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An Iran-Contra Nazi Connection
Texas journalist Pete Brewton, in The Mafia, CIA and George Bush (SPI
Books, 1992), mentions an Iran-contra co-conspirator little-known in the
States but notorious in the UK -- the late Tiny Rowland, publisher of the
London Observer, MI5 operative, mining magnate, executor of the royal
family's neo-colonial holdings -- and in Germany a Hitler Youth leader (see
Rowland obituary below), though for decades he claimed to have been an
anti-Nazi. In 1994, after he was exposed as a veteran Hitler Youth by
journalist Tom Bower, Rowland immediately sold the Observer and slithered
out of the public eye. ‹ AC
"Since at least 1981, a worldwide network of 'free-standing' [i.e., no
direct U.S. government ties] companies, including airlines, aviation and
military spare parts suppliers and trading companies has been utilized by
the CIA and the U.S. government to illegally ship arms and military spare
parts to Iran and to the Contras. These companies were set up with the
approval and knowledge of senior CIA offcials and other senior U.S.
government officials and staffed primarily by ex-CIA, ex-FBI and ex-military
officers. The companies include Aero Systems, Inc., of Miami, Arrow Air,
Aero Systems Pvt. Ltd of Singapore, Hierax of Hong Kong, Pan Aviation in
Miami, Merex in North Carolina, Sur International, St. Lucia Airways, Global
International Airways, International Air Tours of Nigeria, Continental Shelf
Explorations, Inc., Jupiter, Florida, Varicon, Inc., Dane Aviation Supply of
Miami, and others, such as Parvus, Safir, International Trading and
Investment Guaranty Corp., Ltd., and Information Security International Inc.
"Through these mechanisms, staffed by ex-intelligence and military officers,
the administration and the CIA have been able to circumvent and ignore the
legal intelligence mechanisms and Congressional oversight. C-130, F4, TOWs
and Hawk missile parts were shipped to Iran in violation of the arms embargo
and a variety of mechanisms were used, including International Air Tours of
Nigeria in August and September 1985, Arrow Air in November 1985, and Global
International and Pan Aviation and others going back in 1981.
"In another document, entitled 'Corruption Within CIA: A Cast of
Characters,' Hemmings severely criticizes Thomas Twetten, the deputy
director of operations for the CIA and Hemmings's former boss. In one
section Hemmings discusses weapons sales to Iran and how Twetten
deliberately undermined the case of a foreign official who had information
on such sales by turning the matter over to the British: Twetten's decision
and that of London station is highly suspect and negligent, as they knew, as
I did, that the British government was, along with the British arms
industry, Tiny Rowland, Ashraf Marwan and Adnan Khashoggi, his partner,
deeply involved in such trafficking. Obviously, Twetten also knew that
North, Shackley, [Thomas] Clines, [Albert] Hakim, Robert Sensi, Cyrus
Hashemi and Farhad Azima were also involved in such trafficking, as all
these individuals were part of the same network.
"Hemmings, who won the CIA's intelligence commendation medallion in 1985, is
extremely bitter about the way he was treated by the CIA in its attempts to
cover up its role in Iran-Contra."
Tiny Rowland's Nazi Past
The unacceptable face of opportunism
Weekly Mail & Guardian
July 31, 1998
By Richard Hall
Joseph Conrad described one of his villains as a "papier-mache
Mephistopheles". That was the image of Tiny Rowland, who has died aged 80.
His secretive nature and mocking smile seemed to fit perfectly with Edward
Heath's descriptive tag: "An unpleasant and unacceptable face of
capitalism". Despite his Old Etonian airs, Rowland was born Roland Walter
Fuhrhop and had been a Scharfuhrer (troop leader) in the Hitler Youth before
his family moved to Britain in 1934.
He was interned during World War II. When he emigrated to the then Rhodesia,
he dealt in dodgy gold mines, and progressed to dispensing "special
payments" to sleazy presidents who gave him rewarding contracts. But Rowland
was a curiously vulnerable tycoon. His creation, the 2-billion pound London
and Rhodesia Mining and Land Company (Lonrho), was snatched from him in 1993
by Dieter Bock, a German property developer brought in to resolve debt
prob-lems. And there was Rowland's bitterness that Mohamed al Fayed had
acquired Harrods, the prize Rowland most desired.
Rowland was litigious to extremes. His legal battles with Al Fayed, with oil
companies, with fellow directors, with former partners all cost Lonrho many
millions. In the end, the 60 000 once-doting small shareholders could stand
such eccentricity no longer. At the last annual general meeting Rowland
attended, he was a sad figure, staring at the new Lonrho directors on a
platform he had dominated for more than 30 years.
His behaviour was so contradictory and enigmatic that many of those who
tried to penetrate his facade imagined there must be a big secret within. In
later years, it was generally accepted that he worked for British
intelligence in post-colonial Africa. He played a key role for Margaret
Thatcher in putting together the Lancaster House conference which settled
the future of Zimbabwe.
Rowland loved political intrigue, and tried to back winners in Africa. But
he often got it wrong, bankrolling Joshua Nkomo in Zimbabwe and supporting
Unita leader Jonas Savimbi in Angola's civil war.
At one moment Rowland would appear to be a lackey of the United States, at
another he would praise Colonel Moammar Gadaffi, declaring: "The Libyans are
just retailers in terrorism; the Americans are wholesalers."
Rowland could be ruthless: upon the death of Kenya's Jomo Kenyatta, all
relations of the newly buried leader were sacked from their Lonrho posts,
and Rowland turned towards President Daniel arap Moi. He gave him a stretch
of farmland for Moi University.
These instincts were inherited from his father, Hamburg-born Wilhelm
Fuhrhop, who in 1906 married, in what seems to have been a shotgun wedding,
an Anglo-Dutch girl, Muriel Kauenhoven. The Fuhrhops sailed for Calcutta.
Business flourished, but when World War I began, they were interned as
aliens. In a well-guarded cantonment east of Goa, Rowland was born on
November 27 1917 and christened Roland Walter.
After the war, the Fuhrhops made their way back to Hamburg, with two Indian
servants - one of whom is reputed to have given Rowland, who grew taller
than 1,8m, his nickname. He went to the Heinrich-Hertz Gymnasium where he
enrolled in the Hitler Youth.
In 1934 the family migrated to London. Muriel Fuhrhop was the driving force
behind the move - she may have been partly Jewish.
At 18, Rowland joined his father's import- export business in London, then
joined an uncle's shipping company. His hobby was driving fast cars; he
In September 1939, Rowland's brother Raimund joined the Wehrmacht. Military
life was more humdrum for Rowland. He became a private in the Royal Army
Medical Corps. There was no risk of his meeting his brother on the
battlefield in World War II.
Rowland spent three menial years in army hospitals in Scotland. His father
was once again interned, this time in the Isle of Man, and Rowland was to
join him, in the notorious Peel camp for high-risk Nazi sympathisers.
Why this happened remains unclear. He always claimed that he went absent
without leave, was arrested, sent back to Scotland, then taken under guard
Some say he was committed to Peel for showing pro-Nazi sympathies, but there
is no credible evidence of that. It is far more likely that he went there to
become an informer, as the price of being near his mother, who was dying of
cancer. Certainly he was suspected by fellow detainees of being a spy.
Towards the end of the war he was transferred to the island's civilian camp
and was with his mother when she died. Shortly after the war he lived in
Mayfair, dealing in cars and importing oranges from Algeria.
In 1948 a friend suggested that prospects looked splendid in Rhodesia.
Rowland left Britain, taking his favourite Mercedes and leaving behind a
large unpaid tax bill.
After 10 years of farming and dealing with mining prospects, Rowland was
spotted by an aristocratic entrepreneur named Angus Ogilvy, who had
interests in Southern Africa. A new guiding hand was needed for Lonrho,
which owned vast tracts of Rhodesia and held a healthy share portfolio in
Rowland fitted the bill, but there was a large question mark over the
background he had reluctantly disclosed to Ogilvy. A senior Lonrho director
was Sir Joseph Ball, a former member of M15 and deputy chair of the secret
spy-hunting Home Defence (Security) Executive during World War II. If Sir
Joseph raised no objection, Rowland must have been clean.
In 1961, Rowland was made joint managing director, alongside Sir Joseph's
languid Old Etonian son, Alan. Rowland looked north from Rhodesia, and saw
newly independent Africa up for grabs. He moved boldly in, treating the
continent like one vast car- boot sale.
The results were slow at first, then spectacular. By 1973, Lonrho's pre-tax
profits were hitting ¦20-million; by 1980, they were ¦120-million. His
personal life was just as promising. The Honourable Ogilvy had in 1963
married Princess Alexandra, the queen's cousin. A few years later, Rowland
gave up a long-time mistress and married Josephine Taylor, the daughter of a
former business partner. She was less than half his age.
The Ogilvys and the Rowlands had flats in Park Lane. They often met, in
dressing- gowns for breakfasts. Angus Ogilvy was on Lonrho's board, together
with the Honourable Gerald Percy, all paying court to Rowland.
But the idyll did not last: in 1973, the great Lonrho boardroom battle
erupted, over the mounting debts created by Rowland's more grandiose African
When Ogilvy resigned from the board, Rowland wrote to him furiously: "I will
crucify you!" The rebels had wanted Percy as the new supremo, but Rowland
won - with the backing of Lonrho's small shareholders.
For Rowland it seemed like a victory, but he was no longer welcome in the
better sort of boardroom. He grew paranoid, surrounded himself with
sycophants, travelled compulsively, showed signs of megalomania, and
launched interminable lawsuits. The profits kept rising, but so did the
One venture of Rowland's later years was the purchase of The Observer in
1981. He was greeted with hostility, allowed to interfere editorially, and
left the paper even weaker than when he had acquired it.
Although his invective made adversaries cringe, Rowland's behaviour too
impetuous for him ever to have stayed the course as a giant of capitalism.
He was a unique opportunist, whose charisma faded with the years.
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