The War at Home: Federal Law Enforcement Officials Follow International Terrorism’s Money Trail from Northern Virginia to Saudi Arabia, but President Bush Says That’s Far Enough
A Special Report from Democrats.com
29 April 2002
By David Lytel
In an exclusive interview with Democrats.com, French intelligence analyst Jean-Charles Brisard, co-author with Guillaume Dasquie of Bin Laden: The Hidden Truth said they stand by their version of events first published last November, that the September 11 attacks followed the breakdown of secret negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban. More recently, Brisard reports, new information has come to light that reveals the extent of Saudi Arabia’s role in financing terrorist activities against Americans and Israelis.
A series of raids last month against Saudi-financed organizations headquartered in Northern Virginia – still largely unreported in the U.S. – have created a considerable conflict inside the U.S. government between law enforcement officials seeking to cut off funding for international terrorism and diplomatic and political officials unwilling to permit investigations that would undermine the regime in power in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Crown Price Abdullah met with President Bush last week. Bush’s claim that the two formed a “strong personal bond” indicates that the Bush White House will continue to shield the Saudis from investigations by U.S. law enforcement officials that would expose their role in funding worldwide terrorism.
“Saudi Arabia still plays a major role in sponsoring fundamentalism around the world,” reports Brisard, “and while there have been police raids recently against Arab and Muslim charities in Northern Virginia, on that score little has changed. Many of the organizations cited by the U.S. government as supporting Hamas and other terrorist organizations continue to operate because they are protected by Saudi Arabia.” He cited as an example the Al Aqsa Islamic Bank in the Arab-controlled West Bank, in which a principle shareholder is Saleh Kamel, a Saudi who is Saudi King Faud’s brother-in-law.
A U.S. Treasury Department task force called Operation Green Quest raided a number of Muslim and Arab charities in Northern Virginia on March 20. These charities help pass money and provide logistical support for terrorists, according to Brisard. He cites as one example the Saar Foundation in Herndon, Virginia. Brisard reports that it was created by Cherif Sedky, an American living in Jedda, Saudi Arabia who serves as a legal counsel to Khaled ben Mahfouz, who is Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law and collaborator. This and other charities are an important conduit for Saudi money so that it can reach Al Qaeda and other terrorist networks, says Brisard, who has written about this topic for the French intelligence agencies and whose coverage of this aspect is included as an appendix to Bin Laden: The Hidden Truth.
“While some have been shut down, most of the so-called charities controlled by Saudi families in Northern Virginia and elsewhere are still in operation,” according to Brisard. “The assets of some of these organizations have been frozen, but the Saudi sponsors have not been touched and the most important work remains to be done,” he said.
Brisard did not speculate as how the conflict between the U.S. Treasury Department’s hot pursuit of the financial underwriting of terrorism to its sources in Saudi Arabia and the Bush Administration and Bush family’s ties to the Saudi royal family would ultimately be resolved. He observed, however, that the Bush Administration is deliberately avoiding addressing the underlying sources of funds for international terrorism since the Saudis and their oil fields are vital for the petroleum-dependent U.S. economy and are the single most important client in the world for military protection by the U.S. government as well as long time business associates of the Bush family.
As originally reported by Dasquie and Brisard in their book, the September 11 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center were the direct result of a disasterous failure of U.S. foreign policy that confused the interest of American oil companies with the interests of the American people. As the book details, a U.S. delegation led by Ambassador to Pakistan Tom Simons met on numerous occasions with high ranking Taliban officials in the spring and early summer of 2001. The Americans sought the turnover of Osama bin Laden and Afghan approval for the construction of an oil and gas pipeline through their country by a consortium of oil companies led by California-based Unocal. In return, the U.S. offered to permit the Taliban to sell its oil on world markets, to deliver direct foreign aid assistance and take other steps to informally recognize the Taliban as the legitmate government of Afganistan despite its deplorable human rights record.
According to participants in these talks, the Americans made it clear to the Taliban that unless it accepted this “carpet of gold” they would be buried in a “carpet of bombs” that would destroy Afghanistan, just as much of Iraq had been reduced to rubble after its invasion of Kuwait. The Taliban refused to accept this offer and the talks broke down in July 2001. The most straightforward explanation for the September 11 attacks is that they were a first strike against U.S. targets by Al Qaeda forces trying to anticipate a promised future U.S. attack on Afghanistan. This version of the prelude to the September 11 attacks, which killed more Americans any other attack in the nation’s history, has been widely reported abroad but has still not yet been taken up by any major commercial news organizations in the U.S.
Dasquie and Brisard’s book will be published in English this summer by Nation Books, but until then it continues to be available only in the original French. Dasquie is editor-in-chief of IntelligenceOnline.com and Brisard formerly headed up the economic analysis and strategy division of the French conglomerate Vivendi and has written about Al-Qaeda for the French intelligence agencies.
The essential elements of the story reported by Dasquie and Brisard last November have been subsequently confirmed. The U.S. Department of State has confirmed that there were high level contacts between the U.S. and the Taliban prior in the spring and summer of 2001. The book’s reporting of the role of Khaled ben Mahfouz as an agent of Osama bin Laden has been confirmed by the U.S. government. The charities with which he has been associated have since been closed or are under investigation or have had their assets frozen.
The Saudi role in financing terrorism is also available from public sources. As first reported in the Weekly Standard three weeks ago, the Web site of Saudi Arabia’s Washington Embassy’s (www.saudiembassy.com) reveals that the Kingdom pledged $400 million last year for the support of the families of Islamic martyrs. The site also reports that compenstion for the family of a martyr has been set at $5,300, which as Stephen Schwartz points out in the Weekly Standard would suggest support for approximately 75,000 martyrs. This either represents a considerable escalation in the current rate of almost daily suicide bombings against targets in Israel, or suggests that the Saudis are prepared to compensate the families of a suicide bomber at the rate of one a day for another 205 years.