The Saudi BinLaden Group & The United States
Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden had a vision, while he was young and living in near poverty while working as a porter in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia he wanted to start his own company which would help to rebuild the Kingdom into the pinnacle of the Arab world. By 1931, under the blessings of the Kingdom’s founder, Abdel Aziz Ibn al Saud,, the Saudi BinLaden Group had begun. Ibn Saud gave Mohammed lucrative contracts in the Kingdom including refurbishing the mosques at Mecca and Medina and recladding the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. The family owned business would grow extensively around the Gulf over the years but in 1967, Mohammed bin Laden was killed when his company airplane crashed during landing in Oom, ‘Asir Province, southwest Saudi Arabia. The business would continue to be run by his older sons who coopted the company. One of those sons would turn out to become a nefarious figure in the future, Osama Bin Laden.
In 1979, a start up oil company, Arbusto Energy, began raising funds for oil exploration through private offerings. The company was run by a young Texan who had connections in the oil industry, George W. Bush. James R. Bath, Texas millionaire investor and businessman and close friends with the Bush family, was one of the companies very first investors. However the company was in desperate need for future prospects overseas in order to compete in the open market. Bath was a representative for Saudi businessman Salem bin Laden, the oldest son of Mohammed bin Laden. It was thru James Bath, that the Saudi BinLaden Group began funding Bush’s company. Through this acquaintance, Bath eventually became Bin Laden’s business representative in the United States, representing him in a number of business deals, including real estate, aircraft services, and banking. In 1999 Enron announces an agreement to build a $140 million power plant in the Gaza Strip, between Israel and Egypt. One of the major financiers for the project is the Saudi Binladin Group. Construction was virtually halted in late 2000 when violence flared and the project was cancelled due to Enron's scandal which forced its closing.
Over the years the Bush family and Bin Laden family became inextricably aligned. Meanwhile two of the more prominent Saudi’s, Khalid bin Mahfouz and Salem bin Laden began investing in the infamous Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) which was founded under Agha Hasan Abedi a Pakistani, who had connections thru-ought the business and criminal world. The BCCI bank would later come under intense investigation due to dealings with some of the world’s most notorious individuals and groups including Abu Nidal, Manuel Noriega and the Medellin Cartel. The bank would however be forced to close its business after The British government set up an independent inquiry, which found large scale massive corruption and financial ties to nefarious agencies, including the CIA and Pakistan ISI along with illegal transactions which left the bank in debt.
Frank C. Carlucci, the former secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan had begun visiting the Bin Laden family in Jeddah. Trips to the Bin Laden family made by other notable U.S. officials such as George W.Bush and James A. Baker III (White House Chief of Staff and United States Secretary of the Treasury under President Ronald Reagan) led many to believe the Bush-Bin Laden alignment would become the future de facto force in the region of the foreseeable future.
It was here that Carlucci would finalize a deal with the Bin Laden family to start investing with the Carlyle Group in which he served as its chairman in hopes of also having many of the prominent Saudi billionaires to also start investments. The Bin Laden family’s financial relationship with Carlyle began in 1994. At that time, they committed $2 million to a buyout fund, Carlyle Partners II, a tiny fraction of the $1.3 billion raised for the fund. Much of that money was then invested in the fund gradually over many years. The Carlyle Group is an American multinational private equity corporation which has 31 offices across six continents. After Carlucci’s meeting in Jeddah, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, a Saudi billionaire and philanthropist began investing heavily in the company. Later reports confirmed that the Bin Laden family had invested $2 million into Carlyle’s $1.3 billion Carlyle Partners II Fund in 1995. Carlucci would also hold a position within the Neoconservative think tank, Project for New American Century.
After the attacks of September 11th 2001, the “black sheep” of the Bin Laden family was immediately fingered as the primary culprit behind the attacks. This put enormous pressure on the Bin Laden family whom some had residency and financial dealings in the United States. On September 14th U.S.-Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan, close friends with the Bush family, had visited the U.S. President and long time Bin Laden family friend George W. Bush. In the ensuing days Saudi Arabia supervised the urgent evacuation of 24 members of Osama bin Laden’s extended family from the United States. October 2001, the Bin Laden family would liquidate all financial holdings with the Carlyle Group. After meeting with chief executive officers of the firm it was under mutual agreement that the Bin Laden’s would finalize their ties under the wake of the attacks to alleviate any scrutiny. The Saudi BinLaden Group continues to prosper today, although in recent months it has transferred 36% of their companies stocks in the to the Istidama Holding Company which is owned by the Saudi Ministry of Finance.