Monday, April 7, 2008

Ties That Bind, Part 3

We continue now from Part 2.

With these next three excerpts, we conclude with Bush, the Saudi billionaire and the Islamists: the story a British firm is afraid to publish:

What Unger describes in his book is the kind of exploitation of oil-rich Saudis which has often been linked to US and British politicians in the last 30 years.

Mr Bin Mahfouz points out that he neither personally funded Harken nor paid anybody else to do so. On the other alleged business links, his lawyers, Kendall Freeman, say he "does not propose to comment".

But what gives the book a controversial edge is the linking of this phenomenon with the financing of terrorism. Unger accuses Mr Bin Mahfouz of making donations to Osama bin Laden.

Mr Bin Mahfouz has an answer to this: he says Osama's brother, Salem, asked him in 1988 to hand over $270,000 (£150,000) to Osama's cause. He believed it was going to Afghanistan. At that time, as he accurately says, this was entirely in line with US foreign policy.

And it was! At the time, the US was working closely with Pakistan's ISI supporting the mujahideen in the jihad against the Soviet Union, and Osama bin Laden was a leader/organizer for the mujahideen.

Of course, it makes us wonder to what extent Osama bin Laden is the "black sheep" of the bin Laden family, or at least at what point Osama's politics became disavowed among the bin Ladens.

"This donation was to assist the US-sponsored resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and was never intended nor, to the best of Sheikh Khalid's knowledge, ever used to fund any 'extension' of that resistance movement in other countries."

Similarly, Mr Bin Mahfouz has an answer to Unger's repetition of the charge, based on more recent allegations by US Treasury officials, that officials of Muwafaq, an international Islamic charity launched in 1991 by Mr Bin Mahfouz, went on to funnel money to al-Qaida. He was unaware of this, he says, and has appointed lawyers to investigate Muwafaq.

As far as his own National Commercial Bank (NCB) is concerned, Mr Bin Mahfouz's lawyer says: "Like upper management at any other major banking institution, Khalid Bin Mahfouz was not, of course, aware of every wire transfer moving through the bank. Had he known of any transfers that were going to fund al-Qaida or terrorism, he would not have permitted them. At no time did Khalid Bin Mahfouz have any knowledge or reason to believe that members of the Saudi royal family were transferring funds to Muslim charities that were sending funds to al-Qaida."

That I find a little hard to believe.

Another of Unger's points is that Saleh Idris, the owner of the alleged al-Qaida Sudan pharmaceutical factory bombed by the US in 1998, was an associate of Mr Bin Mahfouz, being deputy manager of the NCB.

Mr Bin Mahfouz's response is: "The Clinton administration initially claimed that the plant was financed by Bin Laden based upon the mistaken assumption that it was owned by a Sudanese government corporation. This was withdrawn after it was discovered that it was privately owned by Mr Idris. The administration then accused Mr Idris of association with terrorism and froze his assets. But the US declined to defend this claim in a legal action brought by Mr Idris and released his assets. The international press has been virtually uniform in its conclusion that the bombing of the El-Shifa plant was a mistake."

Had the US perhaps made a mistake going after that factory? Perhaps faulty intelligence? If so, it wouldn't be the first time.

In any case, the connections between Sheikh bin Mahfouz and terrorism go far beyond the little bit in this post. You hopefully are familiar with the contents of Part 1 and Part 2, as well as with the Ehrenfeld case in general (see the links in the sidebar and please visit Dr. Ehrenfeld's website).

In particular, the point from these posts centers, on the one hand, on the ties between Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz and terrorists, and, on the other hand, between Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz and US President George W. Bush. Sheikh bin Mahfouz is just a middleman with ties to both Osama bin Laden and President Bush.

Beyond that, even if you take Sheikh bin Mahfouz out of the equation, there are other ties between Bush and bin Laden -- the names change, but these two are removed from each other by just one changing name.

In general, the ties between President Bush and the Saudis run very deep, as do the ties between the Saudis and Islamic terrorism.

With that thought in mind, let us now review an article written by Douglas Farah, entitled Saudi Arabia's Terror Finance Problem, also found at Family Security Matters (see the originals for links which I did not reproduce).

There is little willingness to tackle the Saudis anymore on the issue of cracking down on terror finance. Intelligence services here and in Europe know most of the money for the mujahadeed in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere still come from wealthy donors in the Kingdom.

Only a handful of officials, however, dare to say so publicly anymore for fear of ruffling the feathers of those who keep our gas prices above $3 a gallon and will not allow a Bible, Torah or any other non-Muslim book into their country.

The exception has been Stuart Levey, the Treasury undersecretary for terror finance issues, who recently and publicly took on the Saudis in little-noted Congressional testimony. Fortunately, the LA Times did notice.

"Saudi Arabia today remains the location where more money is going to terrorism, to Sunni terror groups and to the Taliban than any other place in the world," Levey said under questioning.

U.S. officials have previously identified Saudi Arabia as a major source of funding for extremism. But Levey’s comments were notable because, although reluctant to directly criticize a close U.S. ally, he acknowledged frustration with administration efforts to persuade the Saudis and others to act.

"We continue to face significant challenges as we move forward with these efforts, including fostering and maintaining the political will among other governments to take effective and consistent action," Levey said, later adding: "Our work is not nearly complete."

One of the more interesting parts of the story, however, is not just what Stuart said, but the Saudi recognition that he was right, and that, in essence, the Saudi government has repeatedly lied to the U.S. government over the steps the Kingdom has taken to crack down.

For example more than two years ago, the Saudis assured then-Rep. Sue Kelly (R-NY) that the Kingdom, as promised in 2003, had set up a financial intelligence unit and a commission to oversee the financial dealings of charities, many which have had ties to funding terrorist activities.

Now, Saudi spokesman Nail Jubeir (brother of ambassador Adel Jubeir) "confirmed that Saudi Arabia has not set up the financial intelligence unit or charity commission, but said it was cracking down on the financiers of terrorism in other ways, such as making it illegal for anyone to send money outside the kingdom 'without going through official government channels.'"

An interesting look at how worthwhile the written assurances from the royal family are, as they had been given repeatedly on those two precise issues.

But the larger issue, to me, is the one expressed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore), the Saudi failures mean that Americans who pay more than $100 a barrel for oil are in effect bankrolling extremism because wealthy Saudis “back-door” their profits into charities that fund extremist causes.

There it is in a nutshell. Our money pays for them to pay those who want to kill us. The irony is hard to laugh at.

It's not just our money via oil, though, that ultimately pays for all this terrorism; recall what Sibel Edmonds said:

Did Speaker Hastert Accept Turkish Bribes to Deny Armenian Genocide and Approve Weapons Sales?, an interview with Amy Goodman, 2005

Sibel Edmonds: [snip] They are not speaking about the link between the narcotics and al Qaeda. Yes, we are hearing about them coming down on some charities as the real funds behind al Qaeda, but most of al Qaeda's funding is not through these charity organizations. It's through narcotics. And have you heard anything to this date, anything about these issues which we have had information since 1997? And as I would again emphasize, we are talking about countries. And they are blocking this information, and also the fact that certain officials in this country are engaged in treason against the United States and its interests and its national security, be it the Department of State or certain elected officials.

And now you see why Bush is so eager to allow his friends the Saudis to buy up America.

An Interview with Sibel Edmonds, Page Three by Chris Deliso, July 1, 2004

CD: What are they so afraid of?

SE: They're afraid of information, of the truth coming out, and accountability -- the whole accountability issue that will arise. But it's not as complicated as it might seem. If they were to allow the whole picture to emerge, it would just boil down to a whole lot of money and illegal activities.

CD: Hmm, well I know you can't name names, but can you tell me if any specific officials will suffer if your testimony comes out?

SE: Yes. Certain elected officials will stand trial and go to prison.

We have the best military in the world, but they can't seem to defeat Al Qaeda. Six and a half years after 9/11, Osama bin Laden is still at large. And we are being told this war will not end any time soon.

And, now you know why.

CNN EVANS, NOVAK, HUNT & SHIELDS: Interview With General Richard Myers April 6, 2002

HUNT: The Big Question for General Myers: One embarrassment for the U.S. has been that, in almost seven months after 9/11, we still haven't captured Osama bin Laden. With the apprehension this week of one of his top lieutenants, have we gotten enough information to be any closer to maybe finally getting bin Laden?

MYERS: Well, if you remember, if we go back to the beginning of this segment, the goal has never been to get bin Laden. Obviously, that's desirable.

"If you got a fire and you can't put it out
got a Bushfire"

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