- PARIS - Under the influence
of United States oil companies, the government of President George W Bush
initially blocked intelligence agencies' investigations on terrorism while
it bargained with the Taliban on the delivery of Osama bin Laden in exchange
for political recognition and economic aid, two French intelligence analysts
- In the book Bin Laden, la verite interdite (Bin Laden,
the forbidden truth), that was released recently, the authors, Jean-Charles
Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie, reveal that the Federal Bureau of Investigation's
(FBI) deputy director John O'Neill resigned in July in protest over the
- The authors claim that O'Neill told them that "the
main obstacles to investigate Islamic terrorism were US oil corporate interests
and the role played by Saudi Arabia in it". The two claim that the
US government's main objective in Afghanistan was to consolidate the position
of the Taliban regime to obtain access to the oil and gas reserves in Central
- They affirm that until August, the US government saw
the Taliban regime "as a source of stability in Central Asia that
would enable the construction of an oil pipeline across Central Asia"
from the rich oilfields in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, through
Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the Indian Ocean. Until now, says the book,
"the oil and gas reserves of Central Asia have been controlled by
Russia. The Bush government wanted to change all that."
- But, confronted with Taliban's refusal to accept US conditions,
"this rationale of energy security changed into a military one",
the authors claim.
- "At one moment during the negotiations, the US representatives
told the Taliban, 'either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or
we bury you under a carpet of bombs,'" Brisard said in an interview
- According to the book, the Bush administratino began
to negotiate with the Taliban immediately after coming into power in February.
US and Taliban diplomatic representatives met several times in Washington,
Berlin and Islamabad.
- To polish their image in the United States, the Taliban
even employed a US expert on public relations, Laila Helms. The authors
claim that Helms is also an expert in the works of US intelligence organizations,
for her uncle, Richard Helms, is a former director of the Central Intelligence
- The last meeting between US and Taliban representatives
took place in August, five weeks before the attacks on New York and Washington,
the analysts maintain. On that occasion, Christina Rocca, in charge of
Central Asian affairs for the US government, met the Taliban ambassador
to Pakistan in Islamabad.
- Brisard and Dasquie have long experience in intelligence
analysis. Brisard was until the late 1990s director of economic analysis
and strategy for Vivendi, a French company. He also worked for French secret
services, and wrote for them in 1997 a report on the now famous Al-Qaeda
network, headed by bin Laden.
- Dasquie is an investigative journalist and publisher
of Intelligence Online, a respected newsletter on diplomacy, economic analysis
and strategy, available through the Internet.
- Brisard and Dasquie draw a portrait of the closest aides
to Bush, linking them to the oil business. Bush's family has a strong oil
background, as do some of his top aides. From Vice President Dick Cheney,
through the director of the National Security Council Condoleezza Rice,
to the ministers of commerce and energy, Donald Evans and Stanley Abraham,
all have for long worked for US oil companies.
- Cheney was until the end of last year president of Halliburton,
a company that provides services for oil industry; Rice was between 1991
and 2000 manager for Chevron; Evans and Abraham worked for Tom Brown, another
- Besides the secret negotiations held between Washington
and Kabul and the importance of the oil industry, the book takes issue
with the role played by Saudi Arabia in fostering Islamic fundamentalism,
in the personality of bin Laden, and with the networks that the Saudi dissident
built to finance his activities.
- Brisard and Dasquie contend that the US government's
claim that it had been prosecuting bin Laden since 1998. "Actually,"
Dasquie says, "the first state to officially prosecute bin Laden was
Libya, on the charges of terrorism."
- "Bin Laden wanted to settle in Libya in the early
1990s, but was hindered by the government of Muammar Gaddafi," Dasquie
claims. "Enraged by Libya's refusal, bin Laden organized attacks inside
Libya, including assassination attempts against Gaddafi."
- Dasquie singles out one group, the Islamic Fighting Group
(IFG), reputedly the most powerful Libyan dissident organization, based
in London, and directly linked with bin Laden. "Gaddafi even demanded
Western police institutions, such as Interpol, to pursue the IFG and bin
Laden, but never obtained cooperation," Dasquie says. "Until
today, members of IFG openly live in London."
- The book confirms earlier reports that the US government
worked closely with the United Nations during the negotiations with the
Taliban. "Several meetings took place this year, under the arbitration
of Francesc Vendrell, personal representative of UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan, to discuss the situation in Afghanistan," says the book. "Representatives
of the US government and Russia, and the six countries that border with
Afghanistan were present at these meetings," it says. "Sometimes,
representatives of the Taliban also sat around the table."
- These meetings, also called Six plus 2, because of the
number of states (six neighbors plus the US and Russia) involved, have
been confirmed by Naif Naik, former Pakistani minister for foreign affairs.
- In a French television news program two weeks ago, Naik
said that during a Six plus 2 meeting in Berlin in July, the discussions
turned around "the formation of a government of national unity. If
the Taliban had accepted this coalition, they would have immediately received
international economic aid. And the pipelines from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan
would have come," he added.
- Naik also claimed that Tom Simons, the US representative
at these meetings, openly threatened the Taliban and Pakistan. "Simons
said, 'either the Taliban behave as they ought to, or Pakistan convinces
them to do so, or we will use another option'. The words Simons used were
'a military operation'," Naik claimed.
- (Inter Press Service) ©2001 Asia Times Online Co.,
Ltd. Room 6301, The Center 99 Queen's Road, Central, Hong Kong http://www.atimes.com/c-asia/CK20Ag01.html