Documents Trace Iran-Contra Diversion Idea To North In December 1985
Sep. 22, 1987
WASHINGTON (AP) _ An Israeli government chronology and notes from an Israeli official show that Lt. Col. Oliver North talked about diverting Iran arms sale profits to Nicaraguan rebels earlier than he admitted, congressional investigative sources say.
Documents obtained by the congressional committees investigating the arms sale and diversion show that North already was thinking about using profits for the Contras in December 1985.
He told investigators the original idea for the secret diversion came in January 1986 from Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian middleman who also has been described in congressional testimony as an Israeli intelligence agent.
The documents, according to congressional sources familiar with them, say North mentioned a need to generate profits from the Iran arms sales and also talked of the needs of the Contras in a Dec. 5, 1985, conversation with an official of Israel's military purchasing office in New York.
The development was first reported Monday by the Wall Street Journal.
North testified that when Ghorbanifar raised the Contra diversion idea to him during a bathroom conversation at a meeting in Europe, North thought it was ''a neat idea.''
The congressional committees investigating the affair read a reference to the Dec. 5 conversation in a secret chronology provided by the Israeli government last month, said sources who commented Monday only on condition they not be named.
Then, while traveling to Israel in August, Sen. Warren Rudman, R-N.H., the top Republican on the Senate Iran-Contra Committee, obtained a copy of the official's handwritten notes, in Hebrew, made at the time of the conversation.
In December 1985, North, then a White House aide, had been headed to a meeting in London on the issue of the American hostages and the arms sales when he stopped in New York to meet with purchasing officials, the sources said.
In another development, Jack Terrell, a Contra critic whose name has surfaced several times in documents released over the last five months by the Iran-Contra committees, said in an interview that he believes he was the victim of a campaign by North to discredit him and protect North's secret network that privately assisted the Contras.
''I am almost physically, emotionally wrecked over this whole thing,'' said Terrell, who works as a private investigator for the International Center for Policy Development, an anti-Contra group headed by Robert White, the former ambassador to El Salvador.
Terrell, a former mercenary from Alabama who once worked with the Contras but later turned against them, denied having ever threatened the life of President Reagan, as North wrote in one memo released two weeks ago.
''There is no reason I am going to threaten the president of the United States for any reason,'' Terrell said. Terrell was never arrested or charged with any violation involving threats, and said he passed a FBI polygraph on the issue.
North, in a July 24, 1986, memo to his boss, then-national security adviser John Poindexter, said that the FBI ''called and asked for any information which we might have regarding Terrell in order to assist them in investigating his offer to assassinate the president of the United States.''
North, who called Terrell a ''terrorist threat,'' said he was informed about the alleged threat by Oliver ''Buck'' Revell, the associate FBI director.
Revell told North about the incident because the two sat on an interagency group dealing with terrorism, the FBI said. One source, speaking on condition he not be identified, said the FBI may have received its information about the threat from telephone intercepts of Nicaraguan government offices.
Poindexter alerted Reagan to Terrell's anti-Contra activities in a July 28, 1986, memo. The initials ''RR'' are on the memo, indicating that Reagan read the memo.