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tv   Declassified  CNN  July 29, 2017 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT

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here at 5:00 p.m. eastern. thanks for being with us. good night. 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.
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gunfire, ak-47s in multiple 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 it 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
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their names. 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.
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they're businessmen. 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 any palace. >> estate, had a shamrock pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, three large floors. it had the elements of "lifestyles of the rich & famous" and a bond movie.
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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. he was. he was one of those guys who got away. i was 19 when i came in as an
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instern, 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 '80s. 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 indication 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
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organization was moving drugs to 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. >> 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
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cruise liner achille lauro, 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 highlighted an italian cruiseliner 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 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. drurg the course of negotiations the fighters actually took leon klinghoffer, who's cheel wheelchair-bound, sought him and threw him into the mediterranean. eventually they got a safe place to bring their boat in. the fierlths got off the vessel, the hostages were released, the
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fighters got on the plane and then they flew out nep 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 more 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, be 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?
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the value of capital is to create, not just wealth, but things that matter. morgan stanley after the pirating of the "achille lauro" monzer al-kassar kept on surfacing. he continued supporting transfo terrorism all around the world. and because i was working heroin around the world and the heroin would go from the middle east into either italy or france i'd get transferred 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
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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 i aterrorist. 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 against al-kassar.
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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, flt bom 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 connected.
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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 resign 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 untouch ablgz. so we went out and targeted those individuals that were
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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 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. people confuse nice and kind but they're different. it's nice to remove artificial ingredients. kind never had to. we choose real ingredients like almonds, peanuts and a drizzle of dark chocolate. give kind a try. ♪ (vo)keeps your home clean,hat try tidy cats breeze. the number one goes through the no mess litter pellets
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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 gts 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 high-level source that had been utilized by the d.e.a. for
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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 plnt well educated, well red, 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 '84. back in them days we could pull a prison 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. i said would you like some? he wouldn't say anything. he just sat there.
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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 lost 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. p if monzer's 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 history of arms trafficking in
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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. 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, developing develop a relationship over the course of approximately one year. he was able to gain al ghazi's trust and eventually samir asked the million-dollar question which is can you get a weapons
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deal with mondayser al qasr 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 privated before he with meet with us. we knew that could potentially be a problem. in the avgz trafficking world in order to make a transaction legitimate it starts wan 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 sole use and that these goods
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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 because we kale one a few candidates who would likably be able to produce an end user sfiblth for us. our office in managua had a great working relationship with the nicaraguan officials. so i went down to kninicaragua 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 seat add round a long table, and all i could make out was the brief faces behind cigar smoke.
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i won't through what weapons we were looking to put on the end of users certificate. sniper rifles, rp g7 grenade launchers, sufrks and 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 nicarag nicaragua. once mobser received the end user certificate from tarek, he agreed to a meeting in lebron team. leban lebanon. the d.e.a. had been investigating monzer al-kassar since its inception in the 1970s. now we had a chance to arrest him and convict him and be able to keep him behind bars.
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monzer and samir in beirut, lebanon in 2006 and the way we
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had set this deal up was just strange enough to be believable. >> in order to build the investigation against monzer we had to catch him red-handed. to infiltrate a terrorist organization you go after them with great sources. i had just finished working an investigation in guatemala where i had some pretty high-level sources. so the plan was to introduce my sources as potential buyers. we wanted to have my two sources play roles as farc members. >> arriba! >> the farc is a guerrilla group that transitioned into a terrorist organization that is deeply rooted in the colombian cocaine trade. >> the farc is an opposition of the colombian government and those governments that are supporting it. so with the scenario that we put together the farc needed these weapons to shoot down american helicopters. when you look at monzer, he's a financial guy and he's looking
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at doing it for money. but there was a big interest to be an opposition to the united states. >> so samir met with monzer and tarek in beirut, lebanon. we needed samir to develop sufficient trust with monzer in order to convince him to meet our sources. >> going into a situation with any source it's a very dangerous activity for them. >> al qasr believed the sources were legitimate bad guys that were looking to do a legitimate transaction for weapons. >> [ speaking foreign language ]. >> in any first meeting that
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takes place between bad guy and bad guy there's always a testing. it's to know how knowledgeable the person is about what they're doing, whether it's to find out are they working for the government or two, do they really know what they're doing and how can i get one over on them? >> once samir had established his credentials with monzer in beirut, monzer invited luis and carlos to his residence in marbella, spain. >> the dicey part came is when he actually took copies of the passports. they had to use their real identity. couldn't afford for them to come into spain with fraudulent documents and get arrested. >> the absolute layer of terror
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in my book that they're going there with their real identity. they're naked. >> yeah. >> monzer al-kassar wanted money. it's all about business. we knew we had to have money that we could wire transfer to him, to show him the informants were legitimate bad guys. >> monzer stood to make 10 to 20 million dollars based off of the amounts of weapons that we were talking about. so we needed 100,000 euros as a down payment for the weapons. >> we had to navigate getting knost money and figuring out how we were going to wire it internationally that it didn't look like it was transferred from the fed to a bank to monzer al-kassar. >> and so our sources take the train down into marbella while we stay in barcelona. >> we knew it would be a high-risk operation. monzer was very good at picking
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up something that was unusual for his normal patterns and how he operated in his criminal enterprise. and monzer was extremely violent. people wound up dead. once a witness became paralyzed after a missile was fired into their apartment in lebanon. it was very dangerous for our informants. and if something had happened to them, we weren't in a position to come in and rescue them. >> this kind of operation goes against everything you've ever been taught as a cop being undercover. you always want to meet in a neutral place and you want to have control of the situation. and here we are, we're going to have no control of the situation at all. we're just hoping that everybody can get out of there safely and come home. >> we had to send them with recording equipment. we needed evidence. so that was the risk that we took. >> we were going to show him
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that we were legit and that we meant to do business. >> so everything had it work with precision. >> they had to have conversations with kassar about his weapons and ways they can assist people in killing americans. >> you say look, this is where we need to be, this is the evidence we need to get, i'm going to rely on you to get us there, and hopefully they cross that line. >> this was the best opportunity we had to get monzer al-kassar. if the meeting didn't go in the right direction, we were going to lose him. >> as much as you'd like to think that kassar has dropped
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his guard and is super bowl comfortable and buying into everything you're doing, he's the kind of bad guy that's never going to do that. >> we heard monzer asking numerous questions about the farc. he was trying to test the sources. if you're going to play a farc role, then you'd better know something about the farc. >> it is a chess game. a game of cat and mouse. >> you're always walking the wire of he's believing me. but is he really? is he going to continue to do business with me? or is he going to take me out back and shoot me?
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fomy doctor recommended ibgard. abdominal pain and bloating. now i'm in control of my ibs. nonprescription ibgard- calms the angry gut. our confidential sources were at monzer's house in arbella, spain acquiring evidence recorded via concealed devices that were carried by luis and carlos.
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>> at the same time we were in barcelona waiting for any feedback that we could get. there was not going to be any communication from monzer's house until they got back. >> but it's a game of cat and mouse. monzer al-kassar is extremely dangerous. he's both acted as a terrorist and supported terrorist organizations throughout the world. >> you're always walking the wire of is he going to continue to do business with me or is he going to take me out back and shoot me? the sources went in the house knowing they had to collect evidence. and they had to have conversations with kassar about specific weapons. what their weapons would be used for. what kind of weapons. so you can build a case.
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we wanted to put a package together that would be enticing to monzer but also help build the case against him. >> ak-47s. sniper rifles. rpgs and surface-to-air missiles. and surface-to-air missile charges are a minimum mandatory of 20 years. this is the evidence we needed to get. and that's not outside the realm of believability for the farc needing surface-to-air missiles because the u.s. had helicopters down there eradicating fields. >> but also we needed to have him discuss how the missiles could be used to shoot down american helicopters in colombia and kill americans.
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>> monzer knew exactly what was going on. the quantity of the weapons, what type of weapons they were, and what they were going to be used for. >> so we had great evidence because of how he talked about his business with us could lead to american deaths. >> so at that point we had a case against him. >> but we had to get kassar to leave spain. >> because we knew he had contacts within the spanish government. you look at what happened in the past. he was able to get out of a number of these arrests and trials. you know, is he going to walk away from this? >> we had to come up with reasons on why monzer had to meet us outside of the country of spain.
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so we had told monzer that one of the highest members of the farc was traveling specifically to meet with monzer. and our story was that the farc member would release the money if he personally saw monzer and knew that monzer was involved in the deal. >> we try to set up the meeting in romania. it was a country where the extradition process was very short and efficient and we'd done a lot of investigations with the romanians over the years. and we were hoping that's where monzer would be arrested. >> but monzer was always cautious.
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>> at that point we felt things were not going to go the way we were hoping. and he was resisting meeting with us or traveling. >> monzer doesn't want to travel to romania. so now everyone's stressed out. we had to adjust. we had to have a second plan. plan b was for him to be arrested in madrid, which would be much more of a challenge for us. >> our fear was that monzer's contacts were worldwide and if someone told him about our international arrest warrants he would find a way out of spain without being seen and he could get to a place that would never extradite him.
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>> we knew what motivated monzer al-kassar was money. and we believe he had promised the arms manufacturers that this weapons deal was going to go through. so if he wasn't able to put this deal together he would actually be losing face. so monzer agreed to go to madrid to meet the farc, who he believed had to be convinced by him in order to release the money that would fund the remaining part of the weapons transaction. >> we were able to have it confirmed that he did get on the fligh flight. and then we were waiting for him upon arrival at the mad rit airport with the spanish national police. so we're all waiting at the airport. everything was set up. the spanish national police were supposed to oefsh him getting out of the gate. we were watching monzer walk into the baggage claim area. and then all of a sudden over the radio we heard "we've lost him."
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yeah, and i can watch thee bgame with directv now.? oh, sorry, most broadcast and sports channels aren't included. and you can only stream on two devices at once. this is fun, we're having fun. yeah, we are. no, you're not jimmy. don't let directv now limit your entertainment. xfinity gives you more to stream to more screens. soal we're all waiting at the airport. we were watching monzer getting off the gate. then all of a sudden over the radio we heard "we've lost him." and we thought he'd caught onto
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us and he's escaped out of the side door. then everybody got into a panic mode. nervous, where is he, where is he. and even the dea agents were running around trying to find him. and john and i were going from point a to point b and then all of a sudden we find him. he walks out the bathroom. >> once we arrived at the baggage claim, the police put him under arrest. >> i'm here today to announce the arrest of international arms dealer monzer al-kassar on international trafficking. it finally brought one of the world's most prolific arms traffickers to justice. >> it was awesome that we arrested kassar. >> so great feeling to know that now he's in jail based on our
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international arrest warrant and held in spain. >> he knew that he had no control of the united states. he couldn't buy his way out. he couldn't maneuver his way out. and that was his last straw to fight it in spain. >> he had a lot of contacts in government. he was trying to bribe people, threatening people. quite honestly i wasn't 100% sure we could get him. >> he was going to take every option, make every move he could to get out-of-the process. >> it was a little over the a year before the extradition was granted. there's a formal procedure to turn over a person that's being extradited, right? interpol, spain. you have to turn over all these documents you have to sign. so that morning we're told be at the airport at this point. we didn't know what was going to happen. maybe they change their mind.
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all of a sudden, we hear a helicopter come. they brought him by helicopter. helicopter lands. he thought he was being moved to another prison. he gets off and he's shackled. he sees us lined up as dea agents. he started getting a little emotional. he started saying viva spain or something like that. it probably took us less than ten minutes to be up and out because we want to get him out of there. >> when we got on the plane, we all had our music we intended on listening to. we were doing our own thing and watching tv. he couldn't help but want to talk to us. monzer's personality is he can't be ignored. >> so he's talking and kind of blaming jim. that's me. he's saying i lied, a terrible
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person. i wasn't paying attention to any of it. i was sitting up front. >> i think monzer realized his time was up. but he never changed his colors because he was still that little proud peacock when he was on the plane. he was the guy that was in control despite the fact he had shackles on. >> so at one point i get up and go to the bathroom. and jim brown being the jokester he izwhy don't you tell, jim. he's right here. so i take off my sunglasses. he looked visibly -- he was, you, you. i thought he was going to have a heart attack. i'm like it's a long night. take it easy. shut up and watch the movie. >> it was the end of a long road. but at that time we knew we still had to successfully prosecute him in a u.s. court. >> of course we still had to try him. everything we do is going to
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play out in court. >> ultimately he was tried to trying to acquire service to air missiles and trying to kill citizens of the united states. >> we went to trial in the fall of 2008. and a large part of our case was us combating his defense so that we could show what his true intent was. if his defense was he knew it wasn't a legitimate deal, why would he have ever gone through with it in the first place? >> ultimately he was found guilty on all charges. >> monzer was convicted and eventually sentenced to 30 years in federal prison. >> after the trial, i'll tell you that was relief knowing he got convicted on all the charges. you know why i was happy? because there's a point for closure for a lot of different people. he had created harm all over the place. the daughters were sitting there
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when he got convicted. i mean he was important to them. >> it sends a clear message that you can run but you can't hide. this terrorist is finally going to be put away for 30 years, and he won't be able to plan and plot anymore murders. >> i mean the biggest part was the relief because we had spent a lot of time, lot of resources. and it was good knowing that we did it. just good knowing that we did it, that we finished it. >> this wasn't just, you know, another drug deal. this was taking a huge weapons trafficker off the playing field. this was getting monzer al-kassar. it was to stop evil from spread, i think. >> everybody thought we couldn't put a case together, everybody thought we couldn't get him. but we thought we could, we thought we would, and we did. >> i used to tell agents in this job you're only limited by your
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imagination and your energy. energy and imagination can create luck. you've got to be out there and swinging. and you may miss 1,000 times, but that 1,001 time it's going to geovo over the fence, right? we have to ask ourselves when was the last time we talked about race with somebody of another race and if the answer is never, we're part of the problem. >> go home. >> it's like a bomb. we're sitting on a bomb. >> you can have a black person killed on video, then this is what you'll get. >> this is a revolution. >> should people be frightened? >> i think people should wake up. it's 1991. wake up. >> we have talked at each other and about each other for a long time. it's high time


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