‘Saudi Flights’ on Mob, CIA-Linked Air Charters

provparisThe owner of one of the air charter companies involved in the airlift of Saudi Royals and bin Laden family members out of the U.S. after the 9/11 attack has been identified in numerous published reports as a business partner and “close associate” of New England Mob Boss Raymond J. (Junior) Patriarca, the MadCowMorningNews has learned.

Frank Zammiello's Northstar Aviation in Warrick R. I. flew four Saudis, including a Saudi Sheikh (name unfortunately redacted) on a flight which left Providence R.I. September 14, 2001 and flew to Paris.

FBI documents refer to it as the “Northstar Aviation flight.”

intiso1Curiously, however, there is no mention of the organized crime connections of air charter owner Zammiello in either the 9/11 Commission Report, which covered the Saudi flights, or in recently-released FBI documents rebutting allegations that bin Laden family members were allowed to leave the U.S. without being interviewed by authorities.

The omission is surprising, especially considering Frank Zammiello's relevance to the story of President George W. Bush's amazing claim of executive privilege in early 2002 for all records of the Boston FBI.

Sheiks (and Sheik-ettes) on a plane

bongobongobongoBut Northstar's questionable associations are by no means an isolated circumstance among the air charter companies involved with the Saudi flights.

Five air charter companies flying Saudi Royals and bin Laden family members out of the U.S. after the 9/11 attack can be firmly located in the seldom-glimpsed netherworld of Saudi money, CIA covert activities, international organized crime… even Jack Abramoff's billion dollar influence peddling on an intercontinental scale.  

It is an untold story of chilling proportions, some sinister, some comic.

  • Two air charter companies used in the Saudi flights are involved in CIA rendition flights & other covert actions.
  • A number of Saudi Royals flew home from Las Vegas in a plane which sported on its tail the Christian dove symbol of the Christian TV network which owned it.

Moreover, that the mainstream media has not seen fit to so much as lift an eyebrow at Saudi Royals leaving the U.S. on the airplane of President-for-Life Omar Bongo of Africa's beyond-corrupt Republic of Gabon is so way beyond surreal as to defy belief.

FBI 'Straw Man' burned beyond recognition

a solid frontThe FBI has been quick to respond to the “straw man” accusation that the FBI failed to conduct interviews with bin Laden family members before they were allowed to leave the U.S.

FBI documents released last month stress that they were all over the Northstar Saudi flight, and all over the other Saudi flights, too.

    “On September 14, 2001, a Northstar Aviation flight to Paris, France, departed from Providence, Rhode Island. There were four Saudi nationals on board. According to the FBI, all four passengers “were interviewed and their identity confirmed.”

Fair enough… as far as it goes. But the comments of Democratic Senators Charles Schumer and Frank Lautenberg, when the “Phantom Flight” from Tampa to Lexington was finally confirmed by the 9/11 Commission Report in 2004, focused on another aspect altogether:

“Right after September 11, there were thousands of planes for rent and hundreds Boeing 727s virtually identical to the one the Bin Laden’s used," Senator Schumer said.

"But the plane that flew the Bin Laden’s back to Saudi Arabia ‘just happened’ to be same one used by the Bush White House as a press charter.”

1. Don't pull on Superman's cape.

saudi_abdulaziz+faisal_GCCAnd Lautenberg noted, “There were 57 charter operators registered to rent out over 375 Boeing 727s nationwide, and commercial aviation was still at a relative standstill, so it's likely that most if not all of the charter jets in the United States were available that day.”

Referring to the Saudi flight flown by an airliner often used by the White House to fly the press corps, Lautenberg asked, “When was the first time after September 19, 2001 that the Executive Office of the President used B727 N521DB or any other aircraft from DB Air or Ryan International?”

The Senators suspicions about the identities of the air charter companies involved in the Saudi flights, as we will see, are nothing if not prescient…

The brief thumbnail sketch of air charter operator Frank Zammiello’s “greatest hits” which follows raises the question: What business did Saudi Sheiks have with Mobsters from the Northeast?

2. Never eat a restaurant named Mom's.

Frank Zammiello once pledged more than $6 million to secure a pretrial release for New England mob boss Raymond J. “Junior” Patriarca, when he was facing racketeering charges.

That’s a lot of clams.

But Zammiello’s got them. He owns Camille’s restaurant, a downtown Providence landmark where you could run into Frank Sinatra at dinner, or New England mob boss Raymond Patriarca during lunch.

But forget counting the spoons. Count the looted bank vaults. According to the Boston Globe, just before Jefferson Loan and Investment Bank of Cranston R.I. went bust in 1989:

    “$400,000 went to a Patriarca business associate, Frank Zammiello, owner of Northstar Aviation Inc., which operates an aircraft service hangar at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick.”

The $400,000 payment to Zammiello's firm was toward the purchase of Northstar.

Alas for taxpayers (who always get stuck with the bill) when the bank went under, Zammiello didn't have to give it back, because it was a nonrefundable down payment.

3. And never ever ever fire the son of a Mob Boss.

cadillacfrank1Zammiello also figured in a famous case involving a nightclub owned by the son of mob boss Cadillac Frank Salemme.

According to the U.S. Attorney the club "was a business operated on behalf of La Cosa Nostra and run by people closely associated with the Mafia."

When the nightclub was given two weeks by the Boston Licensing Board to resolve its “problems,” the manager, Steve DiSarro, allegedly offered to placate the pols by firing the son of the Mob Boss.

Big Mistake-o. The manager went "missing." His body has never been found.

dukakisAnd questions about his final resting place–or places–join the ranks of other popular questions in Beantown. What happened to the Boston Strangler? Whose idea was it to put Dukakis in a tank?

"Been a privilege claiming privilege with you, Sir

Opined the Boston Herald, "The relationship between DiSarro and Providence real estate developer Frank J. Zammiello, a known friend and partner of the jailed New England crime boss (Patriarca), suggests the South Boston club may be under the control of organized crime.”

zip"Cadillac Frank" Salemme also figured in the corruption trial of former Boston FBI honcho John Connelly.

But we may never learn more than we do now about John Connelly—known as “Zip” to his Mob buddies—and his 30-year crime spree.

When the House Government Committee attempted to hold hearings on corruption in the Boston FBI, they were thwarted in the Spring of 2002 by President George W. Bush.

Bush shocked the Congressional watchdog committee’s chairman, conservative Republican Dan Burton, by claiming executive privilege to keep Congress from gaining access to documents generated by the Boston FBI.  

You would have thought Bush had more important things on his mind at that particular moment than FBI corruption in Boston, but who knows?

The Dept of Rhetorical Questions

MobstersIf Connelly's crime family and Bush's claim of executive privilege were to one day dovetail just perfectly with the FBI raid on Boston computer services company Ptech because of  it's ownership's uncomfortable resemblance to the financiers of al-Qaeda…

And were both threads turn out to be decisive factors in the Saudi's choice of a Mob-linked aircraft charter company in Rhode Island to get a Saudi Sheik and three other men out of the U.S. tout de suite…

Would anyone really be surprised?

But Messer’s Bush and Zammiello no doubt know more about these things than we do.

madcowMr. Bush, after all, promised to track down Osama bin Laden dead or alive, and he’s still alive, so he was at least half-right.

And Mr. Zammiello is today a respected real estate developer in Palm Beach Florida.

He was even able to borrow $12.5 million from the Providence city employees retirement fund to build a shopping center…

So he obviously knows something we don't. Because we can’t imagine any city’s retirement fund offering us that kind of money.

We don't imagine you can, either.


Daniel Hopsicker

Daniel Hopsicker is an investigative journalist and the author of two books on transnational crime, Welcome to Terrorland and Barry & the Boys.