Posts Tagged ‘Golden Chain’

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Dark money news: recommended reading

February 19, 2015
  • Names of three Golden Chain donors to Al Qaeda are said to have shown up on list of Swiss bank account holders… more>>
  • Billions are invested into the financial technologies of tomorrow while pennies are spent on security… more>>
  • Not persuaded that some diplomats launder money? The FBI says a former ambassador from Venezuela raised funds for Hezbollah while in office… more>>
  • Weapons smuggling is the target of recurring U.S. sanctions against small, obscure Iranian companies… more>>
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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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Golden Chain document named Sheikh Yamani

October 17, 2012

Elderly Arab male in suit with dyed hair and goatee

Sheikh Ahmad Turki Zaki Yamani served as Oil Minister of Saudi Arabia (1962-86), OPEC Secretary General (1968-69), and as a former director of Saudi Aramco.  Sheikh Yamani played a central role in the 1973 Arab oil shock.

But the Arab oil embargo wasn’t Sheikh Yamani’s only act of economic aggression against the West.  If you accept the credibility of the Golden Chain document which named the financial sponsors of Osama bin Laden prior to 9/11, then Yamani is also culpable for funding Al Qaeda.

Additional background on both Yamani’s role in the embargo and the eventual discovery of the Golden Chain document comes to us from the website calibratedconfidence.com:

…The 1970s oil embargo is evidence enough that the U.S. economy is vulnerable to attack by politically motivated financial operators. BCCI [Bank of Credit and Commerce International] co-founder Sheikh al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi initiated the embargo as a way to retaliate against the United States for providing military aid to Israel, which had just fought a coalition of Arab states in a war that broke out in October 1973. As Sheikh al-Nahyan has said, the idea for retaliating against the United States with an embargo came to him in consultations with his BCCI co-founder, Abedi.

The details of the plan were worked out with Sheikh Ahmad Turki Yamani, then the Saudi minister of petroleum; and Sheikh Abdel Hadir Taher, the governor of the Saudi state oil company Petromin. Both of those Sheikhs were also shareholders in BCCI. And the mammoth oil profits that these Sheikhs earned from the embargo were, to a large extent, delivered to BCCI, which opened for business just before the embargo went into effect. It was, in fact, this new oil money that made BCCI a powerhouse in the world of finance and a giant criminal enterprise capable of plundering the U.S. economy throughout the latter half of the 1970s and the 1980s.

Henry Kissinger once said that the oil embargo was “one of the pivotal events in the history of the [twentieth] century.” Kissinger was not referring to BCCI, but the emergence of BCCI as destructive criminal element was certainly an important outcome. And it is not out of the question that some of the acts that BCCI subsequently perpetrated against the United States were, like the oil embargo, motivated to some extent by ideology and the by the resentment that the sheikhs felt as a result of the 1973 Arab war with Israel. After all, a principal tenet of both Salafi Islam (the brand of Islam subscribed to by the sheikhs behind both BCCI and the oil embargo) and radical Shiite Islam (subscribed to by a number of BCCI’s key executives) is that Muslims should fight their enemies by “plundering their money.”

Regardless of what the motives of BCCI’s founders were in the past, it is clear that most of them are, to this day, major players in the global financial system. They have more than enough firepower to inflict damage on the U.S. markets. And, as the French intelligence report noted, “directors and cadres of the bank [BCCI] and its affiliates, arms merchants, oil merchants, Saudi investors” have been among the most important financial supporters of America’s Enemy Number One – Al Qaeda.

By way of introducing just a few of the billionaire BCCI figures who support Al Qaeda, I need to relate a story about Benevolence International, the Al Qaeda front that was accused by the U.S. government of having contacts with people trying to obtain nuclear weapons for Osama bin Laden.

* * * * * * * *

In 2002, U.S. soldiers stationed in Sarajevo raided the local offices of Benevolence International and found a document that referred to the “Golden Chain” – an elite club of twenty Saudi billionaires whom Osama bin Laden had identified as his most important financiers. These financiers not only delivered large sums of money to the prospective nuclear weapons proliferators at Benevolence International, but can correctly be understood to have been among Al Qaeda’s founding fathers.

Some highly regarded authors, such as Steve Coll, who is otherwise quite reliable (though arguably a bit over-reliant on his Saudi sources), have suggested that the Golden Chain members funded Al Qaeda only in its early years. This is false. Most of them continued to support Al Qaeda after bin Laden declared war against the United States and after Al Qaeda carried out the 9-11 attacks.

The Golden Chain document has, meanwhile, received virtually no attention from the media, perhaps because it would seem a bit “crazy” to suggest that Al Qaeda is a movement whose most important operatives are not rag-tag fringe fanatics living in caves, but rather the crème de la crème of Saudi society – the people who control much of the world’s oil wealth, the people who own the most powerful manufacturing conglomerates, and the biggest Saudi banks, and the biggest hedge funds, and the biggest stock brokerages, and the Saudi stock exchange itself.

One of the names on the Golden Chain list?  Sheikh Yamani himself.  Yamani struck at us once through the Arab oil embargo.  Is it so hard to believe that he would have attempted an encore performance by funding Osama bin Laden?

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Golden Chain fat cat touts 1 trillion in zakat

October 2, 2012

Saleh Kamel

Saleh Kamel, a wealthy Saudi businessman and banker who was listed in the Golden Chain document that revealed prominent Al Qaeda financiers, says that Saudi Arabia possesses one trillion Saudi riyals in zakat revenues.

Zakat is Islam’s 2½ tax on wealth that according to the Koran should be allocated, not just to the poor, but to those fighting for the cause of Allah.  Zakat was the primary source used to fund 9/11 and the Iraq insurgency.

According to an August article from the Arab News, Kamel says that even more Saudis should be paying zakat for real estate transactions.  He also told an audience that Saudi Arabia should rely purely on sharia banking.

It is quite disconcerting that somebody who was exposed as an Al Qaeda donor is calling upon his countrymen to generate even more zakat and use Islamic finance to further Saudi Arabia’s goals.

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Sheikh: preventing terror finance violates rights

September 25, 2012

Sheikh Saleh bin Abdulrahman Al-Hussein, formerly the chief of the presidency of Saudi Arabia’s two holy mosques and a member of the Senior Ulema Council, has written a 1,600 word opinion piece in the Arab News defending the transfer of funds overseas through “charity” from Saudi Arabia.  Hussein asserts that such “charity” is a personal freedom and human right.

In the piece, Sheikh Saleh Hussein slams a 2003 U.S. congressional hearing, which he claims had no facts, just emotional smears, about Saudi charities involved in financing terror.  He blames that hearing, subsequent arm twisting at the United Nations, and traitorous reporting by local Gulf journalists, for giving Saudi Arabia a bad reputation as the world’s terror financial hub.

If the evidence of Saudi perfidy is all based on false or exaggerated rhetoric, can the sheikh please explain the following events?

  • Why the Saudi International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) branch in the Philippines, which was designated by the U.S. as a terrorist entity, was founded by Osama Bin Laden’s brother-in-law, Muhammad Jamal Khalifah—a senior Al Qaeda leader?
  • Why Saudi Arabia conceded that Al Haramain (a charity that operated under the control of the government of Saudi Arabia) branches in Bosnia, Indonesia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Pakistan were terrorist entities?
  • Why the former head of Al Haramain in the U.S. was convicted last year to 33 months in prison for funding jihad in Chechnya?
  • Why the founder of Saudi Arabia’s largest private bank (and the Sunni world’s largest sharia bank) was named in the infamous “Golden Chain” list of 20 financial benefactors of Al Qaeda, and why Saudi Arabia has resisted all legal attempts to access his bank’s records?
  • Why Saudi Arabia sponsors telethons to raise money for suicide bombers?
  • Why the chief of the Bangladeshi terrorist organization JMB says his funding sources include the Saudi-based Muslim World League and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth?
  • Why the Saudi government continues to award public contracts to the Bin Laden family for construction projects?

Oh, and one more question.  Sheikh Hussein concludes his commentary by invoking a verse from the eighth chapter of the Koran (“The Spoils”), a sura which addresses taking the spoils of war from conquered infidels.  If the sheikh is truly interested in defending the principle of charity toward the poor, this is a quite remarkable passage to select!

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Revisiting the Golden Chain, 11 years later

September 11, 2012

At large:  Sulaiman Al-Rajhi

It was the 1990s.  Osama bin Laden was broke, busted, and disgusted.  Al Qaeda had spent its last dime, and Osama needed a bailout.  Sulaiman Al-Rajhi and 19 other millionaire and billionaire Muslims came to the rescue.  They constituted a “golden chain” of financial backers that would enable a second life for Al Qaeda in Afghanistan from which to stage the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

The U.S. Senate presented the evidence against the Golden Chain once again this summer in its report about the misdeeds of the British bank HSBC.  HSBC maintained a relationship with Al-Rajhi Bank, of which Sulaiman Al-Rajhi was a founder, until 2005 despite the earlier discovery of the Golden Chain and Al-Rajhi Bank’s record of facilitating terrorist transactions.

Don’t take my word for it.  This comes from the Senate’s Jul. 17, 2012, report:

Al Qaeda List of Financial Benefactors. The al Qaeda list of financial benefactors came to light in March 2002, after a search of the Bosnian offices of the Benevolence International Foundation, a Saudi based nonprofit organization which was also designated a terrorist organization by the Treasury Department, led to seizure of a CD-ROM and computer hard drive with numerous al Qaeda documents.  One computer file contained scanned images of several hundred documents chronicling the formation of al Qaeda. One of the scanned documents contained a handwritten list of 20 individuals identified as key financial contributors to al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden apparently referred to that group of individuals as the “Golden Chain.” In a report prepared for Congress, the Congressional Research Service explained:

According to the Commission’s report, Saudi individuals and other financiers associated with the Golden Chain enabled bin Laden and Al Qaeda to replace lost financial assets and establish a base in Afghanistan following their abrupt departure from Sudan in 1996.

One of the 20 handwritten names in the Golden Chain document identifying al Qaeda’s early key financial benefactors is Sulaiman bin Abdul Aziz Al Rajhi, one of Al Rajhi Bank’s key founders and most senior officials.

The Golden Chain document has been discussed in the 9-11 Commission’s report, in federal court filings, and civil lawsuits. Media reports as early as 2004 noted that the al Qaeda list included the Al Rajhi name. HSBC was clearly on notice about both the al Qaeda list and its inclusion of Sulaiman bin Abdul Aziz Al Rajhi.

What became of the Golden Chain?  As for Al-Rajhi, the most prominent individual listed, he remains at large with an estimated net worth of $6 billion, showing up on Forbes magazine cover stories and feature interviews in the Arab News.  By Al-Rajhi’s own admission, he’s working out a “meticulous scheme” for a mysterious charitable endowment to dispose of his assets.