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Main article: 1980s

1988: Al Taqwa Bank Founded; Tied to Nazi Supporters Edit

Francois Genoud (left) and Ahmad Huber, a.k.a. Albert Huber (right). [Source: Seuil, AIJAC] Leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood found the Al Taqwa Bank. This bank will later be accused of being the largest financial supporter of al-Qaeda, Hamas, the GIA in Algeria, and other organizations officially designated by the US as groups that sponsor terrorism. For instance, the Treasury Department will later claim that $60 million in funding for Hamas will pass through Al Taqwa in 1997. The bank is mostly based on both sides of the border between Swizterland and Italy, but important branches are established in Liechtenstein and the Bahamas as offshore tax havens. [US DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY, 8/29/2002] Newsweek will explain, “Al Taqwa, which means ‘Fear of God,’ was launched… by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, a secret society devoted to the creation of a worldwide Islamic government. The Brotherhood wanted to create a financial institution in which devout Muslims could invest their money. It would operate under strict Islamic law, which prohibits banks from charging interest. But investigators believe the convoluted structure of Al Taqwa made it easy to use as a money-laundering mechanism.… The [central] operation consisted of four men working at computers in a small apartment in Lugano, Switzerland. Lugano, which sits near the Italian border, is a kind of Alpine Tijuana, well known as a haven for tax evaders and money launderers.” [NEWSWEEK, 3/18/2002] Reportedly, in 1995, Italian investigators will tell a Swiss prosecutor that Al Taqwa and related entities comprise “the most important financial structure of the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic terrorist organizations.” [SALON, 3/15/2002] Six members of the bin Laden family are among the original contributors to the Bahamas branch. [WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/17/2001] A number of the bank’s leaders have ties to Nazism or fascism. For instance, when board chairman Youssef Nada was a young man, he allegedly worked with both the armed branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and Nazi Germany military intelligence. Ahmad Huber, a Swiss convert to Islam previously known as Albert Huber, is both a director of the bank and an open neo-Nazi. He proudly displays portraits of Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden next to each other in his house. [WASHINGTON POST, 4/29/2002; ASIA TIMES, 11/8/2002] According to a reporter who will interview him in 1995, Huber’s office is adorned with portraits of Hitler, Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler, and Islamic militants. [BOSTON HERALD, 11/8/2001] Huber will spend decades attempting to forge links between the neo-Nazi movement and the radical Muslim movement, speaking to and networking with both groups. He will be quoted around 2001 saying that the al-Qaeda leaders he met in January 2001 are “very discreet, well-educated, and very intelligent people.”(see Late January 2001). [FINANCIAL TIMES, 11/8/2001; PLAYBOY, 2/1/2002] The founder of Al Taqwa appears to be Francois Genoud, who will die in 1996. Genoud is a Swiss lawyer who funded the Nazis and served as a Nazi agent during World War II. After the war, he funded the secret Odessa organization, which enabled many notorious Nazi fugitives to escape to safe havens in South America and elsewhere. Authorities believe that Genoud uses Al Taqwa to fund international militants like Carlos the Jackal and bin Laden. He also paid for the legal expenses of ex-Nazis such as Klaus Barbie and Adolf Eichmann. Many Muslim radicals and neo-Nazis share a strong hatred for Jews and the United States. [SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 3/12/2002] Al Taqwa will be shut down shortly after 9/11 for its support of al-Qaeda, Hamas, and other groups officially designated as terrorist organizations (see November 7, 2001). Entity Tags: Al Taqwa Bank, Muslim Brotherhood Category Tags: Al Taqwa Bank, Terrorism Financing

1988: Ali Mohamed Fights in Afghanistan But Is Not Punished For It Edit

Ali Mohamed, now an instructor at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (see 1986), travels to Afghanistan to train mujaheddin. He tells friends that he plans to join the mujaheddin in Afghanistan and “kill Russians.” He informs supervisor Lt. Col. Steve Neely of his plans, who passes the information up the chain of command. Lt. Col. Robert Anderson, Mohamed’s commanding officer, also reports Mohamed’s suspicious activities to Fort Bragg officials and army intelligence, but gets no response. Mohamed takes one month of leave and goes to Afghanistan. No action is taken to prevent him from doing this. [NEW YORK TIMES, 12/1/1998; RALEIGH NEWS AND OBSERVER, 10/21/2001; MILLER, STONE, AND MITCHELL, 2002, PP. 143] When he returns, he boasts of his combat exploits to his colleagues. Lt. Col. Anderson writes up a second report and again gets no response. Freelance fighting would be a serious breach of military rules, and the New York Times will later note that, “The capture or death of an American serviceman in Afghanistan would have been a major international embarrassment to the United States.” However, no disciplinary action is taken against him. This leads Anderson to conclude that Mohamed’s activities are sponsored by a US intelligence agency. Anderson will state, “I think you or I would have a better chance of winning [the lottery], than an Egyptian major in the unit that assassinated [Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat would have getting a visa, getting to California… getting into the Army and getting assigned to a Special Forces unit. That just doesn’t happen.” He will add that it is equally unthinkable that an ordinary US soldier would go unpunished after fighting in a foreign war. [NEW YORK TIMES, 12/1/1998; SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 11/4/2001] Mohamed is also stealing classified documents from the base; some of them will be discovered by US investigators in 1990 (see November 5, 1990). According to a US army spokesperson, an officer working with Mohammed “did have some suspicions about what he did, but nothing came as a result of it. It really depended on who you believed.” [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 12/31/2001] Entity Tags: Steve Neely, Ali Mohamed, Robert Anderson Timeline Tags: War in Afghanistan Category Tags: Soviet-Afghan War, Ali Mohamed, US Intel Links to Islamic Militancy

1988: ’Al-Qaeda’ Possibly the Name of a Computer Database Edit

Robin Cook, British Foreign Secretary from 1997 to 2003, will later say that “al-Qaeda” was originally the name of a database. In a 2005 article, Cook will write that bin Laden was “a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the ‘80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda, literally ‘the database,’ was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujaheddin who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians.” Cook will give no explanation as to how he might know this. [GUARDIAN, 7/8/2005] Al-Qaeda the organization will be founded in 1988 (see August 11-20, 1988). Entity Tags: Robin Cook, Al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency Category Tags: Soviet-Afghan War, US Intel Links to Islamic Militancy

1988: Al Taqwa Bank Co-Founder Is Long-time CIA Asset Edit

Artist’s sketch of Said Ramadan. [Source: Wall Street Journal] In 1988, the Al Taqwa Bank is founded in Switzerland, and it quickly becomes one of the major funders for radical Islamic groups, including al-Qaeda (see 1988). The Al Taqwa Bank is closely associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, and one of its key founders, Said Ramadan, is one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s top leaders, and also the son-in-law of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ramadan helped Saudi Arabia found the Muslim World League in 1962; the charity will go on to fund al-Qaeda and many other radical groups. But there is strong evidence that Ramadan also was a long-time CIA asset. [DREYFUSS, 2005, PP. 136] Declassified Swiss documents reveal that in the 1960s, the Swiss government considered him to be, “among other things, an intelligence agent of the British and the Americans.” The Wall Street Journal will report in 2005, “Historical evidence suggests Mr. Ramadan worked with the CIA.” For instance, he traveled on a Jordanian diplomatic passport given to him by the CIA, “his expenditures are financed by the American side,” and he worked closely with CIA supported propaganda fronts. [MOTHER JONES, 1/1/2006] The Egyptian government apparently also believed Ramadan worked with the US, and that he may have had a role in a plot against Egyptian President Abddul Nasser in the 1960s. Ramadan even met with President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Oval Office in 1953. [DREYFUSS, 2005, PP. 135-138] Ramadan will die in 1995 at the age of 69. It is not known how long his ties to the CIA and possibly other intelligence agencies lasted. Journalist Robert Dreyfuss will later comment: “It’s no exaggeration to say that Ramadan is the ideological grandfather of Osama bin Laden. But Ramadan, the Muslim Brotherhood, and their Islamist allies might never have been able to plant the seeds that sprouted into al-Qaeda had they not been treated as US allies during the Cold War and had they not received both overt and covert support from Washington.” [MOTHER JONES, 1/1/2006]


1988: Bin Ladens Bail Out George W. Bush? Edit

Bush during his Harken days. [Source: Lions Gate Films] Prior to this year, President George W. Bush is a failed oilman. Three times, friends and investors have bailed him out to keep his business from going bankrupt. However, in 1988, the same year his father becomes president, some Saudis buy a portion of his small company, Harken, which has never performed work outside of Texas. Later in the year, Harken wins a contract in the Persian Gulf and starts doing well financially. These transactions seem so suspicious that the Wall Street Journal in 1991 states it “raises the question of… an effort to cozy up to a presidential son.” Two major investors in Bush’s company during this time are Salem bin Laden and Khalid bin Mahfouz. Salem bin Laden dies in a plane crash in Texas in 1988. [INTELLIGENCE NEWSLETTER, 3/2/2000; SALON, 11/19/2001] Salem bin Laden is Osama’s oldest brother; Khalid bin Mahfouz is a Saudi banker with a 20 percent stake in BCCI. The bank will be shut down a few years later and bin Mahfouz will have to pay a $225 million fine (while admitting no wrongdoing) (see October 10, 2001)). [FORBES, 3/18/2002] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Salem bin Laden, Khalid bin Mahfouz, Harken Category Tags: Saudi Arabia, Terrorism Financing, Bin Laden Family, BCCI

February 9, 1988: Emad Salem Arrives in US; Becomes FBI Informant Edit

Emad Salem, a former lieutenant colonel in the Egyptian army, arrives in New York from Egypt [WASHINGTON POST, 8/26/1993] He soon starts working for the FBI as an informant in the underworld of the New York Russian community—with particular attention to activities involving the Russian mafia and KGB. [MILLER, STONE, AND MITCHELL, 2002, PP. 69] FBI officials are wary of Salem, however, because they suspect that he may be connected to Egyptian intelligence. [MILLER, STONE, AND MITCHELL, 2002, PP. 71] Entity Tags: Emad Salem Category Tags: Other Possible Moles or Informants, 1993 WTC Bombing

April 1988: Soviet Union Announces It Will Withdraw All Troops from Afghanistan In an agreement signed in Geneva, Switzerland, the Soviet Union pledges to withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan by February 15, 1989. They will end up withdrawing the last of their soldiers on that exact date (see February 15, 1989). At the time, the Soviets have slightly over 100,000 soldiers in Afghanistan. [NEW YORK TIMES, 2/16/1989] Entity Tags: Soviet Union Timeline Tags: War in Afghanistan Category Tags: Soviet-Afghan War

April 10, 1988: US Government Uninterested in Stopping Drug Trade in Afghanistan The New York Times reports that “Afghanistan is one place where the drug issue has been subordinated to the [Reagan] administration’s policy of supporting anti-Communist insurgencies.” In interviews with The New York Times in 1986, dozens of Afghan rebel leaders admitted cultivating and selling opium poppies. US intelligence suspects that the same planes and trucks sending US aid to rebels in Afghanistan are returning to Pakistan with drugs. However, little is being done about this. One anonymous Reagan administration official tells the Times: “We’re not going to let a little thing like drugs get in the way of the political situation. And when the Soviets leave and there’s no money in the country, it’s not going to be a priority to disrupt the drug trade.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 4/10/1998] Timeline Tags: War in Afghanistan Category Tags: Soviet-Afghan War, Drugs

April 10, 1988: Munitions Explosion Hides Evidence US Aid to Mujaheddin Is Really Funding A. Q. Khan’s Nuclear Program In the 1980s, ISI Director Akhtar Abdur Rahman was supervising a secret trade in which CIA weapons meant to go to mujaheddin fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan were sold to others by the ISI. The profits were then used to fund the Kahuta Research Laboratories, which A. Q. Khan was using to develop a Pakistani nuclear bomb (see 1980s). To disguise where the weapons were coming from, the CIA bought Soviet-made weapons on the black market then shipped them to the ISI. The ISI stored them at an arms depot in Ojiri, near the town of Rawalpindi. By 1988, the US finally demands an independent audit of the depot, after persistent reports of corruption. On April 10, 1998, several weeks before US inspectors are to arrive, the arms depot blows up. The explosion is so massive that it kills 100 and injures over 1,000. The Pakistani government will officially determine the explosion was an accident. However, Hamid Gul, who will be made ISI director a year later, conducts a secret audit for the ISI about the explosion and confirms that it was caused by sabotage to hide the massive theft of munitions. The US ambassador to Pakistan estimates that about $125 million worth of explosives are destroyed in the blast. [LEVY AND SCOTT-CLARK, 2007, PP. 131-132] Entity Tags: Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Akhtar Abdur Rahman, Central Intelligence Agency, Kahuta Research Laboratories, Hamid Gul Timeline Tags: A. Q. Khan's Nuclear Network Category Tags: Soviet-Afghan War, Pakistan and the ISI, Pakistani Nukes & Islamic Militancy

August 11-20, 1988: Bin Laden Forms Al-Qaeda

The notes from al-Qaeda’s formation meeting. The short lines on the right side are the list of attendees. [Source: CNN] Bin Laden conducts two meetings to discuss “the establishment of a new military group,” according to notes that are found later. Notes reveal the group is initially called al-Qaeda al-Askariya, which roughly translates to “the military base.” But the name soon shortens to just al-Qaeda, meaning “the base” or “the foundation.” [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 2/19/2003; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 131-134] With the Soviets in the process of withdrawing from Afghanistan, it is proposed to create the new group to keep military jihad, or holy war, alive after the Soviets are gone. The notes don’t specify what the group will do exactly, but it concludes, “Initial estimate, within six months of al-Qaeda (founding), 314 brothers will be trained and ready.” In fact, al-Qaeda will remain smaller than that for years to come. Fifteen people attend these two initial meetings. [WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 131-134] In addition to bin Laden, other attendees include:

Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the head of the Egyptian militant group Islamic Jihad. [NEW YORKER, 9/9/2002] 
Mohammed Atef, a.k.a. Abu Hafs. 
Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, a.k.a. Abu Hajer. 
Jamal al-Fadl. 
Wael Hamza Julaidan. 
Mohammed Loay Bayazid, a US citizen, who is notetaker for the meetings. [WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 131-134] 

Al-Fadl will reveal details about the meetings to US investigators in 1996 (see June 1996-April 1997). Notes to the meeting will be found in Bosnia in early 2002. [NEW YORKER, 9/9/2002] It will take US intelligence years even to realize a group named al-Qaeda exists; the first known incidence of US intelligence being told the name will come in 1993 (see May 1993). Entity Tags: Mohammed Loay Bayazid, Osama bin Laden, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, Jamal al-Fadl, Mohammed Atef, Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Wael Hamza Julaidan Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline, War in Afghanistan Category Tags: Soviet-Afghan War, Warning Signs, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Osama Bin Laden

August 17, 1988: Pakistani President Zia Killed in Plane Crash

Arnold Raphel. [Source: Robert Nickelsberg / Time Life Pictures / Getty Images] Pakistan’s president Muhammad Zia ul-Haq is killed in an airplane crash. The plane went into a steep dive, then recovered regaining altitude. Then it dove a second time and crashed. [YOUSAF AND ADKIN, 1992, PP. 91-92] ISI Director Akhtar Abdur Rahman, US ambassador to Pakistan Arnold Raphel, and other Pakistani and US officials are also killed. A joint US-Pakistani investigation fails to definitively explain what caused the crash. [COLL, 2004, PP. 178-179] According to Mohammad Yousaf, the ISI’s Afghan Bureau chief, the crash was due to sabotage. Yousaf does not know who was responsible, but later says that the US State Department was instrumental in the cover-up. Yousaf points out several reasons why the State Department might want to cover up the crime even if the US were not involved in the assassination itself. [YOUSAF AND ADKIN, 1992, PP. 91-92] Richard Clarke, a State Department analyst who later will become counterterrorism “tsar” for Presidents Clinton and Bush Jr., believes that Zia’s death and the destruction of a major weapons stockpile used by the CIA and ISI around the same time (see April 10, 1988) were both ordered by the Soviets as revenge for being defeated in Afgnanistan. Clarke says, “I could never find the evidence to prove that the Soviet KGB had ordered these two acts as payback for their bitter defeat, but in my bones I knew they had.” [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 50] Entity Tags: Mohammad Yousaf, Akhtar Abdur Rahman, Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, Richard A. Clarke Category Tags: Pakistan and the ISI

Autumn 1988: CIA Has Secret Slush Fund for Covert Operations at BCCI; Fails to Tell US Customs about It

William von Raab. [Source: Sobran.com] In 1991, the Financial Times will report, “[T]here are persistent allegations that slush funds [at the criminal BCCI bank] were used for illegal, covert CIA operations.” US Customs Commissioner William von Raab will later allege that in the autumn of 1988, as he is preparing arrests regarding drug money laundering charges against a BCCI subsidiary in Florida, he approaches CIA Deputy Director Robert Gates for help. Gates does give Raab a CIA document about BCCI. But, according to the Times, “Gates failed to disclose the CIA’s own use of BCCI to channel payments for covert operations, which the customs chief learned about only later—and thanks to documents supplied to him by British customs agents in London.” The Times will cite the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal as one example of how the CIA used BCCI for covert operations. [FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/10/1991] Entity Tags: William von Raab, Central Intelligence Agency, Bank of Credit and Commerce International, Robert M. Gates Timeline Tags: Iran-Contra Affair Category Tags: Soviet-Afghan War, BCCI

October 1988: State Department Envoy Warns Against Continued Support of Militant Islamists

Milton Bearden. [Source: Publicity photo] State Department Special Envoy Ed McWilliams, stationed in Islamabad, sends a widely distributed cable to Washington warning that continued support for the Islamist militants will have disastrous consequences. This leads to a long and bitter debate between those who agree with McWilliams, and those, including CIA Station Chief Milton Bearden, who believe that the manipulation of the Islamists has been a huge success that can and should be continued and replicated elsewhere. In response to the warning, the embassy investigates McWilliams, searching for weaknesses such as alcoholism and homosexuality. [COLL, 2004, PP. 184] Additionally, the CIA “raises serious questions about his handling of classified materials.” [COLL, 2004, PP. 176-204] Entity Tags: Milton Bearden, Ed McWilliams Category Tags: Soviet-Afghan War, US Intel Links to Islamic Militancy

November 18, 1988: Presidential Order Details Government Agencies’ Responsibilities in National Emergencies President Ronald Reagan signs a directive that details the US government’s plan for dealing with national emergencies, including a nuclear attack against the country. Executive Order 12656, “Assignment of Emergency Preparedness Responsibilities,” sets out the specific responsibilities of federal departments and agencies in national security emergencies. [US PRESIDENT, 11/18/1988] It deals with the nation’s Continuity of Government (COG) plan, which would ensure the federal government continued to function should such an emergency occur. [WASHINGTON POST, 3/1/2002; ATLANTIC MONTHLY, 3/2004] The order states, “The policy of the United States is to have sufficient capabilities at all levels of government to meet essential defense and civilian needs during any national security emergency.” It defines a “national security emergency” as “any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological emergency, or other emergency, that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States.” The order directs the head of every federal department and agency to “ensure the continuity of essential functions” during such an emergency by, among other things, “providing for succession to office and emergency delegation of authority.” According to Executive Order 12656, the National Security Council is “the principal forum for consideration of national security emergency preparedness policy,” and the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is to “assist in the implementation of national security emergency preparedness policy by coordinating with the other federal departments and agencies and with State and local governments.” [US PRESIDENT, 11/18/1988] The COG plan this directive deals with will be activated for the first time on 9/11, in response to the terrorist attacks that day (see (Between 9:45 a.m. and 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [WASHINGTON POST, 3/1/2002; ABC NEWS, 4/25/2004] Author Peter Dale Scott will later comment that, by applying the COG plan to “any national security emergency,” Executive Order 12656 means that the attacks of 9/11 will meet the requirements for the plan to be put into action. [SCOTT, 2007, PP. 185-186] In fact, a presidential directive in 1998 will update the COG plan specifically to deal with the threat posed by terrorists (see Early 1998 and October 21, 1998). [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 166-167 AND 170; WASHINGTON POST, 6/4/2006]

Timeline linksEdit

September 8 September 9 September 10 September 11

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