Players in the RFK Killing

#69 1 Film ? 16mm roll on gry plast reel #70 1 Photo ? 8″ x 10″ of female (1) protest demo (taken from abv film) Photo ? 3″ x 4″ of female “Shirin Khan” with writing on back “Shirin Khan DOB 4/22/50 daughter of Khaibar Khan Goodarzian, presented flowers & court order to Shah of Iran in NY 6/1964.” That Shepard/Borgen would identify Shirin Khan as a likely candidate for the girl was positively uncanny. He could hardly have known at that point that her father had reportedly been seen with Sirhan at Kennedy headquarters just two days before the assassination, and that some campaign workers had identified Khan as a suspicious person in the Kennedy camp. Khaibar Khan at Kennedy Headquarters Bernard Isackson, a Kennedy campaign volunteer, had been at the Ambassador in the Embassy room at the time of the shooting. His interview summary contains this interesting tidbit:

Mr. Isackson was asked if anything or anyone acted strange or out of place around the headquarters. He stated the only thing that stood out as being unusal [sic] was the actions and statements of Khaibar Khan (I216). He stated Khan would never fill out cards or write on anything from which the handwriting could be positively ID as Khan. He also stated to Mr. Isackson he was from Istanbul, Turkey and currently living in England. Mr. Isackson stated Khan was very overbearing when it came to the point of trying to impress someone. Mr. Isackson recalled one incident when Khan asked one of the office girls if she had seen a [sic] unidentified volunteer, when the office girl started to page the volunteer Khan became very nervous and told the girl to never mind. Khan would often meet volunteers entering the headquarters and escort them to the information desk to register them as if they were personal friends of his; this was evidence[d] by many of them using his address and phone number.

Khan was from Iran, not Turkey, and had been living in New York before he came to Los Angeles. He filled out over 20 volunteer cards (present in the SUS files) with names of “friends”, always using his own address as their contact information. For this, and a more sinister reason, Isackson was not the only one suspicious of Khan. Several campaign workers said they had seen him with Sirhan. Eleanor Severson was a campaign worker for RFK. She told the LAPD that on May 30, 1968, a man named Khaibar Khan came into Headquarters to register for campaign work. Khan claimed to have come to California from back East to help the campaign. From that day, Khan came into Headquarters every day until the election. The Sunday before the election, June 2, he brought four other foreigners (of Middle Eastern extraction) in to work as volunteers. Severson and her husband both said that Sirhan was one of these men. She remembered this group in particular because while she was registering the men, Kennedy’s election day itinerary was taken from her desk. Her husband thought Sirhan may have taken it. Severson reported seeing Sirhan again early in the afternoon of June 3, standing near the coffee machine. Larry Strick, another Kennedy worker, confirmed this account. He said he had spoken to Sirhan in the company of Khan. When Sirhan’s picture was finally shown on TV, he and Mrs. Severson called each other nearly at the same instant to talk about the fact that this was the man they both remembered from Headquarters. Strick positively ID’d Sirhan from photos as the same man he had seen on June 2nd to both the LAPD and the FBI in the days immediately following the assassination. Estelle Sterns, yet another Kennedy volunteer, claimed to have seen Sirhan at Headquarters on Election Day itself. He was with three other men of Middle Eastern extraction and a female who was wearing a white coat or dress and who had dark hair that was nearly shoulder length. Sterns said Sirhan offered to buy her a cup of coffee (a typical Sirhan act), which Sterns declined. Sterns said that Sirhan and another of the men were carrying guns. The day after the assassination, Sterns claimed to have received a phone call from a man who sounded muffled, as though he was speaking through a towel, telling her “Under no circumstances give out any information to anybody as to the number of people or their activities at your desk on Tuesday.” The LAPD loved this. They “discredited” the whole Sirhan-at-headquarters sighting by focusing solely on Sterns’ account. They even used Severson to discredit this story, although the LAPD buried Severson’s interview where she stated she too had seen Sirhan at Headquarters. The LAPD also claimed Strick had retracted his identification of Sirhan. Surprisingly, Khan himself, as well as his “sister” (who was really his personal secretary/consort) Maryam Koucham both claimed they saw Sirhan at Headquarters. Khan claimed to have seen Sirhan standing in Headquarters on June 4th at around 5:00 p.m. in the company of a girl in a polka dot dress. The question is, did he really see a girl with Sirhan and was he trying to help, or was he instead helping to muddy the waters about a girl who may have been his own daughter? Khan also claimed to have seen Sirhan with the woman on June 3rd, the same day he brought his daughter Shirin Khan into headquarters. (On this day, he also met Walter Sheridan and Pierre Salinger at the Ambassador Hotel.) But did he bring his daughter Shirin into Headquarters, or his other daughter Rose, or some other woman, or no woman at all? Did he see a girl with Sirhan, or did Khan just say he did to deflect suspicion away from both himself and his daughter? How are we to know which statements of his are to be believed? He refused to take a polygraph or to attend a showup to identify Sirhan more positively. He was illegally in the country, having overstayed his visa. He told the police he was on the run from the Shah of Iran’s goons. But Khan had previously had a working relationship with the Shah. Khan wasn’t using his real name, but was going by the alias of Goodarzian, as was his ex-wife and daughter Shirin. He had a prior arrest recorded with the LAPD (1/13/67), at which time he had been using the alias of Mohammad Ali. And when the LAPD checked the names of the volunteers whom he had registered under a single address, the LAPD stated that “Records show that none of these persons entered the U.S. between the period of June 1968 through December 1968.”<fontsize=”2”>46 (As an aside, thirteen Iranians suspected of participating in a political assassination in 1990 came under suspicion when it was found that they had all listed the same personal address. The address in that case turned out to be an intelligence-ministry building.47) The address Khan used belonged to Khan’s ex-wife and Shirin’s mother, Talat Khan. Talat had lived there with sons Mike and Todd and daughter “Sherry”. (After the assassination, “Shirin Goodarzian” went by the name of “Sherry Khan”.) Although housing three children and herself, according to the LAPD records Talat had no source of employment. Her son Mike was working as a manager at a small pizza outlet in Santa Monica. Her daughter Shirin showed two different places of employment for the same dates. She had only just graduated from University High and allegedly worked for either or both “University Ins. Co.” and “Pacific Western Mtg. Co.” in Los Angeles. Despite her working status, Sherry had no social security number. Talat told the LAPD that she was divorced from Khan. She initially told them she did not know his whereabouts, but then was able to contact him to tell him the police wanted to talk to him. The LAPD recorded that Talat was not involved in politics. She may have been involved with Khan and Koucham in a bank fraud scheme in 1963, after having divorced Khan in 1961, but the evidence in that regard is far from clear.48 Khaibar Khan, Maryam Koucham and Talat Khan became political targets when Khaibar Khan brought some astounding information to the attention of Senator McClellan’s Committee on Government Operations in May of 1963. Khan had accused several prominent Americans, including David Rockefeller and Allen Dulles, of receiving payoff money from the Shah of Iran from funds received through an American aid program. In short, Khan was no ordinary Iranian. He was master over a powerful intelligence network that had worked for and against the Shah of Iran at various points in time. Khaibar Khan’s father had been executed by the Shah when he was only a boy of eight. Khan might have been killed as well, but a British couple named Smiley, who worked for oil interests, had taken pity on him and removed him from the country. Khan was educated in Scotland, and in 1944 joined British military intelligence. In 1948 his Iranian title was restored, and he ran a fleet of taxicabs, trucks and operated a repair shop. He also worked for the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and maintained ties with British and American missions there. Fred Cook, who wrote about Khan’s life in detail in The Nation (4/12/65 & 5/24/65), dropped this interesting piece of information:

The Khaibar Khan’s role in the counter-coup that toppled Mossadegh is not quite clear, but indications are that he helped.

Was Khan working with the CIA in that operation?

Despite the Shah’s role in his father’s death, Khan and the Shah became friends. The Shah even provided Khan a villa on the palace grounds. Their friendship took a turn for the worse, however, when Khan wanted to use some of the plentiful American foreign aid coming into the country for a sports arena. The Shah and his family, however, had other plans for the land and the money, leading to a falling out between Khan and the Shah. One day, the Shah discovered that Khan’s large and lavishly equipped Cadillac El Dorado was wiretapped to the hilt, and realized that he had a major spy in his midst. Khan was warned of the Shah’s discovery, and fled the country. But Khan had spent years building up a powerful spy network. As Khan later told the Supreme Court:

…we put engineers, doctors, gardeners and as servants and as storemen; all educated people working in several different places. And we put a lot of secretaries; a lot of people who was educated in England. And we put them as secretaries.

Through this network, Khan noticed something interesting. Some $7 million of the sports arena’s funds had been redirected to the Pahlavi Foundation, the Shah’s family’s personal fund. He directed his spies to find out where the money was going, to whom and what for. What his agents found was rather astonishing, and led to a most peculiar congressional investigation. He found that just days before the Shah was to have an audience with President Kennedy in the U.S., six and seven figure checks had been cut from the Pahlavi Foundation account to a number of prominent and influential Americans. Kennedy had no great love for the Shah or his operations, and was not planning on granting the largesse the Shah was seeking. Was the Shah feathering the nest before his arrival by spreading money around? Khan’s agents photocopied a batch of checks from the Shah’s safe. The checks included payments to the following:

Allen Dallas [sic]: $1,000,000 Henry Luce: $500,000 David Rockefeller: $2,000,000 Mrs. Loy Henderson: $1,000,000 George V. Allen: $1,000,000 Seldin Chapin: $1,000,000

Henderson, Allen and Chapin had all served at some point as Ambassador to Iran, a role Richard Helms would later play when removed from the CIA by Richard Nixon. (Richard Helms, by the way, had been a childhood friend of the Shah; they had attended the same Swiss school in their youth.) David Rockefeller, Allen Dulles and Henry Luce had contributed to Mossadegh’s overthrow, an effort double-headed by the CIA and British intelligence. The Shah’s family members also received checks ranging from six to eight figures in length, the highest being a $15,000,000 check paid to Princess Farah Pahlavi. Princess Ashraf, the Shah’s twin sister, came in second at $3,000,000. High level British officials were also on the list. Needless to say, when this news was given to Congress, the earth began to rumble. According to Cook:

The Khaibar Khan’s disclosures [of May and June, 1963] were called to the attention of President Lyndon B. Johnson in late December by one of the President’s closest advisers, Washington attorney Abe Fortas. Since then, there have been these seemingly significant developments: the American Ambassador to Iran has been relieved of his duties; the Iranian Ambassador in Washington has been recalled and for the past year there has been a stoppage on all economic (i.e. non-military) aid to Iran….49

From the look of it, it appeared Khan’s revelations were being taken seriously. Khan’s credibility was enhanced when a secret Treasury report provided solely to McClellan’s committee was photocopied from within the Iranian embassy and given to Khan, who showed the copy to the committee. His copy proved that 1) someone on McClellan’s committee was providing information to the Iranian embassy, and 2) Khan had agents so sensitively placed within the embassy as to be able to intercept this highly sensitive information. Khan’s credibility became something that needed to be destroyed at all costs. Who in Congress dared accuse David Rockefeller, Henry Luce and Allen Dulles of receiving payoffs from a foreign government? Someone had to be taken down, and the spotlight focused on Khan. An attempt was made to physically assault Khan, but the attempt was performed in a public arena and was quickly stopped. A more violent attack was made upon Maryam Koucham in an effort to scare her into revealing Khan’s sources within the Embassy. The publication of Cook’s article about these events in The Nation seems to have been the impetus for a sudden and furious turnaround from McClellan’s committee. After two years of pursuing evidence of what the committee had termed “gross corruption” in the use of American aid money to Iran, the committee suddenly launched an all-out assault on Khan. McClellan suddenly surfaced a letter (dated a year earlier) from the bank in Geneva from which the records of payoffs had surfaced. The letter from the bank managers stated that the records Khan had submitted were false, citing typeface difference, differing account number systems and so forth. But were this true, why did McClellan’s committee continue to investigate Khan’s allegations for a full year? Clearly the committee knew no one would buy the letter, at least at that point. But once Cook made the issue public, then anything had to be used, no matter how ill-supported, to discredit Khan. It was at this point that Khan, his ex-wife and Koucham were accused of bank fraud. What had started as Khan’s crusade to regain money that was to be used for Iran turned into an ugly, losing battle. Khan was a very resourceful man, and knew how to play on a winning team. It seems highly unlikely that he continued forever his fight against the Shah, and more likely that he gave in to the old adage of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” And a man with Khan’s sources could not be allowed to become an enemy of American intelligence. He had too powerful a network. One can’t help but wonder if the CIA took an interest in protecting the actions of their own (Dulles, Rockefeller, the Shah et. al.) while using Khan for their own purposes. Khan appeared out of the blue at RFK Headquarters, was seen with Sirhan, lied about his background, raised suspicion by his secretiveness, and may have fathered the girl in the polka dot dress. But perhaps his most suspicious act was giving a ride on election night to a man who was arrested while running out of the pantry immediately after the shots had been fired: Michael Wayne. Michael Wayne

Mr. Wayne was in the kitchen when Kennedy was shot, and was the subject of reports by Patti Nelson, Tom Klein and Dennis Weaver of a man running through the lobby with a long object in his hand, which appeared to be a rifle.? SUS supplement to Wayne’s interview (I-1096)

Michael Wayne, whose real name was Wien, was a twenty-one year old from England who the LAPD wrote “professes to be of Jewish background, but not from the mid-east.”50 Wayne worked at the Pickwick Bookstore on Sunset Boulevard. Wayne had gained entry to the pantry by obtaining a press button, and even managed to get into Kennedy’s suite on the 5th floor. When Kennedy went down to the Embassy room to make his speech, Wayne followed. He was loitering in the kitchen, was asked to leave, and returned shortly before the shooting took place. Cryptic references in the extant files on Wayne seem to indicate that Wayne made some comment indicating foreknowledge of the assassination to a man in the electrician’s booth shortly before the shooting. In fact, the first question on the proposed list of questions to be asked of Wayne under a polygraph was this:

Did you have prior knowledge that there might be an attempt on Senator Kennedy’s life?

Curiously, that question does not appear on the actual list of questions asked.51 Right after the shots were fired, Wayne, who bore a resemblance to Sirhan, although taller and with sideburns, ran out of the East end of the Pantry and then out through the Embassy room. William Singer described this event to the LAPD:

I was in the lobby of the Ambassador Hotel right next to the ballroom. Senator Kennedy had just walked away from the podium after his victory speech. Several moments before the commotion started a man came running and pushing his way out of the ballroom past where I was standing. I would describe this man as having Hebrew or some type mid-eastern features, he was approx 18/22 5-10 thin face, slim, drk swtr or jkt, drk slacks, no tie, firy [sic] neat in appearance, nice teeth, curly arab or hebrew type hair. He may have been wearing glasses, I’m not sure. I can ID him. He isn’t one of the men in the pictures you showed me (Saidallah B. Sirhan or Sirhan Sirhan) this man was in a big hurry and was saying, “Pardon me Please” as he pushed his way out of the crowded ballroom. He was carrying a rolled piece of cardboard, maybe a placard. This placard was approx 1′ yards long and 4-6″ in diameter. I think I saw something black inside. Just as he got pst [sic] me I heard screaming and shouting and I knew something bad had happened. Two men were shouting to “Stop that man.” these two men were chasing the first man. I don’t know if they caught him.52

Gregory Ross Clayton also reported this incident to the LAPD, adding that it was a newsman who yelled “Stop him.” Clayton then tackled the man and held him while a hotel security guard handcuffed and removed the man. Clayton reported having seen this man standing with a girl and three other men, one of which resembled Sirhan, earlier that night at the hotel.53 Clayton identified Michael Wayne as the man he had seen. The LAPD confirmed that Ace Security guard Augustus Mallard had arrested and handcuffed Wayne because of his suspicious behavior running from the scene of the shooting. The press man was evidently Steve Fontanini, a photographer for the Los Angeles Times. Thinking Wayne was a suspect, he ran after him. Fontanini didn’t buy Wayne’s explanation that he was running to a telephone because he was running out of the press room (adjacent to the pantry), a room full of phones. That fact bothered neither the LAPD nor Robert Kaiser, who accepted Wayne’s explanation as the truth. Joseph Thomas Klein, Patti Nelson and Dennis Weaver had seen Wayne run by with something rolled up in his hand. Klein originally described the roll as larger at one end than at the other. Weaver remembered Patti had yelled “He’s got a gun,” although Weaver did not see a gun. Weaver said he only saw Wayne for several seconds. A month later, when questioned again, the LAPD recorded the following interesting comments, begging the question of what had given rise to them:

The man was carrying a blue poster, rolled up in his left hand. It could have been a cardboard tube, or rolled up posters. Mr. Weaver states he had a clear view of the object and states that there was no gun sticking out of the roll. This investigator questioned Mr. Weaver additionally concerning the object being carried by the man crossing the lobby. Weaver states he is absolutely sure there was no gun protruding from the object. He states the object was blue, but was not wood colored at the one end, or even resembling a gun stock.

Patti Nelson’s interview appears to no longer exist. Joseph Klein’s, however, contained the interesting notation:

Klein states that as he pursued Wayne, he passed Nelson and Weaver and said, to them; “my God, he had a gun, and we let him get by.” (Klein states this is the first time since the incident he can recall making the statement.)

What happened after Wayne was arrested and handcuffed by Ace Security Guard Mallard is unclear, and troubling. An LAPD supplemental report to Michael Wayne’s interview states:

This investigator received information that the business card of Keith Duane Gilbert was in the possession of Wayne, at the time of his apprehension after Sen. Kennedy was shot. Gilbert is reported to be an extremist and militant who has been involved in a dynamite theft, previously.

Wayne, however, denied any knowledge of Gilbert, and did not remember ever having his card. But in the SUS files, yet another problem cropped up. Gilbert’s file, when checked, contained a business card as well. The card belonged to Michael Wayne. Sgt. Manual Gutierrez of SUS spent a great deal of time trying to find out whether there was some sinister association between Wayne and Gilbert, a radical Minuteman activist. Gutierrez did not believe Wayne’s denials of a relationship, and ultimately pushed to have Wayne polygraphed. Unfortunately, the polygraph was operated by Hernandez, whose record of truth in this case is so poor as to make his tests worthless. Not surprisingly, Hernandez determined Wayne was “truthful” about not knowing Gilbert. Gutierrez, a fitness buff, died in 1972 at the young age of forty. Turner and Christian wrote, “It was said that he [Gutierrez] had privately voiced doubts about the police conclusion [that Sirhan alone had killed Kennedy].” SUS ended up claiming that that the Michael Wayne card in Gilbert’s file referred to a different Michael Wayne. They never did explain the reverse possession. Wayne is an interesting person. He was seen in a group that allegedly included Sirhan. He obtained a ride from the suspicious Khaibar Khan. A couple of people thought he had a gun as he ran out of the pantry. And he was apprehended by a guard from the service that employed one of the most famous alternate suspects in this case, Thane Eugene Cesar.

Thane Eugene Cesar

Thane Eugene Cesar was just behind and to the right of Kennedy at the time the shots were fired. If Cesar is telling the truth about his position, then either he was the shooter, or the shooter had to be between himself and Kennedy. Cesar denies that he shot Kennedy, and denies that anyone else in that position shot him either. Cesar’s proximity to Kennedy is graphically demonstrated by the presence of his clip-on tie just beyond Kennedy’s outstretched hand as he lay on the floor. Cesar has made many statements that he has later contradicted, adding to the suspicion of sinister involvement. For example, he told police he had sold his.22 before the assassination, and that he had lost the receipt. But the police found the receipt, and found that he had sold the gun after the assassination. Cesar was also one of the first to accurately pinpoint where Kennedy was shot. Most people thought Kennedy was shot in the head. Cesar, on the other hand, in an interview immediately following the shooting, reported that Kennedy was shot in the head, the chest and the shoulder. He also said he was holding Kennedy’s arm when “they” shot him. Asked if Sirhan alone did all the shooting he said, “No, yeah. One man.”54 Paul Hope of the Evening Star also obtained early comments from Cesar. Hope recorded Cesar’s comments as follows:

I fell back and pulled the Senator with me. He slumped to the floor on his back. I was off balance and fell down and when I looked up about 10 people already had grabbed the assailant.55

Cesar told the LAPD that he ducked and was knocked down at the first shot, hardly the same report he gave the press. Richard Drew witnessed something similar to Cesar’s original version, as he reported in a separate article in the Evening Star that same day (6/5/68):

As I looked up, Sen. Kennedy started to fall back and then was lowered to the floor by his aides.

In Drew’s LAPD interview, he reduced the plural to the singular, saying “Someone” had lowered Kennedy to the floor. Since Kennedy was shot in the back at a range of 1-2 inches, anyone lowering him to the floor should have been an immediate suspect. Equally important was Eara Marchman’s report to the LAPD of what she witnessed prior to the assassination. Thane Eugene Cesar had been assigned to guard the pantry area that night. The LAPD recorded the following information from Marchman:

She walked out towards the kitchen area and observed a man in a blue coat, dark complexion, possibly about 5-3/6 wearing lt. colored pants, standing talking to, and possibly arguing with, a uniformed guard who was standing by swinging kitchen doors (after showing mugs susp Sirhan was pointed out, although she only saw the man from the side position).

Was Cesar arguing with Sirhan earlier that night? Cesar claims he never saw Sirhan in the pantry before the shooting, despite his having been sighted there by several other witnesses. But is Cesar to be believed? Anyone wishing to look into the involvement of Cesar eventually runs into Dan Moldea. (See DiEugenio’s article on Moldea in this issue.) It’s almost as if Moldea has become Cesar’s handler, deciding who will get access to his prize. Moldea spends a great deal of his book on the case discussing Cesar. Cesar was standing immediately behind and to the right of Kennedy exactly the spot from which the gun had to have been fired, according to the autopsy report. While many researchers have felt (and continue to feel) that Cesar was the top suspect for the actual assassin of RFK, Moldea has not. Moldea, curiously, has been a defender. In his first published article on the case in Regardie’s, Moldea concluded with the following statement about Cesar:

Gene Cesar may be the classic example of a man caught at the wrong time in the wrong place with a gun in his hand and powder burns on his face? an innocent bystander caught in the cross fire of history.

Whatever Moldea’s motives may have been in 1987, when the above quotes were published, by 1997 he was singing an even more disturbing tune:

To sum up, Gene Cesar proved to be an innocent man who since 1969 has been wrongly accused of being involved in the murder of Senator Kennedy.

What would cause a man to state such a thing, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, some of which he dug up himself? Moldea tells us that Cesar had secret clearance to work on projects at Lockheed’s Burbank facility, and at Hughes Aircraft. Note that Robert Maheu, Roselli’s partner in assassination plots, was overseeing a great deal of Hughes? operations in 1968. Note too that the CIA has had a long and admitted relationship with Hughes. A CIA document dated 1974 but not released until 1994 relates the following:

DCD [Domestic Contacts Division] has had close and continuing relationships with the Hughes Tool Company and Hughes Aircraft Company since 1948. Both companies have been completely cooperative and have provided a wealth of information over the years….It should be noted…that in the case of Hughes Aircraft, DCD has contacted over 250 individuals in the company since the start of our association and about 100 in Hughes Tool over the same period. The substance of the contacts ranged from FPI collection to sensitive operational proposals. In addition, there is some evidence in DCD files that both companies may have had contractual relationships with the Agency. In the context of such a broad range in Hughes/CIA relationships, it is difficult to state with certainty that the surfacing of the substance of a given action would not cause Congressional and/or media interest.56

He also reveals that at a lunch with Cesar, Cesar casually mentioned that he had purchased some diamonds from a businessman who was a Mafia associate. Despite these points, Moldea writes:

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Methinks I am a conspiracy theorist. Art thou? Thou block, thou stone, thou worse than senseless thing, for whilst thou slept didst this become a badge of honor. Informed dissent shall always prevail, wherefore art thou worthy, or art thou this unwholesome fool in the group conformity experiment herein?

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