May 13, 2003

SAAD AL-FAGIH WRITES IN THE GUARDIAN that Osama is winning. But wait — who’s Al-Fagih? Oh, right:

Osama Bin Laden, the world’s most wanted man, has connections to a leading Saudi dissident based in London, BBC Radio’s Five Live Report has revealed.

The programme provides evidence that Saad Al-Fagih, a key figure in the London-based campaign opposed to the Saudi regime, bought a satellite phone that was later used by Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda organisation.

On 30 July 1998 one of the suicide bombers who blew up the US embassy in Nairobi telephoned the satellite phone number: 00 873 682 505 331.

Eight days later the suicide bombers struck in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam killing 247 people.

The satellite phone was the very same one that had been bought by Saad Al-Fagih in November 1996.

Why is this guy writing for The Guardian instead of warming a cell somewhere? And why is the Guardian (and the BBC) just calling him a “dissident” instead of a “terrorist sympathizer or worse?”

Even more damning, the BBC story has Al-Fagih being defended by George Galloway.

UPDATE: Arthur Silber says the real target was Vinnell Corp., which provides military support services (which a cynic might say are mercenary in nature) to the Saudi government. Officially, though, it involves training and support contracts for the Saudi Arabian National Guard. Here’s a recruiting presentation by Vinnell. It’s not terribly informative. Here’s a more informative piece from John Pike’s GlobalSecurity.org, an outfit I generally regard as reliable. Excerpt:

Three independent Saudi bodies are charged with security duties. The Ministry of Defense and Aviation uses four uniformed services to protect against external military threats. The Saudi Arabian National Guard [SANG] is responsible for defending vital internal resources (oil fields and refineries), internal security, and supporting the Ministry of Defense and Aviation, as required. The Ministry of Interior is charged with internal security, police functions, and border protection. . . .

A small but highly skilled and diverse group, the US soldiers and Department of the Army civilians who make up OPM-SANG execute this multi-billion-dollar program throughout Saudi Arabia. Training is the backbone of this program. At the National Guard military schools, OPM-SANG advisors and contractor trainers help develop programs of instruction and specialty skill training courses.

In addition to OPM-SANG’s military and civilian contractor advisors and trainers, tailored training packages are arranged through the U.S. Army Security Assistance and Training Management Office. One such recently concluded training program was a three-month Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Course.

Interesting.

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