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This book review appears in the September 16, 2011 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

9/11 Secrets Partially Revealed

by Jeffrey Steinberg

The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden

by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan
New York: Ballantine Books, 2011
603 pages; hardcover, $30

[PDF version of this book review]

Authors Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan have provided a commendable, albeit incomplete account of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Among the most important features of their story are those that deal with the deep involvement in the 9/11 events, of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, from leading members of the House of Saud, to prominent figures in Saudi Arabia's General Intelligence Department (GID), to leading Wahhabi clerics. The great strength of the book is that it provides one of the most detailed accounts of the top-down Saudi involvement in the events leading up to the Sept. 11 act of war against the United States.

I suspect that there were important elements of the 9/11 story that the authors would have wished to include in their account, but did not, because they could not get them past the publishers and their army of libel lawyers. In reviewing some of the most revealing features of The Eleventh Day, I include some of those crucial pieces of the picture that do not appear in the pages of this 600-plus page document. Without those pieces, the picture remains incomplete.

Despite those gaps, the authors have provided an invaluable public service, combing through vast libraries of official documents, interviewing hundreds of players in the hunt for the truth about the 9/11 attacks, and providing some illuminating insights that were long-lost in the mountain of details that piled up, following the attacks.

The Purloined Letter

To fully understand the role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 attacks, it is vital to start from a very simple fact, one that the 19th-Century American writer and intelligence officer Edgar Allan Poe would have appreciated, as per his brilliant short story, "The Purloined Letter": The bin Laden family is at the very center of the Saudi power structure. The central role that Osama bin Laden would play in the events of 9/11 cannot be comprehended without the understanding that the bin Laden family is part of the inner circle of the Saudi oligarchy.

Osama bin Laden's father, Mohammed bin Laden, became fabulously wealthy as the result of patronage from both the Saudi Royal Family and the Wahhabi clerical establishment, the two co-equal anchors of Saudi power for nearly 300 years. From the 1930s, during the reign of King Abdul Aziz, through the 1960s under King Faisal, almost every major construction project commissioned by the House of Saud was built by the bin Laden Construction Company. Mohammed bin Laden was given the contracts to renovate the three holiest sites of Islam: the shrines at Mecca and Medina, and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. When he was awarded the contract to renovate the Jerusalem mosque on the Temple Mount, he was appointed a minister of state and given the title Your Highness, Sheikh Mohammed bin Laden.

When Mohammed bin Laden died in a plane crash in 1967, ten thousand people attended his funeral. All of his children, including Osama, who was then 10 years old, became instant millionaires and members of the Saudi elite. Thus, a little more than a decade later, when Saudi Arabia joined with Great Britain, the United States, and others in launching the Afghan Mujahideen war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan—six months prior to the Red Army invasion—the Saudi Royal Family wished to have a leading prince take a prominent role in the operations. When no member of the Royal Family stepped forward, Osama bin Laden, a devout Wahhabi, was chosen as the Saudis' star player in the Afghan operations.

According to the Summers-Swan account, drawn substantially from a memoir by one of Osama bin Laden's sons, Omar, the young Saudi construction magnate was brought in on the Afghan operations almost from the very outset of the Saudi involvement. And from the start, everything that Osama bin Laden did in Pakistan and Afghanistan was under the tight supervision of the Saudi intelligence service, GID. Indeed, Osama bin Laden was recruited to the GID's Afghan operation by Ahmed Badeeb, his former science teacher, who had gone on to become chief of staff to the longtime GID head, Prince Turki Al-Faisal.

The Crucial Missing Link: Al-Yamamah

By all accounts, Prince Turki was the key liaison among Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Pakistan. What Summer and Swan significantly underplay is the pivotal role that Great Britain also played in every aspect of the Afghan confrontation, before, during, and after the Soviet invasion on Christmas Eve, 1979.

Indeed, a leading British intelligence Arabist, Dr. Bernard Lewis, was the architect of Carter Administration National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski's "Arc of Crisis" strategy against the Soviet Union. Brzezinski would later brag to a French magazine that he had convinced President Jimmy Carter to sign a Presidential finding in early 1979, authorizing covert support for the Afghan rebels. The Afghan covert operation, which played a significant role in drawing the Soviet Union into the disastrous invasion of Afghanistan, and the decade-long war that followed, was part of Lewis's scheme to promote Islamic fundamentalism as a hammer against "Godless Soviet Communism," all along the southern tier of the then-Soviet Union. The Arc of Crisis stretched from the Caucasus, all the way to the Central Asian Republics—an area that, to this day, is a zone of permanent conflict, rising fundamentalism, and vicious narcotics trafficking.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the events of 9/11, the United States has been drawn into the same quagmire that helped bring down the mighty Soviet Union, with similar consequences for America.

Not only was Great Britain a prominent recruiting ground for the Mujahideen and all subsequent Wahhabi-Salafi extremist organizations (Osama bin Laden maintained a mansion at Wembley, just outside of London for more than a decade, well into the 1990s). In 1985, Britain and Saudi Arabia launched the Al-Yamamah (The Dove) project, under which the largest covert intelligence fund of the post-World War II period would be established. The Al-Yamamah Anglo-Saudi offshore slush fund would become one of the largest sources of cash for the Afghan War against the Soviet Army—perhaps, second only to the opium and heroin trade built up in Afghanistan and Pakistan, beginning at the time that the Mujahideen war began in 1979.

William Simpson, a British military school chum of Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, provided a candid admission of the pivotal role that Al-Yamamah played in the Afghan War, in his semi-official biography of the long-serving Saudi Ambassador to the United States, The Prince:

"Although Al-Yamamah constitutes a highly unconventional way of doing business, its lucrative spin-offs are the by-product of a wholly political objective: a Saudi political objective and a British political objective. Al-Yamamah is, first and foremost, a political contract. Negotiated at the height of the Cold War, its unique structure has enabled the Saudis to purchase weapons from around the globe to fund the fight against Communism. Al-Yamamah money can be found in the clandestine purchase of Russian ordnance used in the expulsion of Qaddafi's troops from Chad. It can also be traded for arms bought from Egypt and other countries, and sent to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan fighting the Soviet occupying forces."

As Executive Intelligence Review has uniquely revealed,[1] under the Al-Yamamah program, which continues to this day, Saudi Arabia provided crude oil to Britain in return for tens of billions of dollars in weapons and other military assistance, run through Great Britain's largest military conglomerate, BAE Systems. A special unit in the British Ministry of Defence, the Defence Export Support Office (DESO), was established to manage the Al-Yamamah barter program.

The crude oil provided by the Saudis would be sold on the international spot market at fabulous markups, and the net profits would then be deposited in offshore accounts all over the world, maintained by trusted front men and money managers. The spot market transactions were conducted by Royal Dutch Shell and British Petroleum, on behalf of BAE and DESO.

A conservative estimate is that at least $100 billion was deposited in the Al-Yamamah offshore covert slush funds between 1985 and 2007. Before being deployed to fund operations like the Afghan War, those funds were, in turn, invested in lucrative speculative hedge fund operations at enormous profits. It is impossible to precisely estimate the total amount of money generated through this operation; but the figure far exceeds the $100 billion in barter cash generated by the oil sales.

While the full extent of the Al-Yamamah operations was ruthlessly covered up by British officials and the British press, secondary scandals did erupt over the lucrative kickbacks to Saudi officials who participated in the barter program, including top officials of the Saudi Ministry of Defense.

One of the principal beneficiaries of these kickbacks was Prince Bandar. Along with then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Bandar was the architect of the original 1985 barter deal. He was perfectly positioned for that role, as the son of the Saudi Minister of Defense, Prince Sultan. By conservative accounts, Bandar received $2 billion in commissions for setting up the Al-Yamamah deal. The funds went from accounts at the Bank of England to the Saudi Embassy accounts at Riggs National Bank in Washington, D.C.

As Summer and Swan document, funds from that Bandar account were funneled to at least two of the 9/11 hijackers, Khalid Al-Mihdhar and Nawaf Al-Hazmi. And those funds were passed through the hands of two Saudi intelligence officers, based in Southern California, who were, in effect, key handlers of the pair of 9/11 hijackers. Those two Saudi intelligence officers, Osama Basnan and Omar al-Bayoumi, were already established GID contacts to the al-Qaeda and related terrorist circles penetrated into the United States, dating back to the World Trade Center attacks of 1993.

A Surprise Twist

The Sept. 11, 2001 attacks were a product of the Anglo-Saudi alliance, forged through the Al-Yamamah deal. To this day, the Al-Yamamah story is the most sensitive strategic issue for London, Riyadh, and Washington.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was so concerned that the full story of Al-Yamamah might come out, that he ordered the British Attorney General, Sir Peter Goldsmith, to shut down the Serious Fraud Office probe into the Al-Yamamah bribery, the moment that Swiss authorities agreed to provide confidential information on one of the key Swiss-based slush funds, through which funds were channeled to black operations.

In one of the great ironies of the still-unraveling 9/11 story, a group of investors in Lloyds of London insurance syndicates, Lloyds Syndicate 3500, has filed a lawsuit in U.S. Federal Court in the District of Western Pennsylvania, demanding $215 million from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for its role in sponsoring the 9/11 attacks. The suit, filed on Sept. 8, 2011 in Johnstown, Pa., near the site of the Shanksville, Pa. 9/11 crash, named the government of Saudi Arabia, and a series of Saudi charities that provided funding for the 9/11 attackers. No mention is made of Al-Yamamah or anything remotely tied to the Al-Yamamah program.

Nevertheless, with that glaring omission, the suit provides a detailed account of the Saudi role in the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the dozen years leading up to those attacks. It is a perfect complement to the Summers-Swan account, drawing upon detailed U.S. government accounts of the interrogations of dozens of the enemy combatants held in Guantanamo Bay prison over the decade since 9/11.

The Lloyds suit is suggestive of a falling out among thieves that has the potential to break the decade-long cover-up of the real story of 9/11.

[1] For example, these articles by Jeffrey Steinberg: "Scandal of the Century Rocks British Crown and the City," EIR, June 22, 2007; "BAE Al-Yamamah Scandal Back in the Headlines," EIR, April 17, 2009; "Exposed: British BAE Hand Behind Terror," EIR, June 26, 2009.

See also, the LPAC video, "10 years Later."

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