“There’s a secret world all
around us,” a legendary CIA agent tells a young recruit in “Overworld,” L.J..
Kolb’s eye-opening account of growing up as the son of an American spy. “You
just don’t see it unless you know where to look.”
April 11,2005 -Venice,
FL. by Daniel Hopsicker
details in the biography of "Professor” Abdussattar Shaikh, the San Diego man
called the "best chance to uncover the Sept. 11 plot before it happened” by
the Joint Congressional 9.11 Intelligence Committee, are untrue, mis-leading,
or false, a MadCowMorningNews investigation has discovered.
senior Al-Qaeda operative just indicted for planning
to blow up U.S. financial landmarks, alleged to have operated freely in this
country using his student status "as cover to conceal the true purpose of his
subsequent trips to the United States," the true identity of Shaikh, a key
witness to the 9.11 conspiracy, is shielded from view by bogus
claims of academic employment and status.
practice of using Universities to provide cover for foreign nationals in the
U.S.—either as terrorists or as U.S. intel assets, or both—appears to have
been widespread; so widespread in San Diego, at least, that the San Diego
FBI’s own confidential informants were engaged in it.
An image boost from a
friendly media outlet
who had two hijackers living in his house in San Diego while operating at the
same time as a confidential informant for the FBI was identified in wire
reports as “a retired professor of English at San Diego State,” and
“Vice President for International Projects at American Commonwealth
Yet a visit
to the various locations around San Diego where he was said to have
worked reveals that Abdussattar Shaikh never taught at San Diego
never been a Professor of English, and possesses a phony PhD from a bogus diploma
mill run by people with U.S. military and intelligence connections.
The "University" for which he was said to be
President for International Projects does not, in fact, exist.
Also: "Abdussattar Shaikh" is not his real name.
The Secret World of 9.11
gap between what happens and what gets reported lies the secret history.
In sunny San
Diego, we discovered, it was visible almost everywhere you looked.
Just as a
handful of highly-suspect flight schools in Florida provided “cover” for
Mohamed Atta and his terrorist cadre, a handful of bogus “Universities” in
San Diego provided a cloak of legitimacy to a number of suspected terrorists.
“University” for which Shaikh was supposed to have handled “international projects,”
University, no longer existed
at the time in question. It had been forced out of business by state regulators.
during its brief life it
existed only as a mail drop,
one of a number of interlocking diploma mills. Its old address in a non-descript office building alongside the 805 freeway
in San Diego also 'housed' a clutch of other faux citadels of learning:
Golden Gate University, Huron International University, and the American
Institute of Hypnotherapy, all presumably carrying on the murky legacy of
schools are run by a cast of characters, many of who play reoccurring roles as
what might be called "serial scammers." Yet they can't be totally dismissed as scam
artists: some of them have U.S. military and
supposed “employer,” American Commonwealth University, for
example, began life as William Lyon University, named for and
founded by retired Air Force General William Lyon, a big wheel in California
Republican circles as Chairman of the GOP’s “Team California Victory 2004” and
a member of a group of wealthy, high-powered Orange
County's Republicans called “The New Majority.”
was an FBI informant, housing at least three suspected terrorists. When the
post- 9.11media spotlight swung his way he was said to work
for a non-existent University with Republican and mil-intel connections.
this sham cover story has gone
America's no-longer-very-damn free press.
Diego Union Tribune Spins the Shaikh
how Shaikh was presented to the American people in the media: The Associated
Press labeled Shaikh “a retired San Diego State University English teacher.”
The Los Angeles Times said he was “a retired professor in suburban
description as “prominent Muslim leader and former San Diego State University
English professor” was based on initial reporting by the hometown San
retired San Diego State University English professor said he often invites
students to live in his five-bedroom house for companionship and to learn
other cultures and languages,” said the Sept 16,2001 San Diego Union Tribune.
true. They admitted the error in a correction.
leader Abdussattar Shaikh was misidentified as a retired San Diego
State University professor in a
story Sunday. In fact, he is a retired educator who taught at Mesa and Miramar
colleges and American Commonwealth
University in San Diego. The Union-Tribune regrets the error.”
damage had been done, and in most subsequent stories Shaikh was called a “San
Diego Professor,” which was apparently all that was necessary to deflect any
Newsweek dubbed him a
undercover asset." He was
labeled a "trusted informant for the FBI."
What no U.S.
media outlet has reported (until now) is that
Abdussattar Shaikh is nothing of the kind. The American people weren't even
told his real name, we discovered. A
profile on Indian-born Shaikh in
his hometown Indian newspaper
India-West reported Shaikh's real name is "Abdussattar Chhipa."
people change their names, its nearly always for a reason.
is no definitive source for records from that ‘school,’” she stated. “ The
transcripts I have came from someone’s garage.”
time both ‘schools’ cited in Shaikh’s resume—American Commonwealth and United
University—had been run by Dr. Richard Crews, an M.D. from Harvard, whose
pedigree includes stints as Chief of Psychiatry at Womack military hospital
and "Chief of Mental Hygiene Consultation Services” at Fort Bragg, North
Carolina, home of America’s Special Forces.
Being "President" of bogus Universities
must have suited him:
in addition to the two already mentioned, he helmed Columbia Pacific
University, which awarded Mars & Venus’s John Gray his doctorate in
snake-oil, which the California Attorney General denounced as a fraudulent
"diploma mill" when he shut it down in the late ‘90’s.
without a fight.
A sticky GOP wicket
time there was no law in this field at all,” explained California’s Deborah
first tried to take action against Columbia Pacific, all the way back
in 1989 we immediately encountered the wrath of then-Governor Pete
Wilson. There was an atmosphere full of reprisals. We were attacked just
for doing our jobs, accused of being vindictive."
Governor Wilson appointed a task force to investigate the industry, we
learned, it was packed with owners of the bogus schools.
Richard Crews was the chairman of the committee.
to explain this laissez-faire Republican attitude toward crime might have been a story
we found detailing Gov. Wilson’s flying around on private jets which had been paid for by special interest groups.
All but one of the biggest contributors seemed predictable: the California Winegrape Growers, the
California Independent Oil Producers, Merchants and Manufacturers Assn. of California.
right along with
these traditionally big-spending lobbyists, however, was tiny (read:
non-existent) William Lyon University,
thereafter changed its name to American Commonwealth University, the moniker
trotted out by Shaikh's FBI handlers to provide their boy Abdu
with a plausible legend, or 'cover.'
clean-cut Pete Wilson go to bat for a bunch of scam schools ten years ago?
Was it just for the cash? A free ride on one of General Lyon's jets? (Lyon
owns Martin Aviation, the FBO and biggest charter operator at John Wayne
and Orange County GOP
big-wig Gen William Lyon be playing parts in some larger operation, one which
necessitated having a few
'diploma mills' on hand?
bad publicity, the cluster of phony universities in San Diego soldiered
on, staying one step ahead of
flat-footed state bureaucrats by scattering to places like Montana and
Wyoming, and changing their names faster than you can say "CIA front." They
rather like the hundreds of tiny “airlines” through which the CIA
once concealed the biggest airline in the world.
example, Columbia Pacific, John Gray’s alma mater, has also been
“Columbia Commonwealth University,” and “Commonwealth Pacific University," and
is still in operation, as best we can tell,
under a charter from
Malawi, a country in Africa tucked
in between Mozambique, Zambia, and Tanzania.
Technocrats come from all over the globe today, but Malawi has not, to put it
charitably, been known for a strong tradition of educational achievement. In
Malawi's President-for-Life was just in the news for refusing to move into his
country's new $300 million Presidential palace, because he
it was haunted.
technocratic is that?
"Bribes replaced apples a
long time ago."
Abdussattar Shaikh isn't who authorities claimed he is...who is he?
answer to that questions remains unknown. And we're only just learning of Shaikh's curious association with another
shadowy Middle-eastern man
living in San Diego...Sam Koutchesfahani, an Iranian exile
and arms dealer
for the Shah.
When the Peacock Throne went pffft Koutchesfahani
San Diego, where as one of a large number of Iranians-in-exile, many with
former CIA ties, he turned his attentions to a variety of enterprises. Sam's
included infiltrating Middle Eastern men into the U.S. illegally...for the
better part of a decade.
than six years in the 1990s, people from the Middle East came to San Diego
County on bogus student visas,” reported a September 21, 2001
San Diego Union-Tribune story headlined “Terrorists
may have exploited student visas.”
an underground network led by a Rancho Santa Fe man, nearly 100 Middle
Easterners paid local community college teachers and administrators for
counterfeit admission papers and grades, which allowed them to get student
final figure was "more than 200," according to Sam's plea bargain.)
center of the scam was a Rancho Santa Fe man, Sam Koutchesfahani, whose family
roots and wealth were deep in Iran. He pleaded guilty to tax evasion and fraud and was
sentenced to a year in prison. Koutchesfahani was the owner of a rented house
in Rancho Santa Fe where 39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult took their lives
"Sam & Fifi at the Moonlight Beach Lodge."
Koutchesfahani, according to court documents, bribed college and university instructors in the San
Diego area to procure phony student visas for middle-eastern men he was
helping insert into the U.S.
that have been part of
job description too? If not, we are forced to believe the
government's story, which portrays him as just the unluckiestsumbitch
in recent American history.
two of the 19 terrorist hijackers... how unlucky is that?
We learned of a
link between Shaikh and
Koutchesfahani from a man who worked at a motel in Encinitas
during the mid-90’s.
While he worked there it had been sold to a group,
which included Koutchesfahani,
led by a Lebanese man who apparently has so far completely escaped scrutiny,
Tamer Tamer Salomah.
recalled the convenience store in Venice where Mohamed Atta and Marwan hung
out, abandoned the day after the 9.11 attack by its owner, who was also
Cicchese is the general manager of a hotel and convention center complex in
Corvallis, Oregon. Ten years ago, while going to school in San Diego
and working as a motel
clerk, he met Sam
happened upon your article where you mentioned Sam Koutchesfahani, with the
Heaven's Gate cult in his home and all,” he wrote us.
for Sam and his wife Fifi in 1994-95. Back then they were using the last name of
Fahani. The motel was called the Moonlight Beach Lodge. It has changed names twice
since; today its called the Portofino Inn. When Tamer
bought the place, he brought Sam in to work on the premises. Sam said he was "a silent partner" so
his name may not appear on the title.”
no time in phoning Mr. Cicchese to ask for his recollections.
A violent character in a dubious enterprise
Cicchese, “Neither one of them knew how to run a hotel. That’s what I told the
FBI when I contacted them in October 2001 with info on Sam and his bribes to
admit middle-eastern students to Universities in San Diego
they did not qualify to attend. But I never heard back from them on whether
or not my info proved fruitful.”
So, who was Sam Fahani/ Koutchesfahani?
me he did arms deals for the Shah,” Cicchese replied. “And I believed it,
because he was a really violent character. He and I didn’t get along too well,
because I didn’t hide the fact that he didn’t know the first thing about motel
day he called me into his office because he was pissed about something,”
Cicchese continued, “ and he told me he was going to beat me with a tire
that day I had to leave the front desk for some reason, and I saw Sam walking
towards me up the center drive running through the motel, and he had a tire
iron in his hand!”
customer came up to him and asked him about something, and Sam kept looking
back and forth between the customer and me the whole time he talked with him.
If that customer hadn’t stopped him, I think he was going to hit me with it.”
Tamer nor Sam knew anything about motels, why did they buy it?
them talking about using it to house some students,” Cicchese explained.
“Tamer taught at some international University in San Diego with a lot of
foreign students, and they were going to use the motel to house them.”
“United States International
said, “Yeah. That’s the one.”
link between Sam Koutchesfahani and Abdussattar Shaikh is participation in
some kind of covert operation involving bogus universities in San Diego.
Clunker cars on campus at
Auld Lang Syne
discovered that Koutchesfahani also boasts a bogus PhD as well. He has a
doctorate in psychology (we like to think that perhaps his specialty is anger
management) from a diploma mill called “Newport University.”
A story in
the June 09, 1996 SALT LAKE TRIBUNE contained this
description of the campus of "Newport University:"
of clunker cars sit in the driveway of a 40-year-old brick house, which sits
squarely in a commercial zone: a hardware store in back, an equipment-rental
company in front and a McDonald's expanding up the street.”
yard has an old cedar fence, a rusting clothesline and an overgrown shade
tree. Inside the house, a secondhand desk, some office chairs, bookshelves and
a pair of torch lamps are assembled in the living room…”
to Newport University, Utah's newest private college.”
is yet another, even more incredible link between the two men: Both worked for
the San Diego FBI as confidential informants. In court documents in his
bribery case we learned to our astonishment that at exactly the same time he
was renting a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe to the Heaven’s Gate cultists, Sam
Koutchesfahani worked as a confidential informant for the San Diego FBI.
nowhere else, Shaikh and Koutchesfahani’s paths crossed in the waiting room of
the San Diego FBI, which we picture as looking as strange and exotic as the
Wookie Bar from Star Wars.
“lone cadre slipping through Europe and America unnoticed,” as Hedrick Smith
lied in the opening of PBS’s Front Line documentary on the 9.11 attack, the
hijackers didn't associate
with just the poor nobodies you'd expect them to...
Just like in
Venice, the people the terrorists in San Diego hung out with were anything but
More competition for Unluckiest Sumbitch
Diego FBI office has endured much embarrassment since the 9.11 attack. They
admitted they had been searching for Al-Midhar and Alhazmi since August
because of suspected connections to Osama bin Laden.
Three other suspected terrorists who rented rooms in his home—Omer
Bakarbashat, Ramez T. Noaman and Yazed Al-Salmi—were arrested as material
witnesses in the ongoing terror investigation.
Congressional investigators allowed that they had some problems with the
veracity of Shaikh’s statements. And news reports began to sound slightly less
sure about him:
known about the 65-year-old, Indian-born Shaikh, who has declined several
interview requests by The Associated Press, other than to deny his neighbors'
reports that suspected hijacker Mohamed Atta visited his home.”
least three of his neighbors stepped forward to say they'd seen Mohamed Atta
at his home on several occasions. So it
was soon clear that the
Indian-born Shaikh was lying about his meetings with Atta, just as he'd lied
(and vociferously) about working for the FBI as a confidential informant.
Marna Adair told the FBI that the polite, clean-shaven Atta was frequently at
the home of Abdussattar Shaikh between August and early December of 2000.
Adair said she identified a photograph of Atta on Sept. 17 to FBI agents who
visited her home and showed her three pages of photos.
homemaker whose door is about 50 feet from Shaikh's house and gives a clear
view of the driveway, said she is "positive" she saw Atta.
neighbor, Deborah Fortner, remembered seeing Atta as well. "He was the one
that was scary. He's got these piercing eyes. That's something you never
forget about him."
FBI was forced to admit to the Congressional Joint Inquiry into 911 that “the
hijackers may have known the informant [Shaikh] months earlier than the
after-image of innocent people hanging out of 100th story windows
in the WorldTrade Center on the morning of the attack, questions about Shaikh persisted.
somehow Shaikh’s ‘cover’ held.
the real story about the hijackers who lived in San Diego
were visible in the first stories filed from there about the city’s role in
the 9.11 plot. It was a
story about “students:”
Muslim leader Abdussattar Shaikh said he thought he was offering shelter to
students from Saudi Arabia studying English,” reported the Sept 15, 2001 San
Diego Union-Tribune. “FBI agents are trying to piece together the many aspects
of the hijackers' lives in San Diego.”
account quoted Bill Gore, head of the San Diego FBI office, denying that
Shaikh was a suspect. He was not suspected of knowingly harboring the
terrorists, Gore told reporters.
Maybe the FBI was trying to piece together someof the
“many aspects of the hijackers lives…”
all of them.
Probably we will always be being sued, given the current state of America's "not too damn free anymore" press. Please help us continue by making a donation directly into to our defense fund.