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ZGram - 12/27/2004 - "Jet Is an Open Secret in Terror War"

zgrams at zgrams.zundelsite.org
Wed Dec 29 07:12:35 EST 2004




Zgram - Where Truth is Destiny:  Now more than ever!

December 27, 2004

Good Morning from the Zundelsite:

For the next two days, my Zgrams will focus on the so-called "terror 
war" - and how it impacts on those who are incarcerated without 
charges or else have simply disappeared, just as in Argentina in the 
'70s:

[START]

Jet Is an Open Secret in Terror War

By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 27, 2004; Page A01

The airplane is a Gulfstream V turbojet, the sort favored by CEOs and 
celebrities. But since 2001 it has been seen at military airports 
from Pakistan to Indonesia to Jordan, sometimes being boarded by 
hooded and handcuffed passengers.

The plane's owner of record, Premier Executive Transport Services 
Inc., lists directors and officers who appear to exist only on paper. 
And each one of those directors and officers has a recently issued 
Social Security number and an address consisting only of a post 
office box, according to an extensive search of state, federal and 
commercial records.

Bryan P. Dyess, Steven E. Kent, Timothy R. Sperling and Audrey M. 
Tailor are names without residential, work, telephone or corporate 
histories -- just the kind of "sterile identities," said current and 
former intelligence officials, that the CIA uses to conceal 
involvement in clandestine operations. In this case, the agency is 
flying captured terrorist suspects from one country to another for 
detention and interrogation.

The CIA calls this activity "rendition." Premier Executive's 
Gulfstream helps make it possible. According to civilian aircraft 
landing permits, the jet has permission to use U.S. military 
airfields worldwide.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, secret renditions have become a principal 
weapon in the CIA's arsenal against suspected al Qaeda terrorists, 
according to congressional testimony by CIA officials. But as the 
practice has grown, the agency has had significantly more difficulty 
keeping it secret.

According to airport officials, public documents and hobbyist plane 
spotters, the Gulfstream V, with tail number N379P, has been used to 
whisk detainees into or out of Jakarta, Indonesia; Pakistan; Egypt; 
and Sweden, usually at night, and has landed at well-known U.S. 
government refueling stops.

As the outlines of the rendition system have been revealed, criticism 
of the practice has grown. Human rights groups are working on legal 
challenges to renditions, said Morton Sklar, executive director of 
the World Organization for Human Rights USA, because one of their 
purposes is to transfer captives to countries that use harsh 
interrogation methods outlawed in the United States. That, he said, 
is prohibited by the U.N. Convention on Torture.

The CIA has the authority to carry out renditions under a 
presidential directive dating to the Clinton administration, which 
the Bush administration has reviewed and renewed. The CIA declined to 
comment for this article.

"Our policymakers would never confront the issue," said Michael 
Scheuer, a former CIA counterterrorism officer who has been involved 
with renditions and supports the practice. "We would say, 'Where do 
you want us to take these people?' The mind-set of the bureaucracy 
was, 'Let someone else do the dirty work.' "

The story of the Gulfstream V offers a rare glimpse into the CIA's 
secret operations, a world that current and former CIA officers said 
should not have been so easy to document.

Not only have the plane's movements been tracked around the world, 
but the on-paper officers of Premier Executive Transport Services are 
also connected to a larger roster of false identities.

Each of the officers of Premier Executive is linked in public records 
to one of five post office box numbers in Arlington, Oakton, Chevy 
Chase and the District. A total of 325 names are registered to the 
five post office boxes.

An extensive database search of a sample of 44 of those names turned 
up none of the information that usually emerges in such a search: no 
previous addresses, no past or current telephone numbers, no business 
or corporate records. In addition, although most names were attached 
to dates of birth in the 1940s, '50s or '60s, all were given Social 
Security numbers between 1998 and 2003.

The Washington Post showed its research to the CIA, including a chart 
connecting Premier Executive's officers, the post office boxes, the 
325 names, the recent Social Security numbers and an entity called 
Executive Support OFC. A CIA spokesman declined to comment.

According to former CIA operatives experienced in using 
"proprietary," or front, companies, the CIA likely used, or intended 
to use, some of the 325 names to hide other activities, the nature of 
which could not be learned. The former operatives also noted that the 
agency devotes more effort to producing cover identities for its 
operatives in the field, which are supposed to stand up under 
scrutiny, than to hiding its ownership of a plane.

The CIA's plane secret began to unravel less than six weeks after the 
Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

On Oct. 26, 2001, Masood Anwar, a Pakistani journalist with the News 
in Islamabad, broke a story asserting that Pakistani intelligence 
officers had handed over to U.S. authorities a Yemeni microbiologist, 
Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed, who was wanted in connection with the 
October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.

The report noted that an aircraft bearing tail number N379P, and 
parked in a remote area of a little-used terminal at the Karachi 
airport, had whisked Mohammed away about 2:40 a.m. Oct. 23. The tail 
number was also obtained by The Post's correspondent in Pakistan but 
not published.

The News article ricocheted among spy-hunters and Web bloggers as a 
curiosity for those interested in divining the mechanics of the new 
U.S.-declared war on terrorism.

At 7:54:04 p.m. Oct. 26, the News article was posted on 
FreeRepublic.com, which bills itself as "a conservative news forum."

Thirteen minutes later, a chat-room participant posted the plane's 
registered owners: Premier Executive Transport Services Inc., of 339 
Washington St., Dedham, Mass.

"Sounds like a nice generic name," one blogger wrote in response. 
"Kind of like Air America" -- a reference to the CIA's secret 
civilian airlines that flew supplies, food and personnel into 
Southeast Asia, including Laos, during the Vietnam War.

Eight weeks later, on Dec. 18, 2001, American-accented men wearing 
hoods and working with special Swedish security police brought two 
Egyptian nationals onto a Gulfstream V that was parked at night at 
Stockholm's Bromma Airport, according to Swedish officials and 
airport personnel interviewed by Swedish television's "Cold Facts" 
program. The account was confirmed independently by The Post. The 
plane's tail number: N379P.

Wearing red overalls and bound with handcuffs and leg irons, the men, 
who had applied for political asylum in Sweden, were flown to Cairo, 
according to Swedish officials and documents. Ahmed Agiza was 
convicted by Egypt's Supreme Military Court of terrorism-related 
charges; Muhammad Zery was set free. Both say they were tortured 
while in Egyptian custody. Sweden has opened an investigation into 
the decision to allow them to be rendered.

A month later, in January 2002, a U.S.-registered Gulfstream V landed 
at Jakarta's military airport. According to Indonesian officials, the 
plane carried away Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni, an Egyptian traveling 
on a Pakistani passport and suspected of being an al Qaeda operative 
who had worked with shoe bomber suspect Richard C. Reid. Without a 
hearing, he was flown to Egypt. His status and whereabouts are 
unknown. The plane's tail number was not noted, but the CIA is 
believed to have only one of the expensive jets.

Over the past year, the Gulfstream V's flights have been tracked by 
plane spotters standing at the end of runways with high-powered 
binoculars and cameras to record the flights of military and private 
aircraft.

These hobbyists list their findings on specialized Web pages. 
According to them, since October 2001 the plane has landed in 
Islamabad; Karachi; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Dubai; Tashkent, 
Uzbekistan; Baghdad; Kuwait City; Baku, Azerbaijan; and Rabat, 
Morocco. It has stopped frequently at Dulles International Airport, 
at Jordan's military airport in Amman and at airports in Frankfurt, 
Germany; Glasglow, Scotland, and Larnaca, Cyprus.

Premier Executive Transport Services was incorporated in Delaware by 
the Prentice-Hall Corporation System Inc. on Jan. 10, 1994. On Jan. 
23, 1996, Dean Plakias, a lawyer with Hill & Plakias in Dedham, filed 
incorporation papers with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts listing 
the company's president as Bryan P. Dyess.

According to public documents, Premier Executive ordered a new 
Gulfstream V in 1998. It was delivered in November 1999 with tail 
number N581GA, and reregistered for unknown reasons on March 2000 
with a new tail number, N379P. It began flights in June 2000, and 
changed the tail number again in December 2003.

Plakias did not return several telephone messages seeking comment. He 
told the Boston Globe recently that he simply filed the required 
paperwork. "I'm not at liberty to discuss the affairs of the client 
business, mainly for reasons I don't know," he told the Globe. Asked 
whether the company exists, Plakias responded: "Millions of companies 
are set up in Massachusetts that are just paper companies."

A lawyer in Washington, whose name is listed on a 1996 IRS form on 
record at the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office in Massachusetts 
-- and whose name is whited out on some copies of the forms -- hung 
up the phone last week when asked about the company.

Three weeks ago, on Dec. 1, the plane, complete with a new tail 
number, was transferred to a new owner, Bayard Foreign Marketing of 
Portland, Ore., according to FAA records. Its registered agent in 
Portland, Scott Caplan, did not return phone calls.

Like the officers at Premier Executive, Bayard's sole listed 
corporate officer, Leonard T. Bayard, has no residential or telephone 
history. Unlike Premier's officers, Bayard's name does not appear in 
any other public records.

Researchers Margot Williams and Julie Tate contributed to this 
report. Williams has since left The Washington Post.


© 2004 The Washington Post Company



www.washingtonpost.com

[END]


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