t byfield on Fri, 25 Jul 2003 08:58:37 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> cains and abels

an interesting discrepancy in how the family members of terrorists
are treated. 

on the one hand, we have, of course, mr. al-tikriti's two sons in 
iraq, where pragmatism has forced the US to stray pretty close to
violating the very same provisions of the geneva convention it was
squawking about earlier in the war, when squawking was convenient. 
(or are recently deposed 'regimists' merely 'enemy combatants' like 
those held in camp x-ray? i'd have thought being a senior member 
of a regime -- say, commander of regular military forces -- would 
make you about as official as it gets.)

on the other hand, we have the family of mr. bin laden on in mid-
september 2001:

     < http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2001/09/30/archive/main313048.shtml >

   Bin Laden Family Evacuated
   Sept. 30, 2001

   (CBS) Two dozen members of Osama bin Laden's family were urgently
   evacuated from the United States in the first days following the
   terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, according to the Saudi
   ambassador to Washington.

   One of bin Laden's brothers frantically called the Saudi Arabian
   Embassy in Washington looking for protection, Prince Bandar bin Sultan
   told The New York Times. The brother was sent to a room in the
   Watergate Hotel and was told not to open the door.

the watergate -- nice touch. 

   Most of bin Laden's relatives were attending high school and college.
   The young members of the bin Laden family were driven or flown under
   FBI supervision to a secret place in Texas and then to Washington, The
   Times reported Sunday.

texas -- nice touch.

   Many were terrified, fearing they would be lynched after hearing
   reports of violence against Muslims and Arab-Americans.
   They left the country on a private charter plane when airports
   reopened three days after the attacks.

i bet random violence wasn't the only thing they were terrified about.
in the southern arabian peninsula, if not throughout the areas tra-
versed by bedouins, one well-established way to meet an old friend is
to extend hospitality -- sometimes for quite a while -- to his family
and friends. (maybe they went to crawford? nah, that'd be too good.)

   King Fahd, the ailing Saudi ruler, sent an urgent message to his
   embassy in Washington pointing out that there were "bin Laden children
   all over America" and ordered, "Take measures to protect the
   innocents," the ambassador said.

   It's a tragedy," Prince Bandar told the Times. "The elders" of the
   students "came to see me, and one of them was a bright boy from
   Harvard who like the others had absolutely nothing to do with this and
   yet we had to tell him to go home and wait until the emotions calmed
   down. And he told me that he never really appreciated why the Japanese
   wanted a memorial or an apology for their treatment in World War II.
   The student added, according to the prince, "I understand now that
   when you are innocent, in the face of emotion, nothing, not even
   common sense, can help argue your case."

evidently, it did help OBL's family to argue their case -- so eloquently
that the FBI chauffered them all over the US for a get-together! (i won-
der who paid for that -- maybe a FOIA is in order?)

   Osama bin Laden is one of more than 50 children of a Yemeni-born
   migrant who made a vast fortune building roads and palaces in Saudi
   Arabia and his extended family spans the globe. Many have been
   educated in the United States and the family has donated millions of
   dollars to several American universities.

   Bin Laden is estranged from his family and from Saudi Arabia, which
   revoked his citizenship in the early 1990s after he was caught
   smuggling weapons from Yemen.

OBL may be 'estranged' from his family -- that certainly seems to 
have been the FBI's presumption, bless their hearts -- but the ~900
pages of congressional report on 9/11 just declassified suggest 
that his ability to play well with others in his family may not 
have been the salient issue when it came to funding the hijackers:

< http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1058868138569&p=1012571727088 >

     September 11 report raises Saudi question

     By Marianne Brun-Rovet and Edward Alden in Washington

     Published: July 24 2003 16:17 
     Last Updated: July 24 2003 19:27

     The September 11 hijackers received foreign government
     support while they were in the US plotting the attacks on
     New York and Washington, according to the US Congress
     investigation into the attacks.

     The conclusion, contained in the declassified portions of
     the 900-page report released on Thursday, will raise new
     questions in particular about the role of Saudi Arabia,
     particularly because the administration insisted on deleting
     a 28-page section of the report that focused on the Saudi

     Senator Bob Graham, the former Democratic intelligence
     committee chairman who led the investigation, said the
     hijackers "received, during most of this time, significant
     assistance from a foreign government which further
     facilitated their ability to be so lethal." He would not
     identify the government.

     The report also contains new evidence that US intelligence
     agencies and the Federal Bureau of Investigation knew far
     more about the activities of some of the hijackers than has
     been previously revealed.

     While the administration has insisted that the plot could
     not have been unraveled from the information available, a
     congressional source who briefed reporters said: "There was
     no smoking gun in the sense of all the details and the
     specifics in one piece of intelligence."

     She added: "But that is not the same as saying that this
     attack could not have been prevented."

     Despite the deletions, the report contains considerable new
     evidence regarding the role that Saudi Arabia may have
     played in supporting and shielding terrorists prior to the

     First, the report quotes a senior US government official and
     others that the Saudi government had consistently refused to
     co-operate on any US investigations involving Osama bin

     Secondly, it contains evidence of a more direct link to the
     attacks, particularly regarding the activities of Omar
     Al-Bayoumi, a Saudi national suspected of having ties with
     the Saudi government. Mr Al-Bayoumi was critical in setting
     up two of the September 11 hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi and
     Khalid al-Mihdhar, when they first arrived in San Diego
     prior to the attacks. The pair was known by US intelligence
     agencies as early as 1999 to be connected with al-Qaeda, and
     had attended a high-level meeting of al-Qaeda operatives in
     Malaysia in January, 2000 that was monitored by the CIA.

     The report says that Mr Al-Bayoumi met with the two men in
     Los Angeles in January, 2000, just after a closed-door
     meeting that Mr Al-Bayoumi had at the Saudi consulate. The
     FBI was aware of meetings between Mr Al-Bayoumi and the two
     hijackers and considered them "somewhat suspicious" but
     failed to act, the report said.

     The report also revealed another major US intelligence
     failure prior to the attacks, which it called "perhaps the
     intelligence community's best chance to unravel the
     September 11 plot."

     It said that the FBI had recruited a counter-terrorism
     informant in San Diego who had close links to Mr al-Hazmi
     and Mr al-Mihdhar, as well as with a third hijacker Hani
     Hanjour. The FBI's San Diego field office did not act on the
     information he supplied because the CIA had not made the FBI
     aware of their suspected links to al-Qaeda.

     The FBI agent responsible for the informant told the
     congressional committee that he would have acted if he had
     been alerted that the pair were likely al-Qaeda operatives.
     "It would have made a huge difference," he said . We would
     have immediately opened investigations. We would have done

compare the NYT's coverage of the same declassified report:

     < http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/24/politics/24CND-TERR.html >

you'd hardly know saudi arabia existed. they never mention it.


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