Monday, April 19, 2004

Naughty Kofi Alert!

Claudia Rosett says it wasn't all high living in Oil-for-Terror?
Beyond the billions in graft, smuggling, and lavish living for Saddam Hussein that were the hallmarks of the United Nations Oil-for-Food program in Iraq, there is one more penny yet to drop.

It's time to talk about Oil-for-Terror.

Especially with the U.N.'s own investigation into Oil-for-Food now taking shape, and more congressional hearings in the works, it is high time to focus on the likelihood that Saddam may have fiddled Oil-for-Food contracts not only to pad his own pockets, buy pals, and acquire clandestine arms — but also to fund terrorist groups, quite possibly including al Qaeda.

There are at least two links documented already. Both involve oil buyers picked by Saddam and approved by the U.N. One was a firm with close ties to a Liechtenstein trust that has since been designated by the U.N. itself as "belonging to or affiliated with Al Qaeda." The other was a Swiss-registered subsidiary of a Saudi oil firm that had close dealings with the Taliban during Osama bin Laden's 1990's heyday in Afghanistan.
And then there's ordinary garden variety thuggery too - Killer Got U.N. Oil Reward:
In a sinister oil-for-murder plot, Saddam Hussein used the scandal-plagued U.N. oil-for-food program to set up the assassination of a prominent Iraqi exile politician, the slain man's family has charged.

A mysterious George Tarkhaynan appears on an Iraqi Oil Ministry list, published by a Baghdad newspaper, of 270 politicians and businessmen who received sweetheart oil deals under the U.N. humanitarian program.
Tarkhaynan and three Iraqi diplomats in Beirut spent two years in jail for murdering the 64-year old al-Souhail, who had helped organize an unsuccessful 1993 coup against Saddam.

Although media reports at the time said Lebanese prosecutors had solid evidence against them, including coded messages from Baghdad, they were released in 1996 and sent to Iraq as part of a controversial deal to reopen economic ties between the two countries.

Tarkhaynan was later allocated vouchers enabling him to buy up to 7 million barrels of Iraqi oil at below-market prices that could be resold at profits of between 25 and 50 cents a barrel.

That means he was slated to receive up to $3.5 million in oil profits.
Just call him "Kofi the Bagman."