Sunday, December 07, 2008

Who was Muhammad Bayazid?

Patrick Fitzgerald is best known to most folks for prosecuting Scooter Libby, but before that circus erupted he spent a considerable amount of time trying to prosecute Muslim charities suspected of acting as money conduits for Islamic terrorism. One of them, the Holy Land Foundation, was only recently convicted for funneling money to Hamas (ironically, Libby source and former Times reporter Judy Miller was involved in a leak involving Holy Land before the Plame affair).

Another group was the Benevolence International Fund, a Chicago organization founded by Enaam Arnaout and run by a man named Mohammad Loay Bayazid during the mid 90s. Mr. Bayazid is considered one of the founding members of al Qaeda yet was operating right under our noses.

The FBI actually took interest in BIF during the early 90s. Eventually Fitzgerald would be instrumental in shutting them down and nabbing founder Enaam Arnaout on several charges. Here's a transcript from CNN back in 2002:
Mr. Arnaout is from the Chicago suburbs. As I said, he heads Benevolence International Foundation, it is one of those charities that had their assets frozen, their files seized.
By the time BIF was brought down former director Bayazid had fled to Turkey then on to Sudan. You conservatives might be thinking hey, Chicago--any connection between these guys and figures like Tony Rezko? From open source records there appears to have been only a tangential connection--they shared lawyers:
Joseph Duffy -- Rezko's chief criminal-defense lawyer -- is a onetime prosecutor with more than 25 years of experience in white-collar-crime cases, Duffy's past clients include Muslim charity leader Enaam Arnaout
A pretty thin reed. Anyway, after 9/11, while Fitz was pursuing Arnaout in Chicago the FBI was very interested in Bayazid. Former CIA Chief George Tenet, in his memoirs, reported that Bayazid was interviewed in Sudan in late 2001 by FBI agent Jack Cloonan. While in Sudan he also met with a man the 9/11 Commission called al Qaeda's WMD chief procurement person, Mubarak al-Duri. Neither man was apprehended, rendered, or anything. According to History Commons:
CIA will interview them in 2002, but they apparently remain free in Sudan (see Mid-2002)
Apparently it's only a coincidence that Mubarak al-Duri shares a sirname with Iraq's number one most-wanted criminal, Izzat al-Duri and is himself from Iraq. From reading this account it appears that Mubarak removed himself from suspicion by telling Cloonan that UBL hated the scotch-drinking womanizing Saddam, or perhaps removed any links between Iraq and bin Laden. That's fine until one considers the fact that UBL reportedly met Iraqi rep Farouq Hijazi in Sudan in 1993 and again in Afghanistan in 1998, and that Zacarias Moussaoui once said it's OK to lie for jihad.

Meanwhile another Mohammed, Khalid Sheikh, is currently on trial for his life down at GTMO. Interestingly, the US Govt at one time had a solid bead on the organizer of 9/11 back in the mid 90s when he was staying in Qatar. From History Commons again:
By October 1995, the FBI tracks KSM to a certain apartment building in Qatar. Then, using high-technology surveillance, his presence in the building is confirmed. [Miniter, 2003, pp. 85-86]

Mahle [CIA agent -ed] argues that KSM should be rendered out of the country in secret. The US began rendering terrorist suspects in 1993 (see 1993), and a prominent Egyptian extremist is rendered by the CIA in September 1995 (see September 13, 1995). She argues her case to CIA headquarters and to the highest reaches of the NSA, but is overruled. [Guardian, 3/31/2005] Instead, the decision is made to wait until KSM can be indicted in a US court and ask Qatar to extradite him to the US. Despite the surveillance on KSM, he apparently is able to leave Qatar and travel to Brazil with bin Laden and then back to Qatar at the end of 1995 (see December 1995). KSM will be indicted in early 1996, but he will escape from Qatar a few months later (see January-May 1996).
The History Commons entry for KSM is extremely interesting on many levels. Not completely sure of its accuracy as it appears to be stocked with news media stories and a healthy dose of Peter Lance material, nevertheless it suggests the CIA knew of KSM back in the 80s during the Afghan wars or perhaps even had him on the payroll. It's reasonable to assume, keeping in mind it's an assumption, that KSM became the ultimate example of blowback, ie, after helping us defeat the Soviets he turned 180 degrees to help defeat the USA. Could this explain our reluctance to capture him (and bin Laden) when they were available in the mid 90s (they reportedly took a trip to Brazil together around that same time) or was it pure politics? Or just bad luck?

Or was it because KSM supposedly knew members of the Pakistani ISI and perhaps even president Sharif himself? One can only imagine the discussions of the Clinton national security team in pondering what to do with KSM if they brought him back to America for the WTC bombing only to have his connections to the Pakistanis spill out. Keep in mind that around the same time his nephew Ramzi Yousef was part of a failed plot to assassinate Benazir Bhutto (like the WTC, they finally got their target). Now Secretary Rice is saying the Mumbai attacks were planned in Pakistan. Hmmm, as the bloggers say.

While KSM is set to fry both Mubarak and Izzat al-Duri, Mohammad Bayazid, 1993 WTC Abdul Yasin, and KSM's brother Zahid Sheikh Mohammed, remain at large along with Zawahiri and bin Laden. Incredibly, so does a man named Abd al-Karim Yousef, who according to HC is Ramzi Yousef's twin brother. Check out their writeup on him, which begins with an interesting premise, if not more than a little conspiratorial. However it is known that Nichols dictated a will to his ex-wife before making one of those trips to the Philippines, so concerned he was about something.

It's unlikely Obama can find enough sunshine to untangle this mess during our lifetimes, even if he wanted to.

WHO'S ON TRIAL, AGAIN?? 12/08/08

From reading this CNN story about KSM and the gang one might wonder just exactly who's on trial--the intolerant, head-chopping killers who are not just at war with the US Military but with individual citizens, or George W Bushitler. It's a real toss up.

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