The 15 9/11 hijackers from Saudi Arabia. (photo: Limits to Growth)
06 February 15
uring one scene in the Quentin Tarantino film “Inglorious Basterds,” a Mexican standoff – the director’s cinematic signature – ends with Nazis and American soldiers disguised as Nazis all pulling their triggers simultaneously in the basement of a French pub. By the end of thebloody, seconds-long shootout, only one person in the room is left standing. A similar Mexican standoff between the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United States is currently under way, and may reach its final conclusion if new developments surrounding unanswered questions about the 9/11 attacks continue to build momentum.
The American/Saudi Arabian Mexican Standoff
The Mexican standoff between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia began in the 1970s, when the Saudis used their position as head of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to institute an oil embargo against the U.S. The embargo, which was done in protest of American support of the Israeli military, drove up gas prices, created record-long lines at the pump, and took a considerable amount of steam out of the booming U.S. economy. Because American politicians would never agree to stop funding Israel, a plan was hatched to become best friends with the Saudi Royal family. One of the men who put that plan into action was John Perkins, who documented his role extensively in his bestselling fast-paced autobiography, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” (the last line of Perkins’s resume simply says “U.S. Treasury Dept., Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”).
During the process of what Perkins called the “Saudi Arabian Money-Laundering Affair (SAMA),” the U.S. Treasury sent Perkins and his team of economists at the consulting firm Chas T. Main to Saudi Arabia. Perkins described his role in a 2004 interview with Democracy Now:
“We worked out this deal whereby the Royal House of Saud agreed to send most of their petro-dollars back to the United States and invest them in U.S. government securities. The Treasury Department would use the interest from these securities to hire U.S. companies to build Saudi Arabia — new cities, new infrastructure — which we’ve done. And the House of Saud would agree to maintain the price of oil within acceptable limits to us, which they’ve done all of these years, and we would agree to keep the House of Saud in power as long as they did this, which we’ve done …”
By 1975, all OPEC nations agreed to sell their oil exclusively in U.S. dollars, effectively replacing the gold standard backing up American currency with a new oil standard. This arrangement ensures a constant supply of cheap oil from Saudi Arabia to the U.S. as long as the U.S. government continues to back the Saudi royal family. The current Mexican standoff would only end in a bloody shootout if the U.S. stopped supporting the Saudi regime, or if the Saudis started trading oil in a currency other than the U.S. dollar. This is why President Obama and many other top-level American dignitaries went to Saudi Arabia to pay their respects to the late King Abdullah, despite the deceased dictator’s well-documented reign of brutality that included public beheadings, public floggings, and other medieval punishments similar to those used by the ISIS terrorists we condemn.
Potential Smoking Gun Evidence from the 20th 9/11 Hijacker
The U.S.’s tenuous relationship with Saudi royalty may be upended after recent allegations made by Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th 9/11 hijacker, that Saudi Arabia bankrolled Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda in the months leading up to 9/11. Lawyers for 9/11 victims are claiming that along with Moussaoui’s revelations about a Saudi embassy official discussing a plot to assassinate President Clinton while he was aboard Air Force One, new evidence will soon emerge in two forms: Declassification of the secret 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report that details Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the attacks, and 80,000 pages of an FBI probe into Saudi funding of 9/11 hijackers in Florida. A 2003 article in Vanity Fair speculated about the contents of the 9/11 Commission Report’s classified contents:
“According to news reports, the classified section charges that there were ties between the hijackers and two Saudis, Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Bassnan, who had financial relationships with members of the Saudi government. Saudi officials deny that their government was in any way linked to the attacks. The Saudis have asked that the pages be declassified so they can refute them, but President Bush has refused.”
Moussaoui’s testimony is problematic for both the U.S. and Saudi governments. Ever since Richard Nixon was president, the Saudis have maintained a close relationship with every president who’s occupied the White House. They even used that access to fly out members of the Saudi royal family and the bin Laden family when the FAA grounded all commercial and private flights (including flights for both former president Bill Clinton and former vice president Al Gore). These flights were granted permission to leave, and despite the potential for the two dozen members of the bin Laden family aboard those flights to provide invaluable information about where Osama bin Laden was hiding or the depth of his network, those family members were never interviewed by the FBI.
Even though the Saudi embassy maintains that they had nothing to do with 9/11, and that Moussaoui is a “deranged criminal” whose statements lack any credibility, U.S. courts found him mentally competent to stand trial. It’s likely that as long as Moussaoui keeps talking, public pressure for justice for 9/11 victims will only build.
Saudi Royalty: the Koch Brothers of Islamic Fundamentalism
Since the cheap-oil-for-unconditional-support deal with Saudi Arabia was struck in the mid-1970s, the U.S. government has willingly looked the other way at the Saudi royal family’s funneling their wealth to radical Islamists around the world. A 2003 U.S. News and World Report cover story by David Kaplan, Monica Ekman, and Aamir Latif explores how the Saudi royal family poured over $70 billion between 1975 and 2002 into spreading fundamentalist Wahhabi Islam around the world in an effort to counter Iran’s efforts. To put that in perspective, $70 billion is roughly 87 percent of the combined net worth of David and Charles Koch. Of that $70 billion, Kaplan writes:
“More than two thirds of that amount went to “Islamic activities” – building mosques, religious schools, and Wahhabi religious centers, says the CSP’s Alex Alexiev, a former CIA consultant on ethnic and religious conflict. The Saudi funding program, Alexiev says, is “the largest worldwide propaganda campaign ever mounted” – dwarfing the Soviets’ propaganda efforts at the height of the Cold War. The Saudi weekly Ain al-Yaqeen last year reported the cost as “astronomical” and boasted of the results: some 1,500 mosques, 210 Islamic centers, 202 colleges, and nearly 2,000 schools in non-Islamic countries.”
To understand how the Saudi royal family has funded the growth of the global jihad movement over the last few decades, the Koch Brothers are a great example. The Kochs have long used their vast network of charities and nonprofits with innocuous-sounding names like the American Legislative Exchange Council, Americans for Prosperity, and the State Policy Network to push through their agenda of cutting social safety net programs in exchange for lower taxes and fewer regulations for big business. Just like the Kochs, the Saudis make funding available for Islamic extremists through various quasi-official nonprofits and charities. Kaplan writes:
“Key to this evangelical tour de force were charities closely tied to Saudi Arabia’s ruling elite and top clerics. With names like the Muslim World League and its affiliate, the International Islamic Relief Organization, the funds spent billions more to spread Wahhabism. The IIRO, for example, took credit for funding 575 mosques in Indonesia alone … U.S. officials now say that key charities became the pipelines of cash that helped transform ragtag bands of insurgents and jihadists into a sophisticated, interlocking movement with global ambitions.”
The High Cost of Keeping Saudi Arabia Happy
Saudi Arabia’s long history as the sugar daddy of Islamic militants around the world didn’t complicate their relationship with the U.S. in the past. In the 1980s, Vice President George H.W. Bush, who had just left his position at the head of the CIA to move into the White House, collaborated with Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S., to sell arms to Saudi Arabia at the same time Saudi charities were spending billions on spreading radical Islam. Bandar’s past history of selling arms to militants with the help of the U.S. may have continued in Syria, when a chemical weapons attack on a civilian population brought the cries for American military involvement to a fever pitch.
An August 2013 report from Mint Press News assembles several witness accounts that suggest Prince Bandar and other Saudi sources may have been the source of chemical weapons in Syria – not Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, as the U.S. government suggested. Reporter Yahya Ababneh, who was on the ground in Syria for the report, interviewed Syrian rebels and witnesses shortly after the attack took place:
“[Abu] Abdel-Moneim said his son and 12 other rebels were killed inside of a tunnel used to store weapons provided by a Saudi militant known as Abu Ayesha, who was leading a fighting battalion. The father described the weapons as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.”… “They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them,” complained a female fighter named ‘K.’ “We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”
While Democracy Now called the attack an “Iran-Contra Redux,” and raised the question of Prince Bandar’s involvement, Saudi Arabia was largely kept out of the U.S. media conversation over the chemical weapons attack. But now that the biggest bombshells from Zacarias Moussaui’s testimony are getting published in major news outlets like Reuters and the New York Times, the U.S. may no longer be able to turn a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s sponsorship of terrorism.
The contents of the 28 classified pages of the 9/11 Commission Report are still unknown, and probes are ongoing. But the Mexican standoff between the American and Saudi Arabian governments will likely come to a head before 2016. At that point, Americans will likely have to ask themselves if they would rather continue to have cheap oil or if they would rather have justice for 9/11 victims. Any official action from the U.S. government would likely result in an oil embargo similar to 1973, and politicians running for re-election probably don’t want record-high gas prices on their watch.
Carl Gibson, 27, is a regular featured columnist and editor for Reader Supported News, @RSN_Godot. In addition Carl co-founded US Uncut, a direct action group that mobilized thousands against corporate tax dodging and budget cuts in the months leading up to Occupy Wall Street. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the award-winning, Sundance-selected documentary We’re Not Broke, which is available on Netflix. He is also author of the book, How to Oust a Congressman, about his experience organizing the ouster of a member of Congress from New Hampshire in the 2012 elections. Carl has been profiled in Fox Business, Marketwatch, and Crikey.com. Carl has been a guest on MSNBC and many other political discussion forums. Follow him on Twitter at @uncutCG.
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