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FTR #386 “All Around the World” An Update on September 11

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Updat­ing the sub­ject of the 9/11 attacks and relat­ed events, this pro­gram high­lights var­i­ous aspects of the Under­ground Reich and the numer­ous eth­nic, reli­gious and polit­i­cal ele­ments and envi­ron­ments that it encom­pass­es or over­laps.

1. An inter­est­ing alle­ga­tion about con­nec­tions between the Okla­homa City bomb­ing, the first attack on the World Trade Cen­ter and the milieu of Al Qae­da was fur­ther devel­oped by a writer for the Manil­la Times. A deathbed con­fes­sion by the wife of the late Edwin Ange­les [4] pro­vides much food for thought and grounds for fur­ther research.  “(NOTE: Basi­lan Provin­cial Infor­ma­tion Offi­cer Christo­pher Puno was present in the ward at Basi­lan Com­mu­ni­ty Hos­pi­tal when I [Sicat] inter­viewed Elmi­na Abdul, less than two weeks pri­or to her death.) Elmi­na Abdul, wid­ow of one of the Abu Sayyaf co-founders, Edwin Ange­les, died in the pre-dawn hours of Sat­ur­day, March 30. Ten days before she died, she talked with this writer in con­fi­dence while lying on her deathbed at Basi­lan Com­mu­ni­ty Hos­pi­tal. I was the last, if not the only reporter, to ever talk with her.” (“Deathbed Con­fes­sion: Abu Part of Okla­homa Blast” by Dori­an Zumel Sicat; Manil­la Times; 4/2/2002.) [5]

In addi­tion to his alleged par­tic­i­pa­tion in Abu Sayyaf (a Philip­pine affil­i­ate of al Qae­da), Ange­les claimed to his wife that he also informed for the Philip­pine mil­i­tary intel­li­gence ser­vices. (Note that this claim has nei­ther been con­firmed nor dis­proved. If true, it would sug­gest that the pow­ers that be in this coun­try have dis­sem­bled with regard to what they knew and when they knew it con­cern­ing Okla­homa City, the first World Trade Cen­ter attack, and 9/11. The large and grow­ing com­mu­ni­ty of “con­spir­a­cy geeks” would mis­in­ter­pret this as mean­ing that “the gov­ern­ment did it”-ignoring the tor­tu­ous method­ol­o­gy of counter-intel­li­gence, as well as over­sim­pli­fy­ing the con­cept of “gov­ern­ment.” “Elmi­na was Edwin’s fourth and last wife. She met him in 1995 while he was in the Basi­lan Provin­cial Jail. They were mar­ried in 1997, almost a year before Ange­les was sum­mar­i­ly exe­cut­ed in Basi­lan in 1998. What she told me at that final inter­view was at once reveal­ing and shock­ing. Edwin had told Elmi­na the entire chron­i­cle of his expe­ri­ence as a co-founder of the ASG and a deep-cov­er agent of the Depart­ment of Nation­al Defense, begin­ning in 1991. Edwin told her that he expect­ed to be killed soon and he was.” (Idem.)

2. “Among the most inter­est­ing rev­e­la­tions that Ange­les shared with Elmi­na was about a meet­ing between him­self, Ram­sey Yousef, Abdul Murad (both of whom are now serv­ing mul­ti­ple prison terms for ter­ror­ist activ­i­ties, includ­ing the first World Trade Cen­ter bomb­ing in 1993), Abdu­ra­jak Abubakar Jan­jalani, uniden­ti­fied mem­bers of the Moro Islam­ic Lib­er­a­tion Front (MILF), and two men who Ange­les only iden­ti­fied as Iraqis. The meet­ing, accord­ing to Elmi­na, was held in a ware­house near a Dole (Phil.) plant in South Cota­ba­to, between Gen­er­al San­tos City and Davao del Sur. There were two oth­er men at that meet­ing: a man who Ange­les iden­ti­fied as Nichols and as ‘code name Farmer,’ and anoth­er Amer­i­can who he did not iden­ti­fy by name. (It is impor­tant to note that most Fil­ipinos com­mon­ly describe Cau­casians in the coun­try as Amer­i­cans.) The meet­ing, accord­ing to Elmi­na took place in 1994. She could not remem­ber the exact date.” (Idem.)

“In that meet­ing, accord­ing to Elmi­na, Ange­les told her that the major top­ic of the dis­cus­sion was the bomb­ing of spec­i­fied tar­gets and how to build bombs. Ange­les told Elmi­na that Nichols was lat­er sent to a place that he (Ange­les) did­n’t name for more detailed instruc­tion on how Nichols and his oth­er ‘Amer­i­can’ friend could build a bomb to destroy a build­ing in the Unit­ed States. She did not specify–she could not remember–which build­ing that was to be.” (Idem.)

3. “Elmi­na also told me that before he was gunned down, Edwin showed her doc­u­ments that proved that he actu­al­ly was a deep-cov­er agent for the Depart­ment of Nation­al Defense. He said that those doc­u­ments were pre­sent­ed in court in his defense and that was the rea­son that he was acquit­ted of the charges against him. That is a mat­ter of record. But since I have nev­er seen the doc­u­ments, I will not name the ‘high rank­ing’ Defense offi­cials whose sig­na­tures were said to appear on those doc­u­ments.” (Idem.)

4. Note that “Bojin­ka” was the appar­ent tem­plate for the 9/11 attacks. “Ange­les also told Elmi­na about Project Bojenko, an [alleged­ly] Iraqi-financed oper­a­tion of ter­ror that tar­get­ed sev­er­al build­ings in the US, the bomb­ing of sev­er­al US air­lin­ers, bomb­ing US embassies over­seas, and hit­ting oth­er US inter­ests. Among the build­ings in the US, accord­ing to Elmi­na, were anoth­er attack on the World Trade Cen­ter; the Fed­er­al Build­ings in San Fran­cis­co, and in ‘a place he called Uklahu­ma (Okla­homa).’ ” (Idem.)

5. “When I asked Elmi­na why she thought that Ange­les was killed, she only told me: ‘The trai­tors killed him. They used him, then they killed him.’ ” (Idem.)

I asked her if she meant the Defense offi­cials who recruit­ed him as a deep cov­er agent, tears fell from her eyes. She waved her hand, indi­cat­ing that she did­n’t want to talk any more. She was weak. I nod­ded, stroked her head and left Elmi­na Abdul to rest. That was the last time that I saw her alive.” (Idem.)

6. “Was there an inter­na­tion­al con­spir­a­cy of ter­ror forged in a meet­ing in an aban­doned ware­house in 1994 that includ­ed Ange­les and Nichols, who he referred to as ‘the Farmer?’ Did that con­spir­a­cy include mem­bers of Al-Qae­da and the Iraqi gov­ern­ment (or at least Iraqis)? Does the ASG actu­al­ly receive finan­cial and mate­r­i­al assis­tance from Al-Qae­da and [or] Iraq in order to car­ry on its cam­paign of ter­ror? Elmi­na did not give pre­cise, clear answers to those ques­tions. She was relat­ing what Ange­les had told her not long before he died.” (Idem.)

“There is one thing clear: Edwin Ange­les did meet with Nichols and anoth­er ‘Amer­i­can’ along with some state-spon­sored inter­na­tion­al ter­ror­ists. Elmi­na knew that she was dying. She knew that all our efforts to help her recov­er would not be enough to save her. She told me what she knew to be the truth, as her hus­band told it to her.” (Idem.)

“At the begin­ning of the inter­view I asked Elmi­na why she was will­ing to talk to me after such a long silence. She told me: ‘I am going to die soon. I want to tell the truth about my hus­band so that peo­ple will know.’ ” (Idem.)

7. After vis­it­ing the Philip­pines, we vis­it South Africa of the apartheid era, and then South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. The focal point of our itin­er­ary is the mys­te­ri­ous and sin­is­ter Dr. Lar­ry Ford. A right-wing extrem­ist with ties to the CIA, Ford worked for “Project Coast”-an apartheid-era South African bio­log­i­cal and chem­i­cal war­fare pro­gram that involved assas­si­na­tions and (appar­ent­ly) the exter­mi­na­tions of entire vil­lages. In the wake of the anthrax attacks, ques­tions about Dr. Ford and his milieu grew more point­ed. After a failed assas­si­na­tion attempt on Ford’s busi­ness part­ner and Ford’s sub­se­quent sui­cide, inves­ti­ga­tors turned up a cache of auto­mat­ic weapons, chem­i­cal and bio­log­i­cal weapons and C‑4 plas­tic explo­sives. ” . . . What the searchers did not find was anthrax, and the fear of what remained unfound, along with dozens of oth­er ques­tions, set off inves­ti­ga­tions that ranged from Bev­er­ly Hills to South Africa and back to the Neva­da desert . . . .” (“Cal­i­for­nia Doc­tor’s Sui­cide Leaves Many Trou­bling Mys­ter­ies Unsolved” by Jo Thomas; New York Times; 11/3/2002.)

8. “Since then, pieces of Dr. Ford’s oth­er life have begun to emerge. Tak­en togeth­er, they form a trou­bling and con­fus­ing pic­ture — of a man with ties to racist, antigov­ern­ment groups in the Unit­ed States who also devel­oped a rela­tion­ship with apartheid South Africa’s secret bio­log­i­cal and chem­i­cal weapons pro­gram, Project Coast.” (Idem.)

“For the most part, though, inves­ti­ga­tors say they are stymied, a long way from under­stand­ing what Dr. Ford was doing with his guns and his germs. In South Africa, doc­u­ments from Project Coast were either destroyed or clas­si­fied and put on CD-ROM’s in a mil­i­tary vault. The frag­ments of Lar­ry Ford’s oth­er life remain just that — fright­en­ing, tan­ta­liz­ing frag­ments.” (Idem.)

“Still, while no one is sug­gest­ing any link to the anthrax attacks of last fall, the ques­tions Dr. Ford left behind nag deep­er now, in the ambi­ent anx­i­ety of the post-Sept. 11 world . . . . ” (Idem.)

9. One of the influ­ences on Dr. Ford was the Nazi tract “The Turn­er Diaries” — pub­lished by the same pub­lish­er (Nation­al Van­guard Books) that pub­lish­es Ser­pen­t’s Walk. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ing in light of the influ­ence of Turn­er Diaries on McVeigh, Nichols & their appar­ent co-con­spir­a­tors in the Okla­homa City bomb­ing. “After his death, Detec­tive Ray said, the author­i­ties learned that Dr. Ford had been a con­sul­tant to Project Coast, which has been accused of cre­at­ing weapons for use against ene­mies of apartheid. They also dis­cov­ered that he had held extreme racist views and had once told a girl­friend that to under­stand him, she should read ‘The Turn­er Diaries,’ the anti-Semit­ic and white suprema­cist nov­el, pop­u­lar among far-right groups, that pros­e­cu­tors say inspired the Okla­homa City bomb­ing . . . . ” (Idem.)

10. Ford’s work in South Africa involved, among oth­er things, work col­lect­ing amni­ot­ic flu­id from South African women-appar­ent­ly in con­junc­tion with his work on AIDS. “Ulti­mate­ly, he was giv­en space in an aero­space med­i­cine lab­o­ra­to­ry to work on sev­er­al projects using amni­ot­ic flu­id col­lect­ed from thou­sands of women in South African mil­i­tary hos­pi­tals. Why these projects were spon­sored by the mil­i­tary, and what became of them, is unclear.” (Idem.)

[Wouter Bas­son was the over­seer of Project Coast.] “How­ev­er, a South African mil­i­tary doc­u­ment about AIDS research, found in Dr. Bas­son’s pos­ses­sion by inves­ti­ga­tors, men­tioned ‘the acqui­si­tion of any rel­e­vant C.B.W. lit­er­a­ture from Dr. Ford.’ The abbre­vi­a­tion C.B.W. is com­mon­ly used to refer to chem­i­cal and bio­log­i­cal weapons . . . . ” (Idem.)

11. It should be not­ed that Ford’s tracks led to Neva­da, where he appar­ent­ly had been in con­tact with right-wing extrem­ist groups. [Neva­da was also where Lar­ry Ford, an Aryan Nations activist, had been appre­hend­ed try­ing to trans­port weapons-grade anthrax. See FTR #89.] “Per­haps the deep­est fear in the entire affair was that Dr. Ford had been work­ing with anthrax. That trail, too, has run cold.” (Idem.)

“After Dr. Ford’s sui­cide, the police got tips that he had buried anthrax in a gold mine. They searched fruit­less­ly in Cal­i­for­nia. Four months lat­er, doc­u­ments in a Neva­da trash dump showed that Dr. Ford had been in touch with peo­ple involved in anti-tax and antigov­ern­ment groups. Some of them had tried to use bac­te­ria to extract gold from dirt.” (Idem.)

“In Decem­ber 2000, inves­ti­ga­tors searched a derelict gold milling site out­side Hen­der­son, Nev. They found a sep­a­ra­tor fun­nel, a white liq­uid and Dr. Ford’s busi­ness card. A fed­er­al agent said they also found direc­tions for mak­ing chem­i­cal and bio­log­i­cal weapons, includ­ing anthrax. But that was all. The site’s pro­pri­etor had recent­ly died of unre­lat­ed caus­es.” (Idem.)

12. After our trip to Neva­da, we trav­el to Italy, where inves­ti­ga­tors have uncov­ered infor­ma­tion fur­ther devel­op­ing the Under­ground Reich/“neo”-Nazi/Islamist link that we saw in our stopover in Manil­la. One of the prin­ci­pal fig­ures in the inves­ti­ga­tion of Al Taqwa (an alleged ele­ment of the al Qae­da net­work) is the remark­able Achmed Huber. Huber was alleged [6] to have bro­kered a deal for Russ­ian weapons on behalf of the Al Qae­da milieu. “A Tunisian-born ter­ror­ism sus­pect placed two weeks ago on Wash­ing­ton’s list of most-want­ed mil­i­tants con­fessed two years before to Ital­ian police that he helped run an elab­o­rate arms smug­gling ring that aid­ed Islam­ic mil­i­tants, but it’s not clear whether Ital­ian and U.S. offi­cials act­ed on the infor­ma­tion. The case, revealed in a con­fi­den­tial doc­u­ment obtained by MSNBC.com, rais­es new ques­tions about intel­li­gence gath­er­ing in the war on al-Qai­da.” (“Police Spoke to U.S. Ter­ror Sus­pect” by Lucy Komis­ar; MSNBC.COM; 9/16/2002.) [7]

Inter­est­ing­ly (and per­haps sig­nif­i­cant­ly) the account pre­sent­ed here was appar­ent­ly known the author­i­ties in Italy two years ago. As not­ed in the pre­vi­ous para­graph, this under­scores the on-going ques­tion of “what did they know and when did they know it?” “Accord­ing to the con­fi­den­tial doc­u­ment obtained by MSNBC.com, the Tunisian who the U.S. Trea­sury Depart­ment recent­ly added to its ter­ror­ist black­list had two years ago report­ed to Ital­ian author­i­ties a scheme for mov­ing weapons from Rus­sia through Uzbek­istan to Pak­istan where they ‘would end in the mil­i­tary train­ing camps for Islam­ic ter­ror­ists in Pak­istan, Iraq and Afghanistan.’ ” (Idem.)

“The infor­mant, Sek­se­ka Habib Wad­dani, 32, then liv­ing in Milan, told Ital­ian police that the arms were being ‘sold by the Russ­ian Repub­lic’ because they were no longer mod­ern. He said the weapons includ­ed pis­tols, Kalash­nikov machine guns, mis­siles and grenades. The clas­si­fied Ital­ian police report prompts ques­tions about when the Unit­ed States learned of Wad­dani, and whether any action was tak­en by Ital­ian or U.S. offi­cials after Wad­dani’s claim that large amounts of weapons were being sold to Islam­ic ter­ror­ists.” (Idem.)

13. “On Aug. 29 of this year, the U.S. Trea­sury Depart­ment announced it was adding Wad­dani to its list of top sus­pect­ed ter­ror­ists, not­ing Italy’s charges against him — for involve­ment with the Alger­ian-based Salafist Group for Call and Com­bat, which oper­ates in North Africa, Spain and Italy and ‘has sup­port­ed al-Qai­da activ­i­ties.’ The Trea­sury Depart­ment said Wad­dani was indict­ed by the Ital­ians for traf­fick­ing in arms, explo­sives, chem­i­cal weapons, iden­ti­ty papers, receiv­ing stolen goods and aid­ing ille­gal immi­gra­tion. Judge Luca Pis­torel­li in Milan told MSNBC.com that Wad­dani is at large: ‘We sup­pose he is in France; or maybe he went back to Tunisia.’ ” (Idem.)

“It was not imme­di­ate­ly clear whether Ital­ian offi­cials act­ed on the weapons smug­gling infor­ma­tion Wad­dani pro­vid­ed, or whether U.S. inves­ti­ga­tors had been noti­fied by their Ital­ian coun­ter­parts of the encounter with the Tunisian sus­pect. When con­tact­ed by MSNBC.com, a CIA spokesman said the agency ‘respect­ful­ly declines to com­ment.’ ” (Idem.)

“At the Trea­sury Depart­ment, Deputy Assis­tant Sec­re­tary for Pub­lic Affairs Rob Nichols said, ‘I checked with our war room. I can­not answer your ques­tions, as they con­tain sen­si­tive or clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion . . . .’ ” (Idem.)

14. “The weapons smug­gling in Europe, Wad­dani said, flowed through a maze of com­pa­nies and cities. Wad­dani told the Ital­ian police that trans­ac­tions in Switzer­land were han­dled by HSS, a ‘trad­ing com­pa­ny’ that ‘belongs to a Pak­istani named Haji Agka and to a Tunisian fam­i­ly of Zurich, Ahmed and Shoyab Shar­i­fi. These lat­ter are inti­mate friends of the head of the Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty of Zurich, [Albert] Achmed Huber,’ who facil­i­tat­ed ‘peri­od­ic and reg­u­lar’ ship­ments of weapons, Wad­dani said.” (Idem.)

“The Unit­ed States put Huber on its al-Qai­da ter­ror­ist black­list last Novem­ber, cit­ing his mem­ber­ship on the board of al-Taqwa, the Lugano, Switzer­land-based bank accused of mov­ing bin Laden’s mon­ey.” (Idem.)

15. From Italy and Zurich (with a lay­over in Rus­sia), we fly across the Mediter­ranean to the burn­ing sands of Sau­di Ara­bia. As dis­cussed in so many of the pro­grams deal­ing with Sau­di char­i­ties uti­lized to sup­port Al Qae­da, the efforts of the Unit­ed States to inter­dict the flow of funds to ter­ror­ists has been inad­e­quate. The pro­found con­nec­tions between the petro­le­um indus­try, the Bush admin­is­tra­tion and the Sau­di elite have appar­ent­ly led to a less-than-vig­or­ous effort in that regard. (For more about al-Hara­main, see FTR #381.) “Last March, just days after a vis­it by Paul O’Neill, US Trea­sury Sec­re­tary, Sau­di Ara­bia blocked the funds of the Soma­lian and Bosn­ian branch­es of al-Hara­main Islam­ic Foun­da­tion. The group, whose head­quar­ters are in Riyadh, was ‘divert­ing char­i­ta­ble funds’ to ter­ror­ist groups linked to al-Qae­da, author­i­ties alleged. It was the first time since the ter­ror­ist attacks of Sep­tem­ber 11 last year that Sau­di Ara­bia had moved against one of the char­i­ties thought to be the biggest source of fund­ing for al-Qae­da. The crack­down, the two gov­ern­ments declared, would ‘open a new phase in inter­na­tion­al co-oper­a­tion to destroy the ter­ror­ist financ­ing net­work.’ ” (“The Mon­ey Trail: How a Crack­down on Sus­pect Char­i­ties Is Fail­ing to Stem the Flow of Funds to Al-Qae­da” by Edward Alden; Finan­cial Times; 10/18/2002; p. 11.)

16. Even the mod­est efforts report­ed above appear to have been (to a cer­tain extent) illu­so­ry. “Last month, how­ev­er, Sau­di news­pa­pers report­ed that the al-Hara­main Islam­ic Foun­da­tion was expand­ing its oper­a­tions in both Bosnia and Soma­lia, and had opened a $530,000 Islam­ic cen­tre in Sara­je­vo. US offi­cials are aware of the devel­op­ments and are inves­ti­gat­ing. The fail­ure to curb al-Hara­main-to date the only char­i­ty tar­get­ed joint­ly by the US and Sau­di Ara­bia-is the lat­est sign that Mr. O’Neil­l’s pledge to shut down ‘the quar­ter­mas­ters of ter­ror’ is founder­ing.” (Idem.)

17. A study by the Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions con­clud­ed that the attempts at inter­dict­ing ter­ror­ist fund­ing were inad­e­quate. (More infor­ma­tion about the CFR report is pre­sent­ed below.) “The exec­u­tive order issued by George W. Bush after Sep­tem­ber 11, call­ing for a world­wide crack­down on fund­ing for ter­ror­ist groups, remains a key ele­ment of the US war on ter­ror­ism. But accord­ing to a study by the Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions, released yes­ter­day, a lack of co-oper­a­tion by Sau­di Ara­bia and some oth­er US allies result­ed in lit­tle dis­rup­tion to the web of char­i­ties, busi­ness­es and oth­er fund-rais­ing ven­tures that pro­vide al-Qae­da with huge sums of mon­ey.” (Idem.)

18. Just how alarm­ing and dra­mat­ic this fail­ure has been is under­scored by a report com­piled by Cana­di­an intel­li­gence. “Oth­ers have reached sim­i­lar con­clu­sions. Cana­di­an intel­li­gence agen­cies esti­mat­ed in a July 25 report, obtained by the Nation­al Post news­pa­per, that Sau­di-based char­i­ties alone are fun­nel­ing between $1 mil­lion and $ 2 mil­lion a month to al-Qae­da. [Ital­ics are Mr. Emory’s] Last month, the Unit­ed Nations warned that al-Qae­da con­tin­ues to have access to between $30 mil­lion and $300 mil­lion in funds con­trolled by oth­er­wise legit­i­mate busi­ness­es and char­i­ties. While about $112 in funds linked to al-Qae­da and the Tal­iban has been frozen, that fig­ure rep­re­sents only ‘a small frac­tion of the funds and resources’ avail­able to those groups, the UN added.” (Idem.)

19. Euro­pean coun­tries have been less than coop­er­a­tive with the effort at inter­dict­ing ter­ror­ist financ­ing. In part, this reflects (in Mr. Emory’s opin­ion) a geopo­lit­i­cal strug­gle between the Ger­man-dom­i­nat­ed Euro­pean Union and the Unit­ed States‑a strug­gle that is a con­tin­u­a­tion of the Sec­ond World War. “Despite ear­li­er claims of suc­cess in the finan­cial war on ter­ror­ism, the US gov­ern­ment itself is also start­ing to acknowl­edge pub­licly the prob­lems it faces. As Alan Lar­son, under­sec­re­tary of state for eco­nom­ic affairs, admit­ted last week, it is ‘unques­tion­ably true’ that al-Qae­da retains the finan­cial means to car­ry out strikes dam­ag­ing to the US. ‘I don’t think lack of resources is a major imped­i­ment to the oper­a­tions of ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions at this stage,’ he said . . . The results, how­ev­er, have been dis­ap­point­ing. Wash­ing­ton is increas­ing­ly frus­trat­ed by the refusal of most Euro­pean coun­tries to ban fundrais­ing for the polit­i­cal arm of Hamas, the rad­i­cal Pales­tin­ian group, and for Hezbol­lah, the Iran­ian-backed mil­i­tant group.” (Idem.)

20. The pro­gram touch­es on the rack­e­teer­ing charges [8] that are being pur­sued by US pros­e­cu­tors in con­nec­tion with some of the Sau­di char­i­ties. “The most glar­ing short­falls, how­ev­er, have been in Sau­di Ara­bia and oth­er Gulf states. Crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tions in the US have turned up a series of incrim­i­nat­ing links between Sau­di-based char­i­ties and al-Qae­da. US pros­e­cu­tors last week charged the Chica­go-based head of the Benev­o­lence Inter­na­tion­al Foun­da­tion, a large Islam­ic char­i­ty found­ed in Sau­di Ara­bia, with oper­at­ing a ‘rack­e­teer­ing enter­prise’ that raised mon­ey from wealthy Sau­di donors inter­est­ed in sup­port­ing al-Qae­da, and hid the trail by min­gling those funds with legit­i­mate char­i­ta­ble dona­tions. Sev­er­al oth­er char­i­ties with strong Sau­di ties are also under scruti­ny by US law enforce­ment offi­cials.” (Idem.)

21. “Yet the US and Sau­di Ara­bia have co-oper­at­ed in only two joint efforts aimed at shut­ting down sus­pect­ed ter­ror­ist financiers. In the case of al-Hara­main, the ter­ror­ist des­ig­na­tion was lim­it­ed to the Bosn­ian and Soma­lian branch­es in an effort to avoid embar­rass­ing the Saud­is by direct­ly impli­cat­ing the Riyadh head office of the char­i­ty. Since then, evi­dence uncov­ered by Russ­ian intel­li­gence and by the US has indi­cat­ed that funds from al-Hara­main have been used to finance com­bat oper­a­tions by rebel groups in Chech­nya and to sup­port al-Qae­da-linked rad­i­cals in Indone­sia. In the sec­ond case, the two gov­ern­ments in August joint­ly des­ig­nat­ed as a ter­ror­ist financier wa’el Hamza Julaidan, head of Rabi­ta Trust‑a Sau­di char­i­ty already tar­get­ed by the US . . . . ” (Idem.)

22. After our sojourn in the Mid­dle East, we return to the Unit­ed States, where we revis­it the raids in the Wash­ing­ton area con­duct­ed as part of Oper­a­tion Green Quest. “Despite patchy inter­na­tion­al sup­port, US law enforce­ment offi­cials are pur­su­ing crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tions that could, they say, break the cur­rent stale­mate in the war against ter­ror financ­ing. The biggest obsta­cle to co-oper­a­tion from Sau­di Ara­bia and oth­er US allies is that those coun­tries demand proof that their cit­i­zens have been fund­ing ter­ror­ist groups before tak­ing action. Such proof, US inves­ti­ga­tors hope, may not be long in com­ing.”

“In a series of raids in Vir­ginia and Geor­gia in March, the FBI and Cus­toms seized com­put­ers and doc­u­ments from 19 orga­ni­za­tions and 10 inter­net ser­vice providers sus­pect­ed of sup­port­ing for­eign ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions. A range of Sau­di-sup­port­ed char­i­ta­ble groups ere tar­get­ed, includ­ing the Mus­lim World League, the Inter­na­tion­al Islam­ic Relief Orga­ni­za­tion and the SAAR Foun­da­tion. All the groups deny involve­ment in ter­ror­ism. In its 2000 tax return the Saar Foun­da­tion report­ed char­i­ta­ble con­tri­bu­tions total­ing $1.7bn, though the foun­da­tion has since said this was a cler­i­cal error.”

Even though we have left Lugano Switzer­land behind us, we’ll have plen­ty of memen­tos of our vis­it to that beau­ti­ful city, cour­tesy of the Al Taqwa sub­sidiaries con­nect­ed to the “Green Quest” tar­gets. “Inves­ti­ga­tors are still sift­ing through truck­loads of seized doc­u­ments. The pic­ture that is emerg­ing is one of a com­plex net­work of char­i­ta­ble groups, front com­pa­nies, legit­i­mate busi­ness­es and mon­ey-mov­ing oper­a­tions that have numer­ous ties to sus­pect­ed ter­ror­ists or ter­ror­ist-sup­port­ing groups. Sev­er­al of the ten­ta­cles reach to al-Taqwa, the Swiss-based finan­cial group that was shut down last year on US charges that it was financ­ing Hamas and al-Qae­da.” (Idem.)

“US inves­ti­ga­tors are try­ing to deci­pher how these enti­ties fit togeth­er, to build a strong crim­i­nal case. ‘They have lay­ered busi­ness­es with all these rev­enue-gen­er­at­ing arms, some legit­i­mate and some char­i­ta­ble, and all fil­ter­ing funds into these com­pa­nies,’ says one offi­cial, refer­ring gen­er­al­ly to the US inves­ti­ga­tion of sus­pect­ed ter­ror­ist financiers. ‘It’s been extreme­ly chal­leng­ing to sort through all this and con­nect the sus­pects both direct­ly to the ter­ror­ists and the funds.’ ” (Idem.)

23. After vis­it­ing Wash­ing­ton, D.C., we take the shut­tle flight to New York, where the afore­men­tioned Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions report exco­ri­ates the Bush admin­is­tra­tion’s duplic­i­ty with regard to George W’s Wah­habi busi­ness part­ners. “Al Qaeda’s ter­ror net­work derives most of its financ­ing from char­i­ties and indi­vid­u­als in Sau­di Ara­bia, but the king­dom has ‘turned a blind eye to this prob­lem,’ accord­ing to a new report by experts on ter­ror­ist finances. The report faults the Unit­ed States for fail­ing to con­front the Saud­is, say­ing Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment offi­cials have assert­ed that Sau­di Ara­bia is coop­er­at­ing on stop­ping ter­ror­ist financ­ing ‘when they know very well all the ways in which it is not.’ [Ital­ics are Mr. Emory’s]. The report released Wednes­day was pre­pared by a com­mit­tee spon­sored by the Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions in New York. Although exam­ples of the mis­use of Sau­di dona­tions by ter­ror­ists have been pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed, the coun­cil’s study goes fur­ther by con­clud­ing for the first time that Sau­di Ara­bia is the sin­gle largest source of ter­ror­ist financ­ing.” (“Oth­er Devel­op­ments: Sau­di Fund­ing Links” [Chron­i­cle news ser­vices]; San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 10/17/2002; p. A18.)

24. “While the Unit­ed Nations and oth­ers have recent­ly warned that the finan­cial war on ter­ror was sput­ter­ing, ana­lysts inside and out-side gov­ern­ment said the con­clu­sions of the pan­el car­ry par­tic­u­lar weight because it is bipar­ti­san. The Sau­di gov­ern­ment had no imme­di­ate response to the report. But the report drew a sharp rebut­tal from the Bush admin­is­tra­tion.” (Idem.)

25. Efforts to gain Euro­pean coop­er­a­tion in the finan­cial war on ter­ror have received impe­tus from a Trea­sury Depart­ment mis­sion to the con­ti­nent. “U.S. intel­li­gence has iden­ti­fied about a dozen of al-Qaeda’s prin­ci­pal finan­cial back­ers, most of them wealthy Saud­is, and a top finan­cial inves­ti­ga­tor is head­ed to Europe seek­ing a uni­fied front to freeze their assets in the hope of crip­pling the ter­ror net­work senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials said Thurs­day. Jim­my Gurule, the Trea­sury Depart­men­t’s under­sec­re­tary for enforce­ment, said he will begin a six-day vis­it to Europe on Sun­day to present his coun­ter­parts with ‘spe­cif­ic infor­ma­tion on selec­tive, high-impact tar­gets’ so they can ‘be des­ig­nat­ed ter­ror­ist financiers and have their assets blocked . . .” Moves to Freeze Assets of Wealthy al Qae­da Back­ers” by Dou­glas Farah [Wash­ing­ton Post]; San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 10/182002; p. A3.)

“Anoth­er senior offi­cial said the list tar­gets those who have giv­en tens of mil­lions of dol­lars to Osama bin Laden’s ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion through the years by rout­ing the mon­ey through char­i­ties and legit­i­mate busi­ness­es around the world.” (Idem.)

“Since the Sept. 11 ter­ror attacks, the Unit­ed States has frozen $112 mil­lion in alleged ter­ror­ist assets, des­ig­nat­ed 240 peo­ple and orga­ni­za­tions ter­ror­ist sup­port­ers and moved against sev­er­al large Islam­ic char­i­ties in the Unit­ed States. But senior offi­cials said that, until recent­ly, they had not been able to trace the mon­ey to its source. Now, they said, recent intel­li­gence gath­ered through inter­views with cap­tured al Qae­da oper­a­tives and oth­er meth­ods has giv­en them a clear­er pic­ture of where much of al Qaeda’s mon­ey comes from.” (Idem.)

The Trea­sury inves­ti­ga­tors’ trip to Europe should be alto­geth­er absorb­ing, in light of the pro­found Euro­pean con­nec­tions of many of the Sau­di ter­ror con­duits. (For more about this, see, among oth­er pro­grams, FTR#‘s 355, 359, 377.) “The list, the offi­cial said, goes ‘to the check writ­ers who give the mon­ey to al Qae­da, not just the facil­i­ta­tors and those who move the mon­ey around. We are final­ly get­ting to the source. The offi­cial said most of the alleged financiers are wealthy Sau­di bankers and busi­ness­men. Because the Sau­di gov­ern­ment has pre­vi­ous­ly proved unco­op­er­a­tive in con­fronting its promi­nent cit­i­zens about links to ter­ror, the Unit­ed States has not yet sought its help in the new effort, offi­cials said. Instead, the gov­ern­ment hopes to freeze their assets in Europe, where the Sau­di finan­cial and busi­ness empires have much of their mon­ey, and put togeth­er the broad­est pos­si­ble con­sen­sus to demand that the Sau­di gov­ern­ment crack down on the alleged ter­ror financiers, they said.” (Idem.)

26. Mean­while, back in the “States,” the Bush admin­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to drag its feet on a full inves­ti­ga­tion of 9/11. “Pres­i­dent Bush’s aides won’t say whether he would veto an inde­pen­dent inves­ti­ga­tion of the Sept. 11 ter­ror attacks if he does­n’t get to pick the chair­man or lim­it the pan­el’s sub­poe­na pow­er. ‘We’re not inter­est­ed in issu­ing ulti­ma­tums,’ admin­is­tra­tion spokesman Scott McClel­lan said. ‘We’re inter­est­ed in reach­ing out to resolve the issue.’ Nego­ti­a­tions to resolve dif­fer­ences between ver­sions of leg­is­la­tion passed by the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and the Sen­ate are bogged down over those two demands.” (“Talks on 9/11 Com­mis­sion My Hinge on Bush Views” by Paul Leav­itt with staff and wire reports; USA Today; 10/24/2002; p. 6A.)

“The Bush admin­is­tra­tion, which ini­tial­ly opposed the com­mis­sion, now says it favors one, but wants the pres­i­dent to pick the per­son who will head the pan­el. Con­gres­sion­al back­ers favor bipar­ti­san co-chairs. The White House also wants to bar the com­mis­sion from issu­ing any sub­poe­nas that aren’t endorsed by mem­bers of both par­ties. Con­gres­sion­al back­ers say any five mem­bers of the 10-mem­ber com­mis­sion should be able to issue a sub­poe­na.” (Idem.)

27. Fear of fly­ing would not appear to be the rea­son that Bush and com­pa­ny fear a law­suit that has been filed against pow­er­ful (alleged) Sau­di back­ers of Al Qae­da, includ­ing mem­bers of the Roy­al fam­i­ly. Rather, it appears that “oiled waters” that are joint­ly nav­i­gat­ed by the Bush fam­i­ly and their Wah­habi bud­dies might become very chop­py indeed if the suit were to be vig­or­ous­ly pros­e­cut­ed. “The Bush admin­is­tra­tion is close­ly mon­i­tor­ing a pri­vate law­suit accus­ing mem­bers of the Sau­di roy­al fam­i­ly of ties to Al Qae­da, and may move in a fed­er­al court here to dis­miss or delay the suit, which was brought by rel­a­tives of Sept. 11 vic­tims, accord­ing to admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials. Gov­ern­ment lawyers, the offi­cials said are try­ing to deter­mine whether the case threat­ens to dam­age Sau­di-Amer­i­can rela­tions, which would give them rea­son to block the suit. The suit seeks $1 tril­lion in dam­ages and is being pur­sued here by near­ly 3,000 of the rel­a­tives. A State Depart­ment offi­cial, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty, said he knew of no plans by the Unit­ed States to take action in court, but he said the issue of the law­suit had been raised in recent meet­ings of top Amer­i­can and Sau­di offi­cials. ‘The Saud­is have made their con­cerns known at a senior lev­el,’ he said.” (“U.S. May Ask Court to Dis­miss a $1 Tril­lion Suit Link­ing Saud­is to Al Qae­da and 9/11” by Philip Shenon; The New York Times; 10/25/2002; p. A15.)

28. Does the “W” in George W. Bush” stand for “Wah­habi?” “Bush admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials say senior Sau­di offi­cials have com­plained to their Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts that the suit could dam­age the already strained rela­tion­ship between the two coun­tries. The Saud­is have been espe­cial­ly alarmed, the Amer­i­cans say, because the list of defen­dants includes two of the most promi­nent mem­bers of the Sau­di roy­al fam­i­ly: Prince Sul­tan bin Abde­laz­iz al-Saud, the defense min­is­ter, and Prince Tur­ki bin Faisal, the for­mer spy chief and the new Sau­di ambas­sador to Britain. The Sau­di Embassy in Wash­ing­ton said it had no com­ment on the law­suit, and did not respond to requests for com­ment from Prince Sul­tan or Prince Tur­ki . . . .” (Idem.)

“The law­suit repeats accu­sa­tions that have been wide­ly cir­cu­lat­ed since Sep­tem­ber 11 about Sau­di finan­cial sup­port for al Qae­da, most­ly through Islam­ic char­i­ty groups and Sau­di banks.” (Idem.)

29. The itin­er­ary of John Allen Muham­mad (the accused sniper) and his trav­el­ing com­pan­ion Lee Mal­vo is an inter­est­ing one. Mr. Emory sug­gests that one of the inves­tiga­tive pos­si­bil­i­ties that should be explored con­cerns the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Muham­mad may have been financed and/or manip­u­lat­ed by the Islam­o­fas­cist net­works tar­get­ed in Oper­a­tion Green Quest. Those oper­a­tions were based large­ly in the Vir­ginia and Mary­land belt­way area around Wash­ing­ton D.C. This is one of the pri­ma­ry areas tar­get­ed by the sniper. As not­ed below, Belling­ham (Washington)-a long way from the D.C. area-was one of the pair’s geo­graph­i­cal bases. As dis­cussed in FTR #356, Belling­ham is the epi­cen­ter of the oper­a­tions of Yaqub Mirza, one of the finan­cial wiz­ards who orga­nized the net­work tar­get­ed by the March 20 raids. “But what pre­cip­i­tat­ed the killings, what guid­ed the seem­ing­ly ran­dom selec­tion of inno­cents, and even what drew Mr. Moham­mad, 41, and the boy to the Wash­ing­ton area is far from clear . . . .” (“Sus­pects Spent Year Trav­el­ing, Near­ly Des­ti­tute” by Blaine Hard­en and Tim Gold­en; The New York Times; 10/25/2002; p. A1.)

30. Mr. Muham­mad’s con­ver­sion to Islam and his tour of duty with the U.S. Army took place in 1985. Anoth­er path­way [9] of inves­ti­ga­tion con­cerns the fact that the GSISS-one of the insti­tu­tions in the net­work raid­ed on 3/20-is the only insti­tu­tion qual­i­fied to cer­ti­fy Mus­lim chap­lains for the armed forces. In the mid 1980’s, Mus­lims from around the world (includ­ing African-Amer­i­can Mus­lims) were being recruit­ed to serve in Afghanistan (the oper­a­tional birth­place of al Qae­da.) The pos­si­ble inter­re­la­tion­ship between these ele­ments should be explored. “Until the events of this fall in Wash­ing­ton, the piv­otal year in Mr. Muham­mad’s life appears to have been 1985. That Novem­ber, he sep­a­rat­ed from his wife and son and joined the Army. He also con­vert­ed to Islam . . . ” (Ibid.; p. A24.)

31. Muham­mad served in the secu­ri­ty detail of the Nation of Islam, an orga­ni­za­tion that has asso­ci­at­ed [10] with White Suprema­cist orga­ni­za­tions in the past. What effect, if any, this had on Muham­mad’s strange jour­ney con­sti­tutes anoth­er ele­ment to be fur­ther inves­ti­gat­ed. ” ‘The only thing that real­ly sticks out is, he was real­ly excit­ed that he was attend­ing the Mil­lion Man March,’ Mr. Dud­ley said. He said that Mr. Muham­mad helped pro­vide secu­ri­ty for Louis Far­rakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, who orga­nized the march in Wash­ing­ton in 1995 . . . . ” (Idem.)

32. The trav­els of Mr. Muham­mad despite his appar­ent lack of financ­ing attract­ed the inter­est of a staff mem­ber of a home­less shel­ter in the Mirza-epi­cen­ter, Belling­ham. Anoth­er con­sid­er­a­tion to be weighed in this con­text con­cerns the fact that the Islamist sup­port net­work in the Wash­ing­ton belt­way area was suf­fi­cient­ly strong to nour­ish the sojourn of Said Ramadan-the head of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood-dur­ing his stay there. While in that area in the 1970’s, he suc­cess­ful­ly recruit­ed from among rad­i­cal­ized African-Amer­i­cans in the area. Was Muham­mad recruit­ed, or manip­u­lat­ed by sim­i­lar ele­ments? “By ear­ly this year, Mr. Mal­vo and Mr. Muham­mad were liv­ing togeth­er in the Light­house Mis­sion, a home­less shel­ter in Belling­ham. But they did not always seem to belong. ‘I always thought, this guy has no vis­i­ble means of sup­port, but he’s fly­ing to Jamaica, he’s fly­ing to D.C., to Louisiana,’ said Rory Reublin, a staff mem­ber. ‘that one of the nag­ging sus­pi­cions I had in the back of my head.’ ” (Idem.)