Former Sun Advocate paper carrier now fights international terrorism
|Greg Passic, a former Carbon resident now works for the National Security Council. His quest is to help cut off funds for al-Qaida. |
It has been said many times that life is a journey, but few take the journey like Greg Passic. From the aisles of Carbon High School and the College of Eastern Utah, to making drug deals as an undercover agent in Pakistan and Turkey, to searching out money that fuels the al-Qaida and Bin Laden, the Carbon native is still making history with his journey.
His journey took a new twist last November when he was brought out of retirement and agreed to be part of the team to combat terrorism. Passic returned to Price and Carbon County last week to visit his father, Obbie Passic. Greg serves as the assistant director of international financial affairs for the National Security Council, office of combating terrorism. He is headquartered in the Whitehouse.
Following the September 11 attack, President Bush established the new office of homeland security and the team began to establish policies of attacking terrorism. Part of these efforts include finding out where the funding sources are for Bin Laden's efforts.
A graduate of Carbon High School, CEU and the University of Utah in International Relations, Passic joined the Bureau of Narcotics in 1971 and was sent overseas to work in 1973. His father was a Carbon County sheriff for many years in the late 50s through the early 80s was instrumental in his son getting into the Bureau of Narcotics, after attending a school in Phoenix many years ago.
Passic headed the financial operation of a Drug Enforcement Advocacy for five years working with the CIA and FBI going after cartel drug dealers. He worked undercover in countries like Turkey, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. He passed through these areas posing as a drug dealer and then spent time in Switzerland as a money launderer for the cartels. He was often offered drugs for machine guns.
He retired from that position but was called back by the Department of Justice and asked to assist in the financial profiling of the 19 hijackers that changed America on Sept. 11. He was reactivated as a special agent for the U. S. Treasury, then detailed to the National Security Council, a new unit. One of his first jobs was to check into the hijackers bank accounts and find out where the money had came from that paid for their flight training.
Anything that has to do with the financial flow of al-Qaida money is part of Passic's mission. From this profiling of the hijackers he moved into tracking the financial flow of the al-Qaida and Bin Laden.
"We traced the flow of money from his diamonds and gold, and money coming from a variety of financial contributions," he explained.
"The difference between this job and the drug traffic position is that this is often clean money being put into dirty causes, while the drug money was dirty money, trying to be made clean," said Passic.
Much of Bin Laden's money prior to Sept. 11 was collected through donations by the Muslim communities toward valiant causes like education and hunger. But in the process Ben Laden was skimming money off the top of every contribution.
"We have to realize there are over 900,000 million Muslims in the world and 90 percent of these people live in extreme poverty, mostly uneducated. They see Americans as the threat," he stated.
But taking this bull by the horns uses the same principals as tracking down the drug cartels.
"We are charged with building apparatuses to find out where their money is coming from," he explained, "We need to find out how their organization does business and build a team to stop it."
Everything learned in the drug war is applied here. The team, or new Department of Homeland Securities is made up of the border patrol, customs and secret service agencies, but also cooperates with the CIA, & FBI.
"We needed to build a team with no overlapping authority and with a mission to work together," said Passic. "It's not just an American effort. The efforts are now worldwide."
Over 100 countries are collaborating and identifying the funding sources and looking into the bigger picture. According to Passic, Bin Laden was a good CEO.
"He started with around 30 key advisors and they worked hard staying connected, sharing ideas and making terrorism plans," he said.
After 9/11 that system collapsed and now Passic thinks that maybe as few as four or five of these top advisors are still alive. He believes they do not use the top leadership to carry on their plans of terrorism any more. Key al-Qaida locations are everywhere including South America, Indonesia and Ireland. But the US strategy is to combat international terrorism and stop the financial flow to their causes.
"We do not use the word cooperation," Passic explained, "Rather, we now talk about collaborating. We are locating resources and sending teams throughout the world to work with foreign governments. We have blocked accounts and put a tremendous amount of pressure on al-Qaida. In the war against drugs we sometimes became complacent because we had less success, but this war is different. It has to be done correctly. We have found that their donations have dwindled to next to nothing."
He speculates that many former supporters of Bin Laden are hesitant to contribute money when there is no proof that he is still alive.
The war on terrorism is still raging and changes are being made, but it is his goal to do his part to get the world back to a sense of normalcy where people can resume traveling or shopping, the way they conducted business prior to 9/11.
"We are working at creating efficient ways to guard the world against terrorist groups, creating a quiet government machine that guards people and isolates the enemy and finds the financial sources that keep them going,' summarized Passic.
His service detail was a one-year stint that will expire in November of 2002. He compares the effort of combating terrorism to building a new car.
"We have now built the car but I would like to drive it for a year and see how it operates and works," he states. "We have many things in place and I'd like to see how they work over the next year. As long as I continue to make contributions I will be part of the team."
From a paper boy for the Sun Advocate to tracking down drug lords in Pakistan, to investigating the bank accounts of the al-Qaida leaders, Passic has come a long way. His journey is part of the team fighting to get America back to normal.