In a breathtaking national security lapse, the brother and business partner of Saddam Hussein’s rogue nuclear weapons mastermind Dr. Jafar Dhia Jafar took control of cargo container operations at Florida’s Port Canaveral in a secretly-negotiated 2014 deal code-named “Project Pelican.”
The “Project Pelican” deal leased the Port Canaveral cargo container to Gulftainer, a UAE ports company owned by Iraqi oil magnate Hamid Jafar through the Iraqi Jafar family’s business empire The Crescent Group.
Port Canaveral awarded Gulftainer a 35-year no-bid container terminal lease at Port Canaveral.
Treasury Secretary Jacob “Jack” Lew declined to conduct a National Security Threat Analysis of Gulftainer and its Iraqi and Emirati owners, as required under Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS) and Foreign Investment and National Security Act of 2007 (FINSA) laws. That review includes input from all sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies.
Dr. Jafar is infamous for his uranium enrichment genius and known to possess deep ties to Iran, Russia, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). That Dr. Jafar was a national security threat is evidenced by the fact that he was wanted by coalition forces at the outset of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Dr. Jafar and his brother Hamid Jafar hold leadership positions at The Crescent Group, which owns Gulftainer, with Dr. Jafar serving as CEO of Crescent’s URUK Engineering and Contracting subsidiary while Hamid serves as Chairman of The Crescent Group.
Cargo container terminals are the very location at which national security experts fear the U.S. homeland is most vulnerable.
“Lawmakers said an undetected radiological weapon smuggled into a U.S. port inside a cargo container is at the top of the list of homeland security nightmares” reported FCW in July 2016.
Aviation and cargo security expert Glen Winn, who is also a former Secret Service agent, asserted that “while we may not be able to check every cargo container coming into the country without bringing global commerce to a standstill, it is imperative that the lessees to America’s ports receive the proper National Security Threat Analysis. That is the point at which you maintain your national security.”
In 2011, San Diego Assistant Port Director Al Hallor – who at the time was also a high-ranking Customs and Border Protection officer at the port – told San Diego’s ABC 10 News that a “weapon of mass effect” had been found, but not at the port itself. The Department of Homeland Security soon tried to walk back Hallor’s statements, insisting that he was “nervous” and “misspoke” during the interview.
The Port Canaveral/Gulftainer deal is especially disconcerting because Port Canaveral plays a major role in space exploration and the strategic defense of the nation.
Port Canaveral, a component of U.S. critical infrastructure, is in close proximity to a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine base, two U.S. Air Force Space Command bases, and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. In military jargon, Gulftainer is “inside the wire.”
Canaveral is also the second busiest cruise ship port in the world.
George Cecalia, Communications Director for Representative Bill Posey (R-FL), whose district includes Port Canaveral, and the Congressman’s military expert, said in an interview that the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission briefed them on the Gulftainer deal. The Commission reportedly assured Posey’s staff that the Gulftainer Port Canveral deal was a “run of the mill contract.” They claim they were not informed that the lessee was the notorious Dr. Jafar and his brother Hamid Jafar.
Officials with Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay’s Submarine Group 10, in conversation with Alan Jones, said they became alarmed in October 2012 upon learning that Dr. Jafar was connected to Gulftainer. Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay’s Submarine Group 10 often moves Ohio-class ballistic missile nuclear submarines in and out of Port Canaveral. The Navy officials say they contacted the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and FBI counter-terrorism officials.
A SpaceX official speaking to Alan Jones in Florida reacted with an “oh [expletive]” upon learning that Gulftainer, which handles recovery of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket booster at Port Canaveral, has ties to Dr. Jafar. The official added that the information would immediately be communicated to senior SpaceX officials, including CEO Elon Musk.
Alan Jones is an investigative journalist who broke a series of national security stories at Washington Times Communities.
Mary Fanning is an investigative journalist who covers the Middle East and national security, known for her series “The Betrayal Papers.”