Sunday, October 29, 2017

Goodfellas: The Hidden History of Resorts International

Resorts International was a most curious creature that remains strikingly relevant today despite having been largely consumed by larger corporations years ago. During its heyday, from the late 1960s up until the late 1980s, it was at the absolute center of American power, serving as a kind of bridge between Underworld and Overworld figures. It forged close ties with at least two American presidents while accepting money and other forms of assistance from various drug traffickers, financial swindlers and Mafiosi. And there were of course the inevitable various "former" intelligence officers that always seem to factor into these shady private enterprises that dabble in intelligence.

While little remembered now, Resorts International was a trailblazer in the gambling industry, having first brought casinos to both the Bahamas and Atlantic City. But it also trailblazed other paths even more nefarious than gambling. For instance, it played a crucial role in establishing the whole financial "offshoring" culture that now prevails across the world. Even less remembered is its innovations in another industry: private security. Resorts would found one of the first world wide private security firms that would appear time again in a host of intrigues. But more on that latter.

Resorts International was largely a family affair that grew out of a company called the Mary Carter Paint Company.
"Mary Carter (she never existed) was pretty much a family affair controlled by Jim Crosby, two of his brothers, and his in-laws. Based in Tampa, Florida, the firm included in its directorate James Crosby, John Crosby (a plastic surgeon in Mobile, Alabama), William Crosby (a Tampa realtor), and the Murphy brothers, Henry and Tom, who'd married the Crosby daughters. Henry owned a funeral home in Trenton, New Jersey, while Tom was board chairman of Capital Cities Communications, a successful broadcasting business founded by explorer Lowell Thomas. The explorer too was an early shareholder in Mary Carter Paint, as was Republican Thomas Dewey."
(Spooks, Jim Hougan, pg. 381) 
Lowell Thomas was also a journalist and broadcaster who rose to initial stardom for his promotion of British Imperialist T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia. Thomas was apparently a neighbor of Dewey's in New York state, which may explain how both men became involved with Marty Carter.

Early Mary Carter sponsors: Lowell Thomas (top) and two-time Republican presidential nominee Thomas Dewey (bottom)
But why, ultimately, would such prominent figures become involved with an obscure paint company based in Tampa, Florida (and largely owned and run by a family hailing from New Jersey), in the first place? The answer may lay in another suspected early backer of the Mary Carter Paint Company. Acclaimed researchers Sally Denton and Roger Morris note: "... the Mary Carter Paint Company, which was widely considered to be a CIA front that laundered payments to the Cuban exile army in the early sixties..." (The Money and the Power, pg. 284).

Murky Beginnings

This is certainly quite plausible considering Mary Carter was then based out of Tampa, a hub for joint CIA-Syndicate efforts to assassinate Castro. As was noted before here, Tampa don Santo Trafficante, Jr. was one of the gangsters initially tapped by the CIA's notorious Office of Security to arrange for Castro's untimely demise. Trafficante, a close associate of Meyer Lansky (whom we shall return to again), had been deeply involved in Cuba's gambling operations prior to the revolution and would later become even more deeply immersed in the world heroin trade. As was noted before here, he was very close to the emerging Cuban Mafia, which provided ample recruits to the CIA during the early 1960s despite much suspicion that Trafficante was a double agent for Castro.

Santo Trafficante, Jr.
Certainly the Mary Carter Paint Company would have been well positioned to assist Trafficante in these endeavors in Tampa. And such a connection would also explain why the corporation, in the mid-1960s (as CIA Cuban operations were winding down), abruptly sold off its paint business and boldly delved into gambling. By the end of the decade it was managing one of the most profitable casinos in the world on the Bahama's Paradise Island.

What it amounts to is that by the late period James Crosby emerged as not only the CEO of Mary Carter/Resorts International, but as an extremely well connected figure within the GOP and beyond.
"... Crosby was himself uniquely situated in Republican circles: a sometime guest at the White House, he'd donated $100,000 to Nixon's 1968 campaign. He was also a friend of, and frequent host two, Bebe Rebozo (with whom he banked). Moreover, Crosby's private intelligence agency, Intertel, was even then working with White House aides and ITT executives to discredit Jack Anderson's revelations anent ITT and Chile. At the same time, Intertel was the de facto custodian of the demented billionaire Howard Hughes (his own $100,000 donation would later result in two volumes of Senate testimony in the Watergate affair). Indeed, the ties between Paradise Island and Richard Nixon's administration were of the sort that bind: Allan Butler, owner of the failing bank that was his namesake, claims the Nixon was a silent partner of Crosby's in his Bahamian ventures, sharing a healthy chunk of Paradise Island bridge revenues with yet another secret partner, Bebe Rebozo. And by by no means finally, James O. Golden, Resorts' vice-president and one of Intertel's founding spooks, had formerly served as Nixon's Secret Service shield, later taking charge of security for the Nixon forces at the GOP's 1968 convention in Miami Beach. That Paradise Island is a special place, and had a special place in the heart (or what passed for a heart) of the Nixon regime, is abundantly clear..."
(Spooks, Jim Hougan, pg. 180) 
James Crosby (right) and Richard Nixon (Left)
Clearly Crosby had established very close ties with the Nixon regime by this point, in addition to his infamous financial adviser Charles "Bebe" Rebozo. Rebozo was widely suspected of Mob ties for years, including links to the above-mentioned Santo Trafficante (noted before here).

Rebozo would hardly be the only with organized crime ties linked to Resorts, however. Not by a long shot.

Consider, for instance, Eddie Cellini, brother of famed Mafioso Dino. For a time Eddie operated as the casino manager for Resorts on Paradise Island. Reportedly both Eddie and Dino were close to Meyer Lansky, among other notorious Mafioso.
"... In pre-Castro Cuba, Nesline had been employed at the Havana Tropicana, where Lansky's man Dino Cellini was manager and where McWillie had also worked, before shifting jobs to work for Tourine at the Capri. When Ruby and McWillie went out to Cuba's Trescornia Prison in 1959, both Tourine and Cellini were there..."
(Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, Peter Dale Scott, pg. 240)
Dino Cellini
The Ruby the great Peter Dale Scott mentions above is none other than Jack Ruby, the infamous Dallas nightclub owner who murdered alleged JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Ruby has long been suspected of Syndicate ties and had worked the Cuba casino scene prior to the revolution. Afterwards he became deeply involved in the anti-Castro Cuban underground. An here's Eddie's brother Dino, a close Lansky associate, in the same Cuban prison for a time with Ruby.

Dino's ties to Washington D.C. Mafioso Joe Nesline is also of interest. As regular readers of this blog may remember, Nesline was the initial pimp of Heidi Rikan (noted before here), the D.C.-based madam they played such a crucial (and little remarked upon) role in the Watergate scandal.

Thus, Dino can be said to have lingered in the background of both the JFK assassination and Watergate, arguably the two most pivotal American deep state events of the twentieth century. Dino, with his close links to Meyer Lansky, was a major figure in the Underworld and the presence of his brother Eddie running the casino on Paradise Island indicates that Resorts International had strong Syndicate ties from the very beginning.

However Eddie did not last long in Paradise Island, having been kicked to the curb after 1972. With him appears to have gone a large chunk of Lansky's influence. These moves were likely political in nature and not geared towards cleaning up Paradise Island.
"... 'Lansky's established connections to the Democrats,' as scholar William Chambliss saw it, 'led Santo Trafficante, Jr. (and others such as Carlos Marcello of New Orleans) to forge political alliances with Republicans.' As a result, Lansky had been frozen out of the 'Teamsters-Republican coalition' and was 'engaged in major conflict with Bebe Rebozo and other Nixon associates for control of casinos and banks in Miami and the Bahamas.'
"As the furnace heat of a Las Vegas midsummer day still hung over the evening, Rebozo, the Florida entrepreneur and intimate friend of President Nixon, and Richard G. Danner, the Hughes empire's liaison with the Nixon White House, joined the Hughes and Resorts representatives for dinner and a Strip casino showroom. Before the floor show was over, the two factions 'reached a tentative agreement,' as Kohn recorded."
(The Money and the Power, Sally Denton & Roger Morris, pg. 285)
Meyer Lansky
This agreement, reached in 1970, would have profound implications for billionaire Howard Hughes and his empire, as we shall see. But for the time being I'd like to continue to focus on Resorts' organized crimes links.

The Vesco Blues

While Lansky's influence over Resorts (at least during the Nixon years) was marginalized,  there were any number of other crooks chomping at the bit for a piece of Paradise Island. One of the most notorious was rogue financier Robert Vesco. There was a time (circa 2001) that Robert Vesco was considered possibly the greatest fugitive financier ever. While he's certainly faced some stiff competition in the twenty-first century, Vesco's record is still impressive. Slate notes:
"The undisputed king of the fugitive financiers. Vesco fled to Costa Rica in 1973 in order to avoid standing trial for the alleged theft of $224 million from the Swiss-based mutual fund, Investors Overseas Services (see Bernie Cornfeld, above). Shortly before Vesco left, he delivered $200,000 in illegal campaign contributions to Richard Nixon's re-election campaign. The money was stuffed in a suitcase and handed over to campaign treasurer Maurice Stans, who ended up paying a $5,000 fine for "non-willful violation" of campaign-finance law. Vesco was indicted in absentia. He was indicted yet again in 1989 on drug smuggling charges. From Costa Rica, Vesco hopscotched to the Bahamas, Antigua (where he tried unsuccessfully to buy a nearby island called Barbuda and establish it as a sovereign state), Nicaragua and, finally, Cuba, where he has lived for the past two decades and, since 1995, been domiciled in a Cuban jail. Vesco was convicted in connection with an alleged scheme to defraud Cuba's pharmaceutical industry. Also arrested by the Cubans was Vesco's partner and houseguest, Donald Nixon, nephew to the former president. Nixon was allowed to return to the U.S., but Vesco went to the slammer. He gets out in 2009, when he'll be 74. Vesco's Cuban wife Lidia was convicted on lesser charges and gets out in 2005."
Ah, but this is only part of it. During his heyday in the 1970s Vesco was a crucial figure among right wing circles, serving (not unlike Resorts International) as a bridge between Overworld and Underworld figures. As to the former, there was clearly the Nixon family but Vesco was also very close to Reagan's first National Security Advisor, Richard Allen.
"... Richard Allen (who had been Nixon's first choice for the Plumbers unit) is known to have represented Robert Vesco in Washington back in 1972, the year in which Vesco flew from a meeting with Lansky's representative Dino Cellini to Costa Rica, and initiated the contact which later led to the proposed deal to manufacture Ingram M-10s in Costa Rica, between Vasco and Parabellum, Alliegro, and WerBell. Allen is also said to have been one of the U.S. contacts of the Aginter Plan Usine lobbyists who were proposing an economic freezone for the Azores (and the U.S. Mafia) much like that which Vasco, at Allen's suggestion, was proposing for Costa Rica."
(The Great Heroin Coup, "Foreward", Peter Dale Scott, pg. 21) 
Richard V. Allen
When Vesco wasn't busy assisting Allen in setting up offshore tax havens for their special friends, he was deeply immersed in drug and arms trafficking and sponsoring neo-fascist terrorism. In many of these endeavors he was aided by "former" OSS man Mitchell WerBelI III, one of the most notorious of the so-called "China Cowboys" (noted before here). For years WerBell was suspected running guns for the CIA when not aiding various far right wing causes.
"In 1974 WerBell – according to a motion filed by his own lawyer when WerBell, his son and his company Defense Services, Inc. were charged with illicit weapons sales – was involved in a 'conspiracy among the CIA, Robert Vesco, and various corporations to finance clandestine guerrilla activities in Latin America.' Vesco wanted to purchase WerBell's stock of 2000 silenced M10 machine pistols. When WerBell failed to secure an export license, he devised a plan to smuggle the weapons to Vesco. The two later negotiated the construction of a factory in Costa Rica which would be licensed to fabricate the pistols...
"Although the M10 and M11 could be acquired legally only with the special permission of U.S. officials, large numbers of silenced M10s turned up in the hands of European fascist terrorists in 1976-77. When Pierluigi Concutelli, a leader of the Italian terrorist group Ordine Nuovo, was arrested in Rome in February 1977, police found in his apartment the silenced M10 which he had used to murder the Rome magistrate Vittorio Occorsio. Occorsio have been shot down on the streets of Rome in July 1976 after announcing he would expose the close collaboration between fascist terrorist groups and the Mafia.
"However, it was among Spanish terrorists in particular that WerBell's machine pistols appeared in quantity. Most notably, a sizable consignment of M10s, sent to Spain under license from U.S. authorities, had been purchased by the Spanish intelligence agency DGS, which is allegedly coordinated the actions of fascist terrorists. 
"The fugitive IOS billionaire Vesco employed a large contingent of Cuban exiles in his Costa Rica sanctuary. Moreover, his weapons negotiations coincided with the efforts of the fanatic anti-Castro Cuban leader Orlando Bosch to assemble Cuban exile groups into an army of terror, CORU, that would later carry out assassinations and other dirty work for several Latin American regimes. During Bosch's 1974-75 drive, a wave of murder struck Miami's Cuban exile haven. Most victims have been opposed to Bosch. With the obstacles to his plan removed, CORU was established in June 1976.
"While Vesco and WerBell were hatching their weapons deal Bosch's base of operation just happen to be Vesco's Kingdom of Costa Rica – and Mafia heroin boss Santo Trafficante, Jr. was also reportedly there between January 1974 and the summer of 1975...
"In 1973 some of the details began to surface in a series of scandals linking these individuals. DEA undercover agent Frank Peroff charged Vesco with financing extensive heroin smuggling. For his initiative Peroff was fired summarily and his life was threatened. Before the Senate Investigations Subcommittee could probe deeply the case was squelched through the intervention of the White House. The Oval Office had already helped Vesco – a friend of the Nixon family – in his run-in with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which had sought his prosecution for the trail of swindle he had left in the world of international finance. Midway through the subcommittee investigation of the heroin charges, the DEA announced the disappearance of its Vesco file... 
"This was not the last heard of Robert Vesco in connection with drugs. In the summer of 1977 police uncovered the smuggling of large quantities of heroin and cocaine to Rhode Island. In one of the involved ships they discovered a ledger in which it was written: 'to Vesco/6 million/he picked up w. shrimper (Lansky)/"Curier" beat up.' "
(The Great Heroin Coup, Henrik Kruger, pgs. 182-184)
Mitchell WerBell III
That WarBell may have been supplying Italian fascists with his beloved M10 during this era is most interesting in light of another guest at Paradise Island during the early 1970s. As was noted before here, the infamous Archbishop Paul Marcinkus was reportedly a regular guest of Paradise Island during this time when he wasn't busy running the Bahamas-based Banco Ambrosiano Overseas.

As regular readers are no doubt aware, Marcinkus was the director of the Vatican bank that opened it up to extensive Syndicate influence, first via banker Michele Sindona and later Banco Ambrosiano chairman Roberto Calvi. In addition to the Syndicate, Sindona and Calvi also had close ties to Propaganda Due (P2), the infamous Italian Masonic lodge dominated by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Opus Dei. As was noted before here, P2 also had extensive ties to neo-fascist Italian terrorists such as Ordine Nuovo --in other words, the same neo-fascist terrorists that appear to have been well-armed with WerBell's M10s during the same time frame.

This certainly raises some interesting possibilities with Marcinkus' presence at Paradise Island at the same time Vesco, another frequent Resorts guests, and WerBell, were scheming. But unfortunately there has been little investigation into these potential ties. As such, let us return to the life and times of Dick Nixon's most notorious banker.

As was noted above, Vesco was again charged with drug trafficking while living in Cuba in 1989. He was arrested in Cuba in 1995 and ultimately died in prison there in 2009 (allegedly). At the time of his arrest the Cuban government accused him of being an "agent of foreign special services."

Needless to say, Mr. Vesco lived quite an interesting life. And when he wasn't busy financial schemes or political lobbying or arms and drug trafficking, he reportedly liked to kick back and relax at Paradise Island. He even lived there for a time 1978, when the noose was allegedly beginning to tighten.

Vesco was so taken in fact with Resorts' casino that he had considered buying it at one point around 1972.
"A friend of Crosby's, Vesco proposed to buy virtually all of Resorts property in the Bahamas, using funds from IOS. The purchase price was $60,000,000, split in two improbable parts. The casino toll bridge were to be sold to Gulf Stream (Bahamas), Ltd., run by Gil Straub, one of Vesco's cronies and a fellow indictee. Twenty million dollars in cash and five million dollars in promissory notes would be the price – a bargain of the first order. More than 300,000 tourists cross the bridge each year, paying two dollars apiece (or $600,000) for the privilege, and the casino reports an annual profit of about five million dollars. Even if one discounts allegations of revenue being skimmed from both the bridge and the casino, Gulf Stream could have earned back its entire purchase price in less than five years! And if the reports of skimming are true, the deal would have been even more lucrative. How much more is uncertain. According to Resorts figures, the average tourist leaves a mere fifteen dollars on the casino's tables, little more than a sawbuck in excess of what it costs to visit the casino. That seems an awfully modest sum when one considers the affluence of Bahamian tourists on a spree and the troops of high rollers who arrive every week on subsidized gambling junkets."
(Spooks, Jim Hougan, pgs. 228-229)
Robert Vesco
Even then Vesco's reputation was fast going down the toilet and the SEC quickly put the kibosh on any such buyout of Resorts. While the Nixon White House may still have been able to keep Vesco indicted on drug charges, it was unable to get the SEC to stand down. Resorts was unfazed. It had other curious backers ripe with dirty money at its beckon.

Mr. Billy

Easily the most bizarre was Richard Mellon Hitchcock, a member of the fabled Mellon dynasty (addressed before here). During the 1960s, Hitchcock (known to his friends as "Mr. Billy") popped up in a host of strange places.

I've already addressed Hitchcock at length before here, so I'm only going to provide a brief rundown of his notoriety in this present blog. He first made the scene in 1962 in the UK in the midst of Profumo affair that ultimately resulted in the downfall of Harold Macmillan's government in 1963. In '62 Hitchcock had had dinner with Dr. Stephen Ward, a key figure in the scandal, who reportedly made some rather provocative statements about the role he had played during the Cuban Missile Crisis he had played for the British and Soviet governments.

Hitchcock then reported these statements back to the US Ambassador to the Court of St. James, his uncle David Bruce. But in addition to marrying into the Mellon family, Bruce had also been a key figure in the OSS during World War II. As such, there has long been speculation that Hitchcock's timely meeting with Ward was intelligence-related.

David Bruce
Then, in 1963, Hitchcock would open up his estate at Millbrook to Timothy Leary and his entourage. While Leary and his crew occupied the main estate, Hitchcock lived out of the guest house and cynically partook in the acid-fried hi jinks. He evicted Leary by '67, but was not finished with the acid scene by a long shot. It was around this time that he became the de facto banker for the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, the so-called "hippie mafia" that was at one point the largest supplier of LSD in the world. It was in the capacity that Hitchcock became involved with Resorts.
"In the spring of 1968 Hitchcock and acid chemist Nick Sand journeyed to the Bahamas, where they stayed at the spacious mansion of Sam Clapp, chairman of the local Fiduciary Trust Company. Clapp was a college chum of Hitchcock's and they have been doing business together for years. They arranged for Sand to open an account under a false name at Clapp's bank. Hitchcock and Sand also looked into the feasibility of setting up an offshore LSD laboratory on one of Bahamas secluded cays – which led some to wonder whether Mr. Billy was 'on a Dr. No Trip.' ...
"Hitchcock took full advantage of his unlimited borrowing privileges at Fiduciary. At Clapp's urging he poured over $5,000,000 into unregistered 'letter stocks' (the kind that aren't traded publicly but tend to show dramatic gains on paper) associated with the Mary Carter Paint Company, later known as Resorts International. It was the single largest chunk of money raised by Resorts, an organization suspected of having ties to organized crime. Resorts International proceeded to build a casino on an exclusive piece of Bahamian real estate called Paradise Island..." 
(Acid Dreams, Martin A. Lee & Bruce Shlain, pgs. 244-245)
Even more curious is the fact that Mr. Billy's shares in Resorts ended up being managed by the infamous CIA bank known as the Castle Bank & Trust, a key sponsor of various efforts to topple the government of Cuba during this time frame.
"The bank was established by Paul Helliwell, a former OSS China hand with a background in drug-trade intelligence. After the war, Helliwell had run CIA front companies in Florida. Through his Bahamian bank, and a companion institution in Florida, millions of dollars were funneled for covert military operations staged off Andros Island in the Bahamas. Castle also facilitated tax evasion, and, in its trust-company capacity, voted the shares of certain nonresident owners of Resorts International, the top Lansky-era casino operation in Nassau. When one of their shareholder so strongly objected to the way Castle was voting his shares that he sued the bank, the scheme began to unravel.
"The shareholder was William Mellon Hitchcock, the New York stockbroker who had been using the Paravicini bank of Berne, Switzerland, to circumvent the New York Fed's margin requirements...
"After Hitchcock's lawsuit, the IRS made its move anticipating the biggest tax-evasion bust in American history. But the CIA successfully lobbied for the inquiry to be buried, and many IRS veterans quit in disgust. The Castle Bank shut down its Caymans and Bahamas operations in 1977, and moved to the more congenial environment of Panama..." 
(Hot Money, R.T. Naylor, pg. 315)
Mr. Billy on the right
Castle and Mr. Billy were ensnared in what was known as Operation Tradewinds, an IRS-sponsored investigation of offshoring that also turned up the Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Resorts. The Brotherhood went down while Mr. Billy got a slap on the wrist, but both Castle and Resorts emerged unscathed. According to Jim Hougan in Spooks, Resorts at least was saved by Richard Nixon, who intervened to stop the investigation.

What it amount to is that a big part of Resorts early funding came from LSD financier William Mellon Hitchcock, who brought the infamous CIA-sponsored Castle Bank into the fold. This should leave little doubt that Resorts was founded at least in part as some type of CIA front, at first geared towards Cuban operations, but later (during the Resorts era) as something more nefarious.

And that brings to possibly the most curious aspects of Resorts, namely its ownership of its own vast private intelligence network.

Rent-a-spook: Intertel

It was known as Intertel, short for International Intelligence, Inc. Intertel was incorporated in 1970 as an almost wholly-owned subsidiary of Resorts International and hit the ground running. During its heyday, Intertel had an impressive roster and an international reach. It would turn up in host of intrigues throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Curiously, it had its origins with Robert Kennedy's "Get Hoffa" squad.
"... Intertel, known especially and remarkably for its composition of former organized crime strike force attorneys from Robert Kennedy's Justice Department... The IRS considered Intertel... 'an organized crime enterprise of some type aimed at the Bahamas,' as one account summed up the agency's view. Roberts Peloquin and William Hundley, Kennedy's top crime fighters, had joined the firm and recruited operatives from the CIA, FBI, IRS, Secret Service, and other intelligence agencies. Staffed exclusively by what one author called 'Get Hoffa agents,' it was likened into a corporate CIA. 'With the murder of Robert Kennedy in 1968, the federal government's war on organized crime... was over,' wrote Hoffa biographer, Dan Moldea, '... and two its best warriors – Bill Hundley and Bob Peloquin – were dressed for war but had no one to fight.' "
(The Money and the Power, Sally Denton & Roger Morris, pg. 284)
Robert Kennedy
In point of fact, the enigmatic Robert Peloquin always seemed to have some war or other to fight. Peloquin first got into the intelligence racket in during the Korean conflict when he joined the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI). He was on active duty with the ONI from 1951 to 1955, and continued Office to serve in the reserves for over twenty-five years, finally retiring in 1981 with the rank of Commander. Interestingly, the ONI was one of the two US intelligence agencies (the other being the OSS) that initiated Operation Underworld, effectively a collaboration between the Syndicate and US intelligence during World War II. Meyer Lansky played a key role in establishing this arrangement, which many believe continues to this day. But back to Peloquin.

In 1956 he graduated from Georgetown University Law School (Georgetown has a rich history of grooming future spooks) and was appointed Deputy Chief at the National Security Agency (NSA) in the same year.

Already possessing quite an extensive intelligence background, Peloquin joined the Justice Department in 1957 and soon found himself knee deep in the battle against organized crime, or so the story goes. Peloquin was involved with Operation Tradewinds during the 1960s before retiring from Justice, with some believing that he was running interference on it for the Syndicate. Shortly after he had left the government he ended up working for the NFL and especially closely with the Washington Redskins. As was noted before here, DC capo Joe Nesline and future Watergate madam Heidi Rikan were deeply (har har) involved with the Redskins in the same time frame as was Dino Cellini, brother of future Resorts manager Eddie Cellini.

Unsurprisingly, it was Peloquin's gig with the Redskins that led to the murky netherworld of Resorts International and Intertel.

And murky it was indeed. Probably the most notorious caper of Intertel was also one of their first: the abduction of billionaire Howard Hughes from Las Vegas. For years many have equated this to a kind of palace coup.
"Only a few months later, on Thanksgiving Eve 1970, Intertel agents descended on Las Vegas for the stated purpose of ridding the Hughes empire of the hoodlum elements that had infiltrated the organization under Maheu's rain. With the same mysteriousness and secrecy cloaking Hughes arrival exactly four years earlier, he was now 'placed on a stretcher, carried out of the Desert Inn to a waiting van and driven to Nellis Air Force Base,' as Barlett and Steele described the event. A wasting wraith on a gurney, he was removed from Las Vegas by James Golden, a former Nixon Secret Service agent turned Intertel vice president, and whisked by private jet to Resorts International's Britannica Beach Hotel in the Bahamas.
"As some Intertel agents carried Hughes down the back stairs of the Desert Inn, others 'rushed cashier's cages and began stuffing money' and IOU markers into satchels. Kicking down doors of Mahue offices, they occupied all the Hughes casinos. In yet another ironic twist, Robert Kennedy's legendary organized crime team had suddenly taken charge of six major Las Vegas casinos, while governor Laxalt and his gaming officials scrambled to figure out what was going on."
(The Money and the Power, Sally Denton & Roger Morris, pg. 285)
Howard Hughes
Howard Hughes's sudden departure from Las Vegas has been shrouded in mystery for years. Many of his close subordinates would never see the man alive again --indeed, there's much controversy as to whether anyone credible saw Hughes alive after November 1970. For the rest of his life Hughes only communicated to the rest of his empire via phone, if at all.

Hughes reportedly spent most of remaining years living at the Xanadu Beach Resort & Marina of the Bahamas. When he officially died on April 5, 1976, the body produced for Hughes barely weighed ninety pounds on a 6'4 frame. This, combined with the beard, long hair and nails, made the body unrecognizable. It had to be identified via fingerprints by the FBI.

the Xanadu
There has been much dispute as to whether Hughes had in fact died when he was reported to, or if the body was even actually his. It is beyond the scope of this present article to address these issues, but suffice to say, Resorts and Intertel were major winners from the shakeup in the Hughes empire and there has been much speculation that Intertel (and by default, Resorts) was in the driver's seat of good chunk's of Hughes empire. And this put a considerable amount of money at their disposal.

Intertel's other ventures include spying of muckraker Jack Anderson for ITT, investigating the Chicago Tylenol murders and the Bhopal disaster. Even more ominous, however, were its dealings with a shady Belgium-based private detective agency known as Agence de Recherche et d'Information (ARI). As was noted before here, ARI was linked to members of the neo-fascist terror organization known as the Westland New Post, a few of whom had also been implicated in drug trafficking and pedophile rings. Intertel reportedly hired ARI to do some work for them during the 1980s.

It probably goes without saying, but Intertel, along with the closely related Wackenhut, was a trailblazer in the private intelligence racket. Its legacy lives in the modern deep private that in many ways has surpassed the deep state itself. In its heyday, Intertel was a the absolute black heart of this network.

Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City

At the end of the 1970s Resorts International set its sites on opening up another region to gambling, this one in the United States itself: Atlantic City. It was a rather ironic choice of locations to be sure, as in some accounts the Syndicate is alleged to have been founded in Atlantic City in 1929. And now it was poised to openly rule the city. Unsurprisingly,  Resorts was reportedly at the forefront of efforts to legalize gambling there.
"... Crosby's firm was the architect of the politically slick, million-dollar campaign which led New Jersey voters to change their minds on the subject. In 1974 a referendum to legalize state-operated gambling casinos had been roundly rebuffed by the local citizenry. Two years later, however, a new referendum, providing for privately owned casinos 'in Atlantic City only,' was in the works. And the man who brought it to the attention of Resorts, strangely enough, was David Probinsky (formally of the Bahamas and one of Pindling's disappointed supporters). Probinsky convinced Crosby that the new referendum would pass if Resorts got behind it. When Resorts did, acquiring huge (and moldering) Chalfonte-Haddon Hall Hotel on the Boardwalk, as well as the fifty-six acre tract that had been cleared for 'urban renewal.' Resorts told its stockholders that 'the tract would be developed under an urban renewal plan with hotel, housing and other facilities.' It didn't say what those other facilities would be, but it wasn't hard to guess."
(Spooks, Jim Hougan, pgs. 410-411)
Resorts Casino Hotel, Atlantic City's first gambling establishment
The opening of Atlantic City for legalized gambling proved to be a boon for both Resorts International and one of the future owners. He was a rising New York real estate baron who went by the name of Donald J. Trump.

Once Trump dipped his toes into the troubled waters of the gambling industry he would rapidly emerge as one of the premier tycoons of the 1980s. It is not a stretch to say that Atlantic City made Trump a household name --quite literally via his first casino, the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, which he built on behalf of Holiday Inn. Trump bough them out in 1984 and there was no looking back from there.

What is of great interest to us here is Trump's third Atlantic City casino: the Taj Mahal. While now widely associated with Trump, thanks in no small part to it leading to his first bankruptcy, it was not in fact Trump who started the casino. That dubious distinction lies with Resorts International.

The company had begun construction on the Taj Mahal in 1983, but had run into persistent difficulties in finishing construction in the following years. Then, in April 1986, James Crosby died suddenly. This left Resorts in turmoil (allegedly) and Trump stepped in. Trump bought a controlling stake in the company in 1987 and was promptly named its chairman of the board.

Let that sink in for a moment: Donald J. Trump, the current President of the United States, was briefly the chairman of a corporation long suspected of being a CIA front, that had decades-spanning involvement with the Syndicate, numerous "rogue" financiers, various drug and arms traffickers and which owned a vast private intelligence network that had managed to abduct one of the wealthiest men in the world and effectively take over his gambling concessions. 

And less anyone think Resorts had cleaned up by the time Trump took over, consider that uber deep state player Robert Peloquin resigned from Intertel and joined Resorts' board in 1985, shortly before Trump became involved. He stayed on with Resorts until 1990, by which time he had become the chairman after Merv Griffin had beaten Trump in a bidding war for Resorts.

the enigmatic Robert Peloquin
As part of the arrangement made with Griffin, Trump ended up with the Taj Mahal, which his first wife Ivana ran for a time. At this point in time a curious pattern began to develop with Trump's business empire: projects were financed with massive amounts of debt, they went bankrupt and yet the owner did not seem to incur serious financial loses from these failures. This is a pattern not unfamiliar to Syndicate-backed businesses. And naturally there appears to have been an extensive, Mob-linked money laundering operation being run out of the Taj Mahal after Trump owned it outright.

It would certainly appear that Trump learned a thing or two from Resorts during his brief affiliation with them. This should also shatter any notion that Trump is some type of outsider --Resorts was as deep state, or more accurately, deep private, as it gets. Trump would not have ended up as the chairman with Peloquin on the board were he not in the club.

And finally, this should leave little doubt as to how pathetic the mainstream media's crusade against Trump really is. Only the gods know how much money has been pissed away on phantom Russian-connections when a few hours of Internet sleuthing will turn up connections between Trump and one of the most notorious criminal organizations of the 1970s and 1980s, which Trump served as the chairman of.

And with that I shall wrap things up for now. Until next time dear readers, stay tuned.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Men in Black: The Hidden History of the Knights of Malta Part I

In all the annuals of conspiracy literature there is probably no other organization more misunderstood and misrepresented than the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), more commonly known as the Knights of Malta. The Maltese knights trace their origins back to the Order of the Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, more commonly known simply as the Knights Hospitaller. For a time they were also known as the Knights of Cyprus and Rhodes and a host of other such variations. The Order has an almost totally unbroken lineage that stretches back to the eleventh century, hundreds of years before many of the more common bugaboos of conspiracy literature can be reliably dated.

As regular readers of this blog are no doubt well aware that I've touched on SMOM quite extensively in the past and as such, there will be some overlap with the data presented in previous series. For the sake of brevity I will probably not delve too much into the modern intrigues of SMOM or those of the countless splinter groups and mimic orders the Maltese knights have spawned over the years. Some of the more notorious, such as the Sovereign Order of Saint John (SOSJ), have already been chronicled elsewhere (see "Unspeakable Cults, Churches and Secret Societies" sidebar).

Still, this leaves me with a rather extensive amount of history to cover and as such, I shall mainly focus on the aspects of the Order that no doubt most interest my readers: namely, its ties to espionage and the occult. It is for this reason the series is entitled "Men in Black" (MIB).

The Men in Black are of course staples of UFO literature, but reports of them predate the modern era. Gray Baker, one of the earliest MIB chroniclers, noted:
"Dennis Stanley, in a chapter that appeared in The Truth About the Men in Black... believes that 'visits by unknown agents are seeded throughout UFO literature and newspaper accounts of flying saucer sightings. For many years, they were overlooked or not recognized for what they were. Today, just about every UFO investigator has encountered these Men in Black. The history of demonology, witchcraft, and the occult filled with similar incidents, leading one to speculate that the UFO phenomena are at least partly "psychic" in nature.
"UFO magazine editor Allen H. Greenfield has pointed out that there is usually a consistent reference associating the term 'Black Man' with the Devil, along with a mention of an Indian-like appearance supposedly attributed to the Devil by witches. Greenfield has noted that there was a concentration of such cases beginning at the time of the Elizabethan, post-Reformation era in the 1600s. Several occult volumes classify these beings into a group of their own and refer to them as Men in Black, Demons, Devils, Apparitions, or Black Men – the latter being the most commonly used. 
"The writings of arch which-hunter Cotton Mather mention a 'Black Man' associated with the Indians. And there was mention of a man dressed in black during the witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts." 
(Men in Black: The Secret Terror, Gray Baker, pg.41)

Historically these Men in Black were viewed as tricksters and tempters, and often appeared in relation to witchcraft and ritual magic. But in modern times, with the advent of UFO lore, they have become suppressors par excellence. Numerous reports exist of them harassing UFO researchers, stealing evidence and so on in an effort to hide the truth from the public. This perception has seeped into pop culture with a vengeance, eventually inspiring a film series. The influence of the MIBs is felt beyond even UFO-related material, with The Matrix memorably using MIBs (dubbed "Agents") as suppressors of the Demiurgic nature of reality.

Curiously, the black grabbed Maltese knights may have been serving a similar function for centuries in regards to the occultic and arcane. With that in mind, let us leap head long into the Order's mysterious origins.

Murky Beginnings in the Holy Land

It is generally agreed that the Knights Hospitaller grew out of a hospital established in Jerusalem to treat Christian pilgrims via papal edict in the seventh century. Some four hundred years later, in the early eleventh century, it was destroyed by Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah. During the 1020s, efforts were made to rebuild it with the project falling under the sway of the Benedictine order.

The stage was set for the appearance of the Knights Hospitaller when an alleged lay brother of the Benedictine order known only as Gerard was appointed to head the Hospital of Saint John at some time around 1080. "Blessed" Gerard is the mysterious first Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller. Virtually nothing is known about his life prior to his arrival in the Holy Land, though it has long been claimed that his birthplace was Amalfi.

Blessed Gerard
What is known is that he first rose to prominence during the Siege of Jerusalem in 1099. Reportedly, his assistance proved to be invaluable to the Christian Crusaders and for reasons that went beyond medical care. 
"One of the ejected Christians was Blessed Gerard, master of the Amalfi hostel in the city, who immediately approached the Christian leaders to assist them with first hand knowledge of the layout and the defenses of Jerusalem. Needless to say, his intelligence was indeed most welcome. The crusading leaders ensured that their plans for the city's fall would encompass and indeed utilize Gerard's inside information."
(The Sword and the Green Cross, Max J. Ellul, pgs. 76-77)

Thus, the Order's proto history can be linked directly to espionage. This is a well the Order would return to time and again, as we shall see. But moving along.

Needless to say, the Crusader leaders did not forget Blessed Gerard's good work and his Hospital soon found itself the recipient of lavish donations. However it was not till Garard's successor, Raymond du Puy, that  the true Hospitaller order began to emerge. It was du Puy that transformed the Order's mission from simply administering medical care to pilgrims (apparently with some intelligence gathering) to actively guarding them. To this end, the famed Hospitaller knights arrived.

Not only did these endeavors receive Papal blessings in 1113, but recognition from one of the premier European powers of the era fairly early in the game. In 1185, 67 years after du Puy succeeded Blessed Gerard as Grand Master and militarized the Order, it received protection and a charter of privileges from Frederick Barbarossa, arguably the greatest Holy Roman Emperor of the Middle Ages. This would mark the beginning of a longstanding relationship between the Order and the Holy Roman Empire that continues in a fashion to this day. The Order would grow especially close to the Habsburg dynasty that ruled the Holy Roman Empire for well over four hundred years.

the imperial banner of the Holy Roman Empire
One such Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, granted the Knights Hospitaller Malta in 1530 after they lost their holdings in Rhodes. In 1607, the Grand Master was awarded the status of Reichsfurst, Prince of the Holy Roman Empire. The connection between the Order and the Habsburg dynasty continued well into the later half of the twentieth century, as was noted in my examination of the mysterious organization known as Le Cercle, which featured ample backing from both the Maltese knights and the Habsburgs (noted here and here). But I'm getting ahead of myself.

In the Holy Lands the Order frequently rubbed shoulders with two darlings of conspiracy literature: the Knights Templar and the Nizari, more commonly referred to as the Assassins or Hashshashins. As to the latter, it would appear that the Hospitaller ad the Nizari established a relationship so close by the late thirteenth century that it reportedly bordered on heresy.
"... By 1228, the Syrian Nizaris had in fact become tributaries to the Hospitallers under the terms of a cooperative pact, while they continue to pay tribute to the Templars. It was also around this time that the Nizaris began to lend occasional support to the military orders in their campaigns against some of the Christian rulers of the Latin states; and at least the Hospitallers reciprocated by defending the Nazaris against the encroaching forces of Antioch and Tripoli. The Nizari involvement in the Hospitaller campaign of 1230 launched by Krak des Chevaliers against Bohemond IV of Antioch represented one such instance of cooperation.
"It was against this background that Bohemond V (1233-57), the next prince of Antioch and Raymond's brother, wrote Pope Gregory IX complaining that the Grand Master of the Hospitallers was then in league with the 'Assassins.' In response to this complaint, on 26 August 1236, Pope Gregory wrote to the Archbishop of Tyre and the bishops of Sidon and Beirut insisting that the Hospitalers should terminate any compromising connections with
the Assassins, the enemies of God and of the Christian name, who formerly dared to slay treacherously Raymond [son of Bohemond IV]... and many other magnates and Catholic princes, and are striving to overcome our faith by force... and what is far graver still the aforesaid Assassins, on account of the promise made by the after mentioned Master and brethren [of the Hospital] to support and protect them Christian attacks, and undertaken to pay them a certain sum of money every year. Therefore we have sent them orders writing to desist from defending these same Assassins... And so we now charge you that if the said Master and brethren should fail to observe this our command, you shall compel them to abandon this understanding by the censures of the Church, without right of appeal, after giving them due warning."
(The Assassin Legends, Farhad Daftary, pgs. 75-76)
the Nizari showing why they are forever remembered as "Assassins"
Over the years there has been much speculation over the Nizari, who became infamous throughout Christian and Islamic lands during the Middle Ages for their curious ability to assassinate heads of state (hence the reason why the word "assassin" derives from "Hashshashins"). Frequently these assassinations occurred in broad daylight and in crowded place where the assassin had no chance to escape after the deed was done. As such, it was common for a Nizari to die immediately after taking out their target.

The killers were reportedly so stoic in performing their deeds, despite their own certain death, that the methods employed to produce such dedicated killers has spurred much interest over the years. The CIA itself even referenced the legendary founder of the Assassins branch of the Nizari, Hassan-i-Sabbah, in an early assassination manual.
"... A 1952 draft version of the manual describes a man named Hasan-Dan-Sabah who used the drug hashish to 'induce motivation in his followers, who were assigned to carry out political and other murders, usually at the cost of their lives.' Hasan-Dan-Sabah's credo with his closest initiates and most skilled assassins was: 'Nothing is true, everything is permitted.' States the CIA's manual, 'Assassination is a term thought to be derived from "Hashish," a drug similar to marijuana.' It is certainly intriguing, for a number of reasons, that the Agency included this reference in its assassination manual. First and foremost is the nexus among Hasan-Dan-Sabah (also known as the Old Man of the Mountain), Hassan-I-Sabbah, an Iranian born in 1056 near modern day Tehran, and the Knights Templar, a legendary group that nearly all of the CIA's founders and earliest employees openly admired and sought to emulate."
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli, Jr., pgs. 263-264)
Contrary to popular belief, there is no real compelling evidence that Hassan-i-Sabbah used hashish to induce his followers into committing assassinations, or that the Nizari that followed him indulged in it. Most of these allegations likely derive from the reign of Hassan's great-grandson, Hassan II (the fourth lord of Alamut), in which standards had become much more lax since Hassan's day.

In point of fact, Hassan-i-Sabbah was known for sobriety and rigid discipline was imposed upon his sect. It was likely this that served as the cornerstone of the sect's brainwashing, namely relentless religious indoctrination combined with physical deprivation induced by long days and lack of proper nutrition. Such methods are still used to good effect by modern day cults such as the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon.

Still, it is curious that the CIA would look to the Nizari in the early 1950s for inspiration in conducting assassinations at the same time their numerous behavioral modification experiments were in fools swing. Even more curious is the fact that many key early members of the CIA such as Allen Dulles and James Jesus Angleton had had close dealings with the Knights of Malta, the direct descendants of the Medieval Knights Hospitaller, who were warned by the papacy for their close ties to the Nizari, the "enemies of God and the Christian name." As is often the case, many have continued to focus on the interest the early CIA had in the Knights Templar while ignoring the actual membership many key CIA officials had in the Maltese knights.

But back to the Holy Land. The Nizari were but one of several strange sects, along with the likes of the closely related Druze, the Yazidis, and the Mandaens, engaged in highly esoteric practices that the Hospitallers and other Crusaders encountered in the Holy Lands. The Sufi movement was also in its infancy at this time and its possible that remnants of the Harran Sabians could still be found in Syria at the same time the Knights Hospitaller were rubbing shoulders with the Nizari.

ruins of the legendary city of Harran
The Harran Sabians were a curious bunch. The Sabians were mentioned several times in the Quran as "peoples of the Book" and are now believed by many scholars to be derived from the Mandaens, Johnites whose belief system is closely related to Gnosticism. The Harran Sabians, by contrast, appear to have adopted the name Sabian to spare their pagan beliefs after the Islamic conquest. At the core of their belief system was a reverence for Hermes Trismegistus.
"Notable in this process of translation and research was the Sabian intellectual community of Baghdad, which thrived under an enlightened caliphate between the ninth and mid-tenth centuries AD. The Sabians had, in order to qualify for respect as 'people of the Book' as directed by the Koran, taken the philosophical writings of Hermes Trismegistus as their prophetic work, their holy book.
"The philosophy of Hermes was congenial to Baghdad's Muslim authorities because it represented the unity of God and the cosmos. Hermes was congenial to the so-called Sabians because they had originally come from Harran in northern Syria, where the lights of the cosmos were venerated; Harran had seven temples, each dedicated to a planet."
(The Invisible History of the Rosicrucians, Tobias Churton, pgs. 103-104)

I've digressed to discuss the Harran Sabians here because the Maltese knights appear to have developed quite an interest in alchemy several centuries later and it is generally felt that Western alchemy arose from Hermeticism. And the Harran Sabains were one of the key conduits to transfer Hermeticism from the ancient world to the Middle Ages. They were also reported to be early alchemists as well.

As such, there would have been no shortage of esoteric creeds ranging from Hermeticism, Gnosticism and Isma'ilism, among others, for the Crusading knights to absorb. As one of the wealthiest and most influential orders of the Crusader era, the Knights Hospitaller would have been especially well placed to study such creeds. But their potential involvement with these sects has been largely overshadowed by their far more famous rivals, the Knights Templar.

The Hospital and the Temple

The relationship between the Knights Templar and the Knights Hospitaller has long been shrouded in controversy. The Hospitallers predated the Templars and there appears to have been an early influence. But the Templars took up arms before the Hospitallers, which no doubt led to the transformation of the latter into a full blown military order. Many accounts insist, however, on an ever growing rivalry between the two orders that appeared headed towards open conflict in the years leading up to the suppression of the Templars.
"As part of the planning of a new Crusade, the pope had indicated that he wanted to discuss the proposal that the Templars and the Hospitallers be merged into one order, an idea that had been coming up more more frequently in recent years. Just two years earlier a Dominican friar, Raymond Lull, had written a merger plan that had aroused much interest. He proposed that the Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem and the Knights of the Temple of Solomon be combined into a single order to be called the Knights of Jerusalem, and that all of the rulers of Europe combine their Crusading forces under a single commander to be known as the Rex Bellator, the 'War King.' A few years earlier a French priest, Pierre de Bois, had submitted a written plan for the recuperation of the Holy Places called De Recuperatione Sanctae, in which he cited the efficiencies to be achieved by combining the military orders. 
"The pope had responded favorably to the merger concept. The Hospitalers had brought new hope for a crusade and new respect to themselves by the recent invasion of the island of Rhodes, and the pope leaned towards the appointment of Foulques de Villaret, Grand Master of the Hospitallers, as Grand Master of the proposed combination."
(Born in Blood, John J. Robinson, pg. 128) 
Pope Clement V, who oversaw the persecution of the Knights Templar
This proposed merger was effectively carried out with the suppression of the Knights Templar in 1312, of which the Knights Hospitaller were one of the chief benefactors of.
"That order has managed to escape any criticism in the matter of the Templar suppression, but apparently only because it had kept a low profile throughout, probably for the very good reason that its role and its rewards at been worked out in advance. It is well known that the papacy was in favor of the union of the Templars and Hospitallers and had already determined that Foulques de Villaret, master of the Hospitallers, would be the Grand Master of the combined orders. The Templars, at their headquarters in Cyprus, had heard of the serious intent to combine the orders and had taken the time to prepare a written rebuttal. The Hospitallers, at their own headquarters on the same island, must have received the same information, yet they prepared no rebuttal, written or verbal. In fact, de Villaret managed to stay away from the meeting in France altogether, with no recorded papal criticism for his absence. That was undoubtedly because his presence wasn't needed and because there was no point in chancing a confrontation between the two orders, especially since the pope was already dedicated to looking after the interests of the Hospitallers. Not only did the Hospitallers offer no objection to the concept of the merger, but they made no attempt whatever to speak up for their brother warrior-monks as they were arrested and tortured. They simply stayed out of it and bided their time, until Clement V, much to the anger of King Philip, declared that all of the confiscated Templar property would go to the Knights Hospitallers and that all released Templars could be taken into the Hospitaller order, thereby achieving de facto the union he had been planning all along, with full Hospitaller approval and cooperation. If one looks for motive, the Hospitaller order was the major beneficiary of the suppression of the Templars, as it probably been plan from the beginning. The pope and the Hospitallers together thwarted the aims of Philip of France, and there should be no doubt that the Hospitallers rank as one of the three assassins of the Order of the Temple." 
(Born in Blood, John J. Robinson, pgs. 272-273)
There's a lot to taken in here. A good starting point may be the little-remarked upon role the above-mentioned Ramon Llull played in the suppression of the Templars. A Spanish Franciscan monk, was one of the earliest and most vigorous supporters of merging the Templars and the Hospitallers. Llull had ventured to the island of Cyprus in 1299 to convert the infidel and appears to have been poisoned in 1302. He was ultimately saved by Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar who famously burned at the stake.

Jacques de Molay
Afterwards Llull reportedly pitched de Molay his merger plan, which the Grand Master was not favorably disposed towards. Despite de Molay having saved his life, Llull continued to promote his merger plan and went on to argue for the confiscation of Templar property by the Knights Hospitaller in the wake of the suppression of the former order. 

In addition to being a Franciscan with some sway in the Catholic hierarchy, Llull was also a mystic and early alchemist. One would expect him to be very interested in the ideas the Templars and the Hospitallers were being exposed to in the Holy Lands and to be sympathetic in general to the plight of the Templars. Not only had his life been saved by de Molay, but he was a fellow heretic operating within the frame work of the Catholic Church. And yet he backed the Hospitallers.

Ramon Llull
Was there something about the Knights of the Hospital that intrigued Llull beyond their ability to continue the Crusades? Unfortunately, this is a question little explored. But moving along.

The above reference Robinson makes to the "three assassins of the Order of Temple" is a reference to Masonic myths surrounding the Biblical figure of Hiram Abiff, whom the Masons claim as their founder. In Masonic lore Hiram is murdered by three unworthy craftsmen (some times referred to as "Ruffians") while working on the Temple of Solomon. Robinson speculated that these "Ruffians" (referred to as Jubela, Jubelo and Jubelum) were stand-ins for the suppression of the Templar order, with the three unworthy craftsmen representing King Philip of France, Pope Clement V and the Knights Hospitaller.

This is in stark contrast to much conspiracy literature, which tends to depict the Knights of Malta as lackeys of the Freemasons. There is little evidence of this, however. The Scottish Rite degree named after the Knights of Malta appears to reflect Robinson's take on the Maltese knights as assassins (while still showing a certain admiration for the Order). And famed nineteenth century Freemason Albert Mackey, in his encyclopedia of Masonry, proclaimed the Maltese knights to be longstanding foes of the Masons:
"As regards Freemasonry it may be said in general that the Knights were antipathetic to it, or to any such teachings or truths as Masons held at any period. In particular, the Order was twice used in attempts to destroy Freemasonry, and it therefore has at one time or another belong to that long chapter of the history of the Fraternity which is called Anti Masonry.
"It has been an open and confessed military arm of the Vatican before the Pope issued their first Bull against Freemasonry in 1738, and it was ordered to oppose Freemasonry wherever it could. In about 1800 it was instrumental in driving Freemasonry out of Russia. When Metternich after 1815 and the Congress of Vienna became the dictator of Europe he made the complete climination of the Fraternity one of his open and principal aims; and to a large extent he succeeded for some years, and may be described as the most powerful Anti-Mason of the nineteenth century.
"The Knights of Malta were one of the agencies employed by him..."
(Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Vol. 3, Albert Mackey, pg. 56)
In recent years the linkage between the Knights of Malta and Freemasonry has been revived by no less than Pope Francis himself, who has demanded that the Maltese knights purge Freemasons from their ranks.

Pope Francis
The presence of Freemasons among the Maltese knights is deceptive, however. In modern times this connection was laid bare in the scandal surrounding Propaganda Due (P2), the infamous Italian Masonic lodge linked to Operation Gladio and a host of terror attacks in Italy and beyond. As was noted before here, the upper echelon of P2 was almost totally dominated by the Maltese knights and the closely related Opus Dei. In other words, reactionary Catholic orders were using Masonic lodges (as there were other Propaganda lodges across Europe) as cover for a host of illegal and immoral activities. Some have suggested that this use of "unclean hands" was to further distance the Maltese knights from the deeds they were engaged in.

This is compelling, but I suspect there was another motive: to give yet another black eye to a longstanding foe of the Order. P2 has provided much fodder to conspiracy researchers obsessed with Masons (virtually all of them, in other words) who in turn almost totally ignore the dominating influence the Maltese knights had over P2. In many ways, it would be difficult for a reactionary Catholic order to come up with a more perfect cover.


And with that I shall wrap things up for now with the following thoughts: the Knights of Malta emerged during the Crusades and spent nearly two centuries roaming the Holy Lands. There they likely encountered a host of esoteric ideologies from the likes of the Nizari, Mandeans, Yazidis, Druze and possibly even the Sabians and Sufis. It has been long suspected that their fellow Crusading military order the Knights Templar adopted some type of esoteric doctrine derived from some combination of these groups.

The Templar are then suppressed and persecuted in Europe, with the Knights Hospitaller ending up with their properties, members and possibly whatever occultic doctrines the Templars subscribed too. Certainly this more than echoes modern encounters of Men in Black who perform a similar function in regards to UFO revelations.

For the Knights of Malta, this was only the beginning. In the years to come they would encounter even more strange doctrines that they potentially embraced internally while suppressing among the general public. On the whole this is in rather stark contrast to speculative theories of the Knights Templar. If the Templars did in fact inspire Freemasonry, they ultimately made a host of esoteric doctrines accessible to the public at large through their lodges. The Knights of Malta, by contrast, preferred to keep this knowledge hidden.