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

Blood from Stones

Visit Douglas Farah's
author page at

Press Releases

What Happened to Bank al Madina?
Investigators of terrorist financial issues are growing increasingly interested in Bank al Madina, a looted bank in Beirut that seems to have been a center for terror finance, Saddam Hussein's food-for-oil scam of billions of dollars, West African blood diamonds, Syrian government payoffs and massive criminal money laundering. In other words, a worthy successor to the infamous Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).

By far the best thing publicly available on this is in Fortune Magazine's May 15 issue.

The bank collapsed in 2003 after being looted of some $1.65 billion, and, as Mitchell Prothero points out in his fine Fortune piece, several of the key players in the fraud were named in the U.N. report as participating in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. One of the reasons seems to be that Hariri was planning on reopening the stalled investigation into the collapse of the bank, and had accused the Syrians of financial corruption.

"Was the scandal part of the reason Hariri was killed?" asks Marwan Hamade, Lebanon's Minister of Telecommunications and a Hariri confidant who was himself the target of a car-bomb assassination attempt. "Absolutely. It was certainly one of the cumulative reasons. If he had been reelected, Hariri would have reopened the file, which we know goes directly to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad through the [Lebanese] presidential palace in Baabda."

Prothero, the UN investigators and others have documented the Syrian ties to the bank. Another point of interest is the ties of the bank to the network of Lebanese traffickers in "blood diamonds" from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Angola and elsewhere. Hezbollah has long used the diamond trade to raise money through taxing diamond merchants. Al Qaeda has used the same network to store value of its assets. The al-Madina Bank seems to have played a central role in both aspects.

Belgian police investigators found that the Lebanese diamond merchant handling sales for al Qaeda through his Antwerp-based company divereted much of the money to Lebanon. They suspect the money was laundered through al-Madina.

U.S. financial investigators are interested but short-handed, especially since many of the documents are in Arabic. There is little stomach just now for a protracted investigation into an overseas bank that may not reveal many direct U.S. ties.

The key bank documents now accessible, however. It would be worth the time and energy to unravel the secrets of the bank. Terrorists and organized criminal groups operate through networks, and Bank al-Madina was an important part of several networks. Understanding how those work is of vital importance.
Hayden's Challenge at the CIA
Competition Between the Brothers and Al Qaeda?
Maintained by Winter Tree Media, LLC