NEW YORK – Defense filings in the Department of Justice prosecution of arms dealer Marc Turi allege the Obama administration is willing to prosecute an innocent man to cover up the role former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton played shipping weapons to Libya illegally in 2011.
A telephone interview with Turi’s defense counsel, Jean-Jacques Cabou of the law firm Perkins Coie LLP, led WND to an extensive review of the legal motions filed by the government and the defense in the Turi criminal case.
Cabou declined to answer specific questions WND posed, saying that rather than try the case in the media, he preferred to allow the legal motions filed by the defense to speak for themselves.
The background of the Turi prosecution, while complicated, is at the heart of an allegation made by Fox News legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano in a recent syndicated column. Napolitano charged Hillary Clinton, while secretary of state, lied when Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., asked her in a Senate committee hearing if the State Department had run guns illegally to Libyan rebels.
In the column, Napolitano said an interview of Turi by Fox News intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge and Fox News senior executive producer Pamela Browne led him to review emails to and from State Department and congressional officials during the years when Clinton was secretary of state.
Napolitano concluded it’s “beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty” that Hillary had conducted a “secret war” shipping arms to Libya illegally in 2011.
What Napolitano assumed as true was the central argument advanced by the Obama administration in the Turi prosecution: The weapons Turi shipped to Qatar were intended not for the use of the Qatar Army but to be diverted to Libya for use by the al-Qaida-affiliated militia attempting to overthrow Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
But Napolitano apparently missed the fact that if Turi is guilty as charged, Clinton is arguably innocent of illegally shipping weapons to Libyan al-Qaida-affiliated militia and of lying to Paul.
The fact that remains indisputable in this complex controversy is that weapons and ammunition in boxes marked “Qatar Army” were intercepted off the shore of Libya in 2011. Video published July 6 by WND showed Moussa Ibrahim, then Gadhafi’s information minister and official spokesman, displaying to reporters a seized cache of weapons and ammunition clearly marked as originating from the Qatar Army.
Court motions filed by Turi defense attorney Jean-Jacques Cabou contend that should Turi be acquitted, an elaborate plot will be exposed in which the Obama administration set up Turi to take the blame if the illegal shipment of weapons to Libya via Qatar in 2011 ever came to light.
The central question then at the heart of the Turi criminal prosecution is whether or not the Obama Department of Justice can prove Turi shipped the weapons to Qatar in 2011, and if he did, whether he knew they were intended to be diverted to Libya for the use of the al-Qaida-affiliated militia, in direct violation of State and Treasury Department prohibitions.
The DOJ indictment
On Feb. 11, 2011, the Department of Justice charged Turi, individually and through his company, Turi Defense Group, with attempting between February and July 2011 “to broker a substantial quantity of weapons – machine guns, sniper rifles, assault rifles, anti-tank rockets, rockets, and other high explosives and ammunition – to individuals in Libya, with knowledge such activities were prohibited by United States law enacted to protect the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.”
The indictment charged that after the State Department denied Turi a brokering license to supply weapons to Libya, he submitted brokering applications to the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, “falsely listing Qatar and United Arab Emirates as the end users for weapons that were actually intended for individuals in Libya.”
This, the indictment charged, was in direct contravention of U.N. Security Council Resolution 170, passed Feb. 26, 2011. The resolution imposed an arms embargo on all member states to prevent “the immediate prospect” of a Gadhafi-led attempt “to slaughter rebel forces in Benghazi that would likely result in massive civilian casualties.”
The indictment cited U.S. law, 22 C.F.R. § 29.5(d), which specifies, “No brokering activities or brokering proposal may be carried out with respect to countries which are subject to United Nations Security Council arms embargoes.” It also cited features of the Arms Export Control Act, Title 22, U.S. Code, Section 2778, allowing the State Department, in concurrence with the Defense Department, to develop a list of weapons prohibited to ship to Libya, many of which were found in the 2011 seizure.
The indictment listed a series of communications between Turi, an Egyptian arms dealer residing in the United Kingdom identified only by the initials “Y.A.” and an individual working from Cyprus identified as “A.Y.” who was affiliated with a company importing and exporting Russian-origin petroleum products. Both figures were named as the “primary intermediaries” interceding between Turi and the Transitional National Council, TNC, in Libya, to arrange for the arms.
The DOJ indictment charged Turi had “made a material untrue statement and omitted a material fact required to be stated” when he applied to ship weapons to Qatar and the UAE.
“Marc Turi and Turi Defense Group then knew the actual intended end user” of the prohibited weapons being sent to Libya, the indictment said.
In various court motions, defense attorney Jean-Jacques Cabou asserted Turi shipped no weapons to Qatar.
Cabou strongly suggests the whole point of prosecuting Turi was to blame him for the weapons transfer, which he called a covert Obama administration gun-running operation that went wrong when Libya intercepted the weapons.
He noted Gadhafi spokesman Ibrahim suggested publicly that NATO countries were violating the U.N. resolution in an attempt to arm the Libyan al-Qaida-affiliated militia – then designated by the U.S. and the U.N. as “rebels” – in their attempt to oust Gadhafi.
In an initial motion to dismiss the case, filed July 23, 2014, Cabou noted that “in early 2011, while under contract with the Government for work in those countries, Mr. Turi requested State Department approval to conduct brokering discussions with allied entities and governments in Africa, including the National Transition Council of Libya, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.”
Cabou pointed out that such requests “are common in Mr. Turi’s business and are typically referred to as request for approval,” stressing that the outcome was that the State Department approved Turi’s requests for approval in Qatar and the UAE but turned down his request for Libya.
In bold print, the next sentence of the motion made Cabou’s key point: “In the end, however, no weapons were ever transferred pursuant to these requests. As is often the case in international arms trade, these deals did not come to fruition.”
Cabou continued to note that later in 2011, the U.S. government began investigating Turi for “still unknown reasons.”
“From then until now, the Government has searched Mr. Turi’s home, seizing computers and other electronic media, stopped him as he re-entered the country at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, seizing even more computers, and flown agents around the world to interview Mr. Turi’s associates in the brokering business and the intelligence community,” Cabou’s motion said.
‘Hillary shipped the weapons, not Turi’
In a motion filed Aug. 11, 2014, Cabou made clear his counter-claim that the government was seeking to frame his client by allowing him to think the Obama administration was in favor of a “plausible deniability” covert deal in which the illicit weapons would be shipped to Qatar and packaged as “Qatar Army” weapons manufactured outside the United States that were diverted to Libya without State Department approval.
In another sentence written in bold type for emphasis, the defense motion dated Aug. 11, 2014, stressed: “Public documents reveal that arms were in fact transshipped through Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to Libya, and that the U.S. Government may have provided support for those transactions.”
Cabou then demanded the discovery of government documents or other evidence that could prove the U.S. government had pursued a brokered-weapons deal through Qatar that involved “nearly identical” transactions to those the DOJ was accusing Turi of having executed.
In a letter dated Aug. 6, 2014, addressed to the U.S. attorney’s office in Phoenix, Cabou asked specifically for the following: “Any documents or other evidence relating to instances in which the United States assisted or considered assisting in any way, overtly or covertly, in the transportation, provision, acquisition, transfer, or transport of Defense articles to or from any person, entity, group of people, quasi-governmental entity, or government within the territory of Libya, Syria, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey or Jordan (these countries collectively here the ‘Covered Countries’) within the timeframe of 2010 to the date of the request.”
Cobou’s letter to the U.S. attorney in Arizona detailed that for Libya, Qatar and the UAE, “we have a good-faith basis to believe Defense Articles eventually did covertly enter Libya from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates and that the United States may have been involved.”
The term “Defense Articles” was a legal term used by Cabou to refer to weapons prohibited for transfer to Libya in 2011 under U.N. Security Council Resolution 170 and U.S. law that appears remarkably similar to the weapons display to the international press in 2011.