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Monday, June 12, 2017

A "Five Star" mystery: Saudi Arabia, Brexit, Trump and election fraud. Plus: The Comey "tape"

This investigation in the Irish Times examines a very strange affair involving Northern Ireland and Saudi Arabia. The author of that piece, Fintan O'Toole, probably doesn't know that his research links up to a mystery which captured my attention some twelve years ago, when this humble blog focused on the possibility of fraud in the 2004 presidential election.

Before we get to the US connection, we must summarize the Irish Times story.

In recent days, you may have read about the far-right Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, because that's the group with which Theresa May must strike a deal if she wants to stay in power. (Her chances are starting to look bleak.) The DUP is pretty obnoxious, as this site makes clear: They are pro-creationism, anti-abortion, and very anti-gay.

The DUP is also also very, very pro-Brexit. In fact, they funded a pricey ad campaign in favor of Brexit. Strangely, those ads appeared in publications outside of Northern Ireland.

That campaign cost a lot of money, leading Fintan O'Toole to ask: Where did the DUP get the funds?

It turns out that the money came from a strange Scottish group called the Constitutional Research Council, headed by one Richard Cook. But that organization seems to have been a cut-out (as was the DUP itself).

The real funders were Saudis.
What they found is that Richard Cook has a history of involvement with a very senior and powerful member of the Saudi royal family, who also happens to have been a former director of the Saudi intelligence agency. In April 2013, Cook jointly founded a company called Five Star Investments with Prince Nawwaf bin Abdul Aziz al Saud. The prince, whose address is given as a royal palace in Jeddah, is listed on the company’s initial registration as the holder of 75 per cent of the shares.
Prince Nawwaf, who died in 2015, was no casual investor. He had been Saudi minister for finance, government spokesman and diplomatic fixer before becoming head of intelligence. His son, Mohammed bin Nawwaf, has, moreover, been the Saudi ambassador to both the UK and Ireland since 2005. When Five Star was set up in 2013, Prince Nawwaf was 80, had suffered a stroke and used a wheelchair. It seems rather remarkable that he was going into business with a very minor and obscure Scottish conservative activist.
"Five Star"...! That name rang a bell. Where had I heard it before? Suddenly, it all came back...

2004 and all that. Unless you've been reading this blog for a very long time, you may not know that I was once transfixed by the allegations of election fraud in the 2004 election. Like many others, I became convinced that electoral hugger-mugger occurred in Ohio.

In a series of posts published in late 2004 and early 2005, I looked into some rather bizarre claims concerning an entity called "Five Star Trust," which allegedly played a role in swinging the election to Dubya. The Trust, it was said, was funded by the Saudis, who (as most people know) had deep connections to Bush.

I'll soon give links to those old pieces on the Five Star Trust. First, a word of warning: My posts linked to the work of a writer named Wayne Madsen, toward whom I once had a very naive and trusting attitude. In 2004, his reputation was not so reeky as it later became; Madsen was a former NSA employee who had appeared on ABC's Nightline, Marketplace and 60 Minutes. Why shouldn't I quote a man with such an impressive resume?

Unfortunately, Madsen made increasingly wild accusations without bothering to cite evidence. Behind the scenes, Madsen proved to be an opaque and bizarre individual.

Fellow blogger Brad Friedman (who has led the fight against computerized voting) was also intrigued -- for a very brief period -- by Madsen's "Five Star" claims. Brad soon became so infuriated with the way Madsen did business that he decided never to say another good word about the man. Other semi-mainstream publications developed a similar "hands off" attitude.

For years, my standard line on Madsen was this: "He's right about half the time, and I'm never sure which half is which." After a while, even that assessment began to seem too generous.

In 2008, I wrote a series of posts which argued (based on public sources) that Barack Obama may have been on "Company" business during his mysterious 1981 trip to Pakistan. (Here, here and here.) Madsen pilfered my work without crediting me. He then sensationalized the evidence and jammed it into a rather terrible book called The Manufacturing of a President, 90 percent of which is paranoid flotsam and jetsam unrelated to the work's ostensible subject.

As you might imagine, I now have little reason to speak well of Wayne Madsen, whose claims have grown ever more inane: He says that Obama is both gay and Kenyan-born, and that Israel attacked the USS Cole. Naturally, he has found a home on Alex Jones's radio show. From ABC News to Infowars: A sad trajectory indeed.

(A sudden thought just hit me. Do you think that former NSA man Wayne Madsen could be one of Louise Mensch's "sources" within the intelligence community? Boy, that would explain a lot.)

Have I given enough caveats and apologies? I believe I have. Here, then, are the links to my previous "Five Star" posts dealing with the mysteries of the 2004 election. Start here, then go here, then go here. Although my posts quote Madsen, I also offer some original research.

From the first post (November 26, 2004):
Madsen goes on to say that money for the operations was funneled through a Saudi-linked financial entity based in Houston called Five Star Trust, which was also apparently used to fund both Bush and Bin Laden.

Other monies came from carefully-hidden Enron loot stashed away in the Cook Islands...
I've tried some preliminary Googling on Five Star Trust (which is also spelled "5 Star Trust"). One citation goes to a court case listed here, involving one Marion Horn, Jr., a.k.a. "J.R. Horn," a one-time Republican candidate in Kentucky later convicted of wire fraud. (Also see here and here.) From what I can tell, the guy received a ridiculously attentuated sentence -- 18 months -- for a serious crime (one commentator mentioned the figure of "$1B") committed while on parole for a similar offense.

Much of the above information came by way of the Diligizer Board, which seems to be a clearinghouse for information about shady operators in the financial world. On one page they take a brief look at an accused security fraudster named Howard E. Liner -- and just look at what pops up:
He claims to be directly involved with VP Chaney and running actually the FED program. Mr. Liner pretends to be a former JAG and Military attorney. They are connected to Noir Intertrade, who shall be the commitment holder! They also mentioned the 5-Star Trust, the worlds richest trust with TRILLIONS (sorry forgot to ask the currency!!) on the account in Credit Suisse and UBS.
Hmm. Did he just say trillions? It that's true, the allegation of Saudi involvement may well have substance.
By the time I wrote my final post in this series (January 4, 2005), I had already become disenchanted with Madsen. He connected the Five Star Trust to a DC-based Christian cult called The Fellowship, the subject of a famous book by Jeffrey Sharlet. The "Fellowship" angle has no discernible evidence to back it.

That said, I can't help but wonder what happened to Marion Horn. His 2004 connection to the Five Star Trust parallels, in some ways, the later linkage between Scotland's Richard Cook and the current incarnation of Five Star.

While traipsing through my earlier pieces, I stumbled across this 2005 post, which quotes some work done by Daniel Hopsicker on a firm called Triad, which was run by Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi (whose recent death I should have noted in these pages.) The following quotation from the Hopsicker story may seem to take us far from the Five Star mystery, but bear with me: I promise to bring us back on course.
Was Adnan Khashoggi a principal in a company which has been counting the votes of American servicemen overseas? Answer: highly likely.

Both, and Triad, the election company cited for causing most of the problems in Ohio, should receive close scrutiny for evidence of Khashoggi involvement.

While there has been no suggestion of it anywhere in the media, the name "Triad" was used extensively by Khashoggi at exactly the same time (the early 80's) and in exactly the same place (Palm Beach, Florida) as the "Triad Governmental Systems" involved in Ohio's current election "difficulties."
There's much of else of interest in that 2005 piece. For current purposes, let's focus on the following: should be examined for the invisible hand of the Saudi financier and CIA “fixer.”

News reports stated was owned by an offshore Saudi front company in Bermuda consisting of five unnamed Saudi billionaires, until scrutiny forced a sale to Accenture, the remnants of the disgraced and disbanded Arthur Anderson, the accounting firm which made Enron possible.
Five unnamed Saudi billionaires...?

Could that be the origin of the "Five Star" nomenclature? I can't prove it, but the idea makes a lot of sense.

The obvious questions: Why would five Saudi billionaires surreptitiously involve themselves with the 2004 American election (and perhaps earlier elections)? Why would the same Saudi interests care about promoting Brexit in 2016? What's in it for them?

The Prince. The Irish Times story quoted above connects the current "Five Star Investments" to Prince Nawwaf bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, the former head of Saudi intelligence. That name has appeared in these pages before. From a post published on August 26, 2016:
Now let's turn to a little-noticed piece titled "Wealthy Muslims helped Donald Trump build his empire":
Saudi princes: Prince Mutaib bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a former minister in the Saudi government, and member of the Saudi royal family, reportedly lives in a floor-through Trump Tower apartment. Other former Trump property tenants include Prince Nawaf bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, a Saudi royal family member who owned a 10,500 sq. foot (975 sq. meter) condo at the Heritage at Trump Place that went on sale this year for $48.5 million.
Trump has long had strong connections to Saudi Arabia. Most people forget that the Saudis were the ones who bailed out Donald Trump when he nearly went under.
Saudi billionaire Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal said he twice saved US presidential candidate Donald Trump from bankruptcy, describing him as a “bad and ungrateful person”.

In an interview with Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper, the prince said he bought Trump’s hotels after they were acquired by the banks which demanded he repay his debts.

The yacht he used to come to Antalya, southwest of Turkey, is one he bought from Trump when he was threatened with bankruptcy.
That yacht, by the way, is the one made famous by previous owner Adnan Khashoggi, and by the movie Never Say Never Again.

Now let's visit this New Yorker piece for more on the Trump/bin Talal relationship:
This latest tweet battle with Trump refers to the Prince’s investments in troubled Trump properties. The first of these transactions took place in 1991, when, according to Businessweek, bin Talal bought Trump’s huge yacht the Trump Princess from creditors, for eighteen million dollars. At the time, Trump’s Atlantic City casinos were heavily indebted; he also put his airline, the Trump Shuttle, up for sale.

The second deal came in 1995, when bin Talal and a partner, a Singapore hotels company, paid hundreds of millions of dollars to take control of The Plaza, on Fifth Avenue, from Trump. A Times story at the time said that the buyers had agreed to “pay part, or all, of Mr. Trump’s $300 million mortgage on the hotel, guarantee interest payments on Mr. Trump’s Plaza debt and spend $28 million to renovate part of the hotel.” Trump, the article said, was “under heavy pressure because of more than $115 million of guarantees he has given on the Trump Organization’s debt, and because of his recently announced attempt to raise $250 million to expand his casino investments.”
The prince is not just any Saudi oligarch: He was the finance minister of that nation and is rumored to represent other Saudi business interests. He is the second biggest investor in Fox News.
Interestingly, Saudi princes were investing in Trump at the same time they were (allegedly) throwing money at a fellow named Osama Bin Laden. Why were the Saudis dealing with a guy like Trump? And why did they treat him as a demi-deity during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia?

Here's the final paragraph from my 2016 post:
Yes, Saudis have donated to the Clinton Foundation -- but the Foundation is a charity, from which the Clintons derive no profit. Trump's hotels in Jeddah are serious business. Talk about a conflict of interest! Most Americans are not even aware that Trump has substantial investments in Saudi Arabia. You know damned well that if the Clintons had made such investments, our news media would remind you of that fact every single day.
Congress and the mainstream media have spent a great deal of time and effort trying to uncover Trump's strange relationship with Putin's Russia -- and properly so. On June 16, 2016, this humble blog was the first online publication to outline a "Putin-Trump" theory.

But Russia is not the full story. We also have to look at Saudi Arabia. Evidence suggests that Saudis have meddled in Brexit. Moreover, evidence suggests a consortium of five Saudi billionaires have played a very covert role in certain American elections -- and they may even have started as early as the 1980s. Strangest of all, they came to the rescue of Donald J. Trump in the 1990s. Why? You got me!

You can't dismiss this post as a "conspiracy theory," for one simple reason: I don't pretend to have anything like a proper theory. At this stage, I'm just trying to formulate the right questions.

Elsewhere: In previous posts, I have sided with those who argue that Trump probably does have "tapes" of his conversations with James Comey. My argument is based on a photo of Trump in the Oval Office with a digital voice recorder on his desk, and on the fact that Trump has been known to record surreptitiously his business meetings. Besides, NSA head Mike Rogers is clearly in Trump's corner, and the NSA scoops up everything.

However, Trump biographer Tim O'Brien says that Trump has falsely claimed to record conversations...
“He’s said this over the years to reporters when they go into the Trump organization, ‘I just want to let you know that I’m taping you right now,'” O’Brien noted. “And he said it multiple times during my interviews with him. He said that into my own tape recorder when I recorded our interviews.”

“But when he sat down for the deposition, my attorney said, ‘Mr. Trump, do you have a taping system?'” he recalled. “And he said no. And [my attorney] said, ‘Why did you say this to Mr. O’Brien.’ And he essentially said, ‘I wanted to intimidate him.'”
Perhaps. But one should also keep in mind that Trump may have been in a state in which it is illegal to tape someone without his permission.
Things are getting rather interesting with the Democratic Unionist Party. The Tories need at least four non-Tory MPs to get anything done. 326 is a majority, but then the Speaker can't v ote and Sinn Fein don't take their seats, so 322 is an effective majority, with the Tories being on 318.

The DUP have 10. The problem is that they are far less right-wing than the Tories. Yes, they hate gays, and catholics, and abortion, and they don't believe in evolution or global warming. However they oppose pension cuts the Tories have been pushing, generally favour higher benefits and want a softer Brexit. Admittedly, they are very closely linked to the UDA, who were gunning people down in public less than a month before the election, too.

There's also the problem of Scotland. The Tories have 12 MPs from Scotland, which they obviously can't afford to lose. Their Scottish leader is a lesbian engaged to a Catholic.

For those who wanted America to have a female president, the Tory leader, the Scottish Tory leader, and the DUP leader are all female.

"But one should also keep in mind that Trump may have been in a state in which it is illegal to tape someone without his permission."

Not likely. New York is a one-party-consent state.
Excellent work on the Saudi-Tory connection.

Three further facts...

1) As well as having an extremely high-level Saudi association, Richard Cook was also the Scottish spokesperson for the Conservative Friends of Israel.

2) The Tory government has kept the wraps on a Home Office report into the funding of the jihadist terrorist network in Britain, which is said to focus on Saudi money. Both Jeremy Corbyn and Tim Farron have called for it to be released.

3) When the anti-corruption candidate Nicholas Wilson, who stood against Amber Rudd in the recent election, started talking too much about Theresa May's involvement in weapons sales to Saudi, Rudd shut him up. (Click that link to watch how she did it.) In particular, he was speaking about the line to Saudi that goes through the bank HSBC. This is important, because Philip May, Theresa May's husband, is a senior guy at the Capital Group which works closely with HSBC.
Interestingly, Richard Cook was also the secretary of a company called "New Dragon (Glasgow) Limited", of which the only director I'm aware of is Peter Tsim. Tsim owns a chain of Chinese takeaway restaurants in Glasgow and also a racehorse, and he is doubtless as clean as a whistle.

For a while, Cook ran a blog.

He also links, through the pro-free market Tory propaganda agency ("think tank") called "Think Scotland", to businessman Robert Kilgour, who has made millions running care homes and cutting property deals in London and NYC. In the early 1990s, when the mafia took over practically everything in Russia that had any value, Kilgour opened an office in Siberia. He describes it has having "arranged a number of sporting and business exchanges between Russia and Scotland". Doubtless he too is as pure as the driven snow.
And there's more. Richard Kilgour is not just a businessman who owns care homes. He founded what is now the biggest "provider" of care homes in Britain. It is care homes that the Tories want elderly people to sell their houses to pay for.

The company was sold to a Qatari owner in 2006 for £1.55 bn.

For the record, Kilgour backed Remain.

Could it be that the Daesh-backing Salafists of Saudi helped Leave, while the al-Jazeera-owning Shard-owning Salafists of Qatar supported Remain?

Interesting article on the DUP's strong support for Israel. They don't just wave Zionazi flags on their marches. They also actively support Zionist objectives in the British parliament. Ian Paisley (junior) has said that the call to dismantle Zionist settlements was "cover for more aggression" against Jews.

And - something I didn't know until just now - it was his father the Reverend Ian Paisley (younger readers should click that link for a video snippet) who founded the Northern Ireland Friends of Israel.
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