Jared Israel | 06.02.2002 08:47
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Gaping Holes in the 'CIA vs. bin Laden' Story
by Jared Israel
Below we have posted an article from the 'Times of India.' It reports that according to the BBC program, 'Newsnight,' the Bush administration told the FBI to back off from investigating the bin Laden family's terrorist connections before the attack on the World Trade Center.
According to the publication, 'Le Figaro,' a CIA agent visited Osama bin Laden last July. 'Figaro' reports that this meeting took place while bin Laden was being treated in the American Hospital in Dubai, one of the United Arab Emirates. (6)
You may have read the article we posted a few weeks ago, with excerpts from a congressional hearing last year on terrorism in South Asia. In that hearing, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher charged the Clinton administration with sabotaging efforts to arrest bin Laden. (4)
As more facts come to light it becomes increasingly evident that the official story, that Osama bin Laden broke with the U.S. Establishment and its Saudi Arabian junior partners a decade ago and has been trying to destroy the U.S. Empire ever since - is an invention. The claim made by the Clinton and Bush administrations, that they have tried, but unfortunately failed, to defeat the wily Mr. bin Laden is full of holes.
Here are a few of the bigger ones.
THE GULF WAR SCENARIO
According to the official story, bin Laden broke with the Saudi and U.S. governments over the Gulf War.
That may sound plausible to Western ears. After all, Iraq is an Arab country and bin Laden is an Arab.
But Iraq and Saudi Arabia are quite different. Saudi Arabia was and is tyrannized by the fanatical Fundamentalist Wahhabi sect, endorsed by the Saudi 'royal family' and by the rich bin Laden family as well. Iraq, by way of contrast, was a center of secular Arab culture.
Bin Laden spent the 1980s fighting a secular government (which was backed by Soviet troops) in Afghanistan. Then he returned to Saudi Arabia where:
"After Iraq's invasion of Kuwait he lobbied the Saudi royal family to organize civil defense in the kingdom and to raise a force from among the Afghan war veterans to fight Iraq." ('Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,' 23 September 2001 Sunday, Two Star Edition, pg. A-12, "How a Holy War against the Soviets turned on US" by Ahmed Rashid)
Why did he want "to raise a force ...to fight Iraq"?
Nobody can seriously argue that the Iraqis intended to attack Saudi Arabia. The argument between Iraq and Kuwait was over oil, and also over a geography that was inherited from colonial times. If you look at a map you will see that Kuwait looks like a tiny but strategic piece chopped out of Iraq. (For map, see http://home.achilles.net/~sal/icons/iraq.gif)
The Iraq-Kuwait fight was in fact a local war. All reports indicate that Saddam Hussein believed that a) Iraq was in essence being attacked by Kuwait and that therefore an invasion would be a counter-attack and b) that the U.S. would not intervene.
On Sept. 22, 1990, the 'N.Y. Times' published what is apparently an accurate transcript of a conversation between Saddam Hussein and U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie. This conversation took place on July 25, eight days before the outbreak of fighting. We will post the Glaspie-Hussein conversation as soon as possible. It is most interesting. In it, she suggests that the Bush administration understands the Iraqi point of view and does not wish to meddle in an Arab dispute. For instance, Amb. Glaspie says:
"...we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait...we see the Iraqi point of view that the measures taken by the U.A.E. and Kuwait is, in the final analysis, parallel to military aggression against Iraq." ('N.Y. Times, 22 September, 1990)
Since Hussein wanted to make sure of U.S. neutrality before taking action against Kuwait, and since Saudi Arabia is Washington's key Arab ally, with huge U.S. military bases, of which, of course, the Iraqi leaders were aware, it is simply not conceivable that Iraq planned to attack Saudi Arabia.
Thus, bin Laden had no defensive reason to call on "the Saudi royal family to organize civil defense in the kingdom" let alone "to raise a force from among the Afghan war veterans to fight Iraq."
So why did he take such a provocative stance?
The most reasonable explanations are a) that he wanted to crush Iraq because it was a secular Muslim state and b) that he was associated with the CIA and was attempting to increase tensions between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, or even to provoke Iraq into launching a preemptive strike against Saudi Arabia, thus giving the U.S. an excuse to attack Iraq.
In any event, it was clear bin Laden was not upset by the notion of fighting Iraq. Why then, according to the official story, did the Gulf War so upset him?
The official answer is, because it involved a Saudi-U.S. alliance, which he felt desecrated Saudi Arabia.
This is a little much to swallow. Bin laden had worked closely with U.S. forces - namely, the Central Intelligence Agency - as the representative of the Saudi 'royal family' in Afghanistan during the decade when the CIA nurtured Islamist forces to fight Afghan government and Soviet troops.
He was no idealistic holy man. He and his family made a fortune off the carnage in Afghanistan. (This is discussed below.)
Why should bin Laden suddenly go berserk because the Saudi Arabian government was doing exactly what he himself had done - as the representative of the Saudi Arabian government?
Because (according to the official story) the war brought tens of thousands of U.S. troops into Saudi Arabian bases and this massive infidel invasion desecrated Saudi Arabia's sacred soil. Horrified, he broke with the Saudi Arabian 'royal family' and the U.S.
CONSTRUCTION BIDS ARE THICKER THAN WATER
It's a compelling story, but no cigar. The sacred soil that the U.S. infidel soldiers supposedly desecrated was located in a series of top secret facilities built during the 1980s by the U.S. military at a cost (mostly to Saudi Arabia!) of - are you ready? - over 200 BILLION dollars. This was the largest U.S. military construction project ever attempted outside the continental USA. As a Public Television program reported in 1993:
"Scott Armstrong: A $200 billion program that's basically put together and nobody's paying attention to it. It's-- it's the ultimate government off the books...
"Scott Armstrong: The Saudis have been the principal backers and financers of the largest armaments system that the world has ever seen, in any region of the world, that includes over $95 billion worth of weapons that they bought themselves, includes another $65 billion worth of military infrastructure and ports that they've put in. We've managed to create an interlocking system that has one master control base, five sub-control bases, any one of which is capable of operating the whole thing, that are in hardened bunkers, that are hard-wired, that is to say, against nuclear blast or anything else. They created nine major ports that weren't there before, dozens of airfields all over the kingdom. They have now hundreds of modern American fighter planes and the capability of adding hundreds more. The Saudis alone have spent $156 billion that I can document line by line, item by item, on weapons system and infrastructure to support this." (FRONTLINE Show #1112 Air Date: February 16, 1993 "The Arming of Saudi Arabia". Scott Armstrong is a top investigative reporter for the 'Washington Post']
(For official PBS WebPage for the show, click here; for the transcript, click here)
The contracts for building those bases, ports, and airfields went in part to Saudi construction companies. Osama's family company, Saudi Binladin Group (the name is spelled differently but it's the same family) is intimate with the Saudi royal family; moreover it is the biggest Saudi construction company (and also a giant in the telecommunications field).
So as sure as death and taxes, Saudi Binladin Group got a nice chunk of that $200 billion. And while the bin Ladens were building those U.S. bases, who did Osama think was going to be using them? Martians?
DEMOLITION AND CONSTRUCTION
Getting back to the matter of construction contracts, consider what happened after the Khobar Towers complex in Dhahran was bombed on June 25, 1996. Osama bin Laden was accused by the U.S. of masterminding that bombing, which killed 19 U.S. airmen and wounded about 500 others.
Afterwards, a new 'super-secure' facility was erected:
"The facility very likely is the most heavily guarded operational installation used by the US military. This, clearly, is what retired Army Gen. Wayne A. Downing had in mind when in 1996 he released a report criticizing security at Khobar Towers and recommending more extensive force protection measures.
"… In a supreme irony, the complex was built by the giant contractor, Saudi Binladin Group -- owned by the same family that produced international terrorist Osama bin Laden, now an outcast in his homeland." ('Air Force Magazine,' February, 1999)
'Irony' is not exactly the word I would use, but OK.
Osama did some building for the infidels in Afghanistan as well. That was during the late 1980s. Under contract with the CIA, he and the family company built the multi-billion dollar "caves" (1) in which he is now, supposedly, hiding, thus causing the U.S. and Britain to bomb the Red Cross, the Red Crescent, and other strategic military installations:
"He brought in engineers from his father's company and heavy construction equipment to build roads and warehouses for the Mujaheddin. In 1986, he helped build a CIA-financed tunnel complex, to serve as a major arms storage depot, training facility and medical center for the Mujaheddin, deep under the mountains close to the Pakistan border."
('Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,' 23 September 2001 Sunday, Two Star Edition, pg. A-12, "How a Holy War against the Soviets turned on US" by Ahmed Rashid)
OH DEAR, DON'T SEND THAT AWFUL MAN TO US!
After supposedly breaking with the Saudi rulers - though we doubt the story - bin Laden went to Sudan. Soon the Sudanese tired of his presence. In March, 1996, Maj. Gen. Elfatih Erwa, then the Sudanese Minister of State for Defense, offered to extradite bin Laden either to Saudi Arabia or the United States.
"The Sudanese security services, he said, would happily keep close watch on bin Laden for the United States. But if that would not suffice, the government was prepared to place him in custody and hand him over, though to whom was ambiguous. In one formulation, Erwa said Sudan would consider any legitimate proffer of criminal charges against the accused terrorist." ('The Washington Post,' 3 October 2001)
U.S. officials turned down the offer of extradition. 'The Washington Post' article that reported this goes into some length quoting U.S. officials attempting to explain exactly why they turned down the offer. The officials are quoted explaining that the Saudis were afraid of a fundamentalist backlash if they jailed and executed bin Laden, that they resented Sudan, that the U.S. resented Sudan, that the U.S. didn't have sufficient evidence to put him on trial. Everything, in fact, except the simplest explanation: that bin Laden was a U.S. asset - either part of the CIA, or someone whom the CIA used. Perhaps the 'Washington Post' writers were hinting at this explanation when they wrote:
"And there were the beginnings of a debate, intensified lately, on whether the United States wanted to indict and try bin Laden or to treat him as a combatant in an underground war." ('The Washington Post,' 3 October 2001)
Emphasis on the word 'treat' as in 'pretend that he was.'
In any case, the Sudanese offer of extradition was turned down.
"[U.S. officials] said, 'Just ask him to leave the country. Just don't let him go to Somalia,' Erwa, the Sudanese general, said in an interview. 'We said he will go to Afghanistan, and they [US officials!] said, 'Let him.'"
"On May 15, 1996, Foreign Minister Taha sent a fax to Carney in Nairobi, giving up on the transfer of custody. His government had asked bin Laden to vacate the country, Taha wrote, and he would be free to go." ('The Washington Post,' 3 October 2001)
Note: "We said he will go to Afghanistan, and they [US officials!] said, 'Let him.'"
I find this chilling.
THAT WOULD BE ILLEGAL!
It is mind boggling that U.S. government officials would try to justify rejecting Sudan's offer to extradite bin Laden because the Clinton administration was 'lacking a case to indict him in U.S. courts at the time,' ('WP', 3 Oct.) Do they think Americans have no ability to remember what happened the day before yesterday? For example, that this same U.S. government didn't hesitate to bomb Sudan, Iraq and Yugoslavia, all of which bombings constituted the worst criminal violations of international law? Not to mention Afghanistan.
Not to mention the Red Cross. (5)
Moreover, according to the highly reputable 'Jane's Intelligence Review:'
"In February 1995, US authorities named bin Laden and his Saudi brother-in-law, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, among 172 unindicted co-conspirators with the 11 Muslims charged for the World Trade Center bombing and the associated plot to blow up other New York landmarks." ('Jane's Intelligence Review,' 1 October 1995)
So bin Laden had been named as an unindicted co-conspirator a year before Sudan offered to extradite him.
Why couldn't the U.S. government have accepted the Sudanese offer to extradite bin Laden? Why couldn't they have jailed him, gotten together their best case and put him on trial? What exactly did the U.S. government have to lose? The worst that could have happened would have been that they failed to convict him and had to let him leave the country...
JUST LET HIM GO, OH, ANYWHERE. MAYBE TO - AFGHANISTAN!
Instead, the U.S. asked Sudan to expel bin Laden, knowing full well that he would go to Afghanistan - and Kosovo and Macedonia. (2)
By the way, two years later, the U.S. military bombed Sudan, supposedly because the Sudanese government was allied with bin Laden. Doesn't it sound like bin Laden's real friends were not in Sudan, as President Clinton tried to convince the world when he sent cruise missiles to destroy a Sudanese medicine factory, but in the U.S. State Department?
There is so much about bin Laden that suggests he is still in some way associated with the CIA:
* His activities in Afghanistan prior to 1990;
* His activities on the "U.S. side" in Bosnia, Kosovo and, quite recently, in Macedonia; (2)
* The refusal of the Clinton administration to allow Sudan to extradite him in 1996;
* The very convincing arguments by Congressman Rohrabacher that the Clinton administration sabotaged efforts to apprehend him (4);
* His functioning as a lightning rod for dissenters - getting people who oppose U.S. policy to support his ultra-repressive Islamist politics. This is discussed in the article, 'Bin Laden, Terrorist Monster.' Take Two!, which can be read at http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/jared/taketwo.htm;
* His amazing transformation regarding the World Trade Center attack. At first he denied involvement, saying "that dozens of terrorists organizations from countries like Israel, Russia, India and Serbia could be responsible" (i.e., it was the work of Satan) and "insisted that al Qaida does not consider the United States its enemy." But a week later he issued a video tape where he said "God Almighty hit the United States at its most vulnerable spot....When Almighty God rendered successful a convoy of Muslims, the vanguards of Islam, He allowed them to destroy the United States. I ask God Almighty to elevate their status and grant them Paradise." This latter statement was pre-recorded and released immediately after the U.S. government started bombing Afghanistan, that is, precisely when Mr. Bush needed the emotional impact of just such a statement in order to 'justify' yet another illegal war; (3)
* And now this report from the BBC that the Bush administration suppressed investigations into connections between members of the bin Laden family and possible terrorist groups.
Doesn't all this point to a working relationship between U.S. covert forces and Mr. b. L?
"WE ARE DEADLY ENEMIES, SO TAKE THESE 400 TRUCKS, O CURSED ONE!"
Earlier I said I doubted the reality of the 'break' between bin Laden and the Saudi Royals. According to the book, "Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia,'' by Ahmed Rashid, who is the Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asian correspondent for the 'Far Eastern Economic Review':
"Surprisingly, just a few weeks before the U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa, the book tells us...'In July 1998 Prince Turki had visited Kandahar and a few weeks later 400 new pick-up trucks arrived in Kandahar for the Taliban, still bearing their Dubai license plates.''' (Quoted in 'The creation called Osama,' by Shamsul Islam. Can be read at
They were all, I am told, Toyotas.
One final point. Part of the official Osama story is that the elusive Mr. bin Laden broke with his family because of his extreme Fundamentalist religious-politics.
Let us consider a few pieces of information which might suggest we adopt a stance of extreme skepticism:
1) "...when Osama bin Laden decided to join the non-Afghan fighters with the Mujaheddin, his family responded enthusiastically." ('Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,' 23 September 2001)
2) The entire family is known for its fiercely conservative Islamist (Wahhabi) views: "His father is known in these areas as a man with deeply conservative religious and political views and for his profound distaste for non-Islamic influences that have penetrated some of the most remote corners of old Arabia." UPI, quoted at http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2001/1/3/214858.shtml
2) It is true that families have feuds. In the typical U.S. family, wars may happen. People fight; they make peace.
But Osama does not come from a 'typical U.S. family.' He comes from an intensely conservative rural Yemeni clan. Such families don't have petty fights and stop talking to each other for ten years and then make up and it's no big deal:
"Though he grew up in the Saudi Arabian city of Jiddah, about 700 miles away across the Arabian peninsula, those who know him say he retains the characteristics of the people of this remote Yemeni region: extremely clannish and intensely conservative in their adherence to strict forms of Islam." http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2001/1/3/214858.shtml
3) If such clans do feud, it can get violent. And certainly, it is hard to believe that Osama would be disowned by this sort of clan-family (as the official story claims he was) but nevertheless maintain cordial relations with family members. Consider this report:
"[National Security] Agency officials have sometimes played tapes of bin Laden talking to his mother to impress members of Congress and select visitors to the agency." (quoted in 'Baltimore Sun', 24 April 2001)
"Bin Ladens building U.S. troops' housing
By Sig Christenson; Express-News Staff Writer
"Bin Laden family members have said they are estranged from their brother, who turned against the Saudi government after joining Muslim fighters following the Soviet Union's 1979 invasion of Afghanistan.
"But Yossef Bodansky, director of the House Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, said 'sama maintains connections' with some of his nearly two dozen brothers. He would not elaborate." ('San Antonio Express-News,' 14 September 1998)
And, finally, from 'Le Figaro':
"While he was hospitalised [in the American Hospital in Dubai in July, 2001], bin Laden received visits from many members of his family as well as prominent Saudis and Emiratis." (6)
The article from the 'Times of India' follows.
-- Jared Israel
[Correction: As originally posted, this article included a longer quote from the 23 September 2001 'Pittsburgh Post-Gazette': "His father backed the Afghan struggle [meaning: the U.S.-supported terrorist war against the Afghan government] and helped fund it; when Osama bin Laden decided to join the non-Afghan fighters with the Mujaheddin, his family responded enthusiastically."
Since Mohammed Awad bin Laden died in 1968, this is most likely a typographical error. It should most likely read, "His family."]
Bush took FBI agents off Laden family trail
'Times of India' 7 November 2001
BY RASHMEE Z AHMED
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
LONDON: America was itself to blame for the events of September 11 because the US administration was using "kid gloves" in tracking down Osama bin Laden and "other fanatics linked to Saudi Arabia", a special BBC investigation has alleged in a damning indictment of the two presidents Bush and American foreign policy.
The report, which the BBC claimed was based on a secret FBI document, numbered 199I WF213589 and emanating out of the FBI’s Washington field office, alleged that the cynicism of the American establishment and "connections between the CIA and Saudi Arabia and the Bush men and bin Ladens" may have been the real cause of the deaths of thousands in the World Trade Centre attacks.
The investigation, which featured in the BBC’s leading current affairs programme, Newsnight, said the FBI was told to "back off" investigating one of Osama bin Laden’s brothers, Abdullah, who was linked to "the Saudi-funded World Association of Muslim Youth (WAMY), a suspected terrorist organisation," whose accounts have still not frozen by the US treasury despite "being banned by Pakistan some weeks ago and India claiming it was linked to an organisation involved in bombing in Kashmir".
Newsnight said there was a long history of "shadowy" American connections with Saudi Arabia, not least the two presidents Bush’s "business dealings" with the bin Ladens and another more insidious link revealed by the former head of the American visa section in Jeddah.
The official said he had been concerned about visas issued to large numbers of "unqualified" men "with no family links or any links with America or Saudi Arabia", only to find out later that it "was not visa fraud" but part of a scheme in which young men "recruited by Osama bin Laden" were being sent for "terrorist training by the CIA" after which they were sent on to Afghanistan.
In a reiteration of a now well-known claim by one of George W Bush’s former business partners, the BBC said he made his first million 20 years ago on the back of a company financed by Osama’s elder brother, Salem. But it added the more disturbing assertion that both presidents Bush had lucrative stakes along with the bin Ladens in Carlyle Corporation, a small private company which has gone on to become one of America's biggest defence contractors. The bin Ladens sold their stake in Carlyle soon after September 11, it said.
American politicians later told the BBC programme that they rejected the accusation that the establishment had called the dogs of the intelligence agencies off the bin Ladens and the royal House of Saud because of a strategic interest in Saudi Arabia, which has the world's biggest oil reserve.
(c) 'Times of India,' 2001 Posted for Fair Use Only
Other stories on the BBC Newsnight report:
Emperor's Clothes Urgently Needs
1) 'Taliban Camps U.S. bombed in Afghanistan Were Built by NATO'. Based on 'N.Y. Times' article. Can be read at http://emperors-clothes.com/docs/camps.htm
2) 'Bin Laden in the Balkans.' Mainstream news reports that confirm bin Laden's support for terrorism - and, alas, the 'U.S.' side - in the Balkans. Can be read at http://emperors-clothes.com/news/binl.htm
3) "'Bin Laden, Terrorist Monster.' Take Two!," by Jared Israel. Can be read at http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/jared/taketwo.htm
4) 'Congressman: U.S. Set Up Anti-Taliban to be Slaughtered' Comments by Jared Israel followed by excerpts from congressional hearing. Can be read at http://emperors-clothes.com/misc/rohr.htm
(Full transcript of hearings can be read at
(5) 'Red Cross Spokesmen Refute Pentagon Lies'. An Interview by Emperor's Clothes with the Red Cross about the U.S. bombing of its Afghan facilities. Can be read at:
6) 'CIA AGENT ALLEGEDLY MET BIN LADEN IN JULY' . Translation of article from 'Le Figaro' can be read at:
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