By Devlin Buckley
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Mar 6, 2006, 00:49
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While Congress and the media focus on the potential dangers of a UAE-owned company running American port operations, any possible threat is dwarfed by the current insecurity of the US government’s computer infrastructure, which has been compromised by a company with alleged multiple connections to terrorist financing.
The company, once known as Ptech (now GoAgile), has been contracted to provide sophisticated computer software to several government agencies, including the Army, the Air Force, Naval Air Command, Congress, the Department of Energy, the Department of Justice, Customs, the FAA, the IRS, NATO, the FBI, the Secret Service, and the White House.
Shortly after 9/11, the company’s primary investor, Yassin al-Qadi (al-Kadi), was identified by the US government as a specially designated global terrorist. Officials describe al-Qadi as one of Osama bin Laden’s "chief money launderers," and allege he transferred as much as $3 billion to al-Qaeda during the 1990s.
Al-Qadi is a wealthy Saudi with connections to banking, diamonds, chemicals, construction, transportation, and real estate. He once headed Muwafaq, an Islamic charity the US Treasury Department described as an “al Qaeda front that receives funding from wealthy Saudi businessmen.”
Al-Qadi also maintained an unusually close relationship with notable US politicians. While attempting to defend Ptech, the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee of Massachusetts (ADCMA) revealed the fact that al-Qadi “was prominent in Washington circles and even showed President Jimmy Carter and Dick Cheney around during their visits to Saudi Arabia.”
Al-Qadi told an Arab newspaper in October of 2001 that he “spoke to [Dick Cheney] at length” and they “even became friends.” Similarly, while speaking with Computer World Magazine, Ptech cofounder Oussama Ziade said that al-Qadi “talked very highly of his relationship with [former President] Jimmy Carter and [Vice President] Dick Cheney."
Ptech, under al-Qadi’s ownership, supplied the US government with what is known as enterprise architecture. According to Glenn Watt of Backbone Security, "Enterprise architecture is really the design, the layout, the blueprint if you will for the computer networks and computer systems that are going to go into an organization." In regard to Ptech, he said, “The software they put on your system could be collecting every key stroke that you type while you are on the computer. It could be establishing a connection to the outside terrorist organization through all of your security measures."
John Zachman, who is considered the “father” of enterprise architecture, said, "You would know where the access points are, you'd know how to get in, you would know where the weaknesses are, you'd know how to destroy it."
Former FBI counterterrorism analyst Matthew Levitt has said, “For someone like [al-Qadi] to be involved in a capacity in an organization, a company that has access to classified information, that has access to government open or classified computer systems would be of grave concern.”
While trying to play down such fears, Ptech cofounder Oussama Ziade, along with Ptech’s vice president of professional services, Joseph Johnson, have claimed many times to the press that al-Qadi had little to do with the company and did not give any money to Ptech after 1994.
Other Ptech employees, however, told the FBI that al-Qadi was introduced to them as “the owner” of the company.
Confirming this, Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, who is described by the conservative Front Page Magazine as “the world’s leading expert on Narco-Terrorism and a noteworthy authority on international terrorism, political corruption, money laundering, drug trafficking, and organized crime,” reported that al-Qadi made a $14 million investment in Ptech in 1998, making him the company’s major investor.
In total, according to Ehrenfeld, al-Qadi “invested at least $18 million directly in Ptech, $5 million through the Isle of Man, and $9 million indirectly through BMI, a now-defunct New Jersey-based Islamic investment firm with connections to other members on Ptech’s management and investors. . . . Al-Kadi also transferred $2 million USD to Ptech from Switzerland between 1997 and 2000, according to Swiss investigators.”
Adding further concerns, al-Qadi was only one of many Ptech investors and managers with alleged connections to terrorist financing.
Former Ptech board member Soliman Biheiri, who was recently convicted of lying to investigators regarding his affiliations with known terrorists, was in charge of the above-mentioned New Jersey investment bank, BMI, which according to court documents was used as a financial conduit for al-Qaeda and Hamas supporters. The FBI discovered the true principals behind BMI were actually Yassin al-Qadi and Hamas leader Musa abu Marzook.
Investigators also accuse Ptech’s Biheiri of using BMI to funnel $3.7 million from an Islamic charity, entitled the SAAR Foundation, to Islamist terrorists. The president and CEO of the SAAR Foundation was Yakub Mirza, who was also on Ptech’s board of directors, and who is said to have contacts high within the FBI.
Furthermore, Ptech’s vice president and chief scientist, Hussein Ibrahim, was the founder and president of the aforementioned BMI. In fact, Ptech, al-Qadi, Biheiri, Ibrahim, BMI, Mirza, and SAAR, all maintained financial connections with one another, as well as with other organizations and fronts allegedly connected to money laundering and terrorist financing, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Taqwa, the Safa Foundation, the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), and others.
Ptech’s chief architect, Suheil Laher, headed yet another Islamic charity entitled Care International, which the FBI and IRS claim was “engaged in the solicitation and expenditure of funds to support the mujahideen and promote jihad.”
Top Ptech investor and manager, Muhamed Mubayyid, served as Care’s treasurer, and has since been indicted for lying on tax returns and concealing the charity’s true activities. Mubayyid also donated money to the Alkifah Refugees Center, which maintained the same corporate office as Care, and from where the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was launched.
Also part of this financial nexus was Ptech founder Abdurahman Muhammad Alamoudi, who, according to the US Treasury Department, “had a close relationship with al Qaida and had raised money for al Qaida in the United States.” He has since been sentenced to a maximum of 23-years in prison for illegal dealings with Libya, including his admitted involvement in a plot to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.
Alamoudi also founded a US Army chaplain program for which he served as a consultant for over a decade. A former Justice Department official has described the program as a “spy service for al-Qaeda."
Like al-Qadi, Alamoudi was also influential in elite Washington circles. According to The Washington Post, as head of the American Muslim Council, Alamoudi “met with senior Clinton and Bush administration officials in his efforts to bolster Muslim political prominence.”
In February 2003, Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby wrote:
“[In 2000] Alamoudi was one of several Muslims invited to meet with candidate [George W.] Bush in Austin, Texas. Alamoudi is certainly influential -- but he is also an open backer of terrorism. In October 2000, he was cheered at a pro-Palestinian rally in Washington, DC, when he declared: "We are all supporters of Hamas. . . . I am also a supporter of Hezbollah." Three months later he was in Beirut for a terrorist summit, along with leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and Al Qaeda.”
Amazingly, Alamoudi -- who allegedly has direct connections to the 9/11 conspirators -- was invited to a prayer service with President Bush three days after the 9/11 attacks.
There are indications that al-Qadi, Alamoudi, and other suspected terrorists were protected from prosecution by high-ranking US officials, effectively preventing the FBI from stopping 9/11.
FBI Agent Robert Wright, who was in charge of pursuing al-Qadi and his associates during the 1990s, said the FBI "intentionally and repeatedly thwarted and obstructed" his attempts to arrest terrorists, seize assets, and expand his investigation into the financial network of which al-Qadi allegedly was a part.
After his investigation into al-Qadi was shut down entirely in 1999, Wright completed a manuscript, entitled "Fatal Betrayals of the Intelligence Mission," which, he said, "outlines, in very specific detail, what I believe allowed September 11th to happen." The government has banned the manuscript from being released.
Approximately three months prior to the 9/11 attacks, agent Wright wrote a memo warning that American citizens would die as a result of the FBI’s incompetence. He said there was “virtually no effort on the part of the FBI's International Terrorism Unit to neutralize known and suspected international terrorists living in the United States."
According to former Justice Department prosecutor John Loftus, even after 9/11 “people in the intelligence community came and said-guys like Alamoudi . . . and other terrorists weren’t being touched because they’d been ordered not to investigate the cases, not to prosecute them, because they were being funded by the Saudis and a political decision was being made at the highest levels, don’t do anything that would embarrass the Saudi government." He went on to say:
“[W]ho was it that fixed the cases? How could these guys operate for more than a decade immune from prosecution? And, the answer is coming out in a very strange place. What Alamoudi and al-Arian have in common is a guy named Grover Norquist. He’s the super lobbyist. . .
Grover Norquist’s best friend is Karl Rove, the White House chief of staff, and apparently Norquist was able to fix things.”
Shortly after 9/11, several Ptech employees -- upon hearing reports of Yassin al-Qadi’s connections to terrorist financing – began pleading with the FBI to investigate the company. However, as reported by the National Review Online, “the bureau did nothing, despite knowing that Qadi was a primary financier of Ptech. . . . Frighteningly, when an employee told the President of Ptech he felt he had to contact the FBI regarding Qadi's involvement in the company, the president allegedly told him not to worry because [Ptech board member] Yaqub Mirza . . . had contacts high within the FBI. . . . After months of the FBI refusing to do anything substantive, it took the efforts of U.S. Customs, now a part of Homeland Security, to raid the business in December 2002 and jumpstart the investigation into the alleged terrorist financial network.”
Despite the raid, no charges were ever brought against Ptech.
Company cofounder Ziade, who has gone to great lengths to profess Ptech’s innocence, said all the “innuendo” made it impossible to attract new clients, forcing Ptech to become a “virtual company” and market its software through an unidentified third party.
According to The Patriot Ledger of Boston, despite the forced transition, “most of the company's clients, including several federal agencies, did not drop Ptech as a vendor.” In May of 2004, Ziade told The Ledger, ‘‘We still have government agencies as customers, including the White House.”
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