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FTR #460 War Emblem

Record­ed May 10, 2004
REALAUDIO [1]

NB: This stream con­tains both FTR #s 459 and 460 in sequence. Each is a 30 minute broad­cast.

A bru­tal irony about the name of a prize race­horse gives this pro­gram its title. Owned by Prince Ahmed—one of the mem­bers of the Sau­di roy­al fam­i­ly allowed to leave the U.S. right after the 9/11 attacks with­out being ade­quate­ly interrogated—War Emblem won two thirds of horse racing’s famed Triple Crown. In the spring of 2002, War Emblem won the Ken­tucky Der­by and the Preak­ness Stakes, and Mr. Emory not­ed at the time that the horse’s name was iron­ic in light of doc­u­ment­ed sup­port by wealthy Saud­is for Al Qae­da. This pro­gram high­lights alle­ga­tions that Prince Ahmed was one of three mem­bers of the Sau­di roy­al fam­i­ly who func­tioned as liai­son per­son­nel to Al Qae­da. This infor­ma­tion was alleged­ly dis­closed dur­ing the inter­ro­ga­tion of Abu Zubaydah—a key Bin Laden aide.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: The pre­cip­i­tous deaths of all three mem­bers of the Sau­di Roy­al fam­i­ly (named by Zubay­dah) over the space of eight days in 2002; the sus­pi­cious air crash that took the life of the head of the Pak­istani air force—also alleged by Abu Zubay­dah to be in the pay of Bin Laden; the unusu­al inter­ro­ga­tion meth­ods alleged­ly employed by the CIA to obtain the infor­ma­tion pro­vid­ed by Abu Zubay­dah.

1. Begin­ning with dis­cus­sion of the evac­u­a­tion of key Saud­is in the imme­di­ate after­math of 9/11, the pro­gram notes that one of the evac­uees had the same last name as one of the hijack­ers, who had received finan­cial sup­port from the wife of Prince Ban­dar, the Sau­di Ambas­sador to the U.S. (For more about the evac­u­a­tion flights, see—among oth­er pro­grams—FTR#’s 334, 337, 423, 425, 454 [2].) “Right after 9/11, four pri­vate Sau­di jets were giv­en spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion to fly out of the US, begin­ning on Sep­tem­ber 15, 2001. The flight man­i­fests show­ing pas­sen­ger lists are now view­able on line at the web­site of Craig Unger [3], the author of House of Bush, House of Saud. As not­ed by Tom Floc­co, the first flight cor­rob­o­rates ear­li­er sto­ries of a fifth ‘phan­tom’ flight from Tam­pa to Lex­ing­ton on Sep­tem­ber 13, when all reg­u­lar flights were still ground­ed. All four flights car­ried mem­bers of the Sau­di roy­al fam­i­ly. The first, from Lex­ing­ton, Ken­tucky to Lon­don, 9/15/01, also car­ried a young man, Ahmad A.M. Alhaz­mi, with the same fam­i­ly name as Nawaf Alhaz­mi, one of the hijack­ers.”
(“More on the Sau­di Pri­vate Jet Flights right after 9/11” by Peter Dale Scott; p. 1.) [4]

2. Among the oth­er evac­uees was Prince Ahmad bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz—the own­er of War Emblem, the horse that won two thirds of horseracing’s triple crown in 2002. (Obvi­ous­ly, that horse is the sub­ject of the program’s title.) “There is noth­ing to con­nect the two Alhazmis direct­ly. But the hijack­er Nawaf had already been con­nect­ed in press sto­ries to the Sau­di roy­al fam­i­ly, as the recip­i­ent of funds com­ing indi­rect­ly from the wife of Prince Ban­dar, the Sau­di Ambas­sador to the Unit­ed States. ‘Scan­dal struck again in Novem­ber 2002 and touched Princess Haifa al-Faisal, wife of Prince Ban­dar bin Sul­tan, the long­time Sau­di ambas­sador to Wash­ing­ton (and nephew of Prince Nayef). It was learned that mon­ey had gone from her purse to the pock­ets of two 9/11 hijack­ers, Khalid al-Mid­har and Nawaf Alhaz­mi, by way of two Sau­di inter­me­di­aries, Omar al-Bay­ou­mi and Osama Bass­nan (Stephen Schwartz, Week­ly Stan­dard, 8/12/03). On the flight was the not­ed horse breed­er Prince Ahmad bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, the own­er of the Ken­tucky Der­by win­ner War Emblem. After return­ing to Sau­di Ara­bia, he died sud­den­ly of a heart attack at the age of 43, his cousin, Prince Sul­tan bin Faisal bin Tur­ki bin Abdul­lah, aged 41, was killed in a car acci­dent the next day, on his way to Prince Ahmad’s funer­al. . . .” (Idem.)

3. The pro­gram high­lights infor­ma­tion that came to light after the cap­ture of Aby Zubay­dah, a key aide to Osama bin Laden. Zubay­dah dis­closed that War Emblem’s own­er was among the con­tact points between Al Qae­da and the Sau­di roy­al fam­i­ly. “Just how wrong this deci­sion was [to allow the Saud­is to leave] became appar­ent sev­er­al months lat­er, when the war in Afghanistan was in full swing. On Thurs­day, March 28, 2002, act­ing on elec­tron­ic inter­cepts of tele­phone calls, heav­i­ly armed Pak­istani com­man­do units accom­pa­nied by Amer­i­can Spe­cial Forces and FBI SWAT teams, raid­ed a two-sto­ry home in the sub­urbs of Faisal­abad, in west­ern Pak­istan. They had received tips that one of the peo­ple in the house was Abu Zubay­dah, the thir­ty-year-old chief of oper­a­tions for Al Qae­da who had been head of field oper­a­tions for the USS Cole bomb­ing and who was a close con­fi­dant of Osama bin Laden’s.”
(House of Bush, House of Saud; by Craig Unger; Scrib­n­er [HC]; Copy­right 2004 by Craig Unger; ISBN 0–7432-5337‑X; pp. 263–264.)
[5]
4. “Two days lat­er, on March 30, news of Zubaydah’s cap­ture was spread­ing all over the world. At first, the admin­is­tra­tion refused to cor­rob­o­rate the reports; then it cel­e­brat­ed the cap­ture of the high­est-rank­ing Al Qae­da oper­a­tive every to be tak­en into cus­tody. ‘This rep­re­sents a very sig­nif­i­cant blow to Al Qae­da,’ said White House spokesman Ari Fleis­ch­er. He called Zubay­dah ‘a key ter­ror­ist recruiter, an oper­a­tional plan­ner and a mem­ber of Osama bin Laden’s inner cir­cle.’” (Ibid.; p. 264.)

5. “Don­ald Rums­feld told a news con­fer­ence that Zubay­dah was ‘being giv­en exact­ly the excel­lent med­ical care one would want if they want­ed to make sure he was around a good long time to vis­it with us.’ The inter­na­tion­al media spec­u­lat­ed as to what Zubay­dah might know, what he might say. On Sun­day, March 31, three days after the raid, the inter­ro­ga­tion began. . . .” (Idem.)

6. “ . . . First, they [CIA] admin­is­tered thiopen­tal sodi­um, bet­ter known under its trade­marked name, Sodi­um Pen­tothal, through an IV drip, to make Zubay­dah more talk­a­tive. Since the pris­on­er had been shot three times dur­ing the cap­ture, he was already hooked up to a drip to treat his wounds and it was pos­si­ble to admin­is­ter the drug with­out his knowl­edge. Sec­ond, as a vari­a­tion on the good cop-bad cop rou­tine, the CIA used two teams of debriefers. One con­sist­ed of undis­guised Amer­i­cans who were at least will­ing to treat Zubaydah’s injuries while they inter­ro­gat­ed him. The oth­er team con­sist­ed of Arab Amer­i­cans pos­ing as Sau­di secu­ri­ty agents, who were known for their bru­tal inter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques. The think­ing was that Zubay­dah would be so scared of being turned over to the Saud­is, ever infa­mous for their pub­lic exe­cu­tions in Riyadh’s Chop-Chop Square, that he would try to win over the Amer­i­can inter­roga­tors by talk­ing to them.” (Ibid.; pp. 264–265.)

7. “In fact, exact­ly the oppo­site hap­pened. When Zubay­dah was con­front­ed with men pass­ing them­selves off as Sau­di secu­ri­ty offi­cers, his reac­tion was not fear, but instead relief . . . . ‘The pris­on­er, who had been reluc­tant even to con­firm his iden­ti­ty to his Amer­i­can cap­tors, sud­den­ly start­ed talk­ing ani­mat­ed­ly. He was hap­py to see them, he said, because he feared the Amer­i­cans would tor­ture and then kill him. Zubay­dah asked his inter­roga­tors to call a senior mem­ber of the rul­ing Sau­di fam­i­ly. He then pro­vid­ed a pri­vate home num­ber and cell phone num­ber from m

emory. ‘He will tell you what to do,’ Zubay­dah promised them.’” (Ibid.; p. 265.)

8. More about Zubaydah’s fin­ger­ing of Prince Ahmed (War Emblem’s own­er) and his role as con­tact per­son for Al Qae­da on behalf of the roy­al fam­i­ly: “The name Zubay­dah gave came as a com­plete sur­prise to the CIA. It was Prince Ahmed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, the own­er of many leg­endary race­hors­es and one of the most west­ern­ized mem­bers of the roy­al fam­i­ly. On Sep­tem­ber 16, 2001, Prince Ahmed, of course, had board­ed the flight in Lex­ing­ton as part of the evac­u­a­tion plan approved by the Bush White House.” (Idem.)

9. “Prince Ahmed was well known not just in Sau­di Ara­bia, but also in pub­lish­ing cir­cles in Lon­don and horse-rac­ing cir­cles in Ken­tucky. He was such an unlike­ly name that the inter­roga­tors imme­di­ate­ly assumed Zubay­dah was lying to buy time. . . .The inter­roga­tors then keep their pris­on­er on a ‘bare min­i­mum’ of pain med­ica­tion and inter­rupt­ed his sleep with bright lights for hour after hour before restart­ing the Sodi­um Pen­tothal drip.” (Ibid.; pp. 265–266.)

10. In addi­tion, Zubay­dah named two oth­er mem­bers of the Sau­di roy­al fam­i­ly as Al Qae­da liai­son per­son­nel. “When they returned, Zubay­dah spoke to his faux Sau­di inter­roga­tors as if they, not he, were the ones in trou­ble. He said that sev­er­al years ear­li­er the roy­al fam­i­ly had made a deal with Al Qae­da in which the House of Saud would aid the Tal­iban so long as Al Qae­da kept ter­ror­ism out of Sau­di Ara­bia. Zubay­dah added that as part of this arrange­ment, he dealt with Prince Ahmed and two oth­er mem­bers of the House of Saud as inter­me­di­aries, Prince Sul­tan bin Faisal bin Tur­ki al-Saud, a nephew of King Fahd’s, and Prince Fahd bin Tur­ki bin Saud al-Kabir, a twen­ty-five-year-old dis­tant rel­a­tive of the king’s. Again, he fur­nished phone num­bers from mem­o­ry.” (Ibid.; p. 266.)

11. Zubay­dah alleged that Prince Ahmed had fore­knowl­edge of an impend­ing ter­ror­ist attack in the U.S. on 9/11. “ . . . The inter­roga­tors respond­ed by telling Zubay­dah that 9/11 had changed every­thing. The House of Saud cer­tain­ly would not stand behind him after that. It was then that Zubay­dah dropped his real bomb­shell. ‘Zubay­dah said that 9/11 changed noth­ing because Ahmed . . . knew before­hand that an attack was sched­uled for Amer­i­can soil that day . . . ‘They just didn’t know what it would be, nor did they want to know more than that. The infor­ma­tion had been passed to them, said Zubay­dah, because bin laden knew they could not stop it with­out know­ing the specifics, but lat­er they would be hard-pressed to turn on him if he could dis­close their fore­knowl­edge.’” (Idem.)

12. “Two weeks lat­er, Zubay­dah was moved to an undis­closed loca­tion. When he fig­ured out that the inter­roga­tors were real­ly Amer­i­cans, not Saud­is, . . . he tried to stran­gle him­self, and lat­er recant­ed his entire tale. As this book went to press, no one had con­vinc­ing­ly refut­ed [this] account.” (Idem.)

13. After dis­cussing Prince Ahmed’s pur­chase of War Emblem, the horse’s suc­cess in the Ken­tucky Der­by and the Preak­ness, and the awk­ward pres­ence at the Der­by of New York fire­fight­ers who had lost many of their co-work­ers on 9/11, the pro­gram high­lights Prince Ahmed’s curi­ous absence from the U.S. when War Emblem was run­ning in the Bel­mont Stakes. Prince Ahmed then died on 7/22/2002, alleged­ly of a heart attack. “ . . . But on June 8, Prince Ahmed did not even show up at the Bel­mont Stakes, the third part of the Triple Crown. ‘I’m dis­ap­point­ed the prince wasn’t here,’ said train­er Bob Baf­feert. Ahmed was said to be tend­ing to fam­i­ly oblig­a­tions in Riyadh. An asso­ciate said that he did not know the nature of the oblig­a­tions. In any case, War Emblem stum­bled as he came out of the start­ing gate and came in eighth. About six weeks lat­er, on July 22, Prince Ahmed was dead. News reports said the forty-three-year-old nephew of King Fahd had died in his sleep due to a heart attack.” (Ibid.; p. 268.)

14. With­in eight days of Ahmed’s death, the two oth­er mem­bers of the roy­al fam­i­ly alleged by Zubay­dah to have served as liai­son agents between Al Qae­da and the house of Saud had died under odd cir­cum­stances. “ . . . Ahmed was not the only per­son named by Zubay­dah to suf­fer ill. The next day, July 23, Ahmed’s cousin, Prince Sul­tan bin Faisal bin Tur­ki al-Saud, was killed in a one-car crash while en route to Ahmed’s funer­al. A week lat­er, on July 30, Prince Fahd bin Tur­ki bin Saud al-Kabir, a third mem­ber of the roy­al fam­i­ly who had been named by Zubay­dah, was found in the desert hav­ing appar­ent­ly died of thirst.” (Ibid.; pp. 268–269.)

15. In addi­tion, the head of the Pak­istani air force (also alleged by Zubay­dah to be in the pay of Al Qae­da) died under strange cir­cum­stances, round­ing out the pat­tern of time­ly deaths around those revealed by Zubay­dah to have been asso­ci­at­ed with the ter­ror­ist group. The alleged rela­tion­ship between Bin Laden and Air Mar­shal Mushaf Ali Mir is inter­est­ing to con­tem­plate in con­nec­tion with some of the anom­alies about the per­for­mance of air units on 9/11. Cer­tain­ly, the head of the Pak­istani air force would have been an excel­lent con­sul­tant to pro­vide the attack­ers with inside infor­ma­tion about air defense tech­nol­o­gy. “In and of them­selves, the three mys­te­ri­ous deaths do not con­clu­sive­ly con­firm [the] asser­tion that Zubay­dah was telling the truth about Osama bin Laden and his high-lev­el links to the House of Saud. Nor was that the end of it. Dur­ing his inter­ro­ga­tion, Zubay­dah had also said that Osama bin Laden had struck a deal with Pak­istani air force chief Air Mar­shal Mushaf Ali Mir, and had told him that there would be unspec­i­fied attacks on Amer­i­can soil on 9/11. Sev­en months after the Sau­di deaths, on Feb­ru­ary 20, 2003, Mir and six­teen oth­ers were killed when their plane crashed in a north­west province of Pak­istan. Sab­o­tage was wide­ly spec­u­lat­ed to be behind the crash but could not be proved.” (Ibid.; p. 269.)

16. “Now, of course, the three men can­not be interviewed—not that the FBI didn’t have its chance at one of them. On Sep­tem­ber 16, 2001, after Ahmed board­ed the 727 in Lex­ing­ton, Ken­tucky. He had been iden­ti­fied by FBI offi­cials, but not seri­ous­ly inter­ro­gat­ed. It was an inaus­pi­cious start to the just-declared war on ter­ror. ‘What hap­pened on Sep­tem­ber 11 was a hor­rif­ic crime,’ says John Mar­tin, a for­mer Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cial. ‘It was an act of war. And the answer is no, this is not any way to go about inves­ti­gat­ing it.’” (Idem.)

17. “As for the Saud­is, they were not offer­ing any answers. On Sep­tem­ber 4, 2003, rough­ly two years after 9/11, Sau­di embassy spokesman Nail al-Jubeir appeared on CNN and was asked by news­cast­er Paula Zahn, ‘Can you tell us unequiv­o­cal­ly tonight that no one on board [these planes] had any­thing to do with either the plan­ning or the exe­cu­tion of the Sep­tem­ber 11 plot?’ ‘There are only two things that I’m sure about,’ al-Jubeir replied ‘That there is the exis­tence of God and then we will die at the end of the world. Every­thing else, we don’t know.’” (Idem.)