Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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Press Releases

An Outspoken Congresswoman is Blocked From Travel
Rep. Sue Kelly, R-NY, an outspoken critic of Saudi practices of funding radical Islamist teachings and one of the Congressional leaders focusing on terror finance issues, had her State Department approval for an exchange program trip to Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates yanked at the last minute. Niles Latham at the New York Post broke the story yesterday, but it has mostly been ignored elsewhere.

It is a passing strange since Kelly had asked for and received State Department approval to attend a similar conference the year before, which she did. Other Congressmen were granted permission to go to Qatar as part of the State Department exchange program. Kelly's office had alerted the State Department of her plans in February and planned an itinerary with Department personnel. Less than 48 hours before the trip, State Department lawyers told her the trip no longer met the criteria for approval.

Kelly had several strikes against her, despite being a Republican in a Republican administration because she has consistently placed terrorism issues at the center of bilateral and multilateral relations with nations in the Gulf region. It is uncomfortable for some, especially in the wake of the UAE ports debacle, but necessary. It would be criminal if the United States started censoring members of Congress the administration or Department of State did not agree with.

In addition to holding the Saudi kingdom's feet to the fire on their ficticious establishment of a functioning Financial Intelligence Unit and pressing for the UAE to finally crack down on the illegal flights of arms merchant Viktor Bout, Kelly has been quietly leading another fight that may have angered the State Department.

She had been pressuring the State Department and others to pressure Qatar to get rid of Interior Minister Abdullah bin Khalid al Thani, who reportedly befriended both Osama bin Laden and 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He features somewhat prominently in the 9-11 Commission report.

This is something few want to address. The U.S. needs the military facilities loaned by Qatar.But it would be useful if, from time to time, these royal regimes were reminded that someone is actually trying to pay attention to those in their governments that might have ties to the enemy.

Below is a short open source summary of al-Thani's relationship with al Qaeda and its leaders.

Abdallah al-Thani

Since Operation Bojinka was uncovered in the Philippines (see January 6, 1995), nearly all of the plot's major planners, including Ramzi Yousef, are found and arrested. The one exception is 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. He flees to Qatar in the Persian Gulf, where he lives openly using his real name, enjoying the patronage of Abdallah bin Khalid al-Thani, Qatar's Interior Minister and a member of the royal family. [ABC News, 2/7/03]
In January 1996, he is indicted in the US for his role in the 1993 WTC bombing, and in the same month, the US determines his location in Qatar. FBI Director Louis Freeh sends a letter to the Qatari government asking for permission to send a team after him. [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02]

One of Freeh's diplomatic notes states that Mohammed was involved in a conspiracy to "bomb US airliners" and is believed to be "in the process of manufacturing an explosive device."
[New Yorker, 5/27/02]

Qatar confirms that Mohammed is there and is making explosives, but they delay handing him over. After waiting several months, a high-level meeting takes place in Washington to consider a commando raid to seize him. However, the raid is deemed too risky, and another letter is sent to the Qatari government instead. One person at the meeting later states, "If we had gone in and nabbed this guy, or just cut his head off, the Qatari government would not have complained a bit. Everyone around the table for their own reasons refused to go after someone who fundamentally threatened American interests..." [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02]

Around May 1996, Mohammed's patron, Abdallah bin Khalid al-Thani, makes sure that Mohammed and four others are given blank passports and a chance to escape. Qatar's police chief later says the other men include Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mohammed Atef, al-Qaeda's number two and number three leaders, respectively. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02; ABC News, 2/7/03] Bin Laden twice visits al-Thani in Qatar. [ABC News, 2/7/03; New York Times, 6/8/02]

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