Suspicious Deaths of Prominent American/Jordanian Sisters Soraya and Jumana Salti: The Husband Theory

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     This article continues a series of articles on LinkedIn Pulse that touches on the various prevailing theories surrounding the cause of the deaths of Soraya and Jumana Salti.  This one touches on one of the more popular theories in most death investigation cases; the husband was involved.

https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/0_0Q3Xb3uyEZ2g5bLMJlUBJA

Unique Challenges During the Investigation

     Many sources, even those with ties to Jordanian’s upper echelon seemed no less afraid of saying too much than the Jordanian citizens who first reached out for help, following a bizarre gag order by the government banning the local press from writing on this case. They also echoed the local’s fears of an omnipresent network of spies from the General Intelligence Directorate (GID), Jordan’s version of CIA except these people not only are allowed to work domestically it seems to be their primary operational environment.

Looking deeper into this agency was a bit surprising and disturbing to say the least and frankly there’s enough there to write separate articles or even books on them alone if one wished. However, I’ll give the highlights as they relate to this case and people’s paranoia that sadly may be very justified.

The GID was apparently deeply involved in an investigation that the local government insisted was nothing more than a tragic double suicide by two sisters with financial and psychological issues. How involved? Insiders who were present during search and seizure efforts in the Salti family home documented that they were one of many people and agencies present looking for clues and taking various items. Not one agency but many and each taking separate pieces of evidence (most computer related). That alone is odd even in Jordan, according to locals. It seems as if each were conducting their own investigations and each looking for some specific piece of evidence. Apparently, one of these agencies was the GID. Then there was the video of a witness giving a rather vague recollection of what she saw to what appeared to be a news anchor in a uniform. Later I was informed that person was a GID officer.

https://youtu.be/aHtlYGLTRIw (Go to 4:15)

Why the heck is GID interviewing people on a suicide and so publicly? Then there’s the history going back decades of GID directors and members being accused of corruption or doing the dirty work of other governments to keep their own hands clean….for a fee, of course.

There’s more but I’m sure you get the point by now. This should help you understand one of the core factors that made my informant developing and intelligence gathering much more tedious and time consuming. Gaining thier trust and working to assure thier anonymity and safety can be hard enough in any environment but in this one a great deal of patience and perseverance was required to get this far.

The Husband Lead: Omar Salah

My first effort was determining who Soraya was married to. This was easy, or so it seemed. I was immediately led to a man named Omar Salah. However, I could find very little on the man to show any motive for wanting to kill a woman he was no longer married to and for the most part, was living far away from in another country (United States).

Yet many local contacts, informants and intelligence sources (including some from Soraya’s personal circle and the Royal Hashemite Court) cultivated over the past year seemed insistent that her husband, a well known businessman with historical ties to the court was involved. They said he was not very nice to Soraya and that they were separated at the time of her death and that Soraya was afraid of him still and that her pleas for help were ignored because the Royal Court seemed to also have ties with the husband that they may not want compromised by getting involved. However, even inside sources were reluctant to get into more detail.

Looking deeper into Omar only raised more doubts though. Omar Salah is a well known entrepreneur with a plethora of ventures under his belt, some successful, others not so much. However, he was clearly a man with charisma, vision and boldness. He clearly seemed like someone a person like Soraya could be drawn too. Like Soraya it seemed he not only had dreams of personal success but clearly tried to create business environments that opened the door for others in the MENA (Middle East North Africa) region to have opportunity for success through globalization and collaboration and thus a way of bringing greater economic success to not only Jordan but the Arab region as a whole.

This truly is something needed in that part of the world. If one really wants to know what it means for 99%er’s living under the greed of 1%ers then one need only put down their Starbucks coffee and get out of their Coleman tents and step away from their Occupy whatever protest long enough to take a look at what’s happening in MENA.

Omar seemed to work and campaign for the creation of a sort of free trade environment called the Qualified Industrial Zone (commonly referred to as QIZ) which would allow for ease of export of wares manufactured in this zone consisting many companies run by Israelis and Palestinians alike, working together in peace and prospering together in peace. As I understand it, the idea was that this would create a sort of opportunity for major clothing companies and such to send manufacturing contracts to these companies and thereby in some way contributing to a new sort of stability in the Middle East while at the same time still enjoying the financial benefits of overseas manufacturing.  It does have a win-win ring to it. However, according to local sources, this idea was not so well received by many local Jordanians including some in the government sector. Nor was Omar very well regarded. This was because he was seen as a “normalizer”.

Presently Jordan is approximately 70% Palestinian. A majority that has increased over the decades as more and more refugees poured in from the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. Many see Israel as the enemy and occupiers of their homeland and expect someday, somehow, that things will be set right again so the idea Palestinians working in harmony with Israel is seen as a betrayal of their just cause and normalizing their present state and thus only assuring that nothing will ever be set right again.

Despite all of this resistance, it seemed Omar was set to realize this QIZ vision and convinced that the bigger picture will eventually be clearer for all and that peace and prosperity is possible for Arabs and Jews alike.  It seems that he was eventually able to win the support of the Royal Hashemite Court and it’s relatively new king, Abdullah II who for the most part was and still is always in a precarious position of trying to keep the masses happy, which included careful relations with Israel and avoiding either they or his Palestinian majority questioning his loyalties too much. So getting the King’s approval despite his very precarious political position is in and of itself impressive. However, what is not clear is whether this support came before or after the fact that Omar seemed to take it upon himself to appeal to the US government for support and assistance. An effort that proved very successful as the then Clinton Administration was convinced to come on board. They approved laws allowing trade from the QIZ and were even convinced to help create a sort of Enterprise Fund to help support the QIZ’s growth. This is on top of the massive amount of US dollars already spent in its Economic Support Fund that Jordan relied heavily on. Salah himself formed one of the first capital investment companies, Century Investment to support and benefit from the growth of QIZ member companies.

So now on top of already alienating a large number of Jordanians there was talk that despite his global image of innovation and bridge building, locally he was only earning more contempt by potentially threatening government interests that relied on ESF money from the US that many feared may now be taken out of their control should the US offset that investment based on is EF investment.

Not long after this financial and political success or disaster, depending from whose eyes you see this through, rumors of financial improprieties began to emerge and Omar Salah gets blamed. The government swiftly steps in and shut down Century Investment and the partners and the Hashemite Court seem to really have nothing to say and Omar disappears into relative obscurity.

However, not without some fight which included reaching out to the US for help. He assured them that there was no malfeasance on his part and that this was retaliation from multiple fronts. One from “anti-normalizers” who hate his achievements with QIZ and another from government officials who are only interested in assuring US money continues to flow into their coffers and not in any way offset by an Enterprise Fund they would have little to no control over.

A recently discovered classified brief from the US Embassy in Amman shows that Omar did come to them for support and assistance and that some investigation was done into the matter. Although they concluded that there was little to no evidence to support an “anti-normalizer” agenda in play they weren’t so sure that the second concern of ESF versus EF money allocations wasn’t without real merit. It also appeared that the US felt the actions of the Jordanian government did seem unusually harsh and rash given the many other more logical and typical resolution possibilities.

http://cables.mrkva.eu/cable.php?id=6462

Disturbing Parallels

Then there’s Soraya Salti, a woman with visions not so different from her former husband and a passion and drive that would also win her some success and influence that like Omar included US financial support, and like Omar, was independent of the support of the Royal Hashemite Court.

Yes in Omar’s case King Abdullah would get a great deal of credit for his support of QIZ and in Soraya’s case Queen Rania would be credited for her support but ultimately it clearly was these two who made things happen and would win accolades and influence on a global scale that was outside the direct control and influence of the Jordanian Government and the Royal Hashemite Court.

In the case of Injaz, just like QIZs public royal support helped increase their presence and acceptance locally, Queen Rania’s support of Injaz would do the same. However, just like Omar, it would be Soraya’s efforts and global outreach efforts that would turn what was once a side project of Save the Children Fund into an internationally recognized NGO in its own right and win the attention and financial support of the US along with many other countries as well.

There was certainly no public outcry against her efforts like that of Omar. This may be possibly in part because of the open support of Queen Rania who it seems is not only more popular globally than her husband, King Abdullah II, but is seems locally that she also more feared than him. However, many local sources explained to me that Soraya was seen as a threat by many on many fronts, chiefly culturally and financially.

Culturally, Soraya would be seen as threat to anti-westernization interests as educating and encouraging young Arabs to seek out personal success through global collaboration would threaten the status quo of a somewhat a collective and theocratic ideal that has been a long standing pillar of the way of life in not just Jordan but most of the MENA region. Financially, she would be seen as a drain to major wells of international dollars by a government who has kept a tight hold on each USAID dollar or any other incoming aid and how it would benefit the people….if at all.

So it would seem that Omar and Soraya had more reason to lean on one another rather than any sort of enmity.

My growing doubts regarding Omar Salah’s involvement was also supported by my efforts to determine his whereabouts at the time of Soraya’s death. It would turn out that local sources close to both Omar and Soraya would verify that Omar was indeed in Amman around the time of Soraya’s death but that he was there for only about three days to facilitate ongoing back and forth visits by their daughter . Sources also confirm that while there he stayed in Amman he stayed at the Salti home. This seemed to drive even more doubt of former husband feared and betrayed by Soraya narrative.  Furthermore it would seem Omar was out of the country the actual night of her death.

An Unexpected Lead

Except there was one avenue not yet fully explored; Previously set aside rumors of a “secret husband” named Walid (sometimes spelled Waleed). Looking deeper into this rumor I learned there was indeed a somewhat “secret” marriage between Soraya and a man named Walid Al Banawi.

(See previous article I Never Gave Up…https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/i-never-gave-up-walked-away-suspicious-deaths-prominent-joey-ortega).

Husband Theory Resurrected: Walid Al Banawi

Walid was a US educated business man from one of the most prominent Saudi families and once board member of one of the most influential Saudi holding companies, Banawi Industrial Group and also a founding Director of Injaz.

However, there is little more to see about him that would explain this marriage and what may have occurred between them. He seemed to not stay with Injaz as long as Soraya yet like many others seemed to be a player in this regional movement of Social Entrepreneurship that seemed to have been catapulted by the worldwide success of Injaz.  His own outreach work was and still is, supported in one form or another by the Hashemite Court and most specifically Queen Rania and also had his own direct political history with the US, but not so much the same as Omar and one not so public.

According to recently discovered intelligence briefs, it would it seem that Walid would at one time or another operate as a confidential informant regarding local political and economic issues. Based on how one would interpret the reports it would also suggest he was not the optimistic or daring type as Soraya or Omar.

http://cables.mrkva.eu/cable.php?id=236988

http://cables.mrkva.eu/cable.php?id=188594

So here we have another husband who was apparently separated from Soraya and like the previous husband was an influential businessman with ties to the Hashemite Court. This one could have been in the area around a time that others observed Soraya making claims about harassment from a husband and apparently not getting support from Rania or any other in the royal court because of relational ties he had with them. One who was oddly silent about her death, just as was the Hashemite Court other than to essentially say to its people, stop talking about it or suffer the legal consequences. A husband who when they did make a public statement, it was in the form of a low key obituary that seemed to all but disappear not long after it was published, a public statement that confirmed their marriage (See previous article I Never Gave Up…https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/i-never-gave-up-walked-away-suspicious-deaths-prominent-joey-ortega).

As of the writing of this article, efforts to get direct statements from either Omar Salah or Walid Al Banawi have not been responded.  However, efforts continue.

This still raises questions of motive. If indeed rumors and tips of husband’s involvement were true and even if Walid is this husband people were too afraid to point the finger at directly, to what degree is he involved…and why. What was this thing that Soraya was killed for that was bigger than all of us as her suicide note warned? This had to be more than a marital issue gone so wrong that it cost her not just her life but that of her sister Jumana….and what was Jumana doing there? What was her role in all this, if at any?

Where Evidence Gathering and Intelligence Analysis Meet

Looking into other tips that began to pour in following previous writings I began to see trends in names of tycoons, politicians and some businesses that, at first glance, all seemed to be unrelated. At least, until I considered the commonalities between the three people who seemed to play prominent in my investigation (Soraya, Omar and Walid) and followed the suggestion by many local contacts that I consider the possibility that maybe there is something to the conspiracy theories I am usually prone to quickly reject or disprove. Furthermore I was exhorted to consider all people, regardless of position, or public facade, whether popular tycoon, respected politician…even a philanthropist queen.

At the same time, others would exhort me to the second most popular murder cliché, next to “the spouse did it; Follow the money.

What I found most in common with these three and where the money trails were pointing to was that all seemed to play a role in the early stages of a movement known as Social Entrepreneurship and that many analyst worldwide would see as a sincere efforts by some to bring peace and prosperity to the Middle East and build bridges to the global community while for others it would be the backdrop for a race for international aid dollars to feed unrelated government agendas, private accounts and based on where the money would be laundered, fund the war on terror….on both sides.

Social Entrepreneurship: A Double Edge Sword

It was a movement that would begin to connect the names and businesses that seemed unrelated. A movement where a Jordanian would become a symbol of what many hoped the movement would bring yet ironically, according to one recent analysis, also a movement where Jordan itself would stand out as a symbol for all that many feared that it would become, nothing more than a pretext to a whole different agenda, whatever that may be.

https://publikationen.uni-tuebingen.de/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10900/71888/PhD_Kreitmeyr_82016.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y (Intro will help build context but the most relevant portion is in Chapter 3)

It would also seem that others would observe that while other portions of the region would have a great deal to show for their many social entrepreneurship initiatives and many new global bridges built, Jordan would be one that shows very little in terms of results and even harder to account where all the money was going…..That is, all but Injaz while under Soraya’s leadership.

Relationally, the movers and shakers in Jordan’s local Social Entrepreneurship community all had little to show for any bridge building outside Jordan’s social and political elite…..That is, all but Injaz while under Soraya’s leadership.

Furthermore, the more I looked into Jordan’s Social Entrepreneurship community and it’s social elites, the more it became clear that all seemed to heavily rely on the support and influence of Queen Rania and the Royal Hashemite Court…..That is, all but Injaz while under the Soraya’s leadership.

Down  A Deeper and Darker Path

This all lead me to a whole new inroad into the investigation and into Jordan’s political world AND its underworld and deeper into its infra-politics. Into a place where the line between the two worlds (political and criminal) are not so clear and where discerning which side each player is on, not so simple.

This and more however, will be discussed in more detail as my investigation and article series continues.

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Thank You Tom Mahoney

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Photo from article in The Channels newspaper. http://www.thechannels.org/features/2016/11/11/retiring-justice-studies-professor-leaves-lasting-mark-on-program/

     In the Justice fields from Investigation, Forensics and Government, I have been blessed to know, have known and learned from some of the most famous, most respected and renowned experts in their respective fields. However I can say without a shred of doubt that it was this man who has been my greatest influence and inspiration to do what I do. He challenged both my assumptions and helped me see how I can be an even deeper critical thinker,

He also exemplified a humility that reminds me no one is ever too educated or experienced to no longer need to seek learning more with the same zeal and enthusiasm as a green detective breaking in the field. Many times in my case work whether in dealing with crime, terrorism, courtroom politics, or community relations, I often find my mind wandering to some lecture or conversation related to some area where I may find myself struggling with that day and drawing from some insight I didn’t realize i actually retained or ever thought I might need someday.

Most importantly he showed me its not only ok to be passionate about what you do and who you serve AND be a pragmatic smart ass but that both will save me from letting either one drain my soul or blind my objectivity. 😉

I cannot thank Dr. Tom Mahoney enough for all he has taught me to do and challenged me to become.

I can only hope that should he ever see from afar the noise I’m making in the world chasing cases and monsters I probably ought to avoid, that behind the rolling eyes there is a smile and pride that he had something to do with it lol.

Thank You Tom and wish you an awesome and well deserved retirement and insane scores on the greens.

Joey Ortega

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Two Wars, One Solution?

As a result of my radio show and investigative work both online and offline I have had many people either write or approach me is some way asking my opinion about either the “War of Terror” or this “Info War” that seems to be concurrently raging globally.

Here is a recent rant of sort that came out in a recent talk with colleagues. Since I have many readers, friends and contacts here who are in both fields, I would love to hear your thoughts about this and what can be done in response.

Despite our technological advances in cyber security and even physical security  people in general often remain first line of defense in both cyber and terrorist attacks against an organization, corporation or even governments….and often the first attack point for both groups. Though sadly very few see that until after the fact when they fell victim to social engineering attacks. A potent tool also used by both groups.

Both groups are essentially guerrilla groups which mean both use asymmetrical warfare strategies. All effective asymmetrical warfare attacks first require the same thing, good reconnaissance and good intelligence.

When you are out manned and underfunded then social engineering is the way to get it done and to make sure the enemy is carrying the costs and doing most of the labor for you.

I wish more security organizations, Infosec groups, corporations and even governments spent more time and money offering more conferences, articles, discussions and even outright training (even if only in the form of regular published tips in Social Engineering) because is seems clear to me that even the most minimal of training can go along way in cutting off an attack plan when it is at its most vulnerable and identifying the culprits when they are at their most visible.

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Not Your Mothers Nigerian Scam: The New Face of Terrorism and it’s assault on America

We all heard the stories, gotten the emails and nodded our heads at the seemingly odd amount of overseas missionaries, dignitaries, and even Princes having a great deal of political turmoil and desperately needs YOU  to help them move their money out of the country before the “bad guys” get to it. Of course you are not expected to do all this altruistically. No, in fact there is great reward for those willing to offer their bank account information and some up front cash to help safely get the money to you and give to the owner, minus your seven digit cut.There was a time that all one had to fear was the loss of money and or pride from falling for such a scam and having to explain to friends and family why you are suddenly broke.

It wasn’t until recently that I once again found myself face to face with a much more disturbing and much darker reality. Once agin I found myself helping someone I didn’t know, to do what others refused to do, against someone I have no business challenging and it appeared that once again my chase would lead me into the world of terrorism.

It began with a series of emails and voice messages from a woman asking me to help her with a problem she was having with scammers. I get lots of similar calls and I find I have to pick and choose who I help, when I can. At the time I have been in a much needed hiatus from my show in an effort to work on personal and professional challenges to shifting my investigative focus to Terrorism and Cyber Crime.

I put this call with the stack of “no thanks” in my mailbox. Yet this woman was persistent and sounded more and more desperate and in some ways more insane. I continued to resist even answering to say no. Yet eventually this woman’s tone became more defeated and depressed. Something hit me. That voice that told me to stop avoiding the inevitable and do what’s right….despite my sinking feeling his will not be as simple as it should be.  I called her back.

Her name was Dr Jeri Danielle. She was a writer and poet and from her Linkedin Profile did not seem like the typical loon trying to sell me their latest conspiracy theory.

The short version of her story is was that she was in a series of coorospondences over about a 2 month period with an female soldier based in Iraq named Sharon Brown.  After building a string rapport and gaining Jeri’s trust and sympathy, she eventually confided that she has amassed some about of many while overseas but felt the danger was too much to avoid moving it to the US soon.  Jeri agreed to help her “friend”. Shortly before her “sudden death” she gave Jeri the name of a diplomat friend name “Michael Tomson” who would guide her through the process and get the money to her under the protection of his “diplomatic immunity”.

What follows is a brief account of what followed and what I discovered in the course of my investigation to help uncover who was behind a now months long extortion that has now cost her about $80k and no end in sight to the intimidating demands for more. She said she came after police ignored her, and the federal agencies she went to kept referring her to the IC3 website.

Had I not discovered what I discovered so quickly I too may have been just as incredulous as I’d imagine law enforcement was.

The front person appears to be a UK based operative who uses the name “Tomson Michael” and used this fake credential to gain confidence.

image

Though again, her first contacts was a series of conversation with a supposed US soldier in Iraq named “Sharon Brown” using the email Sharon Brown–usmilsharon2@aol.com

After reviewing past emails and coaching her through a series of fake payment delays in an effort to get them to give up more information for me to work off of, it seemed the Cyber operations are run through Lagos, Nigera and local leg work like collection is done with Houston based operatives and possible some in the south.

Tomson told Jeri someone named Brian Okpala from the Red Cross will be meeting with here at some point and gave the following credential to further gain her confidence:

image

She communicated with “Brian” via the following email address and phone number:
Okpala–ftke4@live.com 281-617-2878.

Her contacts with Tomson has been through the following numbers and email address. tommic00@yandex.com US-347-809-3510; In the UK–011-44-203-289-4952.

Most of the payments have been to this account: JP Morgan Chase, Account# 900176017 to be picked up by a Kristle McGill at a Houston Branch located 14400 Memorial Drive.

I told her to stop paying and to feign delays and difficulties on order to get alternate info from him to help me trace the source. As a result I was able to get the following additional info:

Wells Fargo: Account# 1487001396 to be picked up by Princewell Okoro
Barclays Bank (UK): Account# 33742504 to be picked up by Misrat Alabi

By following the Princewell lead I found the following.

This Facebook account:

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Who in turn is friends with this person who happened to be in Houston where money was collected :

image

Who in turn is friends with:

image

But more disturbingly another account came up for this Brian Okpala (aka: Bryian Opahlar) as possibly belong to him:

image

Since as far back as 2011, despite only recent news coverage, Boko Haram have been very active and it now well known they use these type of operations to fund their terrorist activities.

However all of this could be a coincidence….but I’ll leave that you you to decide.

After an additional 2 days of Thomson calling, and emailing Jeri to escalate his threats and demands for money and after a brief online exchange with this Tomson person in the UK to get him to see reason I finally ended the conversation after those two days with a coincidental public announcement of a sever hack 2 Days prior on JP Morgan Chase and how I would hate for his refusal to not let his greed to get him busted and do what’s right before it’s too late. (FTR I admit nothing other than it clearly could be coincidence I reference to him below).

This is the final letter I sent him (minus referenced graphics that are already posted above):

Hi again “Michael Tomson”

I heard about the cyber breach at Chase Bank. Weren’t we recently discussing one of the account you have there? Oh yes account#900176017, I believe amount a few other it seems. Interestingly it turns out even though the attacker got root on about 3 servers nothing was actually taken. Hmmm….some might think it was just a fluke, others intelligence gathering…..and some of the smarter ones, a warning. How smart are you?

Well at least you don’t have money at Wells Fargo. I mean their security is even worse than JP Morgan. Oh wait…oops, I spoke too soon these accounts look interesting, like this one here #1487001396.

Like I said before, I’m not a cop. I’m someone people call when no one else cannot or will not help them. However as you can see that can allow for a little more freedom to do what must be done to help some get back what is theirs and on occasion, justice served. You will return the money you stole. There are worse things than arrest to fear. As I said in a previous letter, you are likely more expendable and definitively more accessible to the ones you work for and funneling some money to (but we’ll get to that in a bit).

I told there weren’t enough servers in the Russia, Lagos, etc that you can hide behind to keep me from identifying and dealing with those that need dealing with. Even the UK won’t be much help 😉 Again, you aren’t the only one with friends and contacts all over the globe.

However lets just start simple….like the local simpletons you have here locally doing your leg work.

Like this genius with horrible OPSEC
(See above photo of Okpala)

Which brings me to who we both know it best not be aware of the mess the sloppy work your little team and greed has gotten you into. Mr Okpahlar (aka Okpala) seems awfully helpful so far….and no one has even talked to him yet…

(see above photo of twitter account that appears in support of Boko Haram)

Ouch!!! Now there are some people I would not want thinking I compromised their money train or OPSEC. Especially if like you, were in easy reach :/

I wonder how long it would take Homeland Security to get what they need out of him….

I gave you a choice earlier to agree to payback the person I specify and keep this between us and we both move on or go ahead and test how serious and how capable I am to be a real problem for you…..just YOU and thus quickly making YOU a very big and public problem for certain people who will rightly assume simply dealing with YOU, not me is the least risky and costly option in protecting their interests.

Now you have your answer to your little test.

You should consider my warning about just a few of the accounts mentioned and about Okpahlar a courtesy and don’t push your luck and try to change things. Who knows what attention that might cause anybody or….agency possibly watching these things, given the recent security leaks that seems to be all around?

Tick Tock, “Michael Tomson”……….or however this is pronounced on the horrible forgery job….
(reference photo of fake Passport above)

As it stands, Tomson appears to have not be as threatening but still continues to contact Jeri.

In keeping with my word to Jeri to make sure her story is told and to “Michael Tomson” whom I promised I would make famous if he continued to terrorize women, I give you what you now read.

Where it will go from here who knows. This and much more was turned over to many friends and contacts in different areas of law enforcement and counter-terroism. I honestly don’t anticipate much trouble from “Tomson” in the future.

There is one more thing I wanted to share before closing. I have yet to verify this as a viable lead but just in case, I’m sharing anyway.

Figuring that once I began contact, with these people, given my public personae and media work they would eventually be drawn to my linkedin profile to check me out and possibly contact me to try and SE (social engineer) me somehow. I hoped it would be the UK guy or one connected to help me close in on the network source.

It was in the midst of this that I was checked out and eventually connection requested by about 5 people but this guy (photo below) stuck out because he is in a totally different industry and not really appear to be a crime media fan. His name is Bruce Johnson Zelotes.

Here is his profile:

image

What caught my attention most was:
1. He is in the UK
2. Uses a non business email
3. The email address suggests he uses a completely different name at times (mailto:beckettcharlie92@gmail.com).
4. The company he works for is Sonagol.
5. Despite his invitation to connect, he seems unwilling to communicate with me but apparently just wants to see what is written on my profile, as non connections have a limited view.

Still believing I was possibly dealing with a logistics/funding cell, I knew that if I was right, there still had to be a way to launder the money as it continues down the pipeline to Nigeria. It had to be a legal entity with international ties to avoid suspicion. Looking into Sonagol I found they are an oil industry company with headquarters all over, including one in Houston, Texas and apparent business ties to…..surprise, surprise…..Nigeria. Further inquiry into this company by anybody one can see where even more questions arise.

Again this could be all be coincidence but then……I leave it you to decide 😉

Posted in Criminal Investigation, Hacking, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

To Whom Does Justice Belong, The People We Appoint Or The People Who Appointed Them?

Our nation was founded on the belief…no the conviction that justice cannot be had when it remains in the hands of the select few. However we do appoint representatives and agencies to seek that justice on BEHALF OF THE PEOPLE lest everyone decide on their own what is legal or not legal and go about exacting their own justice. The only thing more dangerous than the order of tyranny, is the chaos of vigilanteism.

Even when the results of our JUSTICE SYSTEM may seem unsatisfactory, it is indeed just that we either accept it or work within the system to change it so that similar results never occur again. However, what if that which we agree is illegal and indeed harming others is ignored by the ones we appoint and look to to pursue due justice? When we abide such a culture in our legal system are we submitting to their authority or affirming and ultimately adopting their complacency?

What if the people appeal to all the channels and move up and down the chains of command only to be told nothing will be done, are they protecting the people they work for or the people they were appointed to protect them from?

When people finally step up to fight and put down the villain(s) the powers that be refuse to despite their call by the people to do so, are you taking justice into your own hands or are you simply refusing to let it fall by the wayside?

If the powers that be try to stop you, telling you it is their “business” to do such things and have chosen to let the crimes and thus injustices continue and so should you, yet you still chose to do what they wont, who is ultimately seeking justice and who is ultimately acting against it?

When the people take up the power to stop the villains the powers that be wont in order to put an end to the crimes they are allowing, are the people robbing the authorities of power or are the people taking back a power that is rightfully theirs already in order to keep from being robbed from justice that is also theirs?

In the end who is ultimately responsible for protecting the people rights and seeing that the people have a just society?

These questions can only be answered by first answering, does justice and the power to gain and maintain it belong to the entities the people created and appointed or do these things belong to WE THE PEOPLE?

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Sir, I have a warrant…for your mind

I recently started a very interesting online discussion with an acquaintance after he had share the following article, (Link to original posting with article attachment). It related to a MA high court ruling that said a suspect must turn over the password to an encrypted computer despite claims that doing so would violate the 5th Amendment.  This is raises a lot of questions and an included analogy regarding a warrant demanding the combination of a safe as support for the MA decision raised even more. After doing some cursory research before responding to my acquaintance, I came to the following conclusions shared below. What are your thoughts on the matter? I assure you its not a matter that should be thought out lightly and by no means avoided. ;

Prima facie I would disagree with  the safe combination analogy but can see how one would be compelled by such reasoning, especially and non-critical mind or a legal one looking for a short-cut. However, that reasoning based on the safe combo analogy begs the question.

After taking a few minutes to do some research before answering your question, I did find a few interesting things. The article failed to site any case law or precedent but only pointed out that the combo was subject to a warrant, however a warrant is NOT case law and are challenged daily.

As most know the Stare Decisis principle when applied to case law most applicable when it applies the decision of of higher court versus that of a lower court. That being said I found no US Supreme Court decision that would support the reasoning or even a safe combo analogy. If anything I found the opposite, an a 1988 ruling found in Jon Doe v The United States 487 U.S. 201 (108 S.Ct. 2341, 101 L.Ed.2d 184).   That case refers to a suspect being forced to sign consent forms to access bank account. The ruling supported the US.  In both the opinion and statements of dissent they used the safe analogy, however it did not decide on that specific situation in  the case. I believe that such a case in a supreme court would not be so cut and dry when the statement Justice Stevens, in his dissenting remarks comes into play;

“A defendant can be compelled to produce material evidence that is incriminating. Fingerprints, blood samples, voice exemplars, handwriting specimens, or other items of physical evidence may be extracted from a defendant against his will. But can he be compelled to use his mind to assist the prosecution in convicting him of a crime? I think not. He may in some cases be forced to surrender a key to a strongbox containing incriminating documents, but I do not believe he can be compelled to reveal the combination to his wall safe—by word or deed” (http://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/487/201)

So the questions that will have to be answered that is not addressed in the above case, are does the safe analogy in that 1988 case apply here since in and of itself was an analogy and not a ruling and does not that analogy beg the question?  Add to that, in both statements both agree the contents of ones mind should be defended by the 5th and that what the majority decided was that signing a consent form is not such an item.

All this should lead to the ultimate question, I’d imagine the Justices will have to answer. Though it is affirmed that signing a form may not be considered turning over the contents of ones mind, can he same be said about turning over a memorized password?

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Vol 8, No 1 (2014): Perspectives on Terrorism

Great blog here. Be sure to check them out. Lots of great resources by top minds in the field.
I’m both flattered and honored they sought fit to include my recent article in their suggested links.

The Osint Journal Review

Table of Contents
Introduction to the Issue

Welcome from the Editors

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Alex P. Schmid

Articles

Perspectives on Counterterrorism: From Stovepipes to a Comprehensive Approach

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Ronald Crelinsten

Analysing Terrorism from a Systems Thinking Perspective

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Lukas Schoenenberger, Andrea Schenker-Wicki, Mathias Beck

Evidence-Based Counterterrorism or Flying Blind? How to Understand and Achieve What Works

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Rebecca Freese

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How Has September 11 Come To Symbolize A New Era of Terrorism?

The following is my response to an essay question posed to me by my professor in a Study of Terrorism course I am currently in the middle of.  I decided to share it with you as I felt it not only answers the question well but also articulates my growing concerns as I continue to study and report on this “War on Terror” we are in the midst of as a nation and international community. 

I felt it was a good beginning to my desire and plan for BTYT to have an increased focus on terrorism and to investigate, analyze and report on the people and politics involved. 

How Has September 11 Come To Symbolize A New Era of Terrorism?

The September 11 attack became a symbol of a new era of terrorism in a number of ways.
First it clearly proved the accuracy of a predicted trend toward asymmetrical warfare tactics used by terrorists (Martin 2014). This essentially turned the dynamic between terrorists and government from that of criminal and law enforcement agency to opponents in a war. This was indeed seen as a war as shown by the birth of the term “war on terrorism”.

However unlike a war between two sovereign nations this was a war between a tangible
entity, the government and an intangible phenomena, terrorism. Which raises new questions about what are the rules of engagement and how is victory determined (Martin 2014)?

Another clear indicator that a new era had indeed been entered, was the change of tone in how terrorism and our responses to it shifted from that of preserving a citizens safety to preserving a nations security and in some ways its sovereignty. This is clearly indicated by the establishment of the Patriot Act.

These above changes alone has been enough to cause understandable worry and debate
among citizens and government. While protecting the safety and rights of a citizen can at times require just as much aggression as we may see today from those in government and law enforcement, such aggression was tempered by the underlying intention to protect the rights of all citizens with her victim or perpetrator.

However when that underlying intention is replaced by a need to protect the government’s security and sovereignty, that aggression is no longer tempered but in many ways fueled. This in turn leads to the personal rights of the citizens being protected to fade into the background leading to many complaints (many justified) of rights being trampled and raising the question of how far is too far when acting in defense of your government.

If this alone wasn’t enough to inspire worry, anger and fear, then how much more are those emotions magnified and aggression further encouraged by the third and possibly most disturbing change indicating we are indeed in a new era of terrorism.

Terrorism has been the source of concern by government and its citizens for centuries.
However there has always been a certain solace taken by what was believed to be a core axiom in our understanding of terrorism (Hoffman 2002). Brian Jenkins articulated this axiom best when he observed that “terrorists want a lot of people watching and listening and not a lot of people dead” (Jenkins 1975). This conventional wisdom however was wiped clean by Osama bin Laden on September 11 (Hoffman 2002) . It now became clear to many that terrorists want a lot of people watching and listening AND a lot of people dead.

These above-mentioned shifts changed everything. Not just for America but for the
international community at large.

America has served as both a symbol of strength and conscience for many nations. Their example has been and continues to be emulated or debated. Regardless of which, America continues to influence and shape many nations and their interactions within themselves and with one another.

However these two virtues of strength and conscience are now clearly at war with each other and further complicating the above-mentioned underlying questions of what rules to guide our actions in this new kind of war and what does victory look like?

If by some miracle terrorism is eradicated from the earth but the cost was a nation that demanded we forever give up many of the rights we fought and died for and enjoy today; then who has won?

If we have raised bar of strength in both deed towards people and example to the world yet lowered the bar of conscience, then what has been won?

How different will the world be when our message of democracy and freedom is among the casualties suffered in this “war on terror”?

How terrifying, rather, how tragic would it be if future generations look back at this point in history and clearly see a nation who fought and bled and even died out of refusal to surrender even a shred of their rights and freedom to national sharia only to have instead surrendered all or most of both to national security?

This “war on terror” is very real, and very complicated. The stakes have never been higher because this “war on terror” is now being fought on two fronts; the terror within our borders and the terror within our hearts….. And the world is watching.

Works Cited

Hoffman, Bruce. “Rethinking Terrorism and Counterterrorism Since 9/11.” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 25.5 (2002): 303-16. Print.

Jenkins, Brian Michael. International Terrorism: A New Mode of Conflict. Los Angeles, CA: Crescent Publications, 1975. Print.

Martin, Gus. Essentials of Terrorism: Concepts and Controversies. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, 2014. Print.

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Backgound Story On Stephen Rakes

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By Joey Ortega and Sharon Branco

During our last broadcast on the Whitey Bulger case, we discussed the mysterious death of Shephen Rakes. Rakes was at one point set to testify for the prosecution to give an accounting of a claim that Whitey Bulger extorted Rakes to sell his liquor store to him.  However days before his death Rakes was informed that his testimony would not be used . It was our inquiry into this and his death that lead to even more questions and twists and turns that continues to define this case.  Her is what we have learned thus far.

  • In 1983, Stephen Rakes and his wife at the time, Julie Rakes, now Julie Dammers, were owners of  a liquor store in South Boston. They purchased a run down gas station in South Boston and turned it into a liquor store, at 295 Old Colony Ave. They had some construction work done on the property and opened in time for Christmas…the place was called Stippo’s Liquor Mart.  Stippo was a nickname for Stephen.
  • the story goes that Bulger and Weeks extorted Rakes to sell him the liquor store.  Bulger/ Flemmi and Weeks then made the liquor store their office and changed the name of course to the South Boston Liquor Mart.  90% of the story is true, but there was no extortion, it was a story spun by Rakes to get more money out of Bulger this is backed up by a 1999 document describing U.S. v. Stephen M. Rakes case#96:CR10131-001 (below) Image
  • According to Julie, she reached out to her uncle and Detective, Joseph  Lundbohm for help. Lundbohm said he knew of an FBI agent who may be able to help. That agent was John Connolly.
  • According to Julie, after the meet Lundbohm Reports to Julie that Connolly said he could help but would need her to wear a wire. She understandably refused.
  • Soon after Whitey summoned Stephen Rakes and informed him that he was aware of the feds being contacted and that he better drop the matter.

This lead to claims that Connolly gave Bulger a heads up. BTYT contacted Connolly for comment and he responded Julie’s uncle Lundbohm called Connolly and asked to meet with him.  They met at a restaurant called Linda Mae’s in Boston.  John told me the place was a hang out for cops. It was a nice place to eat, it just was popular with the cops off duty to grab a quick good meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Lundbohm knew other cops would see him with Connolly and word would get back to Bulger.  He wanted to scare Bulger and have the FBI look like the boogie man.

What further muddied the waters in trying to find out for sure what did or did not happen was the questionable background of Detective Lundbohm who would later be accused of a number of crimes, including racketeering.

It stood to reason that the prosecution maybe grew concerned that the amount of conflicting evidence and weak credibility gave them cause to pause and reconsider including him and his accounting in an already complicated case with a number of convoluted twists and turns that seem to come right out of a Mario Puzo novel .

To date we don’t know for sure how Rakes died. Let alone why but given what we now know, it seems nothing can be taken for granted. It would at first glance seem tempting to go with a “he got wacked” scenario but given that their were too many reasons to doubt that story and the fact that he was removed from the witness list prior to his death, it does not make sense to assume such a dramatic conclusion.

If one was to kill a witness for Bulger’s sake, why not go after one who will actually testify and may in fact influence the jury? Yet there were rumors that Rakes had a bombshell to add that may damn Whitey. Whether that is or whether it was even true, we may never know.

Regardless, we will continue to follow Rakes’ death investigation and kep you apprised of what we learn.

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THE MEET AT THE MERIDIAN

ImageBy Sharon Branco

 

Stephen Flemmi was Whitey Bulger’s criminal partner in the Winter Hill Gang.  Stephen and Whitey were also FBI informants.   Were Bulger and Flemmi told they would not be prosecuted for certain crimes?  Bulger’s early pre-trial defense claim was that he had immunity, and he was given that immunity by former organized crime strike force federal prosecutor Jeremiah T. O’Sullivan.   Did Bulger and prosecutor O’Sullivan have a meeting?  Investigative reports confirm they did. Strike Force Attorney (Assistant United States Attorney) O’Sullivan contacted Connolly and requested to meet Bulger and Flemmi. O’Sullivan’s primary concern being that, by protecting Bulger and Flemmi from prosecution for their criminal activities in their RICO case, he might be placing the life of the key Race-Fix case witness (Anthony “Tony” Ciulla) in danger. Former Agent Connolly then set up the “meet” for the Meridian Hotel, right across the street from O’ Sullivan’s office in the McCormick Federal Building. At the meeting which Flemmi did not attend, Bulger gave his word that no harm would come to Ciulla from them, pointing out that they had no control over others who might want to harm the witness. O’Sullivan said that Ciulla’s relocation should prevent retaliation from the others, and his real concern was him (Bulger) and Flemmi.

 

More importantly, O’Sullivan assured Bulger that he and Flemmi could continue to operate their gambling and loan shark business as cover for their FBI informant activities in reporting on the New England Mafia – but that violence could not be tolerated and such conduct would be subject to prosecution. Bulger agreed this was fair.

 

Government witness, Stephen Flemmi, confirms this meeting at the hotel between O’Sullivan and Bulger sometime in 1979. Flemmi was debriefed and interviewed several times from Sept 16, 2003 thru October 2004. He was interviewed by Mass State Police detective Lt Stephen Johnson, and DEA agent Dan Doherty.

 

Flemmi 10/29/02, DEA-6, Pg. 74, Par 160:

 

Flemmi also noted that he and Bulger were going to meet directly with 0′ Sullivan to discuss the situation, but that this gathering was cancelled for some unknown reason. FLEMMI SAID THAT BULGER ACTUALLY MET (STRIKE FORCE ATTORNEY) 0’SULLIVAN AT A LATER DATE IN A HOTEL, AND ALTHOUGH HE (FLEMMI) WAS SUPPOSED TO GO HE DID NOT.

 

SHORTLY BEFORE INDICTMENTS WERE ISSUED ON THE CASE, BULGER WAS TOLD BY CONNOLLY THAT HE (BULGER) AND FLEMMI WOULD NOT BE PROSECUTED. FLEMMI NOTED THAT AT A LATER DATE S/A CONNOLLY DIRECTLY CONFIRMED TO HIM (FLEMMI), ALL OF THE ABOVE INFORMATION THAT HE HAD RECEIVED FROM BULGER, REGARDING THE RACE FIX INVESTIGATION. FLEMMI ALSO TOLD CONNOLLY TO THANK O’SULLIVAN FOR O’SULLIVAN’S INTERCESSION. FLEMMI ADDED THAT THERE IS NO QUESTION IN HIS MIND THAT THE SOLE REASON, THEY (BULGER AND FLEMMI) WERE NOT INDICTED AND CONVICTED ON THE RACE FIX CASE, WAS BECAUSE OF THEIR INFORMANT STATUS.

 


 

 Flemmi, consistently, throughout ALL of his interviews and testimony, MAINTAINS THAT HE AND BULGER WERE AUTHORIZED TO ENGAGE IN NON-VIOLENT GAMBLING AND LOAN SHARKING AS COVER FOR THEIR INFORMANT ACTIVITIES ON BEHALF OF THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT!

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