Dollars for Terror- The United States and Islam
by Richard Labeviere, Algora Publishing, New York, 2000, 392 pages
(Translated from the 1999 French version by Martin DeMers)
In 1994 Labeviere’s friend, Ali, a Muslim, was assassinated by an Islamist organization. Ali was savagely opposed to the Islamists who are “mutilating their religion and betraying their country,”(1) he would tell anyone who would listen. Labeviere began his investigation to try to understand his friend’s death.
The path inevitably led to the financial circuits of terrorism- the banks, the businesses, both legitimate and illegitimate, to the official and secret structures of Saudi finance, the Muslim brothers, to the oil monarchies allied with the United States, to the intelligence agencies, the CIA, and its Saudi and Pakistani counterparts.
Based on a hundred interviews, numerous journalistic investigations, years of archival research and travels, Labeviere painstakingly deconstructs the notion that the U.S. is a beacon of democracy. America’s imperial intention is fed by an alliance with the Islamists, new worldwide circuits of organized crime, a transnational hybrid of business and politics. Islamist ideology blends perfectly and complements neoliberalism where the true god is “money.” The subordination of everything, national borders, institutions, cultures, states, and nations, in pursuit of profits is the keystone of a totalitarian New World Order. This supranational order comprised of the richest and most powerful transnational corporations bullying governments through the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, World Bank… military coersion complements Islamism which mainly seeks to accumulate money and power, destroy the secularized state, turn citizens into subjects, and annihilate the rights of women.
In his chapter- “The Mercenaries of Globalization” Labeviere writes-
“This vast construction project requires local project superintendents, financiers, Mafias, private security companies and mercenaries engaged in Algeria, in Bosnia, in Chechnya, Afghanistan and the Phillipines, experimental laboratories that thrive, as Oliver Roy says, in ‘the de-territorialized space at the margins of Islam.’ At the dawn of the 21st century, new hotbeds of Islamist agitation are developing in Niger, Madagascar and Zanzibar and, through the proliferation of armed gangs, in South Africa as well as in Brazil…
“Engaged in the infernal spiral of violence that wipes whole villages off the map, minor local delinquents –self proclaimed ’emirs’ — make no distinction between religious fanaticism and banditry. This alliance is aimed less at the contested state apparatuses than at the civil society — artists, journalists, intellectuals, trade unionists, unveiled women — chasing them out and then backing up their conquests with theft, racketeering and a wild takeover of territory. Focusing inward on the defense of their systems of emoluments from the oil and gas and the import-export sectors, the leaders of the security forces have given over the campaigns to private militia, so many vigilante groups that, likewise, end up pursuing their own particular interests…”(2)
Weapons, and drug trafficking go hand in hand, and crop up wherever the CIA spends any time to finance covert wars. Violence encourages more violence and improves weapons sales, the heart of the global economy. “Far from raising obstacles to the new configurations of global capitalism, Islamist ideology is becoming part of its new superstructures. It provides…military-racketeering networks that merge very easily into the filaments of the networks of organized crime, the supreme stage of capitalism.”(3) The stability of the international system might depend upon the “hot money” to replace the missing funds “between 1989 and 1997, some $800 billion dollars seems to have disappeared from the planet’s accounts.”(4) Money laundering is big business. New York, London, Switzerland handle petro-dollars as well as the volumes of dirty money, approximately $500 billion in n 1997 alone (according to the IMF).
“Osama bin Laden is the perfect embodiment of the ‘privatization’ of Islamist terrorism. He enjoys a solid credit rating in the highest realms of international finance, where he controls a patrimony of more than $3 billion…”(5)
In the chapter- “The CIA’s ‘Afghans’ and Their Networks” he continues-
“Successively a financier, a war lord, a political leader and a preacher, bin Laden is a pure product of the American intelligence services. Where does he get his immense resources? For whom is he working today? Has he really broken off with his former bosses?”(6)
Labeviere paints a detailed panorama of the evolution of the special Saudi, US, Islamist movement relationship from the time when Roosevelt made his first deal with King Ibn Sa’ud in February 1945 on board the Quincy. The kingdom holds 26% of the world’s proven oil reserves and agreed to provide the bulk of America’s fuel needs at moderate prices for sixty years. The companies now are tenants and in the year 2005, the wells, installations and material will return to the monarch’s possession. The premium paid to the king is 18 to 21 cents a gallon for each barrel of oil. In return the US agreed to unconditionally support the stability of the kingdom internally and externally. (A monarchy which beheads 200 people a year…) Not in the contract, but in return, the Saudi’s have invested some $350 billion in the US and have developed an almost exclusive economic, commercial and financial partnership. Together they funded, trained, armed bin Laden, and helped to create the famed Al Qaeda network in Afghanistan through the Pakistan ISI, but they also met directly with bin Laden.
Like Christian and Catholic movements, the Islamist movement is complex and multi-layered with competing Sunni and Shiite backers. Saudi Arabia (Sunni) has done everything in its power to counter the Iranian Shiite influence that has grown since 1979. Each supports movements likely to help “the cause” and the winner will embody the political future of “true Islam.” The oil monarchies give without counting and without requiring accounting, but Iran has confined itself to giving assistance to where it can influence some degree of control.
There are the Muslim Brothers, created in Egypt in 1929 by Hassan al Banna whose message condemned the principle of separation of the State and religion, and set the establishment of a theocratic state as his movement’s goal. He wrote “Islam is doctrine, divine worship, the fatherland, the nation, religion, spirituality, the Koran and the sword.”(7) Inspired by Mussolini, the proposed economic program revealed a most direct relationship to that which existed later in nazi Germany and fascist Italy; a social policy foresaw a new law on labor, founded on corporations. A Swiss member of the board of directors for one of the major banks used by the Muslim brothers explained what he calls the “great unification,” that of Islam and the Christian West, back to the wake of Ahnenerbe, the Nazi society for esoteric studies, bonds were woven between Islam and the neo-Nazi far Right.
There are many Muslim Brothers with huge financial networks. Al Sharif in Cairo has a turnover of over $1 Billion and in 1994 alone distributed some $760 million to art centers, charitable organizations, and research institutes. The charities, schools, receive funds, and sometimes mask funds intended for weapons and more militant purposes. Mercy International specializes in “humanitarian actions, especially in the cases of natural catastrophe and war.” In addition it provided weapons for the Bosnian army and recruited mercenaries and “international volunteers” for that country. It declares a gross budget of $2 million and also channeled weapons to the Kosovo Liberation Army.
The Muslim brothers have a long history of violence and political assassination. In 1964 Nasser attempted to “rehabilitate” them in order to counter the “growing influence of the communists,” and they began to get aid from the CIA. They were a perfect “tool” for the low intensity combat that the CIA prefers. Labeviere covers a wide range of countries from the Phillipines, Indonesia, Madagascar, to South American, African, European, Asian and Middle-Eastern countries, each has its history. Together they have evolved islamist terrorist networks, transport routes for their lucrative drug trafficking, varied business networks, aided by the liberalization of finance, and “free trade.”
Labeviere’s book includes a prologue, preface, and twenty-eight chapters, including- Osama bin Laden, Our Man in Kandahar, Is there a Pilot Onboard the U.S. Aircraft?, Making Good Use of “Low-Intensity Conflicts,” The Privatization of US Foreign Policy, Islamism and Zionism: Complementary Enemies, The Taleban, Mercenaries of the American Oil Companies, Behind the Luxor Massacre, bin Laden’s “Afghans,” Afghanistan and Sudan are the wrong targets, Conclusion- The CIA at the Negotiating Table. Wishing to understand the “who” and “why” behind the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, I found a wealth of background information on the publicly accused “culprits” and their intimate ties with the CIA, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.
Had the CIA or the Saudis wished to apprehend bin Laden, they certainly have had the capacity to do so since the embassy bombings in Africa in 1998, but there is a great disparity between the drama enacted upon the world stage and the politics behind terrorist attacks. Not unlike Saddam Hussein, another CIA asset gone astray, Osama bin Laden has been a very useful target for the U.S.. Labeviere’s suggests a different interpretation of the 1998 “terrorist attacks upon the embassies” and the motivations behind them.
To greatly simplify Labeviere’s meticulous unraveling of the political situation of Sudan-
A leader of the extremists, “Salah Ed-Din,” (who was also a part of bin Laden’s team) financed the attacks, in an attempt to strengthen the hand of the failing party which was facing the possible loss of its business networks due to a civil war. To isolate the political leader, Tourabi, and block peace talks, the embassies were bombed.
Despite the media hoopla, the allegation of Iraqi involvement in chemical weapons of mass destruction, and the elevation of Osama bin Laden to World Enemy Number One, in retaliation the US chose to bomb the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant, not owned by bin Laden. According to Labeviere’s source, the intent was to send a clear signal to those responsible-
“the Americans said very distinctly: we do not want to destroy the economic base that is vital to the country, but only the interests of those who are obstructing the peace process with the rebellion in the south. We know who the “hawks” are, who are opposing this process. We also know perfectly well where their economic interests lie.”(8)
“Admittedly, the principal silent partner of the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam attacks, the Sudanese Salah Ed-Din, is Osama bin Laden’s man, and indeed the Saudi billionaire financed these operations; but one cannot seriously, suggest that he was ‘the brain’ behind the attacks.
“…bin Laden then returned to Afghanistan; this transfer which was carried out, according to several qualified sources, under the protection of the Saudi services, with a green light from the CIA.”(9)
His return to Afghanistan has served the long-term plan of US geostrategists perfectly. Zbigniew Brzezinski,(10) president of the National Security Council in 1978 was “responsible for setting up (in collaboration with the CIA, and the Saudi and Turkish intelligence services) Islamist propaganda networks intended to infiltrate the Muslim nationalist organizations of the Soviet republics of Central Asia. Weapons and Korans printed in the gulf monarchies were introduced into Uzbekistan, Tajikstan and Turkmenistan in great quantities. In addition Brzezinski is proud of his role in introducing CIA involvement to Afghanistan 6 months prior to the Soviet invasion which helped fuel the Soviet collapse and led to a gaping black hole of power within Central Asia.
Zbigniew Brzezinski details his hope to achieve American “Global Supremacy” in his 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard- American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives and writes “Eurasia has been the center of world power…
“The last decade of the twentieth century has witnessed a tectonic shift in world affairs. For the first time ever, a non-Eurasian power has emerged not only as the key arbiter of Eurasian power relations but also as the world’s paramount power. The defeat and collapse of the Soviet Union was the final step in the rapid ascendance of a Western Hemisphere power, the United States, as the sole and, indeed, the first truly global power… Eurasian power–remains central to America’s capacity to exercise global primacy.
“It follows that–in addition to cultivating the various novel dimensions of power (technology, communications, information, as well as trade and finance)–American foreign policy must remain concerned with the geopolitical dimension and must employ its influence in Eurasia in a manner that creates a stable continental equilibrium, with the United States as the political arbiter.
Eurasia is thus the chessboard on which the struggle for global primacy continues to be played, and the struggle involves geostrategy–the strategic management of geopolitical interests.”
Of great importance are the Caspian Sea oil, and natural gas reserves, which have yet to be fully exploited and could rival those of the Middle East. The Islamist involvement has prepared the field for the current major involvement by the US in Central Asia.
Labeviere wrote in a recent article that the CIA met with bin Laden last July. (11) His chronicles of the close ties between the ISI, Saudi Arabia, bin Laden, the al Qaeda network show that it would have been almost impossible for the US to not have had foreknowledge of the September 11th attacks. The attack enabled the US government to garner public support for its alleged “War on Terrorism” and helped it justify its military presence in the most strategic, resource rich area in the world. The war has also permitted the US to use Nazi tactics to obliterate civil liberties and militarize security forces within the US.
The veil of secrecy which has fallen over the United States harkens to another Era. Documents declassified under the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act of 1998 “are shedding new light on what the American and British intelligence communities knew of Hitler’s plans for the Jews early in World War II. By March 20, 1942, a surreptitiously obtained document appears in the files of the United States Coordinator of Information (COI), a predecessor to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and the Central Intelligence Agency. The document is a translated copy of a dispatch filed by a Chilean diplomat on November 24, 1941, which the COI received some time later from British intelligence. It clearly discusses the Nazi intent to eradicate European Jewry.
“The report, by the diplomat stationed in Prague, tells of the Nazi plan for the destruction of “Semitism,” the “eradication” of the Jews of Europe. It was delivered to David Bruce, head of the Secret Intelligence Branch of the COI, who forwarded it to an administrative assistant to William J. Donovan, who served as Coordinator of Information before heading the OSS. There is no indication on the document whether other Americans may have seen it. The records add new details to the longstanding debate about how much the West learned of the Holocaust at the time. Thomas H. Baer said, “Warnings from the allies to the Jews of Europe of a planned genocide never came. The Nazi murders depended on secrecy and subterfuge. Warnings would not have stopped the Holocaust, but they could have saved lives.” Former US Representative Elizabeth Holtzman said, “This recently declassified document helps pinpoint how much officials within our government knew about the Holocaust and when they knew it. The next question is why our government–not to mention the British–did nothing in response. It is unbearable to think that plans to ‘eradicate’ a Jewish population were a matter of such indifference.” (12)
Millions of lives are currently at stake in Afghanistan, and warnings of genocide from hunger and privation still haven’t penetrated the shroud of secrecy of what is truly happening in that country or why US forces dropped so many bombs.
At the time Labeviere’s book was written, “Prince Turki, head of the Saudi Secret Service for more than 20 years, a constrained friend of the CIA, made abundant use of bin Laden’s networks.”(13)He resigned his position less than two weeks before the World Trade Center/Pentagon attack.(14)
As I write this, the Northern Alliance has defeated the Taliban and at a conference in Bonn, “men” are deciding the fate of Afghanistan. Much like chess, attacks, counterattacks, costing thousands and millions of lives, are being made. There are few words for the human or environmental costs of the war, but the “agreement” will be on the “prize,” the fabulous oil, gas, and mineral reserves of Central Asia, control over key territory. Who is at the table? Representatives of the United Nations, serving powerful forces, offering lucrative “reconstruction deals” to the competing warlords to assure the “security” of the territory (and the oil and opium pipelines). As long as war and drugs remain profitable, terror and fear will be the instruments of choice by the rich and powerful. Greatly aided by the media, “terrorism” helps politicians to- justify their wars, use extreme security measures to control civilians, maintain their power and privileges.
The pieces of the puzzle are being put together by those who seek to make sense of the “violence” which has claimed so many lives. Certainly Afghanistan was not bombed to kill bin Laden or his network. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia who helped create the “Afghan network” have not been implicated in any way.
Despite Prince Turki’s sudden retirement last August, and the head of Pakistan’s ISI, Lt. General Mahmoud Ahmad, abrupt resignation in light of the revelation that he had given $100,000 to the lead bomber in the World Trade Center Attack (15), there is no mention in the mainstream press of their important roles in creating the network being blamed for the attack, nor the CIA’s continuing support role, either.
Leading industrialists of another era once approached Smedley Butler to be the “front man” for a coup to topple FDR and set up a fascist government, he turned them down. In 1933 he said:
“War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.
“I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we’ll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.
“I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.
“There isn’t a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its “finger men” to point out enemies, its “muscle men” to destroy enemies, its “brain men” to plan war preparations, and a “Big Boss” Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.
“It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
“I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.
“I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.”
For the sake of the world, all civilians, what democracy remains, we must lift the veils of secrecy, expose the hypocrisy of war and the ruling elite whose pursuit of money and power rain death and suffering upon the living.
1 Dollars for Terror- The United States and Islam, Labeviere, Algora Publishing, New York, 2000
10 Brzezinski, Zbigniew, Basic Books, 1997. See also- A War in the Planning for Four Years by Michael Ruppert 11 Le Figaro Oct 31, 2001
12 National Archives and Records News Release July 2, 2001
13 Dollars for Terror- The United States and Islam, Labeviere, Algora Publishing, New York, 2000
14 August 28, 2001 According to official Saudi sources, later reported by many mass media sites.
15 The Times of India, Delhi, 9 October 2001 See also- Chossudovsky’s excellent Cover-up or Complicity of the Bush Administration?