Monday, September 28, 2009

The Safari Club - An Alternate Super Intelligence Agency.

Alexandre de Marenches

The Safari Club- An Alternate Super Intelligence Agency. In September 1 1976, a group of countries got together and established a newly formed secret cabal of intelligence agencies called the Safari Club. It included France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Iran. The club was a brain child of Alexandre de Marenches, head of the French external intelligence service SDECE. It was likely formed with the connivance of CIA to compensate for it’s paralysis after Watergate - as a means of circumventing US Congress which had tied down the CIA! Acutely conscious of the Soviet threat these countries had decided that if the US could not do anything to counter it, they would!

Kamal Adham brother in law of Saudi King Faisal

Millions were spent to create an operational capability. But much more was required to be done to create its financial arm. The group needed a network of banks to help manage and conceal the enormous transactions needed to finance its intelligence operations. Saudi Intelligence Minister Kamal Adham was given the task to create one. With the blessing of CIA director George Bush Sr, he would transformed the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), a small Pakistani merchant bank, founded in 1972 by a Pakistani partner of Adham (Agha Hasan Abedi); into a world-wide money-laundering machine, buying additional banks around the world to create the biggest clandestine money transfer and whitening network in history.

Agha Hasan Abedi

The Rise Of BCCI.Adham, and other intelligence heads worked with Abedi to contrive “a plan that seemed too good to be true. The bank (BCCI) would solicit the business of every major intelligence – and therefore terrorist, rebel, and underground - organization in the free world. The intelligence collected - and links forged in the process - would be shared with these ‘friends’ of BCCI.” CIA operative Raymond Close worked closely with Adham during the Congressional inquiry years to help identify and tap “into CIA’s hordes of misfits and malcontents to help man a 1,500-strong group of assassins and enforcers.” Soon, BCCI became the fastest growing bank in the world. Time magazine would later describe BCCI as not just a bank, but also “a global intelligence operation and a Mafia-like enforcement squad. Operating primarily out of the bank’s offices in Karachi, Pakistan; the 1,500-employee network has used sophisticated spy equipment and techniques, along with bribery, extortion, kidnapping and even, by some accounts, murder. It stops at almost nothing to further the bank’s aims the world over.”

Saudi Prince Mohammed al-Faisal also set up Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt (FIBE) as part of the banking empire. The “Blind Sheikh,” Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman was one of its founding members. Growth of Islamic banking would directly help the growth of the Islamist movements, and allow the Saudis to pressure poorer Islamic nations, like Egypt, to shift their policies to the right. FIBE worked closely with BCCI. Investigators would later find that BCCI held $589 million in “unrecorded deposits,” $245 million of which were placed with FIBE! BCCI at a later stage was also ‘discovered’ to be deeply implicated in illegal arms and narcotics trade .But all this was to happen way in the future, when CIA wanted to get back into the driving seat!

The Activities Of Safari Club. Thus was the Safari Club established .It funded – off the books - covert operations for a ‘ghost’ CIA made up of fired agents close to ex-CIA Director George Bush Sr. and Theodore Shackley. Shackley would remain at the center of this “private, shadow spy organization within the CIA” until he was fired in 1979; when the Safari Club was exposed due to the Iranian revolution-Iran being one of the members ! It must be noted here that this “Super Spy Club” inevitably gave a front seat to Saudi, Arab and Iranian ‘Islamist’ interests. The club seems to have remained active till about 1982 when de Marenches stepped down from being head of French intelligence .By this time the issue of the witch hunt of CIA within the USA also seems to have been resolved, and the CIA was keen to get back into the driving seat. Yet as we shall see next ;the then junior officers –as they rose in rank- would continue to retain their Islamic imprint ,as they shaped Americas -and the CIA’s- future policies.

During the initial period the Safari Club played a secret role in political dramas of many countries mostly Islamic and in Africa or the Middle East. Its first operation: A rebellion in Zaire was put down by Moroccan and Egyptian troops, using French air support.It then turned to deal with the Soviet infiltrations in Ethopia, Somalia and Djibouti and Peoples republic of Yemen. It also acted to repel Libyan aggression against Chad and Sudan. It also played a role in the US-Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of 1979. Through out 1970-80 huge amounts of Saudi money backed by Safari Club covert activity helped countries like Syria,Jordan,North Yemen, Angola, Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Uganda, Mali, Nigeria, Ziare, Guinea, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Philippines –and some reports suggest even South Vietnam; survive Russian backed Libyan or leftist in roads. In most countries Saudi ‘Wahabi Jehadi’ proselytizing inevitably accompanied the cash.

The Safari Club and the ‘rogue CIA’ also played a major role in supporting Pakistani ISI backed Afghani militants.Pakistani operation was remarkably successful and by 1977 the Afghan government of Sardar Daud was willing to settle all outstanding issues in exchange for a lifting of the ban on the National Awami Party and a commitment towards provincial autonomy for Pashtuns.This was also the period in which Moro operations in the Philippines achieved their most outstanding success.

Planning For A Russian Vietnam: 1977-1982. During the period 1977 to 1982 a major re-orientation of US policy is apparent specially in the mid-east and SE Asia.To what extant the Safari Club influenced the shape of things must remain a field of conjecture;yet the circumstantial evidence is pretty clear that the Carter administration had “no clear policy” due to internal divisions and confusion – and also that Saudi(Muslim) influence was considerable through elements of the ‘rouge CIA’ which was beginning to emerge out of the shadows to merge into the main stream re-activated CIA.

• Setting The Stage. In the year 1977-79 a number of remarkable events (mentioned below) took place affecting our region. An analysis of these helps us to understand how the original concept of a defensive and deterrent Islamic Jehad was shaped into one of Americas most potent intelligence assets – global Islamic (Wahabi) militancy or Islamic Terrorism:

In The USA Zbigniew Brzezinski took over as President Carter’s National Security Adviser. He established the Nationalities Working Group (NWG) for weakening the Soviet Union through Islamic militancy .By December 1978; he formalized his theory around the idea of turning the Muslim world into ‘an arc of crises. It was based on the ideas of British expert Dr. Bernard Lewis, who advocated the balkanization of the entire Muslim near East along tribal and religious lines. The chaos would spread in what he also calls an “arc of crisis” and ultimately destabilize the Muslim regions of the Soviet Union.

BCCI Even Buys The CIA’s Bank! The same year The Safari Club made a bid to buy CIA’s bank! A group fronted by Kamal Adham, bought First American Bank shares. It was the biggest bank in the Washington, D.C. - and since long the CIA’s principal banker. In 1981, the Federal Reserve after asking CIA for the mandatory clearance allows the sale! The CIA held back what it knew, including the fact that Adham was Saudi intelligence minister. But Adhami and his group were acting on behalf of BCCI.Thus by 1982 BCCI becomes (illegally) the owner of CIA’s bank. The CIA did not inform the Treasury Department about this link till as late as 1985.In fact CIA continued using both BCCI and First American. The Safari Club and its financial arm the BCCI were fully in place –even within USA by 1982!

From Left to Right: Agha Shahi - the then Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, Lt. General [R] Mujib ur Rehman [Zia's Advisor on Information], Zbigniew Brzezinski [National Security Advisor to the then US President], US President Jimmy Carter, and American Backed Military Dictator General Ziaul Haq.

Brzezinski’s Islamic Militant Policy Implemented In Pakistan. In Pakistan on 5 July 1977 Pakistan’s socialist minded Prime Minister Z.A.Bhutto - an advocate of the policy of independence from US domination through a combination of ‘Islamic socialism’ and a pro-China foreign policy ; as well as the architect of Muslim unity(held first Islamic summit at Lahore) and Pakistan’s nuclear program - was eliminated in a coup by General Zia –ul-Haq .Zia had already proved his worth as an American ally in Jordan , where he massacred the PLA to save the Jordanian throne for the Americans.

Apparently the US stopped all economic and military aid to Pakistan as a result of the coup .But in actual fact aid continued flowing in a big way for the militants and their Islamisation process through the Safari club and the rouge CIA; and planning was soon expedited to draw in and kill the Russian bear in Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan Daud suspected of having gone ‘soft’ on Pakistan was removed through a pro-Soviet coup on April 1978.This served as the ideal start point for implementing Brzezinski’s policy. Aid to Pakistan was resumed .The CIA commenced beaming of radio propaganda into Afghanistan, and a program and started for turning the Afghan mujahideen into radical Wahabi Islamic fighters. Zia proved invaluable at this stage.

He allowed a free hand to the CIA approved Wahabi Islamic doctrine to gain a firm foothold in Pakistan. Passing pro-Islamic legislation, he allowed FIB (Faisal Islamic bank) to start Islamic banking systems, and created Islamic courts. Most importantly, he imposed a new religious tax which was used to create tens of thousands of madrassas, or religious boarding schools, where “Islamic text books’ printed in USA and approved by CIA were taught. These schools would be used to train and indoctrinate a large portion of future Islamic militants using courses developed in the USA.

“Radical Islamist ideology began to permeate the military and the influence of the most extreme groups crept into the army,” writes journalist Kathy Gannon in her book I is for Infidel. The BBC later commented that Zia’s “Islamization” policies created a “culture of jihad” within Pakistan that continues until present day. Mean ISI took over to continue the field work and launched a massive campaign of terrorism, assassinating hundreds of teachers and civil servants in Afghanistan.”

For Iran, in November 1978 former Under Secretary of State George Ball was appointed as advisor to President Carter! This is most amazing for he was known to hold the view that the US should drop support for the Shah of Iran in favor of the radical Islamist opposition of Ayatollah Khomeini. Later during his exile The Shah would note with bitter hind sight,”It should have been clear to me that the Americans wanted me out. What else was I to make of the Administration’s sudden decision to call George Ball as advisor on Iran?”

For Al-Qaeda around 1978-79(the details are fuzzy) Osama Bin Laden visited the US and Britain -or both -ostensibly for the treatment of his son Abdul Rahman born with hydrocephalus. However the required treatment-an operation - was never carried out. More likely he went there to get his final briefs first hand!

From Left to Right: Agha Shahi - the then Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, Lt. General [R] Mujib ur Rehman [Zia's Advisor on Information], Zbigniew Brzezinski [National Security Advisor to the then US President], US President Jimmy Carter, and American Backed Military Dictator General Ziaul Haq.

1979-The Bear Trap Is Sprung. Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile in France on January 16, 1979.By February Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi is deposed and Ayatollah Khomeini took over as Iran’s new leader. At first the US was taken aback by the new fundamentalist Islamic government, and Brzezinski contemplated a military coup to stop Khomeini.

Ayatollah Khomeini

In March, there was a major revolt in Herat province. Russian Intelligence noted that it had support from outside-particularly Iran. This convinced Brzezinski that Khomeini was fiercely anti-communist, and he soon decided that Iran’s new government can become part of his “arc of crises. The US embassy remained open, and more US officials come to Iran to begin tentative talks. The CIA started working (re-working) with Iranian intelligence to destabilize the pro-Soviet government in Afghanistan.

By April 1979, US officials start having their first meetings in Pakistan with opponents of the Afghan government. Robert Gates –a junior officer then , but later to become CIA Director - recalls that in one such meeting on March 30, 1979, Under Secretary of Defense Walter Slocumbe wondered aloud whether there is “value in keeping the Afghan insurgency going, ‘sucking the Soviets into a Vietnamese quagmire.’”

In May a CIA special envoy also meets these Afghan mujaheddin leaders at Peshawar. All of them have been carefully selected by the Pakistani ISI. One of them is Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a drug dealer, and brutal warlord. His extreme ruthlessness is considered a plus. Over the next 10 years over half of all US aid to the mujaheddin will go to his faction. In June /August there are further large scale army mutinies within Afghanistan.

According to the official US version CIA aid to the Mujaheddin began after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan. How ever President Carter had formally approved covert aid in July. And as Brzezinski’s confessed later on: “that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention”. Charles Cogan, who later headed the CIA covert aid program to Afghanistan, will call Carter’s approval on 6th July a “very modest beginning to US involvement.” In fact, this is not correct because the’ Safari Club’ along with the ‘rouge CIA’ had been aiding the rebels since well before 1978. Haizullah Amin over throws Daud in a military coup in October 1979, and invites the Soviets.

In early November 1979, Brzezinski had secretly met with Iranian Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan, as well as Iran’s foreign minister and defense minister, in Algiers. But shortly before the meeting, the US agrees to allow the Shah, dying with cancer, to come to the US for medical treatment. Khomeini is enraged, and on November 4, just three days after the Algeria meeting begins, students take over the US embassy in Teheran. Brzezinski’s (Safari Club’s?) attempts to create an alliance with Khomeni’s Iran collapse.

On December 8 1979 The Soviets invaded Afghanistan; surprisingly on December 26 Russian troops turn against the invitee and kill him! Later declassified high-level Russian documents show that the Russian leadership believed Amin to have had secret contacts with the US embassy and was probably a US agent; and that because of this “the right wing Muslim opposition” has “practically established their control in many provinces… using foreign support.” They therefore installed a communist regime led by Babrak Karmal which was openly hostile to Pakistan. The Russians will later be proved correct when in a 1998 interview, Brzezinski, revealed that earlier in the year Carter authorized the CIA to destabilize the government, provoking the Russians to invade and later topple Amin’s government! It seems Russia had been invited into Afghanistan by a Khomeini cultivated US agent – even though Iran was no more a part of the team!

Brzezinski wrote a memo to President Jimmy Carter after the Soviet invasion suggesting that success in Afghanistan could give the Soviets access to the Indian Ocean. He advised that US should continue aid to the Afghan Mujaheddin. He also added, “This means more money as well as arms shipments to the rebels and some technical advice.” He concludes the memo with, “[W]e must both reassure Pakistan and encourage it to help the rebels. This will require a review of our policy toward Pakistan, more guarantees to it, more arms aid, and alas, a decision that our security problem toward Pakistan cannot be dictated by our nonproliferation policy.” Carter accepted Brzezinski’s advice. Pakistan would be rewarded to become a nuclear power in exchange for help in implementing Brzezinski doctrine of Islamic Militancy!

Over the next decade CIA and Saudi Arabia would channel a huge amount of money through ISI, (estimates range up to $40 billion total for the war) to support the Mujaheddin guerrilla fighters opposing the Russians, forcing the USSR into a decade-long war which it could ill afford. It was as Brzezinski insisted, a war that brought about “The demoralization and finally the collapse of the Soviet Empire”. In my next article I shall show how this covert operation involving ‘radical Islamist militants’ was developed and implemented by CIA. References: Profile: Safari Club Complete 911 Timeline Project: Complete 911 Timeline Open-Content project managed by matt, Paul, KJF, blackmax The New ‘Great Game’:Part 1-Birth of Radical Islamist Militancy by Hassan Rizvi , Lahore: Sep 20 2008

No comments: