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Dubai's Grand Central Station purchase raises terrorism questions
Date: Monday, February 20
Topic: Bush Corruption

Dubai's Grand Central Station purchase raises terrorism questions

Long-time Bush friend Robert Bass was lead investor in building sale to royal family

by Tom Flocco

New York City—February 20, 2006——The Bush administration and the House and Senate are not addressing implications for a terrorist attack on New York City’s Grand Central Station, given United Arab Emirate (UAE) Dubai’s multiple alleged links to terrorism and the recent purchase of Gotham’s Helmsley [also known as the New York Central] building by a Dubai-based investment firm owned by the Emirate’s royal family.

The lead investor in the sale of the building, close Bush family friend and Fort Worth, Texas confidant Robert Bass, joined Istithmar PJSC executive chairman and buyer Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem in consummating the November 10 purchase of the midtown Manhattan office building (which sits above Grand Central’s terminal and underground commuter train-subway complex hub of northeastern travel and commerce), now owned by a foreign government.

The House and Senate have allowed a secretive Bush administration panel [The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] that considers security risks of foreign companies buying or investing in American industry to certify the supervision and control of the building over Grand Central Station by Istithmar and six U.S. ports by Dubai Ports World Corporation without public congressional hearings or accountability.

In a stunning move, representatives of the White House and the Treasury Department made the quiet decision to allow political diplomacy to trump national security just as President Bush nominated a senior executive of Dubai Ports World, David Sanborn, to run the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration only a few weeks ago, raising more national security questions even as some U.S. legislators were linking the UAE to terrorism.

In what was described as “lightening moves reminiscent of the Japanese real-estate shopping spree in the late 1980’s, two companies controlled by the [Dubai] royal family plunked down $1.1 billion for the two [Helmsley and Essex House]buildings,” according to The New York Times.

News reports indicate that the UAE has been a key transfer point for illegal shipments of nuclear components to Iran, North Korea and Libya, yet the House and Senate have failed to publicly question Bush officials regarding their rationale for permitting foreign governments with terrorist links to operate major U.S. ports and buildings.

So serious is the oil-rich Arab emirate’s questionable past, that a February 10, 1999 National Security Council (NSC) email written by former U.S. counter terrorism chief Richard A. Clarke indicated that the NSC was investigating whether high-level UAE officials were in Afghanistan before September 11.

A CIA memo, “Recent High Level UAE Visits to Afghanistan,” confirmed that UAE officials were indeed in Afghanistan at a desert camp; moreover, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff General Hugh Shelton said in a February 5, 2004 interview that his UAE counterpart told him that he had been “hunting at a desert camp in Afghanistan.”

CIA talking points [“Locating bin Laden,” March 29, 1999] for Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) George Tenet for use at a March meeting revealed that “concurrently with the UAE being ‘tipped off’ to the CIA’s knowledge of the camp, one of the tribal network’s major sub-sources (within bin Laden’s Taliban security detail) was dispatched to the north, further handicapping reporting efforts.” We have reported that Tenet turned state’s evidence against the Bush administration.

Three former Clinton administration officials told the Washington Post Foreign Service that two senior U.S. delegations went to the UAE—one in July, 1999 and one in January, 2000—to press for measures against terrorist financing. “We got exactly nowhere,” said a participant in one of the meetings, negating past Bush administration statements about Dubai and UAE “cooperation.”

Dubai is the commercial capital of the UAE and was one of only three countries in the world to maintain diplomatic relations with the Taliban until shortly after September 11.

The desert Emirate is also considered the financial hub for militant Islamic groups, and federal investigators say much of the 9-11 finance moved through Dubai.

FBI officials determined that a Muslim known only as al-Qahtani was turned away after arriving at Orlando International Airport (OIA) in late August before the September 11 attacks on the same day alleged lead “hijacker” Mohammed Atta was also at OIA.

The FBI reported that al-Qahtani was in possession of $2,800.00 dollars and no credit cards which did not appear sufficient to fund his six-day vacation plus hotel room and then purchase a $2,200.00 one-way return ticket to Dubai, where his UAE flight originated.

High finance, politics and national security

Over the past three years, Dubai has also quietly invested more than $1 billion in real estate in the United States, putting money into nursing homes, office buildings, hotels and thousands of apartments in Dallas, Phoenix, Nashville and Atlanta, according to the Times.

Bin Sulayem’s firm, Istithmar PJSC, purchased the Helmsley building for $705 million, paying 20% of the purchase price on a down payment financed by Credit Suisse First Boston, according to Associated Press wire reports, which added that the Dubai firm is also looking at other U.S. commercial property in Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles.

First Boston has past links to the 1989 Housing and Urban Development (HUD) scandal and convicted felon Phil D. Winn, an MDC Holdings, Inc. director whose subsidiary Silverado Savings and Loan collapsed in a major scandal linked to President Bush's brother Neil, a Silverado director, after which Winn received a pardon from President Clinton for his theft of 500,000 HUD apartment units and 79,000 stolen and re-possessed houses.

Current public outrage over President Bush’s transfer of the control over the ports in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia to Dubai Ports World has raised public awareness of potential threats to U.S. national security in the face of Dubai’s past record.

Foreign control and supervision of U.S. ports also raises questions about the roles of both Bush and Bass and their ultimate intentions regarding the ownership changes in spite of links to terrorism and their implications for the safety of American citizens.

A few legislators have questioned why Mr. Bush would turn over control of American ports to foreigners when he has not yet permitted the U.S. Border Patrol or Customs Service to be controlled by foreign governments.

Secretary of State ignores multiple Dubai links to terrorism

Interestingly, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to visit the UAE this week and was quoted as saying there had been a “thorough review” on the sale of the ports and “it was decided that this could be done and done safely.”

Rice also described another Emirate, Abu Dhabi, as “a very good friend” of the United States even though two of the alleged 9-11 “hijackers” were citizens of the UAE and the country’s banking system helped transfer money to the attackers.

The UK Guardian reported that the man at the center of the UAE financial web is believed to be Sheikh Saeed, also known as Mustafa Mohammed Ahmad.

Money transfers have been traced to Florida on September 8 and 9—before the 9-11 attacks—from an account under Ahmad’s name in Dubai to Mohammed Atta, leader of the 19 alleged “hijackers” who outwitted the United States military infrastructure for two hours even as the Air Force had multiple jets in the air during several simultaneous East Coast training operations involving hijacked jets being flown into U.S. buildings.

This, according to testimony of military generals and their aides before the 9-11 Commission and personal interviews conducted by this writer while attending most of the hearings in the Hart Senate office building.

According to a U.S. intelligence source familiar with the investigation, cash flowed from Ahmad, the suspected paymaster in the UAE to Germany and the U.S., and to Florida in particular.

Financial ties to terrorism

According to dozens of interviews with intelligence officers, law enforcement officials, investigators, gold brokers, and sources with direct knowledge of al Qaeda financial movements in Pakistan, UAE, Europe and the U.S., the desert sheikdom of Dubai has played a key role as a depository and protector of al Qaeda wealth—particularly in the form of gold—both before and after the September 11 attacks.

This, according to the Washington Post foreign service, which added that as U.S. forces attacked Afghanistan after 9-11, couriers with bars of gold and bundles of U.S. dollars were smuggled into Pakistan and then moved via the untraceable hawala money transfer system to the port of Karachi and then to Dubai, effectively preserving financial resources to be used against the United States.

Pakistani financial authorities said $2-3 million was hand-carried into Dubai each day from the port of Karachi, Pakistan, mostly to buy gold, according to the Post.

A senior U.S. intelligence official was quoted as saying, “Why move it [gold] through Dubai? Because there is a willful blindness there.”

Dubai is one of seven sheikdoms that make up the United Arab Emirates and has one of the largest and least regulated gold markets, raising questions as to why the Senate is not unanimously forcing President Bush to retain U.S. control of public buildings and ports when questionable terrorist links exist and U.S. national security is at stake.

French, Pakistani and American investigators say much of the financial layering in the al Qaeda system is modeled on the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).

BCCI was founded by Pakistanis and largely bankrolled by leaders of the UAE; and in the 1980’s the bank was used to launder drug money, harbor terrorist funds and buy illegal weapons.

The BCCI, with alleged close links to Dubai and UAE covert financial operations, ultimately collapsed during George H. W. Bush’s presidential administration in a major global financial scandal which was covered up by Bush 41 through a series of presidential pardons, weak congressional oversight and suspect career federal investigators and prosecutors.

“BCCI was the mother and father of terrorist financing operations,” said a senior U.S. investigator to the Post Foreign Service.

Mary Schneider contributed research for this report.

[Mary Schneider is a court-adjudicated official federal whistleblower and former immigration officer from Orlando, Florida, fired for reporting on-going briberies and cover-up conspiracies in giving aid and comfort to illegal Muslims and the rewarding of numerous felonies by U.S. government officials. Because she had the courage to sue Attorney General John Ashcroft and other Bush administration officials for their crimes, Mary’s firing has cost her the loss of all income and she will shortly lose her home. We are asking Americans and others around the world to help Mary with financial donations in any amount so that she will be able to continue her pursuit of justice against the Bush administration. Please visit her website and send contributions to: Mary Schneider, P.O. Box 2660, Windermere, Florida 34786. TF]

Stories about Mary Schneider’s legal case against the Bush administration:

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“Al Qaeda is nothing more than an extension of the apparatus linked to U.S. intelligence that was allowed, by script, to remove itself as a rogue breakaway entity of the U.S. government; allowed to de-compartmentalize from oversight, and was run instead by Gary Best’s rogue black ops specialists for scripted activity outside the U.S. government, with its funding being orchestrated through the Pakistani secret police—an entity of the U.S. government.” Thomas Heneghan, federal whistleblower and U.S. intelligence authority

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