Category Archives: Insiders
23 December 2012: After a lengthy, self-imposed informational black-out, my high-level DHS contact known as “Rosebud” emerged with new, non-public information about plans being discussed and prepared for implementation by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the near future. It is important to note that this black-out was directly related to the aggressive federal initiative of identifying and prosecuting “leakers,” at least those leaks and leakers not sanctioned by the executive office – the latter of which there are many.
Due to those circumstances, my source exercised an abundance of caution to avoid compromising a valuable line of communication until he had information he felt was significant enough to risk external contact. The following information is the result of an in-person contact between this author and “Rosebud” within the last 48 hours. With his permission, the interview was digitally recorded and the relevant portions of the contact are provided in a conversational format for easier reading. The original recording was copied onto multiple discs and are maintained in secure locations for historical and insurance purposes.
The following began after an exchange of pleasantries and other unrelated discussion:
DH: Do I have your permission to record this conversation?
RB: You do.
DH: I’ve received a lot of e-mail from people wondering where you went and why you’ve been so quiet.
RB: As I told you earlier, things are very dicey. Weird things began to happen before the election and have continued since. Odd things, a clampdown of sorts. I started looking and I found [REDACTED AT THE REQUEST OF THIS SOURCE], and that shook me up. I’m not the only one, though, that found a [REDACTED], so this means there’s surveillance of people within DHS by DHS. So, that explains this cloak and dagger stuff for this meeting.
DH: I understand. What about the others?
RB: They are handling it the same way.
DH: I’ve received many e-mails asking if you are the same person giving information to Ulsterman. Are you?
RB: No, but I think I know at least one of his insiders.
DH: Care to elaborate?
RB: Sorry, no.
DH: Do you trust him or her. I mean, the Ulsterman source?
DH: Okay, so last August, you said things were “going hot.” I printed what you said, and things did not seem to happen as you said.
RB: You’d better recheck your notes and compare [them] with some of the events leading up to the election. I think you’ll find that a full blown campaign of deception took place to make certain Obama got back into office. The polls, the media, and a few incidents that happened in the two months before the election. I guess if people are looking for some big event they can point to and say “aha” for verification, well then I overestimated people’s ability to tell when they are being lied to.
DH: What specific incidents are you referring to?
RB: Look at the threats to Obama. Start there. The accusations of racism. Then look at the polls, and especially the judicial decisions about voter ID laws. Bought and paid for, or where there was any potential for problems, the judges got the message, loud and clear. Then look at the voter fraud. And not a peep from the Republicans. Nothing. His second term was a done deal in September. This was planned. Frankly, the Obama team knew they had it sewn up long before election day. Benghazi could have derailed them, but the fix was in there, so I never saw anything on my end to suggest a ready-made solution had to be implemented.
DH: What’s going on now?
RB: People better pay close attention over the next few months. First, there won’t be any meaningful deal about the fiscal crisis. This is planned, I mean, the lack of deal is planned. In fact, it’ necessary to pave the way for what is in the short term agenda.
DH: Wait, you’re DHS – not some Wall Street insider.
RB: So you think they are separate agendas? That’s funny. The coming collapse of the U.S. dollar is a done deal. It’s been in the works for years – decades, and this is one of the most important cataclysmic events that DHS is preparing for. I almost think that DHS was created for that purpose alone, to fight Americans, not protect them, right here in America. But that’s not the only reason. There’s the gun issue too.
DH: So, what are you seeing at DHS?
RB: We don’t have a lot of time, tonight – our meeting – as well as a country. I mean I have heard – with my own ears – plans being made that originate from the White House that involve the hierarchy of DHS. You gotta know how DHS works at the highest of levels. It’s Jarrett and Napolitano, with Jarrett organizing all of the plans and approaches. She’s the one in charge, at least from my point of view, from what I am seeing. Obama knows that’s going on and has say, but it seems that Jarrett has the final say, not the other way around. It’s [screwed] up. This really went into high gear since the election.
But it’s a train wreck at mid management, but is more effective at the lower levels. A lot of police departments are being gifted with federal funds with strings attached. That money is flowing out to municipal police departments faster than it can be counted. They are using this money to buy tanks, well, not real tanks, but you know what I mean. DHS is turning the police into soldiers.
By the way, there has been a lot of communication recently between Napolitano and Pistole [TSA head]. They are planning to use TSA agents in tandem with local police for certain operations that are being planned right now. This is so [deleted] important that you cannot even begin to imagine. If you get nothing else out of this, please, please make sure you tell people to watch the TSA and their increasing involvement against the American public. They are the stooges who will be the ones to carry out certain plans when the dollar collapses and the gun confiscation begins.
DH: Whoa, wait a minute. You just said a mouthful. What’s the agenda here?
RB: Your intelligence insider – he knows that we are facing a planned economic collapse. You wrote about this in your articles about Benghazi, or at least that’s what I got out of the later articles. So why the surprise?
DH: There’s a lot here. Let’s take it step by step if you don’t mind.
RB: Okay, but I’m not going to give it to you in baby steps. Big boy steps. This is what I am hearing. Life for the average American is going to change significantly, and not the change people expect. First, DHS is preparing to work with police departments and the TSA to respond to civil uprisings that will happen when there is a financial panic. And there will be one, maybe as early as this spring, when the dollar won’t get you a gumball. I’m not sure what the catalyst will be, but I’ve heard rumblings about a derivatives crisis as well as an oil embargo. I don’t know, that’s not my department. But something is going to happen to collapse the dollar, which has been in the works since the 1990′s. Now if it does not happen as soon as this, it’s because there are people, real patriots, who are working to prevent this, so it’s a fluid dynamic. But that doesn’t change the preparations.
And the preparations are these: DHS is prepositioning assets in strategic areas near urban centers all across the country. Storage depots. Armories. And even detainment facilities, known as FEMA camps. FEMA does not even know that the facilities are earmarked for detainment by executive orders, at least not in the traditional sense they were intended. By the way, people drive by some of these armories everyday without even giving them a second look. Commercial and business real estate across the country are being bought up or leased for storage purposes. Very low profile.
Anyway, I am hearing that the plan from on high is to let the chaos play out for a while, making ordinary citizens beg for troops to be deployed to restore order. but it’s all organized to make them appear as good guys. That’s when the real head knocking will take place. We’re talking travel restrictions, which should no be a problem because gas will be rationed or unavailable. The TSA will be in charge of travel, or at least be a big part of it. They will be commissioned, upgraded from their current status.
They, I mean Jarrett and Obama as well as a few others in government, are working to create a perfect storm too. This is being timed to coincide with new gun laws.
DH: New federal gun laws?
RB: Yes. Count on the criminalization to possess just about every gun you can think of. Not only restrictions, but actual criminalization of possessing a banned firearm. I heard this directly from the highest of my sources. Plans were made in the 90′s but were withheld. Now, it’s a new day, a new time, and they are riding the wave of emotion from Sandy Hook., which, by the way and as tragic as it was, well, it stinks to high heaven. I mean there are many things wrong there, and first reports are fast disappearing. The narrative is being changed. Look, there is something wrong with Sandy Hook, but if you write it, you’ll be called a kook or worse.
RB: But Sandy Hook, there’s something very wrong there. But I am hearing that won’t be the final straw. There will be another if they think it’s necessary.
DH: Another shooting?
DH: That would mean they are at least complicit.
RB: Well, that’s one way of looking at it.
DH: Are they? Were they?
RB: Do your own research. Nothing I say, short of bringing you photographs and documents will convince anyone, and even then, it’s like [DELETED] in the wind.
RB: So what I’m telling you is that DHS, the TSA and certain, but not all, law enforcement agencies are going to be elbow deep in riot control in response to an economic incident. At the same time or close to it, gun confiscation will start. It will start on a voluntary basis using federal registration forms, then an amnesty, then the kicking-in of doors start.
Before or at the same time, you know all the talk of lists, you know, the red and blue lists that everyone made fun of? Well they exist, although I don’t know about their colors. But there are lists of political dissidents maintained by DHS. Names are coordinated with the executive branch, but you know what? They did not start with Obama. They’ve been around in one form or another for years. The difference though is that today, they are much more organized. And I’ll tell you that the vocal opponents of the politics of the global elite, the bankers, and the opponents of anything standing in their way, well, they are on the top of the list of people to be handled.
RB: As the situations worsen, some might be given a chance to stop their vocal opposition. Some will, others won’t. I suppose they are on different lists. Others won’t have that chance. By that time, though, it will be chaos and people will be in full defensive mode. They will be hungry, real hunger like we’ve never experienced before. They will use our hunger as leverage. They will use medical care as leverage.
DH: Will this happen all at once?
RB: They hope to make it happen at the same time. Big cities first, with sections being set apart from the rest of the country. Then the rural areas. There are two different plans for geographical considerations. But it will all come together.
End of Part I
24 December 2012: The following is the second part of my in-person interview with a DHS insider. For Part I, please click HERE.
DH: Wait, this sounds way, way over the top. Are you telling me… [Interrupts]
RB: [Over talk/Unintelligible] …know who was selected or elected twice now. You know who his associates are. And you are saying this is way over the top? Don’t forget what Ayers said – you talked to Larry Grathwohl. This guy is a revolutionary. He does not want to transform our country in the traditional sense. He will destroy it. And he’s not working alone. He’s not working for himself, either. He has his handlers. So don’t think this is going to be a walk in the park, with some type of attempt to rescue the country. Cloward-Piven. Alinsky. Marx. All rolled into one. And he won’t need the rest of his four years to do it.
DH: I need you to be clear. Let’s go back again, I mean, to those who speak out about what’s happening.
RB: [Edit note: Obviously irritated] How much clearer do you want it? The Second Amendment will be gone, along with the first, at least practically or operationally. The Constitution will be gone, suspended, at least in an operational sense. Maybe they won’t actually say that they are suspending it, but will do it. Like saying the sky is purple when it’s actually blue. How many people will look a the sky and say yeah, it’s purple? They see what they want to see.
So the DHS, working with other law enforcement organizations, especially the TSA as it stands right now, will oversee the confiscation of assault weapons, which includes all semi-automatic weapons following a period of so-called amnesty. It also includes shotguns that hold multiple rounds, or have pistol grips. They will go after the high capacity magazines, anything over, say 5 rounds.
They will also go after the ammunition, especially at the manufacturer’s level. They will require a special license for certain weapons, and make it impossible to own anything. More draconian than England. This is a global thing too. Want to hunt? What gives you the right to hunt their animals? Sound strange? I hope so, but they believe they own the animals. Do you understand now, how sick and twisted this is? Their mentality?
The obvious intent is to disarm American citizens. They will say that we’ll still be able to defend ourselves and go hunting, but even that will be severely regulated. This is the part that they are still working out, though. While the plans were made years ago, there is some argument over the exact details. I know that Napalitano, even with her support of the agenda, would like to see this take place outside of an E.O. [Executive Order] in favor of legislative action and even with UN involvement.
DH: But UN involvement would still require legislative approval.
RB: Yes, but your still thinking normal – in normal terms. Stop thinking about a normal situation. The country is divided, which is exactly where Obama wants us to be. We are as ideologically divided as we were during the Civil War and that rift is growing every day. Add in a crisis – and economic crisis – where ATM and EBT cards will stop working. Where bank accounts will contain nothing but air. They are anticipating a revolution and a civil war rolled into one (emphasis added by this author).
Imagine when talk show hosts or Bloggers or some other malcontent gets on the air or starts writing about the injustice of it all, and about how Obama is the anti-Christ or something. They will outlaw such talk or writing as inciting the situation – they will make it illegal by saying that it is causing people to die. The Republicans will go along with everything as it’s – we have – a one party system. Two parties is an illusion. It’s all so surreal to talk about but you see where this is headed, right?
DH: Well, what about the lists?
RB: Back to that again, okay. Why do you think the NSA has surveillance of all communications? To identify and stop terrorism? Okay, to be fair, that is part of it, but not the main reason. The federal agencies have identified people who present a danger to them and their agendas. I don’t know if they are color coded like you mentioned, red blue purple or peach mango or whatever, but they exist. In fact, each agency has their own. You know, why is it so [deleted] hard for people to get their heads around the existence of lists with names of people who pose a threat to their plans? The media made a big deal about Nixon’s enemies list and everyone nodded and said yeah, that [deleted], but today? They’ve been around for years and years.
DH: I think it’s because of the nature of the lists today. What do they plan to do with their enemies?
RB: Go back to what Ayers said when, in the late 60′s? 70′s? I forget. Anyway, he was serious. But to some extent, the same thing that happened before. They – the people on some of these lists – are under surveillance, or at least some, and when necessary, some are approached and made an offer. Others, well, they can be made to undergo certain training. Let’s call it sensitivity training, except on a much different level. Others, most that are the most visible and mainstream are safe for the most part. And do you want to know why? It’s because they are in the pockets of the very people we are talking about, but they might or might not know it. Corporate sponsorship – follow the money. You know the drill. You saw it happen before, with the birth certificate.
It’s people that are just under the national radar but are effective. They have to worry. Those who have been publicly marginalized already but continue to talk or write or post, they are in trouble. It’s people who won’t sell out, who think that they can make a difference. Those are the people who have to worry.
Think about recent deaths that everybody believes were natural or suicides. Were they? People are too busy working their [butts] off to put food on the table to give a damn about some guy somewhere who vapor locks because of too many doughnuts and coffee and late nights. And it seems plausible enough to happen. This time, when everything collapses, do you think they will care if it is a bullet or a heart attack that takes out the opposition? [Deleted] no.
DH: That’s disturbing. Do you… [interrupts]
RB: Think about the Oklahoma City bombing in ’95. Remember how Clinton blamed that on talk radio, or at least in part. Take what happened then and put it in context of today. Then multiply the damnation by 100, and you will begin to understand where this is going. People like Rush and Hannity have a narrow focus of political theater. They’ll still be up and running during all of this to allow for the appearance of normal. Stay within the script, comrade.
But as far as the others, they have certain plans. And these plans are becoming more transparent. They are getting bolder. They are pushing lies, and the bigger the lie, the easier it is to sell to the people. They will even try to sell a sense of normalcy as things go absolutely crazy and break down. It will be surreal. And some will believe it, think that it’s only happening in certain places, and we can draw everything back once the dust settles. But when it does, this place will not be the same.
DH: Will there be resistance within the ranks of law enforcement? You know, will some say they won’t go along with the plan, like the Oath Keepers?
RB: Absolutely. But they will not only be outnumbered, but outgunned – literally. The whole objective is to bring in outside forces to deal with the civil unrest that will happen in America. And where does their allegiance lie? Certainly not to Sheriff Bob. Or you or me.
During all of this, and you’ve got to remember that the dollar collapse is a big part of this, our country is going to have to be redone. I’ve seen – personally – a map of North America without borders. Done this year. The number 2015 was written across the top, and I believe that was meant as a year. Along with this map – in the same area where this was – was another map showing the United States cut up into sectors. I’m not talking about what people have seen on the internet, but something entirely different. Zones. And a big star on the city of Denver.
Sound like conspiracy stuff on the Internet? Yup. But maybe they were right. It sure looks that way. It will read that way if you decide to write about this. Good luck with that. Anyway, the country seemed to be split into sectors, but not the kind shown on the internet. Different.
DH: What is the context of that?
RB: Across the bottom of this was written economic sectors. It looked like a work in progress, so I can’t tell you any more than that. From the context I think it has to do with the collapse of the dollar.
DH: Why would DHS have this? I mean, it seems almost contrived, doesn’t it?
RB: Not really, when you consider the bigger picture. But wait before we go off into that part. I need to tell you about Obamacare, you know, the new health care coming up. It plays a big part – a huge [deleted] part in the immediate reshaping of things.
DH: How so?
RB: It creates a mechanism of centralized control over people. That’s the intent of this monster of a bill, not affordable health care. And it will be used to identify gun owners. Think your health records are private? Have you been to the doctor lately? Asked about owning a gun? Why do you think they ask, do you think they care about your safety? Say yes to owning a gun and your information is shared with another agency, and ultimately, you will be identified as a security risk. The records will be matched with other agencies.
You think that they are simply relying on gun registration forms? This is part of data collection that people don’t get. Oh, and don’t even think about getting a script for some mood enhancement drug and being able to own a gun.
Ayers and Dohrn are having the times of their lives seeing things they’ve worked for all of their adult lives actually coming to pass. Oh, before I forget, look at the recent White House visitor logs.
DH: Why? Where did that come from?
RB: Unless they are redacted, you will see the influence of Ayers. Right now. The Weather Underground has been reborn. So has their agenda.
DH: Eugenics? Population control?
RB: Yup. And re-education camps. But trust me, you write about this, you’ll be called a kook. It’s up to you, it’s your reputation, not mine. And speaking about that, you do know that this crew is using the internet to ruin people, right? They are paying people to infiltrate discussion sites and forums to call people like you idiots. Show me the proof they say. Why doesn’t you source come forward? If he knows so much, why not go to Fox or the media? To them, if it’s not broadcast on CNN, it’s not real. Well, they’ve got it backwards. Very little on the news is real. The stock market, the economy, the last presidential polls, very little is real.
But this crew is really internet savvy. They’ve got a lot of people they pay to divert issues on forums, to mock people, to marginalize them. They know what they’re doing. People think they’ll take sites down – hack them. Why do that when they are more effective to infiltrate the discussion? Think about the birth certificate, I mean the eligibility problem of Obama. Perfect example.
DH: How soon do you see things taking place?
RB: They already are in motion. If you’re looking for a date I can’t tell you. Remember, the objectives are the same, but plans, well, they adapt. They exploit. Watch how this fiscal cliff thing plays out. This is the run-up to the next beg economic event.
I can’t give you a date. I can tell you to watch things this spring. Start with the inauguration and go from there. Watch the metals, when they dip. It will be a good indication that things are about to happen. I got that little tidbit from my friend at [REDACTED].
NOTE: At this point, my contact asked me to reserve further disclosures until after the inauguration.
DHS Insider: Obama’s cyber warriors & preparing for collapse
6 February 2013; The following information was provided to me by my DHS contact on two different occasions. Information from my first contact was previously published in two parts (here and here). I was asked to withhold the final portion of the information that was provided to me at that time until after the inauguration. The following resumes where part II left off. At the request of this source and for the sake of continuity, the following combines the information withheld and the information from our most recent contact on 4 February 2013.
DH: Do I have your permission to record this conversation?
RB: Please do.
DH: We’ve spoken at different times since the information you gave me was published. You have since given me additional information on top of the information you asked me to withhold until after the inauguration. First, what was the reason for asking me to wait to publish the remainder of our discussion until after the inauguration?
RB: This bunch, top level DHS brass, is clamping down on leaks. One way they are finding leakers is to put out false information specific to certain individuals. They can trace the information directly to the leaker due to the nature and specificity of the information. It was part self-preservation, part vetting one of my closest and most important contacts. It was a test to assure that I am not being used for disinformation purposes or being targeted as a leaker. It was something I felt I had to do, and I’m glad I did. I feel more comfortable now about my sources.
DH: So, if I understand you correctly, your sources “passed” whatever test you were performing?
DH: And you still have access to information, I mean, whistleblower type information?
RB: I know what you mean, so I guess that’s one way to put it. Okay.
DH: For continuity and to refresh your memory, I’m going to play the remainder of our recorded interview from our contact last month.
[At this point, we listened to the dialogue previously recorded. After the recording concluded, this DHS source suggested that we combine new information with the previously recorded information to avoid unnecessary repetition. It was agreed and the recorder was turned back on with his consent].
DH: Just to be clear, let me hit this again. The main reason you asked me to wait to publish your previous statements had more to do with you, your sources and well, your own self preservation than the content of our discussion.
RB: I guess you could say that. But the information is still valid and becomes even more important when combined with the latest information I have for you.
DH: Okay, we can get on with it, then.
RB: First of all, two days after the inauguration, at exactly 7:00 a.m. on January 23, something called “the Cyber-Warriors for Obama Project” was activated. I heard about this the week after the election, but only saw a hardcopy draft in late December. From what I was told, I believe this is a project that is being paid for through funds from Obama’s political corporation, the 501(c)4 Organizing for Obama, I believe it’s called. I can’t be sure, but that’s what I was told.
At that time, I was shown a white, three-ring binder with Obama’s circular campaign logo imprinted on the outside of the binder with the name “Cyber-Warriors for Obama” printed in blue across the top. Inside were the names and e-mail addresses of 3,575 “cyber assets,” or “warriors,” listed in alphabetical order under about a dozen or so “team leaders.” From a separate sheet I was shown, most of these “assets” are being paid just over minimum wage, but as I understand it, they work from home and have no overhead. I believe there are about two dozen supervisors who make substantially more.
Now I only had the binder for a minute, and could not take it from the room I was in, so this is strictly from memory.
It was tabbed, and one section with the word “targets” had a list of religious web sites, web sites I recognized as Christian. Another section was a listing of conservative Internet sites. There was another tab with the label “problem sites” that seemed quite extensive. I looked at that section, and it was broken down further into “birther” sites, “pro-gun” sites, “anti-abortion” sites, just to name a few.
There was also a section of the usual news sites, like CNN, ABC, you know. Numerous e-mail addresses were conspicuous under each news organization, which also included Fox… [unintelligible]. I figured you were going to ask.
The first page of the binder had bullet points labeled “objectives” and instructions for the cyber-assets. There was also a very detailed non-disclosure agreement with the word “DRAFT” typed in big, light grey letters across the body of the two-page agreement. The agreement and the instructions were typed on white paper with a warning, printed in red on each page, that the document was not to be copied or disseminated.
DH: Where did you see this? I mean, was it at DHS?
RB: Yes, and that’s as much as I can say on the location.
DH: What’s the magic behind the number 3,575?
RB: I asked the person showing me [the binder] that question. Supposedly, it has to do with their budget, or the project funding.
DH: Go on.
RB: The instructions seemed very specific. Infiltrate web forums, collect screen names, avatars, and posters’ tag lines, and attempt to resolve these to their actual identities. I read one paragraph that listed circumstances when the “asset” was only to monitor but do not disrupt without authorization. There was another section titled “Divert, Disrupt and Destroy,” listing “how to’s” in certain cases.
There was also a section on maintaining a social media presence, and another on the most effective use of Twitter.
Lastly, there was a “reference section,” which included statistics, specific language to use to marginalize different posters, and effective methods to discredit people while maintaining a sense of legitimacy.
It was surreal, to say the least.
Oh, one more thing that’s important. As I said, these “kids,” or young people I believe, are known collectively as “Cyber-Warriors for Obama.” The subheading was “And the truth shall set you free.” Truth? Really? They were hired on their hacking abilities, or more precisely on their abilities to make postings through proxy servers and effectively use alternate identities and multiple e-mail addresses. Their purpose is to spread disinformation, not truth.
There were also motivational statements on various pages, including one that referred to Obama as the “Pharaoh of the Internet,” which I thought was an odd characterization.
But what’s important is that suddenly, through the use of Internet aliases, multiple e-mail addresses, and screen names, a project that employs 3,575 people will have the appearance and effectiveness of maybe 10,000 or more different people.
DH: Do you know if these “team members” have their own copies of the binder you saw?
RB: No. I was told that these people were hired through the campaign offices located throughout the country, and that training meetings were held at various locations. The binders were for instructional purposes, not to hand out. Although I think the people have, or were given, a list of web sites.
I don’t know any more on the actual mechanics of the project.
DH: During our previous contact, you said that we should listen to Obama’s comments about the economy, I mean during the inaugural speech. What’s so significant about that?
RB: Well, this is perhaps the most important issue people need to understand. There will be, and was, talk of a recovery and a stronger economy, but it’s all propaganda. As you heard me say in the recording you just played, the complete inaugural address will be a “Baghdad Bob” moment, and it was. Many economists will use false figures and statistics to deceive the American people. People must not downplay the importance of the economic aspect of this address. The sudden collapse of the U.S. dollar (however it actually plays out) and everything that goes with it (such as social chaos and riots) will be one part of a plan that was set in motion a long time ago.
DH: And you are getting this from your current intelligence sources? Frankly, I’m not sure I completely understand the connection between DHS and what’s going on with the economy. Seems like it should be separate.
RB: What’s not to understand? The economic devastation that will take place is an attack, a planned attack on the U.S. Just look at it that way. This “regime” already knows the outcome, which is the debasement of our national currency. Like I said, it’s been in the works most recently since the 1990′s. A collapse does not happen without a lot of pain – people losing everything in their retirement accounts, savings and so on. Don’t you think that will cause one hell of a national security problem? And who is running our national or domestic security? DHS.
Oh, and one of the reasons I wanted to include more recent information into our discussion relates to something you did last month, after our talk. I know you said you did not want to source your own work, but there was one important radio program you did that caused a very angry response inside DHS.
DH: How so?
RB: You had a financial insider on your program who went by some letter, like the first or last letter of his name.
DH: Yes, that was “V” who is a source for Steve Quayle. We did a program at the beginning of January, I think – I’d have to look. [Edited to add that the actual program was 11 January 2013.]
RB: Yeah, that was it. If you ask your network, I think you’ll find a request was made for the transcript of that program by DHS. The information given by that source was protected, or confidential, especially regarding the actions of big bankers here in the U.S. and the foreign markets. These international bankers are playing a big role in killing the U.S., and although they’re bold, they still don’t want certain things disclosed before their time.
DH: But that information had nothing to do with national security. I mean, how would this relate to DHS?
RB: Now you’re giving me a headache [laughter]. Let me spell it out for you, and this is the crux of everything. We have Obama (or whatever his real name is) in the Oval Office. You’ve said it before, that America is a “captured operation.” Well, it is, and every top level operative at DHS and Justice knows it. They have his dossier.
Think about Obama’s mother working in microfinance with Timothy Geithner’s father. What are the odds? And that’s just one “coincidence.”
A lot of people won’t get this until it’s too late, or maybe never get it. But take a good look at Obama and the people who surround him. Look at the 2008 economic crisis under Bush. Look at the run up to where we’re at today. The orchestrated boom of the 1990′s. The GLB Act signed into law under Clinton that changed the complexion of our domestic economy. Look at the people who are still around, the architects of this. It’s a big lie! It’s all been rigged, and the insiders know this! Look at the continuity of agenda since “Bush senior.”
Now listen to what I am telling you. This is a continuing operation that involves many of the same people on both sides of the aisle in Washington. This is one of the reasons why no one wants to talk about Obama’s past. He is the product of a continuing intelligence operation, put in power to oversee the dismantling of the U.S., with the economy being the lynchpin of our destruction. Obama, Jarrett, and the Clintons are in constant contact with all high level operatives inside the DHS. Perhaps not directly in all cases but through their contacts. They are working together to see to it that the U.S. economy is brought down, robbing the people of their wealth and then blaming partisan politics for the crash.
For the first time in recent history, you’re going to see people hungry and out in the streets. Those unprepared or those thinking this is all [expletive deleted]. Desperate and begging for food. Think Katrina, but on a national scale. That’s what is being planned for Americans, and few people are willing to see what’s happening, or willing to believe it. Now here’s where DHS, my sources and information comes in.
Everybody is looking at the gun “problem” in America. Fights over the Second Amendment. State laws that go against the Constitution. Blame it on Sandy Hook or Colorado. Tell people we need to be disarmed because it’s for the children. It’s all [expletive deleted]. Most people know it’s all [expletive deleted], but that’s where their rational assessment stops. Why do you think the people in power want to – no – need to disarm the public? It’s because they are planning an economic collapse, and an armed and informed populace is a danger to their plan.
DH: Wait, wouldn’t it make sense to let the guns stay in the hands of the people and have the people shoot it out among themselves? Wouldn’t this fit in with their desire for chaos, and make it easier for Martial Law to be implemented?
RB: In a way, but you’re still not thinking big enough. The way this is being planned includes that scenario, but they are very afraid that once total chaos breaks out, they will become the targets. So to a point you’re right, but then a crackdown must take place.
DH: But the elected ones are well protected.
RB: Yeah, but you are not thinking like them. There are several scenarios or models they have commissioned. They exist in printed form and have been given to Obama and Jarrett specifically. It’s war gaming with the American people. That caused some mid-level military people with a conscience to ask what the hell is going on, and some even refused to take part in these exercises. By the way, Napolitano is the go-to person for these models.
Anyway, there is a fear that their own people won’t be loyal to them when everything begins to implode. You’ve been seeing purges lately. Remember what Jarrett supposedly said about being “hell to pay” after the re-election? That process has started.
DH: Those who have been “purged” – why haven’t we seen anyone speak out about what’s going on?
RB: They’ve been threatened. Some were not worth even being threatened and became “examples.”
DH: Like who?
RB: Oh c’mon, look at the recent mysterious deaths. Pick one.
DH: Okay, but wouldn’t they be safer by speaking out, by telling everything they know? Some ordinary people might call them cowards. Why not just go public [interrupted/over talk]
RB: Yeah, how’d that work out so far? And go public to who? CNN? They are in real danger, and so are their families. Anyone close to them. Even if one or two would go public, how do you think that would work out for them? I’ll tell you how. They would make [Senator] McCarthy look like an American hero, which he was, but that’s… They’ve made it so that no one will be able to make any real difference to their agenda. They know that.
DH: So no one is going to say anything – ever?
RB: That’s not what I said. Some will talk when the time is right. Some have “insurance policies” that will be used at the right time, when they will make the most difference.
DH: I feel like we’re getting off point. So, what is being planned?
RB: The DHS will oversee the domestic crackdown that will happen when the perfect storm bears down on us. And the perfect storm is the economy, meaning the U.S. dollar collapse and hyperinflation, racial or class riots sparked by a high-profile incident, and another mass causality event involving guns. Watch for these three things to happen all at once, or in close succession.
The polarization caused by these events will be sufficient to cause a second civil war.
DH: When? How soon will all of this happen?
RB: I don’t have a crystal ball, but I have seen various reports referencing unprecedented “drills” to take place in later March and April. I’ll mention this because I know a lot of people on the inside at DHS have seen this. A document called “Operation Thunderdome.” It’s maybe 50 or 60 pages, I’m not certain. It describes an economic collapse in the U.S., followed by an attack on the government by “a made-up patriotic group.” It combines gun owners, Constitutionalists, and even Christians into an enemy group that pulls off an attack in Washington.
But don’t fall into the trap of trying to pick the time of these events. Their plans are flexible, but their objectives are carved in stone.
DH: Sounds like a Reichstag type event – sometime.
RB: Exactly. Maybe not just one. They have plans and back-up plans and back-ups for the back-ups. And in spite of the warnings, and history, enough people will be outraged and side with the government. This brings me to my final point. What do you think all of the prepositioning of paramilitary assets, caches of ammunition, and the opening of non-descript buildings owned or leased by the federal government are for?
It’s for you and people like you. It’s for those who are turned in by their neighbors, friends, co-workers, and others who are hungry, broke and broken. What we are about to experience will be like it was during the Civil War, only worse. People will be outgunned, surveillance will be everywhere, and it will be much more difficult to hide and fight back. Not impossible, but more difficult.
DH: So you’re painting a picture of a Mad Max scenario, hence the reference to Thunderdome?
RB: Believe it or not, part of the model, or at least one of them, includes the depiction of a somewhat “normal” society, at least after the initial “hostilities.” People will be controlled by the national government, centralized – in order to escape the chaos. Think of it this way. You want food and medical care? You will not be able to own a gun, period. The current federal legislation is all window dressing – a distraction. No one expects anything meaningful to pass. It won’t have to. States, yes, but those states are lining up for federal money. The elected leaders are of the same ideology as Obama, but aside from those, we’ll see many people turning in their weapons for food, shelter, medical care, and false guarantees of safety. That’s what the new normal will look like.
As I said, you’ve got to think bigger – much bigger. The lies are bigger than most people can imagine. The people at the top are laughing at us. Think about that. They are laughing at us because it’s right in front of our noses. And you know, the bigger the lie…
DH: Yes, the more people will fall for it.
RB: Right. I think we’re done here for now. I’ve given you as much information as I know, as I have seen. Watch the economy – the indicators. Watch for a false flag. We are being baited. Let people pooh-pooh this information, seek information through FOI requests. Not gonna happen. We’re talking about an operation so black and so big, and one that has to be done in the next few years, under Obama.
This is something that is international in scope. The plan is international, and is dedicated to the dismantling or destruction of America. It’s happening right in front of us, but too few can actually see it.
DH: I’m sure you, well… We’ll be accused of scaring people without citable evidence.
RB: People need to wake up. Believe me or don’t. It’s their choice.
DH: Wait, one more thing. What should we be looking for next?
RB: Look around. You’re seeing it. We’ll talk again. Please shut off the recorder.
March 27, 2012 | 9:30 p.m.
Standing at a podium in front of piles of pipes in Cushing, Okla., last week, President Obama unveiled an executive order meant to speed federal permitting of pipeline infrastructure, including the southern portion of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. Critics immediately jumped on the move, accusing Obama of being “the rooster taking credit for the dawn” and arguing that no federal action is actually needed for that portion of the Keystone pipeline to move forward. National Journal’s Energy & Environment Insiders agree.
More than 70 percent of Insiders said that Obama’s executive order was unnecessary, with some even saying the move smacks of federal overreach.
Insiders overwhelmingly agreed that the southern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will run from Cushing to refineries in Port Arthur, Texas, only needs local approval. States typically handle the siting of interstate oil pipelines, while the only federal involvement normally comes from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Obama’s involvement in the approval process is “not even remotely necessary,” said one Insider, arguing that Obama’s campaign likely thought it was “politically necessary to invent an executive action to [stanch] the coming decline in the polls.”
The Cushing campaign stop came just a day after Gallup released a poll showing that nearly 60 percent of Americans think the U.S. government should approve the entire Keystone project, which Obama rejected in late January.
“The Cushing event was all show … but a well-executed one,” said another Insider.
Still, by rejecting the permit for the full pipeline—which would run from Canada to the Gulf Coast—and then going full-force in supporting the southern section of the pipeline, Obama is sending out inconsistent messages to the public, Insiders said.
“This is a local permitting decision. The president getting involved looks like federal government interfering in the traditionally local decision of land-use planning—and it likely won’t actually change the permitting process, which is already under way,” said one Insider. “Not great optics—and I say this as a fan of the president.”
Even some of the 29 percent of Insiders who said the Obama administration should be involved argued that it is not legally necessary but noted that it is politically important.
“It is necessary in a political sense, to demonstrate that the administration is doing everything it can to lower high gas prices,” said one Insider. “But even without the administration’s involvement, the southern portion of Keystone will get built and, shockingly, gas prices will remain high.”
Insiders overwhelmingly agreed that the southern portion of the pipeline won’t do much for oil prices. Asked whether prices will go up or down once this piece of the pipeline is completed, 75 percent of Insiders chose “neither,” a mere 14 percent said prices would go down, and 11 percent said they would go up.
“You need to connect the hose to the spigot if you want to water the lawn,” one Insider said, arguing that only the approval of the full Keystone XL pipeline project would affect prices.
Insiders said that aside from some efficiencies in delivery, this portion of the pipeline won’t have much of an impact.
“It will only have an impact on the price of oil if investors see the construction as a sign of things to come in terms of fostering more domestic development,” said one Insider.
- Obama said ready to push partial Keystone XL approval (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Keystone XL Pipeline Has Competition – WSJ (247wallst.com)
- President Obama Promises Fast Track for Keystone XL’s Southern Leg (TRP) (247wallst.com)
- Claims Keystone XL pipeline will destroy Oklahoma historical sites is disputed (newsok.com)
- Obama Headed For Defeat in Pipeline Fight – Byron York – Townhall Conservative Columnists (gds44.wordpress.com)
A team of bankers starts to tap the country’s vast mineral riches, with help from the Pentagon.By James Bandler, editor-at-large May 11, 2011: 5:00 AM ET
FORTUNE — Qara Zaghan, Afghanistan: The four Black Hawk helicopters sweep down on this remote river valley, flying fast and single file. Snow covers the mountains’ peaks, but the lower slopes look like rust — dry, rocky, and bare. As we bank around the river bend, we see our first flash of green in the fields below and then the rectangular mud huts of the village, where hundreds of Afghans mass to greet us.
“That’s the mine over there,” one of my companions says, pointing to the cliffs rising above the village.
That’s it? That’s the gold mine? It doesn’t look all that different from the forbidding country we’ve been traversing: just another pile of rocks and scree. The jet-lagged man in the seat across from me knows better. His sleepy eyes are suddenly alert. If anyone can wrest a fortune from Afghanistan’s rubble, it is this man, Ian Hannam.
Arriving in a developing nation with his iPad and his enigmatic smile, Hannam personifies the soft side of Western power. He doesn’t bend people to his will with weapons or threats. But there is no mistaking the dealmaker’s impact: In his wake, mountains are razed, villages electrified, schools built, and fortunes made.
To Hannam, chairman of J.P. Morgan Capital Markets, Afghanistan represents a gigantic, untapped opportunity — one of the last great natural-resource frontiers. Landlocked and pinioned by imperial invaders, Afghanistan has been cursed by its geography for thousands of years. Now, for the first time, Hannam believes, that geography could be an asset. The two most resource-starved nations on the planet, China and India, sit next door to Afghanistan, where, according to Pentagon estimates, minerals worth nearly $1 trillion lie buried. True, there is a war under way. And it’s unclear how the death of Osama bin Laden will impact the country’s political and economic environment. But Hannam is not your usual investment banker: A former soldier, he has done business in plenty of strife-torn countries. So have all the members of his team, two of them former special forces soldiers who have fought here.
As he flies to the mine for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Hannam thinks back over the past 12 months. This little mine, where operations have yet to commence, is puny by J.P. Morgan’s (JPM) standards, but he knows it might be the project for which he is remembered. A lot of powerful people, including the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, are counting on him to demonstrate that the country is safe for foreign investors. Hannam has chafed at times under the pressure from the Pentagon, and the cold-eyed realist in him wonders whether unrealistic expectations are being placed on this business venture.
Hannam ducks his head and climbs out of the chopper, necktie flapping in the prop wash. As he trudges up the hill, even the jaded, 55-year-old banker seems swept away by the pageantry of the moment: the village elder in a ceremonial robe, the silhouettes of women watching from the ridges, the saluting Afghan soldier. Hannam is enveloped in a crush of local tribesmen chattering excitedly in Dari. One of them puts a garland around his neck. Another hands him a Ziploc bag containing a chunk of Afghan gold. A mullah utters prayers. Afghanistan’s minister of mining gives a long speech.
Hannam and his local partner, Sadat Naderi, walk up the hill to pose for photographs. Naderi points to a narrow band of quartz that runs in an east-west line across the cliff side. It shimmers in the sun. That is the treasure, he says.
“Unless,” Hannam mutters, “it’s fool’s gold.”
Absurd risks vs. amazing rewards
Investing in conflict zones is often thrilling, but the great commodities rush that J.P. Morgan and the Pentagon are trying to spark in Afghanistan creates a risk/reward equation of a different magnitude. It’s extreme at both ends.
When J.P. Morgan launched its Afghan initiative in 2010, violence was at its worst since the American-led occupation began in 2001. The Taliban have made a point of killing Westerners and have specifically said they would attack any companies involved in mining. Before our trip to the mine was done, our group would get a taste of the insurgents’ ability to strike violently and unpredictably.
Then there’s the Afghan infrastructure — or rather, there isn’t. Big mines need power, lots of it. Outside of cities, only 15% of Afghanistan is electrified. The mountain roads — ungraded and often without guardrails — are perilous, I learned the hard way, particularly in winter. Seat belts? No one bothers. You crash, you die.
If the brutal war and roads don’t give a businessperson pause, the country’s governance and corruption problems should. Massive fraud marred recent elections. Transparency International rates Afghanistan as the second most corrupt country on earth after Somalia. The last minister of mining was identified in a Washington Post report as the recipient of a massive bribe, an allegation he denied to Fortune. The current minister, who had been widely described as an honest reformer, has recently had his integrity questioned in State Department cables released by WikiLeaks. He, too, told Fortune he has done nothing improper.
But if the risks are absurd, the potential rewards are off the charts. Hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of iron, copper, rare earth metals, and, yes, gold are buried beneath Afghanistan’s deserts and mountains. This wealth has lain there mainly undisturbed for thousands of years as armies of Persians, Greeks, Mongols, Britons, Russians, and now Americans tramped above. Invaders have dreamed of exploiting it since the time of Alexander the Great, but no one has yet succeeded on a large scale.
In an 1841 article in a journal of Asiatic studies, Capt. Henry Drummond, a member of the British 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry, described his rambles through the wildest parts of Afghanistan to conduct the first Western mineral survey of the country. He found “abundant green stains” of copper, some of which rivaled the deposits of Chile, and veins of iron ore that “might no doubt be obtained equal to the Swedish.” While many of his countrymen viewed Afghanistan as an untamable place, where a man could not stray many yards from his home or tent without risk of being murdered, Drummond was smitten. Mining, he felt — not the gun — offered the best hope to pacify the territory and win over Afghans.
“Give them, however, but constant employment, with good wages and regular payment; encourage a spirit of industry, both by precept and example; let strict justice be dealt out to them without respect of persons; and we shall shortly see their swords changed into plowshares, industry take place of licentiousness, and these people be converted into peaceable and useful subjects,” Drummond wrote. But the Afghans weren’t keen on the idea of handing over their minerals to occupiers, or on the British occupation itself, for that matter. A year later they massacred the entire British army, save one English survivor, at Gandamak.
During the Cold War, both Soviet and U.S. geologists conducted surveys. The Russians bored thousands of test holes and identified big deposits of copper, zinc, mercury, tin, fluorite, potash, talc, asbestos, and magnesium. But instability in the countryside put an end to serious mining exploration.
After the toppling of the Taliban by the U.S.-led coalition, the Afghan government, with financial assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development, commissioned new, high-tech aerial surveys of Afghanistan. The results were stunning: The U.S. Geological Survey identified huge veins of copper, iron, lithium, gold, and silver. The Afghan government solicited bids for one of the biggest of the copper deposits, a site south of Kabul that had been identified by both Drummond and the Soviets. China, offering a rich price, won the bid in 2007, beating out four other mining companies. But the Chinese mining company has yet to extract any copper from the site because of delays clearing land mines from the area, and the discovery of archeological relics.
Then, in 2009, mining in Afghanistan got the push it needed — from the U.S. military. Petraeus had been appointed commander of U.S. Central Command, which had ultimate authority over Afghanistan. He realized that a U.S. exit from Afghanistan depended on getting the country’s economy running. Up to 60% of Afghanistan’s $15 billion GDP comes from foreign aid, according to Pentagon estimates, and another 20% comes from the illicit drug trade — poppies. What Afghanistan needed was the real hope that it might achieve economic sovereignty. “I’m an old economist,” the general says in an interview at his headquarters in Kabul. “And at the end of the day this is about progress for the [Afghan] people and giving them the prospect for a much brighter future for them and their families. That’s what persuades the citizenry to support the government rather than support the Taliban.”
Realizing that conventional foreign-aid organizations weren’t getting the job done, Petraeus moved a crack economic stabilization team from Iraq into Afghanistan. That team quickly realized that mining would be key.
Enter Ian Hannam.
“This is the time in Afghanistan for the adventure venture capitalists — for those who can do business in tough places in the world,” Petraeus says.
From special forces to making billionaires
Ian Charles Hannam seemed bound for a swashbuckling career at an early age. Raised in a working-class neighborhood in South London, the son of a council worker who oversaw a housing and street-repair crew, Hannam grew up knowing that nothing would ever be handed to him. He joined the Territorial Special Air Service at age 17, one of the younger men to pass the service’s grueling selection process.
Hannam’s unit, the Artists Rifles, was a part-time regiment akin to a U.S. National Guard special forces unit. The Artists Rifles had a storied past and a reputation for attracting adventure seekers from all social classes. Since then, Hannam has counted his old SAS cronies as his closest friends, often calling on them to help him in the world’s tougher places.
While serving in the Artists Rifles, Hannam pursued a degree in civil engineering from England’s top school in that field, Imperial College. Upon graduation in 1977, he took a job with Taylor Woodrow, a large British construction firm. His first assignment was to build roads, radar stations, and airstrips in Oman for the SAS, which was in the final stages of crushing a Marxist-led insurgency that had been boiling in the Dhofar region for more than a decade. The experience convinced Hannam that revolts could be beaten with a counterinsurgency program that emphasized developing a country’s infrastructure and natural resources.
Still working for Taylor Woodrow, Hannam went to Nigeria and then back to Oman. Living in a tent, he could not help noticing how well oil-company executives lived. That’s when he decided to go to business school and become rich.
After graduating from the London Business School, Hannam got a job in 1984 in the training program at Salomon Brothers in New York. At the airport on his way home to London for Christmas that year, he was detained by immigration officials because he had no U.S. entry stamp on his passport. The reason: He had parachuted into the U.S. with an SAS unit that was training with American special forces, and then traveled to New York to start the training program.
With a work ethic that former colleagues describe as ferocious and an engineer’s taste for understanding complex financial mechanisms, Hannam was fast-tracked to the bank’s vaunted debt syndicate desk. “His embrace of complexity and change, his indifference to organizational hierarchy and abundant self-confidence born of experience set him apart,” recalls Terry Fitzgerald, founder of Longbow Capital Partners, who was at Salomon with Hannam.
When Salomon was hired to advise media baron Robert Maxwell’s Mirror Group during its public offering, Hannam was one of Salomon’s lead bankers charged with marketing the IPO. Salomon lost money on the deal. Months later Maxwell died and Mirror Group collapsed amid investigations into accounting fraud and raids on its pension fund.
Hannam left Salomon soon after the fiasco and was hired by merchant bank Robert Fleming, a Scottish firm founded by the grandfather of James Bond creator Ian Fleming. By 2000, Hannam was the highest-paid employee at Fleming, making more than the CEO. After the bank was acquired by J.P. Morgan, much of Fleming’s staff was laid off. Not Hannam. He helped engineer a joint venture with, and eventual takeover of, venerated British banking house Cazenove.
Among the old guard at Cazenove — which was subsumed by J.P. Morgan, though the British franchise still bears its name — Hannam was regarded as a bit of a barbarian. He bragged about his wealth. He had appalling table manners. “I’ve got more degrees than I can count, but I still talk like I’m illiterate, and my colleagues hate me for it,” he’d say.
From Congo to Colombia, from Iraq to Sierra Leone, Hannam and his small team of soldiers-turned-bankers and advisers did business with oligarchs, gem dealers, and former mercenaries. He could be bracingly direct. When he landed in Baghdad for a meeting with Iraq’s oil minister, the minister asked, “What are you here for?”
“I’m here to make five new Iraqi billionaires every year for the next 10 years,” Hannam said with a twinkle in his eyes. It was an effective icebreaker, recalled his friend Richard Williams, a former SAS commander who is now CEO of the Afghan gold mine. “They’re all thinking, ‘How can I be one of those?’ Which is not a question that a minister should be thinking.” However crude, Hannam’s point — it would be Iraqis, not Westerners, who were getting rich — worked.
Over the years Hannam had starring roles in a string of huge deals, including the combination of BHP and Billiton (BHP) and its listing on the London exchange, the creation of mining group Xstrata, and the formation of Kazakh commodities giant Kazakhmys. In 2007, Hannam’s appetite for risk and intrigue nearly sank him. A group of Omani investors had hired him to explore the possibility of a leveraged buyout and breakup of Dow Chemical. Hannam and another top J.P. Morgan executive held clandestine meetings with two Dow Chemical executives at the Compleat Angler, a luxury hotel on the bank of the Thames.
The only problem: Dow’s CEO had no idea that the meeting was taking place. The scandal attracted front-page notice around the world.
In 2008, Hannam was passed over for the top job at Cazenove in favor of an outsider. Hannam flew to New Zealand for two weeks, turned off the phone, and brooded. But he decided to stay at the bank, and soon he was doing multibillion-dollar deals again, including lead work on the recapitalization of HSBC. With a job that paid bonuses as high as 10 million pounds, Hannam had come a long way from his boyhood in Bermondsey. He had a wife and three children, a townhouse in Notting Hill, a wild game preserve in the Stormberg mountains of South Africa, and a 230-acre estate in Vermont. But the council worker’s son was hungry for something bigger.
In 2009, at a dinner in Baghdad, he met the man who would give him his chance. The name of their meeting place was fitting for a rendezvous that would help touch off a 21st-century version of the Great Game: the Baghdad Hunting Club.
Hannam was at the banquet hall for a reception thrown by the Trade Bank of Iraq to honor J.P. Morgan. Also at the reception was Paul Brinkley, a deputy under secretary of defense charged with jump-starting Iraq’s stalled economy. A former tech company executive, Brinkley served as a matchmaker of sorts between Iraqi entrepreneurs and foreign businessmen. With the blessing of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, he operated outside normal bureaucratic channels, eschewing the bulletproof vests and helmets his civilian colleagues wore in combat zones. In three years he had secured some $8 billion in private investment contracts for Iraq, helping start textile mills, cement factories, and electronics companies. Hannam and Brinkley had heard about each other’s work. J.P. Morgan had been one of the first Western companies to plant the flag in Iraq, overseeing the country’s currency and setting up a big oil project in Iraqi Kurdistan. Hannam and Brinkley fell into conversation about Afghanistan, which was to be Brinkley’s next posting.
“I’ve got a problem in Afghanistan,” Hannam remembers Brinkley saying. Brinkley was talking to the right man.
Soon they were having more meetings, in New York and Washington. Brinkley wanted to know what it would take to get the big international mining companies into Afghanistan. Hannam said it was too early. The giants weren’t likely to leap into Afghanistan until smaller, wildcat operators went first. Copper and iron-ore mines were complicated and required huge infrastructure investments: railroads, roads, power plants, and smelters. Hannam said the first project should be less ambitious. A gold or lithium mine would be perfect. These materials could be transported by helicopter or trucked out by road. Hannam and Brinkley agreed that any such project should be led by an Afghan, lest it be seen as part of a resource grab by foreigners. Hannam pledged to bring entrepreneurial support, technical expertise, and capital. “And I’ll make some Afghans very rich, by the way,” he added.
In February 2010, Hannam flew to Kabul to see the situation on the ground. Brinkley took him to a reception at the American ambassador’s home. There, Hannam met an Afghan businessman named Sadat Naderi. British educated, smooth, and brimming with energy and ambition, Naderi ran a diversified company that included insurance, logistics, and supermarkets. There was one other thing, he said: “I’m one of the first Afghans that has actually won a gold license.”
Hannam’s eyes lit up. Naderi, it turned out, already had a little gold mine in Baghlan province. His family had run a tiny artisanal operation there, even minting some coins, for years. He had won the legal rights to it in formal bidding in 2008. To develop it, he needed technical advice, equipment, and capital.
Naderi was an Ismaili, a member of a Shiite sect. That was a good thing in Hannam’s eyes. Progressive in their views toward women and education, Ismailis are renowned businessmen. The Ismailis’ religious leader, the Aga Khan, presides over a vast charitable and business network that includes the Serena Hotel chain. The sect has a long-standing relationship with the British, dating back to the 1840s, when Ismailis provided British armies in Afghanistan with cavalry and intelligence.
Naderi’s father was the religious leader of all the Ismailis in Afghanistan. The family has several mansions and a palace in their home village, Kayan, which has athletic facilities and a train, and once had a zoo. Naderi’s brother Jafar had been a militia commander during the last days of Soviet occupation, with a 12,000-member private army. A documentary film titled The Warlord of Kayan had shown Jafar fishing with a grenade, riding his motorcycle, and blasting AC/DC. During the Taliban era, the Naderis had fled for their lives, and Osama bin Laden briefly occupied their palace in Kayan.
Sadat Naderi, not surprisingly, was happy to contemplate an investment of working capital raised by J.P. Morgan and backed up by the Pentagon. “The sooner we stand on our own feet, the better it is for us Afghans,” Naderi says. “You cannot be a beggar nation forever.”
“Don’t fall behind.”
Naderi’s gold mine, in Baghlan province, is only 50 miles from Kabul as the crow flies. During winter months it might as well be on the moon. To get there by road you must traverse the dangerous Salang Pass, which cuts through the towering Hindu Kush range. In 2010, in the same month that the J.P. Morgan team first arrived in Afghanistan, 180 travelers were killed on the pass in an avalanche.
I had my own taste of winter travel over the 11,000-foot-high pass when I set out with a convoy led by Richard Williams, the mining company’s CEO. Garrulous, self-deprecating, and brimming with insights about the Muslim world, Williams could be mistaken for an Oxford don. But he remains the hard-charging individual depicted in Mark Urban’s book Task Force Black, which describes Williams’ exploits in Iraq as the leader of an SAS team charged with capturing and killing Hussein loyalists and al Qaeda members. “Richard is a buccaneer, a pirate,” Urban quoted one of Williams’ former associates as saying. “He goes for the opportunities and adrenalin every time.”
It was snowing when we left Kabul early one morning, and by the time we reached the start of the climb, the weather had turned so nasty that police had halted traffic up the road. Nonetheless, our party of VIPs received permission to proceed with a police escort.
Williams and his group were in armored, four-wheel-drive vehicles. There was no room in the caravan for me, a translator, and a photographer, so we hired a driver and a Toyota Corolla. The front-wheel-drive car was soon laboring in the heavy snow. Our chains kept slipping off the tires. The radiator overheated, belching coolant into the snow. When it became apparent that we might not keep up, Williams’ group put a policeman in our car, and then proceeded on ahead without us. Visibility was terrible; the only way our driver could navigate was to crane his neck out a side window. After we passed the summit, the driver lost control of the car, which skidded and spun 180 degrees into a snowbank. Hands trembling, I lit my first cigarette in decades, wheezing on the first puff.
The next day, after spending the night in a hut, we set off on the return trip to Kabul. I begged Williams and his group not to abandon us. But when one of our party was stricken by a stomach ailment and we pulled over to let him relieve himself, the convoy swept on without us. We spun out again, narrowly missing a head-on collision with a truck.
When we caught up with Williams’ convoy near Kabul, we were too furious to wave. “I thought the SAS motto was similar to that of the U.S. Army [Rangers]: ‘Leave no man behind,’ ” I complained to one of Hannam’s soldiers-turned-bankers afterward.
“Leave no man behind?” He laughed. “Where did you get that idea? It’s ‘Don’t fall behind.’ And ‘Don’t forget your Imodium!’ ”
A deal too important to die
Of all the obtacles that could have wrecked the mining project — the murderous roads, the Taliban, the corrupt government — the one that nearly killed it was the most predictable: the profit margin.
In late September, J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, Brinkley, and Mining Minister Wahidullah Shahrani met at J.P. Morgan’s headquarters in Manhattan. Dimon pledged J.P. Morgan’s support. On the way down in the elevator, Dimon told Shahrani, “You’re in good hands with Ian. He’s eccentric, but he gets things done.”
But soon Brinkley’s team was wondering. On the day the deal signing was to take place, Hannam’s team stopped acting like former warriors and began behaving like, well, nervous investment bankers. Hannam, after talking about how rich he was going to make his clients, suddenly began to complain that there was no way to make a profit. The 26% royalty rate for the mine, his team claimed, was way too high. Mining Minister Shahrani was bewildered — the rate had been agreed upon years before, when the Naderi family had first bid for the mine. Nothing had changed.
Brinkley’s Pentagon team was deeply frustrated. They felt the bankers had pulled a fast one. Had Hannam’s group not done its homework? Or were they just being bankers, trying to squeeze more money out of the deal with some 11th-hour brinkmanship?
Brinkley lit into the J.P. Morgan group: “When are you going to get this done? You’ve told people you’re going to do it!” The bankers, in turn, felt they were being unfairly pressured by the government, which seemed desperate to get the deal done even if it was uneconomical.
Everyone recognized, though, that the deal was too important to die. Naderi and Hannam’s team worked out an arrangement with the Ministry of Mines in which the royalty would be deducted from the corporate tax, as it is in many other countries. Soon, helped by rising gold prices, the deal was back on track. J.P. Morgan says it is not charging its usual advisory fees. While Hannam has described his work on the mine as a charitable endeavor, he says he expects a big payoff down the road for clients who invest in it.
J.P. Morgan says it isn’t putting any of its own money into the project. Hannam secured $40 million from investors in the U.S., Asia, and Europe. They included Enso Capital founder Joshua Fink, son of BlackRock’s Larry Fink; British mining titan Peter Hambro; and Thai businessman Pairoj Piempongsant. Hannam created an investment vehicle, Central Asian Resources, to enter into a joint venture with Naderi’s new mining company, Afghan Gold. Sadat Naderi was made chairman of Afghan Gold, and Richard Williams CEO. Their goal is to pull 5.4 metric tons of gold from the mine during the first phase of operation. After that the plan is to go after five other gold sites, and then bid for the rights to other minerals, including copper and rare earths.
This past December, an ecstatic minister of mines announced the deal. Petraeus congratulated President Karzai on the news. “Wonderful,” Petraeus remembers Karzai saying.
“It’s big,” Petraeus told me of the gold mine deal. “It’s very big. I mean, everyone knows who J.P. Morgan is, and what that represents. That’s substantial. It gives real encouragement to our Afghan partners.”
A deceptive peace
After the ceremony to inaugurate the mine in Qara Zaghan, the barren valley rang with a merry hubbub. Hannam’s close friend, Murad Megalli, responsible for J.P. Morgan’s investment banking practice in Central Asia and the Middle East, made portraits of the villagers with a Leica film camera. The minister of mines was exultant. Naderi spoke optimistically of “partnership” with his new investors. Everything seemed to be going right.
Then it wasn’t. At a military base on our way back to Kabul, our BlackBerrys started buzzing with news of a Taliban attack in the capital. Militants had struck one of Naderi’s supermarkets, called Finest, with guns and a bomb, killing eight people. Naderi at first didn’t understand what I was saying when I told him the news of the attacks. “The Finest got hit,” I said. “Hit?” Naderi said. “Finest hit?” He turned ashen.
Megalli and Hannam sat on a bench trying to digest what had happened. Hannam was at first convinced the attack was linked to J.P. Morgan’s presence in the country. It wasn’t. (The Taliban later claimed they were trying to kill an American mercenary who they erroneously claimed was at the store.) Then, Hannam immediately put his banker hat back on. At least the deal was done, he said, and the money was in.
Megalli was struck by how fast things could spiral out of control. “The peace here is so deceptive,” Megalli said. “It is so fragile.”
A week later I returned to my Kabul hotel room to receive this e-mail from Hannam about his colleague and friend: “Murad died in plane in Kurdistan yesterday. Any good photos I can give family?”
Murad Megalli and Hannam had flown out of Afghanistan on a private plane, and then gone their separate ways. Megalli had taken the plane to Kurdistan. The plane crashed in a snowstorm, and Megalli and another J.P. Morgan banker were killed. Hannam was devastated. From the meeting with Brinkley at the Baghdad Hunting Club, Megalli had been a champion of the Afghan venture. He had believed mining could make a difference for the country. His death, and the attack on Naderi’s supermarket, were sobering reminders of the personal risks of frontier capitalism.
Other storm clouds hover over the enterprise. Corruption allegations swirl around several key backers of the mining project in the Karzai government. Paul Brinkley’s Pentagon team, which energized the Afghan mining sector and also put hundreds of Afghans to work in manufacturing technology and agriculture, is being disbanded, a casualty of interagency warfare. In April, after the burning of a Koran in Gainesville, Fla., mobs rioted in Afghanistan. The UN compound in Mazar-i-Sharif – a city that is to play a key role in the shipment of gold from the Baghlan mine — was attacked, and 12 people were killed.
The spark that Brinkley and Hannam struck, however, continues to burn. Six major minerals sites are due to be auctioned by the Afghan government over the next year. SRK, a major mining-consulting firm, will advise the Afghan government. Bankers from Morgan Stanley (MS) and executives from Chevron (CVX) have been scouting Afghan natural-resource prospects.
And next January the bulldozers and crushing machines are set to start working in the remote valley where Hannam’s investors have staked their claim. It remains to be seen whether the J.P. Morgan adventure will leave any more indelible a mark on Afghanistan than did Capt. Drummond of the Bengal Light Cavalry 170 years ago. But at least someone will have begun releasing the wealth trapped in Afghanistan’s stones.
–Doris Burke and Ali Safi contributed to this article.
- A Top London Banker at JPMorgan Chase Resigns (dealbook.nytimes.com)