This is Chapter 4 of a multi-chapter series. On your right is a Table of Contents to all chapters so far published.
* * * * * * * * *
Henry Kissinger, who served the Nixon administration as national security advisor and secretary of state, has commented that the 1973 oil embargo was “one of the pivotal events in the history of the [twentieth] century.”
Kissinger did not refer specifically to the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) in that statement, but there is no doubt that one of the most important outcomes of the oil embargo was to fill the coffers of BCCI, making it one of the more powerful financial institutions in the world. There is also no doubt that the idea for the oil embargo was hatched by the ruler of Abu Dhabi (then one of BCCI’s controlling shareholders) in consultation with other BCCI principals, including BCCI founder Agha Hasan Abedi. Also playing a role in implementing the oil embargo was BCCI principal Sheikh Kamal Adham (who served concurrently as chief of Saudi intelligence) and the Saudi royal family, which had involvement with the BCCI enterprise.
Others who helped implement the oil embargo included Sheikh Ahmad Turki Yamani, then the Saudi minister of petroleum; and Sheikh Abdel Hadir Taher, then governor of the Saudi state oil company Petromin, both of whom we met in chapter 2 of this series, wherein it was noted that Sheikh Yamani and Sheikh Taher were among the select few billionaires (another being Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz, BCCI’s largest shareholder in the 1980s) whom Osama bin Laden referred to as his “Golden Chain.”
All of those sheikhs also had close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the ruler of Abu Dhabi (who masterminded the oil embargo) was one of the leading sponsors of the Muslim Brotherhood. In addition, we know, BCCI had close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and we might consider the founding of BCCI in 1972 and the enforcement of the oil embargo a year later to have marked the beginning of what Muslim Brotherhood leaders now (see earlier chapters of this series) describe as “The Financial Jihad.”
As noted in an earlier chapter of this series, Muslim Brotherhood leaders say that the manipulation of oil prices are an important component of the “Financial Jihad.”Muslim Brotherhood leader Yussuf al Qardawi, for one, has spoken often of the imperative to deploy Silah al Naft – i.e. “the weapon of oil” – against the U.S. economy. This was precisely in line with the thinking of Osama bin Laden, who stressed “the absolute necessity to use the oil weapon.” And according to a report that was prepared for the Department of Defense, the oil weapon was deployed against the U.S. economy in the years leading up to the great meltdown of 2008.
Indeed, the report for the Defense Department (see chapter 1 of this series) concluded that while a variety of financial weapons have been deployed against the U.S. economy, much of the destruction of 2008 could be attributed to two particularly effective financial weapons: 1) the manipulation of the oil markets that caused oil prices to nearly quadruple in the five years leading to 2008; and 2) the manipulative short selling that was one (though not the only) component of the “bust-outs” (i.e. destruction) of some major financial institutions, including Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and others.
Similarly, the oil embargo of the 1970s quadrupled the price oil, and a few years later, the BCCI enterprise helped “bust out” some of America’s largest savings and loan banks, contributing to the savings an loan crisis that began in the late 1980s, eventually costing U.S. tax-payers billions of dollars (a mighty sum at the time) in bailouts.
* * * * * * * * *
The 1973 oil embargo was an act of economic warfare against the United States, said to be retaliation for America’s support of Israel in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Henry Kissinger was no doubt justified in describing this economic warfare as “one of the pivotal events in the history of the [twentieth] century,” but what Kissinger failed to mention was that he and then President Richard Nixon opted to do nothing in response to the economic warfare that was waged against our nation.
This might have been partly because higher oil prices benefited U.S. oil companies and partly because the Gulf states had agreed to use some of the new oil wealth that they were to acquire as a result of the oil embargo to support the U.S. dollar. Nixon would also have been aware that the oil embargo was transforming BCCI into a global powerhouse, and that BCCI and its owners would become important business partners for certain elements of the American establishment, including America’s leading weapons manufacturers, and some of the most powerful people on Wall Street.
In addition, BCCI and/or its partners effectively “captured” Washington. One famous story describes a BCCI partner named Adnan Khashoggi visiting Nixon in the Oval Office, and “accidentally” leaving behind his briefcase, which was found to contain $1 million in cash. The story might be apocryphal, but there is no question that Khashoggi was one of the largest financiers of Nixon’s political war chest. Khashoggi would also later establish himself as one of history’s most destructive financial criminals, but he would remain on close terms with officials in Washington, including multiple U.S. presidents.
Not long after Nixon left power, BCCI employed (as a consultant) a man named Bert Lance, who would soon be appointed director of the office of management and budget in the administration of President Jimmy Carter. Lance brokered BCCI’s secret acquisition of a prominent financial institution called National Georgia Bank, and that acquisition likely had something to do with the fact that National Georgia Bank was the principal financier to Carter’s family peanut business.
After Carter left office, the former president traveled the world with BCCI founder Aga Hasan Abedi. BCCI was also the largest donor to the Carter Presidential Library. The major U.S. news organizations, however, found nothing untoward about this relationship, and after BCCI was revealed to be (in the words of Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau) “the largest banking fraud in world financial history,” the major U.S. news organizations (and some books on the BCCI scandal) suggested that Carter was oblivious to the fact that BCCI was a criminal enterprise. Some reports also maintained the party line that one of BCCI’s missions was to end global poverty, and so it was natural that Carter, who also desired to help the poor, would join forces with BCCI in this philanthropic endeavor.
Anyone who believes this party line is either dangerously innocent, or guilty of the sort of apathy and lack of inquisitiveness that poses a threat to our democracy. It is possible that Carter genuinely believed that BCCI (which had helped kleptocratic government leaders “bust out” the economies of poverty stricken nations in the non-developing world) was on a “philanthropic” mission to end global poverty, but that is beside the point. Or, rather, it is precisely the point. Because if you genuinely believe that the perpetrators of the “largest banking fraud in world financial history” are engaged in a philanthropic mission, you are, by definition, so friendly with those perpetrators as to be wholly incapacitated.
This is the essence of what we call “deep capture.”
One of BCCI’s most important business partners in the 1980s was a leading oligarch named Jackson Stephens, who was one of the largest contributors to both the Democratic and Republican parties. Stephens was also one of Bill Clinton’s closest associates, and Stephens would later figure in some of the scandals that plagued the Clinton presidency. One of the more famous Clinton scandals saw a Chinese spy donating large sums to Clinton campaign coffers and stealing U.S. nuclear weapons secrets, all the while working in some capacity for a brokerage called Stephens, Inc., which had been founded by Jackson Stephens, and which, in the 1980s, had maintained a close business relationship with BCCI. Stephens had, in the 1980s, also been among those who brokered BCCI’s “secret” acquisition of a financial institution called First General Bankshares, later renamed First American Bankshares.
First American Bankshares was the most prominent financial institution in Washington, DC, and it counted among its clients a large number of America’s leading politicians. In addition, First American Bankshares had extensive ties to the U.S. national security community, and it was no accident that BCCI principals controlled First American in partnership with a man named Clark Clifford, whom BCCI also appointed to run the day-to-day operations of First American and its affiiliates. Clifford, a former Secretary of Defense, was, at the time, one of the most influential people in Washington, and he was the eminence gris of the Democratic Party.
After BCCI collapsed in 1991, the major U.S. news organizations focused almost exclusively on BCCI’s “secret” acquisition of First American Bankshares as being the most salient feature of the BCCI scandal, though the major U.S. news organizations seemed to find nothing more scandalous about it than the fact that the acquisition was “secret,” and therefore illegal. Many earnest U.S. government investigators (including Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau), meanwhile, had determined that there was nothing particularly “secret” about it. Top officials in Washington were aware that BCCI had acquired First American Bankshares, and it is likely they were also aware (as even the whitewashed Congressional report on the BCCI scandal would suggest) that BCCI principals (including the chief of Saudi intelligence) had acquired First Commerce as a way to peddle influence in Washington.
Meanwhile, of course, the BCCI enterprise was carrying out other missions, one of which was to provide a full package of services to leading jihadi terrorist organizations, another of which was to wage the “Financial Jihad” against the American economy. But, of course, captured regulators in Washington allowed BCCI and its partners to “bust-out” the American economy, and the major U.S. news organizations published not a word about it.
Noteably, the Congressional report into the BCCI scandal also revealed that a BCCI subsidiary called Capcom Financial (whose principals included Saudi intelligence official Sheikh Kamal Adham) had formed business relationships with leading American telecommunications and media companies, including CNN, likely for the purposes of influencing (through the media organizations) American public opinion. Unsurprisingly, the major U.S. news organizations, including CNN, did not report on this aspect of the BCCI scandal. Nor, for some reason, did the major U.S. news organizations report the Congressional finding that Capcom Financial had meanwhile transacted around $90 billion (an astounding sum in those days) in illegal “wash” trades through the trading desk of Michael Milken, who was then the most prominent and powerful financial operator on Wall Street.
Such “wash trades” are usually accompanied by manipulative short selling, and they do extensive damage to the markets. In addition, “wash” trades are usually a component of larger money laundering schemes (hence the term “wash”), and it should be stressed that nearly every serious investigator of the BCCI scandal (including the Manhattan District Attorney; the director of the Senate committee tasked with investigating BCCI; the director of the House Task Force on Terorrism; and others) has reported that one of BCCI’s principal lines of business was to launder money not for the world’s leading terrorist organizations, but also for leading transnational organized crime syndicates. Some of BCCI’s executives, including Ziuddin Ali Akbar, who served as BCCI’s treasurer and as director of Capcom Financial, were indicted for laundering money that belonged to Colombian drug cartels.
Aside from Milken, another of BCCI’s most important business partners in the 1980s was Bank of America, which was, in fact, among BCCI’s founding shareholders. According to the party line delivered to the public by the major U.S. news organizations (and by some books on BCCI), Bank of America sold its shares in BCCI in the 1970s because Bank of America had concluded at that early date that BCCI was a criminal enterprise. But this failed to explain why Bank of America did not report the criminality. And more recently, in 2007, Morgenthau (who was still district attorney) concluded that Bank of America had laundered huge sums for drug dealers in Latin America who had ties to Hezbollah and Al Qaeda. Most of the major U.S. news organizations failed to report this news.
Meanwhile, the major U.S. news organizations seemed to believe that people like Jackson Stephens and Michael Milken (i.e. one of history’s most destructive financial criminals) were prominent figures of the American establishment, deserving of our respect and admiration. Thus,we are left to contemplate the state of the republic.