The Crow-Qadhafi Connection

How a mythic Texas family won the gratitude of a dictator

But Crow's camping party was less than two weeks away. Billingsley needed to make alternative arrangements.

El Bukhari never obtained a visa to come to Texas for Trammell Crow's affair. But he showed up at the Crow farm anyway--and it ap-pears he did so with Henry Billingsley's help.

Prosecutors are investigating whether Billingsley slipped El Bukhari into Texas through Mexico. Billingsley's datebook notes a flight for "HB, Bill & Big Mo"--presumably Henry Billingsley, Bill Bodine, and Mohamed El Bukhari--to return to Dallas from Harlingen on Southwest Airlines at 2:15 p.m. on October 29. Southwest Airlines tickets were issued for the same flight; records obtained by the Observer show ticket receipts list the passengers as Bodine, "Billingsworth," and "Rowe."

A car-rental receipt for the same day reflects that Billings-ley leased a four-door Chevrolet Caprice from an Avis outlet at Harlingen's Valley International Airport. If El Bukhari was indeed picked up in Mexico, Billingsley would have needed a car to drive there from Harlingen.

When he finally arrived at Trammell Crow's annual affair, El Bukhari could choose among four-wheel motorcycle trips, canoeing, pistol shooting, fishing, and even quiet games of backgammon and dominos. By design, the farm party is an informal affair. "No names are used and no cards are handed out," recalls London banker Randy Dumas, who attended the 1992 event. "It's almost taboo to talk business there."

But one document indicates El Bukhari pursued more than games during the weekend at Crow's Mill Creek Farm. A "Confidential Meeting Summary Report" discovered in Billingsley's office details a private two-hour discussion on October 31 that included El Bukhari, Bodine, Trammell Crow, and former National Security Council Advisor Robert McFarlane.

The three-page unsigned memo indicates that the group discussed extensively how to advance the Libyan's political interests--and suggests that McFarlane embraced the opportunity to provide counsel to the Libyans. "McFarlane stated he could and would help solve the current Lockerbie problem because he had good influence with both the highest levels of the Bush administration as well as those who were expected to be the key people in any new Clinton administration," the account stated.

At the meeting, the document states, Crow summarized his talks with Scowcroft and Richard Haas. "Crow further stated that he had spoken with Scowcroft a second time at which time Scowcroft indicated that the papers [Crow brought with him about the Libyans' concerns] had been passed directly to President Bush and James Baker," the document states.

About his meeting with El Bukhari, Robert McFarlane, now chairman of his own Washington consulting firm and author of a memoir about his involvement in the arms-for-hostages scandal, says, "I have a quite foggy recollection. I don't recall my dialogue about it." McFarlane adds that he holds "a personal animus" about conducting affairs with Libyans, insisting, "I was certainly not witting that there was any use of my name" in connection with inviting El Bukhari to Crow's farm.

On November 5, Billingsley dispatched a package to Sharab. "Enclosed are pictures for you and Big Mo," he wrote El Bukhari's associate. "I know you will put them to good use."

Two weeks later, Billingsley invited El Bukhari to return to Dallas. "As I mentioned to you when you were at the Camp-out in October," he told the Libyan in a November 19 letter, "We are going to have some of the same people in Dallas between December 10th and 17th. There will also be some lawyers here who specialize in the areas in which you have an interest. As these people are going to be here, I believe it would be beneficial if you also be here to explain the current position of your country."

For his part, El Bukhari offered his own kind words, including his gracious November 20, 1992, note to the elder Crow.

"You have been open and fair in carrying our message to the highest levels of the US government," wrote El Bukhari, after thanking the Texas developer in a one-page letter marked "confidential." "Most of all, you have given us hope and encouragement as we seek to do all we can do in solving the Lockerbie problem."

El Bukhari urged Crow to redouble his efforts. "While at this time we recognize your long standing friendship with and access to top level of officials, including Presidents of both parties, we earnestly request that you make an extra effort for us with the Bush administration during its remaining days and especially before December 15, 1992," when the United Nations was scheduled to review the sanctions.

"...May God Almighty bless you in your efforts at this time," El Bukhari wrote. "We will forever be grateful for your efforts at this time."

Documents show that members of the Crow family were planning their own foreign travel to further cultivate relations with their new friends.

According to an unsigned "Confidential Meeting Summary Report," Trammell Crow had hosted El Bukhari, Billingsley, and Bodine at his Highland Park mansion on October 30--before leaving for the camp-out at Crow's Mill Creek Farm in East Texas. The report of their 90-minute discussion noted: "Mr. Crow concluded his comments by stating that he wished to accept El Bukhari's invitation to go to Libya and that he would plan to do so between January and February 1993. Crow indicated he would want to bring his wife as well as Henry and Lucy Billingsley."

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