Posts Tagged ‘Osama bin Laden’

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The money man behind Ramzi Yousef’s terror

January 6, 2014

Looking back at the financing the Bojinka plot

The 1993 World Trade Center bombing killed six people—a disappointment in the perspective of bombing mastermind Ramzi Yousef.  He sought something grander and more devastating, but to pull it off he’d need more money.

The 2006 television miniseries “The Path to 9/11,” (one of the best films ever depicting terror finance methods) dramatized this historical development by showing Yousef meeting with his uncle and future 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad.  In the scene below, KSM says he may be able to obtain financing for Yousef’s next attack—a cluster of onboard airplane explosions that would become known as the “Bojinka plot”— with help from “a wealthy Saudi,” Osama bin Laden.

Bojinka was foiled after the night of Jan. 6, 1995, when a chemical fire in Yousef’s apartment bomb lab 19 years ago today caught the attention of Philippine authorities.  But the audacity of the plan, the financial commitment of Osama bin Laden, and the logistical involvement of KSM remained as elements that would evolve into the 9/11 attack itself.

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Who was Suleiman al-Rasheed?

October 2, 2013

Years after the discovery of the Golden Chain document that listed early sponsors of Osama Bin Laden, the mainstream media still seem mostly indifferent to investigating the individuals named.

For example, one of the lower profile donors was “Suleiman al-Rasheed,” (also spelled Rashid).  Wikipedia asserts that Suleiman is affiliated with the Al-Rasheed Trading & Contracting Co (RTCC).  The RTCC is a “leading general contractor in Saudi Arabia” according to the book Doing Business with Saudi Arabia.

May 2013 news article from Alriyadh newspaper called RTCC “a mainstay” of Saudi building and construction projects.  The article goes on to explain that RTCC was a major builder of employee housing for Saudi national oil company employees in the 1960s, and implemented “vital projects and strategic in the public and private sectors” (Google translation).  RTCC is currently carrying out “giant” assignments including a security project along Saudi Arabia’s northern border, a transnational railway project, a 1,000-unit housing project at King Saud University, and a water pipeline to Riyadh.

As a side note, it is worth remembering that the government of Saudi Arabia would not be able to award lucrative public contracts to RTCC without oil profits.

All that being said, the precise identity of “Suleiman” and his affiliation with RTCC is still unclear.  Abdullah Al Rashid is RTCC’s CEO and chairman of the board of directors.  The Saudi billionaire Nasser Al-Rashid also appears to be unrelated.

Neither does “Suleiman” appear to be affiliated with Al Rashid Trust, a fake charity in Pakistan that was designated as a terrorist financing entity shortly after 9/11.  The main “Suleiman” in the Golden Chain is Sulaiman Al-Rajhi, but his name is clearly a distinct and separate entry on the list.

Have any journalists researched or tried to confirm the identity of Suleiman al-Rasheed?  Have they even asked RTCC to confirm or deny the allegation that it was involved with the Golden Chain?  Wouldn’t American investors and businessmen like to know the answer to that before embarking on joint ventures with RTCC?

Granted, research in this area can be difficult because of spelling differences and, more importantly, because wealthy Saudis engage in intense legal efforts to suppress negative news coverage and internet search results about them.  But one would think that a dozen years after 9/11 there would at least be one publicly accessible news article looking into Suleiman al-Rasheed.

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UN quietly lifts sanctions on Bin Laden accomplice

June 24, 2013

Saudi removed from UN sanctions list

The UN’s sanctions committee removed Adel Batterjee’s name from its Al Qaeda blacklist earlier this year.  News coverage of the removal appears to have been limited to Saudi media outlets.  The U.K. followed suit shortly thereafter by lifting sanctions on Batterjee as well.

The shocking development casts further doubt on the cryptic de-listing process spearheaded by Canadian lawyer and UN ombudswoman Kimberly Prost that also led to white-listing of Muhammad Atta associate Abdelghani Mzoudi, jihadist financier Yasin Al-Qadi, and Al Qaeda check smuggler Soliman al-Buthe.  Prost’s reports and recommendations to the UN committee are secret, and the decisions are made with no explanations, transparency, or opportunities for public comment.

Meanwhile, author J. Millard Burr has published a new book, The Terrorists’ Internationale, through the American Center for Democracy.  Burr’s book documents the growth of Islamist terror groups in the 1980s and 1990s and the role of Sudanese intriguer Hassan al-Turabi in their development.  In it, Burr describes Adel Batterjee as a “close friend” of Osama bin Laden who “‘had become an important figure in the jihad movement’ by the mid-nineteen eighties.”  Batterjee moved back and forth between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to obtain financing for Lajnat Al-Birr Al-Islamiya (The Islamic Benevolence Committee), a bin Laden front charity.

Contradicting Batterjee’s claims that he had no contact with Bin Laden after 1991, Burr writes:

…Bin Laden and Batterjee had re-created their [Lajnat] charity in the Sudan and in 1992 registered it under a new name, the Al-Birr al-Duwaliya–known in the West as the Benevolence International Foundation (BIF). Its official headquarters was listed as Saudi Arabia, and Batterjee was named its director. Although centered in Khartoum, the “charity” continued to operate in Pakistan; Batterjee reduced the Al-Birr operation at Peshawar, but the small staff located there was likely called on to support Bin Laden’s interests in the Dawa Al Irshad at Murdike, and with two mujahideen training camps located in the Afghanistan-Pakistan borderlands…

The CEO of the Benevolence International Foundation served 10 years in federal prison on racketeering charges stemming from the foundation’s “charitable” work.  In 2004, Treasury undersecretary Stuart Levy said that Batterjee “ranked as one of the world’s foremost terrorist financiers, and employed his private wealth and a network of charitable fronts to bankroll the murderous agenda of al-Qaeda.”

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Ibn al-Khattab: the bin Laden of Chechnya

April 21, 2013

Well-to-do Saudi served as Chechen commander and jihadist financier

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1952053.stm

Deceased Chechen commander Ibn al-Khattab

In Money Jihad’s earlier post on the history of terror finance in Chechnya, one name came up again and again:  Ibn al-Khattab.  The terrorist leader was an early disciple of Osama bin Laden, and would benefit from bin Laden’s encouragement and financial support for years until al-Khattab’s death in 2002.

But al-Khattab was also a force unto himself, managing the flow of jihadist recruits and financing their operations in the Chechen guerrilla war against Russia.  One of the better descriptions of al-Khattab’s activities comes from the book Chechen Jihad by Yossef Bodansky.  Here’s an excerpt:

The Chechen jihadists received another injection of strength at this time with the arrival of an organized group of hardened Arab mujahedin from the Gulf states, including Saudis and Kuwaities, and the Maghreb region of north Africa, including Algerian, Moroccan, Tunisian, and other troops.  These fighters were commanded by one Ibn al-Khattab, often referred to as Emir Khattab or simply Khattab.  Khattab, whose real name was Samir bin Salakh al-Suwailim, was a Bedouin from the Suwailim tribe of northwest Saudi Arabia and southern Jordan; over the years he has identified himself with both nations, depending on the circumstances.  Born in 1970 to a fairly wealthy and well-educated family, Khattab received both Western and Muslim education, including learning English.  In 1987 he was accepted to a college in the United States, but before continuing with his education, he decided to visit Afghanistan and briefly participate in the jihad.

Arriving in Pakistan in the fall of 1987, Khattab met some of the key leaders of the Arab “Afghans,” including Sheikh Abdallah Azzam, Sheikh Tamim Adnani, and Osama bin Laden.  Captivated by their call for jihad, he committed his life to the jihad.  Khattab ccompleted his training in the international camp in Jalalabad, under Hassan al-Sarehi, the commander of the 1987 Lion’s Den operation in Jaji.  Impressed with the zeal and skills of his young trainee, Sarehi invited Khattab to join his forces in Jaji.  Between 1988 and 1993, Khattab participated in all the major operations in the Afghan jihad, including the capture of Jalalabad, Khowst, and Kabul.  He also spent time expanding his knowledge of Islam and his military skills, while becoming conversant in both Pashto and Russian.

Khattab would later claim that he decided to join the Chechen jihad after seeing televised footage of Islamist mujahedin reciting takbirs (Koranic verses) before going into battle.  But his status as a commander also played a role.  By the early 1990s, Khattab had emerged as one of the most fierce and competent commanders, popular with both the Afghan and the Arab “Afghan” mujahedin.  He also became one of bin Laden’s key protégés.  Khattab spent the years between early 1993 and early 1995 commanding a small Arab elite force in support of the Tajik Islamist mujahedin, particularly in the Fergana Valley.  He returned to Afghanistan to train and lead one of the first elite forces to go to Chechnya.

When bin Laden and the Islamist-Jihadist leadership decided to escalate the jihad in the Caucasus, they summoned Khattab back from Tajikistan and dispatched him to Chechnya.  Ali Hammad, a senior al Qaeda commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the mid-1990s, knew Khattab as a senior commander under bin Laden and considered him “one of the more important personalities in Al Qaeda.”  Ali Hammad confirmed that Khattab went to Chechnya on bin Laden’s orders, and that he and bin Laden personally managed the subsequent flow of jihadist volunteers into the area.

Khattab arrived in Chechnya in the spring of 1995 with eight veteran Arab “Afghan” commanders, followed by a few dozen combat veterans.  He soon became one of the most important commanders in Chechnya, quickly forming a close relationship with Shamil Basayev.  One of Basayev’s closest personal friends, Chechnya’s onetime foreign minister Shamil Beno, reported that Basayev underwent a profound change in 1995 under Khattab’s influence.  Basayev “started moving from freedom for Chechnya to freedom for the whole Arab world,” Beno said.  “He changed from a Chechen patriot into an Islamic globalist.”

But al-Khattab didn’t only receive funds from the Middle East and Al Qaeda.  He was the recipient of zakat donations from U.S. Muslims.  Benevolence International Foundation, a Saudi-created Islamic charity which relocated to Chicago in 1993, was shut down by the Bush administration after 9/11 for its role in financing jihad in Bosnia and Chechnya.  The racketeering trial against BIF’s leader revealed that “[Al-Khattab] did have ties to Saudi Arabia: a fund-raising website listed the Benevolence International Foundation—originally a Saudi-based charity—as a vehicle for contributions.”

The Obama administration and its allies would later criticize George W. Bush for creating a “chilling effect” on Muslim charitable giving by closing down organizations such as BIF, and Pres. Obama personally promised to make it easier for American Muslims to donate zakat.

In addition to receiving money from BIF, al-Khattab secured funding from Osama bin Laden in 1999 to fund Chechen operations.  The website History Commons has noted that Osama bin Laden and Ibn al-Khattab also shared the same wealthy Arab donor network.  By October 2001, Khattab had an enough of a financial war chest to offer to pay salaries and death benefits to jihadists who went to fight in Afghanistan against the impending American and coalition invasion.

It’s a mistake to think that any single terrorist operation only cost the price of materials used to carry out the operation.  It takes a lot of money to create a culture of indoctrination, training, and media messaging.  A single attack is the result of sizable investments over a long period of time by men such as Ibn al-Khattab.

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North Caucasus jihadists’ money traces back to Saudi Arabia and Osama bin Laden

April 19, 2013

The seed money of major North Caucasus or Chechen terrorist groups such as the Caucasus Emirate, the Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade (IIPB), the Special Purpose Islamic Regiment (SPIR) and the Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs (RSRSBCM) can all be traced back to Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

Although we don’t yet know to which groups the two Russian-born brothers of Chechen descent who were identified as suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings may belong, it’s important to take a look back at the origins of the money behind the North Caucasus jihadist network overall.

Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade

The Council on Foreign Relations says that, “According to the U.S. State Department, the Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade is the primary channel for Islamic funding of the Chechen guerillas, in part through links to al-Qaeda-related financiers on the Arabian Peninsula.”

The Middle East Forum has more on IIPB:

In October 1999, emissaries of [IIPB founder Shamil Basayev] and [mujahideen leader] Ibn al-Khattab traveled to Kandahar where bin Laden agreed to provide fighters, equipment, and money to conduct terrorism and aid the fight against Russia. Later that year, bin Laden reportedly sent substantial sums of money to Basayev, Ibn al-Khattab, and Chechen commander Arbi Barayev to train gunmen, recruit mercenaries, and buy ammunition.

The United Nations says that, “With Al‑Qaida’s financial support, Al-Khattab also mobilized fighters from Ingushetia, Ossetia, Georgia and Azerbaijan to fight in Chechnya and Dagestan.”

History Commons offers further details similarities between Ibn Khattab and Osama Bin Laden, and the U.S. and U.K.-based imams who have funded Chechen rebels:

They share fundraising and recruiting networks. For example, a Florida cell of radical Sunnis that is monitored by the FBI starting in 1993 is involved with both organizations (see (October 1993-November 2001). Radical London imam Abu Qatada raises money for jihad in Chechnya (see 1995-February 2001 and February 2001) and is a key figure in al-Qaeda-related terrorism who is in communication with al-Qaeda logistics manager Abu Zubaida. [BBC, 3/23/2004; Nasiri, 2006, pp. 273] The Finsbury Park mosque of fellow London imam Abu Hamza al-Masri is used as a conduit for funds for both jihad in Chechnya and bin Laden’s Darunta camp in Afghanistan (see March 1999 and March 2000-February 2001)…

Khattab repaid Bin Laden in kind:  “In October 2001, Khattab sent additional fighters to Afghanistan and promised to pay the volunteers’ families a substantial monthly stipend or a large lump-sum payment in the event of their death.”

Special Purpose Islamic Regiment

In a 2003 study, the CDI found that, “Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network provided much ideological and financial support to the SPIR after the mid-1990’s. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Revisiting Ghaith Pharaon’s ties to Bin Laden

March 28, 2013

A French parliamentary report released shortly after 9/11 revealed that Ghaith Pharoan and other Saudi elites were “directly linked to [Osama] Bin Laden through banks, holding companies, foundations and charities…”

This is the same Ghaith Pharoan who was involved with the $1.7 billion savings and loan scandals of Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) and CenTrust in the 1980s.  Although not officially charged with financing terrorism, Pharoan remains under U.S. indictment for “having been a front man in B.C.C.I.’s secret and unlawful acquisitions of American banks, including the National Bank of Georgia and the Independence Bank of Encino, Calif.”

Like many prominent Saudis, Pharoan peddled influence in the U.S. prior to his indictment without regard to political party, allegedly forming relationships with Henry Kissinger, members of the Carter administration including Bert Lance, and George W. Bush before he became involved in politics—a sign of the great lengths to which the Saudis have gone to curry favor with American officials.

The Guardian examined the French report (h/t History Commons) in this difficult-to-Google article below.  Thanks to Rushette for suggesting more coverage related to this subject.

City ‘haven’ for terrorist money laundering

Report says Bin Laden has extensive interests in UK

Osama bin Laden’s extensive financial interests in Britain are outlined today in a French parliamentary report that says the City is a money laundering haven for billions of pounds of tainted and terrorist money.

Up to 40 companies, banks and individuals based in Britain can legitimately be suspected of maintaining direct or indirect relations with the terrorist, according to a 70-page annexe, The Economic Environment of Osama bin Laden, attached to the French report. Compiled by an independent team of financial experts whose identity the French parliamentarians have undertaken not to reveal, the annexe reveals that the structure of Bin Laden’s financial network bears a striking similarity to that used by the collapsed BCCI bank for its fraudulent operations in the 1980s.

“This document clearly shows the great permeability of the British banking and financial system and the fragility of the controls operated at its points of entry,” write the authors of the French report, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian.

The annexe establishes numerous links between Bin Laden with international arms and oil dealers and even members of the Saudi elite.

It also pinpoints the relationship and its subsquent breakdown between Osama bin Laden and his family’s holding company, Saudi BinLadin Group, and its multiple subsidiaries, investments and offshoots in Europe.

Many of the individuals concerned, several with British connections, were also involved in various senior roles with BCCI, the report says. Hundreds of banks and companies are mentioned, from Sudan, Geneva and London to Oxford, the Bahamas and Riyadh.

The names of half a dozen former BCCI clients and officials, including Ghaith Pharaon, wanted by the US authorities for fraud, and Khalid bin Mahfouz, a Saudi banker who was closely involved with the bank before it was closed down by the Bank of England in 1991, recur throughout the annexe and are directly linked to Bin Laden through banks, holding companies, foundations and charities, at least one of which, the International Development Foundation, has its headquarters in London.

“The convergence of financial and terrorist interests, apparent particularly in Great Britain and in Sudan, does not appear to have been an obstacle with regard to the objectives pursued [by Bin Laden],” the annexe concludes. “The conjunction of a terrorist network attached to a vast financing structure is the dominant trait of operations conducted by bin Laden”…

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Following the money trail behind the WTC bomb

February 26, 2013

The financial evidence points back to Osama Bin Laden in the World Trade Center bombing that killed six people 20 years ago today.

In Modern Jihad, Loretta Napoleoni wrote that the WTC bombing mastermind, Ramzi Yousef, said the World Trade Center bombing cost $15,000.  This was not verified during Yousef’s trial because it wasn’t necessary to establish his guilt.

And who provided the $15,000?  John Miller, the ABC reporter who once interviewed Osama Bin Laden, wrote this in his book The Cell:

… Ibrahim el-Gabrowny had met with bin Laden a year before the bombing and investigators believe that at least a portion of the $20,000 bin Laden gave el-Gabrowny during that meeting—ostensibly for [Rabbi Meir Kahane’s assassin El-Sayyid] Nosair’s defense—was spent on materials used in the World Trade Center bomb.

Other sources say that Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, Yousef’s uncle and the architect of the 9/11 attacks, provided the bomb money for his nephew.

In any case, it wasn’t enough cash to carry out Yousef’s vision.  FBI official Dale Watson testified five years after the bombing that, “After his capture in 1995, Ramzi Yousef conceded to investigators that a lack of funding forced his group’s hand in plotting the destruction of the World Trade Center. Running short of money, the plotters could not assemble a bomb as large as they had originally intended. The timing of the attack was also rushed by a lack of finances.”

Al Qaeda would not make the mistake of shortchanging its next attack against the World Trade Center eight years later.

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