51 LOUISIANA AVENUE, N . W . W A S H I N G T O N , D.C. 20OO1-21I3

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TELEPHONE: 202-879-3939

April 30, 2004

Thomas H. Kean, Chairman National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States 301 7th Street, S.W. Room 5125 Washington, DC 20407 Re: Correction of Staff Statement No. 5 on Diplomacy

Dear Chairman Kean: I represent the Saudi Binladin Group ("SBG") and certain members of the Binladin family in litigation currently part of a multi-district litigation proceeding pending in the United States District for the Southern District of New York. I am writing regarding a statement recently appearing in your commission's Staff Statement No. 5 on Diplomacy. While the admissibility of comments contained in the Commission's reports will no doubt be litigated in the future, the prestige and visibility of the Commission makes the accuracy of such statements unusually important. The staff document states that during a follow-up visit to Saudi Arabia in January 2000, a U.S. delegation on terrorism financing "concentrated on tracing Bin Ladin 's assets and access to his family's money, exchanges that led to further, fruitful work."l Though I do not believe it was the Commission's intent, this statement could someday be read to imply ~ or used to argue unfairly — that Osama Bin Laden ("OBL") had access to family funds, perhaps as late as January 2000. This is, of course, not true. As detailed below, it is widely known that OBL has not had access to his family's assets since at least June 1993, when he was formally removed as a shareholder in the family businesses. The Binladin family publicly condemned Osama in February 1994, at the same time that his citizenship was revoked by the Saudi government. We are confident that these facts, and others discussed below, would be confirmed by the relevant United States authorities. We ask that your final report be amended so as to reflect correctly these facts. SBG is one of the largest and most highly regarded engineering and construction firms in the Islamic world. SBG's predecessor, the Mohammed Binladin Organization, was founded by
"Diplomacy: Staff Statement No. 5," National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (March 23, 2004) at 10-11.



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Chairman Thomas H. Kean April 30,2004 Page 2 Mohammed Binladin in 1931. Following Mohammed's death on September 4,1967, ownership of the family businesses passed to his many children, including OBL who was then approximately 10 years old. As one of the heirs to Mohammed, between September 4, 1967 and 1993, OBL received dividends, rent, distributions of stock, real estate, and other assets, valued at approximately $28 million.2 U.S. government officials (among others) have recognized that OBL received no more than that amount.3 The distributions to which OBL had been entitled by virtue of his ownership interests ceased entirely, however, in 1993 when the Binladin family severed ties with him because of his expressed views and avowed hostility toward the government of Saudi Arabia, his own family, the Saudi royal family, and the U.S.'s leadership role in the Gulf War of 1990-91. Because of OBL's attitude and conduct, on June 16,1993, both SBG and the Mohammed Binladin Company passed resolutions disassociating themselves from OBL by removing him as a shareowner. The value of these shares, estimated by company accountants to amount to about $9.9 million, was placed in an account that is and has been under the control of the government of Saudi Arabia.5 OBL has never had access to these funds. The Binladin family also publicly condemned OBL in February 1994 in a statement by Bakr Binladin, the head of SBG. At about the same time, OBL's citizenship was revoked by the Saudi government, which froze OBL's accounts and assets in the Kingdom.6 The Binladin family's statement was widely reported at the time it was made in 1994,7 as have been all of the family's condemnations of OBL's conduct since that time.8 In an August 1996 release, the U.S.
Letter from Shafiq Binladin to Richard Newcomb, Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (July 27, 2000), attached as Exhibit 1.
3 See "The Root of All Evil," U.S. News & World Report (Dec. 3, 2001) (reporting that officials at the Treasury Department have indicated that OBL received only approximately $27 million before being cut out of the family business in 1993); "Terror Money Hard to Block, Officials Find," The New York Times (Dec. 10, 2001) (stating that government officials have concluded that OBL inherited approximately $25 million, not $300 million as was once erroneously estimated).

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Attached as Exhibit 2 are Resolutions of the partners owning the Saudi Binladin Group and the Mohammed Binladin Company amending the Articles of Association to strip OBL of his share ownership interests. Pursuant to Saudi law, the amendments to the Articles of Association were approved by the Secretary of Commerce and the Shariah court. All approvals were received and the amendments were final as of December 15,1993. See Letter from Shafiq Binladin to Richard Newcomb, Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (July 27,2000), attached as Exhibit 1.
6 See "Saudis Strip Citizenship From Backers of Militants," The New York Times (April 10,1994). A U.S. State Department release in 1996 stated that OBL's citizenship was revoked in February 1994. See U.S. State Department Factsheet on Usama Bin Ladin (Aug. 14, 1996).


See, e.g., "Bakr Binladen: We Condemn and Denounce Osama's Behavior," Al-Madina Al-Munawwara Newspaper (Feb. 19, 1994); "Bakr Binladen: All Family Members Condemn Osama Binladen's Behavior," AlNadwah (Feb. 20, 1994); "Osama Bin Laden Ostracised By His Family," Saudi Gazzette (The Associated Press) (Feb. 20,1994). These articles, the first two of which contain Bakr's statement, are attached as Exhibit 3.

See, e.g., "Bin Laden's Half-Brother Condemns US Attacks," Agence France Presse (Sept. 12, 2001) (OBL's half-brother, Yeslam, states, "I would like to express my deepest feelings of sorrow... All life is sacred and

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Chairman Thomas H. Kean April 30, 2004 Page 3 State Department noted that "Bin Ladin has not responded to condemnation leveled against him in March 1994 by his eldest brother Bakr Bin Ladin, who expressed, through the Saudi media, his family's 'regret, denunciation, and condemnation' of Bin Ladin's extremist activities."9 By taking aggressive, well-publicized steps against a member of their own family as early as 1994, the Binladin family sought to do what it could to limit the influence of OBL and his followers. Indeed, the Binladin family disowned OBL well before the U.S. began to respond to the threat that he and his followers represent. For years after the family separated themselves from OBL, he was nowhere mentioned on the U.S. list of terrorist individuals and organizations.10 hi fact, OBL was not placed on the U.S. list of terrorists until August 20, 1998.11 hi addition, SBG has a clear record of support for and cooperation with the U.S. government. This relationship goes back to the first Gulf War. SBG strongly supported the presence of the U.S. military in Saudi Arabia (which became the focus of OBL's attack on the Saudi government), providing to it both construction and telecommunications assistance. The 1*) Binladin family companies were commended for these efforts by the U.S. Central Command. Among other things, SBG participated in the construction of the King Abdul Aziz Air Base from which U.S. forces operated. On October 31, 1998, the U.S. military again commended SBG for completing the residential housing and the recreation center in Eskan Village, a housing complex in Saudi Arabia for the U.S. soldiers who are stationed at the Riyadh Air Base.13 The commendation came after the United States correctly placed responsibility on OBL for the August 1988 bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 81 people, including 11 Americans. Given the Binladin family's longstanding cooperation with the U.S. government, United States officials requested interviews with members of the Binladin family, after they began to
(continued...) I condemn all killing and all attacks against liberty and human values . . . My thoughts and profound sympathy are with the victims, their families and the American people."); "Osama bin Laden Is Denounced By His Family," The Associated Press (Sept. 15, 2001) (OBL's uncle, Abdullah Binladin, states, "The family has previously announced its position (to distance itself) from Osama and condemned his acts. All the family members condemn all violent and terrorist acts, even if Osama is behind them."); "Bin Laden Taint Hurts Family Empire," The Guardian (London) (Sept. 21, 2001) (Abdullah Binladin expresses "the strongest denunciation and condemnation of this sad event" and stresses that the Binladin family "has no connection with [OBL's] works and activities."). 9 U.S. State Department Factsheet on Usama Bin Ladin (Aug. 14, 1996).
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See Exec. Order No. 12947, 60 Fed. Reg. 5,079 (Jan. 25,1995). See Exec. Order No. 13099, 63 Fed. Reg. 45,167 (Aug. 25, 1998).

Certificates of achievement that the Binladin family companies received from the U.S. military are attached as Exhibit 4. A letter of appreciation from Lt. Colonel Larry Simpson is attached as Exhibit 5.

Chairman Thomas H. Kean April 30, 2004 Page 4 become aware of the threat posed by OBL and his terrorist network. The family readily agreed to the interviews, conducted with officials from U.S. government agencies, including the FBI and the Office of Foreign Assets Control, during the period from 1997 to 2000 after the U.S. had determined to capture or kill OBL. The extent and thoroughness of the exchanges between the family and the U.S. has been widely reported in the media. For example, according to The Washington Post: Intensive investigations by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies over the past two years have failed to turn up any evidence of financial ties between the Binladin Group and Osama, according to Wyche Fowler, U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1996 to earlier this year. Fowler said that the bin Laden family had 'cooperated fully' with U.S. efforts to trace Osama's bank accounts and other sources of funding in the wake of the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa, which were widely attributed to al Qaeda.14 Perhaps most significantly, in a series of actions reflecting the fairness and concern of the United States, the U.S. government helped a group of family members leave the country in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, so as to minimize the chances that innocent individuals would be harmed solely because of their surname. In fact, former White House aide Richard Clarke, who was the National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and CounterTerrorism at the time of the 9/11 attacks, testified before Congress on September 3, 2003 that the decision to allow members of the Binladin family to fly out of the country "was a conscious decision with complete review at the highest levels of the State Department and the FBI and the White House," and that the list of individuals who were allowed to leave "was reviewed by ... and signed off by the FBI."15 During his March 24, 2004 testimony before your commission, Clarke added, I was very well aware of the members of the bin Laden family and what they were doing in the United States. And the FBI was extraordinarily well aware of what they were doing in the United States. And I was informed by the FBI that none of the members of the bin Laden family, this large clan, were doing anything in this country that was illegal or that raised their suspicions. And I believe the FBI had very good information and good sources of


"A Fugitive's Splintered Family Tree," The Washington Post (Sept. 30,2001).

Testimony of Richard Clarke, Hearing on Terrorism First Responders, Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information, Senate Judiciary Committee (Sept. 3, 2003).

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Chairman Thomas H. Kean April 30,2004 Page 5 information on what the members of the bin Laden family were doing.16 Since Clarke's testimony, your commission has confirmed that the flight carrying members of the Binladin family out of the U.S. "was investigated by the FBI and dealt with in a professional manner prior to its departure."17 According to your commission's Staff Statement No. 10 on Threats and Responses in 2001, "The FBI has concluded that nobody was allowed to depart on these six flights who the FBI wanted to interview in connection with the 9/11 attacks, or who the FBI later concluded had any involvement in those attacks."18 As such, the FBI has never asked to interview any of the family members who left the U.S.19 Thus, at a time when the U.S. government was understandably aggressively arresting and detaining anyone even remotely suspected of being involved with terrorist activities, it had sufficient confidence in the Binladin family's lack of involvement to give affirmative assistance to members of the family to leave the U.S. Even following the 9/11 attacks, officials of the U.S. government offered repeated recognition of the good character of SBG and the Binladin family.20 For example, on September 30, 2001, the U.S. Consul General in Jeddah wrote that "[t]he Saudi Bin Ladin Group is welland favorably-known to the United States Consulate General in Jeddah," that "the Saudi Bin Ladin Group and senior members of the Bin Ladin family have repeatedly disassociated themselves from [OBL] and his activities," and that the Consulate had no reason to believe that

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Testimony of Richard Clarke, Eighth Public Hearing, National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (March 24, 2004). "Threats and Responses in 2001: Staff Statement No. 10," National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (April 13, 2004) at 12.


Richard Clarke's testimony affirmed this, "I have asked since, were there any individuals on that flight that in retrospect the FBI wishes they could have interviewed in this country, and the answer I've been given is no, that there was no one left on that flight who the FBI now wants to interview." Testimony of Richard Clarke, Eighth Public Hearing, National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (March 24, 2004). Prior to the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government in various ways had already demonstrated its confidence that the Binladin family was not involved in OBL's terrorist activities. For instance, in November 1998 and January 2000, former president George H.W. Bush traveled to Saudi Arabia to meet with the Binladin family. "A Strange Intersection of Bushes, Bin Ladens," The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) (Nov. 11, 2001). Another example involves Ptech, Inc., a Quincy, Massachusetts software company that called the State Department in March 2000 to see if it was permissible to sell their software to a member of the Binladin family. "They laughed at us," said Oussama Ziade, Ptech's CEO. "They told us there is no problem with selling to the (Saudi) Binladin Group or the family." "Quincy Firm Sold Software to Osama's Half Brother," The Boston Herald (Jan. 21, 2003).


Chairman Thomas H. Kean April 30, 2004 Page 6 there are any connections between OBL and SBG.21 The British Consulate General's Office wrote a similar letter on October 9,2001,22 After the 9/11 attacks, the Binladin family also received an overwhelming amount of support from numerous organizations that came to their defense, obviously conscious of significant problems that might be caused by their association with the family of the world's most reviled terrorist. The following entities are among those that strongly stood by their relationship with the Binladin family at that critical juncture: Harvard University;23 Tufts University;24 WMC Communications;25 General Electric;26 Citigroup;27 Nortel;28 ABN Amro Holding NV;29 Motorola;30 Tellabs;31 ITEP International;32 and WorldCare. The chief executive


21 Letter from Richard L. Baltimore, U.S. Consul General in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (Sept. 30, 2001), attached as Exhibit 6. See also Letter from David Rundell, Commercial Attache in the American Consulate General's Office in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (Oct. 7, 2001), attached as Exhibit 7.

Letter from Andrew Henderson, British Consul General in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (Oct. 9, 2001), attached as Exhibit 8.
23 See "The New World of Islamic Legal Studies," Harvard Law Bulletin (Spring 2002) (Frank Vogel, director of the Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School, said, "People began to realize that the Binladins are not to blame, that they are an impressive and upstanding family and they've been dealt a very severe blow by the events."); "Endowments From Bin Ladens Prove Awkward," The New York Times (Oct. 3, 2001); "Boston a Home for Bin Ladens," The Los Angeles Times (Sept. 17,2001).


See "Endowments From Bin Ladens Prove Awkward," The New York Times (Oct. 3, 2001).

See "Bin Laden Group Seeks PR Help," www.mediaguardian.co.uk (Nov. 22, 2001) ("We have had meetings with the Bin Laden Group and we have checked them out and they have no links with terrorism.").
26 See "Bin Laden Is 'Black Sheep' of a Blue-Chip Family," The Wall Street Journal (Sept. 19, 2001) ("We are satisfied the Saudi Binladin Group is fully separated from Osama bin Laden.").

See id. (A Citigroup spokeswoman stated that SBG "denounced and completely disowned Osama bin Laden."). See id. ("If we had any reason to believe this company had or could have any link to terrorist activities, we would cease doing business with them immediately."). See id.; "ABN Amro Says Bin Laden Family a Client, But No Ties to Osama Bin Laden," AFX News (Sept. 20,2001) ("The family behind the company Saudi Binladin Group has publicly announced on several occasions that it has broken all its ties with the terrorist Osama bin Laden,' ABN Amro said in a statement. 'This is supported by the fact that the Saudi Binladin Group is not listed on the US Treasury Department's list of foreign companies and individuals engaging in undesirable activities.'"). See "Saudi Conglomerate: Family Firm Denies Any Tie to Bin Laden," Chicago Tribune (Sept. 20, 2001).



See id.

See "Ties to Bin Laden Family Damage French Construction Firm, Agence France Presse (Sept. 21, 2001).

Chairman Thomas H. Kean April 30, 2004 Page? of WorldCare, Nasser Menhall, explained that the Binladin family has disowned OBL and "does not deserve to be guilty by association in any way."33 It is difficult to imagine a more serious and damaging charge than any suggestion of complicity with, or support for, the terrorists who committed the 9/11 attacks. The Binladin family has done everything possible to keep its name and its businesses from being unfairly linked in any way to OBL and his fiendish acts. For all the foregoing reasons, I hope that your staff can amend the statement referred to in the beginning of this letter and make the record clear that, long before he was recognized as a terrorist by the United States, OBL was denounced and deprived of support by SBG and the Binladin family. Please let me know if the Commission has any remaining questions or concerns about the Binladin family or their businesses, as we would be anxious to cooperate. I hope that you will include this letter as part of your official public record.


Stephen J. Brogan Attachments cc: Philip Zelikow (w/Attachments)

"Family Business Bin Ladens Have Close Ties to Bay State Medical Industry," The Boston Globe (Oct. 10,2001).

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