Newsnight reported it had seen secret documents from a bureau probe into the September 11 terror attacks that showed that at least two other US-based members of the bin Laden family are suspected to have links with a possible terrorist organisation. The programmeme said it had obtained evidence that the bureau was on the trail of bin Laden family members living in United States before, as well as after, the terrorist attacks. Newsnight said Bush made his first million 20 years ago with an oil company partly funded by the chief US representative of Salem bin Laden, Osman's brother. Bush also received fees as director of a subsidiary of CARLYLE Corporation, a little-known private company which in just a few years since its founding has become one of America's biggest defence contractors, and his father, George Bush Sr, is also a paid advisor, the programmeme said. The connection became embarrassing when it was revealed that the bin Ladens held a stake in CARLYLE, sold just after September 11, it added. bureau 'was told to back off bin Laden family'
London: United States special agents were told to back off the bin Laden family and the Saudi royals soon after George Bush became president, although that has all changed since September 11, a BBC television programme has claimed BBC2's Newsnight also said on Tuesday night that it had secret documents from the bureau investigation into the terrorist attacks which showed that despite claims that Osman bin Laden is the black sheep of the family, at least two other US-based members are suspected of links with a possible terrorist organisation. The programme said it had obtained evidence that the bureau was on the trail of bin Laden family members living in the US before September 11. A document showed that special agents from the Washington field office were investigating Abdullah, a close relative of Osman, because of his relationship with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), a suspected terrorist organisation, it said. The US Treasury has not frozen WAMY's assets, and insists it is a charity, the programme said, yet Pakistan had expelled WAMY "operatives" and India claimed WAMY was funding an organisation linked to bombings in Kashmir.
The bureau did look into WAMY but for some reason agents were pulled off the trail, it said. The former head of the American visa bureau in Jeddah from 1987 to 1989, Springman, told the programme: "In Saudi Arabia I was repeatedly ordered by high-level State Department officials to issue visas to unqualified applicants - people who had no ties either to Saudi Arabia or to their own country. I complained there. I complained here in Washington ... and I was ignored." He added: "What I was doing was giving visas to terrorists, recruited by the agency and Osman bin Laden to come back to the United States for training to be used in the war in Afghanistan against the then Soviets." The programme said it had been told by a highly placed source in a US intelligence agency there had always been "constraints" on investigating Saudis, but under President George Bush it had become much worse. After the elections, the intelligence agencies were told to "back off" from investigating the bin Laden family and the Saudi royals. The policy was reversed after September 11, it reported.
Money Trail Under Probe Associated Press Flash WASHINGTON (AP) -
Investigations have exposed several pieces of Osman bin Laden (news - web
sites)'s financial network in the past two months, from honey and diamond
dealers to U.S. money-wiring outfits sending millions to Somalia. But U.S.
officials concede they have a long way to go to fully disrupt the secretive
empire that finances bin Laden's worldwide terrorism operation. ``I think it is
not possible to know yet how many more of these kinds of organizations may exist
and what other inventive mechanisms may exist that we haven't discovered yet,''
Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said. The government made a major move Wednesday
toward blocking the money behind the terrorists suspected in the Sept. 11
attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon (news - web sites). President
Bush (news - web sites) announced the United States was targeting two
organizations, largely underground currency exchanges known as hawalas,
funneling large amounts of cash to bin Laden's al-Qaida network. The
organizations, Al Taqua and Al-Barakaat, operate in more than 40 countries,
including the United States, and channel funds to al-Qaida through companies and
nonprofits they run, the administration said. Investigators believe tens of
millions of dollars a year flow overseas through al-Barakaat. Much of that was
sent by Somali residents of the United States to relatives, with the networks
skimming money off for al-Quaida through exchange fees.
Investigators believe it works like this: Networks charge a fee to relay money, with one-fourth of the fee kept by the hawala broker who took the money in the United States and another quarter going to the receiving hawala dealer, in Somalia, for instance. The remainder, or half the fee, would be sent to the main company. That's the point where Treasury officials believe money gets funneled to al-Qaida. A criminal complaint filed in Boston suggested some of the money leaving the United States went first to the United Arab Emirates. The money was wired in small increments below $10,000 to escape notice by banking regulators, officials said. The operation was the first for Treasury's new Green Quest terrorist tracking unit. That's not the only creative money-moving mechanism terrorism investigators have discovered. Treasury last month identified three honey-related businesses in Yemen believed to be fronts secretly moving money for al-Qaida.
The U.S. government previously linked the owner of one to the main al-Qaida base in Europe used to move money, weapons and the network's members. Foreign officials also believe al-Qaida may be using the illegal African diamond trade to make and hide money. And some U.S. experts think bin Laden has profited from Afghanistan (news - web sites)'s opium trade. Some believe the battle against terrorist financing may never end. ``I don't think you're ever going to know if you've destroyed it completely. It's not a physical target in the way a base is or a military target is,'' said Mark Lowenthal, an intelligence consultant and former staff director of the House Intelligence Committee. ``You have a twofold programme: One, you have to continually track the money sources, and two, once you know about them you have to disrupt them. Once you find one, you have to know there's another one.'' This (at that time) week, 62 entities and people were added to a list of suspected terrorist associates targeted by the United States. The earlier list included 88 groups or people whose assets were being targeted because of their ties to al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. To date, 112 countries have issued blocking orders. The United States has frozen $26 million in assets of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban and al-Qaida since Sept. 11; another $17 million was blocked by other countries, bringing the global total to $43 million, a Treasury spokeswoman said. In coordinated raids Wednesday, Customs agents seized evidence and shut down Al-Barakaat companies in four cities: Boston, Minneapolis, Seattle and Columbus, Ohio.
The Treasury Department (news - web sites) froze assets of nine organizations and two people in the United States, most with links to Al-Barakaat. In addition, bureau (news - web sites) agents raided two Fairfax County businesses seeking evidence of terrorist transactions. The companies cater to the Somali community in northern Virginia, not far from the Treasury Department office where Bush announced the crackdown. In Boston, Mohamed M. Hussein and Liban M. Hussein were charged with running an illegal money-transmitting business, according to a criminal complaint. Officials said Mohamed Hussein was in custody. Liban Hussein was located with family members at a townhouse in Ottawa by the Toronto Star and told the paper he was innocent. ``I have nothing to hide, to be honest with you. If they (the police) need me, I'm here, or I'll even go to them,'' Hussein said. A lack of full international cooperation is the biggest challenge the United States faces as it tries to further undermine terrorist financing, said Jack Blum, former special counsel to Senate Foreign Relations Committee. ``What we really need is a system that operates relatively seamlessly where all of the countries cooperate in the course of an investigation,'' Blum said. ``And of course it doesn't work that way. It's all tangled up in questions of sovereignty.'' Sen. Carl Levin (news - bio - voting record), a sponsor of anti-money laundering legislation recently passed by Congress, said the United States must pressure other countries to adopt tougher laws. Levin's legislation requires banks to take greater steps to make sure accounts have no connection to terrorists or other criminals. Still, he said, investigators' pursuit of terrorist money will have to be relentless. ``We've tried to close those cracks, but they'll try to find other cracks and create more cracks,'' said Levin, D-Mich.