Seems like the Saudi civil war is really heating up. What follows shocked even me, your humble blogger and Diarist.
As posted in Part 1
, an Al-Qaeda website has posted
the pictures of Paul M. Johnson's passport and his Apache helicopter business card.
But where is this website? Where is the original, not the many media references to it?
Actually there are several websites, and whoever found the originals must be a very skilled Internet surfer. It took me literally hours and hours to find even a reference to the websites.
Essentially, this is how "Al-Qaeda" websites work: a domain name is paid for, a simple message board system is set up (although with some nice graphics sometimes), and someone claiming to be a well-known Al-Qaeda leader makes some inflammatory statements. Then the anti-AQ internet teams swing into action, hack into the database, flood it with requests for service (DOS attack), write or pressure the ISP owner and do anything else they can to shut it down. The AQ writers then move onto a different ISP.
There are some relatively stable fundamentalist websites, but they belong to organizations like Hezbollah, which is a registered political party in Lebanon and does not post AQ statements or videos.
Sometimes, the AQ writers will go onto a non-AQ website and open up a new thread that IS AQ related and continue that until someone deletes the directory.
There is also one other issue that needs to be addressed. For a while now, someone has been publishing an "Al-Qaeda" biweekly magazine called "Sawt Al-Jihad" (translated as "Voice of Jihad"). They clearly spend a lot of time creating this internet "magazine", because it's graphics rich and laid out very professionally. I don't speak a lick of Arabic but you can tell it's a professional job just by looking at it. If you want to see a PDF copy of the May 17, 2004 issue, click here.
Sawt al-Jihad is not really a magazine in the truest sense of the word - there is no advertising. It is more of a slick, portable pamphlet about certain issues (jihad) that can be created offline and then uploaded to one of the ever-shifting AQ websites. It's similar in nature to the Federalist Papers (in nature ok, not in content, since I already told you I don't speak Arabic ok?). They can also be emailed around the globe to anyone who might be interested in reading "interviews" and speeches by famous AQ people.
As late as June 4, 2004, copies of Sawt al-Jihad could be found at www.arabmemo.com, but if you click on that you will see that the bill for that host has gone unpaid and so the website is now closed down. A WHOIS lookup reveals that they're getting smarter since they used an identity masking company to hide their true origins. Without a law enforcement subpoena, I can't get that information out of the Arizona company, and as (many of) you all know, I just retired from my job.
I nearly gave up I was so frustrated at this point. Luckily, I didn't :)
Then after a few more hours of Internet research, I found a still-active AQ discussion board. And THIS website shows the passport pictures of Paul Johnson. That website can be found here but you're going to have to know a little Arabic to go any further.
The website's address ends in .ws and I looked it up to find out that it stands for "Western Samoa". Since 1997 the country has just been referred to as plain old Samoa but .ws is still their internet code.
Doing a WHOIS on this website turned out to be a little more productive than the arabmemo website:
Domain Name: ANSARNET.WS
Created on: 31-May-04
Expires on: 31-May-05
Last Updated on: 31-May-04
R., rachid email@example.com
184 High Holborn
London, London WC1V 7AP
R., rachid firstname.lastname@example.org
184 High Holborn
London, London WC1V 7AP
Sound familiar? It's the same address as "al-ansar.net", a website which posted the Nick Berg decapitation video!
And we know from doing a mountain of research that this address is the home of the Saudi media group called HH Saudi Research and Marketing, owned by Prince Faisal bin Salman of the royal Saudi family.
And here is some information about Prince Faisal bin Salman from a recent article:
But now, two years later, the family of Ahmed bin Salman is trying to counter a very different picture of the prince. His younger brother, Prince Faisal bin Salman, has retained a high-powered public-relations firm to push just one message: Prince Ahmed did not finance al-Qaida, the terrorist organization that killed thousands of Americans.
After Prince Ahmed's death in 2002, reportedly of a heart attack, a conspiracy theory surfaced: The prince, while publicly a grinning sportsman, was allegedly acting as an intermediary between the Saudi government and al-Qaida.
The details, laid out in the 2003 book Why America Slept and repeated in another book this year, were lurid and action-packed -- though not well documented.
Based on the word of two unnamed sources, author Gerald Posner wrote that a top al-Qaida operative captured on March 28, 2002, in Pakistan -- a little more than a month before Prince Ahmed's Derby win -- made disturbing allegations. Not only did the prince funnel money to al-Qaida, the operative said, but he'd been forewarned that an attack on America was coming on Sept. 11, 2001.
Posner included a footnote at the beginning of the chapter in question that admitted he had no way of independently verifying the story.
Posner, a former Wall Street attorney, has made a name for himself by debunking conspiracy theories. His works include a book that argued that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was indeed the work of one man. The book was a 1994 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
Requests for an interview at Posner's Web site and with his publisher, Random House, went unanswered.
During 2003, after the book came out, Posner made an extensive round of appearances on talk shows, including on CNN, MSNBC, NBC and Fox. A review of transcripts did not reflect his giving any new proof of the allegations. He told Today host Katie Couric that it felt odd advancing a conspiracy theory.
"Well, this is a strange thing. I mean, I've done nine books now, and I've never been in a situation to have information that's come that is, I think, this critical and important," Posner said. "And also, it's odd for me because normally I'm debunking conspiracies. I'm the fellow who thinks that (Lee Harvey) Oswald killed Kennedy. And here I am saying, 'My God, I think there's a real conspiracy here.'"
Some more information about Salman's older brother Ahmed can be found here:
All that's known for certain is that Ahmed bin Salman presided over a media empire, Saudi Research and Marketing, that was virulently anti-American
. Yet, after he won the 2002 Kentucky Derby with War Emblem, he professed his love for America and stated that he was only a businessman, not a politician.
In his book, Posner quotes unidentified sources in the U.S. government who say Abu Zubaydah, a terrorist who was captured in Pakistan in March 2002, spilled the beans to American operatives posing as Saudi interrogators. According to Posner, Zubaydah was doped and - thinking he was in a Saudi prison - gave his questioners phone numbers for a senior member of the Saudi royal family who would "tell you what to do." That contact would be Prince Ahmed bin Salman.
Using unidentified sources always leaves a journalist open to skepticism and ridicule. And the prince is not around to defend himself from these accusations.
Still, Posner has raised issues that need to be addressed by the mainstream media.
If he's wrong, let's prove it. But what if he's right? What if the thoroughbred racing industry embraced, because of his investment money, someone who knew in advance about the terrorist attacks?
After War Emblem's Derby victory, The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, The Blood-Horse and others attempted to get interviews with the prince. He refused all requests. Why was that? He was sitting on top of the racing world. He had an opportunity to promote the sport on an international basis. But he didn't. This doesn't make him a conspirator, or co-conspirator, but Posner's story is disturbing, and it makes me wonder about Ahmed bin Salman.
I'll take any information I can get about this, including from Bloodhorse magazine:
While Prince Ahmed was ruled to have died of a heart attack, Posner points out in the book his death came less than four months after Zubaydah's statement and two other members of the Saudi royal family named by Zubaydah died within the next week.
Prince Sultan bin Faisal was killed in a car accident while driving to Prince Ahmed's funeral the following day and just days later Prince Fahd "died of thirst" while traveling east of Riyadh, the Saudi Royal Court announced.
Died of thirst? That has to be one of the most painful ways to die. It also takes days and days. How could a rich royal Saudi prince die of thirst?
Ahmed bin Salman was in the United States on September 11, 2001. He was in Kentucky, looking at some race horses. But on September 13, 2001 (when all civilian aircraft were grounded), he flew back to Saudi Arabia. Confused?
Check out what else Zubaydah had to say:
"Zubaydah, writes Posner, said the Saudi connection ran through Prince Turki al-Faisal bin Abdul Aziz, the kingdom's longtime intelligence chief. Zubaydah said bin Laden 'personally' told him of a 1991 meeting at which Turki agreed to let bin Laden leave Saudi Arabia and to provide him with secret funds as long as al-Qaeda refrained from promoting jihad in the kingdom.
Zubaydah by the way is also the guy who fingered American citizen Jose Padilla, who has been languishing in indefinite incarceration for more than two years, still waiting to see a lawyer (in private) and still waiting to be charged with a single crime.
We also know that Turki al-Faisal and Osama bin Laden not only "know" each other, they went to college together in the late 1970's and were good friends. And we already know there is an undeclared war going on between factions in the royal Saudi family, especially as the titular head, King Fahd, is close to death.
It's also interesting that Ahmed bin Salman's wife denied Posner's allegations - and did so via one of the newspapers her husband used to own (now owned by his brother Faisal bin Salman), based at the same London address as the Berg video and the Paul Johnson passport pictures.
The father of both Ahmed and Faisal bin Salman is Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, the "Second Deputy Prime Minister" and in line for succession. The Sultan's brother is Bush's buddy Ambassador Bandar. Interesting! The Sultan is also the governor of Riyadh, the capital, where Paul Johnson was kidnapped from.
Some more information about the Sultan and the "anti-west" faction of the Saudi family can be found here:
Since Fahd's ascent to the throne in 1982, the most influential clan of the Al Faisal branch of the Al Saud family has been the Al Sudairi [Sudeiri], known by the patronymic of Fahd's mother [Hussa bint Ahmad Al Sudairi, known later as Umm Fahd]. Among the sons of Ibn Saud, the so-called Sudairi Seven (King Fahd along with princes Sultan, Abdel-Rahman, Nayef, Turki, Salman and Ahmed, who are full brothers) hold positions of significance.
Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz is Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General. Prince Sultan was born in Riyadh in 1928, and received his early education in religion, modern culture and diplomacy along with his brothers at the royal court. Prince Sultan was appointed Governor of Riyadh in 1947. Much of his time, however, was taken up in assisting his father in the setting up of a national administrative system based on justice and the implementation of Islamic Shari'ah law.
HRH Prince Sultan became Minister of Agriculture in 1953 and Minister of Communications in 1955. In 1982, on the accession of King Fahd, Prince Sultan was named Second Deputy Prime Minister. Prince Sultan began public service when he was appointed Governor of Riyadh in 1947. In 1953, when the Council of Ministers was formed, he became Minister of Agriculture. In 1955, he was appointed Minister of Communications in which position he made a major contribution to the development of the Kingdom's road and telecommunications networks. At that time, he also oversaw the construction of the Kingdom's rail link between Dammam and Riyadh.
In 1963, Prince Sultan was appointed Minister of Defense and Aviation, an appointment he still holds. In this role, Prince Sultan has presided over the development of Saudi Arabia's army, navy and airforce, providing the Kingdom with a modern, well-equipped and well-trained defense capability, based on a network of military cities across the Kingdom. Prince Sultan is also Chairman of the Board of Saudi Arabian Airlines, the Kingdom's national airline. In addition, Prince Sultan is Chairman of the Higher Council for Islamic Affairs, a recently-formed organization dedicated to the service of Muslims and Muslim minorities throughout the world.
One of Prince Sultan's sons, Bandar, holds the internationally prominent post of ambassador to the US, while another, Khalid, has been deputy defence minister since January 2002.
Prince Sultan denied the United States use of Saudi bases to stage military strikes on Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks, stating that his government "will not accept in [Saudi Arabia] even a single soldier who will attack Muslims or Arabs." Years before, on the same way, Saudi Minister of Defense Prince Sultan stated his country would not permit allied aircraft to launch preventive or major retaliatory strikes against Iraq from bases in Saudi Arabia.
In other words, King Fahd is on his deathbed. Right now Crown Prince Abdullah, who is very pro-Western, heads up the government. But if Abdullah is removed, it is more than likely that Ahmed and Salman bin Faisal's dad, Sultan Salman bin Abdul Aziz, would be the new King of Saudi Arabia. I should also mention that Sultan Aziz is in charge of charitable organizations in Saudi Arabia, including many on the American list of "terrorist organizations".
It's amazing what you can find with a few hours of research on the Internet!
Well, your intrepid blogger has cracked open the Al-Qaeda website with Paul Johnson's info on it. I'm going to link to the images in an attempt to borrow their bandwidth :) If the images disappear, I'll post my copies here:
I can't read Arabic but you can see the "AH-64" refers to the type of helicopters he worked on - the Apache
Want to guess where those images are originally hosted? Saudi Arabia!
loly1, loly1 12345
+966.00966000000 (FAX) +966.00960000000
riyadh, riyadh 11321
riyadh, riyadh 11321
loly1, loly1 12345
+966.00966000000 (FAX) +966.00960000000
Registrar..: gkg.net (http://register.gkg.net/)
Domain Name: S22S.COM
Created on..............: 29-DEC-2002
Expires on..............: 29-DEC-2004
Record last updated on..: 23-DEC-2003
Domain servers in listed order:
We also find that the user who posted this images has a link to "al-ansar.biz" under his profile, which is the website that originally hosted the Berg decapitation video. And we know that video was uploaded from HH Saudi's website in London.
Curioser and curiouser eh...? If you speak Arabic let me know, I'll send you a copy of the discussion on this board about the kidnapped American. I think the world deserves to know what's being said by the guys who clearly have his identification in their possession.
Notice also that Jacobs has an email address with the LMCO Corporation, which is a division of Lockheed Martin. The L-Martin website frontpage now has a "Our thoughts and prayers are with Paul M. Johnson, Jr. and his family" message.
The "Robert Jacobs" video
In the last edition of The Saudi Civil War, your intrepid host managed to crack into an Al-Qaeda website (later determined to be sponsored by a Saudi royal). It's a modern world folks; all the well-organized groups have their own websites. It's becoming nearly de rigeur.
I saw the documents and information about the kidnapped Paul M. Johnson. But I did not see any video. There are a lot of news reports going around that there is an Al-Qaeda video "showing" the death of Jacobs:
On Tuesday, another American who worked for Vinnell Corp, which helps train the Saudi National Guard, was shot dead at his home in Riyadh. One Islamist website posted grisly video footage, attributed to an Al Qaeda cell, claiming responsibility and describing the victim as "American Jew Robert Jacobs, who worked for the spy group Vinnell"
There is indeed a video going around the Internet, a poorly shot one that makes it nearly impossible to tell what's going on. The good news is that this video can be safely declared a fake.
Mr. Jacobs was indeed working for Vinnell Corporation (he was a graphic artist), but he was not Jewish. His family is from Murphysboro, Illinois and it just coincidentally happened that my father went to Murphysboro the day after Mr. Jacobs was shot. It was my father who turned me onto this:
MURPHYSBORO -- Robert 'Bob' Corgan Jacobs 62, of Murphysboro, passed away in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on June 8, 2004.A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 16, 2004, at the United Methodist Church in Murphysboro, with the Rev. Richard Lewis and the Rev. Earl Renshaw officiating.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the United Methodist Church Building Fund in memory of Bob Jacobs, [address redacted], Murphysboro, IL 62966 or to the Worthen Cemetery Association, c/o Nancy Fager, 3883 Town Creek Road, Murphysboro, IL 62966.
Pettett Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.
Sigh... with the commercial media, you always have to follow around behind them. It's an effort of separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. It just goes to prove my point that raising awareness is the single most important effort we can all participate in.
Ok, to repeat: the "Al-Qaeda" video of Robert Jacobs is almost definitely a fake. The kidnapping of Paul Johnson is unfortunately, quite real.
And regrettably, it's time to ask is Johnson also dead?:
A senior official in the Saudi police denied news of finding in one street of the capital Riyadh of the body of a man, diplomatic sources said earlier on Sunday to be for a western citizen.
The Saudi official news agency quoted the director of Riyadh district area as saying that "news quoted by certain news agency and media on finding the body of a man carrying the western nationality in one of Riyadh street are baseless." However, Saudi security and diplomatic sources announced finding this body near the building of the Saudi national guard. These sources did not confirm if the body is for an American citizen. A statement attributed to al-Qaida organization in Saudi Arabia on the Internet said that he was kidnapped on Saturday and that another one was killed.
A western diplomat asked to be anonymous said that there are reports of finding the body of a third man but not the American who was killed on Saturday and the expected kidnapped American and might not be American.
The Saudi government is denying it but as you can see, there are reports that a "Western man" was found dead in Riyadh. Is it Johnson or is it someone else?
There are also reports that Johnson was drugged before being kidnapped, as a syringe was found at the scene.
If they thought they could get away with it, would the Saudis cover up a new murder? You can be sure about it. Call it "spin" control if you wish.
Folks, the civil war in Saudi Arabia is unfolding right in front of our very eyes. I will do my best to capture it in my blog as best as I can.