The Stolen Cars of Al Qaeda: How a Private Detective in Florida (Bill Warner)discovered a new global terrorist connection Written by Atty. John Loftus, research and background investigation by private investigator Bill Warner, WBI Inc Terrorism Research Ctr. http://www.wbipi.com/
What if Al Qaeda has found a new method to launder money around the world? In his testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, terrorism expert Steven Emerson made a chilling prophecy. He said that hewould not be surprised someday to find an international network of stolen car rings raising money for terrorism,and shipping cars to the Middle East to be made into car bombs. Emerson did not know that Bill Warner, a Florida Private Investigator had been secretly working on this issue in Tampa and Sarasota since 2003 as a paid Confidential Informant (CI) for a federal agency.
Warner has uncovered documentary evidence that stolen cars from Florida were being shipped to Al-Qaeda front companies in Dubai, U.A.E., Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Aqqaba, Jordan. Furthermore, Warner claims that he has provided Federal agencies with a "smoking gun" document; a copy of the bill of lading from a Tampa used car lot shipping a vehicle directly to what appears to be an Al Qaeda front company in Saudi Arabia. Even more embarrassing to the FBI, Warner showed the federal agents that the suspected used car lots in Florida all had a common link: these used car lots were either owned by convicted terrorist Sami Al Arian or run by one of his associates in Tampa, one of whom is currently on the No Fly list.
Recent history has demonstrated that there are few religious-ideological barriers in the world of international terrorism. The secular Ba'athist regime in Syria works closely with Hizballah, as a secular Ba'athist regime in Iraq has developed ties to al-Qaeda.It would be a mistake to assume that Islamist international terror groups are driven primarily by the religious associations with radical Sunni or radical Shiite Islam. These groups have their own geopolitical interests in bridging this great Islamic divide - particularly their antipathy for the United States and its allies.Warner’s evidence has been analyzed by an organization of active and retired police, military and intelligence professionals.
Their conclusion is that Warner has indeed uncovered the tip of an international car smuggling ring that finances terrorism worldwide. At first, authorities were incredulous that a terrorist financing network so large could have escaped their attention. Partly as a result of Warner’s ground breaking discoveries, arrests of Muslim car dealers connected to money laundering for terrorism have now been made in at least twenty five cities around the world, including Salt Lake City Utah, Anaheim CA, Chicago IL, Buffalo NY, Houston TX, St. Louis MO, Toledo OH, Tampa FL, Sarasota Fl, Los Angeles CA, Tustin CA, Arlington VA, Miramar FL, Madrid Spain, Jeddah SA, Medina SA, Jubail SA, HamburgGR, Niggiat Japan, Dubai UAE, Tangier Morocco, LondonUK, Amman Jordan, Toronto CN, Ash Shuwaykh Kuwait,and Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Even the skeptics are turning around, and, instead of crediting a private citizen Bill Warner, have intimated that the car connection was one of their own discoveries as part of good police work in the global war against terrorism: Inspector John E. Lewis, deputy assistant director of the FBI for counter terrorism said the origins of the vehicles in question were un earthed by tracing the vehicle identification numbers, or VINs. Some of the automobiles can be easily identified, specialists said, while others have had their VINs ground down or have been fitted with fake ones. Investigators believe the cars were stolen by local car thieves in US cities, then smuggled to waiting ships at ports…"Black Cars" .
According to law enforcement surveillance, each car lot could ship an average of five used cars a month to the Middle East, where they have been resold for $30,000 to$45,000 (with some luxury cars selling as high as $75,000). That could earn as much as a quarter of a million dollars per month, or three million per year per car lot. Just from the few dozen car lots that are know to law enforcement, terrorist groups have the potential to raise close to one hundred million dollars per year.
Al Qaeda’s car smuggling system has been in operation for more than a decade. Conservatively, more than a billion dollars from the car connection has gone to the cause of global terrorism in the last ten years. Next to narcotics, the used car connection is possibly the largest source of terrorist funding in the world. Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeldt, author of "Funding Evil" and one of the world’spre-eminent experts in terrorist money laundering, knows that groups like Al Qaeda have changed their tactics from year to year.
The list of stolen commodities includes honey, counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs, CD and DVD music disks, pirated copies of films, phony designer garments and handbags, baby formula supplements,"blood diamonds" and on and on.
The Car Bomb Connection;Al Qaeda did not invent the stolen car smuggling system;they copied it from the Soviet Union. Saleh Al Oufi was a loyal follower, and in 1994 quickly established a used car dealership in Medina, Saudi Arabia, as his commercial cover for Al-Qaeda.Al Oufi and his clan were familiar with covert operations and were no strangers to terrorism. One of Al Oufi’scousins, Majid Moqed Al-Oufi, was one of the 9/11 hijackers on the plane that hit the Pentagon.
AL Oufi’s business partner in the innocent sounding "Holy Water" export company was Ramzi Yousef, a major terrorist planner in his own right.
Saleh Al Oufi knew that his partner Ramzi had planned the first twin trade towers attack in 1993, and then came up with the "Bojinka plot" with KSM to blow up dozens of US aircraft over the ocean. Al Oufi knew that Ramzi came by his terrorist talents naturally: Ramzi’s uncle was Khalid Sheik Mohammed, chief architect of the 9/11 attacks.For a humble used car dealer, Saleh Al Oufi had an unusually high percentage of terrorist friends and relatives.
Family members have publicly confirmed reports that Al Oufi was close to Usama Bin Laden, and had met with bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar shortly before the 9/11 attacks. Al Oufi told his family that he had met the two Al Qaeda leaders both in Augustand September of 2001, and Al Oufi himself went back to Afghanistan following the US led attack.
In 1994-1995, Saleh Al Oufi used his commercial cover as a used car dealer to travel across Europe. Saudi government sources acknowledged that they could not rule out the possibility that AL Oufi could have used the trips to establish links to terrorist cells in Germany andthat AL Oufi’s used car business was a perfect cover for money laundering. One of his used car stops was Hamburg, Germany, where a young man named Mohammed Atta later found employment selling used cars in the open air car market on Feld Street.
While it has been confirmed that Al Oufi’s cousin Moqed participated with Atta on the 9/11 attacks, it is not known if Al Oufi the car dealer ever met with Atta the car salesman during Al Oufi’s trips to the Hamburg car markets.
In 2003, Bill Warner, a private investigator from Sarasota Florida,began retracing Saleh al Oufi’s footsteps. That is notexactly what happened, but the exact method is confidential. The terrorist tracing technique that Warner invented was so unique that one federal agency hasasked us not to disclose it. Another agency told us that when they ran Warner’s list of suspected terrorist cells through a Defense Department database, the computer name matches "lit up like a Christmas tree."
Warner’s research was quietly supported and corroborated by a network of retired and active intelligence officers, who volunteered their time to form the international Intelligence Summit, a non-profitorganization. Its purpose was to form a private-public partnership to fight the global war against terror. When a bureaucratic roadblock was hit inside the government, the Summit served as a back channel to go around it, and get the job done in the private sector.
The debate about Warner’s stolen car theory first became an international controversy in November 2005, at the prestigious Wilton Park conference, in Sussex, England. In short, Warner alleged that Muslim car dealers around the world were exporting stolen vehicles to support Jihad. The older cars were usually shipped to Saudi Arabia or Jordan to be driven to Iraq and made into car bombs. Newer models were sold for cash in Dubai and the proceeds were wired to Karachi, Pakistan and given to Al-Qaeda.
When Al Qaeda wanted to support a terrorist operation in a foreign country, they simply opened a used cardealership and shipped them cars stolen from another country to sell. Warner’s thesis was simple: "the cars are the cash."
Four used car lots in Tampa had one other thing in common: they all had a connection to convicted terrorist Sami Al Arian. On one day in October 2004, one of Al Arian’s usedcar dealers made just one little mistake. They left four dock receipts on the dashboard of four cars about to beshipped overseas; a Chevy SUV, a Ford and two Mercedes.
Warner photographed the Dock Receipt in one of theMercedes. The dock receipt laid out the details of the shipping connections. The document confirmed that this ten-year-old Mercedes was about to be shipped to the Middle East. This car does not appear to have been stolen, but purchased at auction. Not that it would really make much of a difference if this particular car had been stolen because there is no way to trace it.
Warner points out that two years after the Mercedes was shipped to Jeddah Saudi Arabia, Florida’s bizarre computersystem continues to show that the car is still registeredto a Finance Car Dealer in West Palm Beach. Warner says, "This is the used car dealer racket, the dealer is never shown as the registered owner of the car. There is nothing for an intelligence agency to trace.
It happens all the time. "Except that this time, Warner photographed the dock receipt. It showed that the old Mercedes was to be taken by truck transport to the Jax-Port in Jacksonville, and then by rail to Savannah, Georgia.
Why ship an old car all the way to Georgia to be placed ona ship, when the Port of Tampa has such a fine export facility?
"So does Miami," Warner explained. Either port was a lot closer than Savannah. "Of course, the Tampa shipping lines might ask for extra documentation because the ships have to pass right under the nose of the CentralCommand Headquarters at McDill Air Force Base, and the Miami port is the only one in the country that bothers to x-ray the export containers to see if there are undeclared cars inside. "For a ring of cautious car thieves, Savannah is the next,best place to go.
Once there, the cars can be placed on a container ship out to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. On theMercedes dock receipt, the typed-in destination of "Dubai" had been crossed out, and the word "Jeddah"written in. Chevy and Ford SUV’s may have been the vehicle of choice for transporting terrorists, but when it came to car bombs, AL Qaeda had a clear favorite, also American made: GMC Suburbans. These vehicles were strong enough to be packed with a heavy load of explosives with out flattening the springs and giving away the threat to an American sentry.
According to Interpol, a GMC SUV can carry 4000 pounds of explosives, vs. 1000 pounds for a luxury car, vs. 500 pounds for a Japanese compact. The American made GMC SUV’s had more kill capacity. Moreover, the GMC SUV’s looked like the typical kind of cars that American contractors drove, so there was a built in cover as the car bombers snuck up on the American soldiers guarding the checkpoints.
The Iraqi Baathists kill with IED’s buried in the street that blow upwards, the"foreigners" of Al Qaeda prefer car bombs because they blow sideways and cause more damage in a crowd. Al Qaeda does not care about Iraqis; Al Qaeda’s mission is to start a civil war. As AL- Zarqawi put it in a letter to Osama Bin Laden: if we allow these elections to succeed, we shall have to leave Iraq and find another country. SaudiArabia was no longer home.
In the meantime, the cars keep loading onto the roll on-roll off ships, and the car bombs keep killing the innocent.