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4) BCCI, Afghanistan, and Past Drug-Terrorist Networks

You can read online a US Senate Subcommittee Report entitled "The BCCI Affair" about BCCI, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International. The Report concluded
a) that BCCI constituted international financial crime on a massive and global scale, including money-laundering and arms trafficking,
b) that BCCI systematically bribed leaders and politicians in 73 countries around the world, including the US,
c) that it evaded regulatory barriers and penetrated the US banking system. It also reached 12 other conclusions.

The Senate Report's conclusions downplayed what the Subcommittee had heard from Acting CIA Director Richard Kerr about CIA knowledge of "the illegal activities that BCCI was involved in -- narcotics money-laundering, terrorism, support to terrorism, and other activities such as that" (Hearings, III, 584), at a time when the CIA itself banked at both BCCI and First American, a US bank which BCCI illegally controlled.

Buried in the Report is the finding that "terrorist organizations... received payment at BCCI-London and other branches directly from Gulf-state patrons, and then transferred those funds wherever they wished without apparent scrutiny."

Books such as The Outlaw Bank, by Jonathan Beaty and S.C. Gwynne, go further. Beaty and Gwynne accuse BCCI of involvement with Saudi and Pakistani intelligence and defense and foreign policy (e.g. 167, 291), with the movement of narcotics to finance the Afghan resistance of the 1980s (p. 296), and with the CIA and its director William Casey (e.g. pp. 80-82, 250-51). They cite (on p. 118) a Financial Times story [7/25/91] in which the then Finance Minister of Pakistan "appeared to accept ... that BCCI in Pakistan had been used by the CIA to transfer money to Afghan resistance leaders and their backers in the Pakistani military."

BCCI collapsed in 1991. It would appear that the networks and connections persist. It is pertinent to recall the words of a former senior DEA Agent with whom I once shared a TV panel, whose special area was the Middle East: "In my 30-year history in the Drug Enforcement Administration and related agencies, the major targets of my investigations almost invariably turned out to be working for the CIA" (quoted in Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall Cocaine Politics [1998 edition], xviii).

BCCI 's funds were melded with the personal fortune of Sheikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi, one of the UAE. According to Jonathan Beaty (The Outlaw Bank, p. 74) a US government source told him that "Zayed's investments in the United States amounted to a staggering $50 billion, or more." Sheikh Zayed's fortune, reported at $30 billion a year (p. 87), was primarily due to a flow of petrodollars which "started to flow in the mid-1960s" (p. 126). But the 1960s is also the period in which the world began to hear of heroin refineries near the oil refineries of Dubai and Qatar.

One cannot really understand the present crisis without understanding the degree to which the flow of narcodollars and petrodollars has corrupted governments, corporations and social structures around the world, including the US. The influence of these foreign funds is not usually visible. Most people for example are not aware that until recently the largest shareholder of Chevron, and the second-largest shareholder of Chase Manhattan, were both Arabs.

I plan to post here an article I wrote for Pacific News Service in 1990, entitled "U.S. Hungry for Kuwaiti Petro-Dollars -- Not Just Oil" (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/2/91).

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