by Alexandra Richard
Translated courtesy of Tiphaine Dickson
October 11, 2001
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Dubai, one of the seven emirates of the Federation of the United Arab Emirates, North-East of Abi-Dhabi. This city, population 350,000, was the backdrop of a secret meeting between Osama bin Laden and the local CIA agent in July. A partner of the administration of the American Hospital in Dubai claims that public enemy number one stayed at this hospital between the 4th and 14th of July.
Having taken off from the Quetta airport in Pakistan, bin Laden was transferred to the hospital upon his arrival at Dubai airport. He was accompanied by his personal physician and faithful lieutenant, who could be Ayman al-Zawahari--but on this sources are not entirely certain--, four bodyguards, as well as a male Algerian nurse, and admitted to the American Hospital, a glass and marble building situated between the Al-Garhoud and Al-Maktoum bridges.
Each floor of the hospital has two "VIP" suites and fifteen rooms. The Saudi billionaire was admitted to the well-respected urology department run by Terry Callaway, gallstone and infertility specialist. Dr Callaway declined to respond to our questions despite several phone calls.
As early as March, 2000, 'Asia Week,' published in Hong Kong, expressed concern for bin Laden's health, describing a serious medical problem that could put his life in danger because of "a kidney infection that is propagating itself to the liver and requires specialized treatment". According to authorized sources, bin Laden had mobile dialysis equipment shipped to his hideout in Kandahar in the first part of 2000. According to our sources, bin Laden's "travels for health reasons" have taken place before. Between 1996 and 1998, bin Laden made several trips to Dubai on business.
On September 27th, 15 days after the World Trade Center attacks, at the request of the United States, the Central Bank of the Arab Emirates announced an order to freeze assets and investments of 26 people or organisations suspected of maintaining contact with bin Laden's organization, and in particular at the Dubai Islamic Bank.
"Relations between the Emirate and Saudi Arabia have always been very close," according to sources, "princes of reigning families, having recognized the Taliban regime, often travelled to Afghanistan. One of the princes of a ruling family regularly went hunting on the land of bin Laden, whom he had known and visited for many years."
There are daily flights between Dubai and Quetta by both Pakistan and Emirates Airlines. As to private planes from Saudi Arabia or from the Emirates, they regularly fly to Quetta, where their arrival is rarely registered in airport logs.
While he was hospitalised, bin Laden received visits from many members of his family as well as prominent Saudis and Emiratis. During the hospital stay, the local CIA agent, known to many in Dubai, was seen taking the main elevator of the hospital to go to bin Laden's hospital room.
A few days later, the CIA man bragged to a few friends about having visited bin Laden. Authorised sources say that on July 15th, the day after bin Laden returned to Quetta, the CIA agent was called back to headquarters.
In late July, Emirates customs agents arrested Franco-Algerian activist Djamel Beghal at the Dubai airport. In early August, French and American authorities were advised of the arrest. Interrogated by local authorities in Abu Dhabi, Beghal stated that he was called to Afghanistan in late 2000 by Abou Zoubeida, a military leader of bin Laden's organization, Al Qaeda. Beghal's mission: bomb the US embassy on Gabriel avenue, near the Place de la Concorde, upon his return to France.
According to Arab diplomatic sources as well as French intelligence, very specific information was transmitted to the CIA with respect to terrorist attacks against American interests around the world, including on US soil. A DST report dated 7 September enumerates all the intelligence, and specifies that the order to attack was to come from Afghanistan.
In August, at the US Embassy in Paris, an emergency meeting was called between the DGSE (French foreign intelligence service) and senior US intelligence officials. The Americans were extremely worried, and requested very specific information from the French about Algerian activists, without advising their counterparts about the reasons for their requests. To the question "what do you fear in the coming days?", the Americans kept a difficult-to-fathom silence.
Contacts between the CIA and bin Laden began in 1979 when, as a representative of his family's business, bin Laden began recruiting volunteers for the Afghan resistance against the Red Army. FBI investigators examining the embassy bombing sites in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam discovered that evidence led to military explosives from the US Army, and that these explosives had been delivered three years earlier to Afghan Arabs, the infamous international volunteer brigades involved side by side with bin Laden during the Afghan war against the Red Army.
In the pursuit of its investigations, the FBI discovered "financing agreements" that the CIA had been developing with its "arab friends" for years. The Dubai meeting is then within the logic of "a certain American policy".