#. 2. Oct. 6, 2001
By Bill Weinberg
WHO IS OSAMA BIN LADEN?
1. Osama Bin Laden: CIA's "Blue-Eyed Boy"
2. Bush-Bin Laden Family Connection
3. BP-Amoco Linked To Osama's Sudan Protectors
4. Does Osama Have the Nuke?
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. US Already Losing Troops, Planes in Afghanistan?
2. Taliban and Northern Alliance: "Flip Side of Same Coin"
3. Taliban to Drop Opium Ban?
4. Blowback in Uzbekistan
THE WAR AT HOME
1. "Anti-Terrorist" Police State Advances
2. Web Sites Shut Down by "Homelands Security"
3. Starbucks Extorts Blood Money
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. Ex-FBI Counter-Terrorism Chief Killed in WTC Attack
2. Report: FBI Knew in Advance of 1993 WTC Blast
3. Jew-Haters Make Hay
WHO IS OSAMA BIN LADEN?
1. OSAMA BIN LADEN: CIA's "BLUE-EYED BOY"
Accused terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden is the former "blue-eyed boy of CIA," charges the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, an exiled pro-democracy dissident group ( RAWA press release, Sept. 14). An overview of studies and reports from the region bears out this accusation.
Osama Bin Laden was born in 1955, the youngest of some twenty sons of one of Saudi Arabia's wealthiest and most prominent families. His father was a Yemeni construction magnate who made a fortune as top contractor to the palace-happy Saudi royal family, and became a close friend of King Faisal. After a youth as a playboy in Beirut, in 1984 Bin Laden moved to Peshawar, the Pakistan border city then serving as the key staging area for Afghanistan's Mujahedeen guerillas. He arrived in an unmarked military transport plane, loaded with bulldozers and other heavy equipment. He deployed these to design and build defensive tunnels, military roads and storage depots for the Mujahedeen-who were then being massively funded by the CIA. The equipment was furnished by his father's Bin Laden Group, with the approval of both the CIA and the Saudi regime (Mary Anne Weaver in The New Yorker, Jan. 24, 2000). His close collaborator in the Saudi regime was Prince Turki, who personally oversaw delivery of more vehicles and equipment (Robert Fisk in The Independent, UK, Sept. 26, 2001).
Osama became a central figure in a Peshawar-based organization known as the Maktab al-Khidmat ("services center"), or MAK, a clearinghouse for Mujahedeen volunteers from the Arab world, where they were armed, briefed, indoctrinated and dispatched to the front. CIA money flowed into the MAK through Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) secret police agency. Osama assumed command of the MAK when its previous boss was assassinated in 1989-the same year the Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan and the CIA scaled back involvement. He quickly transformed the MAK into his Al Qaeda network (Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia by Ahmed Rashid, Yale, 2000; Michael Moran on MSNBC, Aug. 24, 1998).
Bin Laden briefly returned to Saudi Arabia in 1989, but, radicalized by the Mujahedeen, became disgusted with the Saudis for their corruption and closeness to the West. He broke with the Saudis entirely when they allowed US military troops into the country in 1991's Operation Desert Storm. After a period in Sudan, he returned to Afghanistan when the Taliban took power there in 1996. His Al Qaeda network has been linked to numerous terrorist attacks around the world, including providing a Pakistan safe-house for Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, convicted mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and sheltering Sheikh Omar Abd Al-Rahman (the "Blind Sheikh"), also convicted in the attack. In 1998 he issued a fatwa (decree) which called killing Americans and Israelis-"civilians and military"-the duty of all Muslims, citing the military presence in the holy land of Arabia, the ongoing bombardment of Iraq, and oppression of the Palestinians by "the Crusader-Zionist alliance" (ADL press release, Aug. 20, 1998). He has been convicted in the July 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the October 2000 explosion of the USS Cole off Yemen-but not yet in the September 2001 WTC/Pentagon attacks (BBC, Sept. 18, 2001).
2. BUSH-BIN LADEN FAMILY CONNECTION
The Wall Street Journal reported Sept. 29 that George H.W. Bush, father of President George W. Bush, works for the Bin Laden family business in Saudi Arabia through the Carlyle Group, an international consulting firm. The senior Bush has met with the Bin Laden family at least twice. Other top Republicans are also associated with the Carlyle group, such as former Secretary of State James A. Baker. Osama has supposedly been "disowned" by his family, which runs a multi-billion dollar business in Saudi Arabia and is a major investor in the senior Bush's firm. But some reports have questioned whether all family members have truly cut off Osama, and the FBI has subpoenaed the Bin Laden family's bank records.
The public-interest law firm Judicial Watch earlier this year strongly criticized the elder Bush's association with the Carlyle Group, pointing out in a March 5 statement that it is a "conflict of interest [which] could cause problems for America's foreign policy in the Middle East and Asia." In a Sept. 29 statement, Judicial Watch says: "This conflict of interest has now turned into a scandal. The idea of the President's father, an ex-president himself, doing business with a company under investigation by the FBI in the terror attacks of September 11 is horrible. President Bush should not ask, but demand, that his father pull out of the Carlyle Group."
3. BP-AMOCO LINKED TO OSAMA'S SUDAN PROTECTORS
Sudan, like Afghanistan, was struck by US missiles in retaliation for the African embassy bombings in 1998, allegedly masterminded by Osama Bin Laden. The Sudan regime protected Osama for several years before he relocated to Afghanistan, and is still believed to protect his network. It is also accused by human rights groups of gross atrocities against rebel tribes in the south. But this hasn't prevented US oil companies from investing in the war-torn country.
The American Anti-Slavery Group (AASG) has called a national boycott of Amoco gas stations to protest BP-Amoco's stake in an oil project that fuels slavery and genocide in Sudan. BP-Amoco seeks to invest $1 billion in PetroChina, a subsidiary of the China National Petroleum Company (CNPC), which has been directly linked to war crimes in Sudan. Whole tribes are cleared off oil-rich land by the Sudanese military and sold as slaves. Sudan's fundamentalist regime-officially deemed "genocidal" by the US Congress-brags that oil proceeds will fund its war effort. Boycott leaders say Amoco's investment in PetroChina makes it a partner to these atrocities. "Amoco has become the proxy of a genocidal regime in Sudan," said AASG's Charles Jacobs (AASG press release, March 27, 2000). According to government sources in Uganda, some of the slaves captured by the Sudanese army are supplied to the giant marijuana plantations reportedly operated by Osama in Sudan to fund global terrorist activity (Daily Telegraph, UK, March 29, 1999).
4. DOES OSAMA HAVE THE NUKE?
Osama Bin Laden has at least 20 nuclear weapons, according to an April report in the weekly intelligence newsletter Geostrategy-Direct.com. Bin Laden, the report said, was able to gain access to the weapons via Chechen rebels who had managed to steal them from Russian weapons depots. The newsletter quoted Russian and Arab sources, who confirmed that Bin Laden had received some "suitcase" nuclear bombs and other materials from Chechen rebels. Bin Laden had supplied the rebels with money, weapons and volunteers in their battle against Russian army forces, which has raged off-and-on since 1994. The newsletter said whether Osama has the bomb is "no longer in doubt... The question is how many."
A Sept. 19 report in Long Island's Newsday supports the allegations. "Bin Laden has been trying to get his hands on enriched uranium for seven or eight years," Newsday quotes former CIA director James Woolsey. A former Russian intelligence official, in a memorandum to a US counterpart provided to Newsday, said Russian security forces halted a 1998 attempt to sell an unspecified amount of Soviet-origin bomb-grade uranium to a Pakistani company controlled by Bin Laden. During testimony earlier this year at the New York trial of four men accused in the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa, a defector from Bin Laden's network said he had served as a go-between in a 1993 effort to acquire a cylinder containing uranium of South African origin (described by several sources as enriched uranium-235.) The defector, Jamal Ahmed al Fadl, said he had been ordered by one of Bin Laden's lieutenants to buy the uranium from former Sudanese military officer Salah Abdel Mobruk for $1.5 million. But Fadl said he was removed from the negotiations and never learned whether the deal went through.
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. US ALREADY LOSING TROOPS, PLANES IN AFGHANISTAN?
Qatar TV reports that three US Special Forces troops have been captured by Osama Bin Laden's Al Qaeda organization in western Afghanistan-countering a denial by the Taliban regime. The correspondent attributed his information to "unimpeachable sources" close to Al Qaeda, who called the network office in Peshawar to announce the capture. The US would neither confirm nor deny the report. "We're not going to get into the habit of commenting on every story that comes out of that region," a Pentagon spokesperson said. "It's a slippery slope once we start getting into that habit." President Bush, meanwhile, suggested that covert operations had begun. "I said loud and clear, sometimes people will be able to see what we do on the television screens," he told reporters. "At other times, the American people won't be able to see what we're doing." But he added, "make no mistake about it, we're in hot pursuit." (AFP, Sept. 29)
The Pentagon also refuses to confirm or deny claims that the Taliban has shot down two US planes over Afghan territory. "We have no information," a Pentagon spokesperson told AFP. On Sept. 21, the US admitted it had lost contact with an "unmanned surveillance plane," but did not confirm Taliban claims it was shot down. The report of the second plane comes from the Russian TASS agency, citing the Taliban's own Bakhter agency (AFP, Sept. 23).
2. TALIBAN AND NORTHERN ALLIANCE: "FLIP SIDE OF SAME COIN"
The "Northern Alliance" of Islamic fundamentalist factions fighting the Taliban are now being backed up by the US and UK with funds, arms and Special Forces troops. But Afghanistan's most militant pro-democracy dissident group protests this as a continuation of the same policies which led to the current disaster and "the trend of terrorism." Saima Karim, spokesperson for the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), told a press conference in Peshawar, Pakistan, that her organization opposes the Taliban but considers the Northern Alliance "the other side of the same coin." She called upon the world community to halt financial and political support to both factions. She added that the people of Afghanistan have nothing to do with Osama and his accomplices, and called upon the US not to unleash "vast and indiscriminate military attacks." (Peshawar Frontier Post, Sept. 22; www.rawa.org)
Northern Alliance military leader Ahmad Shah Masoud was killed by suicide bombers posing as journalists on September 9, two days before the WTC/Pentagon attacks, in what is widely believed to be a hit organized by Osama Bin Laden as a favor to his Taliban protectors (AP, Sept. 15). Writing in the The Independent (UK) on Oct. 3, correspondent Robert Fisk blasts the Northern Alliance leadership, especially Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dustum, "whose men looted and raped their way through the suburbs of Kabul in the '90s. They chose girls for forced marriages, murdered their families, all under the eyes of Masood. Dustum had a habit of changing sides, joining the Taliban for bribes and indulging in massacres... then returning to the Alliance weeks later." He also accuses Northern Alliance Pashtun warlord Rasoul Sayaf of engaging in systematic torture and rape of Shi'ite religious minorities-just like the Taliban. He concludes, "the terrified people of Kabul are chilled to the bone at the thought that these criminals are to be among America's new foot-soldiers."
3. TALIBAN TO DROP OPIUM BAN?
The Taliban funded its 1994-6 drive to power by taxing opium cultivation in its zones of control. But at UN behest, Taliban ruler Mullah Muhammad Omar issued a sweeping edict banning cultivation of opium last July, hoping to win international recognition of his tyrannical regime. This April, in a first move towards normalizing relations with Taliban Afghanistan, the US State Department sent two "narcotics experts" as part of a UN-coordinated team to witness the regime's opium eradication campaign (New York Times, April 25, 2001). Proclaiming the eradication a success, the US and UN also began funding "crop substitution" programs in Afghanistan. But The Times of London reported Sept. 25 that Afghanistan's peasants "are ready to swamp world markets with heroin" amid signs that the Taliban has dropped its ban. Citing "ruthless and efficient" Taliban enforcement, The Times boasts: "UN figures show that Afghanistan's opium production was 4,600 tonnes in 1999, but this is thought to have dropped to 100 tonnes this year." Now, however, The Times ominously notes, "the sudden halving of the price of raw opium to $250 a kg suggests the decree has been reversed." Even if it remains in place, the article speculates, desperate peasants are expected to resume opium planting while Taliban security forces are engaged fighting the US and its proxies.
Given that opium planting season is just beginning, and the crops will not be ready for harvest until the Spring, it seems unlikely global prices could be affected so quickly by a change in Taliban policy. In any case, heroin paranoia makes for good war propaganda. Although the New York Times reported Sept. 26 that "intelligence experts have never established a direct link between the [opium] trade and Mr. bin Laden," the same paper on Oct. 4 cited anonymous US officials as saying Bin Laden was trying to develop an ultra-potent "super heroin" for export to the US. The only official cited by name was DEA chief Asa Hutchinson, who said his agency had "limited information" about the reports. On Oct. 5, the Times reported the latest UN data indicates most opium in Afghanistan is grown in territory controlled by the Northern Alliance-now being groomed as a US proxy force to fight the Taliban.
4. BLOWBACK IN UZBEKISTAN
THE WAR AT HOME
An historical irony: In 1987, the CIA approved guerilla attacks by Afghanistan's Mujahedeen across the border into the Soviet republics of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and the first raids were organized with the agency's oversight (Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia by Ahmed Rashid, Yale, 2000). 15 years later, NATO's Partnership for Peace program has established military ties with Uzbekistan and other post-Soviet republics in the region to help fight Islamic guerrillas (RFE Newsline, Sept. 23, 1998). The guerillas are mostly based in Tajikistan, which the US, UK and Russia are now turning into a staging ground for the new campaign in Afghanistan. The US State Department recently added the Taliban-backed Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to its list of global terrorist groups. The guerilla group won a $6 million ransom from the Japanese government after kidnapping four Japanese geologists in the Pamir Mountains in 1999 (New York Times, May 3, 2001).
1. "ANTI-TERRORIST" POLICE STATE ADVANCES
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is urging citizens to oppose the anti-terrorist legislation now pending in Washington, charging that it grants intelligence agencies unchecked powers. "Ten years from now, our fear is that the American public will look back to this legislation and say, 'this is where we crossed the line to a surveillance society,'" says Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU's Washington
national office. "Because of the broad new powers to wiretap telephone and Internet
communications, the legislation weakens essential checks and balances that the judicial branch has exercised over law enforcement." The group also protests that the bill's definition of "terrorism" is overly broad, covering actions that "no reasonable person would consider terrorist activities." For example, under the version already adopted by the House Judiciary Committee, "an organization like the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) could be investigated as a terrorist group because one of its members hits the Secretary of Agriculture with a pie." The bill would also grant the government the authority to request "secret searches" in any criminal case. "This vast expansion of power goes far beyond anything necessary to conduct terrorism investigations." (ACLU press release, Oct. 4, 2001)
Some changes have been instated unilaterally by the White House without waiting for Congressional approval. The Bush administration has announced a major expansion of its power to detain immigrants suspected of crimes. The new rules allow legal immigrants to be detained indefinitely during a "national emergency" such as terrorist attack. Citing the new powers, the Justice Department says it will continue to hold 75 immigrants arrested in connection with the WTC/Pentagon attacks. Previously, the department faced a 24- hour deadline on whether to release detained immigrants or charge them with a crime or violating the terms of their visa. (New York Times, Sept. 19, 2001)
Meanwhile, the New York State Legislature has already passed new anti-terrorist legislation, and Gov. George Pataki signed it into law Sept. 16. Civil rights groups also consider the legislation overly broad in defining "terrorism"-now punishable by life in prison-as commission of an offense designed to "intimidate or coerce a civilian population" or "influence the policy of a unit of government." AP, Sept. 17, 2001
2. WEB SITES SHUT DOWN BY "HOMELANDS SECURITY"
On Sept. 29, Radio Free Eireann on New York's WBAI reported that IRARadio.com, the web site which archives all Radio Free Eireann broadcasts, has been taken down because the web service provider was threatened with seizure of assets if it continued to host "terrorist" radio programs. Travis E. Towle, founder and CEO of Cosmic Entertainment Company, which put up IRARadio.com, was told by their service provider, Hypervine, that they had been "strongly advised" to take the web site down. A Hypervine representative read Towle a statement that, under an Executive Order recently signed by President Bush, the newly-created Office of Homeland Security can seize all assets-"without any notice"-of any company found to "support terrorism." Hypervine is a subsidiary of the New York based Skynet.
Cosmic Entertainment also hosts the web sites archiving two other WBAI radio programs, "Our Americas" hosted by Mario Murillo, and "Grandpa Al Lewis Live," featuring commentary by the actor and political activist who starred in "The Munsters" and "Car 54 Where Are You?" The "Grandpa Al Lewis Live" site has apparently also been taken down.
Radio Free Eireann, which broadcasts Saturday afternoons at 1:30 on WBAI 99.5 FM, has covered the conflict in Northern Ireland for over twenty years. Guests have included Bernadette Sands, the sister of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands; Rauri O'Bradaigh, the President of Republican Sinn Fein; Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness; and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.
3. STARBUCKS EXTORTS BLOOD MONEY
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
The urban legends-busters at Snopes.com have confirmed reports from Brooklyn's Midwood Ambulance Service that a Manhattan Starbucks outlet charged World Trade Center rescue workers $130 for three cases of water. According to an account by a family member of one of the Midwood volunteers who was dispatched to Ground Zero on Sept. 11, when volunteers asked at the coffee chain outlet for water for shock victims, they were told that no water was available but the expensive bottled variety. One volunteer shelled $130 out of his own pocket for three cases of bottled water. When Midwood volunteers later called and e-mailed Starbucks corporate headquarters to complain, they got no response. Snopes.com reports: "Only after the [account] became circulated on the Internet did Starbucks address this matter. It has since delivered a $130 check (via messenger) to the ambulance company, and its president, Orin Smith, has called to apologize personally."
1. EX-FBI COUNTER-TERRORISM CHIEF KILLED IN WTC ATTACK
John P. O'Neill, who left the FBI in August to become chief of security for the World Trade Center, died in the collapse of the towers on Sept. 11. O'Neill spent the last several years heading major investigations of Osama Bin Laden. In 1997, when he was head of the FBI's counter-terrorism division in New York, he warned at a conference on terrorism that militant terrorist groups were operating quietly within the United States. "A lot of these groups now have the capability and the support infrastructure in the United States to attack us here if they choose to," he said at the time, adding that there was a particular danger from Islamic militants. But FBI sources confirmed that O'Neill was under investigation after he left a briefcase containing classified information unattended in a hotel in Tampa last year. The briefcase-which was recovered and returned to O'Neill-contained several documents, including a report outlining virtually every national security operation in New York. It was in the wake of the lost-briefcase incident that O'Neill announced that he would retire from the FBI. New York Times, Sept. 23, 2001
2. REPORT: FBI KNEW IN ADVANCE OF 1993 WTC BLAST
Law enforcement officials planned to thwart the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center by substituting harmless powder for explosives, but the scheme was called off by the FBl, the New York Times reported on Oct. 28 of that year. Tape recordings secretly made by an FBI informer reveal that authorities were in a far better position than previously known to foil the Feb. 26 bombing of New York's tallest towers, in which six died and over 1,000 were injured. The New York Times published conversations the informer, 43 year-old former Egyptian army officer Emad Ali Salem, taped with his FBI handlers. On the tapes, Salem recalls that the FBI had planned on "building the bomb with a phony powder and grabbing the people who were involved in it." But the informer, who is heard lecturing his handlers, said the powder scheme was called off and "we didn't do that." Salem also is heard on the tapes criticizing the agents for ignoring his warnings that the World Trade Center was to be bombed. "Guys, now you saw this bomb went off and you both know that we could avoid that," the newspaper quoted him as saying.
3. JEW-HATERS MAKE HAY
The Internet rumor that 4,000 Jews who worked at the World Trade Center stayed home on Sept. 11, warned in advance of the impending attack, has actually been reported as fact by some international media outlets, including Russia's Pravda and Al-Manar TV in Beirut-which cited "Arab sources" quoted in Jordan's al-Watan newspaper that the Jewish employees had all been tipped off by Israeli intelligence. The urban legends-busters at Snopes.com-while acknowledging the danger of legitimizing such claptrap by answering it-have repudiated the rumor, documenting numerous press accounts of Jews who died in the attacks ( www.snopes.com/rumors). The implication is that Israeli intelligence was really behind the attacks, or allowed them to happen, in order to inflame world opinion against the Arabs. In fact, the UK Telegraph reported Sept. 16 that "Israeli intelligence officials say they warned their counterparts in the United States last month that large-scale terrorist attacks on highly visible targets on the American mainland were imminent."
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