This past week, as it usually is for me around the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, is a time for reflection. While I personally did not lose anyone close to me, I reflect on how the world and our country has changed since then, and how I have changed in response. The most predominant personal impact this made was to kill any trace of political apathy I previously had. From that day forward, I really began to pay attention. To look beyond the headlines, beyond the front page stories, beyond what was happening to understand why. Why? Why was it that I could walk home from the subway with an American flag bandanna wrapped around my head feeling the warmth of patriotic pride as I smiled at the 50, 80, sometimes 100 cars a day flying tiny American flags from their antennas in the weeks after 9/11, yet when hearing the answer to the question, "Why?" stated, "Because they hate us for our freedom", I inwardly recoiled from the stink of bullshit? That stink compelled me to do my own research. My patriotic hobby became an avocation when our government willfully exposed covert US intelligence sources and compromised national security. My method for exposing the guilty parties began with the question, "Why was Valerie Plame's CIA cover blown?"
During the course of my research on the cases of Valerie Plame and Sibel Edmonds while writing the first and second editions of American Judas which led to the creation of this blog, I came across many of the same organizations and characters whose paths crossed on the road to 9/11. The primary catalyst for this was Paul Thompson. In the summer of 2004, his research, which was being compiled at the Center for Cooperative Research but is now operated by the History Commons website, helped me connect the dots and build a solid case. I highly recommend the published book of Thompson's research, The Terror Timeline.
One particular dot that connected between the events of 9/11 and the outing of Valerie Plame that I took note of during the summer of 2004 was an organization I was previously unaware of called the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI). What's interesting is that while the first chapter of Thompson's book detailing which "seeds of 9/11 were planted long before the Bush administration came to power" begins in 1979 with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, BCCI began in 1972. While Thompson includes only a few research entries in The Terror Timeline on BCCI, I believe they validate my contention that BCCI is the genesis of 9/11.
What was BCCI?
Jonathan Beaty and S.C. Gwynne broke the story of BCCI for Time Magazine and wrote a book about it titled The Outlaw Bank. To try to encapsulate just what the $20 billion scandal of BCCI was about, they described it as such in the introduction:
BCCI was the largest criminal corporate enterprise ever, the biggest Ponzi scheme, the most pervasive money-laundering operation in history, the only bank - so far as anyone knows - that ran a brisk sideline business in both conventional and nuclear weapons, gold, drugs, turnkey mercenary armies, intelligence and counterintelligence, shipping, and commodities from cement in the Middle East to Honduran coffee to Vietnamese beans.
Though it was fundamentally a financial fraud, BCCI itself was not a bank in any conventional sense. Or, more precisely, banking was only a part of the global organism, the ingeniously constructed platform from which its other lines of business were launched. Taken collectively, it was more of an armed Renaissance city-state of Machiavelli's era than a modern corporation. This "bank" possessed its very own diplomatic corps, intelligence network, and private army, its own shipping and commodities trading companies. And BCCI itself was so thoroughly enmeshed in the official affairs of Pakistan that it was often impossible to separate the two.
BCCI was bigger even than that: It was the unsettling next-stage evolution of the multinational corporation, the one the theorists had been predicting for years but which never seemed to be able to shed its sovereign boundaries. (General Motors and Mitsubishi are both good examples of this - huge companies with holdings and operations all over the world that nonetheless persist in being fundamentally American and Japanese entities.) In taking that step, BCCI became truly stateless and very nearly invisible to the authorities in each country where it did business. The BCCI scandal shows what sort of frightening mischief can be made in a world where trillions of electronic dollars routinely wash in and out of the international financial markets.
Nor was BCCI a conspiracy. In much of what it did, BCCI reflected the way the world works. The organization was designed to mimic the way the world's largest corporations and banks move and hide their money. It was no accident that BCCI was incorporated in Luxembourg, one of the least regulated nations on earth and a favorite haven of the money men at the Fortune 500. It was no accident that it ran its wildest manipulations through what amounted to a branch in the Cayman Islands - a place long favored by major banks to hold offshore money away from the ken of the IRS and banking authorities. BCCI had mastered these black arts so well that it became the bank of choice for the intelligence agencies of the Western hemisphere, who found its deeply secretive methods more and more useful. BCCI was necessary to them; it was part of the way they worked too. It was those alliances, along with bribery on a grand scale, that allowed the criminal bank to flourish for two decades with effective immunity from the law.
One of Jonathan Beaty's primary sources in his initial investigation of BCCI for Time Magazine was investigator and Chief Counsel to Senator John Kerry's Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations, Jack Blum. As he put it:
The problem that we are all having in dealing with this bank is that . . . it had 3,000 criminal customers and every one of those 3,000 criminal customers is a page 1 story. So if you pick up on one of [BCCI's] accounts you could find financing from nuclear weapons, gun running, narcotics dealing, and you will find all manner and means of crime around the world in the records of this bank.
I believe this explains part of why, as much as investigators were able to uncover about this scandal, the full truth will never be revealed. It is the way the world works. It infects everything. BCCI may have been closed for business in July 1991, but the way it operated lives on. Paul Thompson documented this on page 259-260 of The Terror Timeline with this entry expanded for the History Commons website:
October 10, 2001: Report: Bin Laden’s Financial Network Is Successor to the BCCI Bank
A 70-page French intelligence report claims: “The financial network of [Osama] bin Laden, as well as his network of investments, is similar to the network put in place in the 1980s by BCCI for its fraudulent operations, often with the same people (former directors and cadres of the bank and its affiliates, arms merchants, oil merchants, Saudi investors). The dominant trait of bin Laden’s operations is that of a terrorist network backed up by a vast financial structure.” The BCCI was the largest Islamic bank in the world before it collapsed in July 1991 (see July 5, 1991). A senior US investigator will later say US agencies are looking into the ties outlined by the French because “they just make so much sense, and so few people from BCCI ever went to jail. BCCI was the mother and father of terrorist financing operations.” The report identifies dozens of companies and individuals who were involved with BCCI and were found to be dealing with bin Laden after the bank collapsed. Many went on to work in banks and charities identified by the US and others as supporting al-Qaeda. About six ex-BCCI figures are repeatedly named, including Saudi multi-millionaire Ghaith Pharaon (see October 10, 2001). The role of Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz in supporting bin Laden is emphasized in the report. In 1995, bin Mahfouz paid a $225 million fine in a settlement with US prosecutors for his role in the BCCI scandal. [Washington Post, 2/17/2002] Bin Laden lost money when BCCI was shut down, but may have benefited in the long term as other militants began relying on his financial network instead of BCCI’s (see July 1991 and After July 1991).
I hope the preceding passage clarifies why I consider BCCI to be the genesis of 9/11. I've always believed that to uncover any conspiracy, one must follow the advice that Deep Throat gave to Bob Woodward in All The President's Men: "Follow the money". Ultimately, this is one of the primary reasons why I consider Thompson's research superior to The 9/11 Commission Report. Regarding the failure of the US government to determine the origin of the money used for the 9/11 attacks, page 172 of The 9/11 Commission states, "Ultimately the question is of little practical significance."
Once again, I recoil from the stink of bullshit.