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Sunday, February 21, 2016

WAYNE MADSEN : OFAC - Uncle Sam’s Bilking Collection Agent

Another long arm of the corrupt U.S. government expands it's tentacles overseas  

By Wayne Madsen'

Nothing says globalization more than the US Department of Treasury’s dubious Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). This international financial collection agency has become a "hard power" arm of America’s neoconservative foreign policy, an agency that seeks to shake down money and other assets from foreign officials and businessmen who dare challenge the supremacy of the United States.

The placement of a number of pro-Israeli neoconservatives at the helm of OFAC has also made the office a virtual tool of Israeli foreign policy and intelligence. OFAC has been at the forefront of prosecuting Americans and others for violating sanctions against Iran, Bashar al-Assad’s government of Syria, Lebanon’s Hezbollah political party, Hamas in Palestine, Muammar Gaddafi’s government of Libya, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the government of Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, and other foes of Israel. However, none of these Israeli targets are necessarily enemies of the United States.

OFAC was born as the Treasury Department’s Division of Foreign Assets Control in 1950 during the throes of the early Cold War era when the Harry Truman administration wanted to prosecute companies and individuals conducting business with mainland China and North Korea in violation of American economic sanctions. In 1962, the division became the present Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Continuing as a tool of Cold War economic warfare, OFAC turned its attention on those who violated the economic embargo of Cuba, particularly American tourists who decided to avail themselves of the island nation’s plentiful sunshine, clean beaches, and excellent cigars and rum. As late as 2007, OFAC vigorously pursued a Spanish travel company and its website for "helping Americans evade restrictions on travel to Cuba."

Under the Clinton and George W Bush administrations, OFAC targeted former government officials of the Bosnian Serb Republic and Serbia.

Critics of OFAC, including a number of international law firms, have said that the agency represents "creeping extraterritoriality" of US law.

Under George W Bush, the OFAC sanctions against Cuba and those who do business with Cuba were expanded, merely in order to satiate the desires of Florida’s vocal and politically-influential Cuban expatriate community. These sanctions were later expanded to include individuals and organizations connected with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government of Venezuela. The FARC sanctions continue in place even though Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has repeatedly asked the Obama administration to drop them as part of the overall Colombian peace process worked out after years of negotiations between Colombia and the FARC in Havana. The neoconservatives who have continued to dominate the State and Treasury Departments, as well as the Pentagon’s civilian hierarchy, under Obama have balked at lifting anti-FARC sanctions.

OFAC has strenuously targeted individuals and businesses that have done business with Iran. OFAC’s list of "Specially Designated Nationals" (SDNs) having their assets frozen by OFAC appears to have been prepared more by Israeli officials and their lobbyists in the United States than by the US State Department.

During the George W Bush administration, OFAC targets were, understandably, directed against al-Qaeda. However, the sanctions were never extended to cover Saudi government officials who were directly linked to the 9/11 attack by the US Central Intelligence Agency and foreign intelligence agencies that provided their intelligence directly to the CIA and OFAC.

During the Obama administration, OFAC targeted sanctions list of individuals appeared to be not-so-strangely similar to the enemy lists created by international hedge fund tycoon George Soros and his non-profit non-governmental organization contrivances, including the Open Society Institute, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International.

Soros’s "colour revolution" targets in Ukraine, Crimea, Russia, Belarus, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, and Myanmar have also, not coincidentally, appeared on the OFAC SDN list.

Also added to the OFAC target list have been government officials of the Syrian Arab Republic, the former Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, the government of Myanmar, Yemen, and the Ba’athist government of Iraq under Saddam Hussein. 

While no Israelis involved in international acts of terrorism are found on the OFAC list, except for the small Kach/Kahane party of West Bank terrorists, there are a number of current and former Arab government officials on the OFAC asset freeze list. Kach/Kahane is only included on the OFAC list to give it the imprimatur of neutrality, which is laughable when compared against the other list members.

Arab and other leaders on the list include President Bashar al-Assad of Syria; Ali Abdul Karim, the Syrian ambassador to Lebanon; Munir Adanov, the deputy chief of staff of the General Staff of the Syrian Army; Humam Abd al-Ghafur, former Iraqi Minister of Higher Education under Saddam; President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus; Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah in Lebanon; Abd al-Khaliq al-Houthi, military commander of the Houthis of Yemen; Abdel-Malik al-Houthi, leader of the Houthis of Yemen; Fahd Jassem al-Freij, Minister of Defense of Syria; the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, assassinated on the orders of the Obama administration, and his wife Aisha Gaddafi and son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi; Abdullah al-Senussi, former Libyan intelligence director; Chairman of the Russian State Duma Sergey Naryshkin; Hamid Raja-Shalah al-Tikriti, former Iraqi Air Force commander; Te’ame Abraham Selassie, head of Eritrea External Intelligence; Maung Aye, commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Army; former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych; anti-balaka Christian leader Alfred Yekatom of the Central African Republic; Zimbabwe Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and his wife and son; and various government officials of eastern Ukraine, Crimea, the Transnistrian Republic, and Russia. Other OFAC targets that appear straight from the Cold War era include the Communist Party of Peru, the Communist Party of the Philippines, and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

Arab and other companies, including TV networks, travel agencies, investment firms, hotels, gift shops, banks, and even breweries, blacklisted by OFAC include Abou Mehri Cruise Lines of Lebanon; Addouniya Television of Syria; Al Nour Radio of Lebanon; Al Naser Airlines of Iraq; Al R’ay TV of Damascus; Mehr Bank of Iran; Al Zawrah TV of Syria; Arfa Paint Company of Tehran, Iran; Juba Duty Free Shop, Juba, South Sudan; Cubana Airlines; Aero-Caribbean Airlines of Cuba; Marshall Capital Partners of Moscow; Kerch, Sevastopol, and Yalta Seaports, Crimea; Al Usama Trading Company of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Hamas TV, Gaza; Zimbabwe Banking Corporation; Gowrie Farm of Zimbabwe; Blue Nile Brewery of Sudan; Cubacancun Cigars and Gift Shops of Cancun, Mexico; Staroil of the Netherlands; Kalashnikov Company of Russia; Belarusian Oil Trading House of Minsk; Ukrainian-Mediterranean Airlines of Kiev; Banias Refinery Company of Syria; Caribe Sol of Montreal; Arab Projects Company of Amman, Jordan; Sudan Cotton Company; Air Bagan of Myanmar; Syrian Arab Airlines; Bank Severny Morskoy of Moscow; National Bank of Cuba; Bank Saderat of Iran; Agricultural Cooperative Bank of Syria; Caribbean Export Enterprise of Paris; Oryx Group of Zimbabwe and Oman; African Oil Company of Sudan; Baroon Shipping Company of Gibraltar; Blue Sky Industry Corporation of Dalian, China; Caesar’s Park Hotel of Beirut; Yalta Film Studio of Crimea, Russia; Caspian Air of Tehran; Al Bashir Trading Company of Baghdad; Asia Green Development Bank of Myanmar; Tajco Ltd. and Kairaba Shopping Center of Gambia; Bureau d’achat de diamant de Centrafrique, Bangui, Central African Republic; Afri-Belge of Angola; Congo Futur Import of Kinshasa, Congo (Lebanese Shia-owned companies like Congo Futur Import compete with Israelis in Africa’s diamond business and the only reason OFAC targets these businesses is to eliminate unwanted competition on behalf of Israeli, European and European Jewish diamond dealers and traders, not, as OFAC claims, because the businesses aid Hezbollah). Jewish Treasury officials responsible for OFAC, including David Cohen and Adam Szubin, have, by blacklisting Lebanese diamond dealers and importers in Africa and elsewhere, directly benefitted the Jewish-owned diamond houses of Tel Aviv, Amsterdam, Antwerp, London, and New York.

There is also evidence that the OFAC has been used to enable US companies to blacklist foreign-owned companies as a form of competitive warfare in violation of World Trade Organization rules and the new free trade Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). For example, in the late-1990s, Aero Continente Peru, Peru’s second largest airline at the time, was blacklisted by OFAC. Aero Continente’s competitor, the Miami-based and reportedly CIA-linked Fine Air air cargo company, was suspended by the Peruvian government from providing service from Florida to Peru in 1995 because it was caught smuggling US weapons into Ecuador, which was involved in a border conflict with Peru at the time. Fine Air was contracted to fly weapons from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Ecuador by Airline Equipment Specialists of Houston, a "folding tent" company linked to the CIA. This was not the only time that OFAC was used as a weapon in support of covert CIA operations abroad.

The OFAC is nothing more than a Soros and Israeli extortion racket, which, among its other goals, aims to eliminate certain media outlets that expose Western media propaganda, leaders who challenge Western imperial designs, and unwanted competition for US companies, such as arms companies, and Israeli firms, such as diamond companies.

Wayne Madsen

Investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist, Madsen has over twenty years experience in security issues. 

Wayne Madsen
As a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. Madsen has been a frequent political and national security commentator on Fox News and has also appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, BBC and MS-NBC. He has been invited to testify as a witness before the US House of Representatives, the UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and an terrorism investigation panel of the French government. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club, Madsen is based and reports from Washington, D.C.



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