Ties between the Bush family and the house of Saud raise concerns about their collective aims


Mike Jackman
Issue date: 9/25/08 Section: Opinions

According to the 9/11 Commission, the source of funding for the 9/11 attacks were ultimately "of little practical significance."

Commission co-chair Thomas Kean would later say that was because the operation only cost around $500,000. If there was Saudi involvement in the attacks, what reason or reasons would there be to cover it up? Could it be, perhaps, the thriving business relationship between the Saudis and the Bush family?

Shortly after 9/11, Yassin al-Qadi claimed in an interview that he has good relations with Vice President Dick Cheney and said "I have also met with US Vice President and former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney in Jeddah when he came for a lecture organized by the Dallah Group. I spoke to him for a long time and we still have cordial relations."

A Cheney spokesperson later claimed that she "has no reason to believe Cheney had met with al-Qadi." Oussama Ziade claimed that al-Qadi had previously "talked very highly of his relationship" with Cheney. Ziade was the CEO of a computer company called Ptech, for which al-Qadi had helped bankroll.

Shortly after 9/11, the US officially declared al-Qadi as a terrorism financier and accused the Dallah Group of supporting al-Qaeda. Prior to this, al-Qadi had wired several hundred thousand dollars to a Muslim charity based out of Chicago, which would be funneled to Hamas operative Mohammad Salah. In 1992, al-Qadi sent $27,000 to Salah and, in 2004, a US court ruled that funds from al-Qadi were used in an attack that killed a US citizen in 1996.

An FBI agent by the name of Robert Wright was assigned to look into terrorist funding inside the US and tracked al-Qadi and related organizations.

Throughout his investigations, Wright uncovered that al-Qadi had been funding Hamas and al-Qaeda attacks. Al-Qadi ran a charity called the Muwafaq Foundation, which had ties to radical militants and terror financiers.

Former counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke said, "Al-Qadi was the head of Muwafaq, a Saudi 'relief organization' that reportedly transferred at least $3 million, on behalf of Khalid bin Mahfouz, to Osama bin Laden and assisted al-Qaeda fighters in Bosnia." It should also be noted that bin Mahfouz, a Saudi billionaire, denied these charges, as did al-Qadi.

ABC News reported in 2002 that "according to US officials, al-Qadi has close personal and business connections with the Saudi royal family."

The Muwafaq Foundation was never officially named as a terrorist supporter and to this day, al-Qadi has never been charged with anything.

It would seem that agent Wright had been getting very close to top Saudi financiers, who may have also been connected to the Saudi royal family.

A Justice Department official named Frances Townsend was instrumental in closing down the investigation Wright was part of named "Vulgar Betrayal." Mark Flessner, an assistant US attorney working on Vulgar Betrayal, said Townsend did not share information and "deliberately obstructed it," which he found to be "very disconcerting." Flessner would later resign outof frustration and Townsend would be appointed President George W. Bush's Homeland Security Adviser and Counter-Terrorism Director for the National Security Council.

Dr. Michael Parenti once said "We keep hearing about how Saddam had connections to bin Laden, but the Bush family has more ties to the bin Ladens than Saddam ever had."

According to the BBC, "US intelligence agencies are told to 'back off' investigating the bin Ladens and Saudi royals, and that angers agents after the 2004 election." With prior knowledge of terrorism funding related to Saudi Arabia and what Vulgar Betrayal uncovered, this is pretty astounding.

It is also known that former President George H.W. Bush met with the bin Laden and Saudi royal family in January 2000 on behalf of the Carlyle Group.

Another interesting Saudi connection comes with Bush family friend Talat Othman. Othman is suspected of being tied to terrorism through Saudi businessman Abdullah Bakhsh, who he represented on the board of Harken Energy (Dubya's company from the 1970s). Bakhsh is alleged to have met with members of al-Qaeda to discuss money and protection. Bakhsh also headed a subsidiary of Dick Cheney's company, Halliburton. Interesting bedfellows, indeed.

In the early 90s, the FBI is investigating James Bath. Bath represents bin Laden's brother Salem and is friends with George W. Bush. Harken fell onto hard times in 1988 and was bailed out by none other than Salem bin Laden and Mahfouz (mentioned earlier in connection to al-Qadi).

During this time, Harken won a contract in the Persian Gulf and business was good, with a few Saudis buying up portions of the company. Perhaps that's a reason the Bush gang doesn't want the house of Saud probed or looked into too carefully. Now, where did 15 of the 19 hijackers come from? Saudi Arabia! 11 of the 19 received their visas through Jeddah. A visa program was implemented in May 2001 that made it much easier for Saudi's to enter the US.

Five of the suspected hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar, Abdulaziz Alomari, Salem Alhazmi, Saeed Alghamdi and Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, were able to enter the US with this "Visa Express" program. Michael Springmann was head of the Consulate Office in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia from 1987 to 1989, said that while he was there he was forced to issue visas to unqualified applicants coming to the US.

It turns out that many recruits fighting for bin Laden against the Russians were let through so they could train in the US. Springmann questioned this process and was fired after complaining.

The question that stems from this is whether or not the CIA-controlled consulate office had the same policy in place when the hijackers came through.

Former Senator Bob Graham from Florida was co-chair of the Congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11 in 2002.

Two of the hijackers, Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, met with suspected Saudi spy Omar al-Bayoumi supposedly by accident. Graham that "A suspected Saudi spy drove 125 miles to a meeting at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles where he met with a consular officer with suspected terrorist ties, and then drove another seven miles to the one Middle Eastern restaurant, out of more than 134 Middle Eastern restaurants in Los Angeles, where he would happen to sit next to two future terrorists, to whom he would happen to offer friendship and support, cannot credibly be described as a coincidence."

This may be part of the 28 redacted pages in this report relating to foreign involvement in the attacks.

Graham also said he was "surprised at the evidence that there were foreign governments involved in facilitating the activities of at least some of the 9/11 terrorists in the United States."

To me, that is an extremely significant issue and while most of that information is classified, I think it is overly classified. I believe the American people should know the extent of the challenge that we face in terms of foreign government involvement.

I think there is very compelling evidence that at least some of the terrorists were assisted not just in financing, although that was part of it, by a sovereign foreign government and we have been derelict in our duty to track that down.

It will become public at some point when it's turned over to the archives, but that's at least 20 or 30 years from now. Too bad.

Mike Jackman is a senior majoring in Journalism. He can be contacted at mjackman@ksc.mailcruiser.com.