MOB RULE: ‘The Secret World of Jack Abramoff’, Terrorists, Torpedos Republican Muscle – By Daniel Hopsicker (Flashback)

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  • “…Even a cursory look at the executive management of the cruise-to-nowhere company that Boulis founded turns up violent thugs and organized crime figures. But that’s pretty typical of South Florida…What is unusual are that in with Sun Cruz’s mobbed-up crew are prominent Republican Party members with long-standing, deep ties to the religious right.

SM:…What?,…don’t all devote Muslims (…especially one’s about to meet their maker) carouse with hooker’s, snort cocaine & gamble till the wee hours?….

Why were Atta and 9/11 muslim hijackers on Abramoff’s casino boat?
Hmm, Muslim hijackers who partied it up with a stripper and cocaine, liked pork chops (see ), went to a bar the night before they were going to meet Allah , and, as if that wasn’t enough, we now find out some of them also went out for “tours to nowhere” on casino boats, and not just any old casino boat, but one owned by lobbyist du jour Jack Abramoff. Why it is almost enough to make a person a conspiracy theorist.

The Secret World of Jack Abramoff: Terrorists, Torpedos and Republican Muscle – By Daniel Hopsicker

The ‘secret world’ of Jack Abramoff being probed by investigators today has definite connections and unmistakable links to the one inhabited during their final year in the U.S by Mohamed Atta and the other hijackers.

So as the scandal embroiling House Major Domo Tom Delay and Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff grows hotter, there may be new revelations about the 9.11 attack.

One of the most amazing thing about this most amazing scandal—hundreds of millions in slush funds beats Oval Office blowjobs by a mile—is that some of the same names in the Abramoff scandal also surface in connection with Mohamed Atta’s.

Less than a week before the 9.11 attack, for example, Atta and several other hijackers made a still-unexplained visit onboard one of Abramoff’s casino boats.

What were they doing there? No one knows.

Wrestling with alligators


There remains a strong suspicion that Atta’s terrorist cadre—supposedly unknown and friendless and burrowing into the woodwork—was able to call on the assistance, when necessary, of a friendly global network.

Could it be that this network is the same one being probed so gingerly today by investigators looking into Jack Abramoff?

 What could a scandal involving Indian casinos and gambling boat “cruises to nowhere” & pay-for-play government officials have to do with the story of 19 hijackers planning a mass murder in supposed isolation in Florida?  

Let’s take a look.

A soupcon of  secret history

While Abramoff’s Indian gaming troubles may be getting the most publicity,  his other major ‘area of concern’ is where the real scandal resides. Involvement with Mob-run casino boats may turn out to be a faux pas, even for Republicans.

The casino boat ‘industry’ can be traced back to a few seemingly inconsequential sentences buried in a 1992 federal law called ”An Act to provide for the designation of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.”


(The “Flower Garden Banks” are the northernmost coral reefs in the United States, located off Texas and Louisiana.)

The obscure bill offered the perfect place to slip in a few sentences, which, deciphered, added ships of U.S. registry to vessels already covered under the Johnson Act of 1951, which regulated the transportation of gambling devices, and allowed ships of foreign registry, which often offered gambling, to dock at U.S. ports as long as no one used or repaired gambling equipment while in U.S. territorial waters.

The amendment was a Trojan horse which extended this privilege to U.S. ships…

And the result was a burgeoning new industry in Florida, and the state was soon encircled by almost thirty casino boats swarming the peninsula’s ports like the bloodthirsty pirates of yore. The booty these pirates were plundering was the mad money of bored retirees.

They were called “cruises to nowhere.” And in short order the boats were generating hundreds of millions of dollars a year in revenues. Hundreds of million of dollars of unregulated revenue…  

While not getting ahead of ourselves, we still note that this was more than enough money to help tip the balance in the last two Presidential elections. At a minimum, for the casino operators it provided instant access to anything and anybody worth being accessed.  

Thanks to the Johnson Act, we’re protecting our coral reefs. But we may have lost our democracy.

Vegas without rules

What the Abramoff scandal is about at the core can be simply stated as: Vegas without rules. And what the politicians are arguing over is the biggest slush fund in the history of the world. Democrats don’t want to eliminate it. They just want in on the action.


Who owns Florida’s gambling boats? No one is certain. There is virtually no state or federal oversight. No one licenses the operators. No one ensures that the games aren’t rigged. No one ensures that the boats aren’t used to launder money. No one investigates whether organized crime is involved.

And while ex-felons can’t vote in Florida—as many became aware during the memorable presidential election in 2000—this disadvantage is more than offset, for some, by the  fact that an ex-felon can run a gambling boat in the state with no fear at all of flunking the background check.

The reason? There is none.

This situation clearly suits some people just fine…. While Governor Jeb Bush may be minutely concerned with what happened to Terry Schiavo fifteen years ago, on this issue of real interest—massive corruption—he phones in his regrets.

Just why might that be?

Florida’s cruises-to-nowhere represent “the largest unregulated gambling industry in the United States,” said Bill Thompson, a professor of gambling at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and nationally recognized expert on the industry, in an interview in the Miami Herald.

They gross at least $170 million a year. And that’s just the number they report voluntarily. No one knows the true ‘take.’ Everyone assumes there’s a ‘skim.’


The Miami Herald cited the example of Joseph Polidore, who listed himself as the sole owner of Boca Casinos in Pompano Beach but said he received money for his investment from a “personal friend.” Polidore admitted he had silent partners, but insisted they were “nobody illegal.”

What would happen if an applicant gave such vague information to the Nevada Gaming Control Board? The lack of regulation, officials elsewhere say, should concern Florida authorities.

“A casino is a cash business. You could have money laundering and skimming,” Keith Copher, chief of enforcement for the Nevada Gaming Control Board, told the Miami Herald. “When you obtain money illegally through drug sales and other methods. You need to find a way to launder it, to make it look like a legal source. Regulation is needed to prevent this.”

While “Florida authorities” piously oppose gambling, their inaction speaks for itself, and may even have been exploited by the 9.11 hijackers.

Betting Red All the Way

“There is a weird report just a day or two after 9/11 that someone reported to the FBI that three or four of the hijackers were seen gambling on a SunCruz boat,” wrote  a source in Miami. “The FBI interviewed everyone who might have seen them, that very day by all reports.”

Sure enough. We found an Associated Press story on Sept 26, 2001 headlined “SunCruz Casinos turns over documents in terrorist probe.”

“SunCruz Casinos has turned over photographs and other documents to FBI investigators after employees said they recognized some of the men suspected in the terrorist attacks as customers.… Names on the passenger list from a Sept. 5 cruise matched those of some of the hijackers… Two or three men linked to the Sept. 11 hijackings may have been customers on a ship that sailed from Madeira Beach on Florida’s gulf coast.”

Less than a week before the 9.11 attack, Atta and several other hijackers were aboard one of Abramoff’s casino boats. What no one seems able to answer is this:

What possible thrill could gambling offer men getting ready to die in less than a week? To this date, their Sept 5 visit to a gambling vessel overrun with retirees remains unexplained.

The gambling motif in the terrorist’s timeline doesn’t end there. The hijackers had no apparent reason to visit Las Vegas… so why did they?

On June 28 at Boston’s Logan Airport, Mohamed Atta boarded a United Airlines flight and flew first class nonstop to San Francisco. He bypassed the bohemian North Beach district, and didn’t take the cruise to Alcatraz…

Atta headed for Vegas.


On Aug. 10, Hani Hanjour and Nawaf Alhazmi used first-class tickets for a United flight from Dulles Airport near Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles International Airport, then on to Las Vegas. The story of the terrorists Las Vegas connection may never be known, admitted the Las Vegas FBI.

Murder will out

‘Islamic fundamentalist’ Atta may have felt right at home in the world of fast cash  and unlicensed gambling boat ‘cruises to nowhere’ of Republican lobbyist (and observant Jew) Jack Abramoff. He would almost certainly have been comfortable with the “gangland-style hit straight out of ‘Goodfellas” that cemented Abramoff’s prominent position in that industry.

At the time of the Sept 11 attack one of Abramoff’s chief claims to fame was as the proud owner of the SunCruz line: a dozen unlicensed gambling boats plying the waters off the Florida coast in a fashion which in any other state would have been considered criminal.

How did Jack Abramoff get lucky enough to be the guy passing out all that long green? Where did Jack Abramoff get his ‘juice?’

Short answer: Not everyone is savvy to opportunities presented by riders in obscure legislation. Not so the connected, the covert, the—dare we say “blessed?”

“Elite deviance” is a sociological term for a condition in a society in which the elite in the society come to believe that the rules no longer apply to them.

Casino boats turned out to be a elite deviant’s dream.

One time-honored way to get rich is to marry money. Another is to kill someone that has it…  In Abramoff’s case, it appears that Gus Boulis, the owner of the lion’s share of the casino boats in Florida, had to die first.

Three men formed an ownership group that apparently made Boulis the proverbial  offer he couldn’t refuse. They bought SunCruz from him, even though it wasn’t for sale.


When Greek tycoon Gus Boulis was gunned down in his BMW on February 6, 2001 Fort Lauderdale police investigators immediately began scrutinizing SunCruz Casinos. Suspicion focused on the recent sale of the fleet. Boulis and one of the three men had been carrying on a very public feud.

“We certainly aren’t lacking in suspects,” said a homicide detective drolly.

Less than two months later, Sun Cruz announced plans to move a 150-foot, $10-million floating casino to the Northern Marianas.

Almost every article we’d read cites Abramoff & Delay’s interest in the Marianas being sweat-shop related. Meaning they’re in favor of them. Their primary focus wasn’t sweatshops. It was gambling.

A Bebe Rebozo Memorial Hit

“Read about SunCruz and it sounds like a South Florida version of “The Sopranos,” reported the South Florida Business Journal. “ Feds go after owner Gus Boulis. Former Miami Subs kingpin forced to sell. New SunCruz chairman says Boulis threatened him. Boulis whacked.”

As if to confirm the account, other newspaper reports mentioned a climate of fear after the Boulis murder.

“The shooting death… cast a pall of fear over the people who knew him, with some of his closest associates admitting concern at being connected with a man targeted by hit men,” the local Sun-Sentinel reported the day after the hit.

“There are a lot of people who aren’t talking for reasons of personal safety,” said Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Mike Reed.

Another associate declined to discuss anything about Boulis with the paper…

“I’ve got my family to worry about,” he said, on condition of anonymity.


Even a cursory look at the executive management of the cruise-to-nowhere company that Boulis founded turns up violent thugs and organized crime figures. But that’s pretty typical of South Florida…What is unusual are that in with Sun Cruz’s mobbed-up crew are prominent Republican Party members with long-standing, deep ties to the religious right.

Two SunCruz executives, Jack Abramoff and Ben Waldman, are walking examples of the strange alliance between the family-values party and the gambling industry. Both men have strong ties to Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, which is adamantly opposed to gambling; Waldman was Robertson top aide in the televangelist’s run for the presidency.

Abramoff, who perhaps wisely only took the title of vice president (less heat) has been connected to the Christian right since a student at Brandeis University, where as head of the College Republicans he enlisted Top Christian Ralph Reed as his top deputy. The two have remained close friends ever since.

A man named Adam Kidan became Sun Cruz’s new chairman. Kidan’s mother had been murdered in a gangland-style hit in New York. Madonna’s one-time boyfriend and South Beach restaurateur Chris Paciello, was eventually convicted in the case.

Today he is in Federal Witness Protection, and word is there are several movies about him in development.

Just another American success story.

The Seminal Seminoles


The Seminole Tribe of Florida led the way in parlaying mom-and-pop bingo parlors into today’s $19 billion a year Indian casino industry. Along with legendary Chief James Billie (Wrestles with Alligators) Rob Tiller was a seminal figure in this growth.

Tiller is also a South Florida aviation insider and former business partner of terror flight school owner and secretive financier Wally Hilliard. He even met Atta and Marwan one day after a meeting with Hilliard, he says, with whom he was working on an airline start-up called Havana Air.

Small world.

A week before Gus Boulis was murdered, Tiller was called to take a meeting with him.  Tiller says Boulis was scared. Boulis hadn’t wanted to sell.

Now he was worried he’d be whacked.

“He called me to a meeting at the Ocean Reef Club. Very snooty. You cant even land there without permission. I flew my airplane down to meet him,” Tiller recalled.

“He said, ‘I want out. People think I make a lot more money than I really do. I don’t need the headache anymore. I want to sell my casino boats to the Seminoles.’”

tiller2 (1)

What was Tiller’s response?  “I said, ‘Gus you’re sure rocking a lot of people’s boats here.’”

”A couple days later, I hear he’s been blown apart dead. See, Gus wanted to muscle his way into the casino business in a real bad way. His Miami subs were everywhere. He was using them to launder money, big-time, for somebody.”

Who might that be? Even asking the question brings a shiver.

He wrote a check?

At the time Boulis was murdered, suspicion focused on company chairman Adam Kidan, also an active Republican and campaign contributor. He had been in Israel at the time of the murder. His alibi held.

But then news surfaced that just before Boulis’ death Kidan had written at least $30,000 in checks to a reputed Mob enforcer named Anthony Moscatiello, a one-time associate of crime boss John Gotti.

Moscatiello is apparently what is known in criminal parlance as a “torpedo.” (We’re not quite sure what that means, but it doesn’t sound good.)

This is a paper trail some U.S. Attorney’s (in Manhattan, perhaps) would describe as “to die for.” But things work differently in South Florida. To date no one has been charged in the murder of Gus Boulis.


The official back-story on Boulis is he left his native Greece as a teenager and came to North America, bought a Toronto sandwich shop and turned it into a successful company with franchises all across Canada.

After his Canadian success, he moved to Florida in the early 1980’s (to retire to the Keys, he said). But Florida’s money-making opportunities overrode his desire for shuffleboard, and soon he was building another successful fast-food chain, Miami Subs, and then building and deploying the crown jewels in his empire, his SunCruz Casino fleet.

What explained Boulis’ success in a restaurant business where failure is far more common? The question strikes some as naive.

“Miami subs was the first take out place ever to serve Dom Perignon through the takeout window,” snickered Tiller. “Word was he had made his money in Canada in the sub business.  But I learned later it was nothing but a Laundromat.”

We were once more back in the precincts of money laundering, which seems more and more like one of Florida’s major industries. We pictured dollar bills drying in the sun all over the state, after being washed through the Everglades.

No doubt this is all just freak coincidence. Still, even with our suspicious minds, when we learned who Tiller thought was responsible for Boulis’ death, we were shocked.

Tiller referred us to the manner of the Boulis hit…

Setting an example

A man in a BMW was driving down a quiet side street after an evening meeting at his Fort Lauderdale office when a car slowed to a stop in front of him. A second car boxed the BMW in from behind, then a dark Mustang appeared from the opposite direction. The Mustang’s driver pulled alongside and pumped three hollow-point bullets into the BMW driver’s chest.

“Boulis was murdered in the exact same way as Don Aronow, Bush’s other partner,” he stated.

Bush’s other partner? The question hung in the air.

“Something is really going down bad here,” Tiller stated. “Don Aronow. Gus. Jim Shore…All tied in to Bush.”

When NBC’s Dateline did a story recently about sources of terrorist funding right here in the U.S., they made bold to announce “the emerging threat of a new alliance between al Qaeda and common criminals.”

But it was hardly time to stop the presses.

Over three years ago—within a month of the 9.11 attack—British Prime Minister Tony Blair had presented the case against Bin Laden. He sketched out the Cliff Notes version of the evidence. It wasn’t much, but it was the only explanation we ever received.

“Al Qaeda is a terrorist organization with ties to a global network,” Blair said.


In truth, the idea that Mohamed Atta and his henchmen needed help from an outside  organization while they were in the U.S. was easy to understand… Logistical support is difficult to arrange from caves.

Still, the FBI stepped in and quickly put a kibosh on that kind of talk… “Government sources now say that the investigation so far suggests the 19 had ‘no major help’ in the United States,” said a story in the Washington Post which came out soon after Blair’s alarming faux pas.

“The 19 hijackers who carried out the worst act of terror ever to occur on U.S. soil worked with little outside help as a single, integrated group,” the Post reported.

PBS’s Frontline documentary on 9.11 supported this ‘lone cadre theory.’  Correspondent Hedrick Smith, to his everlasting discredit, opened the show with this lie: “19 hijackers slipped through Europe and America unnoticed.”

Like lone gunmen, lone cadres are easier to explain.

Even in the seemingly-unrelated Heaven’s Gate mass suicide in the posh enclave of Rancho Santa Fe near San Diego, which we will learn is not so far afield from 9.11 as might appear, the cultists were quickly dubbed a lone cadre.

“We have absolutely nothing… that would indicate that this is anything but a sole group of 40 people,” stated the chief investigator on the case.

Although a cache of weapons was found in a storage locker of the (supposedly) nonviolent cult, and the Heaven’s Gate leader left a videotape conspicuously praising the Order of the Solar Temple, whose members had been found dead in a mass suicide just days earlier…

Well, you know the story by now. Almost everyone does. In the gap between what happens every day and what gets reported lies the secret history…  

“There’s a secret world all around us,” a legendary CIA agent informs 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.”

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

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

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