The Press on the BCCI-bin Mahfouz-bin Laden Intelligence Nexus
Boston Herald , December 11, 2001
A powerful Washington, D.C., law firm with unusually close ties to the White House has earned hefty fees representing controversial Saudi billionaires as well as a Texas-based Islamic charity fingered last week as a terrorist front.
The influential law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld has represented three wealthy Saudi businessmen - Khalid bin Mahfouz, Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi and Salah Idris - who have been scrutinized by U.S. authorities for possible involvement in financing Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network.
In addition, Akin, Gump currently represents the largest Islamic charity in the United States, Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development in Richmond, Texas.
Holy Land's assets were frozen by the Treasury Department last week as government investigators probe its ties to Hamas, the militant Palestinian group blamed for suicide attacks against Israelis. Partners at Akin, Gump include one of President Bush's closest Texas friends, James C. Langdon, and George R. Salem, a Bush fund-raiser who chaired his 2000 campaign's outreach to Arab-Americans.
In addition to the royal family, the firm's Saudi clients have included bin Mahfouz, who hired Akin, Gump when he was indicted in the BCCI banking scandal in the early 1990s. In 1999, the Saudi's placed bin Mahfouz under house arrest after reportedly discovering that the bank he controlled, National Commercial Bank in Saudi Arabia, funneled millions to charities believed to be serving as bin Laden fronts.
A bin Mahfouz business partner, Al-Amoudi, was also represented by Akin, Gump. When it was reported in 1999 that U.S. authorities were also investigating Al-Amoudi's Capitol Trust Bank, Akin, Gump released a statement on behalf of their client denying any connections to terrorism. One year earlier, the firm had co-sponsored an investment conference in Ethiopia with Al-Amoudi.
Akin, Gump partner and Bush fund-raiser Salem led the legal team that defended Idris, a banking protege of bin Mahfouz and the owner of El-Shifa, the Sudanese pharmaceutical plant destroyed by U.S. cruise missiles in August 1998.