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Bandar Bush the Black Ops Bagman

by LondonYank Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 02:09:46 PM EST

Old CIA hands like Bush 41 and Robert Gates had a problem in the early 1980s.  Congress had outlawed CIA funded deathsquads, assassinations, false flag operations and other methods beloved of black ops specialists.  

What to do?  Go to your closest ally, Britain, whose like-minded leader, Thatcher, will help you set up an arrangement for plausible deniability.  Go to your favorite like-minded Saudi intelligence thug Prince Bandar to act as procurement agent and bagman for the terrorist cells, assassinations, deathsquads, false flag operations and coups you want engineered.

Wrap the project up as the Al-Yamamah contract to sell jet fighters from near-bankrupt UK defense company BAe (formerly British Aerospace) to Saudi Arabia with kickbacks to accounts of Bandar for spending on black ops worldwide.  Then give BAe lots of Pentagon contracts to fund the process.

Voila!  You can start funding Saddam, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, the Nicaraguan Contras and other pet projects with no fingerprints!

"Negotiations without arms are like music books without instruments." - Frederick the Great

The above is the favorite quotation of Robert Gates, now defense secretary and in the 1980s the deputy director of the CIA under William Casey.  

The Al-Yamamah contract for the sale of jet fighters from BAe (formerly British Aerospace) to Saudi Arabia caused controversy from the start because it never made any sense.  If you are going to spend tens of billions over a long period on a critical national defense requirement like fighter jets, you don't buy them from a near bankrupt has-been player like BAe.  Until 1982 all Saudi air force planes had come from US defense contractors.  

The Al-Yamamah agreement has always been complicated and its provisions secret between the governments of Britain and Saudi Arabia.  The terms were negotiated by Charles Powell (pronounced pole), then private secretary to Margaret Thatcher and a long time neo-con affiliate, and Prince Bandar, son of the Saudi defense minister and a long time crony of the Bushes.  What is known is that it involved the provision of off-the-books oil from Saudi reserves to British oil companies in a barter for the BAe jet fighters and other aircraft.  In addition, secret agreements provided for large payments to intermediaries who included Prince Bandar, Wafic Said (a Saudi arms dealer), Charles Powell, Mark Thatcher and others.

Over the 20 years since the contract was inked, billions have been paid to the intermediaries, with most of it apparently going to Prince Bandar.  

The chart below provides an outline of the deal structure, including the side agreements.

Saudi procurement from Britain, and particularly BAe, has grown hugely in the years that followed.  In addition, BAe has prospered on its American contacts to gain market share with the Pentagon, rising to become the 6th largest contractor.

In the meanwhile, Prince Bandar, Wafic Said and other Saudis have been tied to some of the most notorious events of the past quarter century, which are all pet projects of the US intelligence operatives.  The list that follows isn't intended to be conclusive, but rather to indicate that a pattern can be discerned.  I expect that a bit of digging into the Mark Thatcher-funded coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea in 2004 would throw up some links to Saudi money too.  Perhaps there are more, but this will do for a start.

- 1979 financing of the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan

At the instigation of Carter's National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, a US-Pakistani-Saudi network is organized to aid the insurgent mujahadeen, with the Saudis providing a large part of the funds, the US procuring the weapons and providing overall coordination through the CIA, and Pakistani intelligence (the ISI) handling training and indoctrination. Brzezinski blocks a plan to assist moderate resistance groups, and instead channels aid to Muslim extremist factions who he hopes will be effective at undermining Soviet control of Central Asia, saying "It is time to finally sow shit in (the Soviets') backyard." From 1981, Reagan's CIA Director William Casey pursues this scheme with even greater enthusiasm. The Pakistani ISI - rather than the CIA - handles nearly all direct contact with the Afghan resistance, and the ISI makes most of the decisions on how to prosecute the war and on which Afghan resistance groups to assist. The ISI funnels the largest share of aid to the ambitious, ruthless Islamic extremist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who is more interested in fighting rival mujahadeen factions than taking on the Russians. Hekmatyar will later actively support Osama bin Laden. Moderate-secular groups are marginalized, and some of their leaders are killed by the ISI and its Islamist allies. Richard Murphy, Reagan's Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East, later admits "We did spawn a monster in Afghanistan." In the mid-1990's, a State Department report concludes that this war was the birthplace of the `transnational terrorist.'      [hiro1 / hiro4 / berg / lat.Sep.21.2001]

- 1983 $10 million to the Vatican Bank to support election of the Christian Democrat ticket

[Bandar] is quoted in a recent biography saying that he personally flew $10m in a suitcase to Rome and gave it to a priest at the Vatican Bank, in order to covertly fund the Christian Democrats against the Communists in the 1983 Italian elections.

He is quoted saying he did this at the request of the Pope, Lady Thatcher and then head of the CIA, Bill Casey. They wanted him to shift the cash so no western fingerprints would be on it.

- 1985-1990 sales of weapons and components to Saddam to use against Iran

Iraq's main financial backers were the oil-rich Persian Gulf states, most notably Saudi Arabia ($30.9 billion), Kuwait ($8.2 billion) and the United Arab Emirates ($8 billion).

The Iraq-gate scandal revealed that an Atlanta branch of Italy's largest bank, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, relying partially on U.S. taxpayer-guaranteed loans, funneled $5 billion to Iraq from 1985 to 1989. In August 1989, when FBI agents finally raided the Atlanta branch of BNL, the branch manager, Christopher Drogoul, was charged with making unauthorized, clandestine, and illegal loans to Iraq--some of which, according to his indictment, were used to purchase arms and weapons technology.

- 1984-1985 at least $32 million in funding and weapons for the Nicaraguan Contras
What is known from the public record, however, is that on June 20, 1984, Weinberger attended a State Department meeting about the contra operation. His scribbled notes cited the need to "plan for other sources for $." But secrecy would be vital, the defense secretary understood. "Keep US fingerprints off," he wrote. . . .

In 1985, when the Saudis doubled their annual contra gift from $12 million to $25 million, Vessey quickly passed on word to Weinberger again. This time, the record is clear that the Defense Secretary understood that the contribution to buy weapons was part of the larger contra-aid strategy.

"Jack Vessey in office alone," Weinberger wrote on March 13, 1985. "Bandar is giving $25 million to Contras -- so all we need is non-lethal aid."

- 1984-present funding and arming of Al Qaeda via Pakistan

Osama bin Laden is becoming an important figure in the Afghan jihad. Working closely with the Saudi government, he often travels to Peshawar, where he disburses funds, covers living expenses for foreign Muslim volunteers (jihadis), and establishes a guest house for them. By 1985, he brings in heavy construction equipment from his family's business and begins building training camps, roads, and airfields over the border inside Afghanistan. But he is not yet an imposing presence: "I thought he couldn't lead eight ducks across the street," recalled Saudi Prince Bandar, who met him about this time.     [berg / nykr.Nov.12.2001 / mcder]

- 2000-2001 funding of the 9/ll hijackers by Bandar's wife, Princess Haifa

   Doubtless one of the connections the senators referred to was the Princess Haifa, the wife of Prince Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the United States for the last twenty years, the longest serving ambassador in Washington. Princess Haifa had been making monthly transfers, $130,000 in all, from her Washington bank account to a needy woman who relayed some of the checks to her husband and another man who assisted and funded the two hijackers who were based in San Diego. (14)

    "The money moved into the family's bank account beginning in early 2000, just a few months after hijackers Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi arrived in Los Angeles from an Al Qaeda planning summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, according to the sources. Within days of the terrorists' arrival in the United States, Al Bayoumi befriended the two men who would eventually hijack American Flight 77, throwing them a welcoming party in San Diego and guaranteeing their lease on an apartment next door to his own. Al Bayoumi also paid $1,500 to cover the first two months of rent for Al Midhar and Alhazmi, although officials said it is possible that the hijackers later repaid the money." (15)

    Prince Bandar and Princess Haifa professed their ignorance of the whole affair.

    Mark Stein speculates about the recent visit Prince Bandar and Princess Haifa paid to George and Laura at the Crawford ranch, where they were received with the accolades usually reserved for heads of state. Bush must have known about the money transfers and Bandar must have known Bush knew, but apparently a good time was had by all.

- 2004 rigging of pre-election gasoline prices to favor GOP

'Bandar wanted Bush to know that the Saudis hoped to fine-tune oil prices to prime the economy in 2004. What was key, Bandar understood, were the economic conditions before a presidential election.'

- 2006 funding of the Palestinian Sunni militias in Lebanon

On Jan. 10, the British Daily Telegraph revealed that the CIA "has been authorized to take covert action against Hezbollah as part of a secret plan by George Bush to help the Lebanese government." Bush's "finding" directs the "CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies to fund anti-Hezbollah groups in Lebanon and pay for activists who support the Siniora government."

The plot was reportedly cooked up in Washington before Christmas after talks between Bush's deputy national security adviser Elliot Abrams and Saudi Arabian prince Bandar Ibn Sultan. That was after 2 million people--nearly half of Lebanon's population--rallied in Beirut Dec. 10 to demand a greater voice for opposition parties in Lebanon's government.

Abrams was Reagan's assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs in the 1980s, when U.S.-trained death squads slaughtered tens of thousands in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Abrams also arranged Saudi funding for terrorist operations against Nicaragua after the Boland Amendment cut off direct U.S. aid to the contras.
`Democracy' or secret government?

Details of the Lebanon plan's "existence" are "known only to a small circle of White House officials, intelligence officials and members of Congress," the Telegraph reported. So much for democracy in the United States. "The secrecy of the finding means that U.S. involvement in the activities is officially deniable."

The interesting thing about setting up terrorism financing through Saudi friends is that it makes it even easier to direct false flag operations.  Imagine how much better if you deploy a Saudi jihadi to encourage a plot in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan or Gaza!  

Bottom line, I'm suggesting that Al-Yamamah was less about selling jet aircraft and more about providing an off-the-books means of funding global instability and violence with plausible deniability.  Robert Gates, Stephen Hadley, John Negroponte and Condi Rice get to stand in front of Congress and swear that US taxpayer dollars are not being spent on black operations to assassinate, promote deathsquads, instigate coups, finance terrorists and other nasty things that are illegal under US law.  

If the BAe Al-Yamamah contracts act like a moneylaundering facility, those activities are financed and arranged by our friends in Saudi Arabia instead.  BAe gets reimbursed through all the other business being routed its way by the Pentagon.  No fingerprints.

Tony Blair had no choice but to kill the investigation of the BAe payments to Bandar under this interpretation of events.  If I'm right, the British government has been complicit in moneylaundering Pentagon funds through BAe to Saudi intelligence for illegal operations.  That wouldn't look good.

More tinfoil:
2000-2001 funding of the 9/ll hijackers by Bandar's wife, Princess Haifa
Mark Stein speculates about the recent visit Prince Bandar and Princess Haifa paid to George and Laura at the Crawford ranch, where they were received with the accolades usually reserved for heads of state. Bush must have known about the money transfers and Bandar must have known Bush knew, but apparently a good time was had by all.
Or maybe a good time was had by all because and not in spite of the payments.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 05:50:45 PM EST
Another interesting act that Bandar was into: according to Bob Woodward in 1985 he financed the car bomb attempt against Sheikh Fadlallah, whom the CIA considered as the Hezbollah's spiritual leader at the time. Excerpt:

...And in '85, they [Casey and the CIA] propose training foreign intelligence agents to go out kind of as hit teams and destroy the terrorists. This did not work. And finally Casey in 1985 worked out with the Saudis a plan to use a car bomb to kill Sheik [Mohammed Hussein] Fadlallah who they determined was one of the people behind, not only the Marine barracks [bombing], but was involved in the taking of American hostages in Beirut.

Why did they come down to covert action?

Because diplomacy and military action didn't work. We took the Marines out of Lebanon after the bombing. Diplomacy was not functioning. And Reagan wanted action. And Casey went off the books on his own, and worked it out with the Saudis to pay two million dollars to get...people to build this car bomb that killed eighty innocent people in Beirut [in 1985] and not Sheik Fadlallah.

What was the final outcome of all of that?

... Well here's the frustration of dealing with terrorists. [It] reaches the point where Casey had lunch with Prince Bandar. the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, one of the most powerful figures even today in Washington. And they went for a stroll in the garden and they said, "We have to go off the books." And they agreed that the Saudis would put up the money to hire some professionals to try to car bomb Sheik Fadlallah. And it was so off the books, there's no evidence that Reagan knew about it or Weinberger or Schultz. It was Casey on his own, saying, "I'm going to solve the big problem by essentially getting tougher or as tough as the terrorists in using their weapon"--the car bomb.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 06:24:52 PM EST
The US seems to be the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. High time the rest of the world started acting accordingly.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 06:30:24 PM EST
What was Bandar doing during the 70s at the time of the Oil Crisis?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 09:38:49 PM EST
Juicy and worthwhile conjecture about Bandar's role in the empire. Telling this story also has the merrit of showing the continuity of policy between different administrations on either side of the pond.

So does Engerlund clinch the 51st state status with this? :-(

by Fete des fous on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 10:38:52 PM EST
[Editorial in the NY Times ]:

Keeper of the Saudi Secrets

British Prime Minister Tony Blair seems determined to use his final weeks in office to show how far he has strayed from the pledges of clean government that helped sweep him to power a decade ago. Defending his decision to block a corruption investigation into the sale of fighter jets and other weapons to Saudi Arabia, Mr. Blair said last week that the probe would have led nowhere except to the "complete wreckage" of a vital strategic relationship.

That glib dismissal ignores the crucial point: bribery is never justified, smart or legal. So says the O.E.C.D. Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, by which Britain is legally bound.

Mr. Blair ought to understand, even if the princes don't, that avoiding embarrassment to powerful friends and allies is not a legitimate reason to quash a corruption investigation. All that does is increase suspicion, and send the wrong message to any other princes or government leaders who think that a wink and an envelope is the only way to conduct international business.

Yeah, right.

Note the conspicuous absence of any discussion whatsoever of even the remotest possibility of US involvement....  Never mind connecting the dots, Thou Shalt Not Ask why the Saudi ambassador to Washington would be involved in any of this....

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Jun 14th, 2007 at 06:09:24 AM EST
Oh, crap.  Link.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Jun 14th, 2007 at 06:10:03 AM EST
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