Friday, November 24, 2006

US-terror links kept in the dark as former Bush associate refuses to testify

Fearing for his life, Sami al-Arian, an admitted terrorist financer and one-time acquaintance of President George W. Bush, has refused to provide information to a federal grand jury regarding a Northern Virginia-based criminal network with connections to the U.S. government.

For nearly five years, investigators have been attempting to untangle the complex web of corporations, charities, and think tanks, which have allegedly been used by al-Arian and his associates to launder money for terrorist activities overseas and in the United States.

As The Washington Post reported, "The government believes Arian could help untangle the money trail, court documents indicate. In an affidavit filed in support of the search warrants and unsealed in 2003, Homeland Security agent David Kane laid out alleged ties between Arian and IIIT, writing that IIIT was once the largest contributor to what he called a Palestinian Islamic Jihad front group run by Arian."

Although it has been grossly underreported in the mainstream media, the network under investigation has been intimately linked to the U.S. government, suggesting that some of the group’s activities have been sanctioned, protected, and possibly even coordinated by U.S. intelligence.

At the center of the investigation, the National Review has noted, is Yaqub Mirza, who is said to have contacts high within the FBI. Mirza was a board member of a company known as Ptech, which maintained several sensitive contracts with the U.S. government.

“Mirza has been publicly linked to the alleged financing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad through his organizations International Institute of Islamic Thought and Safa Trust,” the National Review reported.

Mirza's alleged coconspirator and Bush associate Sami al-Arian, along with another convicted terrorist supporter, Abdurahaman Alamoudi, both of whom have alleged links to 9/11, met several times with senior Bush Administration officials in the run-up to the attacks.

In June 2001, for instance, as a member of the American Muslim Council (AMC) (which was founded by Alamoudi) al-Arian was “invited to the White House complex for a briefing by Bush political adviser Karl Rove.”
Bush with al-Arian

Similarly, in 2000 Alamoudi “was one of several Muslims invited to meet with [presidential] candidate [George W.] Bush in Austin, Texas”; and remarkably, just three days after the 9/11 attacks, Alamoudi was invited to a prayer service with the president.

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Bush with Alamoudi

In addition to founding the AMC, al-Arian's associate Alamoudi also co-founded Ptech, the U.S. defense contractor for which Mirza served as a board member. U.S. intelligence officials have described Ptech as a CIA front “on the level of Iran-Contra.”

Reports have connected Ptech to money laundering, drug trafficking, and terrorist financing. The company maintained contracts with numerous U.S. government departments and agencies, including the Army, the Air Force, Naval Air Command, Congress, the Department of Energy, the Department of Justice, Customs, the FAA, the IRS, NATO, the FBI, the Secret Service, and the White House. As of 2004, despite being publicly connected to terrorism and organized crime, the company still maintained contracts with several government agencies, including the White House.

Ptech’s primary investor and owner, Yassin al-Qadi, who has been identified as one of Osama bin Laden’s “chief money launderers,” escorted U.S. officials around during their official visits to Saudi Arabia and, prior to being publicly connected to money laundering and terrorist-financing, al-Qadi openly and regularly spoke of his friendship with Vice President Dick Cheney.

Furthermore, Ptech cofounder Alamoudi founded a U.S. Army chaplain program for which he served as a consultant for over a decade. “The right to select military chaplains,” the ultra conservative Front Page Magazine has noted, “offered Alamoudi and his colleagues the chance to recruit still more Islamists with specialized and highly useful skill-sets.”

There are indications that prior to 9/11, al-Arian, Mirza, Alamoudi, al-Qadi, and other members of the alleged criminal network were protected from prosecution by high-ranking US officials, effectively preventing the FBI from stopping 9/11.

FBI Agent Robert Wright, who was in charge of investigating the Virginia-based network during the 1990s, said the FBI “intentionally and repeatedly thwarted and obstructed” his attempts to arrest terrorists, seize assets, and expand his investigation.

Approximately three months prior to the 9/11 attacks, agent Wright wrote a memo warning that American citizens would die as a result of the FBI's incompetence. He said there was “virtually no effort on the part of the FBI's International Terrorism Unit to neutralize known and suspected international terrorists living in the United States."

According to John Loftus, even after 9/11 "people in the intelligence community came and said-guys like Alamoudi and Sami al-Arian and other terrorists weren’t being touched because they’d been ordered not to investigate the cases, not to prosecute them, because there were being funded by the Saudis and a political decision was being made at the highest levels, don’t do anything that would embarrass the Saudi government.” He went on to say:
“[W]ho was it that fixed the cases? How could these guys operate for more than a decade immune from prosecution? And, the answer is coming out in a very strange place. What Alamoudi and al-Arian have in common is a guy named Grover Norquist. He's the super lobbyist. ...Grover Norquist's best friend is Karl Rove, the White House chief of staff, and apparently Norquist was able to fix things.”
Norquist started an Islamic lobbying group, the Islamic Institute, founded with seed money from Alamoudi. The group, according to Front Page Magazine, “has placed a number of questionable Muslim activists -- including the son of a Wahhabi preacher who helped Osama bin Laden's second in command raise money -- inside the Bush administration, including the White House, the Transportation Department and the Homeland Security Department, as well as other sensitive agencies.”

At first glance it may appear that a terrorist support network infiltrated the U.S. government through lobbying groups and companies such as the Islamic Institute and Ptech. There are, however, strong indications that such links went far beyond standard corruption, incompetence, and a desire not to embarrass the Saudis.

It has been well documented, yet drastically underreported, that throughout the 1980s and 1990s the U.S. government supported elements of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, and elsewhere, giving rise to what is now known as 'al-Qaeda'.

The alleged 9/11 'paymaster', Omar Sheikh, for instance, was reportedly recruited out of the London School of Economics during the 1990s by the MI6 and CIA. Prior to 9/11, Sheikh was reportedly sent to Bosnia and later to Kosovo on behalf of Western intelligence. He was even offered a passport by the British government in 2000.

Similarly, it would appear that members of the Virginia-based network were also involved in such CIA-supported operations.

Alamoudi, and the founding director of his Islamic Institute, Khaled Saffuri, both raised funds to support Muslims in Bosnia during the civil war of the 1990s.

Yassin al-Qadi -- the Ptech owner, "chief money launderer" for Osama bin Laden, and 'friend' of Vice President Cheney -- also allegedy supported the Bosnian jihad.

Al-Qadi reportedly made a payment of $195,000 to Bosnia's wartime president, Alija Izetbegovic, in 1996, the same year Izetbegovic earned the "International Democracy Award" and the same year that Ptech began obtaining contracts with the U.S. government.

Former counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke
has testified before Congress that al-Qadi's charity, the Muwafaq foundation (which was allegedly used to funnel the cash to Izetbegovic), “reportedly transferred at least $3 million, on behalf of Khalid bin Mahfouz, to Usama bin Laden".

Khalid bin Mahfouz, who "established and funded" the Muwafaq foundation, was once the principal shareholder and director of BCCI, a "criminal enterprise" used by the CIA to "funnel cash through its Islamabad and other Pakistani branches to CIA client Osama bin Laden, part of the $2 billion Washington sent to the Afghani mujahideen."

Mahfouz's and al-Qadi's Muwafaq foundation, according to the congressional testimony of former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Jonathan M. Winer, provided direct support for terrorist activities in Afghanistan, Albania, Bosnia, and Chechnya—all areas where the CIA reportedly conducted operations of mutual interest.

Ptech, which al-Qadi owned, was reportedly used to launder drug profits for such CIA-sponsored 'al-Qaeda' operations. According to U.S. intelligence officials who spoke to 9/11 whistleblower Indira Singh, Ptech was a CIA front "on the level of Iran-Contra."

According to Singh, a CBS affiliate in Boston "paid for private investigators to follow a couple of the Ptech people, and it did go to a mob-run warehouse area and the reports came back that basically it was a drop shipment place for drugs."

Singh presented such information to Senator Chuck Grassley, who reportedly confirmed the most damning of allegations: "I told him (Sen. Grassley) that I had stumbled onto the drugs and they were giving a free pass to all those affiliated with terror financing for 9/11. ... We had a very in depth exchange where he basically broke down and admitted a lot of things to me...he corroborated that it's all corrupt...he told me you're right."

Sami al-Arian will likely to be held in contempt of court for refusing to proivde testimony regarding the network, possibly adding as much as 18 months to his prison term. According to his lawyers, al-Arian is afriad for his life and is unlikely to change his mind.


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