from various wealthy people. Claiming that communism was entrenched in Nicaragua and that it would move northward, he was able to solicit $80,000 from Adolph Coors. An $80,000 Cessna spotter plane, to be used in flights over Nicaragua, was purchased. North called wealthy widows, promising them photo sessions with Reagan if they made large contributions. One wealthy woman contributed $200,000 and was rewarded with a five minute meeting with Reagan. Billionaire Ross Perot supplied $2.3 million to North in an attempt to liberate Beirut CIA station chief Buckley in Lebanon. The sultan of Brunei contributed $1 million, and King Fahd of Saudi Arabia turned over $32 million.
North also lost more than $400,000 chasing false leads. An Iranian convince North that he was a Saudi prince with superior intelligence connections and was paid $15,000. An Armenian informant claimed that he knew the secret location of the American hostages. North slipped him $100,000, and he immediately disappeared in Syria. Lebanese "informants" received over $100,000 from North. Another Lebanese claimed that he had contacted Buckley, but it later turned out that Buckley had long been dead when he and North communicated. North also arranged for another informant to receive $200,000 of Perot's money and $11,000 from illegal Contra funds in exchange for information. This informant produced no information to North.

USMC barracks bombing by Hezbolla, 1983



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