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FTR #382 The Untouchables

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Updating the FTR inquiry into: the Al Taqwa nexus; the Muslim Brotherhood; the elements of Al Taqwa and the Muslim Brotherhood that overlap the targets of Operation Green Quest’s 3/20/2002 raid; and the Al Taqwa/MB/Green Quest elements overlapping the GOP’s ethnic outreach organization; this broadcast highlights the growing body of evidence linking these elements to the events in and around the 9/11 attacks. Of particular significance is Youssef Nada’s alleged connection to Third Reich intelligence, the Muslim Brotherhood’s links to the Reich and the other individuals and institutions connecting those three elements.

1. The title of this broadcast is an ironic reference to the Treasury Department investigators working under the fabled Eliot Ness. The statutes used by Ness are being used against some of the Saudi funding conduits and Islamic charities that have been used to support Osama bin Laden, among other elements. Because some of these funding conduits involve business networks and political connections that have (so far) remained inviolable, it is the targets of the Treasury investigators and not the investigators who have remained, to this point, “untouchable.” Beginning with a frank admission of the partial failure of the effort to interdict terrorist funding, the program highlights this key element of the war on terror, now taking a backseat to the impending military action against Iraq-an action Mr. Emory feels may lead the U.S. into a trap that has been laid by the Underground Reich. “The US acknowledged yesterday that its year-long effort to shut down financial support for terrorist groups had failed to impair the ability of al-Qaeda to launch further terrorist strikes. Alan Larson, US Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs, told the Senate finance committee: ‘It is unfortunately accurate to say that these organizations still have access to sufficient funds to carry out operations that will be very damaging to American citizens and to our national security.’ The admission came as a US grand jury yesterday indicted the head of a Saudi-backed charity on racketeering and conspiracy charges, alleging he diverted charitable funds to al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. The Bush administration has been struggling to decide what steps to take to block the flow of funds to al-Qaeda, a critical component of US efforts to cripple the terrorist organization.”

“The United Nations reported last month that al-Qaeda continues to operate a large portfolio of ostensibly legitimate businesses worth from $30m to $300m and that private donations from wealthy supporters of al-Qaeda, totaling as much as $16m a year, ‘continue largely unabated.’ Mr. Larson said that, while the US disputes the accuracy of some of those figures, it is ‘unquestionably true’ that al-Qaeda retains the financial resources to undertake missions that would cause serious harm to the US. ‘I don’t think lack of access to resources is a major impediment to the operations of terrorist organizations at this stage,’ he said. . .” (“US Admits Clampdown on Funding Is Failing” by Edward Alden; Financial Times; 10/10/2002; p.2.)

2. One of the Islamic charities that has been charged under the “Ness” statutes is Benevolence International. That organization and one of its key Saudi backers (Adel Batterjee) have allegedly been involved with Al Qaeda and Bin Laden. “The US says Enaam M Arnaout, executive-director of Benevolence International Foundation (BIF), engaged in a conspiracy to raise money from Muslim donors on the pretence that the funds would be used for humanitarian purposes. Adel Batterjee, a wealthy Saudi who set up the charity in the 1980’s, was named as a co-conspirator. The indictment alleges the charity mingled funds from unnamed wealthy Saudis who knew they were contributing to al-Qaeda with charitable donations. In one 15-month period from June 2000 to September 2001, the indictment says, the conspirators transferred $1.4m in funds from a Union Bank of Switzerland account to BIF’s US checking account, where the funds were commingled with other donations and distributed abroad. The US says Mr. Arnaout systematically concealed from the government and his donors a 10-year history of support for al-Qaeda, including a personal relationship with Osama bin Laden.” (Idem.) Whether or not it is relevant in this context, it is interesting to note that the Union Bank is a key Bormann/I.G. Farben-related bank.

3. More detail about the charges against Benevolence International comes from a recent Los Angeles TimesIt also disclosed that when authorities raided a Benevolence International office in Bosnia in March, they found a treasure trove of incriminating Al Qaeda documents, including details of how the group officially was formed on September 10, 1998; top Saudi Arabian financiers of the terror network; the text of the original oath of allegiance pledged by Al Qaeda members; and personnel files of individual moujahedeen, or Islamic warriors, trained in Afghanistan under Bin Laden’s direction. ‘The documents . . . show the American people and the world for the first time tangible proof of the founding of the world’s most dangerous terrorist network and the oath of allegiance its members pledge,’ Ashcroft said. ‘It is chilling that the origins of Al Qaeda were discovered in a charity claiming to do good.'” (“Head of Islamic Charity Is Indicted” by Josh Meyer; Los Angeles Times; 10/10/2002; p. A8.)

“The seized documents also showed that in the mid-to late 1980’s, Arnaout served as the director of communications at a moujahedeen camp in Afghanistan under the direction of Bin Laden. While there, the indictment alleged, Arnaout was involved in acquiring and distributing hundreds of rockets, mortars and bombs on behalf of jihad causes.” (Idem.) article. ”

4. Benevolence International has allegedly been involved with trying to obtain nuclear and chemical weapons for Al Qaeda. “One Chicago-based FBI agent said in an affidavit that terrorists who have tried to obtain chemical and nuclear weapons on behalf of Al Qaeda have had contacts with Benevolence International offices and personnel.” (Idem.)

5. The Saudi charity network has been involved with supporting Al Qaeda elements in Chechnya. “The group also has made efforts to provide Chechen rebels and a related military group with money, an X-ray machine and anti-mine boots, the FBI agent said.” (Idem.)

6. Underscoring the theme element of the broadcast, the program further develops the utilization of the Ness-era statutes against some of these Al Qaeda-supporting charity networks. “U.S. prosecutors, finding terror-financing cases tough to prove despite new antiterror laws, are adopting the kind of racketeering and tax charges used against public enemies from Al Capone to John Gotti. The Justice Department yesterday filed a lengthy indictment in Chicago against a Muslim activist it suspects of channeling money to al Qaeda. He is charged with heading a racketeering conspiracy engaged in mail fraud, wire fraud, obstruction of justice and money laundering. A charge of support for terrorism is last on the list and doesn’t need to be proved for a conviction. The activist, Enaam Arnaout, is an alleged confidant of Osama bin Laden, who the government says used his Benevolence International Foundation as an al Qaeda front in Bosnia and Chechnya.” (“U.S. Tries ‘Al Capone” Tax Charges In Some Terror-Financing Cases” by Glenn R. Simpson [with Kelly Spors]; Wall Street Journal; 10/10/2002; p. A1.)

7. The Benevolence International investigation has apparently served as a paradigm for moving against the “Untouchables” targeted in the 3/20/2002 raids. (Of particular interest in this regard is the intercession on behalf of the targets by Talat Othman, a long-standing business partner of George Bush.) “Prosecutors also are quietly trying to build a similar fraud-and-money-laundering case against a group of Muslim activists in Northern Virginia, people familiar with the matter say. In that probe, investigators say, the government has obtained evidence that large sums were secretly transferred from the U.S. to Islamic groups under suspicion in Bosnia for supporting terrorism. The Virginia entities are mostly controlled by Muhammad Yaqub Mirza, a Pakistani immigrant well-known in Muslim circles as a money manager for wealthy Saudis. Mr. Mirza and several of his closest business associates have played key roles in some dominant Muslim groups in the United States. In a June court filing, the Justice Department said an official of one of Mr. Mirza’s charities has ‘established links to Osama bin Laden and other members of al Qaeda.’ Mr. Mirza’s attorney says he hasn’t committed any wrongdoing.” (Idem.)

“Congress passed the Patriot Act in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks intending to smooth the way to investigating and prosecuting suspected terrorist activities. In many cases, investigators have managed to track the flow of money through the complex web of organizations and individuals they think are financing terrorism. But distinctions between profit and nonprofit businesses and between charities and radical groups are muddy. It’s generally not clear who’s really in control of the money and who knows that the ultimate goal of the funds is to finance terrorism. And often, clarifying those points would require relying on sensitive intelligence. ‘The preference would be to nail them on material support for terrorism. That is very hard to do,’ said former FBI terrorism analyst Mathew Levitt, a veteran of the Justice Department’s largely fruitless terrorism investigations of the 1990’s into U.S. Islamic groups. ‘Pre-9/11, there was a hesitancy to ‘Al Capone’ people,’ he added. No longer. ‘It is definitely the way to go when material support [for terrorism] is not in the cards,’ he said.” (Ibid.; pp. A1-A8.)

The specific reference to Ness/Capone is underscored in the following passage. “Prosecutors are particularly focused on potential tax-law violations they have found in probing the charitable status of tax-exempt groups set up by U.S.-based Muslim activists. The tax-evasion strategy was made famous in the 1920’s by Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon and his top investigator, Elliot Ness, who examined gangster Al Capone’s books to charge him with evading income taxes. ‘We are not going to ignore an IRS or tax violation. . . . Absolutely, we’re going to go after that,’ said Jimmy Gurule, the treasury Department’s undersecretary for enforcement and the head of its campaign against terror financiers.” (Ibid.; p. A8.)

8. The article sets forth the link of the al-Rajhi family to the Al Taqwa-connected targets of the 3/20/2002 raids. “The strategy is likely to have fallout for the U.S. government’s relationship with one of its closest Mideast allies, Saudi Arabia. Wealthy Saudi citizens are among the biggest backers of the U.S.-based Islamic charities the Justice Department is investigating. In yesterday’s Chicago indictment, prosecutors explicitly identified a wealthy Saudi, Adel Batterjee, as a member of the Benevolence International Foundation’s alleged ‘criminal enterprise.’ He couldn’t be located for comment. In the Virginia case, investigators believe most of the funds involved come from the al-Rajhi banking family of Saudi Arabia, another wealthy and prominent business clan. Bank and corporate records, some obtained by a Washington nonprofit group called the National Security News Service, show that the Virginia charities were an integral part of a large business empire, much of it devoted to profit-making activities including poultry-farming and real-estate speculation.” (Idem.)

9. One should not fail to note the presence in this milieu of the bin Mahfouz family, very closely connected to the Bush family, as well as Al Qaeda. “One of the Virginia charities under investigation, the Success Foundation, also received funds from a company in the Netherlands Antilles called Pathfinder Investments NV, controlled by the bin Mahfouz family of Saudi Arabia. The family said in a statement that it intended its $100,000 donation ‘would be used solely for appropriate charitable purposes’ such as food and health services. The Muslim activists who run many of the charities in the Virginia investigation told the IRS in a 1998 tax filing that some $9million flowed from one of their charities, the SAAR Foundation, to another charity called the Humana Charitable Trust in the Isle of Man. But Isle of Man officials said no such charity is registered. The tiny, semi-independent country in the Irish Sea is known to law-enforcement authorities as a haven for tax evasion and money-laundering. U.S. officials believe some money from the Virginia groups passed instead through a private, unregistered trust on the Isle of Man known as Happy Hearts, then moved to other countries. Some funds linked to the Virginia activists allegedly went to a group called Human Appeal International. Bosnian intelligence officials have alleged that Human Appeal served as a front for terrorists there. The FBI alleges that Human Appeal is associated with Hamas, the Islamic terror group operating in the West Bank Gaza. . . .” (Idem.)

10. Highlighting an element that is developed more completely later on in this broadcast, the program notes evidentiary tributaries connecting the Benevolence International investigation with the Virginia case. “In the Chicago case, prosecutors say Benevolence director Arnaout was a top aide to Mr. bin Laden who obtained weapons for al Qaeda. The group also is alleged to have provided travel documents for an al Qaeda founder, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim. But some of the allegations are that he defrauded his donors by falsely claiming the funds would be used for humanitarian purposes and committed tax fraud by lying to the IRS about BIF’s finances. Lawyers representing BIF and Mr. Arnaout denied the allegations that the charity ever supported Mr. bin Laden or other terrorist groups and called their client ‘a pawn in the war on terrorism.’ The Chicago and Virginia cases may be related. According to terrorism researcher Rita Katz, a Muslim activist who is listed in corporate records as one of the people who helped set up Benevolence, Hassan Bahafadhallah, also is listed as an official of at least two of the Virginia groups.” (Idem.)

11. A very important article from the Washington Post draws more closely the connecting links between Al Taqwa, the Muslim Brotherhood, the targets of the 3/20 raids, and Al Qaeda. “Six months after they raided the Northern Virginia headquarters of some of the nation’s most respected Muslim leaders, federal agents say they are pursuing a trail of intriguing clues in a top-priority search for evidence of tax evasion and financial ties to terrorists. Federal and European investigators say that several lines of inquiry have emerged from their review of documents and computer files they carted off in a dozen panel trucks from offices and homes affiliated with the Herndon-based SAAR Foundation, a tight-knit cluster of prominent Muslim groups funded by wealthy Saudis. One avenue of investigation is the alleged transfer of millions of dollars from the SAAR network to two overseas bankers who have been designated by the U.S. government as terrorist financiers. Another is the network officials’ history of ties to the militant Muslim Brotherhood. (“U.S. Trails Va. Muslim Money, Ties” by Douglas Farah and John Mintz; Washington Post; 10/7/2002; p.1.)

12. Note the connections between the SAAR Foundation, its founder al-Rajhi and the Third Reich-connected milieu that we have examined in connection with al Taqwa and the Muslim Brotherhood. “A third part of the investigation concerns a key mystery: whether an astonishing $1.8 billion in gifts passed through the SAAR Foundation in a single year, 1998. SAAR leaders reported that sum on a tax form, but later said it was a clerical error. Agents are struggling to sort through and translate rooms full of documents — many in Arabic — and chasing leads in 17 countries. U.S. officials call the investigation one of the highest priorities of Operation Green Quest, the U.S. Customs Service task force formed after the Sept. 11 attacks to wage a financial war on terror. The probe is part of a global crackdown the U.S. government has launched to stem the funding of terror groups since Sept. 11, 2001. That crackdown has targeted a number of large Muslim charities here and abroad. The SAAR network consists of more than 100 Muslim think tanks, charities and companies, many of which are linked by overlapping boards of directors, shared offices and the circular movement of money, according to tax forms and federal investigators. The network, named for Sulaiman Abdul Aziz Rajhi, the patriarch of the Saudi family that funded it, gives to charities, invests in companies and sponsors research, all with a goal of fostering the growth of Islam. The SAAR Foundation officially dissolved in December 2000, and many of its functions were taken over by another group, Safa Trust, run by many of the same people.” (Ibid.; pp. 1-2.)

13. Touching on the Florida lawsuit filed by the heroic John Loftus, culminating in the 3/20 raids against the SAAR-related entities, the program sets forth some of the particulars about the connections to Youssef Nada / bank Al Taqwa milieu. “Government officials say the investigation of the SAAR groups, which began with a probe of anti-Israel activists in Florida in 1996 and intensified after the Sept. 11 attacks, has not traced money from the SAAR entities to the al Qaeda terrorist network. But U.S. and European investigators say they have uncovered information in the Bahamas and Europe that in recent years some SAAR entities’ funds have moved to two men, Youssef Nada and Ahmed Idris Nasreddin, designated by the United States as terrorist financiers.” (Ibid.; p. 2.)

14. Note that Pier Felice Barchi, attorney for Ahmed Idris Nasreddin (as well as Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Youssef Nada), has some very interesting connections. “The funds moved through two offshore banks in the Bahamas that the pair controlled, officials said. The institutions, Bank al Taqwa and Akida Bank Private Ltd., have been designated conduits for terrorist funds by the U.S. Treasury Department. In recent months they were shut down by Bahamian authorities under U.S. pressure. In an August report, Treasury said that the banks “have been involved in financing radical groups” including Hamas and al Qaeda, both before and after the Sept. 11 attacks. Bank al Taqwa and Akida Bank were described by the Treasury Department on Aug. 29 as “shell companies” that were “not functional banking institutions.” Nada and Nasreddin said they have done nothing wrong and pointed out that thousands of businesses use offshore havens like the Bahamas. In March, Nada told reporters he is a legitimate businessman and has never funded terror. Nasreddin could not be reached for comment, but his Geneva-based lawyer, P.F. Barchi, said in May that his client has no links to terror and abhors violence.”

15. The SAAR/Al Taqwa link is discussed at greater length. “U.S. officials say they believe that the SAAR network moved a total of about $20 million to offshore accounts, much of it through Bank al Taqwa and Akida Bank to Nada and Nasreddin firms. But because of the complex nature of the wire transfers, which sent money through myriad accounts, officials say they have had difficulty tracking SAAR entities’ money around the world. In 1998, for example, SAAR moved $9 million to the Humana Charitable Trust, which a SAAR tax form said was based in the tax haven of the Isle of Man. U.S. investigators said they found no evidence the trust existed. Panama, another tax haven, was also the destination of millions of dollars. “Looking at their finances,” one U.S. official involved in the probe said, “is like looking into a black hole.” Much about the SAAR entities remains in dispute, including the reported $1.8 billion in gifts in 1998. For years, the foundation operated on annual budgets of about $1.5 million. Then it reported on its 2000 tax form that it had taken in $1.8 billion in contributions two years earlier. . . . U.S. officials say that they believe the reference to $1.8 billion was no mistake. “We are still looking at it as a real transaction,” a U.S. official said. But investigators acknowledge that they haven’t found evidence that sums of that size coursed through the network.” (Ibid.; pp. 2-3.)

16. The SAAR links to the Muslim Brotherhood and that institution’s links to other Islamist terror groups are delineated in the passage that follows. “Another focus of the probe is the SAAR leaders’ links to the Muslim Brotherhood, a 74-year-old group which is under investigation by European and Middle Eastern governments for its alleged support of radical Islamic and terrorist groups. For decades the brotherhood has been a wellspring of radical Islamic activity; Hamas, the militant Palestinian group, is an offshoot of it. European officials are particularly interested in the brotherhood’s ties to leading neo-Nazis, including the Swiss Holocaust denier Ahmed Huber. A number of central figures in the SAAR network, including Rajhi, were for decades involved in the brotherhood, where they befriended Nada, said representatives and friends of the SAAR officials. The one-time radicalism of SAAR network members has mellowed since they moved to the United States, SAAR associates said. Nada, 73, a native of Egypt, has been one of the brotherhood’s leading figures for years, and European officials say his network of banks and companies, including Bank al Taqwa and Akida Bank, are intimately tied to the brotherhood. European officials say the two banks handled tens of millions of dollars for the brotherhood over the years.” (Ibid.; p. 3.)

“A wealthy construction magnate, Nada controls firms across Europe and the Arab world. Nasreddin, of Ethiopian descent, operates a business empire intertwined with Nada’s out of Milan. Founded in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has over the decades helped stir a revival in Islamic pride and militant opposition to secular Arab regimes. Governments in Egypt, Syria and Iraq have harshly cracked down on the group since the 1950s. The organization, viewed as heroic in much of the Arab world, has recently moderated some of its radical stances.” (Idem.)

17. Ibrahim Hassaballa, another of the Al Taqwa-linked individuals, is discussed in connection with the SAAR/Safa Trust nexus. “Investigators said they have also uncovered numerous ties between SAAR entities and Bank al Taqwa. Samir Salah — a founder of the Safa Trust, SAAR’s successor, and an officer of other SAAR companies — helped establish Bank al Taqwa in the Bahamas in the mid-1980s, according to a Treasury document. In a letter to The Washington Post, Salah said he had no role with the bank. Ibrahim Hassaballa, another officer of some SAAR-related companies, also helped set up Bank al Taqwa in the Bahamas, according to the document. Hassaballa did not respond to numerous requests for comment.” (Ibid.; pp. 3-4.)

18. Underscoring the duplicitous nature of many of the Isamofascist elements associated with the SAAR network, the discussion highlights the use of that nexus by Saudis’ intent on masking their involvement with terrorism. Again-note the links to the Muslim Brotherhood. “Terrorism specialists say the significance of the SAAR network is that it could offer wealthy Persian Gulf financiers a circuitous route for money they don’t want traced. “A rich Saudi who wants to fund radical ideas or terrorists like Hamas and al Qaeda knows he can’t send the money directly, so he filters it through companies and charities, often in the U.S. or Europe,” said Rita Katz, a terrorism expert at the private SITE Institute in Washington. The SAAR organizations are run by approximately 15 Middle Eastern and Pakistani men, a number of whom live in two-story homes on adjoining lots in Herndon that were developed by one of their affiliated firms in 1987. SAAR representatives say most were born into devout Muslim families and some fell under the sway of the Muslim Brotherhood. In the 1960s and 1970s, funded largely by Persian Gulf and particularly Saudi money, the men who would later form the SAAR network fled their homelands amid crackdowns on the brotherhood.” (Ibid.; p. 4.)

19. The World Assembly of Muslim Youth (formerly headed by Al Taqwa associate Jamal Barzinji and a member of the Bin Laden family suspected of helping Al Qaeda) is among the institutions linked to SAAR. Note also that SAAR became one of the biggest landlords in the Washington, D.C. area in the 1980’s.) “In Saudi Arabia and the United States, they helped launch groups that would evolve into some of the nation’s and the world’s leading Islamic organizations, including the Muslim Students Association, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth and the Islamic Society of North America. In 1984, Yaqub Mirza, a Pakistani native who received a PhD in physics from the University of Texas in Dallas, used money from the Rajhis to start SAAR in Virginia, with the goal of spreading Islam and doing charitable work. Mirza also sought out business ventures for SAAR. By investing the Rajhis’ money with Washington real estate developer Mohamed Hadid, he made SAAR one of the region’s biggest landlords in the 1980s. The SAAR network also became one of South America’s biggest apple growers and the owner of one of America’s top poultry firms, Mar-Jac Poultry in Georgia. “The funds came very easily,” said a businessman who dealt with SAAR. “If they wanted a few million dollars, they called the al-Rajhis, who would send it along. . . .” (Idem.)

20. Further developing the discrepancy between the moderate face put forward by SAAR’s defenders and the extremist reality of the organization’s influence, the program revisits the Loftus lawsuit filed in Florida against Sami al-Arian and others. (Be sure to visit Loftus’ website at www.john-loftus.com for more information about the lawsuit and the 3/20 raids.) “Despite their moderate public face, the SAAR groups” leaders have had close dealings with people who were more radical. Among them were Muslim activists who ran two vehemently anti-Israel organizations affiliated with the University of South Florida in Tampa. Despite the Florida activists’ denials, federal officials have been investigating them for years based on suspicions that they organized support for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which the U.S. government has declared a terrorist group because it organizes suicide bombings in Israel. Steve Emerson, a terrorism expert who has studied SAAR for six years, said that “although the SAAR network presents a moderate profile, they have contacts and connections to Islamic groups here and abroad that are under investigation for ties to terrorism.” (Ibid.; pp. 4-5.)

21. Some of the group’s correspondence belies their “moderate” pretensions. “In a letter to a SAAR official, the Tampa groups described the SAAR network as their main funding source. SAAR allies said the money went only to conferences and publications. Some of the Tampa activists later joined a SAAR affiliate in Virginia. One of them, Bashir Nafi, was deported as an alleged Islamic Jihad operative in 1996. The investigation of SAAR began after a 1995 raid of the Tampa groups’ offices yielded many documents showing close ties with the SAAR organizations, U.S. officials said. Leesburg scholar Alalwani, in a 1993 letter to the Tampa groups that he said was also on behalf of several other SAAR leaders, described donations sent to the Florida activists. “We consider you a part of us and an extension of us,” the letter said. “All your institutions are considered by us as ours. . . . We make a commitment to you; we do it for you as a group, regardless of the party or facade you use the money for.” After the 1995 Tampa searches, investigators widened that probe, launching a related investigation of the SAAR network, which lasted into the late 1990s.” (Ibid.; p. 5.)

22. In the context of the documented links of the SAAR/Al Taqwa/Muslim Brotherhood/Al Qaeda nexus to the Bush family and the Republican Party, it is interesting to contemplate the fact that the Clinton White House pushed for a more rigorous investigation of the milieu-to no avail. “In 1998, National Security Council aides in the Clinton White House pushed the FBI to intensify that SAAR investigation. But knowledgeable sources said the FBI declined because of fears that a probe would be seen as ethnic profiling. The sources said U.S. officials also pressed senior Saudi officials to investigate SAAR and other Saudi-funded charities. “At the end of the day the progress can best be described as marginal,” said one U.S. official. . . U.S. officials dispute that account, saying that FBI officials never gave SAAR officials such blanket clearance. Customs revived the probe after the Sept. 11 attacks, with help from Europeans probing Bank al Taqwa’s Italian and Swiss operations. “We are looking for patterns and connections, so it is very complicated,” said a U.S. official. “The al Taqwa-SAAR nexus is a very high priority.'” (Idem.)

23. For the convenience and use of the listener, it is recommended that research on SAAR, al-Rajhi, the WAMY, Benevolence International, Batterjee et al. discussed in a recent book should be accessed in order to supplement the discussion presented in this program. This material will be detailed in a future For The Record program. (Forbidden Truth; by Jean-Charles Brisard & Guillaume Dasquie; 2002 [SC]; Thunder’s Mouth/Nation Books; Copyright 2002 by Jean-Charles Brisard & Guillaume Dasquie; ISBN 1-56025-414-9; pp. 57-60.)

24. The profound connections of the “Untouchables” to the Bush Administration, the GOP and the corridors of economic power may well underlie the frustration of the formation of an independent commission to investigate the attacks of 9/11. “Lawmakers pushing for an independent commission to investigate government failures surrounding last year’s terrorist attacks blamed the White House on Friday for scuttling an apparent agreement this week. Sens. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., and John McCain, R-Ariz., sponsors of the legislation, said administration officials are maneuvering at the last minute to limit the panel’s scope, even while claiming publicly to support a broad, unfettered investigation. Some went further, saying the White House might be seeking to quietly scuttle the commission altogether. House Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said the administration is trying to ‘privately move to thwart it behind the scenes. . .'” (“Sept. 11 Fact-Finding Hits Snag” by Richard Simon and Greg Miller [Los Angeles Times]; San Jose Mercury News; 10/12/2002; p. 4A.)

“Relatives of victims of the attacks lambasted the White House early in the day, accusing the administration of undermining the deal. . . Creating an independent commission, patterned after those that investigated the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack and President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, appeared to be a sure thing after the White House recently dropped its opposition to the idea.” (Idem.)

25. Noting the role of Rep. Porter Goss in the alleged frustration of the formation of the commission, one should bear in mind that Goss is a former CIA officer. He appears to have been functioning as a flack for the White House. “The Senate last month overwhelmingly voted to create the panel and give it broad authority to investigate a range of issues, from immigration policies to aviation security. The House earlier approved a commission that would be more limited in scope. House and Senate negotiators had announced a resolution of their differences Thursday afternoon, but the accord fell apart by the end of the day when Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla., chair of the House intelligence committee, raised last-minute objections. Lieberman and McCain on Friday laid blame for the unraveling on the White House. Goss is seen by many on Capitol Hill as the White House’s surrogate in negotiations on the commission. Goss said Thursday that he was not satisfied that the panel would have authority to investigate all branches of government, including Congress. But Senate aides involved in the talks said Goss had not raised that issue previously, and that he left the bargaining table Thursday citing objections ‘above my pay grade,’ interpreted by some as a reference to the White House. . . .” (Idem.)

26. One of the points to be considered in this context, is the possibility that the Bush administration wants to avoid (among other things) investigation of Bush/Bin Laden links, the presence in Washington D.C. on 9/11 of Bin Laden family members with Bush associates at the annual investor conference of the Carlyle Group (one of a number of business ventures linking the Bushes and Bin Ladens), and the fact that members of the Bin Laden family were flown out of the United States on 9/12/2001 before they could be interviewed by the FBI. (No other civilians could fly in the United States on that date.) “Additionally, the administration wants to prevent the commission from being able to look into the government’s actions immediately after the terrorist attacks, according to a congressional staffer. Lieberman and McCain vowed to resist efforts to limit the panel’s scope.” (Idem.) It remains to be seen whether the Bushes/Carlyle/the Bin Laden family/Al Taqwa/the targets of the 3/20 raids/the SAAR milieu and the Muslim Brotherhood remain “Untouchable.”

Discussion

One comment for “FTR #382 The Untouchables”

  1. As Captain Renault would say: I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling terrorist money-laundering is going on in here!

    Vanity Fair
    Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail
    How HSBC hooked up with drug traffickers and terrorists. And got away with it

    By Matt Taibbi
    February 14, 2013 8:00 AM ET

    The deal was announced quietly, just before the holidays, almost like the government was hoping people were too busy hanging stockings by the fireplace to notice. Flooring politicians, lawyers and investigators all over the world, the U.S. Justice Department granted a total walk to executives of the British-based bank HSBC for the largest drug-and-terrorism money-laundering case ever. Yes, they issued a fine – $1.9 billion, or about five weeks’ profit – but they didn’t extract so much as one dollar or one day in jail from any individual, despite a decade of stupefying abuses.

    People may have outrage fatigue about Wall Street, and more stories about billionaire greedheads getting away with more stealing often cease to amaze. But the HSBC case went miles beyond the usual paper-pushing, keypad-punching­ sort-of crime, committed by geeks in ties, normally associated­ with Wall Street. In this case, the bank literally got away with murder – well, aiding and abetting it, anyway.

    In April 2003, with 9/11 still fresh in the minds of American regulators, the Federal Reserve sent HSBC’s American subsidiary a cease-and-desist­ letter, ordering it to clean up its act and make a better effort to keep criminals and terrorists from opening accounts at its bank. One of the bank’s bigger customers, for instance, was Saudi Arabia’s Al Rajhi bank, which had been linked by the CIA and other government agencies to terrorism. According to a document cited in a Senate report, one of the bank’s founders, Sulaiman bin Abdul Aziz Al Rajhi, was among 20 early financiers of Al Qaeda, a member of what Osama bin Laden himself apparently called the “Golden Chain.” In 2003, the CIA wrote a confidential report about the bank, describing Al Rajhi as a “conduit for extremist finance.” In the report, details of which leaked to the public by 2007, the agency noted that Sulaiman Al Rajhi consciously worked to help Islamic “charities” hide their true nature, ordering the bank’s board to “explore financial instruments that would allow the bank’s charitable contributions to avoid official Saudi scrutiny.” (The bank has denied any role in financing extremists.)

    In January 2005, while under the cloud of its first double-secret­-probation agreement with the U.S., HSBC decided to partially sever ties with Al Rajhi. Note the word “partially”: The decision­ would only apply to Al Rajhi banking and not to its related trading company, a distinction that tickled executives inside the bank. In March 2005, Alan Ketley, a compliance officer for HSBC’s American subsidiary, HBUS, gleefully told Paul Plesser, head of his bank’s Global Foreign Exchange Department, that it was cool to do business with Al Rajhi Trading. “Looks like you’re fine to continue dealing with Al Rajhi,” he wrote. “You’d better be making lots of money!”

    But this backdoor arrangement with bin Laden’s suspected “Golden Chain” banker wasn’t direct enough – many HSBC executives wanted the whole shebang restored. In a remarkable e-mail sent in May 2005, Christopher Lok, HSBC’s head of global bank notes, asked a colleague if they could maybe go back to fully doing business with Al Rajhi as soon as one of America’s primary banking regulators, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, lifted the 2003 cease-and-desist order: “After the OCC closeout and that chapter is hopefully finished, could we revisit Al Rajhi again? London compliance has taken a more lenient view.”

    After being slapped with the order in 2003, HSBC began blowing off its requirements both in letter and in spirit – and on a mass scale, too. Instead of punishing the bank, though, the government’s response was to send it more angry letters. Typically, those came in the form of so-called “MRA” (Matters Requiring Attention) letters sent by the OCC. Most of these touched upon the same theme, i.e., HSBC failing to do due diligence on the shady characters who might be depositing money in its accounts or using its branches to wire money. HSBC racked up these “You’re Still Screwing Up and We Know It” orders by the dozen, and in just one brief stretch between 2005 and 2006, it received 30 different formal warnings.

    Nonetheless, in February 2006 the OCC under George Bush suddenly decided to release HSBC from the 2003 cease-and-desist­ order. In other words, HSBC basically violated its parole 30 times in just more than a year and got off anyway. The bank was, to use the street term, “off paper” – and free to let the Al Rajhis of the world come rushing back.

    After HSBC fully restored its relationship with the apparently terrorist-friendly Al Rajhi Bank in Saudi Arabia, it supplied the bank with nearly 1 billion U.S. dollars. When asked by HSBC what it needed all its American cash for, Al Rajhi explained that people in Saudi Arabia need dollars for all sorts of reasons. “During summer time,” the bank wrote, “we have a high demand from tourists traveling for their vacations.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 15, 2013, 7:54 am

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