“[During the Afghan-Soviet war,] potential Arab warriors traveled to Pakistan where they resided in guesthouses. These hostels did not keep any records and not a single organization listed the names of the fighters, where they had gone to fight and if they had been injured or killed. The lack of vital information caused distress among relatives. At that time bin Laden was in charge of several guesthouses and was embarrassed by the hundreds of calls requesting information. Hence, he decided to keep track of whoever stayed at the hostels and that record came to be known as the Record of al-Qaeda. This is how al-Qaeda, which means the base or the scroll, was born.”
“His followers first gained attention by throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. CIA and State Department officials I have spoken with call him ’scary,’ ‘vicious,’ ‘a fascist,’… ‘definite dictatorship material’…. His name was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. He was the head of the Islamic Party and he hated the United States almost as much as he hated the Russians. His followers screamed ‘Death to America’ along with ‘Death to the Soviet Union’… some of them had kidnapped the American ambassador in the capital city of Kabul, leading to his death in the rescue attempt… these same people shot down civilian airliners and planted bombs at the airport… anti-American mobs had burned and ransacked the US embassy in Islamabad and American cultural centers in two other Pakistani cities… their brother Islamic fundamentalists in next-door Iran seized the US Embassy in Teheran… and held 55 Americans hostage for over a year.”
“Widespread corruption also exists among the [Afghan] rebel leaders but has gone practically unnoticed in the United States thanks to CIA propaganda. The same kinds of things that tarnished the Contras’ image, such as killing civilians, drug smuggling and embezzlement are practiced by many Afghan rebels. Taking no prisoners, assassinating suspected government collaborators, destroying government-built schools and hospitals, killing ‘unpious’ civilians are just a few of the inhumane acts they have carried out. But the picture we receive of the rebels in the United States is of an uncorrupt, popular group of freedom-loving people who aspire toward a democratic society.”
“They also invested in this Jihad the legitimacy of their enormous power, and the luster of their media-made glory. On one especially memorable occasion when Afghanistan’s hard-line Islamists visited the White House, President Ronald Reagan described them as the Muslim world’s ‘moral equivalent of our founding fathers.’ Similarly, the American and European media played up the war in Afghanistan as the greatest story of the eighties. Foreign correspondents combed the Hindu Kush for stories of ‘Mooj’ heroism. Competition for Jihad narrative was so great that in one instance a major network, CBS, paid handsomely to film a staged battle between Islam and Communism. As the western media carries great importance and authority in the third world, its Afghanistan war coverage made an enormous impact, especially on Muslim youth.”
“William F. Wechsler, who monitored bin Laden’s finances at the National Security Council during the last two years of the Clinton administration, told Congress in September that bin Laden initially rose to prominence for building ‘a financial architecture that supported the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan against the Russians.’
‘It’s this financial architecture that continued with him when he turned to terrorism, and it’s this financial architecture that is at the heart of how al Qaeda today gets its finances,’ he said.
Much of that architecture, according to French, Pakistani and American investigators, is modeled on the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI)…. In the 1980s it was used to launder drug money, harbor terrorist funds and buy illegal weapons. Its collapse in 1991 was a major global financial scandal.
The CIA used BCCI to funnel millions of dollars to the fighters battling the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Bin Laden had accounts in the bank, U.S. officials said….
The BCCI Model
A 70-page French intelligence report, prepared for Parliament in October and obtained by The Washington Post, outlined some details of this network. ‘The financial network of bin Laden, as well as his network of investments, is similar to the network put in place in the 1980s by BCCI for its fraudulent operations, often with the same people (former directors and cadres of the bank and its affiliates, arms merchants oil merchants, Saudi investors),’ the report said. ‘The dominant trait of bin Laden’s operations is that of a terrorist network backed up by a vast financial structure.’
A senior U.S. investigator said U.S. agencies were looking into these ties because ‘they just make so much sense, and so few people from BCCI ever went to jail. BCCI was the mother and father of terrorist financing operations.’
The report identifies dozens of companies and individuals who were involved with BCCI and were found to be dealing with bin Laden after the bank collapsed. Many went on to work in banks and charities identified by the United States and others as supporting al Qaeda.”
“The French report highlighted the role of Saudi banker Khalid bin Mahfouz, a former director of BCCI, whose sister is married to bin Laden. In 1995 bin Mahfouz paid a $225 million fine in a settlement with U.S. prosecutors for his role in the BCCI scandal and went on to serve as director of the National Commercial Bank, one of Saudi Arabia’s largest….
Saudi officials, at the urging of the United States, audited his bank and found that millions of dollars were being funneled through the bank to charities controlled by bin Laden, U.S. officials and the French document said…. U.S. intelligence officials said Washington pushed for the audit of bin Mahfouz’s bank but was never allowed to question him.
Saudi officials ‘weren’t willing to let us talk to him,’ said one U.S. source with direct knowledge of events, ‘and we asked at a very senior level.’”
“Two billionaire Saudi families scrutinized by authorities for possible financial ties to Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network continue to engage in major oil deals with leading U.S. corporations.
The bin Mahfouz and Al-Amoudi clans, who control three private Saudi Arabian oil companies, are partners with U. S. firms in a series of ambitious oil development and pipeline projects in central and south Asia, records show.
Working through their companies – Delta Oil, Nimir Petroleum and Corral Petroleum – the Saudi families have formed international consortiums with U. S. oil giants Texaco, Unocal, Amerada Hess and Frontera Resources.
These business relationships persist despite evidence that members of the two Saudi families – headed by patriarchs Khalid bin Mahfouz and Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi – have had ties to Islamic charities and companies linked financially to bin Laden’s al-Qaeda organization. So far, bin Mahfouz and Al-Amoudi… have been left untouched by the U. S. Treasury Department, which has frozen the assets of 150 individuals, companies and charities suspected of financing terrorism….”
“The CentGas deal never came to fruition. The Taliban’s inability to commit to any agreement, coupled with public recognition of the exploitive nature of their regime, contributed to its failure. For years, the Taliban skilfully conducted simultaneous negotiations with two potential oil companies: Argentinean Bridas [later bought by BP] and Unocal/CentGas. Both companies showered the Taliban with gifts and money, flying their delegations to the US to win them over. On one occasion, a group of Taliban met high-ranking executives of Unocal in Texas. Parties, dinners and trips to the local shopping malls were organized. At the same time, Zalmay Khalizad, who was working for Unocal, lobbied the Clinton administration to ‘engage’ with the Taliban. The press reported some of these ‘informal’ meetings between US officials and rulers of Afghanistan: ‘Senior Taliban leaders attended a conference in Washington in mid-1996 and US diplomats regularly traveled to Taliban headquarters,’ wrote the Guardian….
‘The United States wants good ties [with the Taliban] but can’t openly seek them while women are oppressed,’ reported CNN. None the less, negotiations carried on more or less openly until 1998, when bin Laden’s associates bombed US embassies in Africa. Clinton launched cruise missiles at bin Laden’s supposed whereabouts in Afghanistan, an act that convinced the oil lobby that, for the moment, the pipeline deal could not go ahead….
Corporate America continued to do business with people who supported Islamist insurgency. The oil industry, in particular, continues to be run by a very small group of American and Saudi families with close financial relations. Among them were the Bush family, the bin Laden family and Osama bin Laden’s Saudi sponsors. The ties among these people go back a long way….
Naturally, as soon as George W. Bush was elected president, Unocal and BP-Amoco, which had in the meantime bought Bridas, the Argentinean rival, started once again to lobby the administration, among whom were several of their former employees. Unocal knew that Bush was ready to back them and resumed the consortium negotiations. In January 2001, it began discussions with the Taliban, backed by members of the Bush administration among whom was Under Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who had previously worked as a lobbyist for Unocal. The Taliban, for their part, employed as their PR officer in the US Laila Helms, niece of Richard Helms, [BCCI player] former director of the CIA and former US ambassador to Iran. In March 2001, Helms succeeded in bringing Rahmatullah Hashami, Mullah Omar’s adviser, to Washington…. As late as August 2001, meetings were held in Pakistan to discuss the pipeline business….
While negotiations were underway, the US was secretly making plans to invade Afghanistan. The Bush Administration and its oil sponsors were losing patience with the Taliban; they wanted to get the Central Asian gas pipeline going as soon as possible. The ‘Strategy of the Silk Route’ had been resumed….
Paradoxically, 11 September provided the Washington with a casus belli to invade Afghanistan and establish a pro American government in the country. When, a few weeks after the attack, the leaders of the two Pakistani Islamist parties negotiated with Mullah Omar and bin Laden for the latter’s extradition to Pakistan to stand trial for the 11 September attacks, the US refused the offer. Back in 1996, the Sudanese Minister of Defence, Major General Elfaith Erwa, had also offered to extradite Osama bin Laden, then resident in Sudan, to the US. American officials declined the offer at that time as well. ‘Just don’t let him go to Somalia,’ they added…. When Erwa disclosed that he was going to Afghanistan, the American answer was ‘let him go’….
In November 2001… Hamid Karzai was elected [Afghanistan’s] prime minister…. Yet very few people remember that during the 1990’s Karzai was involved in negotiations with the Taliban regime for the construction of a Central Asian gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through western Afghanistan to Pakistan. At that time he was a top adviser and lobbyist for Unocal… In the early 1990’s, thanks to his [Karzai's] excellent contacts with the ISI, he moved to the US where he cooperated with the CIA and the ISI in supporting the Taliban’s political adventure.
President Bush’s special envoy to the newly formed Afghanistan state is a man named Zalmay Khalilzad, another former employee of Unocal. In 1997, he produced a detailed analysis of the risks involved in the construction of the Central Asian gas pipeline. Khalilzad also worked as a lobbyist for Unocal and therefore knows Karzai very well. In the 1980s… President Reagan named Khalilzad special adviser to the State Department; it was thanks to his influence that the US accelerated the shipment of military aid to the Mujahedin.”
“The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work…. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine…. The U.S. intelligence budget is vast, publicly announced last year as $75 billion, 2 1/2 times the size it was on Sept. 10, 2001. But the figure doesn’t include many military activities or domestic counterterrorism programs.”
“Future historians may well agree that the twenty-first century Silk Road first opened for business on December 14, 2009. That was the day a crucial stretch of pipeline officially went into operation linking the fabulously energy-rich state of Turkmenistan (via Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) to Xinjiang Province in China’s far west….
The bottom line is that, by 2013, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong will be cruising to ever more dizzying economic heights courtesy of natural gas supplied by the 1,833-kilometer-long Central Asia Pipeline, then projected to be operating at full capacity…. When the Bush administration’s armchair generals launched their Global War on Terror, this was not exactly what they had in mind.
Meanwhile, in the New Great Game in Eurasia, China had the good sense not to… get bogged down in an infinite quagmire in Afghanistan. Instead, the Chinese simply made a direct commercial deal with Turkmenistan and, profiting from that country’s disagreements with Moscow, built itself a pipeline which will provide much of the natural gas it needs.
No wonder the Obama administration’s Eurasian energy czar Richard Morningstar was forced to admit at a congressional hearing that the U.S. simply cannot compete with China when it comes to Central Asia’s energy wealth. If only he had delivered the same message to the Pentagon….
If China has so far proven masterly in the way it has played its cards in its Pipelineistan ‘war’, the U.S. hand — bypass Russia, elbow out China, isolate Iran — may soon be called for what it is: a bluff.”
“[Pakistan] is handing over de facto control of the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region in the northwest corner of disputed Kashmir to China.
The entire Pakistan-occupied western portion of Kashmir stretching from Gilgit in the north to Azad (Free) Kashmir in the south is closed to the world, in contrast to the media access that India permits in the eastern part, where it is combating a Pakistan-backed insurgency. But reports from a variety of foreign intelligence sources… reveal two important new developments in Gilgit-Baltistan: a simmering rebellion against Pakistani rule and the influx of an estimated 7,000 to 11,000 soldiers of the [Chinese] People’s Liberation Army.
China wants a grip on the region to assure unfettered road and rail access to the Gulf through Pakistan. It takes 16 to 25 days for Chinese oil tankers to reach the Gulf. When high-speed rail and road links through Gilgit and Baltistan are completed, China will be able to transport cargo from Eastern China to the new Chinese-built Pakistani naval bases at Gwadar, Pasni and Ormara, just east of the Gulf, within 48 hours.”
“The future is likely to be more chaotic than you probably think. This was the primary conclusion that I came to after attending the most recent Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas (ASPO) in Washington, DC in October, 2010…. The impact of Peak Oil on markets, lifestyles, and even national solvency deserves our very highest attention…. Rear Admiral Lawrence Rice… presented the findings of the 2010 Joint Operating Environment (a forward-looking document examining the trends, contexts, and implications for future joint force commanders in the US military), which spends 76 pages summarizing the key trends and threats of the world…. Peak Oil dominates the discussion. Among the conclusions (on page 29), we find this:
‘By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 MBD.’”
“To meet climbing global requirements, OPEC will have to increase its output from 30 MBD to at least 50 MBD. Significantly, no OPEC nation, except perhaps Saudi Arabia, is investing sufficient sums in new technologies and recovery methods to achieve such growth. Some, like Venezuela and Russia, are actually exhausting their fields to cash in on the bonanza created by rapidly rising oil prices….
A severe energy crunch is inevitable without a massive expansion of production and refining capacity. While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds….”