By Joe Baker
It turns out there is a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda, but not the one the Bush administration has been promoting.
In a piece recently published by The New Yorker magazine, the publication reports the money trail runs in a roundabout way from those fat contracts for rebuilding Iraq to the fortune supporting Osama bin Laden.
The magazine says the bin Laden family is a major investor in a private equity company founded by the Bechtel Group of San Francisco. Bechtel was just awarded a juicy, closed bid contract to rebuild Iraqs infrastructure.
The first phase of the contract will see the U.S. pay Bechtel $35 million, but the final figure is expected to be nearly $680 million in the next 18 months.
When the U.S. Agency for International Development awarded the contract a few weeks ago, it forgot to mention that the bin Laden family has a lengthy relationship with Bechtel.
The Saudi family holds a $10 million stake in the Fremont Group, formerly called Bechtel Investments, also based in San Francisco. Until 1986, it was a Bechtel subsidiary. Bechtel confirmed it is the majority owner of the Fremont Group.
The New Yorker said one Fremont director, Riley Bechtel, CEO of the Bechtel Group, is a member of the Bush administration, serving on the Presidents Export Council.
Rick Kopf, general counsel of the Fremont Group, which manages $11 billion in assets, confirmed to the magazine that the bin Laden family invested substantially in one of Fremonts private funds before 9-11. He declined to tell The New Yorker any details about the Saudi familys relationship with the Bechtel family. Both families made huge fortunes through giant construction projects in the Arab world.