The Crow-Qadhafi Connection

How a mythic Texas family won the gratitude of a dictator

It is not clear whether any members of the Crow family ever traveled to Libya.

But on December 30, the Billingsleys applied for visas to fly to Amman, Jordan, between January 10 and 17, 1993, for the purpose of attending a wedding, according to their application. On their visa application, the Billingsleys listed the address of the Sharab Trading Company--owned by the family of El Bukhari's Jordanian associate, Daad Sharab--in the line that called for their residence while visiting Jordan.

The Billingsleys were also apparently lobbying the senior Crows to continue offering the utmost courtesy to the Libyan and his entourage. A note from Lucy's January 17, 1993, Dicta-phone transcriptions says: "Need to draft a thank you note from Mom to Mohammed and then ship it over to Mom & Dorothy-I don't know if she wants to call him Minister or Mohammed or whatever...Your beautiful silver gifts were somewhat delayed in their arrival in Dallas, thus my belated thank you note. It is certainly a pleasure to collect beautiful items from across the world and you're so kind to have enriched our home with these quality and representative gifts from your country."

While the Crows and Billingsleys were still trading pleasantries with El Bukhari, the man who had brought them together--Bodine--had begun to run afoul of the Libyan's Jordanian associate, Sharab. Letters show Sharab wanted to cut Bodine out of the deal, work directly with Billingsley instead. In an April 4, 1993, letter to Dallas attorney Timothy Powers, Sharab was unequivocal. "As of this date if you need to contact me, please do so through Mr Henry Billingsby [sic]," Sharab wrote. "Mr Bodine no longer represents my interests in the United States."

The same day, Sharab had sent a letter to Bodine, detailing her ire--and, at the same time, laying out how she and El Bukhari, working together, had used Bodine to employ the attorney, Powers, to structure a corporation that could make business deals in the U.S. Sharab laid out what she called "the sequence of events and the instructions you have received from Mr Bokhari [sic] and myself.

"[An] agreement was reached with Mr Powers to set up the U.S. Corporation and a retainer for the sum of $30,000 was to be paid to Mr. Powers." Sharab said she had paid Powers $15,000 herself, but had later given Bodine the remaining $15,000 "in the presence of Mr Bokhari" to pass along to Powers. Sharab also accused Bodine of failing to return an overpayment of $71,000 she had made directly to his firm.

Bodine replied the next day. "You[r] statement is not quite accurate," he wrote Sharab in a note that was also sent to Billingsley. "You will see from the enclosed copy of a $15,000 cash receipt that Henry Billingsley made the payment directly to Timothy Powers. If you had, in fact, 'paid the sum of $15,000 to Mr. Powers during my visit to Dallas,' as you state in your FAX, my $15,000 cash payment through Henry Billingsley would have then totaled $30,000...Your payment to Powers plus mine...Perhaps, you can confirm that you have a receipt from Mr. Powers...Having said this, however, you can be sure that the balance which I had been given to hold to execute agent's activities will be paid to Mr. Powers directly."

In closing, Bodine tried to smooth over their differences and reassert a working relationship with his client. "You should have no doubt that we remain committed to our joint activities," he wrote.

Later in 1993, both Billingsley and Bodine learned that a federal grand jury was investigating their business dealings. Bodine's lawyer was subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury.

Federal agents raided Billingsley's office; he later acknowledged to U.S. News that prosecutors had questioned him.

An opinion issued last July by the District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals provides insight into the status of the investigation, which has received little coverage except for the stories in U.S. News. The opinion--which addresses issues of evidence and attorney-client privilege--is written without reference to specific names because the investigation into Libyan influence-peddling is still pending before a grand jury.

But paired with other documents obtained by the Dallas Observer, it reveals that Bodine confirmed to prosecutors last year that he had entered into a consulting agreement with Libya through a foreign company that he established precisely to avoid U.S. sanctions against doing business with that country. Bodine told the prosecutors that he entered into that contract in September 1992--the period when Henry Billingsley, with Bodine's help, began his contacts with Mohamed El Bukhari.

The mushrooming federal probe may well have thwarted the Crow family's hopes to sell land to the Libyans. The plan may have collapsed of its own accord.

It is also possible that El Bukhari was never a serious prospect for the $200 million package of real estate that Henry Billingsley was hawking. With everyone acutely conscious of the sweeping U.S. trade sanctions, there are no documents directly linking Billingsley's marketing of land to the Libyan official. And the complex web of middlemen--Bodine, I'Anson, Sharab, and Powers--blurs the precise nature of the relationship between the Crow family and Moammar al-Qadhafi's government.

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