[dropcap type="circle" color="#ffffff" background="#e53b2c"] W[/dropcap]hile a US-led armada was playing games on the high seas and drowning three Panamanian navy seals during excercise "Panamax 2005" which purported to safeguard the Canal from terrorist attacks, the real connection between international terrorism and Panama can be found in the file cabinets of the local law firms.
Panama has a reputation in this area. Three years ago it was revealed that Syrian arms trafficker, drug smuggler and terrorist supplier Monzer Al Kassar (involved in such bloody events as the hijacking of the Achille Lauro) was a client of law firm Morgan & Morgan which handled incorporation for him. Arias Fabrega & Fabrega, another Panamanian powerhouse, turned out to have incorporated the corporate vehicle that served as a conduit for stolen funds in the UN oil for food scandal, and in the sixties the same law firm served another illustrious client: the Israeli Mossad.
Yet, as it turns out, the Bin Laden family's financial empire uses Panama as well for its corporate needs. In the public registry - miles away from the high seas and the Canal - we found the Saudi Investment Company Panama, registered by law firm Shirley & Diaz. On the board of directors we find Baudoin Dunand, a Swiss attorney who specializes in international financial structures and Swedish Kjell Carlsson.
The president of the Saudi Investment Company Panama is Sheik Yeslam M. Binladin. He is Osama Bin Laden's half-brother.
The company is part of a vast international network of corporate entities active in finance, construction and real estate in, among others, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the Cayman Islands, the United States, Curaçao and Panama. The Bin Laden family claims to have disowned Osama Bin Laden in 1994, yet, in 2004, Osama Bin Laden's half brother Yeslam Binladin admitted that he and other Bin Laden family members shared a Swiss bank account with Osama bin Laden from 1990 until 1997. Yeslam had previously denied any financial dealings with Osama at this late date until evidence of this bank account was uncovered by French private investigator Jean-Charles Brisard, who was hired by families of victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
In December 2001, French authorities opened an investigation into the financial dealings of the Saudi Investment Company (SICO) run by Yeslam Binladin and in 2002 his house on the Cote d'Azur was raided by the French police. The French are investigating the Bin Laden empire for links with the financing of terrorism, i.e. Osama's group, and money laundering. French newspaper Le Monde and Reuters published that the investigators noted a 241 million euro transfer made to Pakistan in 2000 from an account belonging to a company called Cambridge, a SBG subsidiary, that was opened at Deutsche Bank in Geneva. According to Le Monde, U.S. authorities are aware of the existence of those funds, which they believe were transferred into an account belonging jointly to Osama Bin Laden and someone of Pakistani nationality.
Already in September 2001, the Spanish police started an investigation into Palwa Iberica S.A., another company of the Bin Laden family.
Yeslam Binladin - who deliberately spells his name differently from that of his half-brother - claims he's had no contact with Osama in 20 years. Yet, in 2004, when asked if he would turn in Osama if given the chance in an interview with MSNBC, he replies, “What do you think? Would you turn in your brother?” Interviewed on the Al-Arabiya TV network in July 2005 he added that he would happily pay for Osama's defense should he ever be caught.
Yeslam's ex-wife, in her book "Inside the Kingdom", writes about Osama: "He was admired. He was involved in a noble cause. Osama was a warrior -- a Saudi hero. (...) He was not strikingly different from the other brothers -- just younger, and more reserved."
And: "I simply can't see them depriving a brother of his annual dividend from their father's company, and sharing it among themselves. That would be unthinkable -- among the Bin Ladens, no matter what a brother does, he remains a brother."
The Panamanian company headed by Yeslam owns the Saudi Investment Company UK, which is a financial company according to information we found on the website of Wayne Madsen, formerly of the NSA.
From that same Wayne Madsen we learned that another company in the same Bin Laden corporate web, the U.S. construction and engineering firm Fluor Corp. has been awarded reconstruction contracts by the Pentagon in Iraq. "Fluor, which received the lucrative contracts because it was included by the Pentagon on an "invitation only" short list of eligible contractors, has contributed over $500,000 to Republican candidates since 2000. Kenneth Oscar, a Fluor Vice President, was the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Procurement and was conveniently in charge of a $60 billion budget. One of Fluor's board members is retired Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, a former deputy director of the CIA and National Security Agency (NSA) director."
It is not clear if the Panamanian authorities are aware of the existence of the Bin Laden company or if it is being investigated.
(This article first appeared on the Noriegaville website)