Investigative Reporting: 9-11 To Big Oil - Which Facts Behind Afghanistan Invasion And 9-11 Attacks?
by Rudo de Ruijter
Our politicians have shaped the idea many people have of our world. They have divided our world into good and bad. Of course, they are the good guys and the ones they accuse are the bad guys. Simple, isn't it?
However, if we stick to the facts, and throw out all the information that comes from unverifiable sources, our world looks very different.
Photo credit: Gino Santa Maria
This research article is intended to reveal the facts that lead to the US invasion of Afghanistan and to reveal the logical place of the 9/11events in that context. It is not meant to offend anyone. Don't read it if you are pleased with the "official" version of our history.
Immediately after 9/11 president Bush declared war to Afghanistan. This article shows the role of Afghanistan in pipeline projects which determine US' control over oil and gas in Afghanistan's neighbouring countries.
This article shows that preparations for this war took place well before. In 2000 the neoconservatives said they needed some catastrophic and catalysing event. They said so at the time of the developments of unmanned aerial vehicles striking with pinpoint accuracy.
The 1993 attack
The attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 eclipse an earlier attack on the World Trade Centre in 1993.
On January 20 1993, William (Bill) Clinton had become president. A month later, on February 26, an "immense blast happened at 12:18 local time in the Secret Service's section of the car park underneath and between what are New York's tallest buildings." BBC published the words of an eyewitness: "It felt like an airplane hit the building."
Apparently the explosion was intended to bring both WTC towers down. The New York Times found out that the FBI was involved in the attacks. The FBI would have infiltrated a group of terrorists, would have known about their intentions and for some unknown reason let it happen. Six people died and a hundred were injured.
Photo credit: Gino Santa Maria
1) Why Afghanistan?
Immediately after the attacks of September 11, 2001, US officials accused Osama Bin Laden. Since the man would stay in Afghanistan, it provided a pretext for George W. Bush to attack and invade Afghanistan.
Let's have a closer look at the situation prior to 9/11. As promised by Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, the USSR had withdrawn its last soldiers from Afghanistan on February 15, 1989. It was the end of ten years of war. It was also the last war of the Soviet Union.
A few months later, on November 9, 1989, the Berlin wall fell. The Iron Curtain broke down. The people living on the other side of the curtain, of whom our leaders had always pretended they were dangerous and ferocious, turned out to be as friendly as us.
With the concept of the Cold War our leaders had divided our world and maintained fear in our minds for over forty years. This terror, fabricated by our own governments, was finally over.
Pipeline projects through Afghanistan
On December 25, 1991, the Soviet flag was lowered from the Kremlin for the last time. The former Soviet republics become independent. Among them were the countries around the Caspian Sea, all rich in oil and gas.
Before, the oil and gas went through pipelines to their soviet neighbours, or were exported via Russia to Europe. Now each country could sell its own oil and gas and explore new markets. Buyers showed up from everywhere.
In the beginning, the new leaders still had no experience with the world oil business. One of the first deals of Turkmenistan was to auction an oil well for as little as $100,000. US companies showed up, too.
The biggest challenge was to get the Caspian oil and gas to the world markets. The problem? The region is land-locked. If you trust neither Russia on the North side of the Caspian Sea, nor Iran on the South side, you need to build new pipelines.
Today, from the West side of the Caspian Sea, oil is pumped through several pipelines towards the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea from where it can be shipped. Big business on the East side of the Caspian Sea is still limited. To unlock oil and gas from this side, pipelines have to be built through Afghanistan.
Here, since the early nineties, two pipelines - one for gas and one for oil - have been in project. The oil pipe should go South to the Indian Ocean, ending at the port of Gwadar in Pakistan. The gas pipe would turn East to Multan in the middle of Pakistan. From Pakistan an extension is planned to Bombay (Mumbai, India), where a US company with close ties to father and son Bush, Enron, has built a power plant.
Contracts for pipelines are not just multi-billion dollar projects to build them. The main contractor generally also buys and sells the oil or gas going through them. With contracts he disposes of it, determines how much the supplier gets for it, and how much fee is paid to crossed countries. He determines who gets it, how much, when, to which price and in which currency it has to be paid. In fact, he determines a lot in the economical developments of both the selling and the buying countries.
With Turkmenistan eager to sell its gas, Pakistan eager to buy it and Enron in India hoping to see it arrive as soon as possible, the pipelines through Afghanistan are of high interest. However, in 2001, work in Afghanistan had not started yet. Since the withdrawal of the Soviets in 1989 there was still unrest in the country.
Photo credit: Thomas Sztanek
The Taliban: From ally to terrorist
The unrest in Afghanistan that blocked the business is worth mentioning. In 1992, the pro-Russian president Mohammad Najibullah was ousted. In 1993, Burhanuddin Rabbani became president, supported by the Tajik minority of the population.
In 1994, the Pashtun, forming half of the population, challenged Rabbani. Because the pipelines have to cross mainly Pashtun territory, their movement, the Taliban, had support from the US and Pakistan.
In March 1995, two companies, Bridas from Argentina and Unocal from the US, both claimed to have obtained the contracts from the seller of the gas (Turkmenistan) and the buyer (Pakistan). At that moment no deal had yet been signed with the Afghan authorities.
In October 1995, President Niyazov of Turkmenistan signed an official agreement with Unocal, but in February 1996, president Rabbani of Afghanistan signed an agreement with Bridas for the main section of 875 miles through Afghanistan.
Unocal's chances seemed compromised. Fortunately for Unocal, the Taliban wanted to oust president Rabbani. In September 1996, they took Jalabad, Kandahar, and then Kabul. President Rabbani fleed to join the Northern Alliance.
Unocal sighed with relief. It expressed support for the Taliban takeover, saying it makes the pipeline project easier. Unocal later said it was misquoted. Would Bridas now have lost the game? No. In November 1996, Bridas signed an agreement with the Taliban and Gen. Dostum to build the pipeline.
Unfortunately, except from Pakistan and Saudi-Arabia, the Taliban government didn't get international recognition. In April 1997, as work on the pipeline had still not started, the Taliban announced it would award the contract to whomever starts first. Unocal claimed there must be peace first. In July 1997, Turkmenistan and Pakistan accepted a new delay and signed a new contract with Unocal, saying it had to start the work within a year and a half.
In December 1997, Unocal tried to become good friends with the Taliban and invited a delegation to their head office in Sugarland, Texas, where they received a VIP treatment and stayed in the best hotels.
In Afghanistan, civil war went on. With no internationally recognized legal representative of Afghanistan, the pipeline project seemed to be deadlocked. US-bombs on Afghanistan after US embassies are attacked in Africa On February 4, 1998 and May 30, 1998, very heavy earthquakes shook the North East of Afghanistan. They attracted a lot of international attention and many groups of relief workers came into the North-East of Afghanistan to help.
According to US accusations, this was the moment that somewhere in this same region of Afghanistan a certain Osama bin Laden would have been planning the bombings of two US embassies in Africa, one in Nairobi (Kenya), and one in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania). The bombings had a high impact in the press. 258 people were killed and some 5,000 injured. The bombings occurred on August 7, 1998, apparently for no specific reason.
Apparently only president Clinton benefited from it. In the US, the Monica Lewinsky affair had come to a height. The press and the public were excited and angry. Clinton had stated on oath he had had no sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky and now proof had come out he had. Clinton was close to the point of being convicted of perjury.
The bombings of the embassies drew people's attention to the drama in Africa. Finally, on August 17, Clinton came away with the perjury by arguing that oral sex was not a sexual relation.
A few days later, August 21, 1998, the US military threw bombs on Kandahar and other targets in Afghanistan. Only afterwards Clinton explained to the journalists this was because of Osama Bin Laden, he supposed to be behind the bombings of the US' embassies in Africa. Unlike George W. Bush in 2001, Clinton did not invade Afghanistan. An invasion would have given hope to Unocal to see the Afghan deadlock broken, but with the Lewinsky affair still being discussed, Clinton did not have enough credit for such a war.
On August 28, 1998, UNSC resolution 1193 blamed the Taliban for the problems in Afghanistan. On November 5, 1998, a US Grand Jury indicted Osama Bin Laden. (Not for the bombings of the embassies in Africa, but essentially for considering the US as his enemy.)
In December 1998 Unocal withdrew from the pipeline consortium and, at least for the outside world, the pipeline project seemed halted. However, in January, 1999, Turkmenistan's foreign minister visited Pakistan, saying the pipeline project was still alive. In February, Bridas had talks with leaders in Turkmenistan, Pakistan and Russia.
In March, Turkmenistan's Foreign Minister Sheikh Muradov met with Taliban leader Mullah Omar in Kandahar to discuss the pipeline. In April, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and the Taliban signed an agreement to revive the pipeline project. In May, a Taliban delegation signed an agreement with Turkmenistan to buy gas and electricity.
On June 25, 1999, the US State Department announced:
"As some of our embassies in Africa have been under surveillance by suspicious individuals, we are taking the precaution of temporarily closing our embassies in Gambia, Togo, Madagascar, Liberia, Namibia and Senegal from June 24 through the 27th of June - that is Sunday."
The speaker seemed to have no idea where these countries are, considering the strange order of announcing them. Besides, the only African countries, where incidents like attacks and hostage taking have been reported that year, are Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Burundi and Ethiopia. None of these countries is on the list. On July 4, 1999, President Clinton issued an executive order prohibiting commercial transactions with the Taliban.
Back to Cold War budgets
On September 23, 1999, presidential candidate George W. Bush exposed his views on the US military. He complained that since the end of the Cold War the Defence budget had fallen 40 percent and that the army had never been in such a bad shape since Pearl Harbor.
"As president, I will order an immediate review of our overseas deployments - in dozens of countries. ... My second goal is to build America's defences on the troubled frontiers of technology and terror."
Among his views of arms: "In the air, we must be able to strike from across the world with pinpoint accuracy - with long-range aircraft and perhaps with unmanned systems."
On October 15, 1999, things were getting more serious for the Taliban. UN resolution 1267 against the Taliban threatened an aircraft ban and funded freezing, if Osama Bin Laden was not handed over before 14 November 1999.
On November 11, 1999, in a press conference, the Taliban minister of Foreign Affairs said Osama bin Laden and the Taliban were unable to organize attacks like those on the embassies in Africa. He condemned these actions.
In 2000 the US had presidential elections. It was time to postpone delicate decisions. On April 2, 2000, Richard Clarke, who had been appointed counter-terrorist coordinator a few months before the attacks against the embassies in Africa (on May 22), predicted: "They will come after our weakness, our Achilles heel, which is largely here in the United States."
Video credit: This clip from the BBC documentary "Why We Fight" examines the profit motive behind the war on terror. You can watch the whole documentary on Google Video. - Source: belowgroundsurface.org
Curious No-Fly list
On April 21, 2000, something remarkable happened. As an antiterrorist measure, the US Congress announced a single unified terrorist watch list, the TID (or Terrorist Identities Database), into which all international terrorist related data available to the US government - mainly the TIPOFF no-fly list - would be stored in a single repository. In airports, this list is used to prevent suspected people from going on board and from entering the US.
However, the same day that Congress announces the unified TID list, the FAA created a new and separate domestic no-fly list and put only six names on it. Two weeks before 9/11, the list was expanded with six other names, making it a total list of 12 names.
Thanks to this separate list the hijackers of 9/11, using domestic flights, and not listed among the 12 names, could board the planes without difficulties. On August 23, 2001, two names, later published as being two of the hijackers, had been added to the official TID-list, which counted 60,000 suspects, but was discarded for domestic flights.
2) Frustrations and solutions
In September, 2000, the neoconservative think tank project for a New American Century (PNAC) published their imperialistic views for the US. In the document, they warned that the process of transforming the US into "tomorrow's dominant force" would likely be a long one in the absence of "some catastrophic and catalysing event - like a new Pearl Harbor".
A few months later, many PNAC members would become members of the Bush administration. Those members include Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, and Richard Perle.
Three month after 9/11, to those who would not yet have understood the benefits of the catastrophic and catalysing event of US military debacle in Pearl Harbor in 1941, Bush would explain: "The four years that followed transformed the American way of war" and "even more importantly, an American President and his successors shaped a world beyond a war." And, linking 9/11 to Pearl Harbor, he said, "September 11th, 2001 - three months and a long time ago - set another dividing line in our lives and in the life of our nation."
On October 12, 2000, three weeks before the presidential elections, the US population was shortly reminded of the terrorist threat in the world. US Navy destroyer USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden was rammed with an inflatable raft with explosives and was damaged. Published detail: it looked as if the raft was coming to help the warship to moor to a buoy. Message: you can trust nobody.
On November 7, 2000 the elections took place. It would be George W. Bush or Al Gore. The counting gave an extremely close result. The results of Florida became decisive, but these results are far from clear. The opponents fought in many different courts until December 13. It turned out that in Florida, 180,000 votes had been thrown out of the counting. Bush led by less than 600 votes. Partial recounts resulted in much lower estimates. Finally, all recounts could not be executed within the time limit set by the Supreme Court. This is how Bush won the elections.
Video credit: No reference for source available
A few days later, on December 18, speaking at the Capitol, Bush joked about his starting relationship with the four congressional leaders:
Just a slip of the tongue? Not really.
In July 1998, about governing Texas, he said already: "A dictatorship would be a lot easier." And on July 26, 2001, speaking once again about his struggles with Congress he repeated: "a dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier."
Well, for the ambitious plans of the neoconservatives, the US Congress was a major hurdle to take. The budget of the military had shrunk by 40 percent after the Cold War and with the wars they had in mind they would need substantially more budget. How would they get the budget they wanted?
If the US would be attacked, there would be no problem. They would receive all the budget and support they needed. But, as written in their document, without a new Pearl Harbor things would go slowly. When Bush started his presidency, many neoconservatives considered Iraq as the first target to hit. In their document of September 2000 they had named Iraq as a "potential rival" of the US.
First Target Iraq?
Iraq has the world's second largest oil reserves. The country was exhausted. It had tried to conquer Iran from 1980 to 1988, had invaded Kuwait in 1990, had been defeated by Operation Desert Storm in 1991, and since then a UN embargo had brought the Iraqi economy to a standstill and the population at the edge of starvation.
Since 1996, the Oil For Food Program of the UN had brought some relief for the Iraqi people. The country had been disarmed. Extensive weapon inspections had concluded the country formed no threat anymore. Well, at least, not military.
Afghanistan back on the agenda
However, not even a week after George W. Bush had been declared winner of the elections, Afghanistan was back on the international agenda. UN SC resolution 1333 of December 19, 2000, imposed the sanctions the UN had promised more than a year before, in October 1999, if the Taliban would not hand over Osama Bin Laden before November 14, 1999 (aircraft ban and funds freezing).
Geopolitically, Afghanistan had become a more urgent target. Since 1996, the US had experienced severe setbacks in their ambition to control gas and oil on the East side of the Caspian Sea and was loosing influence.
The problems had started in February 1996, when Afghan president Rabbani signed a contract with Unocal's competitor Bridas for the construction of the gas pipeline through Afghanistan, between Turkmenistan and Pakistan.
In March, the US tried to block this deal, putting pressure on Pakistan and telling them they should grant exclusive rights to Unocal. This resulted in a diplomatic clash with the Pakistani government. Still, in the same month, Pakistan officially agreed to allow a proposed Iranian pipeline to run over Pakistani territory on its way to India, thus enabling Iranian gas sale to India. The gas would come from Iran's giant South Pars Field in the Persian Gulf and cross the South of Iran from West to East through a pipeline still to be constructed.
Meanwhile, in February 1996, Turkmenistan had showed it did not want to depend exclusively on the delayed Afghan pipeline project and had signed a contract with Turkeyto supply Turkmen gas via a pipeline to be constructed along the North coast of Iran. If necessary, Turkey would be able to absorb all the Turkmen gas.
BBC investigative documentary about "oil" being the key reason for the next war invasion: Iraq - Video credit: War for Oil - BBC series - Part I
Iranian-Libyan Sanctions Act
With these two Iranian pipelines the Afghan pipelines would become more or less useless. To prevent the construction of the Iranian pipelines the US Congress passed the Iranian-Libyan Sanctions act, threatening anyone who would help Iran constructing them, and forbidding transactions with Iran of $4 million or higher. That was on June 18, 1996.
Nevertheless on August 30, 1996 Turkey signed a 20-year deal to buy gas from Iran. The Turkish president would be punished for his Islamic solidarity by a military coup forcing him to resign. That was on June 18, 1997.
With the Iranian-Libyan Sanctions act in place, another US company, Enron, expanded its activities in the region. In Uzbekistan, Enron had obtained a contract for 11 gas fields. In April 1997, George W. Bush himself had intervened to help Enron obtain Uzbeki contracts.
Enron counted on a US controlled pipeline through Afghanistan to export a part of the Uzbek gas to its power plant in India. The US threatened sanctions and blocked the completion of the Turkish pipeline connection to Iran, so the gas deliveries from Iran to Turkey were delayed several years.
In August 2000, Iran and Turkey agreed the gas deliveries would start on July 30, 2001, which would be a few days before the expiration date of the Iranian-Libyan Sanctions act. Despite the Iranian-Libyan Sanctions act, the construction of the northern pipeline had started on the East side of Iran. Funded by Iran itself, Iran and Turkmenistan opened an international pipeline connection of 200 km by the end of 1997.
To frustrate further development of the Iranian pipeline to Turkey, the US came up with an idea for an alternative route from Turkmenistan, crossing the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan and from there to Turkey. Enron did the study for this project.
By that time it looked as if the Afghan pipeline project would be abandoned. In June 1998, Enron withdrew from its Uzbek gas projects and in December UNOCAL withdrew from its consortium for the Afghan pipeline. The US threats did not prevent big companies like Shell and Total from signing deals with Iran for exploration of oil and gas. Nevertheless, Shell withdrew from its pipeline project in Northern Iran.
The undersea pipeline crossing the Caspian Sea now existed on the drawing table, but in the waters the five surrounding countries (Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Iran) had not yet come to an agreement about each other's borders, and thus about the ownership of oil fields. As long as this would last, according to an existing agreement of 1940, Russia and Iran would have to agree with the pipeline under the sea. And they did not.
In 2000, the Turkmen president had blamed the US for the delay in the trans-Caspian pipeline and had resumed gas deliveries to Russia. That May, president Putin had even come to Turkmenistan to offer extended deals for several years. Meanwhile, in Kazakhstan, the oil from the Tengiz field (world's sixth largest oil field) was going to be pumped via Russia to the Black Sea.
BBC TV documentary focuses on Iraq oil bonanza and its relationship with the Iraqi war invasion after 9-11 and Afghanistan - Video credit: War for Oil - BBC series - Part II
George W. Bush sworn in
On January 20, 2001, George W. Bush was sworn in as president of the US. He is the son of ex-president George H.W. Bush. The family is from Texas and has close ties with the oil and energy related companies there. These companies have contributed a lot to Bush's election campaign.
Companies contributing to election campaigns is a common phenomenon in the US. The financial support for candidates' campaigns determines how much marketing they can afford and, ultimately, their chances to win the elections. Of course, when these companies invest a lot of money, they expect something in return when their candidate wins, like nomination in the administration, influence for big business orders or favourable laws and amendments.
Enron had been the biggest contributor of the Bush 2000 election campaign. In fact, the company had generously contributed to father and son's election campaigns since 1985. Enron's chairman, Kenneth Lay, had close personal contacts with the Bushes. He had even been a sleeping guest at the White House.
During these years, Enron had expanded from a regional energy supplier to a giant multinational and the seventh biggest company in the US. Although loaded with debts caused by its giant investments abroad, Enron always showed splendid results. How? In 1997 the Securities and Exchange Commission had exempted Enron from the Investment Company Act of 1940 that prohibits US companies from leaving debt from overseas projects off the books. At the same time Andy Fastow, Enron's senior vice president of finance, had started his "creative" financing.
Since 1993, in India, Enron had invested $ 2.9 billion for a power plant near Bombay. Originally it had counted on cheap supply of gas from Turkmenistan via the planned pipeline through Afghanistan. The power plant project had turned into a nightmare. Enron had faced severe criticism over their contemptuous way of doing business.
They had experienced severe opposition from the local population after hiring police officers to beat down protests of opponents. Charges had been filed against the company for human right violations. Last but not least, the price of the produced electricity averaged more than double the price of power from other suppliers.
Taking into account the real cost supported by the regional electricity company, Enron's price was even 700 percent higher. The regional electricity company could not pay Enron's bills anymore. As retaliation, in January 2001, Enron had cut the power for 200 million people in Northern India, demanding three times the normal price. (Around the same time, Enron provoked power cuts in California too, also in order to obtain higher prices.)
In 1997 Enron had started gas projects in Uzbekistan, for which George W. Bush had had personal contacts with the Uzbek ambassador. As soon as the Bush administration was in place, vice president Cheney would reward Enron for their support during the elections. Enron's chairman, Kenneth Lay, had a wish list that was almost entirely included in Cheney's proposals for the new US energy policy. Cheney also intervened to help Enron collect a $64 million debt for its power plant near Bombay, during a meeting with Indian opposition leader Sonia Ghandi in Washington on June 27 2001.
Enron had also connections with the construction firm Bin Laden from Saudi Arabia, with which it constructed a power plant in the Gaza strip. (The power plant would not be finished before Enron's bankruptcy in December 2001.)
The wealthy Bin Laden family is well known to the Bush family. Salem Bin Laden supplied part of the money for George W. Bush first oil company, Arbusto, in 1978. The father of George W. Bush, after being US' president, joined the Carlyle group and developed relations with the Bin Laden company.
He met the family in November 1998 and in January 2000. Bin Laden also invested in the Carlyle group. H.W. Bush still met with Shafig Bin Laden, Osama's brother, on September 10, 2001 at the annual investor conference of the Carlyle Group. Like Enron, Carlyle had made a tremendous development.
In the early 1990s son Bush had been member of the board of a catering service for airliners. Carlyle had bought the catering company. Although the catering service crashed, Carlyle has grown into an important defence contractor in the US. A bunch of well-known former politicians, including George W. Bush father, former UK Prime Minister John Major and former president of the Philippines Mister Ramos, are making a lot of money from the "war on terror".
Photo credit: Heads of Bush Sr.'s Carlyle Group (a major defense contractor) as well as a representative of the bin Laden family, were all in the same room together the morning of 9/11 watching the events of 9/11 unfold. Source: Belowgroundsurface.org
There is a terrible lot of information available about Bin Laden's son, Osama. However, almost all of it comes from sources that cannot be verified, like comments by unknown people who would have known him or met him. Other stories are based on allegations by people who have big business interests in the "war on terrorism", like the Bush.
One step further, you find the comments by officials "convinced" that everything that has been said about Osama is true. On the other extremity, there is the image Osama draws of himself in an interview by CNN reporter Peter Arnett in 1997.
According to this interview he is, first of all, a faithful, who understands people who fight against the US soldiers who came to steal the oil and who attacked the Islamic religion. He denies having organized any attacks against the US himself. Many people will remember a videotape with "Osama's confession", that he knew about the attacks of 9/11 in advance, which turned out to be a fake.
Osama would become Bush's key excuse to invade Afghanistan.
On September 17, 2001 Bush would declare Osama Bin Laden was wanted "dead or alive".
Why did Osama Bin Laden stay in Afghanistan?
Here too, different sources give different stories. He had already been in Afghanistan during the eighties, helping the mudjahedeen fight against the Soviet occupation (as did the US). Back in Saudi Arabia in 1989, he had opposed the king's alliance with the US. When his passport was confiscated, he at first fled back to Afghanistan, and then settled in Sudan in 1992, where all Muslims were welcome since a regime change the year before. In 1994, because of his support to fundamentalist Muslim movements, Saudi Arabia revoked his citizenship and froze his funds.
After the assassination attempt against Egyptian president Mubarak in Ethiopia on June 26, 1995, Sudan was accused of being behind it. The relations between Egypt and Sudan deteriorate in the current of 1995. At this point, let us jump to Afghanistan.
In February 1996 things went wrong for the US pipeline project in Afghanistan. President Rabbani of Afghanistan contracted the Argentinean Bridas instead of Unocal for the construction and exploitation of the gas pipeline. For the US, to get the pipeline project back in the hands of Unocal, Rabbani would have to disappear.
But who could be accused if Rabbani was killed?
Back to Sudan. March 8, 1996, the US suddenly asked Sudan to extradite Osama. It did not specify to which country. Since the Saudis took his passport and nationality away, Osama had few options. On May 18, 1996, he left Sudan and returned to Afghanistan. Years afterward, many people were still wondering why he had not been arrested at that occasion.
In Afghanistan, events would take a different turn. From March 20 to April 4, 1996, Taliban leaders had held a shura (meeting) and concluded with a jihad against Rabbani. Osama arrived on May 18, but would not get involved.
On September 27, the Taliban conquered Kabul and president Rabbani fled and joined the Northern alliance. At that moment things must have looked hopeful for the UNOCAL pipeline project. Unfortunately for them, in November 1996 BRIDAS signed a new contract with the Taliban. Ultimately this would lead to the eviction from power of the Taliban.
Clinton would not attack Afghanistan after the US embassy bombings in Africa in 1998, maybe thanks to Monica Lewinsky. Bush did, after "the catastrophic and catalysing events" of 9/11. After having used the presence of Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan as his key excuse to invade the country, Bush would state, on March 13, 2002, he wasn't truly that concerned about Osama Bin Laden.
After the US conquest of Afghanistan (or at least of its capital), Unocal's advisor Hamid Karzai would be appointed Chairman of the interim administration of Afghanistan. On June 16, 2002, still before there was an elected president, Karzai would sign an official agreement with Turkmenistan and Pakistan for a gas pipeline through Afghanistan.
But even if the gas pipeline would come too late to transport Turkmen gas to Pakistan, Afghanistan remains an interesting booty. It has its own gigantic gas field south of the Turkmen field, near Mazar e Sharif. It has also several oil fields and coal. Furthermore, in the 1970s British geologists had already found 1600 places with minerals.
3) Preparations for 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan
Timing of the attacks
As noticed above, the timing for the attacks on the US embassies in Africa helped Clinton, as it drew away the attention from his threatening conviction of perjury in the Monica Lewinsky affair, and focused on the common enemies: the terrorists. The invasion of Afghanistan would have to wait for the next US president.
Between 1998 and 2001 there was enough time to plan everything carefully. Below we will notice, that the attacks of 9/11 occurred at the very moment everything was in place. The only thing missing was a pretext to get support from Congress, from the US population and the rest of the world...
For the US to invade Afghanistan at the other side of the world was a delicate operation. Step by step the US had pushed its influence and control in the former soviet republics. US oil and gas related companies had started up activities in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and US' military had gained influence in the region, challenging Russia and China in their backyards.
Already in 1997, north of Afghanistan, the US had considerably expanded its military "cooperation" with Kazakhstan, which forms the buffer with Russia. In 1999, closer to Afghanistan, the US expanded its presence in Kyrgyzstan, and in Uzbekistan, one of Afghanistan's direct neighbours.
April 14-15, 2000, Uzbek and US troops conducted joint military exercises. East of Afghanistan the US administration has strong ties with the Pakistani intelligence service. Its director, Lieutenant-General Mahmoud Ahmad, was with US' officials the week before and during the attacks of 9/11.
On the west side F-15 were based in Saudi-Arabia, Kuwait and Turkey and the Fifth fleet was permanently based in the Persian Gulf. For the war in Afghanistan, huge transports of troops and material had to be organized well before the invasion.
On November 7, 2000, the day all US-citizens were occupied with the election of their president, the UK announced its biggest military exercise since the Gulf War, Operation Swift Sword (Saif Sareea in Arabic), involving 24,000 troops and a lot of heavy material. The exercise took place in Oman, a strategic location, since all oil tankers from the Persian Gulf region (Saudi-Arabia, the United Arabic Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq and Iran) have to cross the Gulf of Oman. Here the UK detains a War Material Storage.
From October 8 until the end of October, 2001 another military operation was planned in Egypt: NATO Operation Bright Star. It was the world's largest exercise with more than 11 Nations, and over 70,000 troops (among which 23,000 from the US) participating. Among several other "coincidental" military moves towards Afghanistan, we notice that on July 23 2001 aircraft carrier Carl Vinson was sent out from Bremerton (on US West coast) to the Arabian Sea. It arrived just in time to launch the first air strikes on Afghanistan on October 7, 2001.
On the diplomatic front, to lower the risk of upsetting China, on June 19 2001, Bush had proposed to attend the APEC Summit in Shang Hai and was expected to meet president Zemir between October 15 and October 21 2001. (Bush's meeting with presidents Zemir and Putin took place on October 20, 2001) Besides, in 2001 China was completing its bilateral agreements with all 37 WTO members to become a full WTO-member.
China wanted to become member since many years. China's bilateral agreement with Mexico would be the last and this would complete China's membership. In July 2001 Bush would polish his relations with Mexico, "lobbying" against US unfair import restrictions on Mexican trucks. This was probably not only to get the Mexicans in the right mood to sign with China, but also because Mexico would be member of the UN Security Council in 2002 and 2003. China reached its bilateral agreement with Mexico and became WTO member on September 13, 2001.
Bush's unmanned systems
In the summer of 1999, a number of US embassies on the African continent were closed for the weekend because of suspicious people hanging around. A few days later Clinton had issued its order prohibiting commercial transactions with the Taliban. A few months later George W. Bush presented his ideas of defences "on the troubled frontiers of technology and terror." He said, "In the air, we must be able to strike from across the world with pinpoint accuracy - with long-range aircraft and perhaps with unmanned systems."
In September 1999 Bush still said "perhaps". He was still considering. This was at a time the market for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's) for both military as well as civil aviation was rapidly developing.
By 2001 there were more than 60 types of UAV world wide, from small models to big planes. At the time of Bush's speech in 1999, the US was developing Global Hawk, a military UAV with a wing span comparable to a Boeing 737, which had made its first flight from Edwards Air Force Base, CA on 28 February 1998. After Bush became president, on April 23, 2001 the Global Hawk made a historical first unmanned test flight to Australia.
Not all material about 9/11 has been released to the public. Some of the reliable evidence has been confiscated by the CIA. Statements of officials often turned out to be contradictory. And, in particular about possible advanced knowledge, the White House has confiscated dozens of documents of the 9/11 Commission. It doesn't make truth finding easier. The official version of the events on 9/11 involves a very high number of coincidences that facilitated the "success" of the attacks.
- A nationwide military exercise, Global Guardian, originally planned for November 2001, is in full swing, creating confusion between exercises and real-world events.
- A large-scale military exercise, Vigilant Guardian, is taking place and involves all of NORAD, the defence department, which normally sends fighter jets after civil airplanes several times a week, when flight control operators report incidences.
- The Vigilant Guardian exercise simulates an air attack on the United States.
- NORAD is also runninga planned real-world operation named Operation Northern Vigilance, for which many NORAD fighters are located in Alaska and Canada.
- Operation Northern Vigilance also creates false blips on radar screens at least until the second plane crashes into the World Trade Centre.
- In Washington a planned National Reconnaissance Office exercise involves a scenario of an airplane as a flying weapon.
- The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is flying across the Atlantic on the way to Europe.
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency Director is at a conference in Montana.
- FAA hijack coordinator, who has to contact the National Military Command Centre in case of hijacks, is in Puerto Rico and cannot be reached.
- All of FBI's anti-terrorist and top special operations agents are, together with the members of the CIA's anti-terrorist task force, on a training exercise in Monterey, California.
- For the day of 9/11, the commander of the National Military Command Centre had requested to be replaced by someone without experience.
- For FAA's new National Operations Managerit is the first day on the job.
- The hijackers can board without trouble, since the official no-fly list is only used for international flights and, curiously, not for domestic flights.
- Informed a few minutes after the start of the first hijack (Flight 11), American Airlines top management decide to "keep it quiet".
- Boston flight controllers do not follow normal procedures and loose time by contacting various military bases, instead of NORAD.
- After NORAD is finally informed, two F-15 will remain on the ground and only take off when flight 11 already crashes into the WTC.
- For various reasons F-16 will only arrive on scene after the last plane has crashed.
- A decision is taken to ground not only civil airplanes, but also all military planes.
- The presumed hijacker pilot of flight 77 was not able to fly a Cessna without difficulty in August, but succeeded to spiral down a Boeing 757 and hit the Pentagon a few meters above the ground on September 11.
- The President doesn't give any orders responding to the attack until just before the last plane crashes.
Video credit: Bush strange behavior on 9-11
Above, I only mentioned those coincidences that facilitated the success of the attacks. If I were to build a story on such series of coincidences, nobody would believe me. Well, I would not either. Keeping the things in their context, it makes more sense to look at them as facts, and not as coincidences.
All released details show that the attacks of 9/11 were carried out with military precision. However, the hijackers on the planes would have been improvised pilots without the extraordinary skills needed to fly like has been reported. Besides, they would not have been intelligent enough to foresee the reactions triggered by their actions. Apparently they had so little political awareness, they had not heard about the neoconservatives waiting for such a "catastrophic and catalysing event" to speed up US' conquests.
The success of the plan relied on a lot of advanced knowledge of the situation that day, like the confusion offered by planned military exercises and the scenarios played by them, like the confusion offered by fake radar blips, like traffic controllers lacking of primary radar images in specific areas, like the absence of several experienced officers in the command chains responding to the hijacks, like the absence of armed jet fighters to frustrate their plans.
All this seems more the work of a more influential and well trained organization, an organization willing to provide the justification for the neoconservatives' conquest plans, with Afghanistan as first target. It does not seem likely to me that such an organization would let the success of its operation depend on the improvised skills of the hijackers.
It makes more sense to suppose the hijackers were not in control. (In spite of an overheard phrase in the cockpit of the fourth plane, having been translated as "Pull it down" and by officials interpreted as "Crash the plane") It seems more likely the operation was conducted on the troubled frontier of technology and terror, and that technology had taken over the controls.
The two types of planes used, Boeing 757 and 767, can be controlled remotely. Robert Ayling, a former boss of British Airways, suggested in the Financial Times a few days after 9/11 that aircraft could be commandeered from the ground and controlled remotely in the event of a hijack.
On 9/11 the remote control would have been in the hands of the wrong people. If we look closer to the remote control scenario, we notice that if the published details about the transponders are right:
- The transponder of the second 767 is turned off shortly after the first 767 crashes.
- The transponder of the second 757 is turned off shortly after the first 757 crashes.
So, it looks as if one remote pilot handled the two 767 one after the other, and another remote pilot handled the two 757 one after the other. It has also been reported that a C-130 military cargo plane was tailing flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon. The same C-130 was behind flight 93 when it crashed.
Did the plane play a role? Or was it just a coincidental tourist, flying around while all other planes had been ordered to land?
The hijackers hijacked?
Although the official story asks us to believe the hijackers wanted to fly into the WTC and the Pentagon, the released pieces of cockpit conversations offer no indications to support this theory. Although mountains of stories and counter-stories have been published about the hijackers, I did not find a single verifiable element.
If the hijackers were to support some Arabic or Islamic cause, they would probably be in a stronger position if they had returned to airports with four planes and hundreds of US citizens in their might. They could have negotiated the release of political prisoners. They could have demanded a retreat of US forces from Saudi Arabia. They could have pleaded any cause they were after.
Did the hijackers really have in mind to strike the WTC and the Pentagon or were they overruled by the organization that had "contracted" them? Will we find out?
According to the official story, all radio contact and overhearing of cockpit conversations stopped before the planes made their final approach of the WTC and the Pentagon.
If the hijackers were to create the biggest possible spectacle, wouldn't they have shouted a last accusation against the US or a last glorious prayer to Allah? Or were they surprised and in panic when they flew into the buildings?
The Afghan pipelines are only one step in US political moves to take over the influence in the oil and gas rich former Soviet republics. Consuming 25 percent of the world oil consumption, their [strategy] is first of all about energy.
Today the US already relies for over 60 percent on foreign oil, a percentage that is quickly increasing. The neoconservative ideas to transform the US into a "dominant force" do not come out of nowhere.
The thought that they needed a "catastrophic and catalysing event" was not just motivated by the personal financial benefits several of them get from the war industries.
It was also a sign of panic of a nation facing drying up oil wells and preparing itself to conquer foreign oil wells until the last drip is gone.
Video credit: Halifaxion
Originally titled as "Pipelines to 9/11"
by Rudo de Ruijter - August 2006
About the author:
Rudo de Ruijter is an independent researcher from Netherlands.
He can be reached via email: rudoderuijter(at)wanadoo.nl
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