FORBIDDEN TRUTH: U.S.–Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy, Saudi Arabiaand the Failed Search for bin Laden

Jean-Charles Brisard, Author, Guillaume Dasquie, Joint Author, Lucy Rounds, Translator . Thunder Mouth's/Nation $12.95 (249p) ISBN 978-1-56025-414-0

There's a lot that's intriguing in this examination of the economic links between the United States and Middle East oil and the diplomatic side of the war on terrorism—but this exposé occasionally suffers from insinuations that outstrip the evidence presented. The authors, both French intelligence experts, attempt to detail how "political channels, financial networks, oil stakes and secret diplomatic deals" helped support Osama bin Laden and his band of fundamentalist terrorists. They do spell out how worldwide Islamic charities helped fund terrorism and the fact that al-Qaeda received substantial funds from Saudi sources. Relying on both primary and secondary sources, the authors also add nuance to our understanding of the situation, noting, for example, that Libya, after an assassination attempt against Khadafy, was the first country to issue a warrant for bin Laden's arrest, in 1998. Among their more surprising charges (though they admit there is no direct evidence of the links) is that scandal-ridden BCCI—of which one of bin Laden's brothers-in-law is a former top executive—"is now at the center of [bin Laden's] financial network," supporting him with an intricate chain of business, banking and family ties. Other points—such as the implication that Bush administration officials have some guilt in the September 11 attacks because they worked for oil companies that had dealings with Saudi oil companies and had an interest in oil pipelines running through Afghanistan—rely also on heavily circumstantial evidence. This was a bestseller in France, but here it may be buried in the flood of September 11 books. (Sept. 20)

Reviewed on: 08/26/2002
Release date: 07/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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