Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

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.”


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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