This article was originally published September 2, 2004, before Michael Chertoff was appointed head of Homeland Security. OpEdNews reprints it now, as rumors that Chertoff will be appointed to replace disgraced Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, on word that he's resigned.
Between the Fall of 1998 and June 2001, a group of Middle Eastern men living in New Jersey is caught on tape in an ATF weapons sting conspiring to buy millions of dollars of weapons including components for nuclear bombs. Three years after the operation ended, all of the people involved in the deal are free.
Federal agents who worked on the case were frustrated because it was handled as a criminal case instead of a counterterrorism case. In an in depth look at Operation Diamondback I reveal that one of the suspects who was accused of skimming millions of dollars from a fraudulent HMO to offshore accounts where the money allegedly went to finance terrorism, was defended in the HMO case by a lawyer who later became the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division, under John Ashcroft. The lawyer, Michael Chertoff, was in his position as Assistant Attorney General when Operation Diamondback ended and his client was never arrested even though an intelligence document claimed he and his brother in Egypt had links to Osama Bin Laden.
Is this why the ATF operation was handled as a criminal case and not a terrorism case by the federal government?
I will also examine the history of terror links to the North Jersey area from before the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center right up until 9-11. Michael Chertoff, by the way, was the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey from 1990-1994 and was in office when the first attack on the World Trade Center took place. For reasons that escape me, the Jersey City area and particularly the Al Salam mosque from which the Blind Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman spewed his hatred, was allowed to continue to be one of the major hubs of terrorist activity in the United States .
Part 1: The Jersey City Rat Pack
Recent headlines over the past two weeks announced the arrest of two leaders of an Albany , New York mosque for allegedly laundering money involved in the sale of a shoulder fired missile. The arrests were the result of a year long weapons sting conducted by the FBI. (1)
Anytime someone involved in planning terrorism on US soil is taken off the streets it should be plastered all over the headlines to announce to the world that another terrorist is in the slammer and is unable to hurt, maim or kill innocent American citizens.
This case pales in comparison, however, to a pre-9-11 weapon sting in which a 32 million dollar deal for a ship load of weapons, 500 Stinger Missiles, nuclear triggers, weapons grade plutonium and “heavy water” for a nuclear dirty bomb were the weapons of choice of Middle Eastern men seeking to arm Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban. This case never made screaming headlines when it ended in June 2001 and most people have never head about it. The attacks on 9-11 were three months away and the American press was not as eager to pounce on every story that even mentioned the word terrorist. In addition to the weapons deal, the World Trade Center was specifically mentioned as a future target by one of the characters in this drama and yet none of the people involved in this case are currently in prison. Why?
I ran across references to Operation Diamondback while doing research on terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction well over a year ago. I found out that a former con man named Randy Glass had posed as an undercover weapons dealer in an attempt to lure Middle Eastern weapons buyers to the US in a sting operation run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) with support from the FBI and Customs.
The sting operation was documented in two episodes of Dateline NBC; On the trail of arms merchants, which aired on August 2, 2002 (2), and Stinger missile sting operation, which was broadcast on March 18, 2003 . (3)
The case came to a screeching halt with the arrest of only a handful of suspects in June of 2001 even though there was ample evidence that some of the people who were attempting to buy these weapons had connections with the Taliban, Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden himself. The two Dateline NBC stories cited the frustration of Special Agents who worked on the operation and questioned why the case hadn’t received more attention from higher ups in federal law enforcement.
I decided to look deeper into the case myself and discovered some shocking information. I have held onto this information for over a year. I had passed it on to a few lawyers and journalists in hopes that they would follow-up on my discoveries, but to date none of them have, so I have decided to divulge the info myself.
I discovered that the “terror support system supplying U.S. enemies with sophisticated weapons” included three men from New Jersey . As I looked deeper into the story, I realized that one of the men lived in the same county where I worked at the time, and that all of them had worked in the city where one of my closest relatives lives.