Follow the Money: The Bush-bin Laden Connection
President Bush's September 2001 address to the American people will live on in infamy. In it, Bush roused the American people to a "war on terrorism," which was to consist of rooting out the financial sources of support for terrorist activities. A global effort ensued in the following weeks. Bush then signed an executive order freezing the financial assets of several alleged charities reputed to be "fronts" for the al-Qaida network. According to a report by Christopher Byron dated 9/24/01 entitled "Terrorists, dollars and a tangled web", however, one glitch got ahead of Bush's fanaticism: following this money trail would require investigators to "probe deep into the offshore activities of America's mightiest banks and the financial affairs of many of America's leading public figures," including George W. and George H.W. Bush. It all starts with the Bank for Credit & Commerce International, now infamous as the "BCCI Scandal." The BCCI, with its main offices in London and New York, was bankrolled by Saudi Arabian money handlers. The BCCI was engaged in widespread bribery of officials in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas; its criminal activities touched nearly every country on Earth. According to Byron, the BCCI "laundered money on a global scale, intimidated witnesses and law enforcement authorities, engaged in extortion and blackmail; supplied the financing for illegal arms trafficking and global terrorism; financed and facilitated income tax evasion, smuggling and prostitution." As Byron also explains, BCCI operated via secrecy through various front organizations, and "penetrated the top-most echelons of American business, co-opting and exploiting many of the most visible and influential public figures in America."
The tentacles of BCCI began to touch George W. Bush when he sold his young, struggling oil company to Harken Energy. This, according to Byron, "set in motion a chain of events that wound up entangling Bush, briefly but awkwardly, in the affairs of not just BCCI but of the bin Laden family itself." Specifically, what is the bin Laden connection?
James Bath, one of Bush's original partners in his oil company, had contacts in the Middle East. According to Byron, Bath was named in a 1976 trust document as the business representative for Salem bin Laden, Osama bin Laden's half-brother, who was killed in a private plane crash in Texas in 1988. William White has claimed that Bath was involved in a secret conspiracy to funnel Saudi money into the U.S., and that since 1976-the year Bush Sr. became head of the CIA-Bath had worked as a CIA liaison to Saudi Arabia. White has made the claim, which Bath denies, that "Bath ran an aviation business and obtained several aircraft from the CIA."
As Byron reports, Bath did run Skyway Aircraft Leasing Ltd., an aviation business based in the Cayman Islands, which was owned by Saudi banker Khalid bin Mahfouz. In 1977, bin Mahfouz joined up with Saudi front man for BCCI, Ghaith Pharaon, and became an investor in the Main Bank of Houston, in which Bath also held a stake.
When Harken Energy needed capital to expand, George W. - a member of Harken's board - assisted in obtaining a $25 million loan from the Union Bank of Switzerland. According to Byron, "Bush would doubtless have been astonished to learn that he was being surrounded by people with ties to the biggest and most crime-infested bank in the history of world capitalism. Bush would also have been astonished to learn that Bath's Persian Gulf patron, Khalid bin Mahfouz, was a large investor in BCCI. He would also have been surprised to learn that the bank that cut the $25 million check for Harken, the Banque de Commerce et de Placements, was only half owned by Union Bank of Switzerland. The other half was owned by BCCI." Yet, are rumors of Bush's "surprise" greatly exaggerated?
According to Byron, once the Harken financing was completed, Union Bank of Switzerland sold its interest in Harken to Saudi real estate developer Abdullah Bakhsh, whom The Wall Street Journal has linked to BCCI figures Pharaon and bin Mahfouz. In connection with BCCI, bin Mahfouz was fined $212 million and was barred from involvement in any American banking activity. In spite of this apparent "hand slap," bin Mahfouz is now believed to have provided financing to a "charitable front" that raises money for Osama bin Laden. He has reportedly been under house arrest in Saudi Arabia at the behest of U.S. authorities since at least March of 2000.
As Byron concludes: "These are the types of people Washington now needs to root out of the nation's-and the world's-financial systems if it is to cut off the flow of money to the terrorists who have attacked America. But the tentacles now reach into just about every major bank in the country, and have even brushed up against the early business affairs of the very man who is now rallying America to the fight. In the end, getting the dirty money out of America may prove every bit as hard as pulling bin Laden from the mountains of Afghanistan."
Another Bush family connection was reported on 9/28/01 by the Wall Street Journal. Bush Sr. is and has been in business with the bin Laden family via an international consulting firm: the Carlyle Group. The bin Laden family is a major investor in the Carlyle Group and Bush Sr. has met with the bin Laden family on at least two occasions. Osama bin Laden has supposedly been "disowned" by his family, but there is some indication that these reports are false. The FBI has subpoenaed the business banking records of the bin Laden family. Bush Sr.'s association with the Carlyle Group was exposed in March of 2001, and Judicial Watch - a public interest law firm that investigates government corruption - at that time called for Bush Sr. to resign from the firm. The group warned that Bush's involvement with the Carlyle Group constituted a "conflict of interest," and that it could cause foreign policy problems in the Middle East and Asia. Bush Sr. did not resign. Judicial Watch on 9/28/01 stated: "This conflict of interest has now turned into a scandal. The idea of the President's father doing business with a company under investigation by the FBI in the terror attacks of September 11 is horrible." Judicial Watch has stated that: "President Bush should not ask, but demand, that his father pull out of the Carlyle Group."
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