Iraq/al-Qaeda link found

By Joe Baker

Senior Editor

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 Iraq’s 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 President’s 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 Fremont’s private funds before 9-11. He declined to tell The New Yorker any details about the Saudi family’s relationship with the Bechtel family. Both families made huge fortunes through giant construction projects in the Arab world.

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!