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tv   Declassified  CNN  September 16, 2017 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT

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kendall's retirement was detrimental to our case from the standpoint that we wanted to show positively that he was accessing national defense information and providing it to the cubans. that was essential to charging espionage. >> now he was enjoying his retired life on his beautiful 34-foot sail boat that he'd bought in sweden, brought to the united states. >> from my perspective, he was a bit of a hypocrite. he supported the cuban revolution and the socialist movement from a deck of a 47 foot million dollar swedish yacht. i couldn't quite wrap my head around that. >> the contrast between the justification for helping the cuban people and the sheer luxury that they lived in, it's
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hard to ignore. >> we suspect that due to the fact that most sailboats have an advanced radio system, that he very well could have been using it as an operations platform but we never found any evidence of that. >> we have our suspect but no counterintelligence indicators. >> so what do you do? >> you keep monitoring him. you find a little nugget here and there. you go into his apartment while he and his wife are gone somewhere. and look for things. >> the next logical step was to perform a physical search of the myers' residence. there's a lot that goes into conducting a thorough methodical search when you don't want people to know you've done that,
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the stress level was very high. very high. so in the course of the search we found a number of items related to cuba. a cuban sailing guide, nautical charts related to cuba. a book titled "on becoming cuban." >> and to those in the intelligence community, we would call that a clue. >> in and of themselves none of these things were evidence that they were spies, but additionally we found a short wave radio. they actually still had the means to receive short wave radio broadcasts. we found a diary that recounted
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his 1978 trip to cuba and conveyed a very positive image of cuba, a very negative image of the united states. >> it was a glowing report about the cuban revolution, how the people are doing well. castro's a great leader. >> it essentially conveyed kendall's infatuation with cuba. >> kendall's diary was critical. the next piece of evidence was stunning. >> in a filing cabinet in their closet, there was a record that indicated gwen had a tumor on her shoulder in late 1996 that was a matrix point that we were looking for. we knew that one of the cuban agents had a tumor on their shoulder. i had had chills up my spine when i saw this medical record.
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i couldn't believe it and this is where i think all doubt in my mind was removed. this was beyond coincidence. >> we could have charged them with being foreign agents, false statements but none of those charges in our mind held them accountable for what they did and quite frankly didn't come with the penalty we thought that they deserved. >> shortly after the fbi searched, we continued surveillance, we found out that kendall was signing up for a course on how to do over the horizon sailing. so there was a legitimate fear on the part of the investigative group that that might be one of their modes of escape is to calmly go out to the boat and sail home and home for them was cuba.
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>> he could go over the horizon. and it really wouldn't take much of an effort to get to cuba. it's 90 miles off the florida coast. >> and with the nautical charts and the cuba sailing guide. >> there was a conclusion reached that he was a flight risk and would be leaving the united states for cuba in the very near future. there was a sense of urgency. we had to do something in order to get him before they escaped to cuba. sfx: t-mobile mnemonic sfx: netflix mnemonic sfx: t-mobile mnemonic sfx: netflix mnemonic sfx: t-mobile mnemonic sfx: netflix mnemonic t-mobile's unlimited now includes netflix on us. that's right, netflix on us. get four unlimited lines for just forty bucks each. taxes and fees included. and now, netflix included. so go ahead, binge on us. another reason why t-mobile is america's best unlimited network.
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philips sonicare. save when you buy now. there was a conclusion reached that kendall and gwen were a flight risk and would be leaving the united states for cuba in the very near future. >> we could have charged them with being foreign agents, with false statements but we didn't want to charge them with lesser offenses than espionage. so despite all of what we collected, we were still looking for more. we wanted confirmation kendall and gwen had passed national
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defense information to the cubans during their espionage careers, and to do that we were going to need to conduct an undercover operation and attempt to reactivate them as cuban agents. >> there were several things we considered. almost all were rejected until ultimately we came up with a final, almost desperate solution. a false flag. >> the false flag is a sure aid. >> the u.s. government is posing as the cubans in this case, the foreign intelligence service. >> the idea for the false flag was to get kendall myers to accept this individual as an authentic cuban intelligence officer and provide him with information that would incriminate him. it is arguably the riskiest counterespionage move you can take. if it doesn't work, you know he'll never take a bite at any other suspicious apple.
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>> there's a lot of planning and coordination that goes into it. there's a lot of strategy on how to gain that person's trust. >> how do we want to do this. what are we going to use as your backdrop? what's our story for reengaging them? >> so at this time kendall was still teaching at johns hopkins. so it would agreed we would approach him before his class and use what we call parole to see if he would take the bait. >> what's parole? >> parole would be like did i meet you in paris? it's like a code word to say i know who you are. this is who i am. >> our plan was to have the individual posing as the cuban intelligence officer approach kendall to get his opinion on
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the incoming administration at that point in time that might effect policy towards cuba. so we put the undercover in a position where he could approach kendall as he went in the building and they greeted him, nukted he had been sent there by an individual kendall was familiar with. he handed him a cuban cigar and wished him a happy birthday because it was his birthday. the undercover was very believable. part of what we established with him was he had a thick accent, and at one point during the approach it seemed like it was going to backfire because the individual was trying to communicate with kendall and kendall couldn't understand a word he was saying. he repeatedly said that he wanted to meet at the double tree and kendall thought he was saying w3. he said let's meet at the double
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tree. it's right down the street. and he said w 3? w 3? i was listening. i couldn't bear to watch at this point. i was so afraid it was going to go wrong. but then the undercover pulled out a piece of paper and a pen and wrote it down for him. and it became very apparent to kendall who this was and that he was there on behalf of cuban intelligence to reestablish contact with kendall in an effort to gain access to information. and agreed to meet later that afternoon. hook, line, and sinker, absolutely. >> after that initial exchange happened, kendall went in and the first thing he did was call gwen. and we heard the call, and it was very apparent that kendall was happy. >> i think he believed they just couldn't wait. they had had to have kendall's opinion and that was a good thing. >> he was so excited. he said you're not going to
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believe it. you've got to come down, you've got to come down. >> we really didn't have a lot on gwen. kendall was the one with access to the information. and the fact that kendall decided to bring gwen along was something we could only dream of. >> so the undercover who they believed was a cuban intelligence officer and kendall and gwen all met for a drink in the bar of the double tree. >> the false flag was excellent. he started off a little small talk. asked them how they were doing in retirement and then slowly started talking about well, you know, you did work for us in the past. he's kind of small. but by kendall saying oh, yeah, i did. that is a minimum acknowledgment but it's a tremendous acknowledgment. >> the meeting was good. they took it well.
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the only person that ever mentioned anything about something not being right, gwen did say at one point hey, do you think this is all right? and kendall said absolutely. this is good. it's my birthday. cuban cigar. >> gwen may have had some reservations, but kendall convinced her everything was okay. after the initial meeting in the hotel bar, there were three more meetings we had with kendall with our undercover. >> during the discussions they were confirming operational details. so kendall told the under cover his code name was 202. it's the area code for d.c. >> he started to explain how laughingly so they used to share information at the shopping carts. >> and they would copy them and bring them back. >> his wife also made admissions
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about working with kendall to obtain classified information and send it to the cubans. >> gwen was more really involved in operations, she was involved in dead drops, passes, processing information that kendall had removed from the state department. >> she is a 100% co-conspirator. so we now started to build up a file on who he met with, times and dates, spy craft and we pass the information to. >> we learned the full story of kendall's recruitment. he told our under cover the same cuban intelligence officer that invited kendall to travel to cuba in 1978 then traveled to south dakota where kendall was living in 1979. >> and what the cuban intelligence service officer did was walk right up to kendall and
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gwen's door, knock on the door and introduce himself. that's how bold and confident the cubans were that they could recruit kendall myers. >> the interesting thing about kendall was he basically would do it as long as gwen was along for the ride. they would do it together. >> so the day he was recruited, she was recruited one minute later. >> we didn't know until then that it actually been for two and a half decades. >> in each meeting we were able to grab historical information, places they travelled, places they met the cubans. but in the three meetings we had with them, we didn't get our national defense information. >> so the objective of the fourth meeting was to push to get them to provide us specific instances of providing national
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defense information. >> it was really important for us to prepare the undercover as best we could to go in there and press them. >> i was extremely nervous. it wasn't going to work. it was nerve-wracking. >> at that point we didn't have another trick up our sleeve. the new essential phone.
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it was really important for us to prepare the undercover as best we could to go in there and kind of press them. >> our undercover did a great job of pushing him for a specific example of something sensitive that he had passed to the cubans. and kendall provided a few examples. which did meet the threshold we were looking for with respect of being examples of very sensitive and classified signals of intelligence. >> what was it? >> absolutely not going to tell you. kendall became uncomfortable with it.
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but it was a little too late by then. >> when he provided us the national defense information, we knew we had enough information to arrest him. >> we entered the room and an arrest was made. gwen made a great exclamation, which was essentially she knew it all along. >> you think about these people as cuban spies, but in the end they were a couple. and that was a nice little view of the wife telling the husband, i told you so. >> we took them both into custody and interviewed them separately to try to convince them there on the spot they should cooperate, and they refused to talk to us.
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>> i was at the washington field office, and they brought him back for mug shots and fingerprints, and our attorneys discussions with our legal counsel. >> a retired state department member and his wife have been accused of conspiring with cuba. >> he was allegedly cuban agent 202. his wife, gwen, who worked at a local bank was agent 123. >> after his arrest kendall myers agreed to plead guilty, but there was one condition, there was leniency for his wife. >> so kendall myers got life,
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and gwen got 81 months. >> she only got about 67 years, and she took the life in jail. i think he very much loved her, and he didn't want to see her spend the rest of her life in jail. that's the reason he pled guilty. >> part of the sentencing was they agreed to be fully cooperative. i think we ended up having 70 something debriefing sessions with him. and it became apparent to me he was a narcissist, a hypocrite, and obviously he was a traitor. >> the fbi got first crack at him. i had second crack at him. and my job was to find out from kendall where the weaknesses were in the state department, why'd he'd been so successful in what he did. and kendall, i think, was extraordinarily candid with me. >> it's not something i planned. it's not a plot, but it turned out my best friends were my best sources and vice versa. and that in a way was the sinful
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paradox of my career as a cuban agent. >> for all the nobility that kendall wraps his espionage in, the guy essentially screwed over the people that were close to him regularly. i mean he manipulated people on a regular basis to get very sensitive information and pass it to an adversary. these people trusted him. they were his friends, his peers at work. and he didn't care. >> when we debriefed him, he told us that, you know, he believed that what he was doing was helping the revolution, helping the cuban people. >> if they loved the people so much, they should have just sailed there and help them. but they didn't. they didn't want to leave their penthouse and their $650,000 yacht. they wanted to have all of that. >> during the debriefing we actually learned that in 1995 they actually met fidel castro. that was something we were not
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aware of, obviously, and was a significant indicator how valuable kendall and gwen were to the cubans. >> he was castro's most valuable spy in the u.s. government. he compromised hundreds of millions of dollars of operations. he identified specifically the names of both covert and overt u.s. government intelligence officers. there was no diplomatic initiative that castro didn't know ahead of time what america's hand was. castro should have made every single one of our moves. how do you think he survived seven presidents? >> he was the personal spy for fidel castro. >> not all american citizens take an oath of allegiance. but he took an oath of allegiance to the u.s. government to protect the u.s. government.
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and he violated that. >> did he say he was sorry? >> no, he's not sorry. kendall myers is not sorry about anything that he did. he is completely unrepentant. he'd do it all over again. we talk about the arms race, you know, big bombs and big things that could kill people. they're very dangerous, and we don't ever want those out there. but you know, the majority of the people in the world are killed from small arms fire. >> in the last two decades the d.e.a.'s definitely witnessed a large-scale convergence of weapons trafficking and terrorism. >> at least 60 people are confirmed dead in what is clearly a paris terror attack. gunfire, ak-47s in multiple
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parts of the french capital. >> an arms dealer doesn't care who he sold the weapons to or what they were going to use them for, as long as they were able to make him a profit. >> when you're providing weapons to terrorist organizations, there's nothing worse than that. the people doing it are horrible people. and if we don't do something about it, we could lose thousands and thousands of lives. but to try to lock up an international arms trafficker, you know, you're dancing with the devil. >> as a former fbi agent and chairman of the house intelligence committee, i had oversight of all 16 of our nation's intelligence agencies. my name is mike rogers. i had access to classified information gathered by our operatives, people who risked everything for the united states and our families. you don't know their faces or their names.
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you don't know the real stories from the people who lived the fear and the pressure. until now. >> in the late '70s through the '80s into the '90s all around the world we had proxy wars. lebanon was raging. there were conflicts throughout africa. the iran-iraq war. the break-up of yugoslavia, the break-up of czechoslovakia, those all occurred because someone was willing to sell them weapons. they created havoc. millions of people were killed. if you're one of the top gray and black arms dealers in the world you can make fortunes by distributing weapons to whatever cause you want to make money on. they're businessmen.
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they don't necessarily have a lot of rules like you and i do. but they run a business. >> monzer al-kassar was one of the most elite global weapons traffickers. he's really responsible for a lot of the modern-day armed conflict throughout the world. >> he started back in the '70s stealing cars, moving small amounts of drugs, until he became this international hash/heroin trafficker who blossomed into one of the top five weapons traffickers in the world. he thought he was untouchable. >> his nickname was the proud peacock, you know, this is my house, this is my palace. >> that estate had a shamrock pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, three large floors. it had the elements of
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"lifestyles of the rich & famous" and a bond movie. he actually had a small dog that he would carry around the compound. you can't make it up. >> he was so rich some people called him the prince, but few would mistake him for royalty. >> he would develop relationships with ambassadors, intelligence agencies, security forces, all in an effort to do what he wants to do and influence who he needs to influence. >> he's one way or another responsible for hundreds of deaths with the weapons and arms that he's provided to terrorist organizations. anybody that ever had any business with him described him as a despicable person. >> this is the highest evolution of a criminal that you could find. >> sherlock holmes has his arch-nemesis moriarty. you know. he was kind of the moriarty for me. i mean he was. he was one of those guys who got away.
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i was 19 when i came in as an intern, and other than being a cop for a few years i've been with d.e.a. ever since. haven't done much other than being a d.e.a. agent. monzer started surfacing in the early '70s. when i was a young agent in new york running around new york we started realizing we had a major problem in the united states, the drug trade. >> heroin. the most destructive narcotic man has ever devised. >> this has reached epidemic proportions. >> new york was a gateway city for heroin. that's when monzer first pops up. in 1984 i was working a case on some middle eastern traffickers. at the culmination of the case we seized a lot of heroin, we arrested a lot of people, and every one of them said i want to tell you a story and talked about monzer. what i learned over that period of time was monzer's organization was moving drugs to
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the united states, but monzer realized the infrastructure to move arms and drugs at that time were essentially the same. he had a very good ability to move stuffs through cargo ships. so it was easy. he was able to get himself in the gray arms business. he could provide arms. especially small arms to africa. he provided weapons to somalia. >> lieutenant colonel oliver north devised a scheme to fund the contras by overcharging iran for the weapons. >> he not only supplies the weapons for the iranians but he turned around and supplied the small arms for the contras. the iran-iraq war he supplied weapons for both sides. october 1985. monzer al-kassar, he had allied himself with the palestinian dissident groups. palestinian liberation front wanted to pilot the italian cruise liner "achille lauro,"
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take passengers hostage so they can negotiate with the israeli government to release one of their fighters. monzer was a supplier of the weapons, he brought the weapons from poland and turned it over to the fighters. >> palestinian terrorists have hijacked an italian cruise liner in the mediterranean and have threatened to start executing american passengers. >> four palestinian fighters separated the americans and jewish passengers from all the other passengers. marian and leon klinghoffer were a jewish family from new york on the vessel. at one point they were telling people they were going to start killing passengers if they didn't get a safe place to bring the boat in. during the course of negotiations the fighters actually took leon klinghoffer, who's wheelchair bound, shot him and threw him into the mediterranean. eventually they got a safe place
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to bring their boat in. the fighters got off the vessel, the hostages were released, the fighters got on the plane and then they flew out. they got away. >> even though al-kassar wasn't on the boat, didn't do the hijacking, do you think he's a terrorist? >> he provided the logistics for the hijacking of the ship and provided the weapons. how could you be anymore involved? and how could you not be considered a terrorist if you're one of the top arms dealers in the world? they killed an american and threw him off a ship and no one could touch him. monzer was a global criminal. he lived one place, he bought things from one other place, he he sent them to a third place which ended up in a fourth place and none of the countries had jurisdiction over him. to be successful in going after a global criminal you have to have a perfect understanding of how he functioned. the question was never should he be indicted. the question was could we get close enough to indict him? kevin, meet your father.
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these make cleaning between myi love gum brand for healthy gums. soft picks, proxabrush cleaners, flossers. gum brand. after the pirating of the "achille lauro" monzer al-kassar kept on surfacing. he continued supporting terrorism all around the world. and because i was working heroin for the longest time in new york and the heroin would go from the middle east into either italy or
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france i'd get tranceferred to paris. that was in 1988. i'm sitting in my office and i start thinking i need to get it. but we didn't have a case we could prove against al-kassar. i said there's a lot more we know of what monzer did but what could we prove? i wanted to gather as much as i could on the guy. of course i talked to the interpol people. constantly his name would pop up. arms trafficker and a terrorist. people who had access to monzer's properties gave us documents and a lot of good information about him. as we reviewed the documents, we could show that monzer was very much involved with all these palestinian terrorist groups. he supplied the weapons for the pirating of the "achille lauro." we know that he helped finance it because there were movements of money in his account. so we were probing him. we were hitting him. we were locking up people that were part of his organization, at least in europe. and i felt that we got to be pretty close to make a case
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against al-kassar. at that time my oldest daughter was born in paris. after she's born, i leave the hospital to go get some flowers. a very well-dressed middle eastern man pops out. says mr. jim, mr. jim. when i looked at him, i knew who he was. he was al-kassar's driver when al-kassar came to paris. why does he know who i am? he says mr. al-kassar would like to congratulate you on the birth of your daughter. my daughter was probably born maybe six hours earlier. they knew. they knew she had been born. in the '80s his organization was
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moving drugs to the united states. but then his arms business took off. he was living in marbella, spain. he made lots of money. this guy's walking around in his palatial estate. he made his living off the ills of other people. he created so much havoc. you know, someone had to do something about it. so the spanish arrested al-kassar for the pirating of the "achille lauro." because of me having gone through a long period of time of working this investigation, they asked me to testify in trial in madrid. i sat two people away from him. literally i could reach out and touch him. several members of his organization that were going to testify, two of them were killed. one of them, his kids were kidnapped. eventually, he gets killed too. and a very critical witness changed his story.
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so he was acquitted of that charge. we tried, but he was a very treacherous guy. nothing stuck to him. once you hear that he was responsible for the deaths of many people, you can't like say, well, that doesn't matter. i didn't think we'd get another opportunity at that point. >> so after the spanish trial you did not think you'd have another opportunity? >> no. no. >> part of the problem was u.s. laws stated that people who would operate between international boundaries like monzer al-kassar were unable to be prosecuted. >> even in our own country people didn't understand, if the bombs are going off in france or germany it didn't really affect us in the united states. it wasn't until 9/11 that we actually realized we're all
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connected. absolutely. >> in a few moments i'll be signing the usa patriot improvement and reauthorization act. this is a really important piece of legislation. it is a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the american people. >> so there were new laws that were created that allowed the united states government to pursue extraterritorial targets who reside outside the united states and prosecute them within the united states. >> we as a country have to send some kind of message that if you're going to commit crimes against americans you're going to face some kind of charges. the special operations division at d.e.a. was developed to help a group of senior investigators enforce the laws. >> in special operations they developed the bilateral investigative unit to specifically go out and touch the untouchables.
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so we went out and targeted those individuals that were operating outside of the united states that affected the united states. >> so by 2006 we have new laws on the books and we get the opportunity to do a case like this on a lifelong criminal and terrorist that nobody's ever been able to touch. >> our role as the team was to come up with a game plan, by hook or by crook we're going to make a case, find out what monzer is doing and find a way to prosecute him. hey hun, huh! we gotta go. come on. ♪ "grandma! grandpa!" ♪ thanks mom. here we are. look, right up to here. principal. we can help you plan for that.
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our role as the team was to come up with a game plan. by hook or by crook, we're going to make a case. find out what monzer is doing and find a way to prosecute him. >> i think the first challenge with a terrorist is how do we get close? the d.e.a. would work with our local counterparts and develop sources of information. they're working with sources. that was a very large part of d.e.a. success worldwide. and you can't really make a good case if you don't have a good source. and in this particular case we're talking about a terrorist in another country with associates all over the world. he definitely was cautious on who would get close and who he would talk to. so how do we find a source that can get to this inner circle? >> jim had a relationship with a
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high-level source that had been utilized by the d.e.a. for approximately 20 years. his name was samir. in new york in the early 1980s jim arrested samir for narcotics trafficking. >> we arrested him and i knew he was pretty important. he was palestinian well educated, well read, multilingual, phenomenally bright. i knew he would be useful because he understood the global criminal networks. as the source he had the capabilities of following through. i first met samir in '84, early '85. back in them days we could pull a priority out and interview him. but he never said anything. i used to buy the sandwiches and everything right before i walked in there so you could smell the food. i always brought enough for two.
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i said would you like some? he wouldn't say anything. he just sat there. after like, i don't know, several of these things, he finally said to me, what do you want from me? i told him, i want you to cooperate. we need information on traffickers. that's when i first started working with him. then over the years we worked on a lot of different projects together. >> we were looking to develop a weakness within monzer's organization. samir's job was to broker a meeting with monzer. but there were a number of steps that had to happen first. if monzer is the hub of the wheel the spokes of the close associates monzer had developed in his criminal activities. one of those spokes was in beirut, lebanon. tarek al ghazi had a long
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history of arms trafficking in poland with monzer al-kassar. samir needed to penetrate his inner circle by establishing a relationship with tarek al ghazi and eventually set up a meeting with monzer al-kassar. >> at this point i'd been working with samir for a lot of years. i said do you understand if you decide to do this your life will be changed forever? you'll never be the same. he said i'll do it. no. i made him sleep on it. go, come back tomorrow. let's talk tomorrow. kassar wouldn't take it lightly, and we're not in the business of getting anybody hurt. >> so in beirut, lebanon our confidential source samir was able to meet tarek al ghazi, develop a relationship over the course of approximately one year, he was able to gain al
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ghazi's trust and eventually samir asked that million-dollar question, which is, can you get a weapons deal with monzer monzer al kassar for me? criminals are always cautious was the d.e.a. has built a large human intelligence network. so it was extremely hard to set a meeting with monzer al-kassar. but he was successful in being able to do that. but samir came to us in july of 2006 and stated that monzer had requested an end user certificate be provided before he would meet with us. we knew that could potentially be a problem. in the arms trafficking world in order to make a weapons transaction legitimate, it starts with an end-user certificate. an end user certificate is a document produced by a country or military or police force that states that the items listed on the certificate are for their
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sole use and that these goods would not be resold to a third party. monzer could show this certificate and say i was acting in good faith in conducting this transaction. we came up with a few countries who would be likely candidates who could produce an end-user certificate for us. our office in managua had a great working relationship with the nicaraguan officials. so i went down to nicaragua in july of 2006. our dpoe d.e.a. office there set up a meeting to meet with the generals. it was an older building. it didn't even have electricity. we met in a dark candlelit room. a bunch of generals were seated around a long table and all i
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could make out was the brief outline of faces behind the cigar smoke. i went through what weapons we were looking to put on the end-user certificate. sniper rifles, rp g7 grenade launchers, surface-to-air missiles and asked for their assistance. so along with the certificate what the nicaraguans were able to do was provide a telephone that someone could later call, meaning monzer or one of his associates, in order to verify the authenticity of the end user certificate that came out in nicaragua. once monzer received the end user certificate from tarek, he agreed to a meeting in beirut, lebanon. in 2006, the d.e.a. had been investigating monzer al-kassar since its inception in the 1970s. now we had a chance to arrest
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him and convict him and be able to keep him behind bars. and the way that we had set this deal up was just strange enough to be believable. i make it easy to save $600 on car insurance, so being cool comes naturally. hmm. i can't decide if this place is swag or bling. it's pretzels. word. ladies, you know when you switch, you get my bomb-diggity discounts automatically. ♪ no duh, right? [ chuckles ] sir, you forgot -- keep it. you're gonna need it when i make it precipitate. what, what? what? what, what? i even accept i have a higher risk of stroke as far as i used to. due to afib, a type of irregular heartbeat not caused by a heart valve problem. but no matter where i ride, i go for my best. so if there's something better than warfarin, i'll go for that too. eliquis. eliquis reduced the risk of stroke
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