THE BIN LADEN FAMILY, SAUDI ARABIA CORRUPTION AND SUPPORT OF TERRORISTS, CONNECTIONS TO BUSH
By Paul Thompson
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Part 1: 1979 - 2000
Part 2: Jan. 2001 - 9/11
Part 3: Day of 9/11
Part 4: 9/11 - Dec. 2001
Part 5: Jan. 2002 - present
|Day of 9/11
Bush on 9/11
This story is so complicated and long, I've tried to break it into threads of different colors to make it easier to digest, as well as the main page, the page for the day of September 11, and the abridged timeline.
Central Asian oil, Enron and the Afghanistan pipelines.
For a separate page of these entries only, click
Information that should have shown what kind of attack al-Qaeda would make. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
US preparing for a war with Afghanistan before 9/11, increasing control of Asia before and since. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Incompetence, bad luck, and/or obstruction of justice. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Suggestions of advanced knowledge that an attack would take place on or around 9/11. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Cover-up, lies, and/or contradictions. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Israeli "art student" spy ring, Israeli foreknowledge evidence. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Anthrax attacks and microbiologist deaths. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Pakistani ISI and/or opium drug connections. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Bin Laden family, Saudi Arabia corruption and support of terrorists, connections to Bush. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Erosion of civil liberties and erection of a police state. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
December 26, 1979: Soviet
forces invade Afghanistan. They will withdraw in 1989 after a brutal 10-year
war. In a 1998 interview, Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's National Security
Adviser, reveals that the CIA began destabilizing the pro-Soviet Afghan government
six months earlier, in a deliberate attempt to get the Soviets to invade and
have their own Vietnam-type costly war: "What was more important in the
world view of history? The Taliban or the fall of the Soviet Empire? A few stirred-up
Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?"
[Le Nouvel Observateur,
1/29/02] The US and Saudi Arabia give a huge amount of money (estimates
range up to $40 billion total for the war) to support the mujaheddin guerrilla
fighters opposing the Russians.
Most of the money is managed by the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence agency. [Nation,
Early 1980: Osama bin Laden begins providing financial, organizational, and engineering aid for the mujaheddin in Afghanistan, with the advice and support of the Saudi royal family. [New Yorker, 11/5/01] Some believe he was hand-picked for the job by Prince Turki al-Faisal, head of Saudi Arabia's secret service. [Sunday Times, 8/25/02] Bin Laden has been considered a Turki protégé by some biographers. [New Yorker, 11/5/01] The Pakistani ISI wanted a Saudi prince as a public demonstration of the commitment of the Saudi royal family and as a way to ensure royal funds for the anti-Soviet forces. The agency failed to get royalty, but bin Laden, with his family's influential ties, was good enough for the ISI. [Miami Herald, 9/24/01]
October 1980: Salem bin Laden, Osama's oldest brother, is later described by a French secret intelligence report as one of the two closest friends of Saudi Arabia's King Fahd. As such, he often performs important missions for Saudi Arabia. The French report speculates that he is involved in secret Paris meetings between US and Iranian emissaries this month. Frontline, which published the French report, notes that such meetings have never been confirmed. Rumors of these meetings have been called the "October Surprise" and some have speculated Bush Sr. negotiated in these meetings a delay to the release of the US hostages in Iran, thus helping Ronald Reagan and Bush win the 1980 Presidential election. All of this is highly speculative, but if the French report is correct, it points to a long-standing connection of highly illegal behavior between the Bush and bin Laden families (see also Mid-1980s and 1988). [PBS Frontline, 2001]
Mid-1980s: Salem bin Laden, Osama's oldest brother, is allegedly involved in the Iran-Contra affair. Quoting a French intelligence report posted by Frontline (see October 1980), The New Yorker reports, "During the nineteen-eighties, when the Reagan Administration secretly arranged for an estimated thirty-four million dollars to be funneled through Saudi Arabia to the Contras, in Nicaragua, Salem bin Laden aided in this cause, according to French intelligence." [New Yorker, 11/5/01, Frontline, 2001]
1988: Bin Laden forms al-Qaeda this year (some reports claim 1989). [Forbes, 10/18/01]
1988: Prior to this year, George Bush Jr. is a failed oil man. Three times friends and investors have bailed him out to keep him from going bankrupt. But in this year, the same year his father becomes President, some Saudis buy a portion of his small company, Harken, which has never worked outside of Texas. Later in the year, Harken wins a contract in the Persian Gulf and starts doing well financially. These transactions seem so suspicious that the Wall Street Journal in 1991 states it "raises the question of ... an effort to cozy up to a presidential son." Two major investors in Bush's company during this time are Salem bin Laden, Osama bin Laden's oldest brother, and Khaled bin Mahfouz. [Salon, 11/19/01, Intelligence Newsletter, 3/2/00] Khaled bin Mahfouz is a Saudi banker with a 20% stake in BCCI, a bank that will go bankrupt a few years later in the biggest corruption scandal in banking history (see July 5, 1991). In 1999 bin Mahfouz will be placed under house arrest in Saudi Arabia for contributions he gave to welfare organizations closely linked to bin Laden (see April 1999). Bin Mahfouz's sister is married to Osama bin Laden (see also August 13, 1996, Early December 2001 (B), December 4, 2001 (B), and August 15, 2002 and November 26, 2002). [Washington Post, 2/17/02] In late 2002, Ron Motley, the lead lawyer in a 9/11 Saudi suit (see August 15, 2002), threatens that Bush, now President, "may find himself being deposed" in court for these financial ties to bin Mahfouz. [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 8/16/02]
January 20, 1989: George Bush Sr. is inaugurated as US president, replacing
Ronald Reagan. He remains president until 1993 (see January
20, 1993). Many of the key members in his government later have important
positions again when his son George Bush Jr. becomes president in 2001 (see
January 21, 2001).
For instance, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell later becomes Secretary
of State, and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney later becomes Vice President.
February 15, 1989: Soviet forces withdraw from Afghanistan. Afghan Communists retain control of Kabul, the capital, until April 1992. [Washington Post, 7/19/92]
March 1991: Did bin Laden ever truly break with the US and the CIA? The strongest motive that he did comes from this time, which is also roughly when al-Qaeda first starts targeting US interests. Although the Gulf War against Iraq just ended, the US does not withdraw all of its soldiers from Saudi Arabia, but stations some 15,000-20,000 there permanently. Their presence isn't admitted until 1995, and there has never been an official explanation as to why they are there. The Nation postulates that they are there to prevent a coup. Saudi Arabia has an incredible array of high-tech weaponry, but may lack the expertise to use it and local soldiers may have conflicting loyalties. In 1998, bin Laden will release a statement: "For more than seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples." [Nation, 2/15/99]
June 4, 1992: It is reported that the FBI is investigating the connections between James Bath and George Bush Jr. Bath is Salem bin Laden's official representative in the US. "Documents indicate that the Saudis were using Bath and their huge financial resources to influence US policy," since Bush Jr.'s father is president. Bush denies any connections to Saudi money. What became of this investigation is unclear. [Houston Chronicle, 6/4/92]
January 20, 1993: Bill Clinton is inaugurated as president, replacing George Bush Sr. He remains president until 2001 (see January 21, 2001).
October 3-4, 1993: Eighteen US soldiers are attacked and killed in Mogadishu, Somalia in a spontaneous gun battle (later the subject of the movie "Black Hawk Down"). A 1998 US indictment charges bin Laden and his followers with training the attackers. [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02]
1994: Mohammed al-Khilewi, the First Secretary at the Saudi Mission to the United Nations, defects and seeks political asylum in the US. He brings with him 14,000 internal government documents depicting the Saudi royal family's corruption, human-rights abuses, and financial support for terrorists. He meets with two FBI agents and an Assistant US Attorney. "We gave them a sampling of the documents and put them on the table," says his lawyer, "but the agents refused to accept them." [New Yorker, 10/16/01]
1995-2001: After the Taliban takes control of the area around Kandahar, Afghanistan (see September 1994), prominent Persian Gulf state officials and businessmen, including high-ranking UAE and Saudi government ministers such as Saudi intelligence minister Prince Turki al-Faisal (see July 1998), frequently secretly fly into Kandahar on state and private jets for hunting expeditions. While there, some develop ties to the Taliban and al-Qaeda and give them money. Bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar would sometimes participate in these hunting trips. Former US and Afghan officials suspect that the dignitaries' outbound jets may also have smuggled out al-Qaeda and Taliban cargo, just as smuggling was rampant on other airplanes flying out of the country (see Mid-1996-October 2001). [Los Angeles Times, 11/18/01]
November 13, 1995: Two truck bombs kill five Americans and two Indians in a US-operated Saudi National Guard training center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaeda is blamed for the attacks. [AP, 8/19/02]
Late 1995: King Fahd of Saudi Arabia suffers a severe stroke. Afterwards, he is able to sit in a chair and open his eyes, but little more. The resulting lack of leadership begins a behind-the-scenes struggle for power and leads to increased corruption. The situation continues to this day. Crown Prince Abdullah has been urging his fellow princes to address the problem of corruption in the kingdom - so far unsuccessfully. A former White House adviser says: "The only reason Fahd's being kept alive is so Abdullah can't become king." [New Yorker, 10/16/01]
1996 (C): The Saudi Arabian government starts paying huge amounts of money to al-Qaeda, becoming its largest financial backer. It also gives money to other extremist groups throughout Asia. This money vastly increases the capability of al-Qaeda. [New Yorker, 10/16/01] Saudis agree to continue sponsoring bin Laden's network (see also May 1996 and July 1998). Says one US official, "'96 is the key year... Bin Laden hooked up to all the bad guys - it's like the Grand Alliance - and had a capability for conducting large-scale operations." The Saudi regime, he says, had "gone to the dark side." Electronic intercepts by the NSA "depict a regime increasingly corrupt, alienated from the country's religious rank and file, and so weakened and frightened that it has brokered its future by channeling hundreds of millions of dollars in what amounts to protection money to fundamentalist groups that wish to overthrow it." US officials later privately complain "that the Bush Administration, like the Clinton Administration, is refusing to confront this reality, even in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks." [New Yorker, 10/16/01]
March 1996: The US pressures Sudan to do something about bin Laden, who is based in that country. Sudan readily agrees, not wanting to be labeled a terrorist nation. Sudan's Minister of Defense engages in secret negotiations with the CIA in Washington. Sudan offers to extradite bin Laden to anywhere he might stand trial. The US decides not to take him because they apparently don't have enough evidence at the time to charge him with a crime. Saudi Arabia is discussed as a possibility, but the Saudi Arabian government doesn't want him, even though bin Laden has pledged to bring down the Saudi Arabian government. US officials turn down the offer, but insist that bin Laden leave the country for anywhere but Somalia. One US intelligence source in the region later states: "We kidnap minor drug czars and bring them back in burlap bags. Somebody didn't want this to happen." [Village Voice, 10/31/01, Washington Post, 10/3/01] Bin Laden leaves under pressure two months later (see May 18, 1996). CIA Director Tenet later denies Sudan made any offers to hand over bin Laden. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02]
May 1996: Reporter Greg Palast later claims that there is a meeting of Saudi billionaires at the Hotel Royale Monceau in Paris this month with the financial representative of al-Qaeda. "The Saudis, including a key Saudi prince joined by Muslim and non-Muslim gun traffickers, [meet] to determine who would pay how much to Osama. This [is] not so much an act of support but of protection -- a payoff to keep the mad bomber away from Saudi Arabia" (see also 1996 (C)). [Best Democracy Money Can Buy, by Greg Palast, 2/03] The 9/11 victims' relatives also site a "nonpublished French intelligence report" of this meeting in their lawsuit against important Saudis. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 8/16/02] Palast claims that the Saudi Sheikh Abdullah Bakhsh attends the meeting. Bakhsh also saved Bush Jr.'s Harken Oil from bankruptcy around 1990. The notorious Saudi billionaire Adnan Khashoggi also attends the meeting. [Santa Fe New Mexican, 3/20/03, Democracy Now, 3/4/03] In a somewhat tongue-in-cheek manner, Slate has claimed that Khashoggi is a "shadowy international arms merchant" who is "connected to every scandal of the past 40 years." Amongst other things, he was a major investor in BCCI and a key player in the Iran-Contra affair. [Slate, 12/4/00, Slate, 11/14/01, Slate, 3/12/03] Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz also apparently attends the meeting (though it could be a later meeting with Khashoggi in 1998). [Business Post, 10/7/01] Palast, noting that the French monitored the meeting, asks, "Since US intelligence was thus likely informed, the question becomes why didn't the government immediately move against the Saudis?" [Best Democracy Money Can Buy, by Greg Palast, 2/03] An apparent follow-up meeting occurs in 1998 (see July 1998).
June 25, 1996: Explosions destroy the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 American soldiers and wounding 500. [CNN, 6/26/96] Saudi officials later interrogate the suspects, declare them guilty, and execute them - without letting the FBI talk to them. [PBS Frontline, 2001, Irish Times, 11/19/01] Saudis blame the Hezbollah, the Iranian-influenced group, but US investigators still believe bin Laden was somehow involved (in June 2001 a US grand jury indicted 13 Saudis for the bombing). [Seattle Times, 10/29/01] Bin Laden admitted instigating the attacks in a 1998 interview. [Miami Herald, 9/24/01] Ironically, the bin Laden family is later awarded the contract to rebuild the installation. [New Yorker, 11/5/01] In 1997, Canada catches one of the Khobar Tower attackers and extradites him to the US. But in 1999, he is shipped back to Saudi Arabia before he can reveal what he knows about al-Qaeda and the Saudis. One anonymous insider calls it, "Clinton's parting kiss to the Saudis." [Best Democracy Money Can Buy, by Greg Palast, 2/03]
September 11, 1996: An FBI investigation into two relatives of bin Laden, begun in February 1996, is closed. The FBI wanted to learn more about Abdullah bin Laden, "because of his relationship with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth [WAMY] - a suspected terrorist organization." [Guardian, 11/7/01] Abdullah was the US director of WAMY and lived with his brother Omar in Falls Church, Virginia, a town just outside Washington. The coding on the document, marked secret, indicates the case involved espionage, murder, and national security. WAMY has its offices at 5613 Leesburg Pike. Remarkably, it is later determined that four of the 9/11 hijackers lived at 5913 Leesburg Pike at the same time the two bin Laden brothers were there. WAMY has not been put on a list of terrorist organizations in the US, but it has been banned in Pakistan. A high-placed intelligence official tells the Guardian: "There were always constraints on investigating the Saudis. There were particular investigations that were effectively killed." An unnamed US source says to the BBC, "There is a hidden agenda at the very highest levels of our government." [BBC Newsnight, 11/6/01, Guardian, 11/7/01, see related leaked documents here] The Bosnian government later says a charity with Abdullah bin Laden on its board had channeled money to Chechen guerrillas (see also September 20, 2002 (C)), something that "is only possible because the Clinton CIA gave the wink and nod to WAMY and other groups who were aiding Bosnian guerrillas when they were fighting Serbia, a US-approved enemy." The investigation into WAMY is only restarted two days after 9/11, and after the bin Laden brothers have left the US. [Best Democracy Money Can Buy, by Greg Palast, 2/03] (Note that this Abdullah bin Laden is possibly bin Laden's cousin, not brother, and is apparently not the same as the Abdullah bin Laden who serves as the bin Laden family spokesman. [Best Democracy Money Can Buy, by Greg Palast, 2/03])
August 13, 1996: Unocal and Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia come to agreement with state companies in Turkmenistan and Russia to to build a natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan, the agreement is finalized the next year (see October 27, 1997). [Unocal website, 8/13/96] The Boston Herald later reports that, "The prime force behind Delta Oil appears to be Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi" (see November 22, 2002 (B)) and that his business interests are "enmeshed" with those of Khalid bin Mahfouz (see for instance 1988 and April 1999). Together and separately, al-Amoudi and bin Mahfouz have become "partners with US firms in a series of ambitious oil development and pipeline projects in central and south Asia." [Boston Herald, 12/10/01] The two are later included in a secret United Nations list of financiers funding al-Qaeda (see November 26, 2002).
November 26, 1997: An industry newsletter reports that Saudi Arabia has abandoned plans to have open bids on a $2 billion power plant near Mecca, deciding that the government will build it instead. What's interesting is that one of the bids was made by a consortium of Enron, the Saudi Binladen Group (run by Osama's family), and Italy's Ansaldo Energia. [Alexander's Gas and Oil Connections, 1/22/98]
Spring 1998: Sources who know bin Laden later claim that bin Laden's mother has the first of two meetings with her son Osama in Afghanistan (see Spring 2000 (C)). This trip is arranged by Prince Turki al-Faisal, then the head of Saudi intelligence (see August 31, 2001). Turki is in charge of the "Afghanistan file" for Saudi Arabia, and has long-standing ties to bin Laden and the Taliban (see Early 1980). [New Yorker, 11/5/01]
April 1998: Osama Basnan, a Saudi living in California, later claims that he writes a letter at this time to Saudi Arabian Prince Bandar bin Sultan and his wife, Princess Haifa bint Faisal, asking for financial help because his wife, Majeda Dweikat, needs thyroid surgery. The Saudi embassy sends Basnan $15,000 and pays the surgical bill. However, University of California at San Diego hospital records say Basnan's wife wasn't treated until April 2000. [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] Basnan will later come under investigation for possibly using some of this money to support two of the 9/11 hijackers who arrive in San Diego at the end of 1999 (see November 1999 (B), September 22, 2001, November 22, 2002).
June 1998: Relations between Taliban head Mullah Omar and bin Laden grow tense, and Omar strikes a secret deal with the Saudis to expel bin Laden. Head of Saudi intelligence Prince Turki al-Faisal travels to Kandahar, Afghanistan and brokers the deal, but before it can be enacted, the US strikes Afghanistan in August, driving Omar and bin Laden back together. Prince Turki states that "the Taliban attitude changed 180 degrees," and that Omar was "absolutely rude" to him when he visited again in September. [Guardian, 11/5/01, London Times, 8/3/02] Note that reports of this meeting seemingly contradict reports of a different secret meeting a month later (see July 1998). Was bin Laden charmed by luck, or might the embassy bombings and/or the US missile attacks in response have been timed to help keep him in Afghanistan?
June 1998 (D): An unknown Saudi benefactor pays a Saudi named Saad Al-Habeeb to buy a building in San Diego, California for a new Kurdish community mosque. However, the $545,000 needed will only be given on the condition that a Saudi named Omar al-Bayoumi be installed as the building's maintenance manager with a private office at the mosque. Al-Bayoumi is later suspected of giving financial assistance to two of the 9/11 hijackers (see November 1999 (B) and November 22, 2002). After taking the job, al-Bayoumi keeps an erratic schedule. The people in the mosque eventually begin a move to replace al-Bayoumi, but he moves to Britain in May or June 2001 before this can happen. [Newsweek, 11/24/02, Sunday Mercury, 10/21/01] Al-Bayoumi who "often gave parties and videotaped guests, was widely considered by Muslims [in San Diego] to be a Saudi government agent" (see Mid-January 2000). [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/14/02] "He was always watching [young Saudi college students], always checking up on them, literally following them around and then apparently reporting their activities back to Saudi Arabia," says Henry Bagadan, a Pakistani businessman who worships at the San Diego Islamic Center. [Newsweek, 11/24/02] An anonymous federal investigator states: "Al-Bayoumi came here, set everything up financially, set up the San Diego [terrorist] cell and set up the mosque." An international tax attorney notes that anyone handling business for a mosque or a church could set it up as a tax-exempt charitable organization "and it can easily be used for money laundering." [San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/27/01, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/22/02] Until 1994, al-Bayoumi worked for the Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation, headed by Prince Sultan, the father of US ambassador Prince Bandar. He told some people he received a monthly stipend from his former employer, a Saudi aviation company called Dallah Avco that has extensive ties to the same Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation. He told others that he was a student or a pilot and even claimed to be receiving monthly payments from "family in India" (despite being Saudi), but the explanations didn't seem credible. [Newsweek, 11/22/02, Newsweek, 11/24/02, Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/27/01, Sunday Mercury, 10/21/01] The FBI is investigating possible ties between Dallah Avco and al-Qaeda, [Newsweek, 10/29/02] and Saleh Abdullah Kamel, the billionaire owner of the company, is on a secret United Nations list of terror financiers (see November 26, 2002).
July 1998: According to documents exposed in a later lawsuit, a meeting takes place in Kandahar, Afghanistan, that leads to a secret deal between Saudi Arabia and the Taliban. Those present include Prince Turki al-Faisal, head of Saudi Arabian intelligence (see also Early 1980 and Spring 1998), Taliban leaders, senior officers from the ISI, and bin Laden. Saudi Arabia agrees to give the Taliban and Pakistan "several hundred millions" of dollars, and in return bin Laden promises no attacks against Saudi Arabia. The Saudis also agree to ensure that requests for the extradition of al-Qaeda members will be blocked and promise to block demands by other countries that bin Laden's Afghan training camps will be closed down. Saudi Arabia had previously given money to the Taliban and bribe money to bin Laden (see 1996 (C)), but this ups the ante. [Sunday Times, 8/25/02] A few weeks after the meeting, Prince Turki sends 400 new pickup trucks to Afghanistan. At least $200 million follow. [Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 9/23/01, New York Post, 8/25/02] Note that reports of this meeting seemingly contradict reports of a meeting the month before between Turki and the Taliban, in which the Taliban agreed to get rid of bin Laden (see June 1998).
August 7, 1998: Terrorists bomb the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The bomb in Nairobi, Kenya kills 213 people, including 12 US nationals, and injures more than 4,500. The bomb in Dar es Salaam kills 11 and injures 85. The attack is blamed on al-Qaeda. [PBS Frontline, 2001]
October 1998: FBI agents Robert Wright and John Vincent are tracking a terrorist cell in Chicago, but are told to simply follow suspects around town and file reports. The two agents believe some of the money used to finance the 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998) leads back to Chicago and Saudi multimillionaire businessman Yassin al-Qadi (see also March 21, 2000 and October 12, 2002). Supervisors try, but temporarily fail, to halt the investigation into al-Qadi's possible terrorist connections. However, at this time, a supervisor prohibits Wright and Vincent from making any arrests connected to the bombings, or opening new criminal investigations. Even though they believe their case is growing stronger, in January 2001 Wright is told that the Chicago case is being closed and that "it's just better to let sleeping dogs lie" (see Late January 2001). Wright tells ABC: "Those dogs weren't sleeping, they were training, they were getting ready. ... September the 11th is a direct result of the incompetence of the FBI's International Terrorism Unit. ... Absolutely no doubt about that." Chicago federal prosecutor Mark Flessner, also working on the case, says there "were powers bigger than I was in the Justice Department and within the FBI that simply were not going to let [the building of a criminal case] happen." Wright will write an internal FBI memo slamming the FBI in June 2001 (see June 9, 2001, and also May 30, 2002 and August 9, 2002 (C)). Al-Qadi is named in a March 2000 affidavit as a source of terrorist funds in Chicago. [ABC, 11/26/02, ABC, 12/19/02, ABC, 12/19/02 (B)] He is also on secret US and UN lists of major al-Qaeda financiers (see November 26, 2002). His charity, the Muwafaq Foundation, is allegedly an al-Qaeda front which transferred $820,000 to the Palestinian group Hamas through a Muslim foundation called the Quranic Literacy Institute; the date of the transfer has not been released. [CNN, 10/15/01] Al-Qadi says he shut down Muwafaq in 1996, but the charity has received money from the United Nations since then. [BBC, 10/20/01, CNN, 10/15/01]
November 1998 (B): Former President George Bush Sr. meets with the bin Laden family on behalf of the Carlyle Group. The meeting takes place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This is one of two known meetings (see January 2000). [Sunday Herald, 10/7/01]
Late 1998 (C): FBI counter-terrorism expert John O'Neill and his team investigating the 1998 embassy bombings are repeatedly frustrated by the Saudi government. Guillaume Dasquié, one of the authors of Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth, later tells the Village Voice: "We uncovered incredible things... Investigators would arrive to find that key witnesses they were about to interrogate had been beheaded the day before." [Village Voice, 1/2/02, Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth, released 11/11/01 (the link is an excerpt containing Chapter 1)]
Late 1998 (F): The failed August 1998 US missile attack against bin Laden (see August 20, 1998) greatly elevates bin Laden's stature in the Muslim world. A US defense analyst later states, "I think that raid really helped elevate bin Laden's reputation in a big way, building him up in the Muslim world.... My sense is that because the attack was so limited and incompetent, we turned this guy into a folk hero." [Washington Post, 10/3/01] An Asia Times article published just prior to 9/11 suggests that because of the failed attack, "a very strong Muslim lobby emerge[s] to protect [bin Laden's] interests. This includes Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, as well as senior Pakistani generals. Prince Abdullah has good relations with bin Laden as both are disciples of slain Doctor Abdullah Azzam." [Asia Times, 8/22/01] In early 1999, Pakistani President Musharraf complains that by demonizing bin Laden, the US has turned him into a cult figure and hero. The US decides to play down the importance of bin Laden. [UPI, 6/14/01]
April 1999: A Saudi government audit shows that five of Saudi Arabia's billionaires have been giving tens of millions of dollars to al-Qaeda. The audit shows that these businessmen transferred money from the National Commercial Bank to accounts of Islamic charities in London and banks in New York that serve as fronts for bin Laden. $3 million was diverted from a Saudi pension fund. [USA Today, 10/29/99] $2 billion of the bank's $21 billion is also found to be missing. The only action taken is that Khalid bin Mahfouz, founder of National Commercial Bank, Saudi Arabia's biggest bank, is placed under house arrest and majority control in the bank is bought out by the Saudi government. [Ottawa Citizen, 9/29/01] The Saudi government won't allow US officials to talk to bin Mahfouz, despite asking "at a very senior level." [Washington Post, 2/17/02] By 9/11, he is in a hospital and technically no longer under house arrest. The US has not frozen the accounts of bin Mahfouz, and he continues to engage in major oil deals with US corporations (see Early December 2001 (B)). Forbes Magazine claims his family fortune is worth more than $4 billion. [Boston Herald, 10/14/01, Boston Herald, 12/10/01] Bin Mahfouz had invested in George Bush Jr.'s businesses starting in 1988 (see 1988). He is later sued for his role in funding terrorism (see August 15, 2002).
Mid-June 1999: Hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi, plus would-be hijacker Ramzi Bin al-Shibh and associate Mounir El Motassadeq, hold a meeting in Amsterdam, Netherlands. All are living in Hamburg at the time, so it's not clear why they go to meet there, though it's speculated they are meeting someone. Motassadeq also goes to the town of Eindhoven, Netherlands, on three occasions, in early 1999, late 1999 and 2001. [AP, 9/13/02] On at least one occasion, Motassadeq receives cash provided by unnamed "Saudi financiers" that is meant to fund a new Eindhoven mosque. Investigators believe he uses the money to help pay for some 9/11 hijacker flying lessons. [Baltimore Sun, 9/2/02] Alshehhi also flies to Amsterdam from the US in the summer of 2001, but it isn't known why (see April 18, 2001).
November 1999 (B): As hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar enter the US for the first time (see November 1999), they are met at the Los Angeles International Airport by a Saudi man named Omar al-Bayoumi (see June 1998 (D)). Al-Bayoumi later claims that he didn't know Alhazmi and Almihdhar, but happens to overhear them speaking Arabic in the airport restaurant, introduces himself and begins helping them. He drives them to San Diego, arranges for them to live in an apartment a few doors away in the same apartment building, guarantees the lease and pays $1,550 in cash to cover the first two months rent. He also helps them open a bank account, obtain car insurance, get Social Security cards and call flight schools in Florida. [Newsweek, 11/24/02, Washington Post, 12/29/01, Sunday Mercury, 10/21/01] Alhazmi and Almihdhar may have reimbursed al-Bayoumi for the rent money later the same day. [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] Al-Bayoumi is arrested after 9/11, but released after one week (see September 22, 2001). Some FBI officials later suggest that al-Bayoumi was an al-Qaeda agent, and the possibility that the Saudi government may have funded him creates headlines in November 2002 (see November 22, 2002). Note that there is some discrepancy as to when Alhazmi and Almihdhar first entered the US; most media report January 2000 (after an important al-Qaeda meeting that they attend in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000)), but some report November 1999 (for instance, Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02]). Since Alhazmi's name appears on a San Diego apartment lease in November 1999, it is hard to see how they could have arrived later than that. [Washington Post, 10/01]
December 4, 1999: Princess Haifa bint Faisal, the wife of Prince Bandar, the Saudi Ambassador to the US, begins sending monthly cashier's checks of between $2,000 and $3,500 (accounts differ) to Majeda Dweikat, the wife of Osama Basnan, a Saudi living in San Diego (see April 1998). Accounts also differ over when the checks were first sent (between November 1999 and about March 2000, a Saudi government spokesman has stated December 4 [Fox News, 11/23/02]). Basnan's wife signs many of the checks over to her friend Manal Bajadr, the wife of Omar al-Bayoumi. [Washington Times, 11/26/02, Newsweek, 11/22/02, Newsweek, 11/24/02, Guardian, 11/25/02] Basnan's wife received some checks while she was living in Baltimore, Maryland and Falls Church, Virginia. [Washington Post, 11/24/02] Falls Church is located outside Washington and near CIA headquarters. It is also where the World Assembly of Muslim Youth [WAMY] - a suspected terrorist organization - is located. Abdullah bin Laden (Osama's brother) was the US director of WAMY; he and his brother Omar lived in Falls Church at the same time as four of the 9/11 hijackers (see 1996). It is believed that al-Bayoumi helped 9/11 hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar settle in San Diego (see November 1999 (B)), and it is later suggested that the money from the wife of the Saudi ambassador passes through these two as intermediaries and ultimately ends up in the hands of the two hijackers (see November 22, 2002). The payments from Princess Haifa continue until May 2002 and may total $51,000, or as much as $73,000. [MSNBC, 11/23/02, MSNBC, 11/27/02] While living in the San Diego area, al-Bayoumi and Basnan are heavily involved in relocating and offering financial support to Saudi immigrants in the community. [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] In late 2002, Al-Bayoumi tells an Arabic-language newspaper in London that he did not pass any money along to the hijackers. [Washington Times, 12/04/02] Basnan is also described as an al-Qaeda sympathizer who called 9/11 "a wonderful, glorious day." [Newsweek, 11/22/02] However, Basnan has variously claimed to know al-Bayoumi, not know him at all or to know him only vaguely, [Arab News, 11/26/02, ABC, 11/26/02, ABC, 11/25/02, MSNBC, 11/27/02] but earlier reports say Basnan and his wife were "very good friends" of al-Bayoumi and his wife. Both couples lived at the Parkwood Apartments at the same time as the two hijackers; prior to that, the couples lived together in a different apartment complex. Also, the two wives were arrested for shoplifting together at a J. C. Penney in April 2001. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/22/02]
2000-September 10, 2001: The names of four hijackers are later discovered in Philippines immigration records, according to Philippine Immigration Commissioner Andrea Domingo. However, it hasn't been confirmed if these are the hijackers, or just other Saudis with the same names. Abdulaziz Alomari visits the Philippines once in 2000, then again in February 2001, leaving on February 12. [AP, 9/19/01, Telegraph, 9/20/01, Philippines Daily Inquirer, 9/19/01] Ahmed Alghamdi visits Manila, Philippines more than 13 times in the two years before 9/11. He leaves the Philippines the day before the attacks. [Arizona Daily Star, 9/28/01, Telegraph, 9/20/01] Fayez Ahmed Banihammad visits the Philippines on October 17-19, 2000. [Arizona Daily Star, 9/28/01, Telegraph, 9/20/01] Saeed Alghamdi visits the Philippines on at least 15 occasions in 2001, entering as a tourist. The last visit ends on August 6, 2001. [Telegraph, 9/20/01] Hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi may also have been living in the Philippines (see 1998-2000), and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed occasionally stays there (see Early 1994-January 1995). When in the Philippines, it is possible the hijackers meet with associates of Mohammad Jamal Khalifa, bin Laden's brother-in-law. Khalifa has been closely linked with the Philippines chapter of the International Islamic Relief Organization, which gets much of its money from the Saudi Arabian government and has lately been accused of being a front for al-Qaeda. Amongst other connections to terrorism, Khalifa helped fund the Islamic Army of Aden, a group that claimed responsibility for the bombing of the USS Cole. [Boston Herald, 10/14/01] Khalifa has been connected through phone calls to Hambali, a major terrorist who attended a planning meeting for the 9/11 attacks in Malaysia, also attended by two hijackers connected to the Islamic Army of Aden (see January 5-8, 2000). [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02, Cox News, 10/21/01] Nothing more has been heard to confirm or deny the hijackers' Philippines connections since these initial reports - are they being downplayed to hide embarrassing connections between the hijackers, bin Laden's family, and the Saudi government?
January 2000: Former President George Bush Sr. meets with the bin Laden family on behalf of the Carlyle Group. He had also met with them in 1998 (see November 1998 (B)), but it's not known if he met with them after this. Bush denied this meeting took place until a thank you note was found confirming it. [Wall Street Journal, 9/27/01, Guardian, 10/31/01] FTW
Mid-January 2000: Omar al-Bayoumi, a Saudi who has been living in the US for several years (see June 1998 (D)), throws a welcoming party for future 9/11 hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar in San Diego that introduces them to the local Muslim community. [Washington Post, 12/29/01] He also introduces hijacker Hani Hanjour to the community a short time later. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/14/02] One associate later says an al-Bayoumi party "was a big deal ... it meant that everyone accepted them without question." [San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/25/01] This was only a small part of his assistance to the three hijackers (see November 1999 (B)). Why was he so friendly and helpful? Many people in San Diego who knew him believe he was a Saudi government spy, reporting on the activities of Saudi-born college students. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/14/02, Newsweek, 11/22/02]
March 21, 2000: FBI agent Robert Wright (see also October 1998 and June 9, 2001), having been accused of tarnishing the reputation of fellow agent Gamal Abdel-Hafiz, makes a formal internal complaint about Abdel-Hafiz. FBI agent Barry Carmody seconds Wright's complaint. Wright and Carmody accuse Abdel-Hafiz, a Muslim, of hindering investigations by openly refusing to record other Muslims. The FBI was investigating if BMI Inc., a New Jersey based company with connections to Saudi financier Yassin al-Qadi (see October 12, 2002), had helped fund the 1998 US embassy bombings. [Wall Street Journal, 11/26/02, ABC News, 12/19/02] Federal prosecutor Mark Flessner and other FBI agents back up the allegations against Abdel-Hafiz. [ABC News, 12/19/02] Carmody also claims that Abdel-Hafiz hurt an inquiry into the possible terrorist ties of fired University of South Florida Professor Sami Al-Arian by refusing to record a conversation with the professor in 1998. [Tampa Tribune, 3/4/03] Complaints to superiors and headquarters about this never get a response. [Fox News, 3/6/03] Furthermore, "Far from being reprimanded, Abdel-Hafiz [is] promoted to one of the FBI's most important anti-terrorism posts, the American Embassy in Saudi Arabia, to handle investigations for the FBI in that Muslim country." [ABC News, 12/19/02] Abdel-Hafiz is finally suspended in February 2003 after his scandal is widely reported in the press. [Tampa Tribune, 3/4/03] Bill O'Reilly of Fox News claims that on March 4, 2003, the FBI threatens to fire Wright if he speaks publicly about this, one hour before Wright is scheduled to appear on Fox News. [Fox News, 3/4/03] Is Abdel-Hafiz promoted to a sensitive Saudi post because he won't ask hard questions there?
Spring 2000 (C): Sources who know bin Laden later claim that bin Laden's mother has a second meeting with her son Osama in Afghanistan (see Spring 1998). The trip is approved by the Saudi royal family. The Saudis pass the message to him that "'they wouldn't crack down on his followers in Saudi Arabia' as long as he set his sights on targets outside the desert kingdom." In late 1999, the Saudi government had told the CIA about the upcoming trip, and suggested placing a homing beacon on her luggage. This doesn't happen - Saudis later claim they weren't taken seriously, and Americans claim they never received specific information on her travel plans. [New Yorker, 11/5/01, Washington Post, 12/19/01]
October 12, 2000: The USS Cole is bombed in the Aden, Yemen harbor by al-Qaeda terrorists. 17 US soldiers are killed. [ABC News, 10/13/00]
January 21, 2001: George Bush Jr. is inaugurated as the 43rd US President, replacing Clinton. The only major figure to permanently remain in office is CIA Director Tenet, appointed in 1997 and reputedly a long time friend of Bush Sr. FBI Director Louis Freeh stays on until June 2001. Numerous figures in Bush's administration have been directly employed in the oil industry, including Bush, Vice President Cheney and National Security Advisor Rice. It is later revealed that Cheney is still being paid up to $1 million a year in "deferred payments" from Halliburton, the oil company he headed. [Guardian, 3/12/03] Enron's ties also reach deep into the administration. [Washington Post, 1/18/02]
Late January 2001: The BBC later reports, "After the elections, [US intelligence] agencies [are] told to 'back off' investigating the Bin Ladens and Saudi royals, and that anger[s] agents." This follows previous orders to abandon an investigation of bin Laden relatives (see September 11, 1996), and difficulties in investigating Saudi royalty. [BBC, 11/6/01] FTW An unnamed "top-level CIA operative" says there is a "major policy shift" at the National Security Agency at this time. Osama bin Laden could still be investigated, but agents could not look too closely at how he got his money. [Best Democracy Money Can Buy, by Greg Palast, 2/03] Presumably one such investigation canceled is an investigation by the Chicago FBI into ties between Saudi multimillionaire Yassin al-Qadi and the US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998) and other terrorist acts, because during this month an FBI agent is told that the case is being closed and that "it's just better to let sleeping dogs lie" (see October 1998). Reporter Greg Palast notes that President Clinton was already hindering investigations by protecting Saudi interests. But, as he puts it, "Where Clinton said, 'Go slow,' Bush policymakers said, 'No go.' The difference is between closing one eye and closing them both." [Best Democracy Money Can Buy, by Greg Palast, 2/03]
February 2001 (B): A former CIA anti-terror expert later claims that an allied intelligence agency sees "two of Osama's sisters apparently taking cash to an airport in Abu Dhabi [United Arab Emirates], where they are suspected of handing it to a member of bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization." This is cited as one of many incidents showing an "interconnectedness" between Osama bin Laden and the rest of his family. [New Yorker, 11/5/01]
February 26, 2001: Bin Laden attends the wedding of his son Mohammad in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Although bin Laden is supposedly long estranged from his family, bin Laden's stepmother, two brothers and sister are also said to have attended, according to the only journalist who was invited (see also Spring 1998 and Spring 2000 (C)). [Reuters, 3/1/01, Sunday Herald, 10/7/01]
Early June 2001: UPI reporters interview the reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar. He says the Taliban would like to resolve the bin Laden issue, so there can be "an easing and then lifting of UN sanctions that are strangling and killing the people of [Afghanistan]" (see November 14, 1999 and January 19, 2001). The reporters also note, "Saudi Arabia and the [United Arab Emirates] secretly fund the Taliban government by paying Pakistan for its logistical support to Afghanistan. Despite Pakistan's official denials, Taliban is entirely dependent on Pakistani aid. This was verified on the ground by UPI. Everything from bottled water to oil, gasoline and aviation fuel, and from telephone equipment to military supplies, comes from Pakistan." [UPI, 6/14/01]
Summer 2001 (E): Anonymous government sources later claim that Atta visits fellow hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, and Saudi citizen Omar al-Bayoumi (see June 1998 (D)). These same sources claim al-Bayoumi was identified after September 11 as an "advance man" for al-Qaeda. [Washington Times, 11/26/02] Other reports have suggested Atta visited Alhazmi and Almihdhar in San Diego (see September-December 2000), but it would strongly indicate al-Bayoumi was an advance man if Atta visited him in the company of the other two hijackers.
Summer 2001 (F): An Asia Times article published just prior to 9/11 claims that Crown Prince Abdullah, the defacto ruler of Saudi Arabia (see Late 1995), makes a clandestine visit to Pakistan around this time. After meeting with senior army officials, he visits Afghanistan with ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed (see October 7, 2001). They meet Taliban leader Mullah Omar and try to convince him that the US is likely to launch an attack on Afghanistan. They insist bin Laden be sent to Saudi Arabia, where he would be held in custody and not handed over to any third country. If bin Laden were to be tried in Saudi Arabia, Abdullah would help make sure he is acquitted. Mullah Omar apparently rejects the proposal. The article suggests that Abdullah is secretly a supporter of bin Laden and is trying to protect him from harm (see Late 1998 (F)). [Asia Times, 8/22/01] A similar meeting may also take place after 9/11 (see September 19, 2001 (B)).
July 4-14, 2001: Bin Laden, America's most wanted criminal with a $5 million bounty on his head, supposedly receives lifesaving treatment for renal failure from American surgeon specialist Dr. Callaway at the American hospital in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He is possibly accompanied by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri (who is said to be bin Laden's personal physician, al-Qaeda's second-in-command, and leader of Egypt's Islamic Jihad), plus several bodyguards. Callaway supposedly treated bin Laden in 1996 and 1998, also in Dubai. Callaway later refuses to answer any questions on this matter. [Le Figaro, 10/31/01, Agence France-Presse, 11/1/01, London Times, 11/01/01] During his stay, bin Laden is visited by "several members of his family and Saudi personalities," including Prince Turki al Faisal, then head of Saudi intelligence, as well as two CIA officers (see also July 12, 2001). [Guardian, 11/1/01] FTW The explosive story is widely reported in Europe, but barely at all in the US (possibly only by UPI [UPI, 11/1/01]).
Mid-July 2001 (B): John O'Neill, FBI counter-terrorism expert, privately discusses White House obstruction in his bin Laden investigation. O'Neill says:"The main obstacles to investigate Islamic terrorism were US oil corporate interests and the role played by Saudi Arabia in it." He adds:"All the answers, everything needed to dismantle Osama bin Laden's organization, can be found in Saudi Arabia." O'Neill also believes the White House is obstructing his investigation of bin Laden because they are still keeping the idea of a pipeline deal with the Taliban open. [CNN, 1/8/02, CNN, 1/9/02, Irish Times, 11/19/01, Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth, released 11/11/01 (the link is an excerpt containing Chapter 1)]
August 2001 (G): Former CIA agent Robert Baer (see December 1997 and January 23, 2002) is advising a prince in a Persian Gulf royal family, when a military associate of this prince passes information to him about a "spectacular terrorist operation" that will take place shortly. He is also given a computer record of around 600 secret al-Qaeda operatives in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The list includes 10 names that will be placed on the FBI's most wanted terrorists list after 9/11. He is also given evidence that a Saudi merchant family had funded the USS Cole bombing (see October 12, 2000), and that the Yemeni government is covering up information related to that bombing. At the military officer's request, he offers all this information to the Saudi Arabian government. But an aide to the Saudi defense minister, Prince Sultan, refuses to look at the list or to pass the names on (Sultan is later sued for his complicity in the 9/11 plot, see August 15, 2002). Baer also passes the information on to a senior CIA official and the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center, but there is no response or action. Large sections of Baer's book are blacked out, having been censored by the CIA. [Financial Times, 1/12/02, See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism, Robert Baer, 2/02, pp. 270-271, Breakdown: How America's Intelligence Failures Led to September 11, Bill Gertz, pp. 55-58]
August 31, 2001: Turki al-Faisal, head of Saudi Arabia's intelligence service for 24 years, is replaced. No explanation is given. He is replaced by Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz, his nephew and the king's brother, who has "no background in intelligence whatsoever." [AFP, 8/31/01, Seattle Times, 10/29/01, Wall Street Journal, 10/22/01] FTW The Wall Street Journal later reports, "The timing of Turki's removal - August 31 - and his Taliban connection raise the question: Did the Saudi regime know that bin Laden was planning his attack against the US? The current view among Saudi-watchers is probably not, but that the House of Saud might have heard rumors that something was planned, although they did not know what or when. (An interesting and possibly significant detail: Prince Sultan, the defense minister, had been due to visit Japan in early September, but canceled his trip for no apparent reason less than two days before his planned departure.)" [Wall Street Journal, 10/22/01] Turki is later sued for his role in 9/11 (see August 15, 2002) and appointed ambassador to Britain (see October 18, 2002).
September 8-11, 2001 (B): In the days before the attacks, some of the hijackers (including Waleed Alshehri and/or Wail Alshehri) apparently sleep with prostitutes in Boston hotel rooms, or try to. A driver working at an "escort service" used by the hijackers claims he regularly drove prostitutes to a relative of bin Laden about once a week until 9/11, when the relative disappeared. Bin Laden has several relatives in the Boston area, most or all of whom returned to Saudi Arabia right after 9/11. [Boston Herald, 10/10/01] Did the bin Laden relative recommended the service to the hijackers? On September 10, four other hijackers in Boston (Marwan Alshehhi, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, Mohand Alshehri, and Satam Al Suqami) call around to find prostitutes to sleep with on their last night alive, but in the end decline. Says one official, ''It was going to be really expensive and they couldn't come to a consensus on price, so that was the end of it... Either they thought it was too extravagant [over $400] or they didn't have enough money left.'' [Boston Globe, 10/10/01] Does this behavior make any sense if they thought they would die the next day?
September 9, 2001 (C): It is later reported that on this day, bin Laden calls his stepmother and says, "In two days, you're going to hear big news and you're not going to hear from me for a while." US officials later tell CNN that "in recent years they've been able to monitor some of bin Laden's telephone communications with his [step]mother. Bin Laden at the time was using a satellite telephone, and the signals were intercepted and sometimes recorded." [New York Times, 10/2/01] Stepmother Al-Khalifa bin Laden, who raised Osama bin Laden after his natural mother died, was apparently waiting in Damascus, Syria, to meet Osama there, so he called to cancel the meeting. [Sunday Herald, 10/7/01] They had met periodically in recent years (see Spring 1998, Spring 2000 (C) and February 26, 2001). Before 9/11, to impress important visitors, NSA analysts would occasionally play audio tapes of bin Laden talking to his stepmother. [Body of Secrets, James Bamford, 4/02, p. 410] The next day government officials say about the call, "I would view those reports with skepticism." [CNN, 10/2/01]
September 11, 2001 (G): The 9/11 attack: four planes are hijacked, two crash into the WTC, one into the Pentagon, and one crashes into the Pennsylvania countryside. At least 3,000 people are killed. A more detailed timeline focusing on the hours of this attack appears on a separate page.
September 11, 2001 (Z): The Carlyle Group is a company closely associated with officials of the Bush and Reagan administrations, and has considerable ties to Saudi oil money, including ties to the bin Laden family (see September 27, 2001). Those ties are well illustrated by the fact that on this day the Carlyle Group is hosting a conference at a Washington hotel. Among the guests of honor is investor Shafig bin Laden, brother to Osama. [Observer, 6/16/02]
September 13-19, 2001: Members of bin Laden's family and important Saudis are "driven or flown under FBI supervision to a secret assembly point in Texas and then to Washington from where they left the country on a private charter plane when airports reopened three days after the attacks." The flights to Texas and Washington occur before the national air ban is lifted. [New York Times, 9/30/01] The Tampa Tribune reports that on September 13, a Lear jet takes off from Tampa, Florida, carrying a Saudi Arabian prince, the son of the Saudi defense minister Prince Sultan (see August 2001 (G), August 31, 2001, August 15, 2002), as well as the son of a Saudi army commander, and flies to Lexington, Kentucky, where the Saudis own racehorses. They then fly a private 747 out of the country. Multiple 747s with Arabic lettering on their sides are already there, suggesting another secret assembly point. The Tampa flight left from a private Raytheon hangar. [Tampa Tribune, 10/5/01] (Raytheon's name keeps coming up in relation to 9/11 (for instance, see September 25, 2001).) Prince Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the US, helps move the bin Laden family out of the US. [London Times, 11/25/02] Ron Motley, the lead lawyer in a 9/11 lawsuit against many Saudis, points to the flights during the air ban as evidence that Saudis are "protected by the Bush administration" because of "oil." [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 8/16/02] There have been conflicting reports as to whether the FBI interviewed these people before they left the country. Osama bin Laden's half brother, Abdullah bin Laden, stated that even a month after 9/11 his only contact with the FBI was a brief phone call. [Boston Globe, 9/21/01, New Yorker, 11/5/01] The existence of these flights during the air travel ban is now usually referred to as an urban legend. [Snopes, 3/19/02]
September 14, 2001 (H): Mayo Shattuck III resigns, effective immediately, as head of the Alex Brown unit of Deutschebank. No reason is given. Some speculate later this could have to do with the role of Deutschebank in the pre-9/11 purchase of put options (see September 6-10, 2001). Deutschebank is also one of the four banks most used by the bin Laden family. [New York Times, 9/15/01, Wall Street Journal, 9/27/01] FTW
September 14, 2001 (L): In interviews with the Boston Globe, flight instructors in Florida say that it was common for students with Saudi affiliations to enter the US with only cursory background checks and sometimes none. Some flight schools, including some of those attended by the hijackers, have exemptions that allow the schools to unilaterally issue paperwork that students can present at US embassies and consulates so they can obtain visas. Saudi Arabia is possibly the only Arab country with such an exemption. [Boston Globe, 9/14/01]
September 19, 2001 (B): According to the private intelligence service Intelligence Online, a secret meeting between fundamentalist supporters in Saudi Arabia and the ISI takes place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on this day. Crown Prince Abdullah, the defacto ruler of Saudi Arabia (see Late 1995), and Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz, the new head of Saudi intelligence (see August 31, 2001), meet with Gen. Mohamed Youssef, head of the ISI's Afghanistan Section, and ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed (just returning from discussions in Afghanistan (see September 17-18 and 28, 2001)). They agree "to the principle of trying to neutralize Osama Bin Laden in order to spare the Taliban regime and allow it to keep its hold on Afghanistan." There has been no confirmation that this meeting in fact took place, but if it did, its goals were unsuccessful. [Intelligence Online, 10/4/01] There may have been a similar meeting before 9/11 (see Summer 2001 (F)).
September 20, 2001 (B): President Bush states: "Either you are with us, or you are against us. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime." [White House, 9/20/01] Shortly thereafter, Bush says: "As far as the Saudi Arabians go, they've been nothing but cooperative," and "[Am] I pleased with the actions of Saudi Arabia? I am." However, several experts continue to claim Saudi Arabia is being "completely unsupportive" and is giving "zero cooperation" to the 9/11 investigation. Saudi Arabia refuses to help the US trace the names and other background information on the 15 Saudi hijackers. One former US official says, "They knew that once we started asking for a few traces the list would grow.... It's better to shut it down right away." [Los Angeles Times, 10/13/01, New Yorker, 10/16/01] The Saudi government continues to be uncooperative, and the US government continues to downplay this (see Early December 2001 (B), November 2002 and November 26, 2002).
September 21 or 22, 2001: Omar al-Bayoumi, a Saudi citizen studying at Aston University Business School in Birmingham, Britain, is taken into custody by British authorities working with the FBI. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/27/01, Washington Post, 12/29/01] It has been claimed al-Bayoumi befriended hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar in San Diego, California and helped them socially and financially (see November 1999 (B)) until moving to Britain two months before 9/11. [MSNBC, 11/27/02] During a search of al-Bayoumi's apartment (which includes ripping up the floorboards), the FBI finds the names and phone numbers of two employees of the Saudi embassy's Islamic Affairs Department. [Newsweek, 11/24/02] "There was a link there," a Justice Department official says, adding that the FBI interviewed the employees and "that was the end of that, in October or November of 2001." The official adds: "I don't know why he had those names." Nail al-Jubeir, chief spokesman for the Saudi embassy in Washington, says al-Bayoumi "called [the numbers] constantly." [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] At the time of the questioning, the FBI strongly suspects al-Bayoumi has financial connections to the Saudi royal family and may have given some of that money to the hijackers (see November 22, 2002). However, the FBI accepts his story that he met Alhazmi and Almihdhar by coincidence and he is "released after a week without charge." [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02, Newsweek, 11/24/02] British intelligence officials are frustrated that the FBI failed to give them information that would have enabled them to keep al-Bayoumi in custody longer then the seven days allowed under British anti-terrorism laws. [San Diego Channel 10, 10/25/01] Even FBI officials in San Diego appear to have not been told of al-Bayoumi's arrest by FBI officials in Britain until after he is released. British officials anonymously suggest al-Bayoumi must have turned informant because "giving financial aid to terrorists is a very serious offense and there is no way [the FBI] would have let him go scot-free." [Sunday Mercury, 10/21/01] A San Diego FBI agent later secretly testifies that supervisors have failed to act on evidence connecting to a Saudi money trail (see October 9, 2002). Could this be part of what he is referring to? Al-Bayoumi returns to his studies at Aston and is still there two months later, and yet still is not rearrested. [Washington Post, 12/29/01] Another report says al-Bayoumi is living in Britain as of October 2002, [Newsweek, 10/29/02] but he disappears by the time he reenters the news a month later (see November 22, 2002). Al-Bayoumi's quick release is in sharp contrast to that of hundreds of US Muslims who are held anonymously for many months after 9/11 despite having no connections to terrorism of any kind (see October 20, 2001).
September 27, 2001: The Wall Street Journal notes that the bin Laden family could profit from the 9/11 attacks. They had invested in the Carlyle Group, a well-connected Washington merchant bank specializing in buyouts of defense and aerospace companies that had done very well since 9/11. The Carlyle Group is noted for its connections with George Bush Sr. and other members of his administration. The bin Ladens invested $2 million in Carlyle back in 1995, but the Wall Street Journal speculates that they have invested much more. [Wall Street Journal, 9/27/01] On October 27, 2001, the bin Laden family divests their known $2 million investment in light of bad publicity. However it isn't known what became of any additional investments they may have had in Carlyle. [Washington Post, 10/27/01]
October 2001: A 70-page French intelligence report claims: "The financial network of bin Laden, as well as his network of investments, is similar to the network put in place in the 1980s by BCCI for its fraudulent operations, often with the same people (former directors and cadres of the bank and its affiliates, arms merchants, oil merchants, Saudi investors). The dominant trait of bin Laden's operations is that of a terrorist network backed up by a vast financial structure" (see Mid-1996-October 2001). The BCCI was the largest Muslim bank in the world before it collapsed in 1991 (see July 5, 1991). A senior US investigator later says US agencies are looking into the ties outlined by the French because "they just make so much sense, and so few people from BCCI ever went to jail. BCCI was the mother and father of terrorist financing operations." The report identifies dozens of companies and individuals who were involved with BCCI and were found to be dealing with bin Laden after the bank collapsed. Many went on to work in banks and charities identified by the US and others as supporting al-Qaeda. The role of Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz in supporting bin Laden is emphasized in the report (see April 1999). In 1995 bin Mahfouz paid a $225 million fine in a settlement with US prosecutors for his role in the BCCI scandal. [Washington Post, 2/17/02]
October 7, 2001 (D): It is reported that Mahrous bin Laden, brother to Osama, is currently manager of the Medina, Saudi Arabia branch of the bin Laden family company, the Binladin Group. In 1979, Binladin company trucks were used by 500 dissidents who seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest city. All the men who took part were later beheaded except Mahrous, who is eventually released from prison apparently because of the close ties between the bin Ladens and the Saudi royal family. The bin Laden family claims that no family members have any ties to terrorism except Osama. [Sunday Herald, 10/7/01]
October 12, 2001: The US freezes the assets of 39 additional individuals and organizations connected to terrorism (see also September 24, 2001). Five of the names are al-Qaeda leaders on a list the United Nations published in March 8, 2001, with a recommendation that all nations freeze their assets (see March 8, 2001). Other countries froze assets of those on that list, but the US did not. "Members of Congress want to know why treasury officials charged with disrupting the finances of terrorists did not follow their lead." [AP, 10/12/01, Guardian, 10/13/01] The most detailed case is laid out against Saudi multimillionaire businessman Yassin al-Qadi (see December 5, 2002 and November 26, 2002). [Chicago Tribune, 10/14/01, Chicago Tribune, 10/29/01] Al-Qadi is "horrified and shocked" and offers to open his financial books to US investigators. [Chicago Tribune, 10/16/01] A US official claims a 1998 audit of Saudi Arabia's National Commercial Bank shows al-Qadi's Muwafaq Foundation funneled $3 million to bin Laden (see April 1999). [Chicago Tribune, 10/29/01] There have been several accusations that al-Qadi laundered money to fund Hamas [Chicago Tribune, 10/16/01, Chicago Tribune, 10/29/01], and an investigation into his al-Qaeda connections was canceled by higher-ups in the FBI in 1998 (see October 1998). Saudi Arabia also later freezes al-Qadi's accounts, an action the Saudis have taken against only three people, but he has yet to be charged or arrested by the Saudis or the US. [Newsweek, 12/6/02]
October 14, 2001: The Boston Herald reports: "Three banks allegedly used by Osama bin Laden to distribute money to his global terrorism network have well-established ties to a prince in Saudi Arabia's royal family, several billionaire Saudi bankers, and the governments of Kuwait and Dubai. One of the banks, Al-Shamal Islamic Bank in the Sudan, was controlled directly by Osama bin Laden, according to a 1996 US State Department report." A regional expert states, "I think we underestimate bin Laden. He comes from the highest levels of Saudi society and he has supporters at all levels of Saudi Arabia." [Boston Herald, 10/14/01]
November 5, 2001: The New Yorker points to evidence that the bin Laden family has generally not ostracized itself from bin Laden as is popularly believed (for instance, see [Newsweek, 10/15/01]), but retains close ties in some cases. The large bin Laden family owns and runs a $5 billion a year global corporation that includes the largest construction firm in the Islamic world. One counter-terrorism expert says, "There's obviously a lot of spin by the Saudi Binladin Group [the family corporation] to distinguish itself from Osama. I've been following the bin Ladens for years, and it's easy to say, 'We disown him.' Many in the family have. But blood is usually thicker than water." The article notes that neither the bin Laden family nor the Saudi royal family have publicly denounced bin Laden since 9/11. [New Yorker, 11/5/01]
November 11, 2001: Saeed Sheikh is connected to Saudi charities that investigators believe secretly funnel millions of dollars to bin Laden's operatives. At this time, he is only known as Mustafa Ahmed, and incorrectly thought by some to be a Saudi. His name appeared shortly after 9/11 when Irish police raided the Dublin offices of the Islamic Relief Agency, a Saudi-backed charity previously linked to bin Laden's 1998 bombings of two American embassies in Africa. [Newsweek, 11/11/01]
November 14-November 25, 2001: At the request of the Pakistani government, the US secretly allows rescue flights into the besieged Taliban stronghold of Kunduz, in Northern Afghanistan, to save Pakistanis fighting for the Taliban and bring them back to Pakistan. Pakistan's President "Musharraf won American support for the airlift by warning that the humiliation of losing hundreds - and perhaps thousands - of Pakistani Army men and intelligence operatives would jeopardize his political survival." [New Yorker, 1/21/02] Dozens of senior Pakistani military officers, including two generals, are flown out. [Now with Bill Moyers, 2/21/03] In addition, it is reported that the Pakistani government assists 50 trucks of foreign fighters to escape the town. [New York Times, 11/24/01] Many news articles at the time suggest an airlift is occurring (for instance, [Independent, 11/16/01, New York Times, 11/24/01, BBC, 11/26/01, Independent, 11/26/01, Guardian, 11/27/01, MSNBC, 11/29/01]), but a media controversy and wide coverage fails to develop. The US and Pakistani governments deny the existence of the airlift. [State Department, 11/16/01, New Yorker, 1/21/02] On December 2, when asked to assure that the US didn't allow such an airlift, Rumsfeld says, "Oh, you can be certain of that. We have not seen a single - to my knowledge, we have not seen a single airplane or helicopter go into Afghanistan in recent days or weeks and extract people and take them out of Afghanistan to any country, let alone Pakistan." [MSNBC, 12/2/01] Reporter Seymour Hersh believes that Rumsfeld must have given approval for the airlift. [Now with Bill Moyers, 2/21/03] But New Yorker magazine reports, "What was supposed to be a limited evacuation apparently slipped out of control and, as an unintended consequence, an unknown number of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters managed to join in the exodus." A CIA analyst says, "Many of the people they spirited away were in the Taliban leadership" who Pakistan wanted for future political negotiations. US intelligence was "supposed to have access to them, but it didn't happen," he says. According to Indian intelligence, airlifts grow particularly intense in the last three days before the city falls on November 25. Of the 8,000 remaining al-Qaeda, Pakistani, and Taliban, about 5,000 are airlifted out and 3,000 surrender. [New Yorker, 1/21/02] Hersh later claims that "maybe even some of Bin Laden's immediate family were flown out on the those evacuations." [Now with Bill Moyers, 2/21/03] Was the escape of al-Qaeda deliberate so the war against terrorism wouldn't end too soon?
November 28, 2001: The Financial Times estimates that the bin Laden family's business, the Saudi Binladin Group, is worth about $36 billion. Osama bin Laden inherited about $300 million at the age of 10 on the death of his father, but he may be worth much more today. While he spends large amounts each month supporting terror, he gets large amounts from rich Saudis every month to make up for the losses. [Financial Times, 11/28/01]
Early December 2001 (B): Bush officials go to Saudi Arabia in a second attempt to get the Saudi government to cooperate with the 9/11 investigation. They have balked at freezing assets of organizations linked to bin Laden. Shortly thereafter, the Boston Herald runs a series of articles on the Saudis. Says an expert, "If there weren't all these other arrangements - arms deals and oil deals and consultancies - I don't think the US would stand for this lack of cooperation." Another expert states, "It's good old fashioned 'I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine.' You have former US officials, former presidents, aides to the current president, a long line of people who are tight with the Saudis... We are willing to basically ignore inconvenient truths that might otherwise cause our blood to boil." These deals are worth an incredible amount of money: one Washington Post reporter claims that US companies spent $200 billion on Saudi Arabia's defenses alone, and that was before 1993. [Boston Herald, 12/10/01, Boston Herald, 12/11/01, Frontline, 2/16/93] The Boston Herald notes that Saudi businessmen Khalid bin Mahfouz (see for instance 1988 and April 1999) and Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi (see November 22, 2002 (B)) have not had their accounts frozen (and they still have not, until present day, for instance [Scotsman, 8/12/02]) despite evidence that they gave money to bin Laden. They continue to do business with many US companies, and "continue to profit from their working relationship with America's own oil elite." [Boston Herald, 12/10/01]
December 4, 2001 (B): Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the largest Islamic charity in the US, has its assets frozen by the Treasury Department (see September 5-8, 2001). [CNN, 12/4/01, Jerusalem Post, 12/5/01] Foundation offices in San Diego, California; Paterson, New Jersey; and Bridgeview, Illinois are also raided. [CNN, 12/4/01] Holy Land is represented by the powerful law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld. Three partners at Akin, Gump are very close to President Bush: George R. Salem chaired Bush's 2000 campaign outreach to Arab-Americans; Barnett A. "Sandy" Kress was appointed by Bush as an "unpaid consultant" on education reform (he has an office in the White House); and James C. Langdon is one of Bush's closest Texas friends. The firm has also represented Khalid bin Mahfouz (see 1988 and April 1999) and his business partner Mohammed Hussain Al-Amoudi (see November 26, 2002). [Boston Herald, 12/11/01, Washington Post, 12/17/01]
March 2002 (C): Authorities in Bosnia, Sarajevo, raid the offices of the Benevolence International Foundation due to suspected funding of al-Qaeda The raid uncovers a handwritten list of twenty wealthy donors sympathetic to al-Qaeda. The list, referred to as "The Golden Chain," reveals both the names of the donors, and the names of the recipients. Seven of the payments were made to Osama bin Laden, while at least one donation to him was made by the "bin Laden brothers." UPI points out that "the discovery of this document in Sarajevo calls into question whether al-Qaeda has received support from one of Osama's scores of wealthy brothers." Adel Batterjee, a wealth businessman from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, who is also the founder of both the charity BFI and its predecessor Lajnatt Al-Birr Al-Islamiah, appears to be mentioned as a recipient three times. Batterjee has been named as a defendant in a 9/11 lawsuit against wealthy Saudis, but he has been missing in Saudi Arabia for over a year. When the document was written is not mentioned, but it may date from the early 1990s. [UPI, 2/11/03]
March 29, 2002: Abdullah bin Laden, spokesman for the bin Laden family and one of Osama's many brothers, speaks directly to the press for the first time since 9/11. He says the family cut all personal and financial ties to Osama in 1993, and that no family member has contact with him or provides any kind of support for him. "We went through a tough time. It was difficult We felt we are a victim as well." [ABC News, 3/29/02] This appears to be the same Abdullah bin Laden that the FBI began investigating in 1996 only to have the investigation killed by higher-ups in government (see 1996).
April 23, 2002: Spanish authorities arrest Syrian-born Spaniard businessman Mohammed Galeb Kalaje Zouaydi and allege he is a key al-Qaeda financier. [Chicago Tribune, 5/6/02] An accountant, he is considered to be the "big financier" behind terrorist a network al-Qaeda in Europe, according to investigator Jean-Charles Brisard. From 1996 to 2001 he lived in Saudi Arabia, and funneled money into a series of companies he set up that accepted donations; the source of the money is unknown. Around $1 million of money was then forwarded to al-Qaeda agents throughout Europe, especially to Germany. One of Zouaydi's associates had the phone number of Atta's apartment in Hamburg, Germany in the memory of his cell phone (see November 1, 1998-February 2001). [AFP, 9/20/02] Zouaydi also allegedly sent money to Mamoun Darkazanli (see September 24, 2001), a Syrian-born businessman who has admitted knowing Atta and others in the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell. [Chicago Tribune, 5/6/02] One of Zouaydi's employees in Spain visited the WTC in 1997 where he extensively videotaped the buildings (see 1998). Perhaps only coincidentally, while in Saudi Arabia, Zouaydi "was an accountant for the al-Faisal branch of the Saudi royal family, including Prince Mohammed al-Faisal al-Saud and Prince Turki al-Faisal" (see August 31, 2001). [AFP, 9/20/02]
April 25, 2002: Osama Basnan, an alleged associate of 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi (see April 1998 and November 22, 2002), reports his passport stolen to Houston, Texas police. [MSNBC, 12/2/02] This confirms that Basnan is in Houston on the same day that Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, and Saudi US Ambassador Prince Bandar meet with President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Powell and National Security Advisor Rice at Bush's ranch in nearby Crawford, Texas. [US-Saudi Arabian Business Council, 4/25/02] Abdullah's entourage passes through Houston that week enroute to Bush's ranch. While in Texas, it is believed that Basnan "met with a high Saudi prince who has responsibilities for intelligence matters and is known to bring suitcases full of cash into the United States." [MSNBC, 12/2/02, Guardian, 11/25/02]
June 13, 2002 (B): Sudan arrests an al-Qaeda leader who has confessed to firing a missile at a US plane taking off from Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, in May. Saudi Arabia had failed to arrest him. This is just the latest in a series of events where "some countries long deemed key US allies - such as Saudi Arabia - are considered less than helpful in the war against terror, while other states remaining on the US State Department's blacklist of terrorist sponsors, such as Syria and Sudan, are apparently proving more cooperative than their pariah status would suggest." The US hasn't been given access to al-Qaeda members arrested by Saudi Arabia, and "concerns over the Saudi authorities' 'unhelpful' stance are increasing." [Jane's Intelligence Review, 7/5/02]
July 10, 2002: A briefing given to a top Pentagon advisory group states, "The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader ... Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies." They are called "the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent." This position still runs counter to official US policy, but the Washington Post says it "represents a point of view that has growing currency within the Bush administration." The briefing suggests that the Saudis be given an ultimatum to stop backing terrorism or face seizure of its oil fields and its financial assets invested in the United States. The group, the Defense Policy Board, is headed by Richard Perle. [Washington Post, 8/6/02] A international controversy follows the public reports of the briefing in August 2002 (for instance, [Scotsman, 8/12/02]). In an abrupt change, the media starts calling the Saudis enemies, not allies of the US. Slate reports details of the briefing the Post failed to mention. The briefing states, "There is an 'Arabia,' but it needs not be 'Saudi'". The conclusion of the briefing: "Grand strategy for the Middle East: Iraq is the tactical pivot. Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot. Egypt the prize." [Slate, 8/7/02] Note that a similar meeting of the Defense Policy Board appears to have preceded and affected the US's decision to take a warlike stance against Iraq (see September 17, 2001 (B) and August 6, 2001 (B)).
August 11, 2002: A shocking Newsweek article suggests that some of Bush's advisors advocate not only attacking Iraq, but also Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Egypt, and Burma! One senior British official says: "Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran." [Newsweek, 8/11/02] Later in the year, Bush's influential advisor Richard Perle states, "No stages. This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq ... this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war ... our children will sing great songs about us years from now." [New Statesman, 12/16/02] In February 2003, US Undersecretary of State John Bolton says in meetings with Israeli officials that he has no doubt America will attack Iraq, and that it will be necessary to deal with threats from Syria, Iran and North Korea afterward. This is not reported in the US media. [Haaretz, 2/17/03]
August 15, 2002: More than 600 relatives (later rising to over 2,500 out of 10,000 eligible [Newsweek, 9/13/02]) of victims of the September 11 attacks file a 15-count, $1 trillion lawsuit against various parties they accuse of financing al-Qaeda and Afghanistan's former Taliban regime. The defendants include the Binladin Group (the company run by Osama bin Laden's family), seven international banks, eight Islamic foundations and charities, individual terrorist financiers, three Saudi princes, and the government of Sudan. [CNN, 8/15/02, Washington Post, 8/16/02] Individuals named include Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan (see June 1998 (D), August 2001 (G), and August 31, 2001), former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal (see July 1998, August 31, 2001, and October 18, 2002), Yassin al-Qadi (see October 12, 2001), and Khalid bin Mahfouz (see 1988, August 13, 1996, April 1999, December 4, 2001 (B) and Early December 2001 (B)). [AP, 8/15/02, MSNBC, 8/25/02] "The attorneys and investigators were able to obtain, through French intelligence, the translation of a secretly recorded meeting between representatives of bin Laden and three Saudi princes in which they sought to pay him hush money to keep him from attacking their enterprises in Saudi Arabia." [CNN, 8/15/02] The plaintiffs also accused the US Government of failing to pursue such institutions thoroughly enough because of lucrative oil interests. [BBC, 8/15/02] Ron Motley, the lead lawyer in the suit, says the case is being aided by intelligence services from France and four other foreign governments, but no help has come from the Justice Department. [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 8/16/02] The plaintiffs acknowledge the chance of ever winning any money is slim, but hope the lawsuit will help bring to light the role of Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 attacks. [BBC, 8/15/02] A number of rich Saudis respond by threatening to withdraw hundreds of billions of dollars in US investments if the lawsuit goes forward. [Telegraph, 8/20/02] Saudi businesses withdraw more than $100 billion from the US in response to the suit (see August 20, 2002), and the US government later threatens to block or limit the suit (see November 1, 2002).
August 20, 2002: The Financial Times reports that "disgruntled Saudis have pulled tens of billions of dollars out of the US, signaling a deep alienation from America." Estimates range from $100 billion to over $200 billion. Part of the anger is in response to reports that the US might attack Saudi Arabia and freeze Saudi assets unless Saudi Arabia fights terrorism more effectively (see July 10, 2002 and August 11, 2002). It is also in response to a lawsuit against many Saudi Arabians that also may lead to a freeze of Saudi assets (see August 15, 2002). Estimates of total Saudi investments in the US range from $400 billion to $600 billion. [Financial Times, 8/20/02]
August 22, 2002: Osama Basnan, an alleged associate of 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, and his wife are arrested for visa fraud. [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02, MSNBC, 11/23/02] One report says he was arrested for allegedly having links to Omar al-Bayoumi (see November 1999 (B)). [Arab News, 11/26/02] On October 22, Basnan and his wife, Majeda Dweikat, admit they used false immigration documents to stay in the US. [San Diego Channel 10, 10/22/02] Possible financial connections between Basnan and al-Bayoumi, Almidhar and Alhazmi, and the Saudi royal family are known to the Congressional Inquiry Panel (as well as the FBI and CIA) at this time (see November 22, 2002), but Basnan is deported to Saudi Arabia on November 17, 2002. His wife is deported to Jordan the same day. [Washington Post, 11/24/02] Less than a week after the deportations, new media reports make Basnan an internationally-known wanted man (see November 22, 2002). Why was Basnan let go, when authorities knew of these new revelations about him since at least early October (see October 9, 2002)?
August 25, 2002: Former CIA agent Bob Baer says the US collects virtually no intelligence about Saudi Arabia nor are they given any intelligence collected by the Saudis. He says this is because there are implicit orders from the White House:"Do not collect information on Saudi Arabia because we're going to risk annoying the royal family." In the same show, despite being on a US terrorist list since October 2001 (see October 12, 2001), Saudi millionaire Yassin al-Qadi says, "I'm living my life here in Saudi Arabia without any problem" because he is being protected by the Saudi government. Al-Qadi admits to giving bin Laden money for his "humanitarian" work, but says this is different from bin Laden's terrorist work. Presented with this information, the US Treasury Department only says that the US "is pleased with and appreciates the actions taken by the Saudis" in the war on terror. The Saudi government still has not given US intelligence permission to talk to any family members of the hijackers, even though some US journalists have had limited contact with a few. [MSNBC, 8/25/02]
August 27, 2002: Prince Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the US, meets privately for more than an hour with Bush and National Security Advisor Rice in Crawford, Texas (see April 25, 2002). [Telegraph, 8/28/02] Press Secretary Ari Fleischer characterizes it as a warm meeting of old friends. Bandar, his wife (Princess Haifa) and seven of their eight children stay for lunch. [Fox News, 8/27/02] Prince Bandar, a longtime friend of the Bush family, donated $1 million to the Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. [Boston Herald, 12/11/01, Bush Library] This relationship later becomes news when it is learned that Princess Haifa gave between $51,000 and $73,000 to two Saudi families in California who may have financed two of the 9/11 hijackers (see December 4, 1999 and November 22, 2002). [New York Times, 11/23/02, MSNBC, 11/25/02]
September 17, 2002: CBS reports that in the days after the arrest of Ramzi bin al-Shibh and four other al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan (see September 11, 2002), "a search of the home of the five al-Qaeda suspects turned up passports belonging to members of the family of Osama bin Laden." No more details, such as which family members, or why bin al-Shibh's group had these passports, is given. [CBS, 9/17/02]
October 18, 2002: Saudi Arabia announces that Turki al-Faisal will be its next ambassador to Britain. Turki is a controversial figure because of his long-standing relationship to bin Laden. He has also been named in a lawsuit by 9/11 victims' relatives against Saudi Arabians for their support of al-Qaeda before 9/11 (see August 15, 2002). It is later noted that his ambassador position could give him diplomatic immunity from the lawsuit. [New York Times, 12/30/02] Turki's predecessor as ambassador was recalled after it was revealed he had written poems praising suicide bombers. [Observer, 3/2/03 (C)] Reports on his new posting suggest that Turki last met bin Laden in the early 1990s before he became a wanted terrorist. [London Times, 10/18/02, Guardian, 10/19/02] However, these reports fail to mention other contacts with bin Laden (for instance, see July 1998), including a possible secret meeting in July 2001 (see July 4-14, 2001).
November 2002: Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef blames Zionists and Jews for the 9/11 attacks. He tells journalists, "Who has benefited from Sept. 11 attacks? I think [the Jews] were the protagonists of such attacks." Nayef is in charge of the Saudi investigation into the attacks, and some US congresspeople respond to the comments by questioning how strongly Saudi Arabia is investigating the involvement of the 15 Saudi 9/11 hijackers. [AP, 12/5/02]
November 1, 2002: Some of the 9/11 victims' relatives hold a rally at the US Capitol to protest what they fear are plans by the Bush administration to delay or block their lawsuit against prominent Saudi individuals for an alleged role in financing al-Qaeda (see August 15, 2002). [Washington Post, 11/1/02] US officials say they have not decided whether to submit a motion seeking to block or restrict the lawsuit, but they are considered about the "diplomatic sensitivities" of the suit. Saudis have withdrawn hundreds of billions of dollars from the US in response to the suit (see August 20, 2002). The Guardian previously reported that "some plaintiffs in the case say the Bush administration is pressuring them to pull out of the lawsuit in order to avoid damaging US-Saudi relations, threatening them with the prospect of being denied any money from the government's own compensation scheme if they continue to pursue it. Bereaved relatives who apply to the federal compensation scheme must, in any case, sign away their rights to sue the government, air carriers in the US, and other domestic bodies - a condition that has prompted some of them to call the government compensation "hush money." The fund is expected, in the end, to pay out $4 billion. They remain, however, free to sue those they accuse of being directly responsible for the attacks, such as Osama bin Laden, and - so they thought - the alleged financers of terrorism." [Guardian, 9/20/02]
November 6 and 22, 2002: The US tightens immigration restrictions for 18 countries. All males over age 16 coming to the US from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates or Yemen must register with the US government and be photographed and fingerprinted at their local INS office. [Washington Post, 11/7/02, AP, 11/23/02] Two countries are not included: Pakistan (the home country of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and many other al-Qaeda terrorists) and Saudi Arabia (the home country of bin Laden and 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers). These two countries are added to the list on December 13, 2002, after criticism that they were not included. [New York Times, 12/19/02]
November 22, 2002: Newsweek reports that 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi may have received money from Saudi Arabia's royal family through two Saudis, Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Basnan (see November 1999 (B) and December 4, 1999), based on information leaked from the Congressional 9/11 inquiry last month (see October 9, 2002). [Newsweek, 11/22/02, MSNBC, 11/23/02, Washington Post, 11/24/02, New York Times, 11/23/02] Al-Bayoumi's whereabouts are unknown; Basnan was deported to Saudi Arabia on November 17 (see August 22, 2002 and September 22, 2001). Saudi officials and Princess Haifa immediately deny any terrorist connections. [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] Newsweek reports that while the money trail "could be perfectly innocent ... it is nonetheless intriguing - and could ultimately expose the Saudi government to some of the blame for 9/11 ..." Newsweek reports that Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Bob Graham (D) says, "'This one stinks of people using classified information' for political purposes." [Newsweek, 11/22/02] Some Saudi newspapers which usually reflect government thinking claim the leak is blackmail to pressure Saudi Arabia into supporting war with Iraq. [MSNBC, 11/25/02] Senior government officials claim the FBI and CIA failed to aggressively pursue leads that might have linked the two hijackers to Saudi Arabia. This has caused a bitter dispute between FBI and CIA officials and the intelligence panel investigating the 9/11 attacks (see December 11, 2002 (B)). [New York Times, 11/23/02]A number of senators, including Richard Shelby (R), John McCain (R), Mitch O'Connell (R), Joe Lieberman (D), Bob Graham (D), Joe Biden (D) and Charles Schumer (D) express concern about the Bush administration's action (or non-action) regarding the Saudi royal family and its possible role in funding terrorists. [New York Times, 11/25/02, Reuters, 11/24/02] Lieberman says, "I think it's time for the president to blow the whistle and remember what he said after September 11 - you're either with us or you're with the terrorists." [ABC, 11/25/02]
November 22, 2002 (B): 9/11 victims' relatives add 50 defendants to the 100 defendants previously named in their $1 trillion lawsuit against Saudi citizens and organizations (see August 15, 2002). New defendants include Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif and the Saudi American Bank, that nation's second largest financial institution. Also named is Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi, a billionaire Saudi businessman (see August 13, 1996 and Early December 2001 (B)). He is alleged to have directed the Kenya branch of al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, which was banned in Kenya after the bombing of the US embassy there in 1998 (see August 7, 1998). The Bosnia and Somalia branches of the charity have been designated terrorist entities by the US. [Wall Street Journal, 11/22/02] Al-Amoudi is also on a secret United Nations list of al-Qaeda financiers (see November 26, 2002). In 1999 it was reported that US and British officials are investigating if a bank he heads, the Capitol Trust Bank in New York and London, has transferred money to bin Laden. He is also seen as the financial successor to Khalid bin Mahfouz in some respects (see 1988, December 4, 2001 (B)), since Mahfouz was placed under house arrest (see April 1999). [USA Today, 10/29/99]
November 26, 2002: In the wake of news that two Saudis living in San Diego, California may have helped two of the 9/11 hijackers (see November 22, 2002), reports surface that the US has a secret, short list of wealthy individuals who are the key financiers of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. The Washington Post claims there are nine names on the list: seven Saudi, plus one from Egypt and one from Pakistan. [Washington Post, 11/26/02] ABC News claims the list consists of 12 names, all Saudis, and says they were financing al-Qaeda through accounts in Cyprus, Switzerland and Malaysia, among other countries. [ABC, 11/25/02] They also claim the Saudi government has a copy of the list. US officials privately say all the people listed have close personal and business ties with the Saudi royal family. [ABC, 11/26/02] A secret report to the United Nations by French investigator Jean-Charles Brisard names seven prominent Saudi financiers of terror; the number matches the seven Saudis mentioned in the Post article, though it's not known if all the names are the same. The Saudis mentioned by Brisard are: Khalid bin Mahfouz (see for instance 1988 and April 1999); Yassin al-Qadi (see October 1998, October 12, 2001, and December 5, 2002); Saleh Abdullah Kamel (see June 1998 (D)); Abdullah Suleiman al-Rajhi; Adel Abdul Jalil Batterjee; Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi (see August 13, 1996, Early December 2001 (B), and November 22, 2002 (B)); and Wa'el Hamza Julaidan (who has had his assets frozen by the US [State Department, 9/6/02]). Brisard says al-Qaeda has received between $300 million and $500 million over the last 10 years from wealthy businessmen and bankers. He claims that the combined fortunes of these men equal about 20% of Saudi Arabia's GDP (gross domestic product). [Los Angeles Times, 12/24/02, UN report, 12/19/02 or here] It is also reported that a National Security Council task force recommends the US demand that Saudi Arabia crack down on terrorist financiers within 90 days of receiving evidence of misdeeds and if they don't, the US should take unilateral action to bring the suspects to justice. [Washington Post, 11/26/02] However, the US denies this, calling Saudi Arabia a "good partner in the war on terrorism." [Washington Post, 11/25/02] Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says: "I think the fact that many of the hijackers came from that nation [Saudi Arabia] cannot and should not be read as an indictment of the country." [Radio Free Europe, 11/27/02]
December 5, 2002: Federal agents search the offices of Ptech, Inc., a computer software company in Quincy, Massachusetts, looking for evidence of links to bin Laden. A senior Ptech official confirms that Yassin al-Qadi, one of 12 Saudi businessmen on a secret CIA list suspected of funneling millions of dollars to al-Qaeda, was an investor in the company, beginning in 1994 (see October 1998 and November 26, 2002). [Newsweek, 12/6/02, WBZ4, 12/9/02] Some of Ptech's customers include the White House, Congress, Army, Navy, Air Force, NATO, FAA, FBI and the IRS. [Boston Globe, 12/7/02] A former FBI counter-terrorism official states, "For someone like [al-Qadi] to be involved in a capacity, in an organization, a company that has access to classified information, that has access to government open or classified computer systems, would be of grave concern." Yacub Mirza - "a senior official of major radical Islamic organizations that have been linked by the US government to terrorism" - has recently been on Ptech's board of directors. Hussein Ibrahim, the Vice President and Chief Scientist of Ptech, was vice chairman of a now defunct investment group called BMI. An FBI affidavit names BMI as a conduit to launder money from al-Qadi to Hamas terrorists. [WBZ4, 12/9/02] The search into Ptech is part of Operation Green Quest, which has served 114 search warrants in the past 14 months involving suspected terrorist financing. Fifty arrests have been made and $27.4 million seized. [Forbes, 12/6/02] Al-Qadi's assets were frozen by the FBI in October 2001 (see October 12, 2001). [Arab News, 9/26/02] That same month, a number of Ptech employees told the Boston FBI that Ptech was financially backed by al-Qadi, but the FBI did little more than take their statements. A high level government source claims the FBI did not convey the information to a treasury department investigation of al-Qadi, and none of the government agencies using Ptech software were warned. Indira Singh, a second whistleblower, spoke with the FBI in June 2002 and was "shocked" and "frustrated" when she learned the agency had done nothing. [Boston Globe 12/7/02, WBZ4, 12/9/02] Beginning in mid-June 2002, WBZ-TV Boston had prepared an lengthy investigative report on Ptech, but withheld it for more than three months after receiving "calls from federal law enforcement agencies, some at the highest levels." The station claims the government launched its Ptech probe in August 2002, after they "got wind of our investigation" and "asked us to hold the story so they could come out and do their raid and look like they're ahead of the game." [Boston Globe, 12/7/02 (B) , WBZ4, 12/9/02]
December 11, 2002: George Mitchell resigns as Vice Chairman of the recently-created 9/11 investigative commission (see November 27, 2002). Lee Hamilton, an Indiana congressman for more than 30 years and chairman of the committee which investigated Iran-Contra, is named as his replacement. [CNN, 12/11/02] Mitchell cites time constraints as his reason for stepping down, but he also does not want to sever ties with his lawyer-lobbying firm, Piper Rudnick, or reveal his list of clients. Recent clients include two Mideast governments - Yemen and the United Arab Emirates - and a firm owned by Mohammed Hussain Al-Amoudi, a Saudi magnate under scrutiny from US anti-terror investigators (see November 26, 2002). [Newsweek, 12/15/02] Committee Chairman Henry Kissinger resigns two days later (see December 13, 2002).
December 13, 2002: Henry Kissinger resigns as head of the new 9/11 investigation (see November 27, 2002). [AP, 12/13/02, ABC, 12/13/02, copy of resignation letter] Two days earlier, the Bush Administration argued that Kissinger was not required to disclose his private business clients. [New York Times, 12/12/02] However, the Congressional Research Service insists that he does, and Kissinger resigns rather than reveal his clients. [MSNBC, 12/13/02, Seattle Times, 12/14/02] It is reported that Kissinger is (or has been) a consultant for Unocal, the oil corporation, and was involved in plans to build pipelines through Afghanistan (see October 21, 1995, and August 9, 1998). [Washington Post, 10/5/98, Salon, 12/3/02] Kissinger claimed he did no current work for any oil companies or Mideast clients, but several corporations with heavy investments in Saudi Arabia, such as ABB Group, a Swiss-Swedish engineering firm, and Boeing Corp., pay him consulting fees of at least $250,000 a year. A Boeing spokesman said its "long-standing" relationship with Kissinger involved advice on deals in East Asia, not Saudi Arabia. Boeing sold $7.2 billion worth of aircraft to Saudi Arabia in 1995. [Newsweek, 12/15/02] In a surprising break from usual procedures regarding high-profile presidential appointments, White House lawyers never vetted Kissinger for conflicts of interest. [Newsweek, 12/15/02] The Washington Post says that after the resignations of Kissinger and Mitchell, the commission "has lost time" and "is in disarray, which is no small trick given that it has yet to meet." [Washington Post, 12/14/02]
December 16, 2002: President Bush names former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean as the Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, after his original choice, Henry Kissinger, resigned (see November 27, 2002 and December 13, 2002). [Washington Post, 12/17/02] In an appearance on NBC, Kean promises an aggressive investigation. "It's really a remarkably broad mandate, so I don't think we'll have any problem looking under every rock. I've got no problems in going as far as we have to in finding out the facts." [AP, 12/17/02] However, Kean plans to remain President of Drew University and devote only one day a week to the commission. He also claims he would have no conflicts of interest, stating: "I have no clients except the university." [Washington Post, 12/17/02] However, he has a history of such conflict. Multinational Monitor has previously stated: "Perhaps no individual more clearly illustrates the dangers of university presidents maintaining corporate ties than Thomas Kean," citing the fact that he is on the Board of Directors of Aramark (which received a large contract with his university after he became president), Bell Atlantic, United Health Care, Beneficial Corporation, Fiduciary Trust Company International, and others. [Multinational Monitor, 11/97] Most disturbing is his Board of Director and Executive Committee positions at Amerada Hess, an oil company with extensive investments in Central Asia. [Amerada Hess, 2002] Fortune magazine points out that through this investment, "Kean appears to have a bizarre link to the very terror network he's investigating - al-Qaeda." [Fortune, 1/22/03] In 1998, Amerada Hess created an alliance with the Saudi oil company Delta Oil, calling it Delta Hess. [Azerbaijan International, 2002] Delta Hess is invested in a number of oil field and pipeline projects in Central Asia (see for instance [Azerbaijan International, 1998]). Delta Oil has been one of the main financial partners in a controversial oil pipeline designed to go through Afghanistan. The company has been financially controlled by Khalid bin Mahfouz, and is connected to Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi (see August 13, 1996). Both men are on a secret United Nations list of al-Qaeda financers (see November 26, 2002), and bin Mahfouz is bin Laden's brother-in-law (see 1988). Fortune calls it an "interesting coincidence" that three weeks before his appointment onto the 9/11 commission, Amerada Hess quietly severed its ties with Delta Oil. [Fortune, 1/22/03] George Mitchell resigned from the commission a few days earlier in part because of ties with al-Amoudi (see December 11, 2002), yet Kean's conflict of interest with Amerada Hess and ties with al-Amoudi and bin Mahfouz have only been mentioned in a short Fortune article and briefly at the end of an AP article. [AP, 1/20/03, Fortune, 1/22/03]