Is it a conspiracy or a coincidence? There is a long and tangled history between the Bush family and the elite of Saudi Arabia.
There are many business and connections between the Bush family and the elite of Saudi Arabia.
It begins in the 1970's in Houston, Texas, when George W. Bush was just starting out in his family's two businesses of politics and oil. The powerful - and very rich - Bin Laden family helped fund his first venture into oil.
The cozy friendship continued for decades. After a terrorist attack at a barracks in Saudi Arabia which killed 19 Americans, the bin Laden family received a multi-billion dollar contract to re-build. And incredibly, George Bush Sr. was in a business meeting at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Washington on the morning of September 11th with one of Osama Bin Laden's brothers.
Below is a timeline that details the relationship between the Bin Laden and Bush families that culminates in the tragic events of September 11th.
George W. Bush joins the Texas Air National Guard, a coveted position that ensures he doesn't have to serve in Vietnam. While a member of the Guard, Bush meets and befriends Jim Bath, a former Air Force pilot and budding entrepreneur.
George H. W. Bush becomes director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). During his tenure, Bush helps provide training for the Saudi royal family's palace guard, cementing a relationship that proves critical to the Bush family's fortunes. Bush also privatizes various CIA assets, with Bath considered one of the beneficiaries because of his involvement in the aircraft business. Bath will later tell a business associate he works for the CIA and was recruited by Bush Sr.
Jim Bath is alleged to be the link between the Bin Laden and Bush families.
Salem Bin Laden, older brother to future al Qaeda leader Osama, enters into a trust agreement with Jim Bath, whereby Bath will act as the bin Laden family's representative in North America, investing money in various business ventures. Bath also becomes the business representative of Khalid bin Mahfouz, a member of Saudi Arabia's most powerful banking family and owners of the National Commercial Bank, the principal bank of the Saudi royal family.
Charles W. "Bill" White, a former Annapolis graduate and US Navy pilot, graduates from Harvard's business school. He is then introduced to Jim Bath who is looking for someone to manage his real estate company. Bath hires White as his partner. Money from the bin Laden and bin Mahfouz families is invested in Bath's real estate company. Among other things, Bath buys the Saudis an airport, office and apartment buildings, and invests in Texas banks. Eventually, Salem Bin Laden and Khalid bin Mahfouz buy an enormous mansion in River Oaks, Houston's most affluent neighborhood. Read an interview with Bill White
Bush Jr. was a young man when he received funding for his first oil venture from Jim Bath.
George W. Bush starts up an oil company in Texas called Arbusto 78. Bath will invest money from Salem bin Laden and Khalid bin Mahfouz in this new company. Bill White is told by Bath that more than $1-million of the Saudis' money was pumped into Bush's venture.
The Carter administration, through the CIA, begins to fund the fledgling mujahadeen in Afghanistan – six months before the Soviet invasion – in the hopes of drawing the USSR into its own Vietnam.
George H.W. Bush runs for the presidential nomination of the Republican Party, but loses to Ronald Reagan. He becomes Reagan's running mate and eventual vice-president.
Osama bin Laden, son of the founder of the Bin Laden Group, the largest construction company in Saudi Arabia, travels to Afghanistan to help the mujahadeen in their bloody war against the Soviet Union.
Bill White and Jim Bath have a falling out. Bath then launches 28 frivolous lawsuits against White, leading to White's financial ruin and expulsion from Houston's business community. White fights the lawsuits, refusing to take a huge pay off to keep silent about his knowledge of Bath's relationship to the Saudis and Bush family. Read an interview with Bill White
Harken Energy, a company that George W. Bush's failed oil companies have been folded into, receives $25-million stock offering underwritten by significant players connected to the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), a Middle Eastern banking concern. Bush is key to Harken obtaining the money.
The Soviets pull out of Afghanistan after the CIA spends (US) $3-billion on the largest covert operation in its history. Osama bin Laden returns to Saudi Arabia, angry with how the Americans abandoned Afghanistan after the Soviet retreat.
Bin Mahfouz lived in Houston and had ties to both the bin Ladens and Jim Bath.
The BCCI scandal breaks. The bank is exposed as a massive criminal enterprise, having catered, during it's history, to some of the most notorious villains of the 20th century, including Saddam Hussein, Manuel Noriega, terrorist leaders Abu Nidal, and the Medellin drug cartel, as well as for being involved in money laundering and the Iran contra scandal and for pilfering investors' cash. Following BCCI's seizure in 1991, Khalid Bin Mahfouz (see above) was indicted in New York State on the grounds that he had withdrawn sizable investments in the bank just before it was seized. In the end, all the charges and claims were dropped after he made payments of $225 million into a Federal Reserve settlement account mainly for the benefit of depositors and creditors who had suffered losses and $245 million to BCCI's court-appointed Liquidators also for the benefit of depositors and creditors.
The first Gulf War occurs, whereby George H. W. Bush is determined to push Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait to ensure the Iraqi dictator doesn't have a stranglehold on world oil markets. Osama bin Laden urges the Saudi royal family to find an Arab solution, by raising an army on their own to fight Hussein. When the royal family invites the U.S. in to do the job instead, Bin Laden becomes disenchanted with the House of al-Saud. His anger grows when after the war the US leaves 20,000 troops behind in Saudi Arabia. Soon Bin Laden makes a deal with the Saudi royal family: he is allowed to leave the kingdom with his fortune, and will receive funding for al Qaeda from various Saudi charities and banks, but in return he must not launch attacks against the royal family. Bin Laden settles in the Sudan, aiming his ire at the US.
George H. W. Bush loses to Bill Clinton. Eventually the former president becomes an adviser to the Carlyle Group, a powerful Washington-based private investment firm with interests in the defense industry. Among his duties, Bush helps strengthen Carlyle's ties to the Saudi royal family. He will later visit Saudi Arabia and the bin Laden family compound. The bin Ladens eventually invest in the Carlyle Group. Carlyle buys a company called Vinnell Corp., which provides training to the Saudi palace guard. George W. Bush briefly sits on the board of directors of one of Carlyle's subsidiaries.
The first attack on the World Trade Centre, which is connected to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, occurs.
George W. Bush becomes governor of Texas.
Five American soldiers are killed in a car bomb in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis quickly execute the suspects they arrest, ignoring wishes from the FBI to interrogate them beforehand.
The Taliban come to power in Afghanistan with the backing of Pakistan's notorious intelligence agency, the ISI.
Osama bin Laden is forced to move from the Sudan to Afghanistan under pressure from the Clinton administration. Neither the US nor the Saudis make an effort to arrest him – despite the opportunity offered up to them by the Sudanese government.
A truck bomb blows up the al-Khobar barracks, housing US air force personnel in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 soldiers. A group called Saudi Hezbollah claims responsibility. Eventually, the Clinton administration drops the investigation because it does not want to upset relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran – the country that funds Hezbollah.
The Saudis meet with an al Qaeda representative at a Paris hotel in 1996.
A meeting of prominent Saudis occurs in a Paris hotel. Among the attendees is the head of Saudi intelligence, Turki bin Faisal. They meet with a representative of al Qaeda and agree to extend the earlier arrangement made between the Saudi royal family and Osama bin Laden – whereby in return for cash, al Qaeda agrees not to attack inside Saudi Arabia.
The CIA produces an internal report that documents the numerous Saudi charities that are funding terrorists. Osama bin Laden's name is mentioned.
Al Qaeda makes it most audacious attack to date by blowing up US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 people.
Ziad Jarrah, pilot of Flight 93, which would crash into a field in Pennsylvania on 9/11, is stopped and interrogated at an airport in United Arab Emirates (UAE). He is returning from al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and is carrying Islamic religious material on him. The US is informed of the interrogation but not the details.
A high-powered meeting of al Qaeda occurs in an apartment complex in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Attending the meeting is Khalid Shaykh Mohammed, the number three man in al Qaeda and mastermind behind the 1998 US embassy attacks, and architect of the USS Cole and 9/11 attacks to come. Also at the meeting is Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, two Saudi citizens who would end up as hijackers on Flight 77, the plane that crashes into the Pentagon on 9/11.
The CIA learns about the meeting beforehand and asks the Malaysian secret police to place it under surveillance. Video footage and photographs of the dozen men in attendance are taken, though no tape recording is possible. After the meeting breaks up, Al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar fly to the US on their own passports, landing in Los Angeles. There they are met by Omar al-Bayoumi, a Saudi national who works for the Saudi civil aviation authority. Just prior to picking up the two would-be hijackers, Al-Bayoumi meets with a member of the Saudi consulate in LA – a man connected to terrorist activity.
Al-Bayoumi takes al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi to San Diego, puts them up in an apartment, signs a lease, holds a party for them, enrolls them in flight school and gives them money. Later, the FBI concludes that al-Bayoumi is likely a Saudi intelligence agent. Al-Bayoumi also passes on thousands of dollars to the hijackers that originate from Princess Haifa, wife of Prince Bandar Saudi ambassador to the US.
Members of the Hamburg cell, including ringleader Mohammed Atta, enter the US. They are traveling on Saudi visas, all of which contain errors on them.
Al-Hazmi and Al-Mihdhar move into the home of a local imam in San Diego, Abdussattar Shaikh. The imam is an FBI informant. In fact, Shaikh holds meetings with his FBI handler while al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar sit in a room next door. Shaikh contends he was never told what mission the hijackers were on. His FBI handler, meanwhile, was never informed by his superiors to look out for al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar.
The USS Cole, sitting in a harbour off the coast of Yemen, is attacked by a boat laden with explosives, killing 17 sailors.
George W. Bush is elected president of the US in a contested election. Support for his campaign from the oil industry is generous.
In the months leading up to 9/11, the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency receive a burgeoning mountain of intelligence that a terrorist attack of some magnitude, and launched by Al Qaeda, is imminent. They assume the attack will happen overseas.
The CIA and FBI begin to piece together the importance of the individuals who met a year earlier in Malaysia. Despite the information they have, neither al-Hazmi nor al-Mihdhar are placed on the State Department and Customs watch list.
Al-Hazmi is stopped for speeding in Oklahoma. He is let go because his name does not appear in the police officer's data bank as a wanted man.
The CIA will later determine that Khalid Shaykh Mohammed, architect of 9/11 and al Qaeda's other attacks, was entering the US as late as this month, despite the fact he is a well-known figure in the terrorist netherworld, his name first becoming known to the CIA as early as 1995.
CIA and FBI meet to talk about al-Mihdhar. But the CIA does not hand over critical information to the FBI. Again, the men are not placed on any watch list and a search for them is not initiated.
A Phoenix, Az.-based FBI counter-terrorism agent writes a lengthy memo in which he says it has been noticed that a high number of Arabs, possibly with connections to al Qaeda, are taking flying lessons in local flight schools. His memo is ignored by FBI headquarters.
President Bush receives a detailed and lengthy presidential daily briefing from the CIA in which Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda's aim of launching an attack against the US is discussed. To this day, the Bush White House refuses to release the contents of this briefing to Congressional inquiries into 9/11.
The CIA finally puts al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar's name on the watch lists. By then it is too late. The FBI and CIA do a limited search for the men.
The attack occurs. The morning of the attack George Bush Sr. is meets with members of the Carlyle Group in Washington. Bin Laden's own brother is at the meeting. Members of the Bin Laden family are allowed to leave the U.S. without questioning two days later.