Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Business With The Bin Ladens: The Real Saudi Arabia || Part Two

Submitted for your consideration by Gabrielle Jones Price 
with permission from the author and copyright holder.

Excerpt from Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil
Published in 2004

Chapter 9 || 
Part Two
[Con't from Part One]

Business With The Bin Ladens: The Real Saudi Arabia
[w/updated footnotes]

Saudi Arabia: The Sarajevo of the 21st Century
• Is Iraq a Diversion from the Real Invasion or Will Bush Try to Occupy Both Countries at Once?
• A Saudi Sarajevo? 

     The global horrors of World War I (“the war to end all wars”) began with the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914. The apocalyptic war of the 21st century may have begun with a $1 trillion lawsuit filed in the United States by 9/11 victims’ families against Saudi Arabian banks and members of the Saudi royal family. In what may be the opening salvos of a financial and energy apocalypse, the Financial Times reported that wealthy Saudi investors had begun a run on their US banking deposits that may have taken as much as $200 billion out of US banks. These massive withdrawals — carved off of an estimated $750 billion total in Saudi US investments — occurred within days of the August 15 filing of the suit. Ironically, the principal attorneys in the suit are all political insiders; one of them is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. You might think they would have thought of this beforehand.

     There are two basic questions to ask about Saudi Arabia. Why was Saudi Arabia not a focus of US action and serious media attention in the immediate aftermath of September 11, even though there were so many obvious connections? And why is Saudi Arabia now so prominently a focus of what is apparently government-approved US animosity? One thing is obvious: the deployment of US military personnel in the region for the invasion of Iraq is also a convenient placement of resources for what may be a one-two punch to take over a tottering kingdom that owns 25 percent of all the oil on the planet at the same time that Saddam Hussein is removed from power in a country that controls another 11 percent. Together, the two countries — which appear not to have peaked in production capacity just yet, and which are the only two nations capable of an immediate increase in output — possess 36 percent of the world’s known oil. [FTW became the first news service to report on the possibility of Saudi Arabia’s having peaked in May 2003. This was more than a year before the possibility was raised in the New York Times.] 

     The Saudi situation is complicated by much of Saudi Arabia’s wealth being invested in US financial markets; its sudden loss could devastate the US economy. But Bush brinksmanship — an understatement — is making possible a scenario where Saudis long loyal to the US markets cut off their own arm in a coyote-like effort to free themselves from a trap that threatens the stability both of their kingdom and of the global economy. 

     Osama bin Laden is a Saudi. Fifteen of the 9/11 hijackers [according to their passports] were Saudi. There has been an obvious and clear financial trail showing Saudi support for al Qaeda. In fact, as has recently been noted by French author and former intelligence officer Jean-Charles Brisard in his Forbidden Truth, the financial support network of al Qaeda is a virtual cut-and-paste reincarnation of BCCI, a Pakistani bank known for terrorist, drug, and CIA connections in the 1980s. One of BCCI’s former executives, Khaled bin Mahfouz, remains the banker for the Saudi royal family today. 

     After months of strenuous and repeated assertions by the Bush administration that Saudi Arabia was a key ally in the war on terror, that they were loyal and trusted partners in US-led efforts, someone has suddenly turned on the tap for anti-Saudi propaganda, and the mainstream media outlets are eating it up. 
      On June 20 [2002] the Jang group of newspapers in Dubai reported that al Qaeda networks were active in Saudi Arabia. This followed a June 18 announcement that a group linked to al Qaeda had been arrested inside the kingdom and charged with planning attacks on Saudi government installations.

     On July 18 the BBC reported that Saudi Prince Nayef bin Sultan bin Fawwaz Al-Shaalan had been indicted by a Miami court on charges of having smuggled 1,980 kilos of cocaine on his private jet in 1999.

     On July 28, Britain’s Observer released a story that quickly spread around the world. It was headlined, “Britons left in jail amid fears that Saudi Arabia could fall to al Qaeda.” The lead paragraphs read, “Saudi Arabia is teetering on the brink of collapse, fueling Foreign Office fears of an extremist takeover of one of the West’s key allies in the war on terror.” Anti-government demonstrations have swept the desert kingdom in the past months in protest at the pro-American stance of the de facto ruler, Prince Abdullah.

     At the same time, Whitehall officials are concerned that Abdullah could face a palace coup from elements within the royal family sympathetic to al Qaeda.

     Saudi sources said the Pentagon had recently sponsored a secret conference to look at options if the royal family fell .…

     Anti-Abdullah elements within the Saudi government are also thought to have colluded in a wave of bomb attacks on Western targets by Islamic terrorists.37

     After finally mentioning the apparently unimportant subject of the headline — the fact that several Britons had been jailed on bootlegging charges — the story concluded with the statement that feuding between factions in the Saudi court was going to increase with the death of King Fahd who was unstable in a Swiss hospital.

     The story ended by quoting Saudi dissident Dr. Saad al-Fagih who declared, “There is now an undeclared war between the factions in the Saudi royal family.”

     On the same day a lengthy essay on Saudi Arabia in the Asia Times by Ehsan Ahrari observed, “It is interesting to note that [Prince] Sultan is believed to be a preferred US candidate for the Saudi throne.” Abdullah is the crown prince, not Sultan.

     On July 29 Stratfor, an intelligence reporting and analysis service, reported that a feud was brewing between Saudi Arabia and neighboring Qatar over Qatar’s willingness to openly support the US invasion of Iraq. Qatar is nearly sinking under the weight of predeployed military equipment and has a brand new state-of-the-art US Air Force Base.

     On July 30 the suggestions that internecine warfare had erupted in Saudi Arabia were given credence by an Agence France Presse report describing the recent deaths of three Saudi princes in eight days. Prince Fahd bin Turki died of thirst in the desert on July 30. Prince Sultan bin Faisal died in a car crash on July 23, and Prince Ahmed bin Salman died the day before of a heart attack.

On August 1 the World Tribune reported that Saudi Arabia, which has been acquiring long-range ballistic missiles had also, according to reports confirmed by US officials, been attempting to acquire nuclear weapons from Pakistan — which has been well documented to have heavy concentrations of al Qaeda supporters within all parts of its government.

     On that same day, Saudi dissident Dr. al-Fagih appeared on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation program Lateline and offered some startling revelations:
Prince Abdullah who is supposed to be the next in charge, the next King, would not accept to appoint Prince Sultan as Crown Prince, and Prince Sultan insists that he should be the next in line for Abdullah to be [king]. Al-Fagih predicted the imminent death of the ailing King Fahd and noted, “That’s why probably the foreign office have [sic] expected some major thing happening in the next few weeks .… “I mean, Prince Abdullah is in charge of the national guard, and Prince Sultan is in charge of the army, and either one will use his own force to fight the other to fight for power. Now they will use all elements of the population, of the society …” [including a large portion of the population that supports al Qaeda and radical Islamic fundamentalism].

     Al-Fagih said that there was a psychological barrier in the country because all information is so thoroughly controlled, and the regime maintains the appearance of complete control. Almost all Saudis dislike the corrupt regime for a multitude of differing reasons. But, said the medical doctor who once served with Osama bin Laden in the Afghan war against Soviet occupation, “Once this psychological barrier is broken, either by a dispute of the royal family, or by a financial collapse, you would expect a major act by the people against the regime.”

     Al-Fagih also noted that in general the dislike of the Saudi people for the US was intense because of its unremitting support of Israel and also because the US had maintained a military presence on Saudi soil long after the end of the Gulf War.

     Just five days later on August 6, the Washington Post reported that a month earlier on July 10, a top Pentagon advisory group had received a briefing from Rand Corp. analyst Laurent Murawiec describing Saudi Arabia as an enemy of the US and threatening seizure of its oil fields and financial assets if it did not stop supporting terrorism. The Pentagon group that received the briefing, the Defense Policy Board, is headed by renowned hawk Richard Perle. [Perle resigned from the board in February 2004 amidst growing controversy over his hawkish views and personal financial relations with firms seeking government contracts.] Although high-level Bush administration figures like Colin Powell downplayed the briefing’s significance, it received heavy-handed media play for several days. Subsequent reports stated that Vice President Dick Cheney’s staff had “embraced” the report.

     On August 7 Saudi Arabia made clear and unequivocal public pronouncements that it would not allow its soil to be used for an invasion of Iraq.

     On August 14 Reuters reported that King Fahd, who had just been moved to Spain, was in failing health and possibly near death.

     On August 15 amid massive daylong publicity, a 15-count, $1 trillion lawsuit was filed against various Saudi interests for liability in the 9/11 attacks. Included among the defendants were the Saudi Binladin Group of companies (previously connected through the Carlyle Group to Bush family finances), three Saudi princes, seven banks, eight Islamic foundations, a number of charities, and the government of Sudan.

     The three Saudi princes are Turki Faisal al Saud, Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz (same as above), and Prince Mohamed al-Faisal.

     This new suit eclipsed three earlier suits, largely ignored by the major media, filed by victim families charging various degrees of liability and/or complicity by the US government. The key lawyers in the case have a history of close affiliation with the Republican Party, the Bush family, and/or the Council on Foreign Relations. Media coverage of the suits continued through the weekend ending August 18.

     What gives?

Following The Money
The instability in Saudi Arabia may well be just the end result of internal decay and rot. But the consequences and implications of Saudi Arabia’s current crisis are deeper once one examines the financial threat that Saudi chaos might unleash.

     Like that of the United States, the Saudi economy is in tatters, and like the US economy it needs only one thing to keep it afloat — cash. Saudi Arabia, for all of its wealth, actually began borrowing money to meet budget deficits and finance economic development in 1993.38 It says something about the level of corruption that a nation with as much wealth and income as Saudi Arabia found its treasury running low. Yes, oil prices change things. But the implication is that the Saudi elites are lining their own pockets to the detriment of the long-term financial stability of their country — as happens in the United States, it seems.

     The Saudi government rightly fears US military success in Iraq. A first inevitable consequence would be serious anti-American protests from the Saudi population. The second inevitable consequence would be an almost immediate increase in Iraqi oil production, [Iraq’s outof-control insurgency and the continuing sabotage of infrastructure have prevented this], generating a price reduction that might break the back of OPEC and dramatically reduce oil income. Seeing that the US economy is on the brink of collapse, the Bush administration, facing a potentially disastrous 2004 presidential election, must do whatever it takes to keep itself in power. For this administration, so predominantly populated by oil men (and woman), cheap oil is the obvious first choice; in other words, oil is not only the actual issue, it’s also the one to which the public relations and electioneering skills of this particular regime gravitate in the face of electoral trouble. By focusing their policy efforts on the energy issue — while pursuing a profligate, oil-dependent, war-driven future — they are addressing exactly the right thing in the most wrong way possible. Without significant capital investment in any alternatives, oil remains king. Where the oil is, there will be war.

     Saudi Arabia seems to have seen this coming for some time. In April 2002 the Saudi government announced that it was considering privatizing parts of Aramco, the Saudi national oil company, and selling off some of Aramco’s operations to Exxon, BP-Amoco, Shell, and other major companies. Though little has been disclosed since the early announcements, this move would benefit the Saudis in two big ways. First, it would give Western companies an equity stake in the stability of the monarchy, making it difficult for the US to consider bombing or imposing embargos upon operations owned by Western companies. Secondly, it would generate large amounts of cash to offset declining economic growth, rising unemployment, and declining per capita income, according to Stratfor on April 29, 2002.

     The oil-based standoff is mirrored by what is effectively a much more successful financial deterrent — the Saudis’ ability to wreck the US financial markets should they see their situation become utterly desperate.

Owning the American Dream
It is impossible to quantify exactly the Saudi holdings in the US economy. But anecdotal evidence is compelling. The New York Times reported on August 11, “An adviser to the Saudi royal family made a telling point about Saudi elites. He said an estimated $600 billion to $700 billion in Saudi money was invested outside the kingdom, a vast majority of it in the United States or in United States-related investments.” The BBC has estimated Saudi US investment at $750 billion.

     Adnan Khashoggi, perhaps the best-known Saudi billionaire, controls his investments through Ultimate Holdings Ltd. and in Genesis Intermedia, which was reported to have been connected to suspicious stock trades around the time of the September 11 attacks. (No linkage has been made between these trades and the attacks themselves). The rest of his private US holdings are administered through his daughter’s name from offices in Tampa, Florida, not far from where many of the hijackers received flight training at both private schools and US military installations.

     Khashoggi is a longtime financial player, deeply connected to the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s and also to BCCI. But Khashoggi doesn’t even make the Forbes list of the richest people in the world. One Saudi who does is Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, who ranks as the fourth richest man on the planet with an estimated net worth of $21.5 billion (Alwaleed is also an investor in and reported client of the Carlyle Group).39

Some of Alwaleed’s holdings and recent acquisitions include:
• The single largest sharehold in Citigroup, the teetering US financial giant, which is reported to have a derivatives bubble of more than $12 trillion and has reportedly sought recent emergency assistance from the Federal Reserve. Alwaleed’s shareholding in Citigroup remains near the $10 billion mark. The BCCI scandal was not the last instance where the prohibited foreign ownership of US banks was an issue that touched Saudi interests. Prince Alwaleed’s heavy stake in Citigroup was concealed from 1991 until recently by the Carlyle group, which, acting as a virtual cutout, disguised Alwaleed’s heavy investment in the bank.40
• Alwaleed also owns, according to an August 9, 2002 story in the Guardian, three percent of the total shares of Newscorp (FOX), making him the second-largest shareholder behind Rupert Murdoch.
• Alwaleed’s other significant holdings include Apple Computer, Priceline, the Four Seasons Hotels, Planet Hollywood, Saks, and Euro Disney.
• Alwaleed also sits on the Carlyle Group’s board of directors.
• Alwaleed alone is in a position to pull the plug on the US economy. But, of course, he would cost himself billions to do it, and this is not a likely scenario because he has long been a pro-democratic US supporter.
     This applies to the rest of Saudi-held assets in the US, just as surely as it applies to Alwaleed’s. Taken as a whole, the dollar-denominated wealth of the Saudi royals is so large that its sudden withdrawal from the American economy would be devastating to America. And it would entail very serious financial losses for the Saudi investors, who would find themselves with a mountain of dollars whose value they had just decimated, backed by the full faith and credit of the tooth fairy. So the dreaded Saudi money-withdrawal is in nobody’s near-term interest and it does not happen. It keeps right on not happening, and will presumably continue to not happen for a long time to come.

     But this assumes, of course, that the Saudi monarchy remains a stable political entity; that the US economy does not implode under its own debt-load; that no major, protracted regional conflict occurs; and that the US therefore remains the most profitable place for Saudi investment. But if the US economy fails? If the Euro becomes stronger than the dollar? The Bush administration’s unilateral and illegal commitment to an Iraqi invasion brings all three essentials into question. The August 20 [2002] report from the Financial Times suggests that the Saudis are, at minimum, firing a clear warning shot across the bow of the USS “Bush”…41

     Only two points of my analysis have proven incorrect. The now obvious guerilla war in Iraq and the deterioration of Iraqi oil infrastructure have prevented any real surge in Iraqi oil production. This fact alone would make Saudi Arabia and smaller swing producers in West Africa more important to US short-term needs. Second, King Fahd remains on life support in Spain. I can only conclude that his death will come at a time more convenient to US objectives, perhaps after the inauguration of a new president.

     According to an investment banker in the author’s acquaintance who is well versed in Middle Eastern and oil finance, two capital streams emerged in the prelude to the invasion of Iraq. One was a stream of Saudi capital being returned to that country from the US. The second was a stream of Saudi flight capital fleeing to the US, being sent by an elite group who expected to soon be living here in exile, after the fall of the monarchy and the partition of the country.

     Peter Dale Scott, reaching the same conclusions earlier, wrote:
     The kingdom is now a key battlefield in the conflict between America and its allies and the forces of extremist Islam. It is a conflict that is now threatening to tear Saudi Arabia apart. Revolution is in the air.
     The Western community [in Saudi Arabia] is living in fear. It has become the target of a series of bomb attacks, carried out by al Qaeda linked terrorists who want to drive all non-Muslims out of the Arabian Peninsula. But the terrified Westerners have received little help from the Saudi authorities.
     The US may hope that it can weaken royal support for anti-American protests by its war preparations in the Middle East, including the timely regrouping of US forces from Saudi Arabia to neighboring Qatar. Alternatively, it may have to use them.42
     Additional entries from the Thompson timeline add the necessary pieces to confirm that the movements and activities of Osama bin Laden and his family are desired outcomes rather than effects of collective stupidity:
1996: FBI investigators are prevented from carrying out an investigation into two relatives of bin Laden. The FBI wanted to learn more about Abdullah bin Laden, “because of his relationship with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth [WAMY] — a suspected terrorist organization.” Abdullah was the US director of WAMY and lived with his brother Omar in Falls Church, a town just outside Washington. The coding on the document, marked secret, indicate the case involved espionage, murder, and national security. WAMY has their offices at 5613 Leesburg Pike. Remarkably, four of the 9/11 hijackers later are listed as having lived at 5913 Leesburg Pike, at the same time the two bin Laden brothers were there. WAMY has not been put on a list of terrorist organizations in the US, but it has been banned in Pakistan. A high-placed intelligence official tells the Guardian: “there were always constraints on investigating the Saudis. There were particular investigations that were effectively killed.” An unnamed US source says to the BBC, “There is a hidden agenda at the very highest levels of our government.” [BBC Newsnight, 11/6/01; Guardian, 11/7/01]

July 12, 2001: Bin Laden supposedly meets with CIA agent Larry Mitchell in the Dubai hospital on this day, possibly others. Mitchell reportedly lives in Dubai as an Arab specialist under the cover of being a consular agent. The CIA and the Dubai hospital deny the story; Le Figaro and Radio France International stand by it. [Le Figaro, 10/31/01; Radio France International, 11/1/01] The Guardian claims that the two organizations that broke the story, Le Figaro and Radio France International, got their information from French intelligence, “which is keen to reveal the ambiguous role of the CIA, and to restrain Washington from extending the war to Iraq and elsewhere.” The Guardian adds that during his stay bin Laden is also visited by a second CIA officer, “several members of his family and Saudi personalities,” including Prince Turki al Faisal, then head of Saudi intelligence. [Guardian, 11/1/01] At the very least, doesn’t this show bin Laden was never estranged from much of his family?
     The story in Le Figaro caused a great international uproar, including fierce personal attacks on me for having publicized it. If true, it establishes that just two months before 9/11, one of the most wanted men on the planet was exchanging information — personally — with CIA personnel. In light of what has been revealed in this chapter, one thing can safely be stated with confidence: The historical context of the relations between the bin Ladens, the Bushes, and US economic interests certainly makes the Le Figaro stories plausible.
September 13_19, 2001: Members of bin Laden’s family and important Saudis are flown out of the US. The New York Times explains, “The young members of the bin Laden clan were driven or flown under FBI supervision to a secret assembly point in Texas and then to Washington from where they left the country on a private charter plane when airports reopened three days after the attacks.” If you read carefully, note they are flown to Texas and Washington before the national air ban is lifted — the fact of flights during this ban is now unfortunately widely called an urban legend. [New York Times, 9/30/01] There have been conflicting reports as to whether the FBI interviewed them before they left the country. Osama bin Laden’s half brother Abdullah bin Laden stated that even a month later his only contact with the FBI was a brief phone call. [Boston Globe, 9/21/01; New Yorker, 11/5/01]
     It turns out that the flights did occur, and according to former National Security aide Richard Clarke, in his testimony before the Kean Commission, the orders possibly came from “The White House.”43

     Paul Thompson’s timeline adds more details of the special flights:
September 13, 2001: Confirmation that bin Ladens and Saudis did fly during the no-fly ban and left the country before they could be properly questioned comes from a Tampa Tribune article. A Lear jet takes off from Tampa, Florida, while a ban on all non-military flights in the US is still in effect. It carries a Saudi Arabian prince, the son of the Saudi defense minister, as well as the son of a Saudi army commander, and flies to Lexington, Kentucky, where the Saudis own racehorses. They then fly a private 747 out of the country. Multiple 747s with Arabic lettering on their sides are already there, suggesting another secret assembly point. Intriguingly, the Tampa flight left from a private Raytheon hangar. [Tampa Tribune, 10/5/01]
October 27, 2001: The bin Laden family divests from the Carlyle Group around this time, in light of public controversy surrounding the family after the 9/11 attacks. [Washington Post, 10/27/01]
October 14, 2001: The Boston Herald reports: “Three banks allegedly used by Osama bin Laden to distribute money to his global terrorism network have well-established ties to a prince in Saudi Arabia’s royal family, several billionaire Saudi bankers, and the governments of Kuwait and Dubai. One of the banks, Al-Shamal Islamic Bank in the Sudan, was controlled directly by Osama bin Laden, according to a 1996 US State Department report.” A regional expert states, “I think we underestimate bin Laden. He comes from the highest levels of Saudi society and he has supporters at all levels of Saudi Arabia.” [Boston Herald, 10/14/01]
     Two of the three banks referred to above are not included in President George W. Bush’s crackdown on terrorist financing after the attacks. Both of the banks had played financing roles in W.’s Harken energy deals in the region.44

     A final note on the unwillingness of the US government to take advantage of numerous opportunities to neutralize bin Laden: Apparently several of the offers came directly from the Taliban. The Village Voice’s James Ridgeway wrote: 
[Niece of former CIA Director Richard Helms and Taliban Lobbyist Laila] Helms described one incident after another in which, she claimed, the Taliban agreed to give up bin Laden to the US, only to be rebuffed by the State Department. On one occasion, she said, the Taliban agreed to give the US coordinates for his campsite, leaving enough time so the Yanks could whack al Qaeda’s leader with a missile before he moved. The proposal, she claims, was nixed.45
Before going to Pakistan let’s revisit one of the most important quotes in The Grand Chessboard by Zbigniew Brzezinski:
     Two basic steps are thus required: first, to identify the geostrategically dynamic Eurasian states that have the power to cause a potentially important shift in the international distribution of power and to decipher the central external goals of their respective political elites and the likely consequences of their seeking to attain them; second, to formulate specific US policies to offset, co-opt, and/or control the above.46
     As with Russia, the political elites in Saudi Arabia are either created or defined by American money and influence. As the US used the Mafia in Russia to destabilize and neutralize that country, so too it appears it has done in Saudi Arabia with al Qaeda. That country, with 25 percent of the oil on the planet, has only existed since 1931. What arguable overriding loyalty to their country exists for those Saudis whose billions depend upon the Empire? If the performance of the Russian oligarchs is any standard, then the malignant Iraq war and the increasingly serious stirrings of Islamic protest might lead to a collapse in Saudi Arabia within a year or two that would play right into America’s hands. Then the biggest prize of all will have been safely secured before the world even understands what has happened. That prize will be secured whether the Bush regime endures in power or not because all the pieces are in place. The only delays as of this writing are the 2004 presidential election and the US military posture that has been seriously weakened as a result of massive Iraqi uprisings and the withdrawal of troops by many nations of the Bush coalition who no longer have the stomach for the carnage and the animosity created by US policy in occupied Iraq.

     Skeptics will point to the fact that on April 29, 2003, the Pentagon announced that it was beginning to remove American military personnel and aircraft from Saudi Arabia to nearby bases in Qatar, Kuwait, and Dubai. They might assert that this shows that the US has no intention of military action against Saudi Arabia. I would contend, on the other hand, that if the kingdom becomes unstable, having military resources out of the country, but close enough to launch immediate attacks, is a way of protecting them from sabotage or attack if the anti-American sentiment felt by most of the Saudi populace is unleashed. That eventuality arrived in 2004 as the state department ordered an evacuation of Saudi Arabia, and bombs blew apart Saudi police facilities.

     As for Osama bin Laden, he will not be caught or killed until two things happen: He has outlived his usefulness as an enemy at a time when the United States need no longer fear economic reprisals; and Israel has emerged as the de facto global manager of all economic interests in the Middle East. Neither is a certainty.

     As Caesar might say, “It’s the way things work.”

Part Two Footnotes below
Audio excerpts are coming soon!

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PART TWO FOOTNOTES [begin where part one left off for continuity]:

37 Martin Bright, Nick Pelham and Paul Harris, “Britons left in jail amid fears that Saudi Arabia could fall to al-Qaeda,” Guardian /Observer, Saturday July 27, 2002 []
38 Brisard and Dasquié, op. cit., p. 77.
41 Michael C. Ruppert, “Saudi Arabia: The Sarajevo of the 21st Century,” From The Wilderness, August 21, 2002, . New data updating this story has been added to the original, pending upload to the website, for greater clarity within this section. In-text notes within square parentheses were added to the story during the writing of this book. [Original print newsletter in pdf, with other articles:]
42 Peter Dale Scott, “FLASH 36: Is U.S. Arms Buildup In Response to Crisis in Saudi Arabia?” August 3, 2002, [< new link, orig. broken]
43 Richard A. Clarke, testimony before the Kean Commission, March 24, 2004.
44 Michael C. Ruppert, “Suppressed Details of Criminal Insider Trading Lead Directly into the CIA’s Highest Ranks,” FTW, Vol. IV, no. 7, October 15, 2001, pp. 6- 8 []; Tom Flocco, “Profits of Death: Insider Trading and 9-11,” ed. Michael C. Ruppert, FTW, Vol. IV, no. 9, December 27, 2001, pp. 13-16[]; Tom Flocco and Michael C. Ruppert, “Profits of Death, Part III: All Roads Lead to Deutsche Bank and Harken Energy,” FTW, Vol. IV, no. 10, January 29, 2002, pp. 11-16 []; Cf. “The Real Dirt on Bush/Harken Scandal,”, July 5, 2002, []
45 James Ridgeway, “The French Connection,” Village Voice, January 2-8, 2002 [].
46 Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, p. 40.

Please find links to previously released excerpts below with footnotes which are the bulk of the work for the official archival project. Crossing the Rubicon is over 700 pages long with upward of 1,000 footnotes requiring updating since its 2004 release. From The Wilderness web links are estimated at double or triple that amount. Mike's administrative team sincerely appreciates your support of his legacy. TRC does not receive commission from sales of Crossing the Rubicon. Book sales help the administrator who granted permission to TRC to share excerpts and official web hosting duties.

Semper fi 🗽 

Jan. 8, 2012: Petroleum Man

Jan. 9, 2012: A Simple Exercise

Jan. 20, 2012: Unholy Trinity / Part One

Jan. 21, 2012: Unholy Trinity / Part Two


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Business With The Bin Ladens: The Real Saudi Arabia || Part One

Submitted for your consideration by Gabrielle Jones Price 
with permission from the author and copyright holder.

Excerpt from Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil

Published in 2004

Chapter 9 || Part One
Business With The Bin Ladens: The Real Saudi Arabia
[with footnotes]

The most important thing for us is to find Osama bin Laden. It’s our number one priority, and we will not rest until we find him. — George W. Bush, September 13, 2001
I don’t know where he is. I have no idea, and I really don’t care. It’s not that important. It’s not our priority. — George W, Bush, March 13, 2002

Osama bin Laden is probably the last witness the United States would like to have interrogated. There is a compelling case to be made that Osama bin Laden has long been a well-cultivated, protected, and valued asset of US and British intelligence. It is also possible that he has been used.

     The bin Laden family of Saudi Arabia is vastly different from what has been described in the American press. Much of its wealth, power, sophistication, and political and economic influence has been overlooked. A close examination leads directly to US economic and intelligence interests. And this does much to explain why American corporate media has avoided discussing it in detail.

     To understand the deep connections and alliances between the bin Ladens and Western economic and political interests — including the Bush family — is to glimpse the overall fragmented nature of Saudi Arabia: at once extremely powerful and extremely fragile because of its own internal fault lines; under intense pressure and held together by extraordinary means; manipulated unceasingly by the United States and its own elites.

     It is necessary to dispel one popular myth that has remained in the public consciousness since September 11: that of Osama bin Laden as an outcast, totally estranged from his family. This estrangement allegedly occurred after the 1991 Iraq War as the United States kept its military bases on Saudi soil and Osama, who had been a US ally and CIA protégé during the Soviet-Afghan conflict of the 1980s, turned towards terrorism.

Prodigal black sheep with an open door

Both the United States government and global business trumpeted a 1993 statement by Bakr bin Laden, the successor as family head after the 1988 death of Osama’s older brother Salem. “The entire family regrets, denounces, and condemns all of the acts committed by Osama bin Laden.”1 That was a convenient statement serving many interests.

     After he took a public stance opposing the Saudi regime’s decision that allowed US troops to be housed on holy soil, Osama bin Laden’s citizenship was revoked in 1994, giving the appearance of a total split with both his family and the monarchy. Whenever financial transactions between either the family or Saudi potentates and Osama have been disclosed, the explanation has been offered that these were extortion payments to keep him from making attacks inside Saudi Arabia. This position has been essential to the US’s credibility in its business and diplomatic dealings. And, like so many other official US positions taken since 9/11, it is at least partially deceitful.

     Not only did the bin Laden family continue to openly receive and visit Osama after 1994, members of the family have assisted in funding al Qaeda and its terrorist operations. That should not be taken to mean that they were acting in the interests of Saudi Arabia. It means that they were acting in the interests of the bin Ladens and their allies. This, at a time when they operated an enormous global financial empire that enjoyed large-scale joint business ventures with American oil companies including Enron, major financial institutions, and even the Bush family itself. The bin Ladens are major players in the new globalized financial order. For some companies, terrorism is good business.

     In their book The Forbidden Truth, French authors Brisard and Dasquié wrote:
Osama bin Laden’s own sister recently admitted that it was inconceivable that ‘none of the fifty-four family members kept ties with him.’ But she also revealed the change in tone that has recently been adopted with regard to her brother. Since the September 11 attacks Osama bin Laden has become a ‘half brother’ to his siblings. But this word choice is arbitrary; in an Islamic country that practices polygamy, the children born of different wives are simply brothers and sisters.2
     Of the more than 50 “brothers and sisters”3 all fathered by Osama’s father Mohammed, Osama is the only child to have also been born of a Saudi mother. In the Saudi culture and “in the eyes of the authorities, this ‘Saudi’ son would make a trustworthy representative, and he would eventually become a close confidant of Prince Turki, the head of Saudi intelligence.”4

     Brisard and Dasquié also quote an undated CNN interview with Peter Arnett in which Osama claimed that his “mother, uncle, and brothers” had visited him in Khartoum, Sudan. This presumably occurred in the mid 1990s, during the period in which Osama resided there after the reported rift.

     There is much more information showing that the reported schism in the family is a convenient charade. From Paul Thompson’s timeline:
Spring, 2000: Sources who know bin Laden later claim that bin Laden’s mother has a second meeting with her son in Afghanistan. The trip is approved by the Saudi royal family. The Saudis pass the message to him that ‘they wouldn’t crack down on his followers in Saudi Arabia’ as long as he set his sights on targets outside the desert kingdom. In late 1999, the Saudi government had told the CIA about the trip, and suggested placing a homing beacon on her luggage. This doesn’t happen — Saudis later claim they weren’t taken seriously, and Americans claim they never received specific information on her travel plans. [New Yorker, 11/5/01, Washington Post, 12/19/01].”5
     This also is one of the literally dozens of opportunities for bin Laden’s capture which the US government chose to ignore. Sudanese officials had been keeping real-time surveillance of bin Laden’s movements in the country while he lived there until 1995 and giving the results to US intelligence. The US government could have easily apprehended bin Laden with Sudanese assistance. The Sudanese would have gladly provided it in order to continue receiving US financial aid. Instead the US forced the Sudanese to expel bin Laden, driving him back into Afghanistan, where he became a pivotal influence in the growing power of al Qaeda and the Taliban.6  In fact, the Sudanese government offered to take bin Laden into custody and was rebuffed. One is compelled to ask whether this is collective, contagious, and continuing stupidity or more evidence of desired outcomes being realized.

     The Washington Post explicitly suggested that the real relationship between the United States government and Osama bin Laden may be quite the opposite of what it seems. “As early as March 1996, the government of Sudan offered to extradite bin Laden to the United States. US officials turned down the offer, perhaps preferring to use him ‘as a combatant in an underground war.’”7 In other words, as a US government agent.8

     In a follow-up story, the Village Voice expanded further on the Sudanese fiasco:
Nevertheless, one US intelligence source in the region called the lost opportunity a disgrace. “We kidnap minor drug czars and bring them back in burlap bags. Somebody didn’t want this to happen.” He added that the State Department may have blocked bin Laden’s arrest to placate a part of the Saudi Arabian government that supported bin Laden. (Much of bin Laden’s funding and some of his followers, including suicide bombers, come from Saudi Arabia, which was one of only three countries to recognize the Taliban. That changed after September 11. By then, the Saudis had fired their longtime intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal, reportedly for his support of bin Laden.) Another American intelligence official told the Voice, “I’ve never seen a brick wall like this before.”9
     Not only did family connections continue after the “rift,” there is evidence that members of the family also supported terrorist activity. In reality, [the family’s] ties with Osama bin Laden had always existed and were never really broken. As one Western intelligence agency noted, the bin Laden family had rigorously followed ‘the principal of total family solidarity among all its members’ since the 1980s.
In this way, two of Osama bin Laden’s brothers-in-law, Muhammad Jamal Khalifa and Saad Al Sharif, played a crucial role, according to American authorities, in the financing of al Qaeda. The first did so through a charity organization based in Jeddah that did work in the Philippines. He also financed bin Laden’s activities in Malaysia, Singapore, and Mauritius.10
     Khalifa was linked by former CIA official Vince Cannistraro to a Yemeni terrorist group that claimed responsibility for the 2001 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole. After he had been detained in the US by immigration authorities when this was known, instead of holding him for trial in the US, American officials deported him to Jordan, where he was wanted but was soon released on a technicality.11

     Two more compelling citations from Paul Thompson’s timeline further give the lie to the myth of Osama’s ostracism:
February 2001: A former CIA anti-terror expert tells the New Yorker that an allied intelligence agency sees “two of Osama’s sisters apparently taking cash to an airport in Abu Dhabi, where they are suspected of handing it to a member of bin Laden’s al Qaeda organization.” This is cited as one of many incidents showing “interconnectedness” between Osama bin Laden and the rest of his family. [New Yorker, 11/5/01]12
November 5, 2001: A New Yorker article points to evidence that the bin Laden family has generally not ostracized … bin Laden as is popularly believed (for instance, see [Newsweek, 10/15/01]), but retains close ties in some cases. The large bin Laden family owns and runs a $5 billion a year global corporation that includes the largest construction firm in the Islamic world. One counter-terrorism expert says, “There’s obviously a lot of spin by the Saudi Binladin Group [the family corporation] to distinguish itself from Osama. I’ve been following the bin Ladens for years, and it’s easy to say, ‘We disown him.’ Many in the family have. But blood is usually thicker than water.” The article notes that neither the bin Laden family nor the Saudi royal family have publicly denounced bin Laden since 9/11. [New Yorker, 11/5/01]13
     The family’s continuing support for Osama bin Laden became a matter of public record in 1999. As Thompson’s timeline observes:
April 1999: A Saudi government audit shows that five of Saudi Arabia’s billionaires have been giving tens of millions of dollars to al Qaeda. The audit shows that these businessmen transferred money from the National Commercial Bank to accounts of Islamic charities in London and New York banks that serve as fronts for bin Laden. $3 million was diverted from a Saudi pension fund. The only action taken is that Khalid bin Mahfouz, founder of National Commercial Bank, Saudi Arabia’s biggest bank, is placed under house arrest. Bin Mahfouz had invested in George Bush Jr.’s businesses starting in 1989. The US has not frozen the accounts of bin Mahfouz, and he continues to engage in major oil deals with US corporations. [USA Today, 10/29/99, Boston Herald, 12/10/01]
     Just what is the “Saudi Binladin Group” and what does it do?

The Saudi Binladin Group (SBG)

Perhaps the most comprehensive breakdown of the bin Laden family’s operations was compiled by former French intelligence consultant Jean-Charles Brisard as a project commissioned by the French intelligence community entitled The Economic Network of the bin Laden Family. Much of that work was reproduced in Forbidden Truth.

     With its headquarters in Jeddah, the parent company of SBG, Saudi Investment Company (SICO) operates four subsidiaries: SICO Curacao (Dutch Antilles), the Tropiville Corporation NV (Dutch Antilles), Falken Ltd. (Cayman Islands), and Islay Holdings (Isle d’Islay). Falken and Tropiville together own Russell Wood Holdings Ltd. (London) and Russell Wood Ltd. (London). An additional six subsidiaries, controlled by either Russell Wood or Islay Holdings, all with innocuous sounding names starting with “Falcon,” “Globe,” “Turkey Rock,” or “Saffron,” are all located in Britain. In addition, one subsidiary, Falcon Properties Ltd., in conjunction with Saudi investor Ghaith Pharoan, owns the Attock Oil Company, also located in England.

     Founded in 1931 at the same time as the nation of Saudi Arabia, the bin Laden family business is the largest construction company in the Middle East. But this easy observation leads to a tangled web of financial and political machinations. The holding companies are located on Caribbean islands frequently associated with money laundering. Obviously a great many financial and corporate entities can be concealed within tightly controlled holding companies. What else is known about the operations of this empire?

     The Saudi Binladin Group owns orbiting satellites and has contracts with the US Department of Defense (DoD). Iridium Satellite, LLC is a privately held, bin Laden Group company which owns a series of 73 low-orbit stationary satellites designed to provide satellite phone coverage across the surface of the Earth. Originally developed by Motorola, Iridium LLC was bankrupt in 1999 when the bin Laden group purchased it and renamed it Iridium Satellite, LLC. The company is based in Leesburg, VA, not far from the CIA and the National Reconnaissance Office. Since the bankruptcy takeover, the company has garnered a $72 million DoD contract and a $300,000 NSF grant to “gauge the magnetic characteristics of the energy fields caused by solar storms.”

     Apparently, 600 Iridium Satellite phones were en route to Florida on September 11 and were redirected to NYC to help with the tragedy. After September 11, there was some talk of using Iridium Satellite LLC’s “low Earth orbiting satellites to provide real-time cockpit voice and flight data monitoring of commercial aircraft, replacing the on-board ‘black boxes.’”14

     SBG’s construction arm was involved in the building of US military bases in Saudi Arabia, including the Khobar towers, destroyed by a terrorist bomb in June 1996 killing 19 US servicemen. SBG also had business ventures with US oil companies such as Unocal and Enron. In addition they built large portions of the holy sites at Mecca for the Saudi government as a result of a special relationship they have enjoyed with the royal family since the founding of the kingdom.15

     As the exclusive contractor for the holy sites in Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem (until 1967), SBG and the bin Laden family enjoyed virtually competition-free access to government contracts. The company even served as a tutor for members of the royal family on matters of business and international finance.16  Even more significant, in an Islamic culture strictly opposed to the collection of interest, “the SBG is the only private Saudi institution able to issue bonds. In 2001 it had 35,000 employees with estimated revenues of $3 - 5 billion. In the 1980s it represented the likes of Porsche and Audi and developed Saudi partnerships with GE, Nortel, and Schweppes. All of these companies pretend to this day that SBG and Osama bin Laden are totally divorced.”17

     As for its banking relationships, SBG is known to favor the Saudi Commercial Bank,18  Deutsche Bank’s London office, and Citigroup.19  It also has extensive financial relationships with Goldman Sachs and the Fremont Group, a San Francisco investment firm whose directorate includes former Secretary of State George P. Shultz. His connections to the SBG reach from the banking side to the construction side; Shultz is the former CEO of the Bechtel Group, a heavy construction firm with major interests in pipeline construction throughout the Middle East.20  Just after the US occupation of Iraq in April 2003, Bechtel was awarded a contract worth up to $680 million to assist in the rebuilding of Iraqi infrastructure.

     In 2001, the Wall Street Journal succinctly captured the importance of SBG in the operations of the Empire:
“If there were ever any company closely connected to the US and its presence in Saudi Arabia, it’s the Saudi Binladin Group,” says Charles Freeman, president of the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington nonprofit concern that receives tens of thousands of dollars a year from the bin Laden family.21
     SBG also makes sizeable investments in foreign corporations, including many in the US. From The Wilderness (FTW) was among the first, just after the attacks of 9/11, to bring public attention to the fact that the bin Ladens had a multimillion-dollar stake in the Carlyle Group, a privately held US company.


On October 9, 2001, I published a story in FTW on connections between the Bushes and the bin Ladens; it helped start an uproar that eventually led to the SBG divesting itself from Carlyle. Why is Carlyle so significant? As a holding company and investment bank, it is a major component of the US defense industry. Most people are unaware that on September 11, 2001, as the attacks were taking place, members of the bin Laden family (along with other key investors) were in Washington, DC meeting with the Carlyle Group at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, just blocks away from the White House.22 Following are excerpts from that story.
The Carlyle Group, the Bushes, and bin Laden
The warnings about the Carlyle Group, the [at that time] nation’s eleventh largest defense contractor, and the Bushes came long before the World Trade Center attacks. The Carlyle Group is a closely held corporation, exempt, for that reason, from reporting its affairs to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Little is known of what it actually does except that it buys and sells defense contractors. As of October 4, 2001, it has removed its corporate website from the World Wide Web, making further investigation through that channel impossible. Its Directors include Frank Carlucci, former Reagan Secretary of Defense; James Baker, former Bush Secretary of State; and Richard Darman, a former White House aide to Ronald Reagan and Republican Party operative.
     On March 5, 2001, just weeks after George W. Bush’s inauguration, the conservative Washington lobbying group Judicial Watch issued a press release. It said:
(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch, the public interest law firm that investigates and prosecutes government abuse and corruption, called on former President George Herbert Walker Bush to resign immediately from the Carlyle Group, a private investment firm, while his son President George W. Bush is in office. Today’s New York Times reported that the elder Bush is an ‘ambassador’ for the $12 billion private investment firm and last year traveled to the Middle East on its behalf. The former president also helped the firm in South Korea.
     The New York Times reported that as compensation, the elder Bush is allowed to buy a stake in the Carlyle Group’s investments, which include ownership in at least 164 companies throughout the world (thereby by giving the current president an indirect benefit). James Baker, the former Secretary of State who served as President George W. Bush’s point man in Florida’s election dispute, is a partner in the firm. The firm also gave George W. Bush help in the early 1990s when it placed him on one of its subsidiary’s board of directors.
     “This is simply inappropriate. Former President Bush should immediately resign from the Carlyle Group because it is an obvious conflict of interest. Any foreign government or foreign investor trying to curry favor with the current Bush administration is sure to throw business to the Carlyle Group. And with the former President Bush promoting the firm’s investments abroad, foreign nationals could understandably confuse the Carlyle Group’s interests with the interests of the United States government,” stated Larry Klayman, Judicial Watch Chairman and General Counsel.
     “Questions are now bound to be raised if the recent Bush administration change in policy towards Iraq has the fingerprints of the Carlyle Group, which is trying to gain investments from other Arab countries who would presumably benefit from the new policy,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
Judicial Watch noted that “even the Clinton administration called on the Rodham brothers to stop their business dealings in [the former Soviet Republic of] Georgia because those dealings started to destabilize that country.”
     Since the WTC attacks, the Wall Street Journal has reported (September 28, 2001) that, “George H. W. Bush, the father of President Bush, works for the bin Laden family business in Saudi Arabia through the Carlyle Group, an international consulting firm.” The senior Bush had met with the bin Laden family at least twice in the last three years (1998 and 2000) as a representative of Carlyle, seeking to expand business dealings with one of the wealthiest Saudi families, which, some experts argue, has never fully severed its ties with black sheep Osama in spite of current reports in a mainstream press that is afraid of offending the current administration.

     The Nation, on March 27, 2000 — in a story co-authored by David Corn and Paul Lashma — wrote, “In January former President George Bush and former British Prime Minister John Major paid a social call on Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah .…” This story confirms at least one meeting between the elder Bush and Saudi leaders, including the bin Ladens. That the bin Ladens attended this meeting was confirmed in a subsequent September 27, 2001, Wall Street Journal (WSJ) story. The January 2000 meeting with the bin Ladens was also later confirmed by Bush (the elder’s) Chief of Staff Jean Becker, only after the WSJ presented her with a thank-you note sent by Bush to the bin Ladens after that meeting.

     James Baker visited the bin Ladens in 1998 and 1999 with [then] Carlyle CEO Frank Carlucci.

     The WSJ story went on to note, “A Carlyle executive said that the bin Laden family committed $2 million through a London investment arm in 1995 in Carlyle Partners II Fund, which raised $1.3 billion overall. The fund has purchased several aerospace companies among 29 deals. So far, the family has received $1.3 million back in completed investments and should ultimately realize a 40 percent annualized rate of return, the Carlyle executive said.

     “But a foreign financier with ties to the bin Laden family says the family’s overall investment with Carlyle is considerably larger .…” In other words, Osama bin Laden’s attacks on the WTC and Pentagon, with the resulting massive increase in the US defense budget, have just made his family a great big pile of money.

     More Bush connections appear in relation to the bin Ladens. The WSJ story also notes, “During the past several years, the [bin Laden] family’s close ties to the Saudi royal family prompted executives and staff from closely held New York publisher Forbes, Inc. to make two trips to the family headquarters, according to Forbes Chairman Caspar Weinberger, a former US Secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration. ‘We would call on them to get their view of the country and what would be of interest to investors.’”
     President G. H. W. Bush pardoned Weinberger for his criminal conduct in the Iran-Contra scandal in 1989.
     Our current President, George W. Bush, has also had — at minimum — indirect dealings with both Carlyle and the bin Ladens. In 1976 his firm Arbusto Energy was funded with $50,000 from Texas investment banker James R. Bath, who was also the US investment counselor for the bin Laden family. In his watershed 1992 book, The Mafia, the CIA and George Bush, award-winning Texas investigative journalist Pete Brewton dug deeply into Bath’s background, revealing connections with the CIA and major fraudulent activities connected with the Savings & Loan scandal that took $500 billion out of the pockets of American taxpayers. A long-time friend of George W. Bush, Bath was connected to a number of covert financing operations in the Iran-Contra scandal, which also linked to bin Laden friend Adnan Khashoggi. One of the richest men in the world, Khashoggi was the arms merchant at the center of the whole Iran-Contra scandal. Khashoggi, whose connections to the bin Ladens is more than superficial, got his first business break by acting as middleman for a large truck purchase by Osama bin Laden’s older brother, Salem.
     Another key player in the Bush administration, Deputy Secretary of Defense Richard Armitage, left his post as an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration after a series of scandals connected to CIA operatives Ed Wilson, Ted Shackley, Richard Secord, and Tom Clines placed him at the brink of criminal indictment and jail. Shackley and Secord are veterans of Vietnam operations and have long been linked to opium/heroin smuggling. The Armitage scandals all focused on the illegal provision of weapons and war materiel to potential or actual enemies of the US and to the Contras in Central America.
     Armitage, [allegedly] a former Navy SEAL who reportedly enjoyed combat missions and killing during covert operations in Laos during the Vietnam War, has never been far from the Bush family’s side. Throughout his career, both in and out of government, he has been perpetually connected to CIA drug smuggling operations. Secretary of State Colin Powell, in a 1995 Washington Post story, called Armitage, “my white son.” In 1990, then President Bush dispatched Armitage to Russia to aid in its “transition” to capitalism. Armitage’s Russian work for Bush has been frequently connected to the explosion of drug trafficking under the Russian Mafias who became virtual rulers of the nation afterwards. In the early 1990s Armitage had extensive involvement in Albania at the same time that the Albanian ally, Kosovo Liberation Army, was coming to power and consolidating its grip, according to the Christian Science Monitor, on 70 percent of the heroin entering Western Europe.23
     Armitage and Carlucci are both board members of the influential Washington think-tank, the Middle East Policy Council. [This is the same Middle East Policy Council that receives funding from the bin Laden family.]
     According to a 2000 story from Harper’s Magazine, in 1990 our current president had additional connections to the bin Laden family through a position as a corporate director of Caterair, owned by the Carlyle Group — at a time when the bin Ladens were invested in Carlyle. On March 1, 1995, when George W. Bush was Texas governor and a senior trustee of the University of Texas, its endowment voted to place $10 million in investments with the Carlyle Group. As to how much of that money went to the bin Ladens, we can only guess. But we do know that there is a long tradition in the Bush family of giving money to those who kill Americans.24
     In January 2000 it was announced that Louis Gerstner, outgoing IBM chairman, had replaced Frank Carlucci as chairman of the Carlyle Group.

Bin Laden special services

Paul Thompson’s timeline reveals what may be long-standing covert relationships between the bin Ladens and the Bushes.

Covert operations
October 1980: Salem bin Laden, Osama’s eldest brother, is later described by a French secret intelligence report as one of the two closest friends of Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd. As such, he often performs important missions for Saudi Arabia. The French report speculates that he is somehow involved in secret Paris meetings between US and Iranian emissaries this month. Frontline, which published the French report, notes that such meetings have never been confirmed. Rumors of these meetings have been called the “October Surprise” and some have speculated Bush Sr. negotiated in these meetings a delay of the release of the US hostages in Iran, thus helping Reagan and Bush win the presidency. All of this is highly speculative, but if the French report is correct, it points to a long-standing connection of highly illegal behavior between the Bush and bin Laden families. [PBS Frontline, 2001]25
     Salem, the same bin Laden who was to turn over US control of US bin Laden family finances to George W.’s friend and Air National Guard squadron-mate, James Bath, in the early 1980s, also turns up again in Iran-Contra:
Mid-1980s: It is later suggested that Salem bin Laden, Osama’s eldest brother, is involved in the Iran-Contra affair. The New Yorker reports, “During the nineteen-eighties, when the Reagan administration secretly arranged for an estimated thirty-four million dollars to be funneled through Saudi Arabia to the Contras, in Nicaragua, Salem bin Laden aided in this cause, according to French intelligence.” New Yorker is obviously quoting the same French report posted by Frontline (see October, 1980). [New Yorker, 11/5/01; Frontline, 2001]26
George W.’s wallet

Several bin Ladens turn up in the business life of President George W. Bush.
1988: Prior to this year, George Bush Jr. is a failed oil man. Three times friends and investors have bailed him out to keep him from going bankrupt. But in this year, the same year his father becomes president, some Saudis buy a portion of his small company, Harken, which has never worked outside of Texas. Later in the year, Harken wins a contract in the Persian Gulf and starts doing well financially. These transactions seem so suspicious that even the Wall Street Journal in 1991 states it “raises the question of ... an effort to cozy up to a presidential son.” Two major investors into Bush’s company during this time are Salem bin Laden, Osama bin Laden’s father, and Khaled bin Mahfouz. [Salon, 11/19/01; Intelligence Newsletter, 3/2/00]27
     We could devote a whole chapter to Harken Energy. As the corporate scandals of 2002 rocked the American financial landscape, a number of stories surfaced showing that George W. Bush had knowingly participated in a huge “pump and dump” scheme with Harken stock just before its collapse in 1991. Apart from its smaller scale, this is strikingly similar to the Enron debacle of a decade later. But in light of the fact that none of the evidence that surfaced in 2002 (including SEC records and statements) had even the slightest impact on the course of American history or the election of 2002, I see no point in delving deeper into that episode here. Harken energy is just another little piece that fits nicely into the broader landscape of that map.

Kosovo and the Balkans

Osama bin Laden’s connections to, and service for, the CIA did not end when the Russians departed Afghanistan prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union. In fact, a compelling trail of evidence shows that the US has maintained continuous ties to al Qaeda, bin Laden, and other Islamic terror organizations to this day. Much of this evidence is found in the recent history of the Balkans, especially in the robust American involvement with the Kosovo Liberation Army. 

     Since 9/11 few have accomplished as much as Professor Michel Chossudovsky of the University of Ottawa in exposing the deceitfulness of US government statements about Osama bin Laden. In 1998 the United States openly sided with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), then responsible for 70 percent of the heroin smuggled into Western Europe, in a war against another useful US-manufactured bogeyman, Slobodan Milosevic. And it is there, Chossudovsky tells us, that bin Laden footprints appear again. After examining 21 different source records — including US congressional records and reports by the Republican Party — he found direct links between Osama and the CIA:
The evidence amply confirms that the CIA never severed its ties to the “Islamic Militant Network.” Since the end of the Cold War, these covert intelligence links have not only been maintained, they have become increasingly sophisticated.
     New undercover initiatives financed by the Golden Crescent drug trade were set in motion in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the Balkans. Pakistan’s military and intelligence apparatus (controlled by the CIA) essentially “served as a catalyst for the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the emergence of six new Muslim republics in Central Asia…”
     The same pattern was used in the Balkans to arm and equip the Mujahideen fighting in the ranks of the Bosnian Muslim army against the Armed Forces of the Yugoslav Federation. Throughout the 1990s, the Pakistan Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) was used by the CIA as a go-between — to channel weapons and Mujahideen mercenaries to the Bosnian Muslim Army in the civil war in Yugoslavia. According to a report of the London based International Media Corporation: “Reliable sources report that the United States is now [1994] actively participating in the arming and training of the Muslim forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina in direct contravention of the United Nations accords.”28
     Chossudovsky next draws the handcuffs tighter around the wrists of both bin Laden and the CIA:
During September and October [1994], there has been a stream of “Afghan” Mujahideen …covertly landed in Ploce, Croatia .... Confirmed by British military sources, the task of arming and training of the KLA had been entrusted in 1998 to the US Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) and Britain’s secret intelligence service MI6 .… Bin Laden had visited Albania himself .... It is important to note that the KLA was basically an Albanian ethnic Army and that it has been documented that Albanian organized crime elements are both powerful and well respected in the region, even by their Italian counterparts. Also, remember that it was heroin grown in Afghanistan that was passing through the KLA’s hands that was funding a great many Islamic terrorist organizations all over Europe and Asia.29
     Chossudovsky documented that some of bin Laden’s most trusted operatives even participated in the fighting. “Another link to bin Laden is the fact that the brother of a leader in an Egyptian jihad organization and also a military commander of Osama bin Laden, was leading an elite KLA unit during the Kosovo conflict.”30

     Further corroboration came in a May 1999 story in the Washington Times. Citing intelligence reports presumably obtained from US agencies, reporter Jerry Seper wrote:
The intelligence reports document what is described as a “link” between bin Laden, the fugitive Saudi including a common staging area in Tropoje, Albania, a center for Islamic terrorists. The reports said bin Laden’s organization, known as al Qaeda, has both trained and financially supported the KLA .…

     Jane’s International Defense Review, a highly respected British Journal, reported in February that documents found last year on the body of a KLA member showed that he had escorted several volunteers into Kosovo, including more than a dozen Saudi Arabians.31
     It is important to remember that the NATO commander in charge of all operations in the region was 2003-2004 Democratic presidential hopeful Wesley Clark at a time when NATO was supporting the KLA.


One 9/11 researcher drew compelling links between Osama bin Laden and Chechnya, where Muslim separatists remain a formidable thorn in the side of Russian President Vladimir Putin:
In his 28 September interview [with a pro-Taliban newspaper], bin Laden is quoted as follows: “I can go from Indonesia to Algeria, Kabul to Chechnya, Bosnia to Sudan, and Burma to Kashmir,” he said. “This is not a question of my survival. This is the question of the survival of jihad (holy war).”

     “Wherever required, I will be there.”

     This amounts to a confession that bin Laden has been involved with the very terrorists that the US has sponsored, for example in Chechnya, Bosnia, Macedonia, Algeria, and Indonesia, and also with the KLA whom the US government has sponsored in attacking Serbia.32
     Chossudovsky again expanded on and illuminated the secret and mutually beneficial relationship between Osama bin Laden and the CIA:
With regard to Chechnya, the main rebel leaders Shamil Basayev and Al Khattab were trained and indoctrinated in CIA sponsored camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to Yossef Bodansky, director of the US Congress’s Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, the war in Chechnya had been planned during a secret summit of Hezbollah International held in 1996 in Mogadishu, Somalia.
     The summit was attended by Osama bin Laden and high-ranking Iranian and Pakistani intelligence officers. In this regard, the involvement of Pakistan’s ISI in Chechnya “goes far beyond supplying the Chechens with weapons and expertise: the ISI and its radical Islamic proxies are actually calling the shots in this war.”
     Russia’s main pipeline route transits through Chechnya and Dagestan. Despite Washington’s perfunctory condemnation of Islamic terrorism, the indirect beneficiaries of the Chechen war are the Anglo-American oil conglomerates which are vying for control over oil resources and pipeline corridors out of the Caspian Sea basin.
     The two main Chechen rebel armies (respectively led by Commander Shamil Basayev and Emir Khattab) estimated at 35,000 strong were supported by Pakistan’s ISI, which also played a key role in organizing and training the Chechen rebel army [emphasis added].33

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Great Britain — one of the major players supporting the KLA in Kosovo — also maintained secret relationships with bin Laden and al Qaeda that served its interests. In 1996 Britain’s exterior intelligence service, MI6, actually funded and worked with al Qaeda in a plot to assassinate and overthrow Libya’s Muammar Qaddafy. Details of the relationship emerged after a British domestic intelligence (MI5) officer, David Shayler, went public with documents detailing the relationship between Britain and bin Laden.

     In November, 2002 — and in the wake of 9/11 — as Shayler’s trial brought the case to public attention, the British government invoked measures of the State Security Act to hide embarrassing information. The government’s efforts even went so far as the issuance of a “D” notice by Prime Minister Tony Blair requiring that previously published news stories on the case be withdrawn and removed from public websites. A remaining story in Britain’s Observer suggests the degree to which the British (and indeed, the US) government is exposed by the facts’ emergence. It reported, “The Libyan al Qaeda cell included Anas al-Liby, who remains on the US government’s most-wanted list with a reward of $25 million for his capture. He is wanted for his involvement in the African embassy bombings. Al-Liby was with bin Laden in Sudan before the latter returned to Afghanistan in 1996.
Astonishingly, despite suspicions that he was a high-level al Qaeda operative, [Anas] al-Liby was given political asylum in Britain and lived in Manchester until May of 2000 when he eluded a police raid on his house and fled abroad. The raid discovered a 180-page al Qaeda “manual for jihad” containing instructions for terrorist attacks.34
     Much of the information revealed by Shayler, who has reportedly been sentenced to six months for violating secrecy oaths, was confirmed by French authors Brisard and Dasquié, who noted in Forbidden Truth that the first real Interpol wanted notice for Osama bin Laden came not from the US but from another so-called terrorist leader, Muammar Qaddafy, in 1994. At the time, bin Laden was wanted for the murder of two German intelligence agents in Libya, and Qaddafy’s actions suggested that he had found common ground with some Western governments on the issue of Saudi Arabia’s most wanted son.

     Since the attacks of 9/11 Libya has rarely been mentioned as a state sponsor of terrorism and has recently “cleaned up its act” as US oil companies have secured new Libyan contracts. Qaddafy, the terrorist du jour of the 1980s, is now respectable.

     All this seemingly nonsensical behavior, rendering more incredible the now discredited US charges that Saddam Hussein was an ally of Osama bin Laden, is explained by information given to me by an influential investment banker shortly after the attacks of 9/11. That information indicated that Qaddafy had recently signed an oil lease with Texas oil magnates Nelson and Bunker Hunt, good friends of the Bush family.

     Britain’s dealings with Osama bin Laden have extended to allowing him to visit their country while he was a wanted man. As I noted in 1998, “the French Internet publication Indigo reported that bin Laden had been a London guest of British Intelligence as recently as 1996, and his treasurer recently defected to the Saudis as different factions shifted alliances for new campaigns in the Middle East. If Osama travels to London and has businesses in the Caymans and Geneva, how difficult can he be to find?”35

     Unsurprisingly, a November 2002 UPI story by Arnaud de Borchgrave indicated not only that the Pakistani ISI had helped Osama bin Laden escape from Afghanistan but also that the American government had deliberately paid little attention to offers from an Afghan warlord to pinpoint and capture the alleged mastermind of 9/11. De Borchgrave reported that Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz took down the name of the warlord — who had communicated directly with the reporter — and promised to look into the matter, and that nothing ever came of it. De Borchgrave became frustrated.
Could it be that the intelligence community, already overburdened by the requirements of the coming war on Iraq and the war on terror, is not too interested in a ‘we’ve got Osama alive’ melodrama that might detract from the current ‘get Hussein’ priority objective? 36 
     While de Borchgrave worried about terror attacks if bin Laden were captured, I chuckled at the thought of frightened officials in Washington worrying over the possibility that bin Laden might one day talk.

     With this perspective it is possible to take a rational look at the actual state of affairs in Saudi Arabia in light of the controversy over the 28 censored pages of the House-Senate 9/11 intelligence report that reportedly focus on it. George W. Bush refuses to declassify this section of the report while what are reported to be its contents are conveniently leaked throughout the mainstream American press. I tend to think that the 28 pages, as originally reported, have more to do with advance warnings of the attacks from foreign governments than they do with Saudi Arabia.

     One must remember that Saudi Arabia is the ultimate prize in the war for oil. That’s because, to paraphrase convicted bank robber Willie Horton, “It’s where the oil is."

Part One Footnotes below

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Continued: PART TWO


1 Brisard and Dasquié, op. cit., p. 103, citing a report in the APS Diplomat Recorder dated March 5, 1994. [Searchable DB of APS articles:]
2 Ibid, pp. 104-105.
3 “Bin Laden Family has Intricate Ties with Washington,” Wall Street Journal, September 28-29, 2001.[]
4 Brisard and Dasquié, op. cit., p. 109, citing “Behind the Veil,” Jerusalem Report, June 3, 1993 [Article not found. J Report/J Post archives go back to 2005, not before.]
5 Paul Thompson, “The Complete 9/11 Timeline: Introduction, Credits and Links (Version 1.7),” October 28, 2002, [broken URL. Great new site w/searchable DB:]
6 FTW, Vol. I, no. 7, September 19, 1998; “How the U.S. Missed a Chance to Get Bin Laden,” Village Voice, October 31, 2001, []; Nafeez Ahmed, War on Freedom [Book pdf:], p. 203.
7 “Sudan offered to turn over Osama bin Laden,” Washington Post, October 3, 2001. []
8 If this means that OBL is to be “used as a combatant” on the USG side, it strongly suggests that he is a willing participant in such an effort and that his CIA affiliation from the Mujaheddin war of the 1980s has persisted. If the same locution means that OBL is to be “used” as a combatant on the anti-USG terrorist side of the supposed war on terror, it strongly suggests that the USG is engaged in the business of supplying itself with enemies. That practice is called “false flag” operation, and 9/11 is its greatest exemplar in history.
9 Jennifer Gould, “Thanks But No Thanks,” The Village Voice, November 6, 2001.
10 Brisard and Dasquié, op. cit., p. 104.
11 Ibid, p. 105.
12 See Thompson, “Timeline,” op. cit. []
13 Ibid. 14 [URL/Site not found]
15 Brisard and Dasquié, op. cit., pp. 106-108.
16 Ibid, p. 106.
17 Ibid, p. 107.
18 The Saudi Commercial Bank is the largest in the Kingdom. It is operated by Khalid bin Mahfouz, Saudi Arabia’s former treasurer. Mahfouz has been reported in several places to be Osama bin Laden’s brother in law. However, he has denied this and brought intense legal pressure to bear demanding retractions of these allegations. He has major partnership investments with the multibillion-dollar Binladin Group of companies, and he is a former director of BCCI, the infamous criminal drug-money laundering bank which performed a number of very useful services for the CIA before its 1991 collapse under criminal investigation by several countries.
19 Wall Street Journal, op. cit., September 28- 29, 2001. []
20 Kurt Eichenwald, “Bin Laden Family Liquidates Holdings with Carlyle Group,” New York Times, October 26, 2001. []
21 Agence France Presse, April 17, 2003, “U.S. Gives Iraqi Rebuilding Contract to Bechtel.” [Multiple sources: search term: Bechtel]
22 Wall Street Journal, op. cit., September 28- 29, 2001.
23 “The Best Enemies Money Can Buy,” FTW, Vol. IV, no. 7, October 15, 2001, pp. 13-15. []
24 Dan Brody, “Carlyle’s Way: Making a Mint Inside ‘The Iron Triangle’ of Defense, Government, and Industry,” January 8, 2002, [Mirror:]
25 Thompson, op. cit.
26 Ibid.
27 Ibid.
28 Michel Chossudovsky, “Osamagate,” Centre for Research on Globalisation, October 9, 2001, [Updated link:]
29 Ibid.
30 Chossudovsky, op. cit.
31 “KLA Rebels Train in Terrorist Camps,” Washington Times, May 4, 1999. []
32 Jared Israel, “Bin Laden, Terrorist Monster: Take Two!” The Emperor’s Clothes website, October 9, 2001, []
33 Michel Chossudovsky, “Who Is Osama Bin Laden?” Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG), Montréal; posted September 12, 2001, []
34 “Startling Revelations by French Intelligence Experts Back David Shayler’s Alleged ‘Fantasy’ about Gadaffi Plot,” Guardian/Observer, November 10, 2002 []
35 Michael C. Ruppert, “Osama Bin Laden — A CIA Creation and its Blowback,” FTW, Vol. I, no. 7, September 19, 1998, p. 4. [Not on the FTW archive. Poss. paper publication.]
36 “Conspiracy of Silence by Arnaud de Borchgrave,” UPI Commentary, November 18, 2002. []

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Please find links to previously released excerpts below with footnotes, which are the bulk of the work for this project. Crossing the Rubicon is over 700 pages long with upwards of 1,000 footnotes requiring updating since its 2004 release. From The Wilderness web links are estimated at double or triple that amount. Mike's administrative team sincerely appreciates your support of his legacy. TRC does not receive commission from sales of Crossing the Rubicon. Book sales help the administrator who granted permission to TRC to share excerpts and official web hosting duties.

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Jan. 8, 2012: Petroleum Man

Jan. 9, 2012: A Simple Exercise

Jan. 20, 2012: Unholy Trinity / Part One

Jan. 21, 2012: Unholy Trinity / Part Two