TEXT:*92070105.NEA mccollum 7/1 nusconf:iran syria counterfeit scam/mcj yb kf
*NEA305   07/01/92 *

(Congressional Task force releases report)  (660)
M. C. Jaspersen
USIA Staff Writer
Washington -- A House task force has released a report alleging a joint
Iran-Syria conspiracy to counterfeit U.S. dollars, purportedly in order to
strengthen Iran's economy and weaken the United States.

"The fact of the matter is that the Iranian government, in cooperation with
Syria, has undertaken a massive counterfeiting campaign in order to
alleviate their financial difficulties and pursue economic warfare against
the West," Representative Bill McCollum (Republican of Florida) said in a
July 1 news conference.

McCollum, chairman of the House Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional
Warfare, which authored the report, said the "origins of this strategy go
back to Iran's efforts to rebuild its economy in the wake of the Iran-Iraq
war. When it became apparent that Iraq's exports could not meet its
hard-currency needs the plan for a counterfeit operation was devised,"
McCollum said.
"The Iranians last week outraged me personally when they put in their
official publication the statement that this counterfeit money was being
produced by the United States 'intelligence community' and distributed over
there," McCollum said.  "That's hogwash."

McCollum said the task force has been working on the report since last fall,
and that it has been made public because "there has been increasing
speculation in the media about the subject of an Iranian counterfeit $100
dollar bill."  He cited NBC television news and U.S. News and World Report
magazine stories on the purported scam.

McCollum said the task force believes the Khomeini regime developed the
operation using U.S. printing presses supplied to the former Shah of Iran.

He pointed to a map which he said showed "how money produced in Iran ... has
been taken by air from Teheran on a regular basis, and run through the
Syrian channels, with Syrian intelligence (forces) directly involved in the
process ... broken down into lower amounts ... and how it has been put into
the hands of couriers to be distributed primarily through a drug network."

Asked if he had actual evidence -- "not just circumstantial evidence" -- to
back up the allegations in the report that there is Iranian government
involvement in the scheme, McCollum replied, "We have -- no question in my
mind that the Iranian government is sponsoring it.

"We have sources, but I can't reveal what those sources are."  He said the
United States "should bring pressure on Syria (and) pressure Iran" to halt
the operation.

McCollum said that he had discussed the report of the committee with U.S.
Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady and with National Security Adviser Brent
Scowcroft, but that he could not comment on their reactions.

An "Executive Summary" of the report, "Narco-Terrorism and the Syrian
Connection," authored by Yossef Bodansky and Vaughn S. Forrest, includes
the statement:  "This paper may not necessarily reflect the views of all of
the members of the Republican Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional
Warfare.  It is intended to provoke discussion and debate."

According to the summary, "It is estimated that the potential is there for
billions of dollars in counterfeit currency to soon be in circulation,
mainly outside the U.S. banking system.... Although the exact figure cannot
be determined, the implications for the dollar's role as the international
medium of exchange could be serious."

The report alleges that as Iran's counterfeiting campaign was expanded,
Teheran began to look to Syria and its terrorist and drug connections for
outlets to circulate its counterfeit dollars.

It asserts that Syria's top intelligence officials supply counterfeiters
with official government passes to travel freely throughout Syrian
territory, where they pass the phony bills through drug money-laundering
banks in the Middle East.

After the currency is laundered, it is circulated in European countries,
according to the report.

A Treasury Department spokesman declined comment on the report, saying that
there is an ongoing investigation of the matter.