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Column 062005 Conroy

June 20, 2005


Intrigue behind arrest of Pakistani arms dealer in Mexico


By Nancy Conroy


Convicted Pakistani arms dealer Arif Durrani was captured in Rosarito Beach, Baja California, Mexico, by a special team of agents sent from Mexico City, on June 12.  And while Mexican government officials initially gave out little information on why he was detained, once the decision was reached to deport Durrani (on immigration charges), according to the Associated Press a statement was made: “Durrani faces an arrest warrant in the U.S. for trafficking in anti-aircraft missiles.”


Durrani, who following his arrest was taken to Mexico City, was put on a June 15 flight that made a stop in Los Angeles, California.  Upon landing in the U.S., Durrani was taken into custody by federal officials for illegally exporting military aircraft parts, according to a 1999 indictment unsealed the following day.


Yet there are other possible scenarios that could clarify the arrest: Durrani was still trafficking in illicit arms; he was organizing a Mexico-based terrorist plot against the U.S.; or he was about to go public with allegations regarding the Iran-Contra affair.


Durrani is definitely a shady character, an international arms dealer from Pakistan who once served prison time for selling arms to Iran in the Iran-Contra scandal.  As well, his mere presence in Rosarito Beach, located just south of the U.S.-Mexico border from San Diego, is suspicious.


During his residency in Rosarito Beach, Durrani could have been shipping contraband across the border, or even organizing a terrorist plot.


But if he was a national security threat, why did U.S. authorities allow him to openly live in Rosarito Beach for over one year?  Following Durrani’s release from prison and deportation from the U.S., he ultimately moved to Rosarito Beach where he operated openly.  And without doubt U.S. authorities knew where he was.


In fact, Durrani well may have been in Mexico with the tacit agreement of the U.S. government.


Professor Alan Block at Pennsylvania State University states, “there was a deal made with the U.S. immigration authorities that permitted him to live in Baja California.  I am absolutely certain that they knew he was there.”


As well, Durrani was once seen in Rosarito Beach driving a Mercedes with U.S. government license plates, which he said belonged to a friend.  Could the U.S. authorities have allowed a known arms trafficker to operate freely along the border for over one year?


Another possibility is that U.S. officials did not consider him a threat because Durrani had worked for them.


Durrani has long maintained that he worked for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, and that he sold arms to Iran per instructions that came from Oliver North when the latter was with the National Security Council.  Durrani’s legal defense is that he was North’s “fall guy” in the Iran-Contra affair.


Professor Block has reported that Durrani met with Oliver North in London in 1986, when North urged him to hurriedly close the arms deal.  And while all of Durrani’s legal appeals have been denied, questions remain about whether he was set up by North?  If any of Durrani’s claims were true, then the official version of the Iran-Contra affair, as set forth by independent counsel Lawrence Walsh, would be cast in doubt.


Moreover, the question of what Ronald Reagan knew, and when, is a critical component of the Iran-Contra scandal.


An interview with Durrani, that took place last December in Baja California, suggests the possibility that Iran-Contra could be the real motivation behind his sudden capture.  Durrani told the Gringo Gazette North that he was negotiating with a major U.S. news organization to conduct an interview that would expose previously unknown information about Oliver North, Ronald Reagan and the Iran-Contra affair.


He said that an Israeli courier had traveled to Mexico to personally deliver a briefcase full of documents, information that Durrani intended to show to the U.S. media.  He also said that he was loyal to President Reagan, and that the briefcase contained information that he would not release while Reagan was alive.  Since Reagan had passed away, Durrani said it was now appropriate to expose the information.


However he declined to elaborate on what the documents said.


If any of the previous claims Durrani made in his legal cases are true, then the mysterious “briefcase from Israel” could contain information that might implicate Ronald Reagan in the Iran-Contra affair.  If Durrani was about to go public with that information, one might speculate that he was arrested to suppress it.


So now, if the briefcase and its documents really exist where are they at present?



Nancy Conroy, Publisher of northern Baja California’s biweekly Gringo Gazette North, is also a columnist with MexiData.info.  She can be reached via e-mail at nancy@gringogazettenorth.com.