Israeli Terror Suspects Captured by FBI
September 18, 2001
While the mainstream media has been quick to convict Osama Bin Laden for the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, what the national press is not reporting is that at least 13 Israeli nationals have been detained by the FBI for possible involvement. At least three different groups of Israelis - some of whom may have ties to Israel's intelligence agency, the Mossad - were taken into custody after eyewitnesses reported seeing them celebrating in several locations across the river from lower Manhattan in New Jersey. In two cases, the men were reportedly videotaping the initial kamikaze attack on the World Trade Center in New York.
When I spoke with a spokesman at the Embassy of Israel's situation room in Washington he said that at least 13 Israelis were being held in connection with the attacks. All of the detained Israelis are connected to Israeli-owned moving companies operating out of New York and New Jersey. No fewer than 13 of the 75 aliens who had been detained in the week after the attacks are Israeli nationals.
One group was reported to have been in Liberty State Park in Jersey City, another was seen in Liberty Park in Union City, and a third was apprehended on the roof of an Israeli-owned moving company. According to New Jersey and New York newspapers, two groups of Israelis were stopped in vans belonging to Urban Moving Systems - one group of three and one group of five. Eyewitnesses reported seeing similar groups in Union City and Jersey City, both of which have parks named Liberty - more than five miles apart.
Witnesses reported seeing a group of men, who turned out to be Israelis, celebrating the first attack on the world Trade Center earlier in the day in Union City. Angry witnesses reported the license plate to authorities. The plate was registered to Urban Moving Systems, a truck-rental company based in Weehawken, N.J., according to a FBI spokesperson. Business records show an "Urban Moving Systems" with offices on West 50th Street in Manhattan and on West 18th Street in Weehawken. When a local reporter called the moving company, a woman, who refused to give her name, said, "We have no comment."
On Sept, 13, FBI agents searched the Weehawken warehouse owned by Urban Moving Systems, which employed the men detained by federal officials. The FBI seized computer hard drives and other items.
Three men, seen filming and celebrating as the Twin Towers were struck, were described as "illegal immigrants from the Middle East," and were arrested in a white Chevy van hours after the attacks. Witnesses say they saw them "cheering" and "jumping up and down" in Liberty State Park in Jersey City after the attack and contacted police. In one report, Paulo Lima of the Bergen Record reported on Sept. 12 that five "Israeli tourists" had been arrested as suspected conspirators in the attacks. The five men, who were also stopped in a van on Route 3 in East Rutherford around 4:30 p.m., were being questioned by police but had not been charged.
The five "Israeli tourists" were arrested eight hours after the attacks by police in Bergen County, N.J., who said the men were found carrying maps linking them to the blasts. Sources close to the investigation said the men claimed to be "Israeli tourists" but police had not been able to confirm their identities. Authorities would not release their names. Sources close to the investigation said they found other evidence linking the Israelis to the bombing plot, according to the report. "There are maps of the city in the car with certain places highlighted," the source said. "It looked like they're hooked in with this. It looked like they knew what was going to happen when they were at Liberty State Park (Jersey City)."
Sources also said that bomb-sniffing dogs reacted as if they had detected explosives, although officers were unable to find anything. The FBI seized the van for further testing, authorities said. The van was stopped as it headed east on Route 3, between the Hackensack River bridge and the Sheraton hotel. As a precaution, police shut down Route 3 traffic in both directions after the stop and evacuated a small roadside motel near the Sheraton.
East Rutherford officers stopped the van after the FBI's Newark field office broadcast an alert asking surrounding police departments to look for a white Chevrolet van, police said. After grilling the men and searching the van in vain for explosives, the FBI reportedly turned them over to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for deportation.
In a separate incident, the Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz, reported on Sept. 18 that five Israelis, suspected of working for the Mossad, had been arrested for what the FBI described as "puzzling behavior" following the attack. The five Israelis, who are suspected to have been Mossad agents, were arrested four hours after the attack while filming the smoking skyline from the roof of their company's building. It appears they were spotted by one of the neighbors shouting cries of "joy and mockery." The neighbors called the police and the FBI, according to Ha'aretz.
This gang of five worked for an Israeli-owned "moving company" based in New Jersey and the men are being held in U.S. prisons after being interrogated. The five Israelis were reported to have worked for the Israeli-owned moving company for between two months and two years. Seven FBI agents later stormed the apartment of one of the Israelis, searched it and questioned his roommate. The Israeli owner of the company, who has U.S. citizenship, was also questioned. Both men were subsequently released.
The families of the five, who asked that their names not be released, said that their sons had been questioned by the FBI for hours, had been kept in solitary confinement for three days, and had been humiliated, stripped of their clothes and blindfolded.
"When they finally let my son make a phone call for the first time to a friend in the United States two days ago, he told him that he had been tortured by the FBI in a basement," the mother of one of the suspects told Ha'aretz. "They thought that because he has citizenship of a European country as well as of Israel that he was working for the Mossad."
The five were transferred out of the FBI's facility on Saturday morning and are now being held in two prisons in New Jersey by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. They are charged with illegally residing in the United States and working without permits. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it had been informed by the consulate in New York that the FBI had arrested the five for "puzzling behavior." They are said to have been caught videotaping the disaster and shouting in what was interpreted as cries of joy and mockery.
Witnesses took the license plate number and the FBI sent out a BOLO, (Be On Look Out) alert on Sept 11.
Vehicle possibly related to New York terrorist attack. White, 2000 Chevrolet van with New Jersey registration with "Urban Moving Systems" sign on back seen at Liberty State Park, Jersey City, N.J., at the time of first impact of jetliner into World Trade Center.
Port Authority police are reported to have nabbed the three as they drove along Rte. 3 in East Rutherford, N.J. In New Jersey, where officials believe the hijackers received assistance from an accomplice, Newark's FBI spokeswoman Sherri Evanina said five Israeli men were detained late Tuesday after their van was stopped. Kerry Gill, a spokesman for the immigration service in Newark, said the FBI turned over the individuals to the Immigration and Naturalization Service on Wednesday. He said "they appeared to be Israeli citizens" and all five appear to be deportable.
Local sources have reported that one of the largest Israeli-owned moving companies in the area, Moishe's Moving Systems, in Jersey City, has "at least 100" young Israeli men, between the ages of 22 and 35, working in what is described as a "fortress" with covered windows and concertina wire surrounding the premises near the entrance to the Holland Tunnel.
Senior officials from Mossad, the Israeli military intelligence service came to Washington last month to warn the CIA and the FBI that a cell of up to 200 terrorists was planning a major operation in America, according to a report in the London-based Sunday Telegraph on Sept. 17. Israeli intelligence officials say that they warned their counterparts in the United States last month that large scale terrorist attacks on highly visible targets on American mainland were imminent. The Mossad has a long history of penetrating, infiltrating and often manipulating Middle Eastern terror cells to serve their own purposes.
The Great Game for the Oil & Gas of the Caspian Region
September 26, 2001
President Bush's "crusade" against the Taliban of Afghanistan has more to do with control of the immense oil and gas resources of the Caspian Basin than with "rooting our terrorism." Once again an American president from the Bush family is leading Americans down an oil-rich Middle Eastern warpath against "enemies of freedom and democracy."
The focus on religion-based terrorism serves to conceal important aspects of the Central Asian conflict. President Bush's noble rhetoric about fighting for justice and democracy is masking a less noble struggle for control of an estimated $5 trillion of oil and gas resources from the Caspian Basin.
One of the material results of the elder Bush's Desert Storm campaign in 1991 was to secure access to the huge Rumaila oil field of southern Iraq, which was accomplished by expanding the boundaries of Kuwait after the war. This allowed Kuwait, a former British protectorate where American and British oil companies are heavily invested, to double its prewar oil output.
The Trepca mine complex in Kosovo, one of the richest mines in Europe, was seized last year by front companies for George Soros and Bernard Kouchner, two members of the New World Order gang who devastated Serbia. A similar geopolitical strategy, influenced by Zionist planners, to control the valuable mineral resources of the Caspian Basin underlies the planned aggression against Afghanistan, a Central Asian nation that occupies a strategic position sandwiched between the Middle East, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
Central Asia has enormous quantities of undeveloped oil resources including 6.6 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, waiting to be exploited. The former Soviet republics of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are the two major gas producers in Central Asia. Today, the only existing export routes from the area lead through Russia. Investors in Caspian oil and gas are interested in building alternative pipelines to Turkey and Europe, and especially to the rapidly growing Asian markets. India, Iran, Russia and Israel are working on a plan to supply oil and gas to south and south-east Asia through India but instability in Afghanistan is raising a great threat to this effort.
Afghanistan lies squarely between Turkmenistan, home to the world's third largest natural gas reserves, and the lucrative markets of the Indian subcontinent, China and Japan. A memorandum of understanding has been signed to build a 900-mile natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan, but the ongoing civil war and absence of a stable government in Afghanistan have delayed the project. Afghanistan was at the center of the so-called "Great Game" in the 19th century when Imperial Russia and the British Empire in India vied for influence. Today, its geographical position as a potential route for oil and natural gas pipelines makes Afghanistan extremely important to energy magnates seeking control of these precious resources.
Enron, a Texas-based gas and energy company, together with Amoco, British Petroleum, Chevron, Exxon, Mobil and Unocal are all engaged in a multi-billion dollar frenzy to extract the reserves of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan, the three newly independent Soviet republics that border on the Caspian Sea. An array of former cabinet members from the George H. Bush administration has been actively involved in negotiations with the former Soviet republics on behalf of the oil companies. The deal makers include James Baker, Brent Scowcroft, John Sununu and, notably, Dick Cheney, now vice president.
THE ISRAELI CONNECTION
Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are also closely allied with Israeli commercial interests and Israeli military intelligence. In Turkmenistan, a "former" Israeli intelligence agent, Yosef A. Maiman, president of Merhav Group of Israel, is the official negotiator and policy maker responsible for developing the energy resources of Turkmenistan.
"This is the Great Game all over," Maiman told the Wall Street Journal about his role in furthering the "geopolitical goals of both the U.S. and Israel" in Central Asia. "We are doing what U.S. and Israeli policy could not achieve - controlling the product," he said.
"Those who control the oil routes out of Central Asia will impact all future direction and quantities of flow and the distribution of revenues from new production," said energy expert James Dorian in Oil & Gas Journal on Sept. 10.
Foreign business in Turkmenistan is dominated by Maiman's Merhav Group, according to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (WRMEA). Maiman, who was made a citizen of Turkmenistan by presidential decree, serves as Turkmenistan's "official negotiator" for its gas pipeline, special ambassador, and "right-hand man" for the "authoritarian" President Saparmurad Atayevich Miyazov, a former Politburo member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
The Merhav Group of Israel officially represents the Turkmen government and has brokered all of the energy projects in Turkmenistan, contracts worth many billions of dollars. Merhav has been contracted to modernize existing natural gas infrastructure and will build new facilities in an oil refinery in the city of Turkmenbashi on the Caspian Sea. Merhav refuses to disclose its sources of financing. In keeping with Israeli political interests, Maiman's planned pipelines bypass Iran and Russia. Maiman has said that he would have no objection to dealing with Iran, "when and if Israeli policy allows it."
Iran has accused the United States of trying to keep regional pipelines from passing through Iran. Creating a counterbalance to Iran's regional influence was a cornerstone of the Clinton administration, which was concerned that Iran could gain too much control over Caspian exports. "This is a common interest for the U.S. and Israel," said Dr. Nimrod Novik, vice president of Merhav. "The primary interest is to prevent the development of Turkish strategic dependence on Iran, given the unique emerging strategic relationship between Turkey and Israel."
Russia and Turkmenistan are in a battle to conquer the Turkish gas market, and the supplier that offers the best price will emerge as the winner. "This is a great race," Maiman says, "Whoever takes Turkey first wins. Whoever comes second will have lean years." Although the United States needs Russian assistance in its campaign against Afghanistan, when I asked Alex Chorine of Caspian Investor what kind of relationship existed between the Russian and Western/Israeli energy companies doing business in the Caspian Basin, Chorine said, "They act as enemies."
One of Maiman's proposed pipelines would bring Turkmenistan's gas and oil to Turkey via Azerbaijan and Georgia. Maiman's Merhav Group is also involved in a $100 million project that would reduce the flow of water to Iraq by diverting water from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to southeastern Turkey.
Israeli officials boast of having "excellent relations" with Azerbaijan, where an Israeli company, Magal Security Systems, has a contract to provide security at Baku airport. Magal is one of several Israeli companies that will "turn Israel into a major player in Azerbaijan" by providing security for the 1,200 mile pipeline taking oil from the Caspian to the Turkish port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean Sea.
Enron, the biggest contributor to the Bush campaign of 2000, conducted the feasibility study for a $2.5 billion trans-Caspian gas pipeline, which is being built under a joint venture agreement signed in February 1999 between Turkmenistan and two American companies, Bechtel and General Electric Capital Services. Maiman acted as the intermediary between the Turkmenistan and the U.S. firms, but won't discuss "his cut" or whether he will receive a stake in the pipeline. The Merhav Group hired the Washington lobbying firm Cassidy & Associates and spent several million dollars to "encourage" U.S. officials to push for the trans-Caspian pipeline.
CRITICAL FOR WHOM?
During the Clinton administration, Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson and "special adviser to the president" Richard Morningstan promoted the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, calling it "critical to the economic survival of Turkmenistan." The relationship between Israel, Turkey and the United States is the major factor for the selection of the Baku-Ceyhan route, which could be extended to bring oil directly to energy-deficient Israel. Energy experts, however, question the wisdom and expense of this route. Companies are under pressure from the United States and Israel to invest in east-west pipelines, although most companies would prefer cheaper north-south pipelines through Iranian territory, according to WRMEA.
The U.S. firm Unocal was leading a pipeline project to bring Turkmenistan's abundant natural gas through Afghanistan to the growing markets of Pakistan and India, until the turmoil in Afghanistan led them to withdraw from the project in 1998. The planned pipeline would carry gas from the Turkmen Dauletabad fields, among the world's largest, to Multan in Pakistan, with a planned extension to India. The line from Dauletabad through Afghanistan is planned to transport 15 billion cubic feet of gas per year for 30 years. This pipeline is on hold until the political and military situations in Afghanistan improve.
There is a second Unocal project to build a 1,030-mile oil pipeline called the Central Asian Oil Pipeline Project, which would start at Chardzhou in Turkmenistan linking Russia's Siberian oil field pipelines to Pakistan's Arabian coast. This line could transport 1 million barrels a day of oil from other areas of the former Soviet Union. It would run parallel to the gas line route through Afghanistan and branch off in Pakistan to the Indian Ocean terminal in Ras Malan.
Before the sun set on the apocalyptic day that New York's gleaming twin towers collapsed, the U.S. government had already decided to blame the attack on Osama Bin Laden, the Saudi-born guerrilla leader, and the Taliban government of Afghanistan which harbored him. Although the U.S. government did not present evidence in support of its case against Bin Laden, Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Sept. 23, "I think in the near future, we will be able to put out a paper, a document, that will describe quite clearly the evidence that we have linking him to this attack."
When it was reported that the Taliban might turn Bin Laden over to face justice, the Bush administration said that surrendering Bin Laden would not prevent an American-led attack on Afghanistan. An international plan to remove the fundamentalist Islamic Taliban from power has been a subject of international diplomatic discussions for months and was reportedly raised by India during the Group of Eight summit in July in Genoa, Italy.
The Indian press reported in June that, "India and Iran will 'facilitate' U.S. and Russian plans for 'limited military action' against the Taliban if the contemplated tough new economic sanctions don't bend Afghanistan's fundamentalist regime." The invasion plans described in the Indian press in June may come to pass in October: "Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will lead the ground attack with a strong military back up of the U.S. and Russian. Vital Taliban installations and military assets will be targeted." The economic reasons for the multinational assault against the Taliban were explained: "Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan are threatened by the Taliban that is aiming to control their vast oil, gas, and other resources by bringing Islamic fundamentalists into power."
The Family Ties Between Bush and Bin Laden
October 3, 2001
The world now associates the Bin Laden name with Osama Bin Laden, the prime suspect be hind the terror atrocities of Sept. 11. As President George W. Bush leads an intense international manhunt for Osama, few Americans realize that Osama's eldest brother, Salem, was one of Bush's first business partners. The unexplained death of Salem, Osama Bin Laden's oldest brother, in 1988, brought to an abrupt end a long and intriguing relationship between President Bush and the head of the Bin Laden family fortune.
A photograph from 1971 has been printed in English papers showing Osama, age 14, and his brother Salem, age 19, enjoying a summer holiday at the Astoria Hotel in Falun, Sweden. Christina Akerblad, the hotel owner, told the Daily Mail, "They were beautiful boys, so elegantly dressed. Everybody loved them."
Osama embraced Islamic fundamentalism and is now the world's most wanted man. "Salem went on to become a business partner of the man who is leading the hunt for his brother," the Daily Mail's Peter Allen said. "In the 1970s, he and George W. Bush were founders of the Arbusto Energy oil company in Mr. Bush's home state of Texas." President Bush and the Bin Laden family have been connected through dubious business deals since 1977, when Salem, the head of the Bin Laden family business, one of the biggest construction companies in the world, invested in Bush's start-up oil company, Arbusto Energy, Inc.
James R. Bath, a friend and neighbor, was used to funnel money from Osama Bin Laden's brother, Salem Bin Laden, to set up George W. Bush in the oil business, according to the Wall Street Journal and other reputable sources. Through a tangled web of Saudi multi-millionaires, Texas oilmen, and the infamous Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), Bush was financially linked with the Bin Laden family until Salem met an untimely end in a freak flying accident near San Antonio in 1988. The infamous BCCI was shut down in 1991 with some $10 billion in losses.
In June 1977, George W. Bush formed his own oil drilling company, Arbusto Energy, in Midland, Texas. "Arbusto" actually means "shrub" in Spanish, but the Bush family interpreted it as "bush". Salem Bin Laden, a close friend of the Saudi King Fahd, had "invested heavily in Bush's first business venture," according to the Daily Mail (U.K.).
Arbusto later became Bush Exploration, when Bush's father became vice president. As the company neared financial collapse in September 1984, it was merged with Spectrum 7 Energy Corp. in an effort to stay afloat. The 50 investors who propped up the Bush company with $4.7 million were "mainly friends of my uncle" who "did pretty good" in Bush's words, although they lost most of the money they invested in the company. Jon Bush, George's uncle, raised money for Arbusto from political supporters of the Reagan-Bush administration.
"These were all the Bush's pals," family friend Russell Reynolds told the Dallas Morning News in 1998. "This is the A-Team." The limited partners of the "A-Team" contributed $4.67 million to various Bush funds through 1984 but got only $1.55 million back in profit distributions, and $3.9 million in tax write-offs.
William DeWitt and Mercer Reynolds, two staunch Reagan-Bush supporters, owned Spectrum 7. Despite his poor track record, the owners made Bush president of the company and gave him 13.6 percent of the parent company's stock.
As the hard times continued, Spectrum merged with Harken Energy in 1986. In 1990, Harken received a contract from the government of Bahrain to drill for offshore oil although Harken Energy had never drilled a well overseas or anywhere in water. "Knowledgeable oil company sources believe that the Bahrain oil concession was indeed an oblique favor to the president of the United States but say that Saudi Arabia (home of Bin Laden) was behind the decision," according to The Outlaw Bank: A Wild Ride Into the Secret Heart of the BCCI, by Jonathan Beaty and S.C. Gwynne.
It raised oil-industry eyebrows when the Persian Gulf state announced it had chosen tiny Harken to explore an offshore site for gas and oil. Bahrain officials said they had no idea President Bush's son was associated with Harken, a claim oil-industry sources ridicule. The Bahrain deal was brokered in part by Arkansas investment banker David Edwards, one of Bill Clinton's closest friends. The Bahrain oil project resulted in two dry holes and Harken energy abandoned the project.
Two months before Iraq invaded Kuwait, on June 20, 1990, the younger Bush sold two-thirds of his Harken stock, 212,140 shares at $4 a share-for a total of $848,560. "That was $318,430 more than it was worth," Dr. Arthur F. Ide, author of George W. Bush: Portrait of a Compassionate Conservative, said. "George W. broke the law to do this since the transaction was an insider stock sale." Eight days later, Harken finished the second quarter with losses of $23 million and the stock went "into a nosedive" losing 75 percent of its value, finishing the year at a little over $1 a share.
"Like his father who made his fortune in the oil business with the money of others, George W. founded Arbusto with the financial backing of investors, including James R. Bath," said the late James Howard Hatfield, author of a "controversial biography," Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American President. Hatfield, 43, was found dead of an apparent prescription drug overdose in a hotel room in Springdale, Ark. on July 18, 2001. Police declined to investigate.
Bath became friends with George W. during their days together in the Texas Air National Guard. Bath "confided that he was an original investor in George Bush Jr.'s oil exploration company," according to The Outlaw Bank. Bath found investors for Arbusto and "made his fortune" by investing the money of two BCCI-connected Saudi sheiks, Khalid bin Mahfouz and Salem Bin Laden. Mahfouz was one of the richest men in the world and a controlling shareholder in BCCI.
Bill White, a former real estate business partner of Bath, said: "He had put up $50,000 to help George, Jr., get started in oil business" at a time when "Bath had no substantial money of his own." Bath received a 5 percent interest in two Arbusto-related limited partnerships controlled by Bush, although Bush told the Houston Post in 1990 that he had "never done any business" with Bath. However, Bush said Bath was "a lot of fun."
Bath told White that he was in the CIA and that "he had been recruited by George Bush himself in 1976 when Bush was director of the agency . . . he said Bush wanted him involved with the Arabs, and to get into the aviation business." White contends that the Saudis were using Bath and their huge financial resources to influence U.S. policy during the Reagan and Bush administrations, according to the Houston Chronicle of June 4, 1992. Such representation by Bath would require that he be registered as a foreign agent with the Department of Justice, but he was not.
Shortly after Bush's father was appointed director of the CIA, Salem Bin Laden appointed Bath as his business representative in Texas. According to the Houston Chronicle, Salem Bin Laden, heir to one of the largest building companies in the Middle East, signed a trust agreement appointing Bath as his Houston representative in 1976. In 1978, Bath purchased Houston Gulf Airport on behalf of Salem Bin Laden. When Bin Laden died in 1988, his interest in the airfield passed to bin Mahfouz. There was also a political aspect to Salem Bin Laden's financial activities, which played a role in U.S. operations in the Middle East and Central America during the 1980s, according to Public Broadcasting's Frontline report.
As head of Binladen Brothers Construction (now the Binladen Group), a company that later helped build U.S. airfields during Operation Desert Storm, Bin Laden was close to King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and "a good friend of the U.S. government," a San Antonio attorney, Wayne Fagan, who represented Salem Bin Laden from 1982 to 1988, told the San Antonio Express-News. When the family patriarch, Sheik Mohammed Bin Laden, died in 1968, he left an industrial and financial empire and a progeny of 54 sons and daughters, the fruit of a number of wives. In 1972, Salem Bin Laden, the oldest son, took over the estate as his father's successor, with the assistance of several brothers.
With over 40,000 employees, the Bin Laden Group is represented in the major cities of Saudi Arabia and the Arab capitals of Beirut, Cairo, Amman, and Dubai. The company builds highways, housing units, factories, hangars, and military bases, some of which are part of the U.S.-Saudi "Peace Shield" agreement. The story of the Bush involvement with Bin Laden and the BCCI scandal involves "trails that branched, crossed one another, or came to unexpected dead ends," according to The Outlaw Bank.
Salem Bin Laden came to an "unexpected dead end" in a Texas pasture, 11 years after investing in Arbusto, when the ultra light aircraft he was flying crashed into power lines near San Antonio on Memorial Day, 1988. On the morning of May 29, 1988, almost immediately after takeoff, Salem Bin Laden's aircraft struck and became entangled in power lines 150 feet high before plunging to the ground.
"He was a very experienced pilot. He was a good pilot. We just can't understand why he decided to go right instead of left," recalled airstrip owner and former Marine Earl Mayfield, who cradled Bin Laden, bleeding from the ears.
That day, Bin Laden took off in a southeasterly direction into the wind. He surprised onlookers by turning west to ward power lines less than a quarter-mile away. "Nobody could figure out why he tried to fly over the power lines," said Gerry Auerbach, 77, of New Braunfels, a retired pilot. Bin Laden had more than 15,000 hours of flight experience. The police report concluded "freak accident."
What Does Bin Laden Really Want?
October 11, 2001
While the U.S. government and mainstream media refuse to discuss the foreign policies that breed resentment against America in the Islamic world, ignoring these fundamental issues can only perpetuate the conflict.
It was late on Sunday morning when President George W. Bush began his "war against terrorism" by launching 50 cruise missiles and bombing raids on Taliban targets in Afghanistan. Within hours, Osama Bin Laden, the alleged mastermind behind the terror attacks of Sept. 11, responded with an effective counter-offensive in the war of words. Bin Laden spoke to the world through a taped message broadcast by Al Jazeera, the most widely watched television news channel in the Arab world.
The American mass media portrays Bin Laden as "consumed by hatred for the West" and misrepresents his primary political goals of restoring integrity to Saudi Arabia and confronting American abuses in the Middle East. "Bush and Blair may tell the world they are going to win the 'war against terrorism' but in the Middle East, where Osama Bin Laden is acquiring almost mythic status among Arabs, they have already lost," Robert Fisk of The Independent said on Oct. 10. A resident of Cairo told Fisk that Arabs believe America "is trying to kill the one man ready to tell the truth."
Bin Laden, who "is hardly a madman," according to experts, despises the Saudi royal family, which he regards as corrupt surrogates of American rule. In 1998, Bin Laden said he expects "for the ruler of Riyadh the same fate as the shah of Iran." Because the Saudi royal family "sells the interests of its own people and betrays the nation," Bin Laden said, "They shall all be wiped out."
"The United States is committed to defending the House of Saud against any internal political movement that might want to get rid of it, or perhaps even reform it," Writes Said K. Aburish, author of The Rise, Corruption, and Coming Fall of the House of Saud. The American troops in Saudi Arabia are seen as protecting the royal family, which "is becoming less acceptable by the day," Aburish says. The House of Saud is not unlike the regime of Saddam Hussein, according to Aburish, "People still disappear in the middle of the night in Saudi Arabia; people are imprisoned without being charged; people have no voice in the running of the government, and they have squandered the country's wealth . . . the country is not only broke, they are heavily in debt.
"Saudi Arabia operates in very mysterious ways. . . . We are talking about a closed society ," he said. The royal family is dedicated to keeping the kingdom closed because "outside influences would include calls for human rights, equality, democracy and things of this sort that the House of Saud is not about to tolerate," Aburish said. The oppressive conditions in the country are causing massive unrest, although due to suppression by the government, Islamic fundamentalism provides the only vehicle for political reform movements-and these are becoming increasingly violent. "Osama Bin Laden is the prophet of these movements," Aburish says, whose "number one issue" is that American troops should leave Saudi Arabia, and secondly that "there should be a Muslim Jerusalem where Islamic holy places are protected."
Bin Laden has "developed a stunningly deceptive regional war calculus that stands a reasonable chance of success," according to Paul M. Wihbey of the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies in Washington. "His strongest belief is that Saudi Arabia can be brought to its knees, the House of Saud deposed," Wihbey says. His "overriding goal" is to return to Saudi Arabia in triumph and put an end to the existing regime.
Support for Bin Laden's political program to reform Saudi Arabia comes from all levels of society, Aburish says, including from members of the House of Saud who belong to Islamic fundamentalist groups. There is an ongoing power struggle between two competing factions in the Saudi royal family over how to deal with American requests to neutralize Bin Laden, Wihbey said. One week after the terror attacks it was reported that the ailing Saudi king, Fahd, had flown to Geneva with a massive entourage and is now in seclusion. If Bin Laden survives and returns to Saudi Arabia, his supporters will greet him as a Mahdi (messiah). This would mark "a dramatically new geopolitical landscape," Wihbey said.
Bin Laden today stands accused by the U.S. government of masterminding the kamikaze terror attacks in New York and Washington although evidence linking him to the crimes has not been presented to the public. "Neither I nor my organization Al-Qaida is involved in the attacks, and the U.S. has traced the attackers within America," Bin Laden told the Karachi daily Ummat. "The attackers could be anybody, people who are part of the American system yet rebel against it, or some group that wants to make this century a century of confrontation between Islam and Christianity."
Bin Laden has always carefully denied involvement in terror attacks such as the U.S. embassy bombings saying it is not his job to organize such attacks. His role is "to create awareness about the injustices done by the U.S. to Muslims." He rails against the "corrupting influence of the West" on the Muslim world. "What has the West given the world? A lust for power and a license to loot and plunder the poorer countries," he said in a recent interview with an Arab journalist, as reported in the Washington Times.
"We are against the American system but not the American people. Islam does not allow killing of innocent people, men, women and children even in the event of war," he said to Ummat. Although Bin Laden denied personal responsibility for the terror attacks, in the taped speech, broadcast as Bush began the bombing of Afghanistan, he accused the United States of hypocrisy, murder, and occupation of Islamic lands, articulating widely held grievances which resonate throughout the Islamic and Arab world. Bin Laden said that the suffering America is "tasting now" is insignificant compared to the humiliation and degradation the Islamic world has suffered for more than 80 years. "Its sons are killed, its blood is shed, its sanctuaries are attacked, and no one hears and no one heeds.
"Millions of innocent children are being killed as I speak. They are being killed in Iraq without committing any sins," Bin Laden said about the human toll of the 11 years of U.S.-led sanctions on Iraq. "Israeli tanks infest Palestine," Bin Laden said, "in Jenin, Ramallah, Rafah, Beit Jalla, and other places in the land of Islam, and we don't hear anyone raising his voice or moving a limb.
"To America, I say only a few words to it and its people," Bin Laden concluded. "I swear by God, who has elevated the skies without pillars, neither America nor the people who live in it will dream of security before we live it in Palestine, and not before all the infidel armies leave the land of Mohammed, peace be upon him.
"The enmity between us and the Jews," Bin Laden said in 1998, "goes far back in time and is deep rooted. There is no question that war between the two of us is inevitable. The leaders in America and in other countries as well have fallen victim to Jewish Zionist blackmail," he said, "They have mobilized their people against Islam and against Muslims. Our mothers and daughters and sons are slaughtered every day with the approval of America and its support," he said. "And, while America blocks the entry of weapons into Islamic countries, it provides the Israelis with a continuous supply of arms allowing them thus to kill and massacre more Muslims.
"The American government is leading the country toward hell. We say to the Americans as people and to American mothers, if they cherish their lives and if they cherish their sons, they must elect an American patriotic government that caters to their interests, not the interests of the Jews."
Al Jazeera, often called the CNN of the Arab world, reaches 35 million viewers and is the only news organization with a correspondent and direct satellite link in Kabul, the Afghan capital. Secretary of State Colin Powell appealed to the emir of Qatar, where Al Jazeera is based, to stop the flow of information the network was sending from Afghanistan. Al Jazeera resisted American censorship saying that in order to be seen as credible by its viewers it must show both sides of the conflict. Bin Laden is a party to the conflict and has a point of view that deserves to be heard, a spokesman for the network said. The Voice of America, however, pulled an interview with Mullah Omar Mohammed, the Taliban leader, following objections from the U.S. deputy secretary of state and senior officials of the National Security Council.
"America controls the governments of the Islamic countries . . . they are in the grip of the United States," Omar said. "America has created the evil that is attacking it. The evil will not disappear even if I die and Osama dies and others die. The U.S. should step back and review its policy. It should stop trying to impose its empire on the rest of the world, especially on Islamic countries."
Iran's supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned the American-led attack on Afghanistan as cruelty and a major mistake for the United States and Britain. The government of Iran is opposed to the Taliban but is not assisting in the U.S.-led attack on Afghanistan. Khamenei said that it was not true that the strikes are part of a campaign against terrorism. "Their real purpose is to expand their [U.S. and U.K.] power and domination," he told a meeting of clerics in Tehran the day after the bombing began.
"What can justify this oppression that will lead to the killing and wounding of people and forcing many innocent Afghans to leave their homes? The Americans must know that they might be able to achieve their short-term goals with military strikes," he said. "But they will be hurt in the long run. Without doubt, their acts will bring instability for them."
Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi condemned the attacks and expressed Iran's concerns that such military operation could "provoke extremist reactions." "We stressed from the beginning that terrorism cannot be eradicated through military actions," he said at a news conference the day after the bombing began. "Its causes must be identified and eliminated."
The Profiteers of 9-11
October 17, 2001
A Select Few Profited from Advance Knowledge of the Terror Attacks.
Sept. 11 marked a devastating loss for the nation, but shrewd financial speculators with ties to the highest levels of the CIA appear to have profited from the disaster, raising questions about exactly who had prior knowledge of the terrible tragedy. The day two passenger planes crashed into the World Trade Center ended differently for different people. For some 10,000 children it meant the loss of a mother or father. For millions of Americans it marked the end of normality. For a select group of financial speculators it meant increased profits.
There have been numerous reports of unusual activity in financial markets around the world suggesting prior knowledge of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In Chicago, home of the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), the largest of the five options exchanges in the nation, brokers and speculators known as options traders wage bets daily about what a stock price will do. In options trades there are winners and losers regardless of the outcome. The catastrophic events of Sept. 11 were no different; the devastation at the World Trade Center resulted in some speculators winning millions of dollars from options purchased at the CBOE-while others lost their lives. A $2.5 million winning that resulted when the United Airlines share price fell after two of its planes crashed remains unclaimed more than six weeks after the tragedy.
Investigations into the unusually high number of "put" options, betting that the price of United Airlines (UAL) and American Airlines shares would fall, have revealed that Alex Brown Inc., an investment banking firm, purchased many of these option contracts. Alex Brown Inc. was, until 1998, managed by the man who is now the executive director of the Central Intelligence Agency, A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard. Krongard, 64, former head of Baltimore-based Alex Brown, America's oldest investment bank, joined the CIA three years ago as a counselor to Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet. Krongard switched careers shortly after helping engineer the $2.5 billion merger of Alex Brown and Bankers Trust New York Corp., gaining $71 million in Bankers Trust stock in the process.
President Bush appointed Krongard executive director of the Central Intelligence Agency on March 26. From February 1998 until March 2001, Krongard served as counselor to the director of central intelligence. Until 1997 Krongard was chairman of the investment bank A.B. Brown, having previously worked in various capacities at Alex Brown. Krongard was quoted on the relationship between Wall Street and the CIA in a Washington Post article. If you go back to the CIA's origins during World War II in the Office of Strategic Services, Krongard told the Post, "the whole OSS was really nothing but Wall Street bankers and lawyers."
Between Sept. 6 and 7, the CBOE saw a dramatic spike in the purchases of put options on United Airlines stock compared to call options. A "put" option increases in value when the stock price falls, while a "call" option increases if the share price rises. The ratio of "put" options to "call" options was 12 to 1, with 2,372 "put" options purchased, betting that UAL stock would fall compared with 198 "call" options. The winners on these options deals walked away with untold millions of dollars in profits.
On Sept. 10, speculators in Chicago purchased put options on American Airlines, the other airlines involved in the hijackings, at a ratio of 6 to 1 against "call" options. Traders bought 2,258 put options as compared with 374 "call" options the day before the crashes. There were similar spikes in "put" option contracts on the shares of the investment firms of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. and Merrill Lynch & Co., major tenants of the World Trade Center, occupying 22 floors each, who were both devastated by the terror attacks.
In the three days of trading prior to Sept. 11, Morgan Stanley "put" options spiked dramatically. According to figures provided by Options Clearing Corp. of Chicago, during the two trading days before the attacks the total number of "put" options jumped to 7,647 compared with a daily average of 2,384 during the month of August. Morgan Stanley's shares fell from $48.90 to $42.50 in the aftermath of the attacks. Likewise, Merrill Lynch "put" options jumped to 64,445 in the three days before the attacks. On Sept. 10, 28,960 "put" options were purchased on Merrill Lynch compared with a daily average of 5,430 during the month of August. Merrill's shares fell from $46.88 to $41.50.
Survivors Witnessed Explosions Inside Twin Towers
October 17, 2001
The mainstream media is ignoring eyewitness accounts of bombs that exploded inside the World Trade Center before the collapse of the Twin Towers. Despite reports from numerous eyewitnesses and experts, including news reporters on the scene, who heard or saw explosions immediately before the collapse of the World Trade Center, there has been virtual silence in the mainstream media.
Television viewers watching the horrific events of Sept. 11 saw evidence of explosions before the towers collapsed. Televised images show what appears to be a huge explosion occurring near ground level, in the vicinity of the 47-story Salomon Brothers Building, known as WTC 7, prior to the collapse of the first tower.
Van Romero, an explosives expert and former director of the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center at New Mexico Tech, said on Sept. 11, "My opinion is, based on the videotapes, that after the airplanes hit the World Trade Center there were some explosive devices inside the buildings that caused the towers to collapse." The collapse of the structures resembled the controlled implosions used to demolish old structures and was "too methodical to be a chance result of airplanes colliding with the structures," Romero told the Albuquerque Journal hours after the attack.
Implosions are violent collapses inwards, which are used to demolish buildings in areas of high density, to prevent damage to surrounding buildings. Precision-timed explosives are placed on strategic load-bearing columns and beams to cause the controlled collapse. Demolition experts say that towers are the most difficult buildings to bring down in a controlled manner. A tower tends to fall like a tree, unless the direction of its fall is controlled by directional charges. The WTC towers "smokestacked" neatly, falling within the boundaries of their foundations. Skeptics say this could not have happened coincidentally and it must have been caused by strategically placed and precisely timed internal charges. Videotape images may reveal these internal charges precipitating the controlled demolition of the towers and WTC 7.
Romero is vice president of research at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, which studies explosive materials and the effects of explosions on buildings, aircraft and other structures, and often assists in forensic investigations into terrorist attacks, often by setting off similar explosions and studying the effects.
After being hit by the aircraft, the twin towers appeared to be stable. Then without warning, at 9:58 a.m. the south tower imploded vertically downwards, 53 minutes after being hit. At 10:28, 88 minutes after being struck, the north tower collapsed. "It would be difficult for something from the plane to trigger an event like that," Romero said. If explosions did cause the towers to collapse, "It could have been a relatively small amount of explosives placed in strategic points," he said.
"One of the things terrorist events are noted for is a diversionary attack and secondary device," Romero said. Attackers detonate an initial, diversionary explosion, in this case the collision of the planes into the towers, which brings emergency personnel to the scene, then detonate a second explosion.
Ten days after the attack, following criticism of his initial remarks, Romero did an about-face in his analysis of the collapse, "Certainly the fire is what caused the building to fail," he told the Albuquerque Journal on Sept. 21.
The twin towers were struck by Boeing 767's carrying approximately 23,000 gallons of fuel.
However, there is other information that lends credence to Romero's controversial original explanation of explosives being involved. I spoke with an eyewitness whose office is near the World Trade Center. He had been standing among a crowd of people on Church Street, about two-and-a-half blocks from the South Tower, when he saw "a number of brief light sources being emitted from inside the building between floors 10 and 15." He saw about six of these brief flashes, accompanied by "a crackling sound" before the tower collapsed. Each tower had 47 central support columns.
One of the first firefighters in the stricken second tower, Louie Cacchioli, 51, told People magazine of Sept. 24: "I was taking firefighters up in the elevator to the 24th floor to get in position to evacuate workers. On the last trip up a bomb went off. We think there were bombs set in the building." Kim White, 32, an employee on the 80th floor, also reported hearing an explosion. "All of a sudden the building shook, then it started to sway. We didn't know what was going on," she told People. "We got all our people on the floor into the stairwell . . . at that time we all thought it was a fire . . .We got down as far as the 74th floor . . . then there was another explosion."
The accepted theory is that as the fires raged in the towers, the steel cores in each building were heated to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, causing the support beams to buckle. A lead engineer who designed the World Trade Center Towers expressed shock that the towers collapsed after being hit by passenger jets. "I designed it for a 707 to hit it," Lee Robertson, the project's structural engineer said. The Boeing 707 has a fuel capacity of more than 23,000 gallons, comparable to the 767's 23,980-gallon fuel capacity.
Another architect of the WTC, Aaron Swirski, lives in Israel and spoke to Jerusalem Post Radio after the attack: "It was designed around that eventuality to survive this kind of attack," he said.
I spoke with Hyman Brown, a University of Colorado civil engineering professor and the World Trade Center's construction manager. Brown had watched in confusion as the towers came down. "It was over-designed to withstand almost anything including hurricanes, high winds, bombings and an airplane hitting it," he said.
Brown said that although the buildings were designed to withstand "a 150-year storm" and the impact of a Boeing 707, he said the jet fuel burning at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit weakened the steel. Brown explained that the south tower collapsed first as it was struck lower with more weight above the impact area. Brown said he "did not buy" the theory that the implosion was caused by the fires sucking the air out of the lower floors, which has been speculated.
The contractor who is reported to have been the first on the WTC collapse scene to cart away the rubble that remains is a company that specializes in the scientific demolition of large buildings, Controlled Demolition, Inc. (CDI) of Baltimore, headed by Mark Loizeaux. CDI is the same contractor that demolished and hauled away the shell of the bombed Oklahoma City Murrah building, actions that prevented independent investigators from pursuing evidence on leads suggesting that there were bombs set off inside the building.
In February 2000, a federal grand jury indicted Mark Loizeaux, Douglas Loizeaux and Controlled Demolition, Inc. on charges of falsely reporting campaign contributions made by family members and CDI employees who had been asked to donate to the campaign of Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.). The Baltimore Sun reported that the illegal contributions allegedly occurred between 1996 and 1998. The Loizeaux brothers and CDI were acquitted in September 2000. Cleaning up the estimated 1.2 million tons of rubble will reportedly cost $7 billion and take up to a year.
Removing the debris has also been controversial. The police said that some scrap metal has been diverted to mob-controlled businesses rather than the dump where investigators are examining rubble for clues and human remains.
The second plane nearly missed the South Tower, cutting through a corner. Most of its fuel burned in an outside explosion. However, this building collapsed first, long before the North Tower, into which a similar plane entered completely.
U.S. Lacks Evidence against Taliban
October 24, 2001
International legal experts say that the Bush administration has yet to present evidence to substantiate its claim that the events of Sept. 11 constituted and act of war rather than a crime against humanity.
"Even if the Bush administration were to publicly provide clear and convincing evidence that Mr. Bin Laden and his organization were somehow behind the terrorist bombing in New York and Washington, the U.S. government would still have no valid justification or excuse for committing acts of war against Afghanistan," says Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois. International law requires a court hearing to determine the guilt or innocence of an individual accused of terrorist acts, such as Osama Bin Laden, Boyle says.
Boyle criticized Congress for not creating a panel with subpoena powers to fully investigate the Sept. 11 attacks. "We are not going to get that investigation," he said. "Yet we are waging a war on Afghanistan based on evidence that secretary of State Colin Powell said was not even circumstantial.
"Even the British government admitted the case against Bin Laden and Al Qaeda would not stand up in court and as a matter of fact it was routinely derided in the British press. There was nothing there," Boyle says. "Now I don't know myself who was behind the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. And it appears we are never going to find out. "Why? Because Congress in its wisdom has decided not to empanel a joint committee in Congress with subpoena power giving them access to whatever documents they want throughout any agency of the United states government including FBI, CIA, NSA, DAS. And to put these people under oath and testify as to what happened under penalty of perjury," he says.
Boyle, who helped resolve the dispute between the United States, the UK and Libya over the handling of the Libyan suspects in the Lockerbie bombing case, says that the 1971 Montreal Sabotage Convention is directly relevant in the current crisis. This convention, he says, "provides a comprehensive framework for dealing with the current dispute between Afghanistan and the United States. The Bush administration decided to ignore the fact that the hijacking of civilian aircraft is dealt with under international treaties that deal with terrorism. "They rejected the entire approach and called it an act of war," Boyle said. "They invoked the rhetoric deliberately of Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. There was "a conscious decision to escalate the states," Boyle said. "An act of war has a formal meaning. It means an attack by one state against another state. Which, of course, is what happened on Dec. 7, 1941; but not on Sept. 11, 2001.
The military assault against Afghanistan was not prompted by the terrorist attacks against the United States on Sept. 11 according to Boyle. Muslim and non-Muslim countries around the world are condemning U.S. military actions because they are not justified under international law, Boyle said.
As I reported previously, the major impetus behind the military strikes against Afghanistan is to obtain extended access to oil and natural gas deposits in Central Asia. "The actions of the United States in Afghanistan constitute armed aggression and are illegal," Boyle said. "Clearly, what is going on in Afghanistan is not self-defense."
Boyle appeared on the Fox News Channel with Bill O'Reilly on Sept. 13 and argued for presentation of evidence, authorization from the Security Council, and adherence to the rule of law. Since the O'Reilly show, Boyle has not been invited to speak on any prime-time news programs. He said that attacks by the United States against Afghanistan will result in a "human catastrophe" and predicted that tens of thousands of people will die unless American citizens demand that the war end.
Statements by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz discussing the option of "ending states" is a form of genocidal hate-speech, Boyle said. "I could take that statement of the World Court and file it and prove it as genocidal intent by the United States government," he says. "So the longer we let this go on the more we are going to see our own civil rights and civil liberties taken away from us."
War Is Sell - Washington Elite Benefits from War
October 31, 2001
War has always been a profitable money machine for shrewd investors with foresight, but the extremely close connections of the Carlyle Group, a Washington-based private equity investment firm and major war profiteer, to the Bush and Bin Laden families raise unavoidable questions of waging war for profit.
Established in 1987 the Carlyle Group was founded by David Rubenstein, a former staff member in the Jimmy Carter White House, and his two partners, Dan D'Aniello and Bill Conway. Today there are 18 partners in the firm and one outside investor. The Washington Post has described Carlyle as a "merchant banking firm" set up "to serve corporations and wealthy families." From the beginning the founders of Carlyle have recruited former politicians as consultants: former President George H. W. Bush is among them, along with a host of other Bush family cronies.
The Bush connection to the Carlyle Group is nothing short of a scandal, according to Larry Klayman, a notable government watchdog best known for pursuing the scandals of former President Bill Clinton. Now that the United States is bombing Afghanistan and allocating huge sums of money for defense, including $40 billion for the "war on terrorism" and more than $200 billion [1994 dollars] for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), the conflict of interest is "direct," Klayman says. "President Bush should not ask but demand that his father pull out of the Carlyle Group." Carlyle owns many of the companies that will share in the $200 billion JSF deal.
"Carlyle is as deeply wired into the current administration as they can possibly be," Charles Lewis, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, said. "George Bush is getting money from private interests that have business before the government, while his son is president. And, in a really peculiar way, George W. Bush could, some day, benefit financially from his own administration's decisions, through his father's investments. The average American doesn't know that. To me, that's a jaw-dropper."
The Carlyle Group, which claims to be the largest U.S. private-equity fund with some $14 billion in assets, makes money by investing in undervalued companies and reselling them at a profit, employing a host of former top-level government officials from the Bush and Reagan administrations, including former President Bush, in a global "money machine." The Washington Business Journal said in May that the Carlyle Group "seems to play by a different set of rules." Carlyle is a high-end business open only to the very rich. The Carlyle empire has investments around the world, owns numerous defense related companies outright, and has considerable business with the U.S. government. It owns so many companies that it is now one of the biggest U.S. defense contractors and a major force in global telecommunications. Carlyle also serves as financial adviser to the Saudi government.
Carlyle's directory reads like a Who's Who of high-profile Republicans going back to the Reagan administration. The chairman is Ronald Reagan's former defense secretary, Frank Carlucci. Former Secretary of State James Baker III, former Budget Director Richard Darman, and Arthur Levitt, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission through most of the Clinton administration, are all senior advisers to the firm.
"Nothing in recent history, however, seems to approach the success this group has had in the wholesale conversion of former high government rank to gigantic profits," Dan K. Thomasson, former editor of Scripps Howard News Service wrote in March 2001. "To use that influence at the highest levels to garner such enormous wealth and power presents an undeniably unsavory appearance.
"One of the underlying themes of the last election, rarely spoken but always present, was the need to restore dignity to the presidency. Now we discover that at the same time he was being held up as an example of how to be presidential, Bush senior was using his stature and entree everywhere to push the interests of himself and his cronies," Thomasson wrote.
The success of the relatively young Carlyle Group is hardly surprising given that it primarily buys companies that are regulated by government. Nearly two-thirds of its investments are in defense and telecommunications companies, which are affected by shifts in government spending and policy. Financial experts say the Carlyle Group's most profitable niche is buying military and aerospace supplies at discount prices and selling them for a lot more. With Carlucci as chairman, it's no surprise that Carlyle is drawn to defense firms. Carlyle owns numerous defense and aerospace firms such as United Defense Industries, which makes tanks, guided missiles, space vehicles, and weapons delivery systems. United States Marine Repair (USMR) is America's largest non-nuclear ship repair, modernization and conversion company and is another Carlyle company.
Carlucci's knowledge of the Pentagon's inner workings gives Carlyle an advantage when buying defense companies that have fallen in market value. "Because they have a good sense of the defense and aerospace business, they have an ability to project future earnings so they can calculate the true value," Philip Finnegan, a senior analyst with the Teal Group said. Carlucci, who is seen as largely responsible for Carlyle's success, said he met in February with his old college classmate, Donald Rumsfeld, the new secretary of defense. He also met with Vice President Dick Cheney, himself a defense secretary under former President Bush, to talk about military matters-at a time when Carlyle has several billion-dollar defense projects under consideration.
Defense-related companies make up about 30 percent of the firm's portfolio, which also includes information technology, Internet companies, health care, real estate, and bottling companies. The French newspaper, Le Figaro, is another Carlyle asset.
"Carlyle has averaged annual gross returns of 34 percent since inception, par for the course among similar buyout firms. By comparison, funds offered by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. returned 30 percent. By the end of 2000 Carlyle had raised a total of $12.5 billion, which made it the fifth-largest private buyout firm in the U.S.," Bloomberg reported.
PUBLIC MONEY-PRIVATE EQUITY
Although the Carlyle Group is a "private equity fund" it has enriched itself using public and state pension funds from California, Texas and Connecticut. The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CALPERS) has invested hundreds of millions with Carlyle and has at least a 5 percent stake in the firm.
The Texas teachers' pension fund, whose board was appointed when George W. Bush was governor, gave Carlyle $100 million to invest. In Connecticut, a scandal resulted when Wayne Berman, a Washington consultant and fund-raiser for George W. Bush's presidential campaign, received "a kickback" of more than $900,000 after the state treasurer, Paul J. Silvester, steered tens of millions of state pension fund dollars into a Carlyle Group investment fund.
BIN LADEN CUTS CARLYLE TIES
On Oct. 26, it was reported that Osama Bin Laden's family was cutting its financial ties with the Carlyle Group. The Bin Laden family reportedly sold its investment worth $2.02 million because of criticism in Saudi Arabia that the Bin Laden family, whose construction company is one of the largest in the Middle East, would profit from increased military spending in the U.S.-led war against terrorism.
The fact that President Bush's father and his former secretary of state, James Baker, serve as senior advisers to the company has raised red flags in Washington. Bush the Elder and Baker reportedly use their extensive government contacts to further their business interests as Carlyle Group representatives. From Carlyle's point of view, the involvement of Baker and the former president is invaluable. "It punches up the brand awareness for us globally," said Carlyle partner Dan D'Aniello. "We are greatly assisted by Baker and Bush. It shows that we are associated with people of the highest ethical standards." Baker's stake was estimated to be worth more than $180 million when the fund was valued at $3.5 billion; today it is worth much more.
Unlike Baker, Bush the Elder has no ownership stake in Carlyle. As an adviser and an investor, however, Bush is allowed to put the money he earns giving speeches, between $80,000 and $100,000 per speech, into Carlyle's investment funds.
In July 2000, Carlyle Group bought Northrop Grumman's aerostructures business group in a deal valued at $1.2 billion. The business was renamed Vought Aircraft Industries and remains based in Dallas. On Aug. 20, Vought announced that it had been selected by Northrop Grumman to manufacture the wing for the Global Hawk unmanned reconnaissance system's air vehicle.
The corporate overlap between Carlyle and leading defense contractors can be seen in B. Edward Ewing, managing director and CEO of Dallas-based Carlyle Management Group (CMG). Ewing is also chairman and CEO of The Aerostructures Corporation (TAC), a leading worldwide designer and manufacturer of major components for commercial and military aircraft, and is CEO of USMR. Prior to joining Carlyle and leading USMR, Ewing served five years as vice president of operations for Lockheed Martin, the leading company on the JSF project.
The current White House occupant, George W. Bush, was a director of a Carlyle company named Caterair. From the beginning the founders have recruited former politicians as consultants. George Bush the Elder visited Saudi Arabia, home of the Bin Laden family, to open doors for Carlyle's fund-raisers. Carlyle won't disclose how much senior advisers like Bush earn but industry experts estimate their fees average about $1 million per year. "Mr. Bush gives us no advice on what do with the federal government. We've gone over backwards to make sure that we do no lobbying," Carlyle senior partner David Rubenstein said. "President Bush is not asking anybody for money. He speaks at lunches, dinners, and events on non-Carlyle matters and expresses his views on world events."
Rubenstein, who attended Barbara Bush's surprise 75th birthday party last summer in Kennebunkport, Me., says: "We don't do lobbying. We don't give to any politicians. We don't have a PAC [political action committee]. We try to be cleaner than Caesar's wife." Rubenstein may not know it, but Caesar's wife was not "above suspicion." He divorced her over allegations of infidelity.
Israeli 9-11 Terror Suspects Still Held
October 31, 2001
Among the hundreds of suspects being held in connection with the terror attacks of Sept. 11 are a number of Israelis who were seen rejoicing while photographing the burning World Trade Center. Five Israelis, suspected of being co-conspirators in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, arrested in New Jersey with box-cutters, multiple passports, and $4,000 cash on Sept. 11, remain in detention and may be held for another 90 days as the criminal investigation continues. They are among the more than 1,000 suspects who are being held in connection with the attacks whose detention is shrouded in secrecy.
The five men were on the roof of a moving company and the rooftop of their moving van, taking pictures of the burning buildings, some with themselves in the foreground smiling. In each location, according to the Jerusalem Post, the men, described in press reports as rugged and Middle Eastern-looking, had been reported "cheering" and shouting in "cries of mockery," which evoked the ire of neighbors, who called the police to report suspicious activity.
The Israelis: Sivan Kurzberg, his brother Paul Kurzberg, Yaron Shmuel, Oded Ellner and Omer Gavriel Marmari, suspected of being intelligence agents with prior knowledge of the attacks, are all in their 20s and employees of an Israeli-owned moving company, Urban Moving Systems, based in New Jersey.
I spoke with a spokesman for the Israeli consulate in New York who said that "there have been more" Israelis detained in connection with the terror attacks, confirming press reports that numerous Israelis had been arrested, although he would not say how many. The spokesman said the five above-mentioned Israelis are being held in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn among the general population, although all had been held in solitary confinement until last week, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The mother of one of the detainees told the Israeli press that the suspects had been "tortured" during interrogation. However, the consular spokesman denied this, saying, "They haven't been tortured."
The Immigration and Naturalization Service has signed deportation orders for the five Israelis, but they can still be held for 90 days while the criminal investigation continues. The Israeli consul general in New York, Alon Pinkas, has visited the detainees several times, seeing them as recently as Oct. 29.
Katie Shmuel, the mother of Yaron, told the Israeli press, "He was allowed to talk to them only in English, and only from behind a glass partition. The consul told me that the boys are in a bad state and that they are being held under difficult conditions." The mother says that the original reports that they had been arrested while boisterously watching the disaster from a rooftop "are totally fabricated."
"For the first few days, the boys were held in an FBI dungeon, tied up, with no clothes and no food," she said. "The Americans are using them as pawns to pressure the Israeli government."
Constitutional Rights Fall to State Security
November 21, 2001
The federal government wants Americans to believe that the Constitution only applies when it says so. The actions taken by President George W. Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft in secretly detaining untold numbers of individuals and calling for secret military tribunals to handle captured Taliban and Al Qaeda prisoners have been condemned as "a constitutional coup d'etat" which may lead to a "police state," according to experts on constitutional and international law. While most if not all the detainees "look Arab" now, experts warn, tomorrow's detainees could be blond, blue-eyed -- or you.
"What we've seen, since Sept. 11, if you add up every thing that Ashcroft, Bush and their coterie of federalist society lawyers have done here, is a coup d'etat against the United States Constitution," said Francis A. Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois. "When you add in the Ashcroft police state bill that was passed by Congress . . . that's really what we're seeing now.
"Since Sept. 11, we have seen one blow against the Constitution after another," Boyle said. "Recently, we've had Ashcroft saying that he had, unilaterally, instituted monitoring of attorney-client communications without even informing anyone—he just went ahead and did it, despite the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures without warrant and the Sixth Amendment right to representation by counsel."
The criminal investigation into the attacks, the largest in U.S. history, has netted about 1,200 detainees. But the Justice Department has failed to build a case against a single prime U.S. suspect in the terrorist attacks.
Nine weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, federal authorities said on Nov. 15 that they had found no evidence indicating that any of the roughly 1,200 people detained in the United States played a role in the suicide hijacking plot. However, numerous legal protections, based on constitutional and international treaties, appear to have been ignored or violated in the case of the 1,200 detainees.
"We are becoming a banana republic here in the United States, with 'disappeared' people, which was the phenomenon that we all saw down in Latin American dictatorships in the 1970s and 1980s, with the support, by the way, of the United States Government," Boyle said. "We don't know where they are or the conditions under which they are being held. We have no idea whether they have access to attorneys. We do know one of them died, under highly suspicious circumstances, while in custody. There have been reports that he was tortured to death," he said.
The Constitution protects aliens in the United States, according to Boyle. "Clearly aliens here are entitled to the protections of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment , as well as to the Article III (Section 2, Clause 3) basic constitutional rights in criminal cases, including indictment, trial before a federal district judge or jury, [rights relating to] venue and things of that nature," Boyle said.
"I'm surprised there hasn't been more of an outcry," said Robert B. Reich, secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton, about the long-term detentions and the administration's plans to monitor conversations be tween lawyers and terrorism suspects in federal custody. "The president is, by emergency decree, getting rid of rights that we assumed that anyone within our borders legally would have. We can find ourselves in a police state step-by-step without realizing that we have made these compromises along the way."
The foreign detainees are also protected by international law under treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR). The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the U.S. government is a party, affords basic due process protections to everyone here in the United States, irrespective of their citizenship, according to Boyle. The VCCR of 1963 calls for notification "without delay" of consular officials when one of their nationals has been arrested or "detained in any other manner."
Although Egypt, Pakistan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia are party to the VCCR along with the United States, the Justice Department informed me that it is using an abbreviated list of nations, the Mandatory Notification Countries, which includes only one Middle Eastern nation, Kuwait. Spokesmen from the Justice and State Departments could not confirm that the United States was abiding by the terms of the VCCR and notifying the consulates of the detainees. However, Kareem Shora, legal adviser at the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said that it had received at least 10 complaints that this was not the case.
The Justice Department is planning to "round up" and question some 5,000 men, mostly from Middle Eastern countries, who entered the U.S. legally within the past two years. "When will the FBI, the CIA and the National Security Agency start to turn these powers, that they have under the Ashcroft police state bill, against American citizens?" Boyle asks. "Clearly, that will be the next step."
Concerning the executive order calling for military tribunals to try alleged al Qaeda members, or even former al Qaeda members, in Afghanistan, Boyle says there is an "even more serious problem."
"The third and fourth Geneva Conventions, of 1949, clearly apply to our conflict now with Afghanistan," Boyle says. "These alleged al Qaeda members would be protected either by the third Geneva Convention, if they are fighters incorporated into the army there in Afghanistan, or by the fourth Geneva Convention, if they are deemed to be civilians. Both conventions have very extensive procedural protections on trials that must be adhered to."
Although a trial can be held, there are extensive rules and protections and basic requirements of due process of law, set forth in these treaties that must be applied. Failures to apply these treaties would constitute war crimes, according to Boyle. The executive order calling for secret military tribunals is extremely dangerous because it invites reprisals by the Taliban, Boyle says. "What it is basically saying to the Taliban government and to al Qaeda is, 'We are not going to give you the protections of either the third or fourth Geneva Conventions' guarantees on trials.' What that means is that they could engage in reprisals against captured members of the United States Armed Forces. "It opens up our own armed forces to be denied prisoner-of-war treatment," he said. "So, what we're doing here is exposing them to a similar type of treatment, which would be a summary trial, in secret, subject to the death penalty."
German Intelligence Experts: 9-11 is Hollywood Deception
December 12, 2001
European intelligence experts dismiss the Bush "war on terrorism" as deception and reveal the Realpolitik behind the bombing of Afghanistan.
BERLIN - In Germany, where war plans for Afghanistan were already being discussed in July 2001 and where several of the "Arab hijackers" lived and studied, intelligence experts say the terror attacks of Sept. 11 could not have been carried out without the support of a state secret service.
Eckehardt Werthebach, former president of Germany's domestic intelligence service, Verfassungsschutz, told this reporter that "the deathly precision" and "the magnitude of planning" behind the attacks would have needed "years of planning." Such a sophisticated operation, Werthebach said, would require the "fixed frame" of a state intelligence organization, something not found in a "loose group" of terrorists like the one allegedly led by Mohammed Atta while he studied in Hamburg. Many people would have been involved in the planning of such an operation and Werthebach pointed to the absence of leaks as further indication that the attacks were "state organized actions."
Andreas von Bülow served on the parliamentary commission which oversees the three branches of the German secret service while a member of the Bundestag (German parliament) from 1969 to 1994, and wrote a book Im Namen des Staates (In the Name of the State) on the criminal activities of secret services, including the CIA. In an interview with the author, Von Bülow said that he believes that the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, is behind the Sept. 11 terror attacks. These attacks, he said, were carried out to turn public opinion against the Arabs and boost military and security spending.
"You don't get the higher echelons," von Bülow said, referring to the "architectural structure" which masterminds such terror attacks. At this level, he said, the organization doing the planning, such as Mossad, is primarily interested in affecting public opinion. The architectural level planners use corrupt "guns for hire" such as Abu Nidal, the Palestinian terrorist who von Bülow called "an instrument of Mossad," high-ranking Stasi (former East German secret service) operatives, or Libyan agents who organize terror attacks using dedicated people, for example Palestinian and Arab "freedom fighters."
The terrorists who actually commit the crimes are what von Bülow calls "the working level," such as the 19 Arabs who allegedly hijacked the planes on Sept. 11. "The working level is part of the deception," he said. "Ninety-five percent of the work of the intelligence agencies around the world is deception and disinformation," von Bülow said, which is widely propagated in the mainstream media creating an accepted version of events. "Journalists don't even raise the simplest questions," he said, adding, "those who differ are labeled as crazy."
Both Werthebach and von Bülow said the lack of an open and official investigation, like congressional hearings, into the events of Sept. 11 was incomprehensible.
Horst Ehmke, who coordinated the German secret services directly under German Prime Minister Willi Brandt in the 70s, predicted a similar terrorist attack in his novel, Torches of Heaven, published last year, in which Turkish terrorists crash hijacked planes into Berlin. Although Ehmke had long expected "fundamentalist attacks" and when he saw the televised images from Sept.11, he said it looked like a "Hollywood production."
"Terrorists could not have carried out such an operation with four hijacked planes without the support of a secret service," Ehmke said, although he did not want to point to any particular agency. "The most important thing in the struggle against terrorists, who are abusing religion, is the battle for the soul of the people and the nations," Ehmke said. "If this isn't resolved successfully, the 21st century could be bloodier than the last."
A former Stasi agent who had warned the German secret service of terror attacks in America between Sept. 10-20 said that a high ranking Stasi chief named Jürgen Rogalla, who is "an airplane terror specialist," was probably involved in the attacks along with Abu Nidal. Both Nidal and Rogalla work with the Mossad, the former agent told me. Nidal, was said to be in Baghdad, and is a "leading officer for some Mossad agents."
The agent said that Nidal was "involved directly" in the events of 9-11 in preparation for a larger attack on the United States, which is part of "an old plan," the agent said. Based on prior knowledge of this plan, the agent said that more attacks are imminent and that aircraft carriers may be targeted. Rogalla was responsible for "turning NATO men" to spy for the East. One of the East's NATO spies, Reiner Rupp, known as "Topaz," provided Stasi and the Russians with the organization's highest secrets until he was discovered in 1993 by the BND, the German intelligence agency.
TERROR INVESTIGATION BLOCKED
Under the influence of U.S. oil companies, the Bush administration blocked Secret Service investigations on terrorism, while it bargained with the Taliban to turn over Osama Bin Laden in exchange for political recognition and economic aid, two French intelligence analysts claim.
In a recently published book, Bin Laden, la Verite Interdite (Bin Laden, the Forbidden Truth), the authors, Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie, reveal that the FBI's deputy director John O'Neill resigned in July to protest official obstruction of his investigation of terrorism.
O'Neill had been in charge of national security in New York. While with the FBI, O'Neill led an investigation of Osama Bin Laden and had forecast the possibility of an organized attack by terrorists operating from within the country. O'Neill had investigated the USS Cole bombing in Yemen, the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. In 1995, FBI agents working under O'Neill captured Ramzi Yousef, a suspected lieutenant of Bin Laden, who was among those convicted for the World Trade Center bombing.
O'Neill was considered a top-notch investigator and was known for his pugnacity. He was barred by U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine from that country. That dispute reportedly involved a struggle between the State Department, which sought to preserve relations with Yemen, and the FBI, represented by O'Neill, who wanted access to Yemeni suspects.
O'Neill, 49, was hired as chief of security at the World Trade Center following a 25-year career with the FBI and died on Sept. 11, the first day of his new job. O'Neill reportedly died after re-entering the building to assist others.
Brisard said O'Neill told them that "the main obstacles to investigate Islamic terrorism were U.S. oil corporate interests and the role played by Saudi Arabia in it."
Bin Laden and the Taliban received threats of possible American military strikes against them two months before the terrorist assaults on New York and Wash ington, according to the Guardian (U.K.). The warnings to the Taliban originated at a four-day meeting of senior Americans, Russians, Iranians and Pakistanis at a hotel in Berlin in mid-July 2001. The meetings took place under the arbitration of Francesc Vendrell, personal representative of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.
The three Americans at the Berlin meeting were Tom Simons, former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Karl "Rick" Inderfurth, a former assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs, and Lee Coldren, who headed the office of Pakistan, Afghan and Bangladesh affairs in the State Department until 1997. There were other meetings arranged by Vendrell in which "representatives of the U.S. government and Russia, and the six countries that border with Afghanistan were present," according to the French authors. "Sometimes, representatives of the Taliban also sat around the table."
The Berlin conference was the third meeting since November 2000 arranged by Vendrell. As a UN meeting, its official agenda was supposedly confined to trying to find a negotiated solution to the civil war in Afghanistan, ending terrorism and heroin trafficking, and discussing humanitarian aid.
CARPET OF GOLD - OR BOMBS
The U.S. government's primary objective in Afghanistan was to consolidate the position of the Taliban regime in order to obtain access to the oil and gas reserves of Central Asia, the French authors wrote. Until August, the U.S. government saw the Taliban regime "as a source of stability in Central Asia that would enable the construction of an oil pipeline across Central Asia," from the rich oilfields in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, through Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the Indian Ocean, they said.
"The oil and gas reserves of Central Asia have been controlled by Russia. The Bush government wanted to change all that," the book says. When the Taliban refused to accept U.S. conditions, "this rationale of energy security changed into a military one."
"The Americans indicated to us that in case the Taliban does not behave and in case Pakistan also doesn't help us to influence the Taliban, then the United States would be left with no option but to take an overt action against Afghanistan," said Niaz Naik, a former foreign minister of Pakistan, who attended the meetings. During the "6 plus 2" meeting in Berlin in July, the discussions turned around "the formation of a government of national unity. If the Taliban had accepted this coalition, they would have immediately received international economic aid," Naik said on French television. "And the pipe lines from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan would have come," he added.
Naik also claimed that Tom Simons, the U.S. representative at these meetings, openly threatened the Taliban and Pakistan. "Simons said, 'either the Taliban behave as they ought to, or Pakistan convinces them to do so, or we will use another option.' The words Simons used were 'a military operation,'" Naik said. "At one moment during the negotiations, the U.S. representatives told the Taliban, 'either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs,' " Brisard said in an interview in Paris.
According to the book, the Bush government began to negotiate with the Taliban in February, soon after coming into power. U.S. and Taliban diplomatic representatives met several times in Washington, Berlin and Islamabad. To polish their image in the United States, the Taliban even employed a U.S. expert on public relations, Laila Helms. The authors claim that Helms is also an expert in the works of U.S. secret services, as her uncle, Richard Helms, is a former director of the CIA.
Bin Laden Video: Smoking Gun or CIA Fake?
December 19, 2001
The latest videotape implicating Osama Bin Laden has been called the "smoking gun" — but critics of the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan call it "smoke and mirrors" deception. The blurry 40-minute videotape released by the Pentagon on Dec. 13, purportedly showing Osama Bin Laden boasting of masterminding the terror attacks of 9-11, has raised more questions and doubts about its veracity than it has answered.
According to U.S. officials, the tape was found in a house in Jalalabad, eastern Afghanistan, and handed to the Pentagon by an unnamed person or group. At first it was reported that the CIA found the tape. Later press reports said United Front soldiers discovered it. Unless the United States gives more information about how the tape was found or provides more technological details about it, doubts are bound to linger, the Guardian (U.K.) wrote.
One specialist in Islamic affairs, Hani Al Sibaei, described the videotape as "fabricated and a scandal for the greatest democratic country in the world." In a telephone call with the Arabic news network Al Jazeera from London, he noted the congratulatory wishes on the tape and Bin Laden's happy expression. He said that this segment was taken from a tape of Bin Laden being congratulated on the pre-arranged marriage of his child to the child of Aiman Al-Zawaheri — which took place four years ago.
Al Sibaei said it boggles the mind that an organization like al Qaeda would create such simple-minded videotapes and then leave them behind in a private home. He added that Bin Laden has twice denied involvement in the attacks and said that he had sworn to Mullah Mohamed Omar, leader of the Taliban movement, that the Al Qaeda organization pledged it would not plan attacks against other countries from inside Afghanistan.
In the video, Bin Laden, wearing a green military jacket and white headdress, claims to have known the attacks would take place five days in advance, and says the destruction of the twin towers exceeded his expectations. In the tape, which was broadcast with muffled sound accompanied by English translation, Bin Laden said that he believed that the fire from the jet fuel would result in a partial collapse of the iron infrastructure of the World Trade Center. The impact of the video may have been diluted to some extent by its poor quality and language difficulties. Many Arabs either had to accept the English translation on TV or strain to hear the words themselves.
Christopher Ross, a consultant hired by the State Department, told the Arabic news network Al Jazeera, that he had to replay the tape dozens of times in order to hear the conversation because the sound was so bad. Ross indicated that to improve the translation, he replayed the tape another 50 times with the translator. He confirmed that the translation is not literal, because of the poor quality of the original tape's sound.
Some legal experts found the tape damning, if it could ever be admitted into court. "It is the most powerful kind of evidence," said Donald B. Ayer, former deputy attorney general. "It is a virtual confession."
In an earlier interview with a Pakistani newspaper, Bin Laden said "I have already said that I am not involved in the Sept.11 attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks, nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children and other humans as an appreciable act."
Prosecutors seeking to bring Bin Laden to justice would certainly be keen to produce the tape but might struggle to prove its authenticity. Henry Hingson, former president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said: "In this day and age of digital wizardry, many things can be done to alter its veracity."
The United States says the tape provides compelling evidence that Bin Laden was behind the attacks but the authenticity of the tape is doubted by many in the Muslim world and dismissed as unconvincing propaganda. For all his familiarity with the Sept. 11 events, Bin Laden did not explicitly take responsibility for directing the operation. He said he had received notification of the Tuesday attacks the previous Thursday, indicating that the timing, at least, might have been left to others.
In Jordan, Abdul Latif Arabiat, head of the Islamic Action Front said, "Do Americans really think the world is that stupid to think that they would believe that this tape is evidence?"
"Of course it is fabricated," Dia'a Rashwan, an Egyptian expert on Islamic movements said, "If this is the kind of evidence that America has, then the blood of thousands who died and were injured in Afghanistan is on Bush's hands."
Riaz Durrani, a spokesman for Jamiat Ulema-e-Is lam, a pro-Taliban party in Pakistan, said: "This videotape is not authentic. The Americans made it up after failing to get any evidence against Osama."
President Bush, who hopes the video will bolster international support for the war on terrorism, challenged the critics calling the videotape a "devastating declaration of guilt for this evil person." Countering claims that the video was faked, Bush said it was "preposterous for anybody to think this tape was doctored," adding, "Those who contend it's a farce or a fake are hoping for the best about an evil man. This is Bin Laden unedited."
Sean Broughton, director of the London-based production company Smoke and Mirrors and one of Britain's leading experts on visual effects, said it would be relatively easy for a professional to fake a video of Bin Laden. But Broughton said to fool the top experts is much more difficult. "There are perhaps 20 people in America who would be good enough to fool everybody. To find someone that good and make sure they kept quiet would probably be pretty difficult."
Bob Crabtree, editor of Computer Video, said it is impossible to judge whether the video is a fake without more details of its source. "The U.S. seems simply to have asked the world to trust them that it is genuine," he said.
OLD OSAMA vs. NEW OSAMA
There are many problems with the videotape beginning with the appearance of Bin Laden. Bin Laden, who is reported to suffer from kidney problems and uses a cane, has appeared rather lean in previous videotapes, but suddenly seems to have gained weight and actually appears jolly in the latest video, supposedly made on Nov. 9, only weeks after his previous video. Bin Laden, who is of Yemenite parentage, has a characteristic long neck and long narrow head. The "new" Bin Laden appears to have a "husky" body and a smaller head in proportion to his body.
Some observers point out that in the latest video, Bin Laden appears to be wearing a ring on his right hand. In previous tapes Bin Laden wore no jewelry except a watch. Others have pointed out that in the latest videotape Bin Laden is "gesticulating excessively" with his right hand, while in the earlier tapes Bin Laden, who is left-handed, spoke in a slow and deliberate manner.
British Chief of Staff Critical of War on Terror
December 19, 2001
Britain's top military officer warns that the "war on terrorism" will "radicalize" friendly states and lead to increased terrorism.
While Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Britain, the United State's closest ally in Afghanistan and only ally in Iraq, on the three-month anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror, significant differences surfaced on how to proceed with the "war on terrorism."
British Chief of Staff Admiral Sir Michael Boyce revealed a significant divergence between the allies' military and political branches on what to do after the defeat of the Taliban. Boyce said that America's determination to use military might in a wider war was certain to "radicalize" friendly states whose support Britain and other nations need.
Speculation is growing that the United States will attack Iraq as part of its "war." Powell will not rule out war against Iraq. An attack on Iraq would further destabilize the region, experts on the Middle East warn, drawing in neutral countries and stretching the allied coalition to the breaking point.
Britain will have to lay down "red lines" beyond which it would not go, Boyce said. Whatever is done must be legal, the admiral said, because to do otherwise would jeopardize its legitimacy. The alliance must beware of "exporting terrorism," which had been the experience of the United States in Colombia, Boyce said, where military operations against the guerrilla movement, FARC, had forced it into Mexico and Guatemala.
Boyce also warned of "excessive optimism" about successes against the Taliban because the war was not conventional and could not be measured in territory won. Osama Bin Laden's al Qaeda network remained "a fielded, resourced, dedicated and essentially autonomous terrorist force, quite capable of atrocity on a comparable scale" to the Sept. 11 attacks, Boyce said.
Boyce criticized the massive U.S. bombing campaigns saying that lack of constraint and proportionality could simply "radicalize" opinion in the Islamic world in favor of al Qaeda. Terrorism could only be defeated by winning "hearts and minds," Boyce said. You cannot win the "war" by bombing and military action could have precisely the opposite effect to the one intended, he warned.
"Washington is making it quite plain that after bombing Afghanistan and toppling the Taliban, it wants to get out of the country as soon as Mullah Omar and Bin Laden are captured, or presumed dead, leaving others to clean up the mess," wrote Richard Norton-Taylor of the Guardian. Politicians and the media should take a longer-term view of events on the ground where the situation could often be tenuous, he said.
The international community must attack the causes, not the symptoms of terrorism, Boyce said. The enemy is not just Osama Bin Laden. This was not a "high-tech 21st century posse in the new Wild West," he said. Boyce, however, did not mention the presence of American bases in Saudi Arabia, or America's failure to apply pressure on Israel to recognize a Palestinian state—"absolutely central issues raised only in private by senior officials" in both the British military and political establishments, wrote Norton-Taylor.
U.S. Knew About 9-11 Terror Plot Since 1995
December 19, 2001
With a massive amount of information about planned terrorist attacks in hand, how could the government have been caught by surprise on 9-11?
The CIA and FBI have known - since 1995 - about a terrorist plan to use civilian aircraft to attack the World Trade center and U.S. government installations. The plans to hijack a large number of American commercial passenger planes simultaneously and explode them in mid-flight or crash them into predetermined targets such as the World Trade Center have been well known by western intelligence agencies since 1995, according to a report in Die Welt, a leading German newspaper on Dec. 7.
The terrorist scenario that unfolded on Sept. 11 was neither new nor unexpected - and the American intelligence agencies, both the CIA and the FBI, have known of the plan to execute such an act for more than six years, Die Welt said.
The airline terror plan, code named "Project Bojinka," was first discovered in January 1995 during a police search of a Manila apartment in which a suspicious fire had occurred just days before Pope John Paul II was to travel nearby during his visit to the Philippines. A Philippines police investigation revealed that a three-man terrorist cell had occupied the apartment in the center of Manila and made preparations to assassinate the pope. The contents of the apartment included bombs made of liquid chemicals along with the garb of priests, Bibles, and religious paraphernalia meant to disguise the assassins.
The three terrorists who had occupied the apartment, Ramsi Ahmed Yousef, Abdul Hakim Murad and Wali Khan Amin Shah, where allegedly affiliated with international terrorist networks. All three had attended pilot training schools in the Philippines. The Kuwaiti terrorists, Yousef and Murad, had developed undetectable liquid nitroglycerine bombs that could be hidden in contact lens bottles, and plotted to kill the pope and President Bill Clinton, according to the Guardian. Investigators say the Bojinka bombs are among the most sophisticated they have seen. Yousef and Murad planned to use liquid nitroglycerin, which is virtually undetectable by airport security screening. Although Yousef and Shah managed to escape after the fire, Murad was arrested when he returned to the apartment to retrieve his laptop computer.
Federal investigative sources have confirmed that Murad detailed an entire plot to dive bomb aircraft into the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Langley, Va. The plot was contained on the laptop computer he had tried to recover.
On Murad's computer the police discovered "Project Bojinka," a plan to terrorize the United States by sabotaging 11 westbound civilian aircraft simultaneously with bombs, exploding them in mid-air as they approached the West Coast. Furthermore, "Project Bojinka" included plans to hijack and crash several commercial airplanes into civilian and government buildings simultaneously, precisely as it occurred on Sept. 11. Yousef independently boasted of the plot to U.S. Secret service agent Brian Parr and FBI agent Charles Stern on an extradition flight from Pakistan to the United States in February 1995. The agents later testified to that fact in court.
Philippine investigators say the plan targeted not only the CIA but other U.S. government buildings in Washington, including the Pentagon. The Philippine police said that the World Trade Center and Sears Tower were specific targets in the plan. Shortly before the fire in Manila, at the end of 1994, Yosef conducted a Bojinka test run. Yousef boarded Philippine Airlines Flight 434 bound for Tokyo from Manila. He carried the volatile liquid onto the airliner in a plastic contact-lens solution bottle. Once airborne, Yousef went to the rest room to prepare the bomb. Using a Casio watch as a timer and batteries from children's toys, he assembled the bomb, which he placed under a passenger seat.
Yousef left the plane during a stop in the Philippine city of Cebu. The bomb exploded soon after the airliner left Cebu. One person was killed and several were injured, though the pilot was able to make an emergency landing.