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November 2009

The Trials Of Traficant:

Part Eight: Traficant Returns to Youngstown


By J. R. de Szigethy


     Heís back.

     After spending 7 years in a Federal Penitentiary following his conviction on bribery and racketeering charges, former Congressman James Traficant has returned to his native Youngstown to face an uncertain future. Upon his release, 1,200 cheering supporters crammed into a Youngstown restaurant to give Traficant a heroís welcome. Somehow fittingly, the reception included an Elvis impersonator and featured Traficant equating himself with Nelson Mandela, the inference being that both men were unjustly incarcerated as "political prisoners." (1) T-shirts in support of Traficant were quickly sold out, just as had happened a quarter of a Century earlier, when Traficant returned to Youngstown having beaten a Federal case of accepting bribes from the American Mafia.

     That case was the first "Trial of Traficant" in 1983, which "Jimbo" won while acting as his own attorney. The second trial of Traficant in 1987 was won by the Feds, who convicted the then-Congressman in tax Court for not paying income tax on the $164,000 in bribes he accepted from the Mafia back in 1980. Now that his third legal case is completed, Traficant will have to decide what he will do with the remainder of his life. Traficant has wasted no time in revealing to the Media that he may once again run for Congress.

     From 1985 to 2002, Traficant used his platform as a member of Congress to represent the cause of his constituents, an area of Ohio that had once been prosperous due to the steel industry that dominated the local economy in the boom years during and following World War II, but declined into the "rust belt" beginning in the 1970s when the government of Japan decimated the U. S. steel industry by the dumping of tons of government-subsidized steel into the American market. However, Congressman Traficant would receive international notoriety for his championing of four controversial cases far removed from the Mob-ruled streets of Youngstown: the case of accused Nazi War criminal John Demjanjuk, and three organizations and regimes named on the U. S. State Departmentís list of known sponsors of international terrorism. These four cases are now back in the news and a brief history of all four reveals a common theme; Traficantís support for causes in the Muslim world which are at odds with the interests of the United States and Israel. Such actions on Traficantís part have only increased the claims of his critics regarding his alleged anti-Semitism.

     John Demjanjuk, who had immigrated to America after World War II, was deported in 1986 to Israel, where the retired auto worker was put on trial, accused of being "Ivan the Terrible," a guard at the notorious Nazi death camp at Treblinka, Poland. Congressman Traficant, however, insisted that the Justice Department had wrongly accused Demjanjuk, and spoke out in support of Demjanjuk on the floor of the House during his trademark "One Minute Speeches," which Traficant concluded with the phrase "Beam me Up!" taken from the TV series "Star Trek." Although Demjanjuk was found guilty, the Israeli Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 1993 and Traficant personally flew to Israel to escort the accused Nazi mass murderer back to the United States. Earlier this year, the U. S. government began efforts to deport Demjanjuk to Germany, where he is accused of murders during his alleged work as a prison guard at the Nazi extermination camp at Sobibor, Poland. Traficantís support of Demjanjuk, and his claims that the government of Israel controls the United States Congress, reiterated during his interviews with Fox New Channel reporters Greta Van Susteren and Sean Hannity, have reinforced the views of those who believe Traficant is anti-Semitic, with Hannity denouncing Traficant as a conspiracy theorist. Traficant also told Susteren that Israel had tried to force the previous Administration of President Bush to join them in a military strike against the nuclear weapons facilities of Iran.

     During the 1990s, Media reports revealed that Congressman Traficant was among 3 Democrats and 1 Republican who had accepted thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from an organization on the U. S. State Departmentís list of known sponsors of terrorism. That organization was the Mujahedin e-Khalq, or MEK. As far back as 1993 Senator John McCain had sounded the alarm about this terrorist group, entering into the Congressional Record a challenge to the FBI and the Justice Department to share information on the MEK. Two of the members of Congress who had accepted campaign contributions from the MEK, Congressman Traficant and Senator Robert Torricelli, would later be revealed to have also accepted such money from members of the American Mafia.

     The MEK was founded in the 1960s by young Iranian Communists with the aim of overthrowing the Shah of Iran. By the mid 1970s, MEK operations included plots to kidnap and/or murder members of the U. S. Military, resulting in the murders by the MEK of Lt. Col. Lewis L. Hawkins, Colonel Paul Shafer, and Lt. Col. Jack Turner. Three Rockwell International employees involved in a Defense project, William Cottrell, Donald Smith, and Robert Krongard, were also murdered by the MEK. (2) MEK members were among those in 1979 who invaded the U. S. Embassy in Tehran, kidnapping 52 Americans who were held hostage for 444 days. After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and installed a puppet Communist regime, the new Iranian government banned the Communist MEK and they fled to neighboring Iraq, where they received the support of Stalinist Dictator Saddam Hussein. MEK members fought alongside the military of Iraq during the 8-year war between Iraq and Iran which resulted in the deaths of over 500,000 people.

     While the war between Iran and Iraq was being waged, the U. S. government attempted a brief, disastrous campaign to have interaction with "moderates" of the Iranian regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Such operations led to the Iran-Contra scandal. Then came a tragedy that would have repercussions to this very day regarding relations between Iran and the United States. That event was the July, 1988 incident in which an Iranian airliner was mistakenly identified as a hostile aircraft and shot from the sky by the United States Navy carrier Vincennes. Experts on the Iranian leadership expected the government of Iran to retaliate against the United States, and when, a few months later, Pan American Airlines Flight 103 was blown apart by a bomb over Lockerbie, Scotland, the government of Iran was deemed most likely responsible for this mass murder of 270 people, many of whom were Americans. Also on the short list of suspects were the governments of Syria and Libya, as well as a terrorist organization, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command.(3)

     The investigation into the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 took a bizarre turn in 1989 when Congressman Traficant held a press conference during which he blamed the CIA for the bombing. Congressman Traficant and his sources in this conspiracy theory would eventually be discredited and an operative for Muammar Qaddafi would be convicted for planting the bomb that destroyed the plane. The motivation for carrying out this terrorist attack on innocent civilians was to avenge the 1986 air strike by the U. S. against facilities in Libya that were involved in the production of weapons of mass destruction. Once British and American Intelligence agencies had determined that it was Libya, not Iran, that was responsible for the bombing of the Pan Am Flight, the question left unanswered was this: What was the Iraniansí revenge plot against the U. S. in retaliation for the destruction of the Iranian jetliner?

     The answer came in February, 1996, when the New York Daily News stunned America with the story of a plot by Iranians to detonate a conventional bomb above New York City containing nuclear waste, an event that would render a large part of Manhattan and surrounding areas un-inhabitable for decades. Such an event would have produced mass panic throughout America, requiring the evacuation of the financial district of New York. In what is now heartbreaking Irony, the Daily News cover on this story featured a photo of the New York skyline dominated by the twin towers of the World Trade Center, which only 3 years earlier had been the site of the first Islamic terrorist attack against America.

     The Daily News got the story from Colombo Mafia Family money launderer Dennis Pappas, who claimed he was asked in 1993 by agents of FBI Counter-Intelligence to help them install electronic eavesdropping devices inside a building purchased by the Iranians involved in the plot. Pappas was approached by the FBI because he had access to the building through his holding of the Contract with the buildingís architect to perform the electrical work in the renovation of the building. Pappas said that at first he agreed, then later backed out of the plan, fearing the Iranians would harm his family if they learned of his cooperation. Pappas was then arrested in July 1995 and charged with being the "financial consigliere" of the Colombo Mafia Family. The Judge in his case then placed him under a gag order "for reasons of national security." Before the gag order was imposed, Pappas had complained about his treatment to reporters at the Daily News, who were able to independently corroborate key claims about his story. Pappas would later accept a plea bargain in his money laundering case.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF NARCO-TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS

     For the purposes of this narrative, it should be pointed out that the majority of those who practice Islam are non-violent, as is the case of the majority of Albanians and Serbians. This story is not about those people in the majority, but instead those in the minority. The history of Islam since itís founding in the Seventh Century is the history of Ďtwo Islams,í a religion which split into two sects, the Shiite Muslims and the Sunni Muslims. By the 11th Century a secret society had arisen within the Shiite Muslims called "The Assassins,í whose aim was to murder rival Sunni Muslim leaders. This terror group operated under a strict "Code of Silence" similar to the Mafiaís "Omerta" and was also known by the term "Hashishin," a reference to the groupís trafficking of drugs, primarily Hashish. This group was the first of what would become known as Ďnarco-terrorists,í a terrorist organization that finances itís operations through the distribution of drugs.(4)

     For the first five Centuries after itís founding, Islamic armies invaded throughout the Middle East, India, Northern Africa, Spain and France. In 1095 began the first of many "Crusades" led by armies from Christian countries who sought to push back the Islamic faith to the area of itís origin. The 1200s and 1300s saw the rise of the Ottoman Turks, with continued bloody battles between themselves and the Christian armies of the lands they had invaded. During the 1500s the Ottoman Turks invaded parts of Russia, including Chechnya, and what is now Albania, Serbia, Kosovo, and Hungary. In the 1700s the Turks were driven out of Austria and Hungary while Islam gained control over Afghanistan. What was left of the Ottoman Empire eventually evolved into the country of Turkey, which in 1928 renounced Islam as a State religion, becoming instead a Secular State. Turkey has, since this event become an ally of the United States and a member of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

     The invasions by Islamic armies throughout Europe and Asia resulted in the flow and exchange of commodities such as foods, spices, medicines, weapons, and drugs, as well as the exchange of religions and philosophies, as well as science and pseudo-science. Opium from the poppy fields of Turkey and India was among the drugs trafficked by the armies of Islam. These ancient, well-established routes were utilized by the Mujahideen, or freedom fighters, during the 1980s, as followers of Islam from around the world immigrated to Afghanistan to join in the fight against the army of the invading Soviet Union. The Mujahideen of Afghanistan should not be confused with the Iranian Mujahedin e-Khalq, although there are many similarities between both groups.

LOST IN IRAN

     While most Americans are aware of the kidnappings by the government of Iran of the 52 American hostages back in 1979, few today could relate their knowledge that such practices continue to this day. In March, 2007, Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent who spent his career investigating the American Mafia and the Russian Mob in New York, disappeared in Iran. Agent Levinson had traveled to the Iranian island of Kish, investigating the illegal smuggling of untaxed cigarettes through Iran, when he suddenly vanished. While the Iranian government continues to deny they are holding Agent Levinson as a hostage, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did acknowledge, in an interview with NBC on September 20, 2009, that his government is holding 3 Americans, Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer, and Josh Fattal, who were seized by Iranian troops on July 31st for allegedly crossing the border into Iran while hiking the mountains of Northern Kurdistan. In the interview, Ahmadinejad alleged that there were unnamed Iranians being held in American prisons and suggested that their release was tied to the release of the 3 Americans being held in the Iranian prison system. For whatever reasons, these cases of Americans missing in Iran have not captured the attention of the majority of the American people. Websites by the family and friends of the missing have been established to help raise public awareness about these troubling incidents. It is always a matter of concern when an American citizen is being held by the government of Iran, and especially so when that person is of the Hebrew Faith. The regimeís leader, President Ahmadinejad, has repeatedly claimed that the Holocaust is an historical hoax, that millions of Jews were not in fact systematically murdered by Nazi Germany during World War II. Awareness of the Holocaust has been renewed this year in part due to the upcoming trial of accused Nazi War criminal John Demjanjuk.

     In addition to his support of Demjanjuk, James Traficant, while a member of Congress, championed the cause of the Kosovo Liberation Army, an organization of Albanian Muslims, who were at war with ethnic Christians and other groups in the civil war that erupted in the late 1990s between Serbia, Kosovo, and the former Yugoslavia. In January, 1999, Traficant introduced House Resolution 1425, which, if it had passed, would have provided tax payer funds to assist the members of this group, which had previously been listed by the State Department and law enforcement agencies as a narco-terrorist organization. The trafficking of heroin and weapons by the KLA had been well documented for many years by the U. S. government and other governments, much of this reported in various Media outlets around the world.

     In March, 1998, almost a year before Traficantís proposed legislation, the Sunday Times of London reported that Osama bin Laden had met in Iran with members of the Iranian government in their mutual bid to provide support for Islamic terrorists inside Bosnia and Kosovo. The article mentioned bin Ladenís ties to the Taliban of Afghanistan and that 5 of bin Ladenís fellow countrymen from Egypt had relocated to the Bosnian town of Zenica. Those 5 men were identified as members of the Islamic terrorist organization al-Gamaía al-Islamiyya, a group formed in the 1970s with the blind Sheik Omar Abdel-Rachman as their spiritual leader. The Blind Sheik is currently serving a life sentence for his role in plotting terrorists bombings against New York landmarks in the 1990s. In November, 1997, members of this organization murdered 59 foreign tourists in a terrorist attack at the Temple of Hatshepsut in Egypt. The terrorists used machine guns and knives to murder their victims, which included 4 Japanese couples on their Honeymoon, as well as a 5-year-old boy from England.

     In March, 1999, Congressman Traficant attended a Demonstration of 3,000 mostly Albanian-Americans who marched from the headquarters of the United Nations to the Mission of Yugoslavia, in support of the bombing by NATO of Serbian targets in Kosovo. "To have Freedom," Traficant was quoted by the New York Times, "some people must die." We must have a free Kosovo!" Traficant declared to the mostly-Muslim crowd.

     In the January/February 2000 issue of Mother Jones Magazine, journalist Peter Klebnikov detailed in "Heroin Heroes" how drug trafficking by Kosovo Albanians had increased since NATO and the United Nations had taken over that region from the Serbs. In the Spring of 2001, Congressman Traficant traveled to Albania, where he urged Albanians to vote for Sali Berisha, a former President who was seeking election once again to that office. Berisha was elected President in 1992, but his Administration was notoriously corrupt, with about half of the population of the country losing their life savings through a series of "Ponzi schemes." A Revolution in 1997, which cost the lives of 1,500 people, removed Berisha from power.(5) In January, 2004, the Cleveland Plain Dealer published "We Bombed the Wrong Side: Kosovoís Terrorists Continue to Wage War," the personal account of Tanja Gavrilovic, who served in Kosovo for over 2 years as a Civilian Contractor for the U. S. Army. Ms. Gavrilovic detailed the Genocide being committed against Kosovo Christians. Most of the Christian Churches of Kosovo, some of which date back many Centuries, have been desecrated or destroyed by arsonists, the photographic evidence of which is published on numerous websites for all the world to witness.

     During her tour of duty in Kosovo, Ms. Gavrilovic witnessed the mortar attack which claimed the life of Associated Press journalist Kerem Lawton, who died despite Gavrilovicís heroic efforts to save him. Peter Klebnikovís brother Paul, an Editor for the Russian Edition of Forbes Magazine, was murdered in Moscow in July, 2004. Three men from Chechnya were put on trial and released, although an Appeals Court reversed that Decision. To date the case has yet to be resolved. Russian Prosecutors have claimed that the three men were hired to murder Klebnikov in retaliation for a book the journalist published about a Chechnyan Mafia and Islamic leader currently sought on terrorism charges. (6) Former FBI Agent Robert Levinson, believed to be being held as a hostage by the government of Iran, was involved in the investigation into the murder of Klebnikov. In September, 2004, Islamic terrorists from Chechnya took more than 1,110 people hostage in a childrenís school, with the resulting murders of over 300 hostages, more than half of which were children.

     One consequence of the war in Kosovo was the relocation to the United States of approximately 20,000 Albanian refugees, who were brought to the U. S. Army base at Fort Dix, New Jersey under an operation called "Open Arms." This operation mirrored a successful effort to relocate Hungarian nationals who participated in the failed attempt to bring down their Communist government in 1956. It was expected that the refugees, most of whom were Muslim, would be assimilated into the Albanian communities of New York City, which numbered over 100,000.

     However, among those refugees was a young man named Agron Abdullahu. In May of this year, Abdullahu and 3 other Albanians, along with an immigrant from Turkey and Jordan, were indicted for plotting to launch a terrorist attack against the soldiers at Fort Dix. While Abdullahu came to the U. S. legally, courtesy of the U. S. taxpayers, 3 of his alleged accomplices, the Albanian brothers from Kosovo, are illegal aliens. Although the 6 alleged terrorists all had viewed videotapes of Osama bin Laden, the Federal authorities have yet to charge that these men were sponsored by bin Ladenís international network of terrorists. One of the Defendants had, according to the Feds, scoped out the Fort Dix area by delivering pizzas to the base from a pizza parlor owned by his family. Agron Abdullahu has already pleaded guilty and will testify for the Feds in the trial of the other alleged terrorists. Abdullahu faces up to 5 years in prison, while the other plotters face up to Life in prison.

     Although most Albanians residing in the United States are not involved in criminal activity, the few that are first caught the attention of law enforcement in the 1980s. In 1985 Rudolph Giuliani was prosecuting drug dealers as U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. One prosecution of his office involved Albanian heroin dealers, and Giulianiís office learned of a plot by one of the accused to offer $400,000 for any Albanian who would murder the Prosecutor and DEA Agent in that case. Giuliani responded by securing 24 hour protection for the two men. Giulianiís office secured convictions against all of the Defendants except for one, who fled back to Kosovo.(7) Currently in the news is John Alite, an Albanian-American drug dealer and murderer, who has appeared as the key Prosecution Witness against John "Junior" Gotti in the 5th Federal Prosecution of Gotti by the Feds in the office of the Southern District of New York.

     In the interests of fairness, it should be noted that Serbians have been accused of crimes as well in recent years, in addition to Albanians. Congressman Traficant was one of several members of Congress who introduced legislation demanding that Slobodan Milosevic, the President of Serbia, be tried as a war criminal. The International Criminal Court in the Hague, acting on international accords, brought Milosevic on trial beginning in 2002 on charges of war crimes. The trial was controversial worldwide, with Milosevic being defended by many prominent public figures in the Media. Milosevic died during his trial. Another former President of Serbia, Milan Milutinovic, was placed on trial for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. President Milutinovic was acquitted.

     In the United States, a notorious criminal from Serbia has made a name for himself in the annals of the America Mafia. That person is Bosko Radonjich, a Serbian national who somewhat improbably rose to head the "Westies," a small but powerful group of Irish criminals who, for over a Century, have run organized crime rackets from their headquarters in "Hellís Kitchen," an area of mid-Manhattan along the border of the Hudson River. The Westies were aligned with both the Gambino Mafia Family in New York and the Winter Hill Gang, the Irish Mafia syndicate led by Whitey Bulger that for decades controlled organized crime in Boston, and held significant sway in local politics. The Westies and the Winter Hill Gang have been popularized in the Hollywood motion pictures "State of Grace" and "The Departed."

     Once Bosko Radonjich gained control of the Westies, he came to the aid of Gambino Godfather John Gotti, by bribing George Pape, a friend of his whom had been chosen as a juror in Gottiís first Federal trial in 1987. Once Sammy "The Bull" Gravano flipped as a co-operating witness, Gravano told prosecutors about the scheme, which resulted in a jury tampering indictment against Pape and Radonjich. Pape was convicted and Bosko fled the country.

     However, at the turn of the Century, Bosko was onboard a flight from Mexico to the Bahamas, which had a stopover in Miami. During the stopover, Bosko accidentally wandered into an area that was a checkpoint for U. S. Customs. Agents then found in their computer the outstanding Warrant for Boskoís arrest and they seized the man who has been described by some as a Freedom Fighter against the former Communist rulers of his homeland. However, on New Yearís Eve, 1999, agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration seized a package of 2,000 Ecstasy pills that were to be delivered to drug dealers in Youngstown, Ohio. Those drugs were traced back to the State of Arizona, where Sammy Gravano had set up his young son and daughter into a drug trafficking syndicate that sold drugs to kids, aided by a Neo-Nazi gang of "Skinheads" who called themselves the "Devil Dogs." Once Gravano was arrested, his testimony against Bosko was worthless, so Radonjich was released from custody and returned to his war-torn homeland.

FLIGHT 103 - PAN AMERICAN AIRLINES

     During his tenure as Congressman, James Traficant received widespread criticism for his allegation about the CIA and Pan Am 103. ABC News London correspondent Pierre Salinger then picked up the story, utilizing Traficant, government informant Lester Coleman, and private investigator Juval Aviv as his sources. Lester Coleman was able to get his allegations published in a book in which he portrayed himself as a daring "superspy" but Michael Hurley of the Drug Enforcement Administration filed a lawsuit, and the publisher, Bloomsbury, issued a public apology to Hurley, $155,000 in damages, $465,000 in legal fees, and agreed to shred all remaining copies of Colemanís book. Coleman later pleaded guilty to Perjury charges and admitted the whole Pan Am/CIA story was a hoax.


     Juval Aviv, the private investigator whose report for Pan Am implicated the CIA, was portrayed in the book "Vengeance" as a "superspy" for Israelís Mossad. The Israeli government denied Avivís claims and the Presidentís Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism would later conclude that Aviv had fabricated his past as a spy. In 1996 Aviv was put on trial in Manhattan on Federal fraud charges unrelated to the Pan Am case. He was acquitted.


     Upon Avivís indictment Congressman Traficant found a replacement in Boris de Korczak, a retired "superspy" from Poland who, like Aviv, immigrated to America to become a private investigator. De Korczak joined Traficantís office as his lead researcher in his quest to prove CIA responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Boris is best known for the lawsuit he filed in 1996 against the CIA claiming he is owed money from an alleged recruitment in the 1970s as a double agent against the KGB. At a 1979 party at the Soviet Embassy in Denmark, Boris claims, his Ďcoverí was blown by a drunken U. S. Embassy official, resulting in a shoot-out with the KGB during a wild car chase through the streets of Copenhagen. Boris also swears that once he had entered the United States, his CIA case officer demanded a bribe of Medieval Russian Icons worth $300,000 in exchange for help obtaining the Pension he claims he was owed. Boris claims he turned over the bribe, only to be shot in the kidney 3 months later by an unknown assailant armed with a pellet gun. The CIA denied Borisí claims and the lawsuit was dismissed by the Courts and the decision was upheld on Appeal. In January 1998, Traficant introduced into Congress a bill that would compel the CIA to compensate Boris. As in the case of Traficantís legislation on behalf of the Kosovo Liberation Army, that Bill was not passed by the Congress. Traficant also introduced similar Bills on behalf of John Demjanjuk. Lester Coleman went on to publish his original claims about Pan Am 103 in a fiction novel, as did Juval Aviv.

     In contrast to the allegations of Lester Coleman, Juval Aviv, and Boris de Korczak, a retired Officer of the CIA, Robert Baer, has emerged in recent years as the "real deal" in terms of someone who has published stories about his role as a "superspy." Baerís book, "See No Evil," is fact, not fiction, approved prior to publication by the CIA, and is remarkable in that there is almost no redaction of his manuscript by his former employer. Baerís interest in the Pan Am 103 bombing is personal; he was a friend of "Tiny" McKee, one of at least 4 reputed members of the U. S. Intelligence Community on board that flight who lost their lives. McKee had been stationed in Beruit, Lebanon, with the mission of locating and rescuing the American and British hostages then being held by Islamic terrorists. The hope was that those hostages would not meet the same Fate as William Buckley, the former CIA Station Chief in Beruit who was kidnapped and tortured by terrorists. Baerís research has uncovered evidence, as have others, that the government of Iran was responsible for the bombing of the U. S. Embassy in Beruit in April, 1983, which killed over 60 people, as well as the truck bombing of the U. S. barracks in October, 1983, which murdered 229 people, 220 of them being U. S. Marines.

     Baer also reveals in his book how he was falsely accused of engaging in a plot to assassinate Iraqi Dictator Saddam Hussein during his work for the CIA. Baerís allegations of the politicizing of the CIA during the Clinton Administration mirrors similar allegations raised against the Administration of President Jimmy Carter and the second President George Bush. Baerís life story provided the basis for the hit movie "Syriana."

HOW JAMES TRAFICANT BECAME A CONGRESSMAN

     James Traficantís life before being elected to Congress is also a tale of great controversy. Traficant first ran for elective office in 1980, throwing his hat into the ring for Sheriff of Youngstown, Ohio. Cleveland Mafia Family associate Charlie "The Crab" Carabbia, who had known Traficant for years, saw this as his opportunity and approached Traficant with the offer of $163,000 in bribe money to finance his campaign. Part of this money came from Carabbiaís Cleveland Family and the rest was contributed by the rival Pittsburgh Mafia Family. As both families had lucrative gambling interests in Mahoning County it was necessary for both to bribe the man who might be next elected Sheriff so that those rackets could be protected. Traficant accepted the Mobís money, agreed to protect their gambling rackets, and was elected Sheriff. Then, on the afternoon of December 13, 1980, just weeks after Traficantís election, Charlie the Crab got a phone call from someone who asked to meet him at a local donut shop. Charlie went to the donut shop and was never seen again.

     The FBI then discovered that Charlie the Crab had secretly tape recorded conversations between himself and Traficant which detailed their illegal activities together. On the tapes, Traficant is stunned when Charlie reveals to him that he is blackmailing Traficantís friend Ed Flask with "prejudicial, compromising photographs of Flask which would ensure his silence." On August 9, 1982, Sheriff Traficant was indicted by the U. S. Attorneyís office for accepting bribes from organized crime figures and for knowingly filing a false 1980 personal income tax return. At his trial in the Federal Courthouse in Cleveland, the government presented a strong case against Traficant, including the damaging statements on Charlie the Crabís tapes. Undaunted, Traficant maintained that he only accepted the bribe money as part of his own "undercover sting operation" against the Mob so that he would know whom to arrest for corruption once elected Sheriff. The jury bought that and thus Sheriff Traficant returned to a heroís welcome in Youngstown. Traficant rode the wave of publicity over his trial into election to Congress in 1984.

     Youngstown, Ohio, arguably the most corrupt mid-sized city in America, was often referred to as "Murdertown" by itís residents, an homage to the fact that Mafia murders - often by car bombs known as "Youngstown tune-ups" - were a standard occurrence for decades. However, during the Christmas Holiday Season of 1996, a crime was committed by the Mafia that was so shocking that it jolted the citizens of Youngstown - and the FBI - into action. In 1996, Paul Gains, an "Untouchable" cop, ran for District Attorney and to the surprise of everyone, Gains was elected. The local Mafia, run by Mob Boss Lenny Strollo, simply could not tolerate an honest man running that office, so a plot was hatched to murder the courageous cop. It was decided that Gains would be murdered on Christmas Eve, a night on which Gains would likely let his guard down. Thus, when Gains came home that night, a Mafia assassin was waiting for him inside his house. The gunman fired once at Gains, striking him with his bullet. Gains fell to the floor as the gunman fired a second time, but this bullet missed. With Gains unconscious, the gunman leaned down and placed the barrel of the gun against Gainsí head. The gunman then pulled the trigger a third time.

     The gun jammed.

     The gunman pulled the trigger again and again to no avail, and then fled with his accomplices waiting in their car outside. At long last, the average citizen of Youngstown was outraged over the Mafia.

     Huge numbers of FBI agents and Federal Prosecutors marched into town, in an unprecedented assault on the Mafia which would result in the convictions of over 70 corrupt public figures; Judges, cops, Sheriffs, Prosecutors, crooked lawyers, and Mafia figures. Simultaneously, a local radio talk show host, Louie B. Free, began a campaign to expose Congressman Traficant for what he was. This reporter joined in that effort, reciting passages from Feature reports at American Mafia on Freeís radio program. On February 19, 2001, this reporter published the first of a series of exposés on the campaign contributions of Congressman Traficant. "In the Money: Congressman James Traficant and his Campaign Contributors," revealed that Traficant had accepted thousands of dollars from both the members of the American Mafia as well as associates of the MEK. Nine days after the publication of this exposé, the FBI arrested 7 Iranians at the Los Angeles International Airport for illegally raising funds for the MEK. The money, according to the FBI, was used to purchase on the black market rocket-propelled grenades and other explosives intended for use against civilians targets. These arrests marked the decline of support for the MEK by members of Congress. The arrests by the FBI of Islamic terrorists operating openly within the United States, at that time in February, 2001, was just one of many indications nationwide of what was to come just 7 months later.

     Louie B. Freeís criticism of Congressman Traficant came at a high price; Free was fired from his radio station. A reporter for the Capital Hill weekly Roll Call, Damon Chappie, would then reveal that the stationís owner was a significant contributor to the Congressmanís campaigns for re-election. Louie Free would be hired by two more radio stations - and fired two more times - before the day came when he was able to announce on his program that a Federal jury in Ohio had convicted Congressman Traficant on bribery and racketeering charges.

     That, however, would not be the end of the story, but rather, the beginning of a new chapter. In 2005, Director Steven Spielberg produced a new movie, "Munich," based upon the allegations made by Juval Aviv in the book "Vengeance." The movie, about an alleged plot by Israeli Intelligence to track down and murder the Palestinians responsible for the terrorist attack at the Olympic Games in 1972, was a hit, nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director.

     Media accounts later revealed that Spielberg planned to Produce and Direct a film based upon Avivís allegations that Pan Am Flight 103 was brought down by a CIA operation gone awry. The Pan Am case once again erupted onto the front pages of newspapers worldwide, when earlier this year the Scottish government released Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, who was convicted for planting the bomb that brought down Flight 103. The Libyan was alleged to have been released on humanitarian grounds due to his condition of terminal cancer, but documents made public in England revealed evidence that the vast oil fields of Libya was the key factor in this decision. The convicted mass murderer received a heroís welcome in Libya, further enraging the families and loved ones of those who died on that plane, which included 35 U. S. college students traveling home for the December holidays. One of those was Theodora Cohen, whose parents have been among those who have fought bravely for Justice in the two decades since their children were murdered. Susan and Daniel Cohen told this story in their book "Pan Am 103: The Bombing, the Betrayals, and a Bereaved Familyís Search for Justice." In that book, the Cohenís express their feelings about people such as Congressman Traficant and Juval Aviv.

     This story received further international attention when Muammar Qaddafiís agents sought to set up a Bedouin tent on the grounds of a property in New Jersey, adjacent to a Jewish religious school, which would be the temporary home of Qaddafi when he arrived in the United States to make a speech before the United Nations. Outrage over this event prompted Qaddafiís people to abandon that plan and rent a property in New York, but local officials stopped that by issuing work-stop orders to prevent the erection of the terroristís tent. Qaddafi went on to make his speech before the United Nations in a lengthy, rambling narrative full of various conspiracy theories.

EPILOGUE

     The second trial of John Demjanjuk is slated to begin in Munich on November 30, with the accused Nazi War criminal facing Accessory to murder charges in the deaths of 27,900 men, women, and children, most of whom were of the Jewish Faith. It remains to be seen if James Traficant will attend this trial.

     Steven Spielberg has not spoken publicly in recent months as to the Media reports of last year regarding a plan to make a movie based on the conspiracy theories regarding Pan Am Flight 103.

     Although the Kosovo Liberation Army has technically been disbanded, many former members of that terrorist organization continue to traffic heroin and weapons through that troubled region.

     Most of the members of the MEK were captured by U. S. Forces during the invasion of Iraq and were held captive while the United States government contemplated whether to engage some of them in the ongoing hostile relationship between Iran and the United States, including utilizing members of the MEK in obtaining intelligence on Iranís nuclear weapons program.

RELATED FEATURES BY THIS AUTHOR:

THE TRIALS OF TRAFICANT
Part Seven: Traficant Goes to Jail
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_227.html

THE TRIALS OF TRAFICANT
Part Six: The Congressman is Judged by "A Jury of his Peers!"
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_225.html

THE TRIALS OF TRAFICANT
Part Five: The Congressman Attacks the Judge and Jurors in his Federal Trial
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_223.html

THE TRIALS OF TRAFICANT
Part Four: How Congressman Traficant and a Labor Union Found Their Way into the Court of U. S. District Judge Lesley Brooks Wells
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_199.html

THE TRIALS OF TRAFICANT
Part Three: Court Documents Reveal Traficantís Suicide Anxiety
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_193.html

THE TRIALS OF TRAFICANT
Part Two: Was Traficantís Recent Injury Self-Inflicted?
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_191.html

THE TRIALS OF TRAFICANT
Part One
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_189.html

CHRISTMAS IN MURDERTOWN
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_3.html

IN THE MONEY:
CONGRESSMAN JAMES TRAFICANT AND HIS CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTORS
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_121.html

ONE DEGREE OF SEPARATION:
Congressman James Traficant and the Murder of Mobster Charlie Carabbia
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_1.html

SOURCES

1. "The Man, the Rug, and the Red Carpet," Washington Post, 9-7-09.

2. Appeasing the Ayatollahs and Suppressing Democracy: U. S. Policy and the Iranian Opposition, by the Iran Policy Committee, 2006.

3. Pan Am 103: The Bombing, the Betrayals, and a Bereaved Familyís Search for Justice, by Susan and Daniel Cohen, Signet Books, 2001.

4. Sword of Islam: Muslim Extremists from the Arab Conquests to the Attack on America, by John F. Murphy. Prometheus Books, 2002.

5. "Traficant Travels to Albania, Endorses Presidential Candidate," The Business Journal of Youngstown, May 1, 2001.

6. "Prosecutor Says Chechen Rebel Had Editor Killed," NY Times, June 17, 2005.

7. "Brazen as the Mafia, Ethnic Albanian Thugs Specialize in Mayhem," Anthony M. DeStefano, The Wall Street Journal, September 9, 1985.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

The Devil We Know: Dealing With the New Iranian Superpower, by Robert Baer. Crown Publishers, 2008.


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