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A Collage Full Of Power & Prestige

 

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Roger Tamraz

 

 

 

When giving this blog/website of mine a ‘makeover’, I was trying to find something interesting that could both catch the eye of my readers, yet while at the same time giving as if a ‘short story’ of its own pertaining to my father Roy, his professional life and in turn  my life and the life of my family as a whole.

Although if one were to attempt to place every single person, the business connections of my father on to paper, or for that matter on to a ‘collage’, then my biggest fear would be two things:… First of all: Have I forgotten anyone? And secondly: Will I have enough room to place them in the collage for my ‘front page picture’ of this article?  I decided to take a handful of my father’s business connections and then add one or two personal pictures as well to personalize this little more.

I will start from the top, and then go left to right, working my way down as I give details about ‘who’ these people are that I used for this ‘primary collage’ for my ‘new look’ blog.

 

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Yehia  El-komy

 

 

 

Top left corner, was a very close friend of my fathers. His name is Roger Tamraz. (For a more detail part, I will place some info of which is noted about him from Wikipedia)

Tamraz is an international banker and venture capital investor who has had an active business career in oil and gas in the Middle EastEuropeAsia and the United States since the early 1960s. Born in 1940 in CairoEgypt to Lebanese parents, Tamraz grew up speaking fluent English, French and Arabic. His early schooling was at the prestigious English School in Cairo. He subsequently attended the American University in CairoCambridge University in a Ph.D. programme, and the Institut Européen d’Administration (INSEAD) in FontainebleauFrance. He received an MBA in 1966 from Harvard Business School, where his classmates included many future leaders in Western and international governments and businesses. [1][2]

Tamraz served for many years as a member of the Board of Trustees of the American University in Cairo, where he endowed a number of named scholarships for Egyptian students of exceptional promise. Tamraz was nominated as Governor of the Central Bank in 1988. He became a U.S. citizen in 1989.

Tamraz’s first notable business enterprise was in 1967, when as an executive of the Wall Street investment bank Kidder, Peabody & Co., he successfully refloated a large Lebanese bank called Intra Bank, which had become insolvent in 1966. The bank had been founded in Beirut in 1951 by Yousef Beidas and three partners as a currency trading house named International Traders. The bank stopped payments on October 14, 1966. The collapse of the bank brought the Lebanese economy to a halt and sent shockwaves throughout the Middle EastIntra Bank accounted for 15% of total bank deposits and 38% of all deposits with Lebanese-owned banks. It owned nine other banks, controlled 35 companies and employed 43,000 people at the time of its collapse.[3][4]

The collapse was followed by its restructuring, under a plan known as the “Kidder Peabody Plan,” which was engineered by Tamraz (who served for years as its chairman and chief executive officer), under which the deposit obligations of the old Intra Bank were replaced with shares in a new company named Intra Investment Company (IIC), one of the major sovereign wealth investment companies in the Middle East. The major shareholders of IIC were the Lebanese government, along with the governments of KuwaitQatar and the United States, all of which had been major depositors in the former bank. IIC remained a major shareholder in key institutions such as Middle East Airlines (Tamraz was the Vice Chairman of the airline for a number of years, with special responsibility for its finances, banking relationships and aircraft purchases), Casino du Liban and Bank Al Mashrek, which carried out the remaining banking operations. Kidder Peabody continued to advise the board of IIC until 1973 under an advisory contract, at which time the relationship was discontinued.[5][6][7]

SUMED, Bank of the Commonwealth, Tamoil, Meurice, Baku-Ceyhan

After leaving Intra Bank in the early 1970s, Tamraz continued his investment banking activities, dealing with most major companies and governments in the area. His early background gave him an unusual ability to bridge East and West, while his educational background and fluency in Arabic quickly made him a trusted banker and adviser throughout the Middle East.

Working with the government of Kuwait, for instance, he reorganized Gulf Fisheries, a company with over 200 ocean-going fishing vessels worldwide, and supervised and priced its takeover by the Kuwaiti government. At the same time, he also worked with Egypt Air and the Egyptian government to completely re-equip the airline’s fleet with new Boeing passenger aircraft.[2][7]

Tamraz acquired ownership of Chantiers Navals de la Ciotat (CNC), the second-largest shipyard in France, in the early 1970s. This company was one of the early pioneers in the construction of LNG vessels for oceangoing natural gas transport, and also specialized in submarines, patrol boats and other military platforms. In addition, the yard constructed very large crude carriers (VLCC5) and conventional bulk cargo vessels for the civilian maritime industry.

In the 1970s, Tamraz conceived, financed and built the well-known 200-mile (320 km) long Suez-Mediterranean (SUMED) Pipeline in Egypt, considered as “one of the world’s greatest engineering feats”, a pipeline designed to run parallel to the blocked Suez Canal, which had been closed since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Using Bechtel Corporation as prime contractor, the pipeline, which comprises two parallel 42-inch lines, was opened in 1978 with a capacity of 1.6 million barrels per day (250,000 m3/d). Completion of an additional pumping station in 1994 increased capacity to its current 2.5 million barrels per day (400,000 m3/d).[2][7]

Concurrently with the SUMED project, Tamraz conceived and financed the world’s largest chemical methanol plant in JubailSaudi Arabia in partnership with Japan’s Itochu Corporation and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Tamraz continued subsequently as an advisor to Itochu senior management, especially on Middle East energy strategy. The methanol project included a five-year, 100-million-barrels (16,000,000 m3) preferential crude oil supply contract for Japan that was signed with the Saudi government during the 1973 oil crisis.

In 1976, Tamraz moved into United States financial markets with his acquisition of Bank of the Commonwealth, a Michigan-based bank with 50 branches. He strengthened and expanded the bank until 1983, when it was merged into the founding of Comerica, Inc., now one of the largest super-regional U.S. bank holding companies. The merger made Tamraz the largest single shareholder in Comerica at the time, before selling out to finance the Tamoil acquisition described below. Comerica currently has assets of $64 billion and a market capitalization of $5.6 billion.[8]

By the early 1980s, Tamraz became the 100% owner of the Meurice Hotel Group in Paris, which owned the Meurice (Hôtel MeuricePrince de Galles and Grand Hotels, as well as the famed Cafe de la Paix. At the time, the 1,000 rooms of these three hotels comprised 25% of all the luxury hotel rooms in Paris. The properties were sold to Grand Metropolitan Hotel Corporation of London in the mid-1980s.

Also during the 1980s, Tamraz founded and built Europe’s Tamoil Corporation by purchasing and combining all of the Italian assets of Amoco (Standard Oil Company of Indiana) and of Texaco Corporation (1,000 service stations each). Prior to selling, he expanded the company to 3,000 service stations, three refineries, an extensive pipeline distribution system and a refining capacity of 250,000 barrels (40,000 m3) of oil per day. Tamoil today has annual sales of $20 billion and a market capitalization of $6.3 billion.

In the early 1990s, after the Soviet Union loosened its grip on Central Asia, Tamraz was the originator of the 1,100-mile (1,800 km) Baku-Ceyhan (Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline) considered as “one of the great engineering endeavours”, an oil pipeline project, to move 1 million barrels per day (160,000 m3/d) of Caspian Sea oil to the Mediterranean Sea and thus to world markets. Tamraz managed to obtain support for the proposed pipeline from Turkmen President Niyazov, Azerbaijan’s President Heydar Aliyev, and Turkey’s Prime Minister, Tansu Çiller, and Turkey’s Botas company. Tamraz’s companies negotiated and signed the original pipeline right-of-way transit agreement with the Government of Turkey. This agreement was essential to the success of the project, which was eventually completed by BP after its purchase of Amoco, with which Tamraz had been cooperating in the Central Asian area. During this period, Tamraz acquired equity ownership positions in Turkmenistan’s Blocks I and II two of that country’s major oil and gas producing properties. These fields have reserves of 13 trillion cubic feet (370 km3) of gas and 700 million barrels (110,000,000 m3) of oil, with 1,400 working wells, and currently produce two billion cubic feet per day of natural gas.[9]

Netoil, Tamoil and Net Oil Oman

Recently, Roger Tamraz’s Netoil group of companies has been in discussions with Libya to buy back Tamoil [10][11] .[12] Tamraz’s strategy is to use the Tamoil acquisition to expand Netoil’s existing energy businesses, which operate in the Middle East and Asia primarily through Netoil’s Tamgaz subsidiary. Netoil is currently in the construction phase of a large seaborne floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) project in the Gulf of Oman that will transform natural gas purchased in Oman into LNG, which it will ship to export markets in Asia and Europe.

My father was an adviser on energy investments to Roger E. Tamraz, a Lebanese financier who headed a group of Arab investors interested in taking over the then-financially troubled Commonwealth Oil Refining Co. of Puerto Rico.

Tamraz was also known for giving big bucks to former United States President William J Clinton, for what we all later came to know as ‘pay to play’. In other words, give money to Clinton’s campaign and Clinton’s Administration, and then have ‘close ties’ to the White House and Clinton himself.

zz roger tamraz zz

Roger Tamraz, of TamOil, another close friend of my Dad’s.

 

I will never forget back in the 1990s, seeing Tamraz on the news and being ordered to testify for his contribution to Clinton, as well as others who also gave.  In fact, I remember soon after seeing Tamraz on the news, Tamraz actually called our  home in Stratton Mountain, Vermont and Dad had a long discussion with him. Or maybe Dad called him?  I forget.  But it was one or the other.  All I know, I remember Dad was talking with Tamraz and they were setting up their plan to talk or meet when he/Tamraz was going to be at Capital Hill to testify.

To those who knew my father, he and in turn, myself and my mom did not like nor care for Clinton at all.  So, my father was both stunned and shocked to realize that one of his closest friends, Tamraz was giving money to Clinton Administration.

 

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William Safire

 

 

 

The next person in my collage is another prominent figure and close friend to my Dad.

His name is Yehia El-Komy. El-Komy is a very famous Businessman in Cairo, Egypt and yes, was an extremely close friend of my Dad’s too. El-Komy, was the former Egyptian Club Ismaily Team President.

Dad knew him for almost as long as he knew Khashoggi, for 20 years if not longer. In fact, El-Komi holds a really important, personal part of our lives, even my life as well. How? Well, at one point in the mid-1990s, El-Komi offered me a job to live and work in Cairo, Egypt. I always had the interest to live in the Middle East or something to this extent, but my main concern was the language barrier. Sadly, I didn’t know any Arabic at all! After a period of time to think about it, in the end, I declined the offer. Again, it was more out of fear of having no clue to the language, and going to such a country where I didn’t even know the basics of the Arabic language.

Then on a more devastating part of our life, regarding the death of my father from Malignant Melanoma skin cancer, El-Komi played the primary role. Let me explain:…

At some point, Dad and El-Komi met on the European Island of Malta for a business meeting. They were sitting outside in front of the pool at their hotel, under the umbrella, and having a drink with their shirts off.

Eventually, my father’s melanoma spot on his chest sadly burst and bled.  El-Komi too, showed concern and Dad, needless to say, was really worried and said; “I have to get this checked as soon as I get back home”.  He did get it checked.  Sadly, it was the most fatal type of skin cancer, called Malignant Melanoma.

The next picture on the collage, was the former King of the Saudi Royal Family:  King Fahd. Dad and even my mom knew King Fahd back in those days, and well, Dad knew him closer since he worked with him via Khashoggi, on a lot of business deals in the 1970s, 1980s etc…

Then the last picture on the top, of our friend Juan Luis Buñuel and my Dad, while we were in Paris in 1998.  Of course, as you all know, Juan Luis Buñuel was the son of the famous Spanish movie director Luis Buñuel.

The next picture down was my personal doctor, and Dad’s close friend too, Dr. Sammi Hashim. Hashim was a Metabolic Scientist at St. Lukes Hospital in NYC and Professor at Columbia Medical School, and former FDA Drug Panel member and is close friends and the personal doctor of the Emir of Kuwait.

 

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Far Left, my personal medical doctor and Friend, Dr. Sammi Hashim of St. Lukes Hospital in NYC next to him in center: Emir of Kuwait.

 

After Hashim’s picture as we move right is, of course, our family friend and close friend of Dad’s Manucher Ghorbanifar.  The former Savak Agent and double agent for both Iran and Israel. Here too, is some info from ‘Wikipedia’. Although, as someone who has spoken with Ghorbanifar personally on the phone numerous times on the phone in the 1980s, and knowing many personal things about Ghorbanifar from Dad, I can certainly say that the ‘Wikipedia’ description of him, as well, really very negative, and frankly, let me remind all of you how Wikipedia works: Wikipedia only accepts information from news media people, writers, etc… and such, those who are only writing ‘opinions’ from ‘outside sources’. Frankly, they have no clue to the inner workings, and true person, the true inner soul of frankly anyone they write about since they are ‘outside the circle’ of their subject they write about. However, I will add some of the ‘Wikipedia’ information, and then you can try to decipher what is ‘way off’ and how much of all the garbage you really genuinely want to believe about him.

Frankly, I personally, don’t believe 90% of it! Christ, I knew Ghorbanifar personally!

The Beard

Iranian arms middleman Manucher Ghorbanifar, who is involved in the US arms sale to Iran; prob. taken in Marabella.

 

Manucher Ghorbanifar (Persianمنوچهر قربانی‌فر‎; nicknamed Gorba, born May 9, 1945) is an expatriate Iranian arms dealer and former SAVAK agent.

According to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Ghorbanifar was a double agent for Iran and Israel.[2]

He is best known as a middleman in the Iran–Contra Affair during the Ronald Reagan presidency.[3] He re-emerged in American politics during the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq during the first term of President George W. Bush as a back-channel intelligence source to certain Pentagon officials who desired regime change in Iran.[4]

Career

Prior to the 1979 Iranian Revolution Ghorbanifar was an agent of Iran’s SAVAK intelligence service, and a partner in an Israeli-Iranian shipping company, Starline Iran, which shipped oil from Iran to Israel.[5][6] Ghorbanifar knew Israel’s military attache in Tehran, Yaakov Nimrodi, who helped build SAVAK.[7][8]

In 1980 Ghorbanifar was the liaison between the Shah’s last Prime Minister, Shahpour Bakhtiar, in exile in Paris, and conspirators in the Iranian armed forces organising what is sometimes known as the Nojeh Coup. The plot was exposed, and hundreds of officers were arrested at Nojeh Air Base on 9-10 July 1980.[9] Ghorbanifar had owned a shipping company and headed the logistics branch of the Niqab network which organised the civilian part of the plot. He had been recommended for the role by Bakhtiar.[10] Some Iranian sources later accused Ghorbanifar of leaking information to the Iranian government which helped thwart the coup plot.[11] In December 1985 Adnan Khashoggi said in an interview that Ghorbanifar was head of European intelligence under Mir-Hossein Mousavi (Prime Minister from 1981).[11]

In 1981 Ghorbanifar was a source for the Washington Posts stories about Libyan hit squads targeting President Reagan and other senior US figures; in 1986 he said he had created the story “To hurt Libya, an enemy of Israel”.[12] Ghorbanifar’s contribution to the Libyan story contributed to the CIA’s 1984 decision to issue a “burn notice” against Ghorbanifar.[11]

In the early 1980s Ghorbanifar accompanied Cyrus Hashemi to Israel to arrange a $50m arms shipment, codenamed “Cosmos”, to Iran. The deal was canceled at the last minute with much of the equipment already loaded onto a ship in Eilat.[13]

Iran–Contra Affair

In the 1980s, Ghorbanifar’s principal American contacts were National Security Council agents Oliver North and Michael Ledeen. Ledeen vouched for Ghorbanifar to National Security Adviser Robert McFarlaneOliver North later claimed that Ghorbanifar had given him the idea for diverting profits from TOW and HAWK missile sales to Iran to the Nicaraguan Contras.[3]

Ghorbanifar’s suspected duplicity during the Iran–Contra deal led CIA Director William Casey to order three separate lie-detector tests, all of which he failed. Iranian officials also suspected Ghorbanifar of passing them forged American documents. The CIA issued a burn notice (or “Fabricator Notice”) on Ghorbanifar in 1984, meaning he was regarded as an unreliable source of intelligence, and a 1987 congressional report on Iran–Contra by the Congressional Committees Investigating The Iran-Contra Affair cites the CIA warning that Ghorbanifar “should be regarded as an intelligence fabricator and a nuisance”.[14]

His own cohorts in the arms trading affair were also incredulous. “I knew him to be a liar,” North eventually acknowledged. Robert McFarlane, the national-security adviser who approved the Iran–Contra arms trades, once described Ghorbanifar as “one of the most despicable characters I have ever met.”[15] Former CIA official and Iran-Contra figure George Cave, who was involved in the 1984 decision to issue the burn notice,[16] has described Ghorbanifar as “the most totally amoral person I have ever met”.[17]  

Let me add.  My father new George Cave personally, as well as Ghorbanifar! Now, as I write this, my Dad has been dead now for 17 years.  But, I am sure that Dad would have other opinions about Ghorbanifar in comparison to Cave. So, this even more so, is something I see nothing as ‘propaganda’ especially, since Cave was someone who was as if forced to ‘say negative thoughts on Ghorbanifar’ due to Cave being a respectable person within the CIA, and U.S Govt, whereas Ghorbanifar was ‘outside’ the circle, thus, it’s easier to ‘join the crowd’ then it is to ‘go against it’ and stand up for something that  your ‘comrades’ don’t believe in.

According to a report in Time, Ghorbanifar’s links with the CIA led to internal disputes, with the counter-terrorism division supporting him and Middle East officers attempting to discredit him. Ghorbanifar’s anger at being labeled a liar may have led him to urge Iranian contacts to leak the Iran-Contra story.[18][19] The affair first became public in a Lebanese newspaper, apparently leaked by Mehdi Hashemi.

 

kandg

Dad’s Close  friends:  Khashoggi (left) and Ghorbanifar

 

 

French–Lebanese hostage crisis

Ghorbanifar has been suspected of being a former French DGSE informer, and allegedly accompanied Jean-Charles Marchiani, the right-hand man of former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua, during his meetings with the deputy Iranian foreign minister to negotiate the release of the French hostages in Lebanon in the mid-1980s.[20]

War on terrorism

In December 2001 Michael Ledeen organized a three-day meeting in RomeItaly between Manucher Ghorbanifar and Defense Intelligence Agency officials Larry Franklin and Harold Rhode[1] Also present were two officials from Italy’s SISMI. In addition to a position at the American Enterprise Institute, Ledeen was working as a consultant to then U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, who oversaw the Office of Special Plans. The 2001 meeting took place with the approval of then-Deputy National Security advisor Stephen Hadley. The meeting concerned a secret offer from reportedly dissident Iranian officials to provide information relevant to the War on Terrorism and Iran’s relationship with terrorists in Afghanistan.[21]

Summer 2003 news reports of the meetings prompted an internal review, as well as an investigation by the U.S. Senate Intelligence CommitteeSecretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld characterized the meetings as insignificant, saying, “There wasn’t anything there that was of substance or of value that needed to be pursued further.” News reports also indicated that Ghorbanifar sought to be paid for the middleman role. Subsequent contacts with Ghorbanifar were abandoned.[3]

Manucher Ghorbanifar has emerged as the probable origin of the information cited by Congressman Curt Weldon‘s book, Countdown to Terror: The Top-Secret Information that Could Prevent the Next Terrorist Attack on America… and How the CIA has Ignored it (Regnery Publishing, June 2005) ISBN 0-89526-005-0. Weldon cites an anonymous source, “Ali,” believed to be Fereidoun Mahdavi, a former Iranian minister of commerce before the Iranian Revolution who is a close associate of Ghorbanifar.

Now here is some personal memories of Ghorbanifar and my Dad. There was once a time when Dad invited Ghorbanifar to meet my mother, Gwen.  Now, Mom has been in a wheelchair since May 26, 1981. You see my mother almost died from a medical attack called Viral Encephalitis, which is an attack on the brainstem.

I will never forget what Dad said about Ghorbanifar.  He said that Ghorbanifar said: “No, Roy, I can’t.  I’m sorry, I am too weak of a person to see her face to face. I would more than likely break down into tears just seeing her”. THIS is the Ghorbanifar the world knows nothing about! However, this is the true Ghorbanifar the person within.

Then the picture after that is of me and my Dad and another business friends of his, Hubert Hendricks of Paris, France. This picture is also my dad’s Wikipedia picture too. Hendricks was a very friendly person, and also one of Dad’s close and important business connections.

In fact, I remember after Dad died, when I was in Paris, I had dinner with Hendricks alone, and we talked about Casey, the CIA, and other things going on within the political world. Granted –  the CIA and Casey stuff were just ‘talk about the past’ – because when I was with Hendricks, this was in 2003. But we were talking about ‘old times’ etc.. Again, it was quite impressive for me during that time, because I was as if taking the place of my Dad at least with regards to the ‘family name’ and regarding stuff that thank god I did have some knowledge to, even if I didn’t know every little piece of detail…

The next picture is of the late NYT editorial William Safire and very close friend of my Dad’s as well. Safire was another interesting person. Dad and William Safire knew each other for years, also thanks to his former boss of Ring Free, Comebychance oil in New Foundland, Canada John Shaheen. The one thing I remember quite well, was when there was some sort of bad press or bad information that my father knew about the Kennedy family, that the Kennedy family didn’t want to be known at that time.  And I remember the night Dad was on the phone with Safire and apparently Safire was saying: “My side is ok Roy, but I don’t know about your side” – meaning, Safire had special equipment attached to his phone to be sure that the U.S Government or anyone else for that matter could not ‘tap to’ his line and listen in. I specifically remember Safire saying to Dad: “Roy, let me know when you want me to put it out, and I will.  I will wait for your call”  –  and thus, Safire would have then written about this possible negative news story that my Dad knew, and Safire would have written about it, while of course not naming my  Dad as the ‘secret source’.  Truly, even more, proof of the fascinating life my Dad had over his lifetime.

Then the last picture on the far right is of my ‘former family’.  I say ‘former’ cause, its all broken now.  My Dad is dead.  My sister died in 1981, about a year after that picture was taken, from mononucleosis and hepatitis. My Mother is still alive, but about a year after that picture was taken, she almost died and yet survived and became a handicapped person and diagnosed with something called Viral Encephalitis.  She has been in a wheelchair ever since.  And my ‘brother’ – well, he is an evil, harmful, poisonous person! He has done a lot to harm his mother, who he hasn’t seen in some 15 years plus and is a pathetic excuse for a human being!  All he cares about is money!  If my mother were to die today, he would not give a damn! {That is me on the Far Right of the ‘family picture’ – 1980}

Going down a row now, starting again from the far left, is a picture taken by the press of my Dad when he went into testifying for his role in the Iran Contra Affair.

After this picture is the ‘couple’ sitting outside.  The man is former Vice President of the United States of America  Nelson Rockefeller Sr. And his wife, Happy, next to him. I knew “Happy”, Mrs. Rockefeller, and their younger son Nelson Jr.  {Be sure to check out my blog here for my article about when I spent the weekend at the Rockefeller estate in Tarrytown, New York in upstate.}

As we go back far left again, but down a row, is the Emir of Kuwait, Dr. Hashim’s personal friend, and confident. Dr. Sammi Hashim, who was a metabolic scientist and doctor at St. Lukes Hospital in New York City, who was also once offered the Surgeon General job during the Ford Administration, when Gerald Ford was President of the United States of America. Hashim was also a professor at Columbia Medical School as well, in NYC. He was my personal doctor in the 1980s and late 70s.

Then after the Emir of Kuwait’s picture, is the former Defense Secretary, Brent Scrowcroft. My Dad knew him and had a business dinner or luncheon with him once.

Then comes the former Palestinian leader, Yassar Arafat.  My former friend and confidant of Khashoggi knew him and was with him when he went to pick up his Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.

Then former Prince Faisal, who also at one point was King of Saudi Arabia.  My mom met and knew Faisal too, from the Nixon days…

Then the next pictures:  The one of the younger guy on top, is Nelson Rockefeller Jr and below him, is the picture of the former richest man on the planet, Adnan Khashoggi, a close family friend of mom and dad.  I knew both personally, Rockefeller Jr and Khashoggi.

Then the last three pictures –  first the black and white picture is of my Dad from the 1970s and then the picture above is former CIA Director William J Casey, whom Dad knew during the Shaheen years.  And lastly, the Sultan of Brunei, who Dad knew too, from Khashoggi – meeting him at least once.

So as you see –   since this blog is more about politics and International things, and how it has played quite a personal role in all of our lives, this is why I decided to use this picture as the ‘Primary Picture’. This was our life!

 

 

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