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Showing posts with label 1960's Binghamton Merchant of Death Used Car Dealer and CIA Agent Sarkis Soghanalian Shipped Guns to Saddam Hussein in Iraq WTH?. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1960's Binghamton Merchant of Death Used Car Dealer and CIA Agent Sarkis Soghanalian Shipped Guns to Saddam Hussein in Iraq WTH?. Show all posts

Monday, October 05, 2015

1960's Binghamton Merchant of Death, Used Car Dealer and CIA Agent Sarkis Soghanalian Shipped Guns to Saddam Hussein in Iraq, WTH?

SARKIS SOGHANALIAN BINGHAMTON'S MERCHANT OF DEATH: The enemy of my enemy is my friend, never so true in the world of "The Merchant of Death". The guy behind arming and helping to profligate dictators like Saddam Hussein from the 1960's through the 1980's was none other than Vestal Parkway used car dealer Sarkis Soghanalian who owned Sarkis Foreign Car Garage, (a CIA cover), on the corner of Sycamore Rd and the Vestal Parkway E. in Vestal NY. Sarkis Soghanalian is/was/always had been a CIA asset, Sarkis supplied weapons to various smaller countries fighting wars (proxies) with Soviet funded countries, he was a key player during the Cold War and the turmoil of the Middle East with Iran and Hezbollah right up through the 1980's. Sarkis Soghanalian claimed he never sold guns to Osama bin Laden. Sarkis Soghanalian, who died aged 82, never stopped talking. About his deals, his connections. To government agents, prosecutors and journalists. In private, on television. Often to keep out or get out of jail. Most of what he said, while well informed, was self-serving; much of it was difficult to prove and some was hard to believe. Over two decades, Soghanalian was the world's largest private arms dealer – involved in Lebanon, Nicaragua, Angola, the Iran-Iraq war. A short, rotund figure, Soghanalian revelled in being described as "the merchant of death". "That name does not bother me a bit," he explained. He was also a long-time asset of the CIA, FBI and other US government agencies. He was a "cut-out" with "plausible deniability" on covert arms deals where the US did not want its fingerprints to be found. He supplied arms to Anastasio Somoza, fighting the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and to Saddam Hussein, for deployment against Iran. He was an informant providing valuable intelligence.
The local newspaper, the Binghamton Press, seems to have no knowledge of the illicit arms deal of a $1.4 billion dollar shipment of French guns to Saddam Hussein in Iraq by Sarkis Soghanalian and his brother Zaven Soghanalian, while Zaven Soghanalian was living in Binghamton NY. The “Soghanalian Clan of Arms Dealers” had been living in Binghamton NY since 1960. Binghamton NY “Merchant of Death” Sarkis Soghanalian did not just go from selling used Volkswagons during the 60′s through the 80’s in Binghamton NY to arming the Lebanese Christian militia in 1973 overnight. Sarkis Soghanalian was an arms dealer while he was running his used car lot, Sarkis Foreign Car Garage, as a CIA cover, on the corner of Sycamore Rd and the Vestal Parkway E. in Vestal NY. Sarkis Soghanalian was a Lebanese citizen born in Iskenderun, Turkey. His Armenian family later moved to Beirut. He emigrated to the US in 1958 and ran a used car garage in Binghamton NY returning to Lebanon off and on. He became the agent for Colt, makers of the M16 rifle. Described by various prosecutors as "a con-man, a master manipulator". Soghanalian, an Armenian born in Turkey, grew up in poverty in a suburb of Beirut Lebanon. There he became involved in a growth industry that attracted many of the city's young men: gunrunning. In the l950s he worked closely with Lebanese President Camille Chamoun, and through him met Jordan's King Hussein. Soghanalian fled Beirut after he was nearly murdered for helping arm one of Lebanon's many political factions. He promptly drove a Mercedes sports car (a gift, he has said, from King Hussein) right onto a ship headed for New York. He struggled for years, working at a small garage in Binghamton New York while on the side arranging modest arms sales for Lebanese Christians.
Sarkis Garabet Soghanalian was born Feb. 6, 1929 he would have been 36 during 1965 Vietnam war time. Supposedly Sarkis Soghanalian was introduced to the world of arms trade in the beginning of the 1970s while he was in Binghamton NY, supposedly he sold his first consignment of firearms in 1973 when he was 44, mainly consisting of American weaponry to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) the Lebanese military had largely been armed by the United States after the clashes between the Lebanese Army and the Palestinians in 1973. The exact numbers of LAF fighters is difficult to ascertain. The same Lebanese Army intelligence report cited by El-Khazen lists 4,000 fighters, all armed with personal weapons. The militia participated in many battles during the war, especially in the Battle of the Hotels in 1975-1976. Sarkis was able to procure AK-47 weaponry from a multitude of Eastern bloc countries including Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland the arms consisted largely of small arms such as the AK-47 and infantry weapons. But how or why did Sarkis pass up the 'largest game in town' during the late 1960's and early 1970's, Vietnam? In late 1939, Sarkis family moved to Lebanon to avoid persecution from the Turks, he was 10. Due to the poor economic conditions his family lived in at the time, he decided to drop out of high school and joined the French Army and served in a tank division AFTER WWII, he was 16 on Sept 2nd 1945 when WWII ended, it appears he would have served in 1946 or later when he was 17 in the French Indochina War in Vietnam. It was from his experience in the French military during the French Indochina War in Vietnam that brought him into the world of weaponry and, in his words, he "adapted to it from childhood and kept going. Nazi Germany defeated the French Army in June 1940 and took over the Country, all French tank divisions in France were disbanded by July 11 1940 when Sarkis Soghanalian was 11 years old, he did not fight during WWII for France in any tank division, but he most certainly could have served in the French army in Vietnam in 1946 or 1947 when he was 17 or 18.
Sarkis Soghanalian joined the French Army in and around 1946 when he was 17 and served in a tank division. The French deployed 10 M24 tanks during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam. Vietnam: The First Indochina War generally known as the Indochina War in France, and as the Anti-French Resistance War in Vietnam began in French Indochina on December 19, 1946 when Sarkis Soghanalian was 17 and in the French Army it appears he served in Vietnam, and lasted until July 20, 1954 when Sarkis was 25. Fighting between French forces and their Việt Minh opponents in the south dated from September 1945. Sarkis Soghanalian was fluent in English, French, Russian, Armenian, Turkish and Arabic. Did Sarkis make a return to Vietnam in the 1960's and supply the Viet Cong with AK-47's, he had the links, he knew the lay of the land, he had been in Vietnam 10 years earlier, he knew the millions to be made?
Weapons used by the Viet Cong guerrillas were originally a varied mixture of both French weapons from the days of French Indochina, captured enemy weapons and Soviet and Chinese support, including both newly produced weapons, old stockpiles and captured enemy stockpiles from World War II. In the summer and fall of 1967, all Viet Cong battalions were reequipped with arms of Soviet design such as the AK-47 assault rifle and the RPG-2 anti-tank weapon manufactured in Eastern bloc countries including Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland, did Sarkis broker deals for the Russians and supply weapons to the NVA and Viet Cong in 1967? The most common infantry weapons of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) was the The Soviet SKS carbine or its Chinese variant. Gradually, NVA units were refitted with more modern AK-47 rifles from China, the Soviet Union, and other Warsaw Pact countries. The SKS carbines were passed down to the guerrillas, which were later armed with AK rifles themselves. Both weapons used the same intermediate 7.62mm cartridge, which eased logistics. 
Some of those who work for Soghanalian are past employees of the Central Intelligence Agency. For example, James Cunningham, a one-time executive at Soghanalian's Pan Aviation, worked for the CIA for more than twenty years. From l966 to l974, Cunningham was vice president of the Laos division of Air America, a CIA proprietary that was later exposed as having played a key role in the agency's covert military efforts in Laos and Cambodia during the Vietnam era. Sarkis was indicted in 1987 for conspiring to supply helicopters to Iraq. Described by the prosecutor as "a con-man, a master manipulator", Soghanalian was convicted in 1991 but, once again, help was at hand. In 1993, his six-and-a-half-year sentence was slashed to two, and he was released – in return for information on a counterfeit US currency scam in Lebanon. "When they needed me, the US government that is, they immediately came and got me out," he explained in 2001. "I can produce the intelligence information they need." 

Sarkis Soghanalian was fluent in English, French, Russian, Armenian, Turkish and Arabic. The Sarkis Soghanalian Story, In 1990, my company, CME Arma was just starting to deal in military vehicle replacement parts, it was a new venture for us. Our main company office was located at 4500 NW 36Avenue in North West Miami. "Sarkis asked his son Garo to bring another map, and shortly Garo appeared with a big map with Russian writing on it. Sarkis said, “Howard, this is an airport we also own in Russia, It is bigger in square meters than Miami International airport”.  He went on to say, I am part owner of a French electronics company and we have contracts in Russia to upgrade the radio system on their T72 tanks. We also are going to upgrade their MIG-29 aircraft. A confidential investigative report prepared by the Customs Service reiterated the investigator's comments. The report related that Soghanalian was to attend a meeting at the Iraqi embassy in Washington on June l4, l984 to arrange arms shipments to Iraq: "Soghanalian has already provided from sources outside the U.S. 500 surface-to-surface Russian-made missiles and is to provide explosives and ammunition from Brazil. Sarkis Soghanalian appears to have been working with the Russian government in the 1980's, not hard to believe he was working with the Russian government during the Vietnam war making millions supplying the Viet Cong with AK-47 rifles.
WASHINGTON POST…Sarkis Garabet Soghanalian was born Feb. 6, 1929, in what used to be Iskenderun, Syria, and which is now part of Turkey.  To escape persecution, his ethnic Armenian family fled to Lebanon, where, as a teenager, he served in the French army during World War II.  After developing a fascination with weapons as a mechanic in a tank division, he decided to pursue a career in the arms business. He sold Jeeps and Land Rovers throughout the Middle East before moving up to tanks.  Sarkis Soghanalian was living and  selling used and new Volkswagons in Binghamton NY from at least 1961 to the mid 1970’s. Sarkis Soghanalian began working for the U.S. government (CIA) in the mid-1970s. With the outbreak of civil war in Lebanon, the CIA paid Mr. Soghanalian to arm Christian militia fighters with surplus Kalashnikov rifles from the Soviet Union. In return, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) placed a bounty on his head. In l981 Sarkis Soghanalian brokered perhaps his largest single arms sale to Iraq, the $1.4 billion shipment of French howitzers that had the secret backing of the Reagan Administration. French officials agreed to supply the big guns, Sarkis Soghanalian said during a deposition (US Federal Court), but only if they could disguise their role. Arms Dealer Sarkis Soghanalian and his brother Zaven Soghanalian, who was/is living in Binghamton New York, were business partners in the $1.4 billion shipment of French guns to Saddam Hussein in Iraq.  Zaven Soghanalian in Binghamton New York is no different than his brother Sarkis Soghanalian. Zaven Soghanalian, while living in Binghamton New York in 1981, was partners in one of the biggest illicit arms deal ever to Iraq.
Who in Binghamton NY helped finance Sarkis Soghanalian in arranging his arms sales for the Lebanese Christian Militia in Beirut during the 1970′s. There was/is a very wealthy Lebanese Christian community in Binghamton NY that consists of various business owners of Carpet Stores, Gift Shops and Furniture Stores, is this where Sarkis Soghanalian got the start up cash to arm the Lebanese Christian Militia in Beirut. I was aware of various Lebanese “Freedom Fighters” showing up in Binghamton NY during the 1970′s and getting jobs as carpet installers. I recall one carpet installer ”Sonny” telling me about how he rode around Beirut in his jeep with a .50 caliber machine gun attached while fighting for the Lebanese Christian Militia, he had the scars to prove it.
 
That Soghanalian and his various businesses have worked closely with the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies is beyond dispute. Two federal law enforcement officials have confirmed they were formally informed by the CIA that Soghanalian for years has served as a contract employee of the agency. Sarkis Soghanalian ran "Sarkis Foreign Car Garage on the Vestal Parkway" from at least 1962 (a CIA front), see one of the many ads he ran below in the Binghamton Press, this one was in January 1967, he claimed in the ad to have 1,400 Volkswagons for sale VOLKSWAGENS-New, used, 1400 are available;
Instant delivery all models.
SARKIS FOREIGN CAR GARAGE

Sycamore Rd., Vestal, RA 9-3626
Document 1: FBI Automobile Disclosure Act Report, "Title: Sarkis Soghanalian," August 16, 1962. Source: FBI Freedom of Information Act release. In one of the earliest instances of the U.S. intelligence community investigating Soghanalian, this August 16, 1962, FBI Auto Information Disclosure Act report details one of Soghanalian's early car dealerships. According to the Bureau, Soghanalian was flying to Germany to purchase new VWs directly, importing them to the U.S. through Newark, New Jersey, and then shipping them in trailers he owned to his auto dealership in Binghamton NY, where he sold them in violation of New York State and federal auto laws.

Document 8: FBI memo, "Subject: Sarkis Soghanalian," Undated, Secret. Source: FBI Freedom of Information Act release. This FBI memo states on April 16, 1985, a source informed the bureau that he put Sarkis in contact with Bell Helicopter, and that Soghanalian was providing Iraq with 45 Bell 214ST helicopters at a cost of $4,000,000 each. The source also says that Soghanalian is "well protected and connected with the U.S. government. His contacts are [redacted]." He met and married Shirley Adams in Beirut, Lebanon in 1958. They made their home in Binghamton, New York and later returned to Beirut, Lebanon. He has lived in the Miami, Florida area off and on for the past 30 plus years. His efforts to defend his fellow Armenian compatriots did not end in the mid 1970’s during the Lebanese civil war where he provided arms to defend the Armenian quarters of Beirut.

Sarkis Soghanalian Interview March 2001 with FRONTLINE/World co-producer William Kistner .....First of all, explain how you got involved with weapons in Lebanon at the time of the crisis there and take me through how things have changed since then.

Sarkis....In 1973, when I got the first batch of the weapons, we were all pro-Western and pro-American. I was appointed to obtain all the American weapons we could. The Lebanese army was equipped only with American weapons, but they eventually ended up with a [non  government] militia. Before that, I had been getting most of the weapons from the Eastern Bloc [Communist/pro Soviet Union], Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary and those countries.

William Kistner ....You went from selling arms transferred from Eastern Bloc [Communist] countries to Lebanon, and then to Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries?

Sarkis....Well, before I went to Iraq there were other places I was asked to assess, like Mauritania, the Polisario forces that they were fighting there. Nicaragua, Ecuador, Argentina. And then finally Iraq. We used to help the countries whose way of thinking was pro-Western. At that time it [Iraq] was pro-American, of course. Europeans didn't have an interest in them, so we had to keep those nations alive for their struggle. My job was to support the Iraqi forces (via CIA funds) so that they could fight against our [United States' and Sarkis'] common enemy, which at the time was [the Iranian Ayatollah] Khomeini.

He (Iran) had hostages. He was financing terrorist movements all over the world, Hezbollah and all those guys. So we had to fight them. But it didn't mean we would keep helping Saddam if he did something against our interest or Western interests. That's what happened. Too bad for him. In 1981, Sarkis Soghanalian pleaded guilty to fraud in the sale of .50-caliber machine guns to Mauritania. But a judge granted him probation, saying the case “involved international affairs conducted by the US State Department (code for CIA).”

Sarkis Soghanalian the guy selling used Volkswagen on the Vestal Parkway near the Binghamton NY University was also the same guy selling guns and rockets to Saddam Hussein in Iraq in the 70's and 80's that were eventually used against the US in the 1990 Gulf War, go figure. In 1993, Sarkis Soghanalian was sentenced to six and a half years in prison for smuggling 103 helicopters to Iraq in violation of United Nations sanctions. But he managed to have his sentence reduced to two years after informing American officials of a place in Lebanon where high-quality counterfeit $100 bills were being printed. "Merchant of Death" Sarkis Soghanalian was supplying Saddam and Iraq with weapons and helicopters while the US government had troops on the ground in Iraq from 1991 to 1993. University of California/Berkeley professor Lowell Bergman, a former journalist who’d known Soghanalian for 30 years, told The New York Times that he “worked with the CIA off and on for years; after a falling out with that agency, he cooperated with the FBI, drawing on information about the dark corners of the global arms trade.’’ The enemy of my enemy is my friend, never so true in the world of "The Merchant of Death". Yesterday's friend became today's enemy
 
Zaven Soghanalian sued his brother, Sarkis Soghanalian, in 1987 alleging that he was cheated out of his rightful commission, which he estimated to be between $48 million and $64 million. The two brothers also disagreed about who should receive a commission for the sale of Romanian-built rockets to Iraq. On the second day of the trial, Zaven Soghanalian decided to settle the lawsuit for an undisclosed figure, and the judge agreed to seal all records of the courtroom proceedings. All I can tell you is that they have agreed and that the terms of their settlement will remain confidential, said Charles Kline, attorney for Zaven Soghanalian, Sarkis younger brother. Sarkis Soghanalian, photo above, filed a counter-suit against his brother Zaven Soghanalian in June 27, 1988;

SARKIS SOGHANALIAN, Plaintiff Vs. ZAVEN SOGHANALIAN, and RAYMOND L. GARAVITO, Defendants
WILLIAM ZLOCH (same judge going over FBI 9/11 investigation)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA, NORTHERN DIVISION
The Plaintiff, Sarkis Soghanalian ("Sarkis"), filed a Complaint for the intentional infliction of emotional distress against Defendants, Zaven Soghanalian and Raymond Garavito. The Defendant, Zaven Soghanalian ("Zaven"), filed a Counterclaim for breach of partnership agreement, action on order of payment, conversion, alternative claim of quantum meruit and a claim for constructive trust against Plaintiff, Sarkis Soghanalian. This is an action for damages which exceeds Ten Thousand $ 10,000.00 Dollars, exclusive of interest and costs. The Defendant, Zaven Soghanalian, stated the following facts in an affidavit signed September 23, 1987: has maintained a permanent residence in Binghamton, New York since February 9, 1960; his wife and two children, a two year old and a four year old, spend most of the year in Binghamton NY; Zaven Soghanalian's household furnishings are in Binghamton New York; for the past twenty years.


Zaven Soghanalian has maintained a telephone directory listing and paid utility bills in Binghamton New York; he receives mail in Binghamton New York; since 1979, he has been registered to vote in Binghamton New York; since 1961, he has had a New York driver's license and he owns two motor vehicles registered in New York State; and for approximately seventeen years, he has had a checking account in New York. Zaven Soghanalian also states ". . . although his business requires him to travel most of the year, he always intends to return" and does in fact return to his family in Binghamton, New York when his business is concluded. The "Soghanalian Clan" has been firmly entrenched in Binghamton NY since 1960.

By 2008 Sarkis Soghanalian, in poor health, was living in a low-rent Miami neighbourhood but still being visited by FBI officials, still looking to do deals, still talking. When he died, the man who once had several private jets was "broke", according to his son, Garo, who survives him, along with a daughter, Melo. Sarkis Garabet Soghanalian, arms dealer, born 6 February 1929; died 5 October 2011



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