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An Oil-For-Food Connection?
The Weekly Standard ^ | 8/9/2004 | Caudia Rosset

Posted on 07/31/2004 10:35:36 AM PDT by MamaLucci

An Oil-for-Food Connection?

From the August 9, 2004 issue: On whether any of Saddam's loot made its way into Osama's pockets.

by Claudia Rosett

08/09/2004, Volume 009, Issue 45

IF, as the 9/11 Commission concludes, our "failure of imagination" left America open to the attacks of September 11, then surely some imagination is called for in tackling one of the riddles that stumped the commission: Where exactly did Osama bin Laden get the funding to set up shop in Afghanistan, reach around the globe, and strike the United States?

So let's do some imagining. Unfashionable though it may be, let's even imagine a money trail that connects Saddam Hussein to al Qaeda.

By 1996, remember, bin Laden had been run out of Sudan, and seems to have been out of money. He needed a fresh bundle to rent Afghanistan from the Taliban, train recruits, expand al Qaeda's global network, and launch what eventually became the 9/11 attacks. Meanwhile, over in Iraq about that same time, Saddam Hussein, after a lean stretch under United Nations sanctions, had just cut his Oil-for-Food deal with the U.N., and soon began exploiting that program to embezzle billions meant for relief.

Both Saddam and bin Laden were, in their way, seasoned businessmen. Both had a taste for war. Both hated America. By the late 1990s, Saddam, despite continuing sanctions, was solidly back in business, socking away his purloined billions in secret accounts, but he had no way to attack the United States directly. Bin Laden needed millions to fund al Qaeda, which could then launch a direct strike on the United States. Whatever the differences between Saddam and bin Laden, their circumstances by the late 1990s had all the makings of a deal. Pocket change for Saddam, financial security for bin Laden, and satisfaction for both--death to Americans.

Now let's talk facts. In 1996, Sudan kicked out bin Laden. He went to Afghanistan, arriving there pretty much bankrupt, according to the 9/11 Commission report. His family inheritance was gone, his allowance had been cut off, and Sudan had confiscated his local assets. Yet, just two years later, bin Laden was back on his feet, feeling strong enough to issue a public declaration of war on America. In February 1998, in a London-based Arabic newspaper, Al-Quds al-Arabi, he published his infamous fatwa exhorting Muslims to "kill the Americans and plunder their money." Six months later, in August 1998, al Qaeda finally went ahead with its long-planned bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Bin Laden was back in the saddle, and over the next three years he shaped al Qaeda into the global monster that finally struck on American soil. His total costs, by the estimates of the 9/11 Commission report, ran to tens of millions of dollars. Even for a terrorist beloved of extremist donors, that's a pretty good chunk of change.

The commission report says bin Laden got his money from sources such as a "core group of financial facilitators" in the Gulf states, especially corrupt charities. But the report concludes: "To date, we have not been able to determine the origin of the money used for the 9/11 attack. Al Qaeda had many sources of funding and a pre-9/11 annual budget estimated at $30 million. If a particular source of funds had dried up, al Qaeda could easily have found enough money elsewhere to fund the attack."

Elsewhere? One obvious "elsewhere" that no one seems to have seriously considered was Saddam's secret geyser of money, gushing from the so-called Oil-for-Food program. That possibility is not discussed in the 9/11 report, and apparently it was not included in the investigation. A 9/11 Commission spokesman confirms that the commission did not request Oil-for-Food documentation from the U.N., and none was offered.

Why look at Oil-for-Food? Well, let's review a little more history. When Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990, the U.N. imposed sanctions, which remained in place until 2003, when the United States and its allies finally toppled Saddam. But in 1996, with the aim of providing for the people of Iraq while still containing Saddam, the U.N. began running its Oil-for-Food relief program for Iraq. Under terms agreed to by the U.N., Saddam got to sell oil to buy such humanitarian supplies as food and medicine, to be rationed to the Iraqi population. But the terms were hugely in Saddam's favor. The U.N. let Saddam choose his own business partners, kept the details of his deals confidential, and while watching for weapons-related goods did not, as it turns out, exercise much serious financial oversight. Saddam turned this setup to his own advantage, fiddling prices on contracts with his hand-picked partners, and smuggling out oil pumped under U.N. supervision with U.N.-approved new equipment. Thus did we arrive at the recent General Accounting Office estimate that under Oil-for-Food, despite sanctions, Saddam managed to skim and smuggle for himself more than $10 billion out of oil sales meant for relief.

And the timing gets interesting, especially the year 1998. Not only was that the year in which bin Laden signaled his big comeback in Afghanistan. It was also the year in which Oil-for-Food jelled into a reliable vehicle for Saddam's scams, a source of enormous, illicit income.

Oil-for-Food was set up as a limited and temporary measure, starting operations in late 1996 with somewhat ad hoc administration by the U.N., and a mandate that had to be renewed by the Security Council every six months or so. Less than a year into the program, however, on October 15, 1997, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan consolidated Oil-for-Food into what was effectively a permanent U.N. department--the Office of the Iraq Programme (OIP)--headed by a long-serving U.N. official, Benon Sevan. The Security Council still had to renew the mandate twice a year, but the process became routine.

Saddam began pushing the envelope, and it was quickly clear he could get away with a lot. Just two weeks after Annan set up the OIP, Saddam imposed conditions on the U.N. weapons inspectors that made it impossible for them to operate. Instead of shutting down Oil-for-Food, Annan on February 1, 1998, urged the Security Council to more than double the amount of oil Saddam was allowed to sell, a prelude to letting Iraq import oil equipment to increase production. Annan then flew to Baghdad to reason with Saddam, and on February 23, 1998 (having met in one of those palaces built under sanctions), Annan and Saddam reached an agreement that for at least a while allowed the weapons inspectors to return.

It was a busy time for al Qaeda as well. That same day, February 23, 1998, Osama bin Laden published his "Kill the Americans" fatwa. An intriguing feature of this fatwa was its prominent mention of Iraq, not just once, but four times. Analysts at the CIA and elsewhere have long propounded the theory that secular Saddam and religious Osama would not have wanted to work together. But Saddam's secular style seemed to bother bin Laden not a whit.

His fatwa presented three basic complaints. Mainly, he deplored the infidel presence in Saudi Arabia (i.e., the U.S. troops stationed there during and after the Gulf War). He also cited grievances about Jerusalem, while not even bothering to mention the Palestinians by name. The rest of his attention, bin Laden devoted to Iraq and "the Americans' continuing aggression against the Iraqi people" as well as "the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance" and--here is the specific reference to U.S.-led sanctions--"the protracted blockade imposed after the ferocious war."

Two paragraphs later, bin Laden picked up this theme again, calling Iraq the "strongest neighboring Arab state" of Saudi Arabia, and then citing Iraq, yet again, as first on a list of four states threatened by America--the other three being Saudi Arabia (bin Laden's old home and a big source of terrorist funding), Egypt (birthplace of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood and of bin Laden's top lieutenant, Ayman al Zawahiri, who also signed the fatwa), and Sudan (bin Laden's former base).

UNTIL 1998, Iraq had not loomed large in bin Laden's rants. Why, then, such stress on Iraq, at that particular moment, in declaring war on America? It is certainly possible that bin Laden simply figured Iraq had become another good selling point, a handy way to whip up anger at the United States. But it is at least intriguing that the month after bin Laden's fatwa, in March 1998, as the 9/11 Commission reports, two al Qaeda members visited Baghdad. And in July 1998, "an Iraqi delegation traveled to Afghanistan to meet first with the Taliban and then with bin Laden."

Later in 1998, Saddam kicked out the weapons inspectors, and he would keep them out for the following four years. The U.N. in 1999 lifted the ceiling entirely on Saddam's oil exports and expanded the range of goods he could buy. It would keep his deals confidential to the end, and it let Saddam do business with scores of companies in such graft-friendly climes as Russia and Nigeria, as well as such terrorist-sponsoring places as Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Sudan, and such financial hideouts as Liechtenstein, Panama, Cyprus, and Switzerland.

Much of Saddam's illicit Oil-for-Food money has yet to be traced. There are now at least eight official investigations into various aspects of Oil-for-Food, but none so far that combines adequate staffing and access with a focus on Oil-for-Food itself as the little black book of Saddam's possible terrorist links. The same kind of bureaucratic walls that once blocked our own intelligence community from nabbing al Qaeda are here compounded by the problem that Oil-for-Food was not a U.S. program, but on U.N. turf. And though the U.N. is the keeper of many of the records, Kofi Annan has displayed no interest in investigating the possibility that Oil-for-Food might have funded terrorists. Nor has the Bush administration pursued the matter with the speed and terrorist-tracking expertise it deserves. Millions of documents believed to contain details of Saddam's Oil-for-Food deals, quite likely including leads to his illicit side deals, are reportedly locked up in Baghdad, socked away there by Paul Bremer this past spring, awaiting an audit from Ernst & Young that is just now getting underway--and not necessarily focused on possible terrorist ties. The U.N.'s own investigation, led by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, seems interested mainly in the U.N. itself. Various congressional investigators who, unlike the 9/11 Commission, are looking at Oil-for-Food, have had a hard time prying even the most basic documents out of the U.N.

The U.S. Treasury Department, in its hunt for Saddam's assets, is not looking specifically at Oil-for-Food, but has provided some of the most telling snippets of information. In April of this year, Treasury released a list of Saddam front companies its investigation has so far uncovered, including a major Oil-for-Food contractor in the UAE, Dubai-based Al Wasel & Babel. Along with trying to procure a sophisticated surface-to-air missile system for Saddam, Al Wasel & Babel did hundreds of millions' worth of business with Baghdad under Oil-for-Food, and was just one of some 75 contractors authorized by the U.N. to deal with Saddam out of the UAE. (As it happens, the 9/11 Commission found that some of the hijackers' funding flowed through the UAE, but working backward from the al Qaeda end, the trail eventually vanishes.)

But enough of facts. Let's return to the realm of possibility. Imagine:

From about 1998 on, Oil-for-Food became Saddam's financial network, a system he gamed to produce huge amounts of illicit income, in partnership with folks who helped him hide and spend it. If some of that money was going to al Qaeda while Saddam was in power, it may still be serving as a terrorist resource today. Amid all the consternation over missed signals and poor coordination leading up to September 11, is it too much to ask that someone versed in terrorist finances, and able to access both the U.N. Oil-for-Food records and the documents squirreled away in Baghdad, take a look--an urgent, detailed, systematic look--at whether Saddam via his Oil-for-Food scams sent money to al Qaeda?

For such a deal, both Saddam and bin Laden had motive and opportunity. And if you read bin Laden's 1998 fatwa with just a little bit of imagination, those mentions of Iraq, at that particular moment, in those particular ways, carry a strong whiff of what is known in our own society as product placement: a message from a sponsor.

Claudia Rosett is journalist-in-residence with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a columnist for OpinionJournal.com.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: corruption; oilforfood; saddamhussein; terrorism; un; usamabinladen
Claudia Rosett has done some Pulitzer Prize worthy reporting on the UN oil-for-food scandal.........
the dots she's connecting here make sense, and if true, could spell the end for the UN.
1 posted on 07/31/2004 10:35:40 AM PDT by MamaLucci
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To: MamaLucci
to read later
2 posted on 07/31/2004 10:41:09 AM PDT by ThreePuttinDude (Cevapcici and Slivovitz......for everyone)
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To: MamaLucci

From your fingertips to God's ear!


3 posted on 07/31/2004 10:41:09 AM PDT by EggsAckley (.....John Edwards: The political equivalent of breast implants.....)
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To: ThreePuttinDude

It IS long, but definitely worth the read!


4 posted on 07/31/2004 10:42:18 AM PDT by MamaLucci (Libs, want answers on 911? Ask Clinton why he met with Monica more than with his CIA director.)
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To: EggsAckley

Amen! :)


5 posted on 07/31/2004 10:42:59 AM PDT by MamaLucci (Libs, want answers on 911? Ask Clinton why he met with Monica more than with his CIA director.)
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To: MamaLucci

Maybe this one will get that Pulitzer.


6 posted on 07/31/2004 10:43:41 AM PDT by doug from upland
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To: MamaLucci

Why would Bin Laden need oil money when he had all that opium money available in Afghanistan?


7 posted on 07/31/2004 10:46:31 AM PDT by Savage Rider
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To: MamaLucci

Makes perfect sense to me. Not hard to imagine the connection at all.


8 posted on 07/31/2004 11:08:21 AM PDT by border bud
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To: GSWarrior

bump


9 posted on 07/31/2004 11:20:28 AM PDT by GSWarrior (Good isn't good enough when better is expected.)
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To: MamaLucci
MASTER LIST UN OIL/SEX FOR FOOD SCANDALS
10 posted on 07/31/2004 11:24:17 AM PDT by GailA ( hanoi john, I'm for the death penalty for terrorist, before I impose a moratorium on it.)
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To: MamaLucci
Let us add another maybe...say a prominent female philantrophist who inherited $1.4 Billion from her husband and then married an ambitious Massachusetts Senator was more than a classmate of the lead figure in the Food for Oil scandal at the School of Interpreters University in Geneva.

Let us say that should the Senator's ambition be fully realized the speed at which this investigation would disappear will be impressive.
11 posted on 07/31/2004 11:25:08 AM PDT by ijcr (Age and treachery will always overcome youth and ability.)
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To: ThreePuttinDude
THE CORRUPT UN of ANNAN-EMPEROR of TERRORISTS -- TODAY:


12 posted on 07/31/2004 11:40:38 AM PDT by Diogenesis (Re: Protection from up on high, Keyser Sose has nothing on Sandy Berger, the DNC Burglar)
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To: MamaLucci
I think this is a highly plausible theory.

But let's not forget that the 9/11 commission also noted that BILL CLINTON gave the Taliban millions of dollars:

From the NY Daily News:
 
U.S. yanked bribe plan to capture Bin Laden
 
WASHINGTON - U.S. officials scrapped a 1999 plan to offer the Taliban a $250 million bribe to turn over Osama Bin Laden, fearing then-First Lady Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright would object to paying off the infamous women's rights abusers.

Clinton had long criticized the Islamic regime in Afghanistan for covering women with burkas and denying them educations and jobs.

According to the final 9/11 commission report, Bill Clinton's administration had already made fruitless overtures to the Taliban, paying $10 million to $20 million annually in bribes.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/wn_report/story/214880p-185025c.html

 
From elsewhere in the 9/11 report:
 
Paragraph #797 (on page 171)

Before 9/11, al Qaeda spent funds as quickly as it received them.Actual ter rorist operations represented a relatively small part of al Qaeda’s estimated $30 million annual operating budget. Al Qaeda funded salaries for jihadists, training camps, airfields, vehicles, arms, and the development of training manuals. Bin Ladin provided approximately $10–$20 million per year to the Taliban in return for safe haven. Bin Ladin also may have used money to create alliances with other terrorist organizations, although it is unlikely that al Qaeda was funding an overall jihad program. Rather, Bin Ladin selectively provided startup funds to new groups or money for specific terrorist operations.
[ show in clusters ]


13 posted on 07/31/2004 11:57:28 AM PDT by Philistine
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To: MamaLucci
His fatwa presented three basic complaints. Mainly, he deplored the infidel presence in Saudi Arabia (i.e., the U.S. troops stationed there during and after the Gulf War). He also cited grievances about Jerusalem, while not even bothering to mention the Palestinians by name. The rest of his attention, bin Laden devoted to Iraq and "the Americans' continuing aggression against the Iraqi people" as well as "the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance" and--here is the specific reference to U.S.-led sanctions--"the protracted blockade imposed after the ferocious war."

Excellent article, which deserves wide distribution. I was not aware othe Iraq connection in UBL's 1998 declaration of war (fatwa) against the US. This needs to be repeated whenever anyone talks about a linkage between AQ and Iraq.

14 posted on 07/31/2004 12:07:03 PM PDT by kabar
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To: Philistine

Good point. Thanks for the reminder.


15 posted on 07/31/2004 1:27:28 PM PDT by MamaLucci (Libs, want answers on 911? Ask Clinton why he met with Monica more than with his CIA director.)
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To: Allan

Bump


16 posted on 07/31/2004 1:31:21 PM PDT by Allan
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To: MamaLucci

Flag for a good read later. Thanks


17 posted on 07/31/2004 1:34:28 PM PDT by Principled
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To: MamaLucci

Oil-for-Terrorism bump.


18 posted on 08/04/2004 5:02:49 AM PDT by PogySailor (Proud member of the RAM)
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To: MamaLucci

Funny I saw this, I was rereading the executive summary last night and noted what a poor job the report did in tracing Al Qa'idas funding. Food for oil crossed my mind and voila, here I find your thread.


19 posted on 08/04/2004 5:09:26 AM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: MamaLucci; neverdem; Congressman Billybob

Remarkable!

(But just coincidence, of course. Nothing to see here, folks, just moveon.org .....)


20 posted on 08/04/2004 5:22:35 AM PDT by Robert A. Cook, PE (I can only donate monthly ... But Kerry's ABBCNNBCBS press corpse lies every day.)
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To: Robert A. Cook, PE

Thanks for the ping. We'll see what happens.


21 posted on 08/04/2004 12:16:55 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: MamaLucci
and if true, could spell the end for the UN.

From your fingers to God's eyes.

22 posted on 08/04/2004 1:25:44 PM PDT by BushisTheMan
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To: MamaLucci
bump!

 
 

pro-islamofascist-terrorist radical chic
WHY JOHN KERRY IS DANGEROUS FOR AMERICA

by Mia T, 5.15.04

 
(viewing movie requires Flash Player 7, available HERE)

johnkerryisdangerousforamerica.blogspot.com

 

As long as you've got a rich man on your arm, you don't need a big bag.

--Elizabeth Rickard

 

The $100 billion Iraqi Oil for Food program was by far the largest relief operation in the history of the United Nations. By extension, it's rapidly becoming the U.N.'s largest-ever scandal....

Those included rewarding friends and allies world-wide with oil allocations on very favorable terms, as well as extracting large kickbacks from oil traders and suppliers of humanitarian goods....

There can be little doubt that U.N. mismanagement contributed greatly to the negative perception of the anti-Saddam containment policy. There is also little doubt that the reward and kickback scheme--as well the possibility of exposure--was a factor as some countries weighed whether to back U.S.-led regime change in Iraq. There is even reason to suspect that some of the Saddam friends and allies who benefited may have been members of the U.N. Secretariat.

Oil for Scandal
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page
Thursday, March 18, 2004 12:01 a.m.

eave it to the French to make pro-islamofascist-terrorist radical chic all the rage.

They and their moneygrubbing, Oil-for-Food defrauding cohorts abroad, and their power-hungry would-be terrorist sympathizers here, are all sporting "THE LOOK."

(How many of those oh so trendy Kerry-clinton-Kennedy hate-America, blame-America-first sound bites will Al-Jazeera broadcast today?)

The trusty triad's half-truths, exaggerations and outright lies, confounded by fog of war, vagaries of peace and uncharted territory of asymmetric netherworlds, remind us that things are not always what they first seem. The UN Oil-for-Food scandal, for example, has shown us it was not "going to war with Iraq" that was "all about oil," but rather, "not going to war with Iraq." The Left, we now see, had that one,
(as they have most things), exactly backward.

The dernier cri of seditious and corrupt Leftists everywhere, pro-islamofascist-terrorist radical chic renders the Left, irrespective of policy, no less dangerous to Western civilization than the terrorists they seek to aid and abet.



Kerry, NOT Bush, paralyzed by 9/11 attacks
Hear Kerry admit he could not think

THE DEMOCRATS ARE GONNA GET US KILLED (kerry, clinton + sandy berger's pants) SERlES 3
UNFIT #10: 9/10 mindset


THE DEMOCRATS ARE GONNA GET US KILLED (kerry, clinton + sandy berger's pants) SERlES 2
KERRY-DEMOCRAT CONTEMPT FOR NATIONAL SECURITY[annotated]


THE DEMOCRATS-ARE-GONNA-GET-US-KILLED (kerry, clinton + sandy berger's pants) SERlES1

dox in sox on lummox in box on fox

THE REAL "REAL DEAL"
(what Kerry's commanders and crewmates REALLY think of him--with transcripts)

Did John Kerry pick a running mate or hire a lawyer when he selected John Edwards?

THE MAN FROM HOPE: been there, done that

"Hope is on the way!" (the scoop)

THE TERRORISTS' USEFUL IDIOTS
all the usual suspects


A Vote for Kerry is a Vote for the Terrorists

ELECTION BOTTOM LINE:
TERRORIST SYMPATHIZER or TERRORIST ANNIHILATOR

JOHN KERRY IS UNFIT SERIES:
taking the measure of a would-be commander-in-chief


UNFIT #9-JOHN KERRY: DEADLY OPPORTUNIST
SELF-CONFESSED WAR CRIMlNAL MORPHS INTO SELF-PROMOTER WAR HERO


UNFIT #6: The Deadly Kerry-Hollywood Axis
HOW CAN YOU PUT YOUR CHILDREN'S LIVES IN ITS HANDS?


UNFIT: taking the measure of a would-be commander-in-chief
#1-making the tough choices in a post-9/11 world
UNFIT: taking the measure of a would-be commander-in-chief
#2-understanding the job description

UNFIT: taking the measure of a would-be commander-in-chief
#3-sang-froid and the "nuclear" button

UNFIT: taking the measure of a would-be commander-in-chief
#4 - Kerry champions tolerance for terrorists


sanitizing evil
Kerry Cabal Censors Nick Berg Decapitation


"Loose Cannon" Kerry's AWOL/PURPLE-HEART FRAUD

pro-islamofascist-terrorist radical chic

USEFUL IDIOTS

MOORE IS LESS--THE MOVIE

The Cycle of Violence:
NOW WITH HYPERLINKED INSTRUCTION MANUAL


JOHN KERRY'S RECKLESS TET-OFFENSIVE-GAMBIT REPLAY:
the left's jihad against America is killing our troops, aiding + abetting the terrorists and imperiling all Americans


bill clinton, boy "genius," unwittingly bares all on BBC

deconstructing clinton… "just because I could"

vetting missus clinton...

The Parallel Universe of Jamie Gorelick

nepotism + tokenism = a nancy pelosi
(or a hillary clinton)

Kerry's Belated Condemnation Focuses on Process
Kerry Lacks Moral Authority to Condemn Content

"CRY BUSH" + Iraqi-Prisoner "Abuse"
What are the Dems up to?


DON'T BELIEVE YOUR LYING EARS (The Perjurer Returns)
(Clinton: Claims I Turned Down Bin Laden are 'Bull')

The Mary Jo White Memo:
Documentation of clintons' and Gorelick's willful, seditious malfeasance


What is the REAL Reason for Gorelick's Wall?

giant sucking sound
KERRY MAKES DUKAKIS LOOK CONSERVATIVE, SMART + JUDICIOUS


Q ERTY6 utter failureBUMP
Lib Author Regrets Voting (TWICE!) for clinton
"Sickened" by clinton's Failure to Protect America from Terrorism

MUST-READ BOOK FOR DEMOCRATS:
How clintons' Failures Unleashed Global Terror

(Who in his right mind would ever want the clintons back in the Oval Office?)

The Man Who Warned America
(Why a Rapist is Not a Fit President)

UDAY: "The end is near… this time I think the… Americans are serious, Bush is not like Clinton."

 

 

MORE

 

COPYRIGHT MIA T 2004

23 posted on 08/09/2004 8:49:40 AM PDT by Mia T (Stop Clintons' Undermining Machinations (The acronym is the message.))
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To: MamaLucci



24 posted on 10/09/2004 8:51:53 PM PDT by Smartass (BUSH & CHENEY 2004 Si vis pacem, para bellum - Por el dedo de Dios se escribió)
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To: Smartass

bump^


25 posted on 10/09/2004 10:05:27 PM PDT by MamaLucci (Libs, want answers on 911? Ask Clinton why he met with Monica more than with his CIA director.)
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