The Lion’s Den Enters The Sudan – Adam Fitzgerald
January 22, 1991….The Saudi’s were told the Iraqi Army had invaded the Kuwaiti town of Wafra, the Iraqi infantry (Third Force, 1st Mechanized Division) were just 791 kilometers (491 miles) away from Saudi Arabia. However Russian recon planes dismissed the claims that the Iraqi military were close to invasion of the Kingdom. It didn’t deter the victorious and lean young Saudi, fresh off his latest accomplishment (a ten year battle against the Soviets)…. Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden (Osama Bin Laden) went directly into a meeting with the highest Saudi officials as they configured what to do about an impending Iraqi invasion headed by it’s authoritarian leader, Saddam Hussein. Bin Laden was fresh off his latest victorious battle, the Battle of Jaji, where the voracious Saudi constructed a compound for his Afghan fighters, wanting to finally dispose of the final remaining Soviet military and communist backed Afghan Army in the Patkia Province located in the capitol Gardez, Afghanistan an Eastern landscape. The battle lasted 54 days, which saw Bin Laden’s Mujaheddin army which was estimated from 50 members, to numbering “in the thousands”, having drawn recruits from the surrounding area. Major tribal leaders also participated, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (Hizib-i-Islami), Jalauddin Haqqaani (Haqqani Network), Abdullah Azzam and Mohammed Anwar. The compound in which Bin Laden had built for the battle was the primary factor in winning the contest, it was named “The Lion’s Den” (al-Masada). Many of the notable Afghan’s took part in the conflict, Wael Juladin, Abu Hafs al-Masri (Mohammed Atef), Ennam Aranout, Abu Ubaihdah al-Banshiri. The daily reporting of the battle was chronicled by Jamal Khashoggi, for the Saudi publications, Asharq al-Awsat and Al Majila. Khashoggi would be found murdered while visiting a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on
The meeting had the Saudi’s leading military and intelligence officials, which involved Saudi Deputy Minister, Abdul-Rahman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Saudi Defense Minister, Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Director of the General Intelligence, Turki bin Faisal Al Saud and of course King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The high level meeting was also at odds with many of the Sudairi Seven, a powerful alliance of seven full brothers within the House of Ibn Saud who was the father of all seven, and all whom opposed having foreign military to intervene on their behalf. Bin Laden knew this and gave an incredulous proposal. Allow the victorious Afghan Mujaheddin to become the focal point for the defense of the Saudi Kingdom without using it’s own feeble military or any other foreign military. A proposal in which caused the members of the meeting to become astonished at such an obscene scenario. It was flatly rejected. The following item regarding a foreign military to defend the Kingdom was next, the United States was the obvious choice. It’s long standing alliance which dates back to the Woodrow Wilson presidency, while also also possessing the world’s most formidable military which can dispel the Iraqi military with relative ease. King Fahd also was a staucnh supporter of the United States, in which a CIA analyst once heard Fahd declare…”After Allah, we can count on the United States.”
Many within the religious sector of the Kingdom opposed the decision, vehemently. King Fahd’s decision was also opposed by the Sudairi Seven lineage. It mattered not in the final declaration. On August 8th 1990, the United States military was ordered to land at Riyadh Air Force Base. Bin Laden enraged at the notion that “Kafir” (disbelievers) would set foot in the most revered country in all of the Islamic world, The Kingdom in which housed the most holiest places, Mecca and Medina. The Saudi’s knew of the threat Bin Laden posed, and restricted his passport and families finances, in which came directly from his father’s construction firm, the Saudi BinLaden Group. Bin Laden was ordered to remain under house arrest, while they contemplated on what to do with the embittered, young Jihadi. According to author, Gerald Posner, Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud would often visit Bin Laden and had given him a secret proposal backed by the highest Saudi officials…a return of his passport, releasing his families assets but under the condition that he leaves Saudi Arabia without any retaliatory attacks. An offer in which was agreed by Bin Laden.
Bin Laden then relocated to Afghanistan, which was still under a civil war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance. It was here that a movement which would configure of Afghan Mujahid’s from the Soviet War would begin. According to documents found at the Benevolence International Foundation a Bosnian office located in Zenica, in which was used to prosecute Enaam Aranout its chief executive officer for racketeering, these papers would show a very high level meeting in Khost, Afghanistan. A Meeting just one year prior to Bin Laden’s expulsion from Saudi Arabia, which was attended by Jamal al-Fadl, who would become a U.S state’s witness against other Al Qaeda subjects in 2001.
According to Jamal al-Fadl’s testimony in the U.S vs Usama Bin Laden trial, a high level meeting took place in a guest house in Khost, Afghanistan. There Abu Ayoub al-Iraqi, Yasin Abu Ayoub al-Iraqi would hand over some documents for Jamal al-Fadl to sign. It was a document which stated that the designated singer would declare unwavering loyalty to a group led by a single emir which would continue the jihad outside of Afghanistan. Another meeting would take place at Jihad Wel al-Farouq training camp (renamed to Al Farouq) which would have many signatures to this group, they consisted of Afghan Mujahid and Egyptian Islamic Jihad members:
Abu Ayoub al-Iraqi
Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri
Abu Faraj al-Yemeni
Ayman al-Zawahiri (Dr. Abdel Moez)
Sayyed Imam Al-Sharif (Dr.Fadl)
Abu Burhan al-Iraqi
Abu Hafs al-Masri (Mohamed Atef)
Abu Musab al-Saudi
Abu Fahdl al-Makee
Mamdouh Mahmud Salim
Jamal al-Fadl explained for New York prosecutors that during the meeting, Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri would hand out the documents which stated the group’s agendas., rules and duties, it also had designated committees:
Abu Hafs el-Khabir
Abu Ibrahim el-Iraqi
Abu Faraj al-Yemeni
Abu Fahdl al-Makee
Sayyed El Masry
Aby Ayoub al-Iraqi
Khalifa al-Mucat Omani
Abu Burhan al-Iraqi
Abu Mohamed El Masri
Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri
Abu Hafs al-Masry
Saif Alislam El Masry
Abu Hafs al-Mansori
Abu Khaleed al-Madani
Fatwah & Religious Studies Committee:
Abu Saad al-Sharif
Abu Faraj al-Yemeni
Abu Ibrahim al-Iraqi Harjer
Dr. Fadhl El Masry
Media Coverage Committee:
Abu Musab Reuter
The General Emir would be Osama Bin Laden. The group would be called, Al Qaeda (the base). The document had to be signed, declaring unwavering loyalty (bayat) to Al Qaeda. It was not known at the time what the primary focus of Jihad was towards. As Bin Laden was in Kandahar, Afghanistan after his release from house arrest. Members of the newly constructed Al Qaeda group, which had to remain secret from conversation with others, along with Bin Laden discussed where to relocate. There were rumors of a new Islamic government in the Sudan, led by the military coup headed by Omar al-Bashir who became the new Sudanese President as they forced Sadiq al-Mahdi out from office in June 1989. He would go on to construct the National Congress Party. However there was an even more dominant figure in the Islamist world, known to many as one of the leading religious ideologues as Hassan al-Turabi, who headed the National Islamic Front, which would become a threat to the political adversary led by al-Bashir in 1999. Turabi had invited the young Saudi, Osama Bin Laden, to come to the Sudan knowing full well of the man’s financial stature and what he could bring to the beleaguered, starving nation.
Bin Laden would send a convoy led by Abu Hamman al-Saudi, Abu Hajar al-Iraqi and Abu Hassan al-Sudani to visit Hassan Turabi and find out the motivations of the religious emir and what it could bring to Al Qaeda. When they returned, the news was positive. Turabi can be trusted and was a man of strong religious faith. Turabi would also declare that any Muslim, coming from any nation on earth, would be welcomed into the country…any Muslim without a visa, would also be welcomed. The Sudan would be the only nation on earth to allow the undocumented to enter it’s borders. Bin Laden would arrive in the Sudan in 1992. He was met with a celebrated, military parade and lavish pomp and circumstance. Almost immediately Bin Laden had rented and bought guesthouses in Khartoum. Bin Laden’s fortune was estimated at approximately 250 million dollars at this point, in which he would take part in purchasing farmland along the Southern part of the Sudan, one in which was purchased at $250,000 dollars, Al Damazin Farms.
The transaction was finalized under Ayman al-Zawahiri, according to Jamal al-Fadl, who was at this time a financier for Al Qaeda. Bin Laden then dictated to Abu Fahdl al-Makee to purchase Soba Farms in which he paid $180,000. New roads, pharmacies, schools would all be built under the arrangements of Bin Laden. Turabi was rather pleased at how the Saudi upstart in Bin Laden received the Sudanese people. Training camps, or “refreshment courses” as Jamal al-Fadl would call them would train in explosives and firearms. The explosives training would be led by Saif al-Islam al-Masri, who would instruct Ali Mohamed (personal bodyguard to Bin Laden) get explosives training from Hezbollah. Saif al-Adel and Abu Talima al-Sudani. Bin Laden would also purchase businesses so the Al Qaeda group can continue expanding it’s profits. These businesses were, Themar al-Mubakaka, Taba Investments, Al Hijra Construction, Ladin International, Wadi Al Aqiq, Al Qudurat Transportation.
Meanwhile Bin Laden would continue railing against the Saudi government and its disposed leader, King Fahd (who suffered a stroke), making Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud as the “de facto regent” leader due to Fahd’s incapacitate state. The Saudi’s reacted by advising Prince Turki to visit Bin Laden in Khartoum, where Bin Laden had residence there by Al-Mashtal Street in the affluent Al-Riyadh quarter. It did not have the effect the Kingdom had hoped for. They would end up revoking Bin Laden’s citizenship and had once again frozen his families assets, they also wen t a step further…..asking the family to end his annual 7 million dollar stipend altogether. Bakr Bin Laden, half brother to Osama, would announce as chairman to the Saudi BinLaden Group, that the Bin Laden family has officially disowned him…removing his profile from the family business.
The summer of 1992 would witness U.S. President George H.W Bush announcing that the U.S. military would support the multinational U.N. relief effort in Somalia which was under a civil war that saw large tribal factions fighting each other for dominance in the region. Mogadishu would experience the worst of the war, with over 20,000 dead. Somalia’s agriculture would suffer from bombardment, crops would die this lead to mass starvation. The United Somali Congress under the leadership of Mohammed Farrah Aidid would be the main antagonists towards the Somali Armed Forces under the direction of Siad Barre, Somalia’s President. According to Peter Bergen, who would end up interviewing shortly after, Bin Laden affirmed to him that Al Qaeda ended up training Aidid’s militia in preparation for U.S troops landing in Mogadishu. Bin Laden also admitted to Al Quds Al Arabia, (London based Saudi publication) in 1993, that it was under the training from Al Qaeda military chiefs, Abu Hafs al-Masry, Saif al-Adel & Abu Khaleed al-Madani, who trained Aidid’s men in how to shoot down military helicopters, since they were experienced in this ares with Stinger missiles which were used in the Soviet-Afghan War. It would also be claimed by U.S officials, that Ali Mohamed, one time bodyguard to Bin Laden and U.S military Green beret, that he also was involved in training members of Aidid’s United Somali Congress as well as other tribal factions. On October 3rd 1993, U.S Special Forces, consisting of Delta Force, U.S Army Special Operations regiment, and U.S Army Rangers entered a compound in Mogadishu and attempted to capture Aidid’s foreign minister, Omar Salad Elmim and his top political advisor, Mohamed Hassan Awale. In doing so, locals aware of what was happening warned Aidid’s militia whom were nearby. The battle lasted less than 24 hours, in which the remaining members of the U.S special forces jogged back to the Mogadishu Stadium where Pakistani military gave them cover from behind.
In the years after ,Bin Laden would issue a fatwa entitled, Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places, declaring all U.S military in the Saudi Kingdom as enemies to the Islamic world. In it he would also remark about what happened in Mogadishu, it would be the first glimpse of what was to come, sheer disrespect towards the greatest military on earth in the United States.
“You left Somalia carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you.”
The fatwa also declared that Muslims from around the world to fight the U.S military, no civilians were mentioned:
“Your brothers in land of the two holiest sites and Palestine are calling upon you for help and asking you to take part in fighting against the enemy, your enemy; the Israelis and Americans. They are asking you to do whatever you can within one’s own means and ability, to expel the humiliate and defeat the enemy out of the sanctities of Islam.”
Meanwhile, the Sudanese intelligence agency, Mukhabarat, were amassing tens of thousands of files regarding Bin Laden and the Egyptian/Afghan organization thru electronic/human intelligence. The intelligence center however, was limited, in ts capabilities relying mostly on physical counter-surveillance and obtaining information from the locals in Khartoum. Agents from the Mukhabarat had tried, multiple times, to share the information regarding the Al Qaeda organization with members of the Clinton State Department. It seemed hardly anyone was willing to take the Sudanese intelligence center seriously, this after the period, between 1994–95, where the Clinton Administration had designated Sudan as sponsoring “terrorism” and declared that any information the government of Sudan had to offer would most likely be “suspect”. Tim Carney, the last U.S. ambassador to Sudan, whose posting ended in 1997, says: “The fact is, they were opening the doors, and we weren’t taking them up on it.”
They weren’t the only intelligence agency involved in collecting valuable data. The National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States were intercepting phone calls from prominent Saudi officials such as King Abdullah, Prince Nayef Bin al-Saud, Sultan Bin Abdulaziz and Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz al-Saud. During these intercepts NSA analysis were able to transcribe the data. Data which showed massive amounts of corruption, waste spending and terrorism funding around the world. In some calls that were heard, Saudi Princes were openly talking about “bilking the state” even argue about what percentages to take which would be acceptable. Arms deals with Lebanon and Yemen that gave their solicitors “hefty commissions”. But most troubling of all, were the intelligence cables from U.S embassy’s in Riyadh, as well as NSA monitored phone calls made from these Saudi officials that showed the Kingdom funding major terrorist organizations, one of them was Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda. According to Seymour Hersh’s article from the (New Yorker, October 2001 issue) the Saudi government were paying “protection” money to Osama Bin Laden and his organization. The Kingdom were so corrupt and alienated they could not afford to be replaced by anyone else, so powerfully inept they insisted to make payments to Islamic fundamentalists from Asia.
“The intercepts have demonstrated to analysts that by 1996 Saudi money was supporting Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda and other extremist groups in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Yemen, and Central Asia, and throughout the Persian Gulf region. “Ninety-six is the key year,” one American intelligence official told me. “Bin Laden hooked up to all the bad guys — it’s like the Grand Alliance — and had a capability for conducting large-scale operations.” The Saudi regime, he said, had “gone to the dark side.”
The warning signs were all there for anyone to see long before the September 11th attacks, the intelligence community would become quite aware of the unknown, mystery Saudi financier soon enough…..the bombing campaign was about to begin. The United States was in the cross-hairs.
Jamal al-Fadl trial transcript: http://cryptome.org/usa-v-ubl-02.htm