Jet-Setting Mystery Man of Iran-Contra Case Proves Elusive
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A lot of people want to talk to Albert Hakim, the jet-setting mystery man who hasn’t surfaced since the Iran-Contra case started unfolding last November.
Police in California say his $500,000 house near San Francisco is empty. Senate investigators want to serve him with a subpoena. He never showed up when asked to appear before a White House review panel.
″He does get around,″ said Allan Milledge, Hakim’s attorney in Coral Gables, Fla., who professes not to know the whereabouts of his client.
Hakim, an Iranian-born American citizen, reportedly played a central role in the sale of U.S. weapons to Iran and the diversion of profits to rebels fighting the Nicaraguan government.
A Senate report described him and his business partner, retired Maj. Gen. Richard V. Secord, as ″almost co-equal lieutenants″ of Lt. Col. Oliver North, the National Security Council aide who was sacked for his role in Iran- Contra case.
North referred to Hakim, 50, of Los Gatos, Calif., as the man who ″runs the European operation for our Nicaraguan resistance support activity,″ according to documents received by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
But Hakim apparently has remained incommunicado for more than three months.
″His residence doesn’t have anyone there,″ said Capt. Darrold Thomas of the Santa Clara, Calif., Sheriff’s Department. Thomas said he occasionally drives by Hakim’s vacant, $500,000 house about an hour south of San Francisco.
″He’s disappeared,″ added John Pope Jr., a San Jose, Calif., lawyer who represented clients in lawsuits against Hakim.
″We tried to subpoena him, but we could never find him so we never served him,″ said Zo Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Senate intelligence panel.
″Not to my knowledge,″ replied Jerry Cacciotti when asked if House investigators have talked with Hakim. Cacciotti is the spokesman for a special House committee investigating the case.
Hakim was asked to appear before a presidential special review board examining the NSC, but he never showed up, spokesman Ray Kempisty said. The board, headed by former Sen. John Tower, is expected to finish its work by Feb. 19.
The Iran-Contra affair is also under scrutiny by independent counsel Lawrence Walsh and two special congressional committees, one in the House, the other in the Senate. All will have the power to issue subpoenas.
Walsh impaneled a grand jury last week. Gail Alexander, his spokeswoman, said she was forbidden from commenting on the legal proceedings.
If Hakim is subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury, chances are the U.S. marshals will find him. Bill Dempsey, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service, said there are specific steps authorities follow in order to serve subpoenas to people in foreign countries.
Failure to honor a subpoena can trigger a contempt of court ruling.
Two other attorneys who reportedly represent Hakim, Richard N. Janis of Washington and Horace E. Dunbar Jr. of Cupertino, Calif., refused to accept telephone calls concerning their client.
Hakim, who once described himself in court papers as a wheeler-dealer, is an international businessman of Palestinian origin with experience in weapons, security and communications equipment and electronics.
Before becoming an American citizen, Hakim was an Iranian who fled that country in 1978 before the fall of the shah.
He has traveled widely in the Middle East, Asia - particularly in South Korea - and Europe, according to court records and published reports. He has also been involved in a number of lawsuits stemming from his business dealings.
A key relationship for Hakim was his association with Secord, whom he met in Iran in the late 1970s when Secord was assigned to the military assistance group at the U.S. Embassy at Tehran.
After Secord retired from the Defense Department in 1983, the two men became business partners in Stanford Technology Trading Group, based in Vienna, Va., a Washington suburb.
The Senate report provides details of how North, Secord and Hakim were involved in the Iran-Contra case. Here are some examples from the document.
- Thomas Green, a Washington attorney who said he represented Secord and Hakim, reportedly told a Justice Department official that in early 1986 Hakim, acting as an interpreter at a meeting on the arms sales, ″told the Iranians that in order to foster a relationship and show their bona fides, the Iranians should make a contribution over the purchase price for use of the Contras or ’of us.″
″Green added that Hakim probably said the U.S. government was desirous of this.″ The attorney also said Secord and Hakim believed ″they were doing the Lord’s work,″ and had not broken any laws. Green did not return a telephone call to his office Friday.
- Secord, who North has described as a close personal friend, was to make all arrangements in November 1985 for the shipment from Israel to Iran of U.S.-made HAWK anti-aircraft weapons. In exchange, five Americans hostages held by pro-Iranian groups in Lebanon were to be freed. The hostages were never released.
- Hakim’s name was raised as a possible interpreter at a meeting in Europe between Iranian officials and Americans in February 1986, but the ″CIA was concerned over Hakim’s possible private interests in arms deals with Iran.″
- Hakim and Secord worked to have the United States establish a second line of communications with Iran, aside from using arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar as an intermediary. In August 1986, Secord and Hakim ″met with the Iranian official who had sought to contact the U.S. government to arrange arms sales.″
- Arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, who was deeply involved in financing arms deals between the United States and Iran, deposited money in a Swiss bank account belonging to Lake Resources, a firm connected to North, Secord and Hakim.