Dollars for Terror: The United States and Islam / Edition 1

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a provocative expos , Swiss TV journalist Lab vi re argues that the real threat to the West from radical Islamic fundamentalism comes not from Iran or Iraq but rather from America's solid allies--Saudi Arabia and neighboring oil monarchies. Based on his four-year investigation, Lab vi re charges that Saudi Arabia is the principal financial backer of extremist Islamist movements around the world. The linchpin in this operation, he states, is Saudi billionaire Osama bin Ladin, trained by the CIA, who recruited, armed and trained in turn Arab volunteers to fight the Soviet army in the Afghanistan war, thereby strengthening the totalitarian Muslim Taliban regime. Bin Ladin, who, according to the author, maintains close ties with the Saudi and Pakistani secret services, now bankrolls terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and abets Islamist extremist movements in Egypt, Yemen, Somalia, South Africa, Algeria and elsewhere. Veterans of the Afghan "holy war" have been implicated in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City and the attempted murder of Egyptian president Mubarak in 1996. In Lab vi re's riveting, often shocking, analysis, the U.S. is an accessory in the rise of Islam, because it manipulates and aids radical Muslim groups in its shortsighted pursuit of its economic interests, especially the energy resources of the Middle East and the oil- and mineral-rich former Soviet republics of Central Asia. Lab vi re shows how radical Islamic fundamentalism spreads its influence on two levels: above board, through investment firms, banks and shell companies, and clandestinely, through a network of drug dealing, weapons smuggling and money laundering. This important book sounds a wake-up call to U.S. policy makers. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781892941060
  • Publisher: Algora Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 393
  • Sales rank: 1,007,858
  • Product dimensions: 6.05 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Read an Excerpt




Chapter One


The Nairobi and Dar es Salaam Attacks


"Superstition is the surest means of controlling the masses. Under the banner of religion, it would be easy sometimes to make men adore their kings as gods, and sometimes to make them hate them and curse them as permanent plagues of the human species."
Spinoza


    Nairobi, Friday August 7, 1998.

It was 10:35 when a violent explosion ripped through the business district of the Kenyan capital, between the city hall and the railway station. Black smoke engulfed the entire downtown area and the great Uhuru park.

    At the intersection of Haile-Selassi and Moï avenues, it was war! Silhouettes staggered about, or stood petrified at the edge of pools of blood; others fled, uttering shrieks and undecipherable cries. The rear wall of the tower housing the United Stares embassy was demolished and a small adjoining building was reduced to a smoking heap of concrete.

    The shock was so great that every window within a radius of 1000 feet was shattered. In the embassy parking lot, the hulks of cars continued burning, Around an enormous crater blasted into the pavement, stupefied witnesses were repeating, "car bomb, car bomb ..."

    The Kenyan Red Cross arrived immediately. The howls of sirens blended with the metallic rotations of the army helicopters that followed one after another. Apocalypse!

    Mrs. Prudence Bushnell, the Ambassador of the United States, exited the building,supported by two young men, her suit spattered with blood. Marines armed with machine guns deployed themselves around the embassy. Some survivors were extracted from the debris but the corpses piled up, before being carried away in Red Cross trucks. The first tally counted about sixty victims. It would go up, in fact, to 263 fatalities, including 12 American nationals plus more than 5,500 wounded.

    Precisely four minutes later, some 500 miles away, the same scenario was replayed on a street in the embassy district of Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania. A tank-truck that had pulled up alongside the building housing the American representatives exploded, obliterating the building's façade. The toll: ten dead, a hundred wounded. Unlike in Nairobi, none of the victims was American; but the total body count was still the highest since the suicide attack against the quarters of the American troops in Beirut in 1983, in which 241 marines were killed.

    As always in such a case — and it is strange that the press is astonished by this every time — the attacks appeared to have been perpetrated by an unknown group. According to the Arab daily newspaper Al-Hayat, its Cairo office received an anonymous call on Saturday, August 8, claiming the two explosions in the name of an "Islamic Army for the Liberation of Muslim Holy Places."

    The same claim was transmitted to the office of an international press agency in Dubaï. By telephone, the anonymous interlocutor specified that one attack was carried out by "a son of Saudi Arabia," and the other by "a son of Egypt."

    The day before the two attacks, the French Press Agency office in Cairo had received an statement (dated August 4) from the Egyptian armed Islamist organization "Jihad," saying that, "The American government, in coordination with the Egyptian government, has arrested three of our brothers in an Eastern European country and extradited them to Egypt. One of the three is called Tarek. He was arrested while he was with his Albanian wife in an Eastern European country known for its hostility toward the Muslims. This crime comes less than two months after the arrest of four Egyptian brothers in Albania. We want to inform the Americans that we have received their message and that we are preparing the response. Be well advised, we will write it, with the assistance of God, in the language that they understand."

    Independently of the facts that the FBI's investigation would establish, the harsh reactions and the various explanations that were hastily suggested underscored the United States' embarrassment over the rise to power of a threat that they themselves had unleashed at the end of the Second World War. This policy was at its height during the Afghanistan War (1979-1986), when the Red Army was faced with a myriad of underground groups that the Western press hastily baptized "freedom fighters." With the assistance of the Saudi and Pakistani secret services, the CIA armed and trained Afghan resistance fighters who would prove to be the most radical Islamists in the world.

    Obsessed by their confrontation with the Soviets, the Pentagon strategists would bet without any hedging on the Islamic religion, and would invent a fearsome war machine against the Red Army: armed Islamism. The sentence "In God We Trust," inscribed on the dollar bill — emblematic symbol of global capitalism — recalls that the lay founders of the American Republic were never shy to seek divine protection for the success of their companies. U.S. diplomacy is in the habit of using religious movements against Communism and any other obstacle to its hegemonic objectives.

    After the collapse of the Soviet empire, this policy persisted without any major setback until the Gulf War. Mainly intended to safeguard the American oil supply, that police action caused a great trauma in the Arab-Muslim world. Armed Islamism then started to question the guidance of its protective father. The fatal bomb attack perpetrated right in the center of New York on February 26, 1993, sounded the hour of truth. Other violent incidents would be targeted against the American military presence in Yemen, Somalia and Saudi Arabia.

    The attacks in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam are part of the ongoing "blow-back" effect. Shortly after the Gulf War, armed Islamism turned against its principal creator who, in spite of all, did not give up his paternalistic reflex. Indeed, although in the uncomfortable position of the attacker attacked, the United States still continues unabated its policy of supporting the multifarious explosion of an ascendant Islamism, its terrorist excesses and its business networks that are extremely ramified (if not entirely melded into the circuits of the legal economy),

    Without suggesting that the CIA's hand is behind every acceleration of the historical process, without succumbing to the paranoiac view of "the great conspiracy," our research continually ended up pointing more or less directly to American responsibility, to more or less convergent interests and to a more or less controlled utilization, in many theatres, of Islamist operations.

    A consequence of a foreign policy that is increasingly privatized — where one can no longer be sure who exerts the real decision-making power — American responsibility can be detected, at the same time, in the obdurate war that has been going on between the Islamists and the Egyptian power since 1992; in the fatal advance of the Algerian Armed Islamic Groups (AIG) and their attacks in France during the summer of 1995; in the establishment of Islamist sanctuaries in Bosnia, in Chechnya, Albania and the Philippines; but also in new hotbeds like Madagascar, South Africa, and Brazil.

    Other Nairobi's and Dar es Salaam's, unfortunately, will undoubtedly take place, but the conversion of the Islamists' business networks within the international structures of organized crime is still more dangerous to the world order. Here again, the Islamist strategies converge with the interests of imperial America, which feeds on both a globalization of the liberal economy and a fragmentation of territorial sovereignties.

    The United States has given its unconditional support to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia (one of the most reactionary regimes on the planet) since its foundation in 1932; and it has recently expressed again a strange tolerance for the delirious regime of the Taleban, those students in Muslim theology who are the new Masters of Afghanistan. With the attacks in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, the American sponsorship of Islamism has reached one of its ultimate heights.

    After these two attacks, the White House spokesman declared: "Given the simultaneity of the two explosions and the nature of the targets, it is reasonable to consider that they are terrorist actions and that they are connected." A few hours after this official statement, the United States embassy in Uganda would be closed and the security reinforced around the American embassies in every capital in the region.

    Later on, following new threats, the embassies in Islamabad, Sanaâ and Tirana would be evacuated; and the one in Cairo would be transformed into a fortified camp. the State Department at once raised several analogies between this terrorist operation (which it considered to have been well-coordinated and well-planned), and the explosion that killed seven Americans in a Saudi military training center in Riyadh, in November 1995.

    But the June 24, 1996 attack against the American base of Khobar — also in Saudi Arabia — was the most disconcertingly similar to the events of Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. Parked near the perimeter of the base, a truck full of explosives blew up the military quarters, costing nineteen American soldiers their lives.

    After the incident, the Saudi authorities did not show a great determination to collaborate with the FBI investigators who were dispatched on the spot. Almost casually, they announced that they had arrested all the culprits: four opponents to the monarchy who, after a confession recorded on national television, were quickly decapitated before the American investigators could interview them ...

    In their televised confessions, the four convicts admitted to having acted deliberately against "the monarchy that had sold out to the evil empire." They were grateful to inscribe their actions in the history of the "holy war" declared on the United States by Osama bin Laden, the famous Islamist chief living in exile in Afghanistan. From his refuge in Kandahar, in the heart of the zone controlled by the Taleban, bin Laden denied any direct implication in these attacks (although he rejoiced that they had taken place).

    If the State Department's suspicions, relayed by editorialists worldwide, converged on Osama bin Laden, it is also because he had recently renewed the threats against U.S. interests that he has regularly uttered since the Gulf War. "If Allah so wishes, our next victory will make American forget the horrors of Vietnam and of Beirut.... I predict a black day for America, and the end of the Union as the United States breaks into separate entities and withdraws from our holy ground, gathering up the bodies of their children to take them back home," he prophesied to a team from ABC-TV on May 28, 1998, from his Afghan stronghold.

    Who is this man who suddenly became Public Enemy Number One of the United States, and therefore of the whole world? The son of a family of Yemeni origin that made a colossal fortune in construction and public works in Saudi Arabia, Osama bin Laden has become an essential contact for most of the Islamist movements in the world since the war between Afghanistan and the Russians. Trained by the CIA, he was one of the top agents recruiting Arab volunteers for the great crusade against the Communist invaders.

    A pure product of the American secret services — in full agreement with their Saudi and Pakistani homologues — he used money from his family (which had settled in Saudi Arabia) and from the monarchy to arm and train these Arab volunteers, the famous "Afghans" of the CIA that one finds today within the armed Islamist groups in Algeria and Egypt, and also in Yemen, Sudan and the Philippines.

    After Afghanistan's first war against the Russians, he continued to furnish "Afghan" weapons and "soldiers" to the Taleban militia, always with the triple approval, discreet but quite real, of the Pakistani, Saudi and American services. Taking advantage of his family's many business connections, his various channels currently allow the Taleban to export the morphine base that today accounts for 80% of European heroin consumption.

    In Yemen, Osama bin Laden controls the principal routes of qât, the hallucinogenic leaf consumed in the Horn of Africa and the southern part of the Arabic peninsula. Lastly, in Sudan, his money is thriving in various highway construction and infrastructure programs, agricultural establishments and real estate projects. Today he is sitting on a personal fortune of three billion dollars ... which has earned him the nickname, "Banker of the Jihad."

    Although he officially forfeited his Saudi nationality in 1994, he continues to maintain — according to the Egyptian and British information services — regular relations with his Saudi family in Jeddah, with the various financial companies that the family controls worldwide, and with the Saudi and Pakistani secret services. Lastly, bin Laden maintains friendly relations with his Afghan host, the all-powerful Mullah Omar, chief of the Taleban. The two men now have family ties, since one of the Afghan leader's sisters has become bin Laden's sixth wife.

    In an interview published by the Pakistani daffy newspaper The News, shortly after the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam attacks, Mullah Omar exonerated his friend and brother-in-law, asking: "How can a man living as a refugee in Afghanistan organize bombings in remote Africa?" The same day, the spokesman for the religious militia, Abdul Hal Mutmaent, declared to the Agence France Presse that "any suggestion aiming to establish the implication of Osama bin Laden is a matter of groundless propaganda, with the intention of defaming the Taleban's `guest.'"

    Saudi Arabia, one of the three states with Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates to recognize the Taleban regime, reacted very timidly to the attacks. Riyadh published a statement containing only a formal denunciation of terrorist violence. During the Council of Ministers on August 10, the crown prince Abdallah condemned terrorism "wherever it comes from and whatever the circumstances." This official Saudi declaration was accompanied by a call for the American and Israeli governments to intensify their efforts to establish an equitable and global peace in the Middle East.

    The Saudi press made much of the spectacular magnitude of the incidents and the scope of the support that must have been behind them. It mentioned bin Laden only by allusion, without mentioning his extremely wealthy and powerful Saudi family. The claim by the "Islamic Army of Liberation of the Holy Places" was quoted only by the newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, whose editorialist concluded: "The United States, as the premier world power, must prevent such acts and try to contain better the problems that affect the world, instead of obscuring them ..."

    Only the Afghan and Saudi responses so distinctly minimized bin Laden's role. Abruptly elevated to the dignified position of public enemy number one, in just a few days the Saudi became a media phenomenon all around the planet, recalling the Carlos effect of the 1970's and 1980's when governments and the media blamed Carlos for every terrorist attack in the world.

    According to the Emergency Response and Research Institute (ERRI), a terrorism research center based in Chicago, in June 1998 bin Laden went to Peshawar, Pakistan to take part in an assembly of Egyptian, Palestinian, Jordanian, Lebanese and Saudi armed Islamist organizations. At this meeting, intended to build an operational "Islamist Internationale," bin Laden supposedly declared — according to the same institute — that the anti-American attacks of recent years were no longer sufficient and that it was time now to start "the real battle."

    The existence of a "bin Laden trail" and of armed Islamist networks in several countries does not mean that this "organization' is like an actual "Internationale," designed along the same model as the legendary Komintern, a pyramidal organization functioning as the nerve center of all terrorist activities. This fantasy of a central command organizing all the attacks very often coincides with that of the Iranian bogeyman that is brandished every time a bomb explodes anywhere and we have no other explanation.

    Foreign Report, the London bulletin published by Jane's, quoted a source from one of the Middle East counter-espionage services on August 13 and indicated that bin Laden is supposed to have concluded an anti-American pact in February 1998 with a top leader of the Iranian "Revolutionary Guards." The Wall Street Journal of August 11 considered that "in spite of the attention paid to the moderate Iranians and to the thaw of Irani-American relations, it is completely plausible that Iran could be behind the latest anti-American attacks. Legitimately, these explosions could be the action of the Iranian radical wing that is firmly opposed to the openness currently proposed by the new president Mohammed Khatami." Several capitals, including Tel-Aviv, also accused Iran, speculating that the events were related to the confrontation between the radicals and the moderates. Always inclined to see the hand of Tehran when an attack is made anywhere in the world, the U.S. State Department also officially considered this hypothesis, which had already been advanced at the time of the anti-American attacks in Saudi Arabia.

    Since the ayatollahs came to power in 1979, all suspicion inevitably turns toward Iran and toward Shiite fundamentalism whenever terrorism rears its head. However, the principal threat lies elsewhere, particularly among the solid allies of the United States: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the Taleban of Afghanistan.

    Among its many consequences, the Afghanistan War confirmed Sunni Islam in its claim of hegemony — especially out of distrust for the heretic Shiites — over all the Arab-Muslim world. All those who have subsidized or carried out terrorist actions since the beginning of the 1990's are of Sunni persuasion, and invariably have ties to the networks of veterans of the "holy war" of Afghanistan.

    Trained by the CIA, the "Afghans" have been successively implicated in the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York (1993), in the destruction of Egypt's embassy in Islamabad (1995), in the attempted murder of Egyptian President Mubarak in 1996 in Addis-Ababa, in the various attacks on hotels and tourist sites in Ethiopia and Eritrea, as well as in the abominable slaughter at Luxor in November 1997.

    What are the Sunni "Afghans" trying to accomplish? Their main goal is to increase the destabilization of every country they have penetrated, especially of Egypt, epicenter of the Arab-Muslim world. Solidly based on their infiltration of the West and supported by the Taleban in the East, they seek to attack from both sides the Saudi monarchy — self-proclaimed guardian of the holy places of Islam and struggling with King Fahd's failure to clarify the succession. Pakistan is the third bridgehead of this war of liberation.

    The "Islamic Army for the Liberation of Muslim Holy Places," which claimed the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam attacks, has Jerusalem in mind for the long term but, in the immediate future, is focused on the two holy mosques of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, in the psyche of the "Afghans," represents the heart of the Caliphate. Reconquering this political and religious birthplace would constitute the first stage of the restoration of the Oumma, the community of believers.

    In this configuration, Kenya and Tanzania are enemies on two accounts: not only are both states traditionally allied with Israel, out of fear of Arab expansionism, but they are used as an undercover base for the animist movements of southern Sudan — which is in rebellion against the Islamist regime of Khartoum, a friend and host of the "Afghans." The United States is directly involved in supporting this armed rebellion.

    Indeed, the trail of the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam attacks leads to Sudan. The Islamist regime of Khartoum is going through its most serious political crisis since it was established in 1989. Religious and military clans, tribal and mafioso cliques are vying to control the business channels, where one finds so many representatives of bin Laden. In this low-intensity war, the Sudanese security services are all-powerful.

    But before we can reconstruct the mechanism by which the "convincing attacks" on Nairobi and Dar es Salaam were carried out, we must examine the context. Why did the United States and Saudi Arabia sponsor Sunni Islamism and its most radical factions, before the CIA's "Afghans" had penetrated nearly all the terrorist networks of the Middle East?

    Their banker, bin Laden, deserves close attention. Indeed, how does this "Most Wanted," trained by the CIA, still in touch with the Saudi and Pakistani services and living under the protection of the Taleban, stay out of reach of his former bosses?

    How can we understand the contradictions of Uncle Sam, victim of the religious fanatics that he himself armed? This question touches on more than the attacks in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Do the contradictions mask further subterfuges, or it is simply a matter of defending economic and strategic interests?

    Between the United States and Saudi Arabia there was, in 1945, a pact that sealed political and economic relations. The feudal monarchy bought its legitimacy as ruler of the holy sites by financing most, if not all, of the Sunni Islamist groups. We will analyze the geopolitics of the house of Saud, its diplomatic priorities and its methods of influence based on money. Saudi money is heavily invested in Egypt, in particular, where religious violence bears the hallmark of the fraternity of the Muslim Brothers. We will see how the headquarters of the contemporary Islamist movements is also conducting the "holy war" through its banking and financial relations, not only in the Arab-Muslim countries but also in Europe.

    Given the expansion of Islamism, how should we assess the attitude of the premier world power? Between the options of the Pentagon and the CIA, the State Department, the White House and Congress, who controls its foreign policy? Who decides? Ultimately, is there a pilot at the helm of the American aircraft?

    The political inconsistencies of U.S. foreign policy are particularly salient in Central Asia, theater of a new "grand jeu" between the great powers. Since the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, the American services have supported the Taleban tyranny; the mercenaries of the big oil companies make the law there, seeking to control the old "silk road," the royal highway that leads, no doubt, to the gates of China.

    On November 17, 1997, 62 people were massacred by an Islamist commando in a temple in Luxor, in Upper Egypt. Bin Laden' "Afghans" were behind this new massacre, and they were prepared from London a month before, right under the nose of the British police.

    Between their Egyptian redoubts and their Taleban stronghold, the "Afghans" have established sanctuaries in new territory. Through fluid, privatized networks, the "new Afghans" are inventing the terrorism of tomorrow: an Islamist moneymaking enterprise that is secularized in the transnational channels of organized crime and finds sanctuary in the world's tax havens.

    The voyage that we are about to begin will arrive at one conclusion: Islamism is soluble in the market economy. The theological-political order that is promoted by the Islamist ideology is perfectly in tune with the requirements of American capitalism. The imperial intention of the United States feeds on any weakening of the sovereign and territorial principles of organization that buttress our national political entities. This loss of political jurisdiction heralds the unilateral reign of uncontrollable globalization, in the hands of business mafias and religious fanatics.

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Table of Contents

PROLOGUE TO THE AMERICAN EDITION The Cold War Continues 5
Preface 13
Chapter I The Nairobi and Dar es Salaam Attacks 17
Chapter II An American Friend at the Palace of Nations 29
Chapter III Islamism Versus Arab Nationalism 43
Chapter IV The Mercenaries of Globalization 53
Chapter V The CIA's "Afghans" and Their Networks 63
Chapter VI Osama bin Laden, Our Man in Kandahar 99
Chapter VII The Muslim Brothers' Holy (and Financial) War 121
Chapter VIII Is There a Pilot Onboard the U.S. Aircraft? 161
Chapter IX Making Good Use of "Low-Intensity Conflicts" 181
Chapter X The Privatization of U. S. Foreign Policy 191
Chapter XI Islamism and Zionism: Complementary Enemies 203
Chapter XII Iran, the Great Satan's Alibi 211
Chapter XIII Why Saudi Arabia Finances Islamism 231
Chapter XIV The Taleban, Mercenaries of the American Oil
Companies 255
Chapter XV Behind the Luxor Massacre, bin Laden's "Afghans" 287
Chapter XVI Islamist Deal-Making and Organized Crime 309
Chapter XVII Afghanistan and Sudan are the Wrong Targets 349
Chapter XVIII Islamism as Confrontation 375
Conclusion The CIA at the Negotiating Table 383
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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2002

    Excellent/Vital Book

    To understand the world today, one must understand Al Qaeda, who funded it, who it serves. This book explores the vital role that Al Qaeda plays to further Fascism and Corporate Globalization.

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