Congressional Record of the Abdel Kader Helmy Case

From The House Congressional Record - February 2, 1992


Attached is a document from the Helmy trial giving a brief overview of the Condor missile. By 1989, Iraq had begun development of its own version of the missile referred to as Project 395.

Washington, DC, September 19, 1989


: Assessment on the Activities of Abdel Kader Helmy*, et. al. and the Egyptian/Iraqi Condor Missile Program.

U.S. Courthouse, Sacramento, CA.

  1. This office became aware of the activities of Dr. Abdel Kader Helmy and his associates in June 1986. Acting at the request of the U.S. Customs Service, DIA assisted U.S. investigators with technical and intelligence expertise in the area of missile technology and proliferation to the Middle East. As a result of the review of the documents provided to this office, DIA offers the following pertaining to the activities of Dr. Helmy's group.

  2. The list of items/materials being sought by Dr. Helmy is entirely consistent with items neces- sary to support the manufacture of a ballistic missile. Specifically the chemicals, when combined into one list, are most likely to be found in a facility which manufactures composite solid propellant motors. The carbon based blocks and cones were most probably for use on the nose of the missile warhead. The carbon phenolic tape has numerous uses including the thermal wrap of rocket motor casings production. A review of the materials and the technical manuals which Dr. Helmy was obtaining can result in only one opinion, that Dr. Helmy was procuring materials to support the production of a ballistic missile.

  3. The Egyptian Ministry of Defense, working with financiers from Iraq, have contracted with the Argentines to produce a ballistic missile capable of carrying a warhead of 500 kilograms up to 1,000 kilometers in range. This missile is most commonly referred to as the "Condor" missile. The Condor missile meets the minimum criteria set forth in the Category 1 of the Missile Technology Control-Regime (MTCR). The Condor program has been closely monitored by the seven member nations of the MTCR (United States, Federal Republic of Germany, France, Canada, Great Britain, Italy and Japan) who are responsible for monitoring world wide missile proliferation activities.l

    This specific missile would represent a significant improvement over currently assessed missile capabilities of Egypt. DIA believes Dr. Helmy was procuring these materials for the Condor missile.

  4. The Condor missile program has been ongoing since at least 1984. The progress has been slow due in part to the lack of indigenous technology and the need to covertly acquire the technology/materials used in production of ballistic missiles abroad. The activities of Dr. Helmy are consistent with observed activities, sponsored by Egypt and Iraq, to facilitate the production of the Condor missile. Without the activities of Dr. Helmy and his co-conspirators in procuring restricted technology, completion of the Condor missile program is doubtful. Dr. Helmy's apparent willingness to provide critical materials necessary for the production of the Condor missile was important to the long term goals of establishing an indigenous ballistic missile production capability in Argentina, Egypt and Iraq.

  5. DIA believes that the introduction of a ballistic missile, capable of carrying conventional, chemical, or nuclear warheads, into either Egypt or Iraq would increase regional tensions and add further fuel to the regional arms race. Israel and Iran, the perceived adversaries of Egypt2 and Iraq, would most surely respond to these acquisitions in an escalating posture, by considering preemptive strikes, starting or accelerating anti-ballistic missile programs or acquiring an equal or greater number of ballistic missiles. The potential regional destabilization which might have been caused by Dr. Helmy's activities would be damaging to U.S. interests and peace efforts in the region.3

Technology Security Intelligence Analyst

Footnoes by Jonathan Pollard

(Corresponding to numbers and symbols in text above)

*Helmy, who held a DoD-issued secret level security clearance, could have been charged with espionage. However, at the insistence of both the State and Defense Departments, his indictment was limited to "smuggling" restricted technology. Can you believe this?! Apparently everybody was scared to death that a full-blown spy trial might sour diplomatic relations with Egypt. And that, of course, had to be avoided at all costs.

Helmy's unindicted co-conspirator, by the way, was none other than Field Marshal Abu Ghazala, the Egyptian Minister of Defense at the time. Although Ghazala was eventually forced to retire as a result of his involvement in the affair, his close friend, Caspar Weinberger, succeeded in protecting him from any further legal problems. Perhaps Weinberger's greatest accomplishment as far as Egypt was concerned, though, was the way in which he was able to bury the whole incident. Indeed, to this day, hardly anybody -is even aware of the Helmy case, let alone of its link to the Gulf War.

1 In view of the fact that the U.S. was a member of the MTCR at this time, why wasn't Israel warned about the Condor? Why was I given the unhappy task of alerting Israel to the threat? Didn't the U.S. have both a political and a moral obligation to do this? Evidently, Mr. Weinberger and Admiral Inman didn't think so...

2 So much for Camp David!

3 Damaging to U.S. interests? I'll say! It was, after all, one of Dr. Helmy's enhanced SCUDS that struck a U.S. barracks in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War, killing and wounding scores of our soldiers. And then there was Tel Aviv... I guess what everybody seems to have conveniently forgotten is that Americans actually died as a result of Helmy's actions. Then again, if the SCUDS which hit Israel had been equipped with biotoxin warheads, can you even begin to imagine what the body count would have been?

Despite all of this, though, Helmy was slapped on the wrist with only a 45-month sentence. Think of it - a 45-month sentence! Granted, the nature of the Iraqi threat was not generally appreciated at the time of Helmy's sentencing. But our government certainly knew exactly what both the Iraqis and the Egyptians were intending to do to Israel with their Condors.

And yet our DoD and Intelligence community essentially remained silent about all this when it came time for them to provide the court with a detailed damage assessment of Helmy's crime.. Indeed, the one they did submit was so bland and under-stated that it almost seemed as if the government deliberately went out of its way to minimize the potential consequences of Helmy's actions. At the very least, don't you think that the government should have informed the court that Helmy was fully aware of the fact that both Egypt and Iraq had decided to arm their Condors with mass destruction weapons for use against Israeli population centers? Well, in the end, neither the court nor the intended victim - Israel - was ever apprised of this fact.

I suppose the only conclusion one can draw from this whole sordid episode is that, nearly 50 years after the Holocaust, it's still politically acceptable in some Washington circles to look the other way while the Jewish people are threatened with "final solutions". Not very reassuring, is it?

  • See Also: The Helmy Case