The Center for Cooperative Research
U:     P:    
Not registered yet? Register here
 
Search
 
Current timeline only
Advanced Search


Main Menu
Home 
History Engine Sub-Menu
Timelines 
Entities 
Forum 
Miscellaneous Sub-Menu
Donate 
Links 
End of Main Menu

Submit a timeline entry
Donate: If you think this site is important, please help us out financially. We need your help!
Email updates
 



  View mode (info):
  Ordering (info):
  Time period (info):

Day of 911

Flight AA 77
Bush on 9/11
Flight AA 11
Flight UA 93
Flight UA 175
  Cooperative Research Fundraising Drive  
 
We need to raise $30,000 this quarter. Details
Day 27 : $5091.78
0 25% 50% 75% 100%
 

 

Central Asian oil,Enron,Afghan pipelines

 
  

Project: Complete 911 Timeline

Export to XML Printer Friendly View Email to a Friend Increase Text Size Decrease Text Size


1991-1997

       The Soviet Union collapses in 1991, creating many new nations in Central Asia. Major US oil companies, including ExxonMobil, Texaco, Unocal, BP Amoco, Shell and Enron, directly invest billions in these Central Asian nations, bribing heads of state to secure equity rights in the huge oil reserves in these regions. The oil companies commit to future direct investments in Kazakhstan of $35 billion. These companies face the problem however of having to pay exorbitant prices to Russia to use Russian pipelines to get the oil out. These oil fields have an estimated $6 trillion potential value. US companies own approximately 75% of the rights. [New Yorker, 7/9/01, Asia Times, 1/26/02] [FTW]
          

1991

       Future National Security Advisor Rice joins Chevron's board of directors, and works with Chevron until being picked as Bush's National Security Advisor in 2001. Chevron even names an oil tanker after her. Rice is hired for her expertise in Central Asia, and much of her job is spent arranging oil deals in the Central Asian region. Chevron also has massive investments there, which grow through the 1990s. [Salon 11/19/01]
          

March 8, 1992

       The Defense Planning Guidance, “a blueprint for the department's spending priorities in the aftermath of the first Gulf War and the collapse of the Soviet Union,” is leaked to the New York Times. [New York Times, 3/8/92, Newsday, 3/16/03] The paper causes controversy, because it hadn't yet been “scrubbed” to replace candid language with euphemisms. [New York Times, 3/10/92, New York Times, 3/11/92, Observer, 4/7/02] The document argues that the US dominates the world as sole superpower, and to maintain that role it “must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.” [New York Times, 3/8/92, New York Times, 3/8/92 (B)] As the Observer summarizes it, “America's friends are potential enemies. They must be in a state of dependence and seek solutions to their problems in Washington.” [Observer, 4/7/02] The document is mainly written by Paul Wolfowitz and Lewis Libby, who hold relatively low posts at the time, but under Bush Jr. become Deputy Defense Secretary and Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff, respectively. [Newsday, 3/16/03] The document conspicuously avoids mention of collective security arrangements through the United Nations, instead suggesting the US “should expect future coalitions to be ad hoc assemblies, often not lasting beyond the crisis being confronted.” [New York Times, 3/8/92] It also calls for “punishing” or “threatening punishment” against regional aggressors before they act. Interests to be defended pre-emptively include “ access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf oil, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, [and] threats to US citizens from terrorism.” [Harper's, 10/02] Senator Lincoln Chafee (R), later says, “It is my opinion that [Bush Jr.'s] plan for preemptive strikes was formed back at the end of the first Bush administration with that 1992 report.”[Newsday, 3/16/03] In response to the controversy, in May 1992 the US releases an updated version of the document that stresses the US will work with the United Nations and its allies (see also January 1993). [Washington Post 5/24/92; Harper's 10/02]
          

November 1993

      
The Dabhol power plant.
The Indian government gives approval for Enron's Dabhol power plant, located near Bombay on the west coast of India. Enron has invested $3 billion, the largest single foreign investment in India's history. Enron owns 65 percent of Dabhol. This liquefied natural gas powered plant is supposed to provide one-fifth of India's energy needs by 1997 [Asia Times, 1/18/01, Indian Express, 2/27/00] It is the largest gas-fired power plant in the world. Earlier in the year, the World Bank concludes that the plant is “not economically viable” and refuses to invest in it. [New York Times, 3/20/01] Enron apparently tries to make the plant financially viable by investing in gas fields in nearby Uzbekistan (see June 24, 1996), but it cannot get that gas to Dabhol without a gas pipeline through Afghanistan (see June 24, 1996 and June 1998 (B)). Construction of the plant is abandoned just before completion (see June 2001 (J)).
          

October 21, 1995

       The oil company Unocal signs a contract with Turkmenistan to export $8 billion worth of natural gas through a $3 billion pipeline which would go from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan. Political considerations and pressures allow Unocal to edge out a more experienced Argentinean company for the contract. Henry Kissinger, a Unocal consultant, calls it “the triumph of hope over experience.” [Washington Post 10/5/98]
          

June 24, 1996

      
This map shows how Enron planned to connect its gas fields in Turkmenistan to its Dabhol power plant. The pipelines in blue are preexisting; the rest needed to be built.
Uzbekistan signs a deal with Enron “that could lead to joint development of the Central Asian nation's potentially rich natural gas fields.” [Houston Chronicle, 6/25/96] The $1.3 billion venture teams Enron with the state companies of Russian and Uzbekistan. [Houston Chronicle, 6/30/96] On July 8, 1996, the US government agrees to give $400 million to help Enron and an Uzbeki state company develop these natural gas fields. [Oil and Gas Journal, 7/8/96] However, the deal is later canceled when it becomes apparent a gas pipeline will not be built across Afghanistan, and there is no easy way to get the gas out of the region (see November 1993 and June 1998 (B)).
          

August 13, 1996

      
Route of the planned gas pipeline, and other existing pipelines.
Unocal and Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia come to agreement with state companies in Turkmenistan and Russia to build a natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan, the agreement is finalized the next year (see October 27, 1997). [Unocal website 8/13/96] The Boston Herald later reports that, “The prime force behind Delta Oil appears to be Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi”(see ) and that his business interests are “enmeshed” with those of Khalid bin Mahfouz (see for instance 1988). (However, a bin Mafouz family spokesperson denies that bin Mahfouzor Nimir ever had an ownership interest in the company. [Fortune, 3/17/03]) Together and separately, al-Amoudi and bin Mahfouz have reportedly become “partners with US firms in a series of ambitious oil development and pipeline projects in central and south Asia.” [Boston Herald, 12/10/01] Al-Amoudi and Mahfouz are later included in a list of financiers funding al-Qaeda (see ) put together by French investigator Jean-Charles Brisard. However, representatives of Mahfouz deny that Mahfouz has ever attended any meeting with any representatives of al-Qaeda. Mahfouz has begun libel proceedings against Mr. Brisard, claiming these allegations are unfounded and defamatory. [Kendall Freeman 5/13/2004]
          

September 27, 1996

       The Taliban conquer Kabul [AP, 8/19/02], establishing control over much of Afghanistan. A surge in the Taliban's military successes at this time is later attributed to an increase in direct military assistance from Pakistan's ISI. [New York Times 12/8/01] The oil company Unocal is hopeful that the Taliban will stabilize Afghanistan and allow its pipeline plans to go forward. In fact, “preliminary agreement [on the pipeline] was reached between the [Taliban and Unocal] long before the fall of Kabul…. Oil industry insiders say the dream of securing a pipeline across Afghanistan is the main reason why Pakistan, a close political ally of America's, has been so supportive of the Taliban, and why America has quietly acquiesced in its conquest of Afghanistan.” [Telegraph 10/11/96] The 9/11 Commission later concludes that some State Department diplomats are willing to “give the Taliban a chance” because it might be able to bring stability to Afghanistan, which would allow a Unocal oil pipeline to be built through the country. [9/11 Commission Report 3/24/04]
          

October 11, 1996

       The Telegraph publishes an interesting article about pipeline politics in Afghanistan. Some quotes: “Behind the tribal clashes that have scarred Afghanistan lies one of the great prizes of the 21st century, the fabulous energy reserves of Central Asia.” “ ‘The deposits are huge,’ said a diplomat from the region. ‘Kazakhstan alone may have more oil than Saudi Arabia. Turkmenistan is already known to have the fifth largest gas reserves in the world.’ ” [Telegraph 10/11/96]
          

August 1997

       The CIA creates a secret task force to monitor Central Asia's politics and gauge its wealth. Covert CIA officers, some well-trained petroleum engineers, travel through southern Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to sniff out potential oil reserves. [Time 5/4/98]
          

October 1997

      
Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski (see December 26, 1979) publishes a book in which he portrays the Eurasian landmass as the key to world power, and Central Asia with its vast oil reserves as the key to domination of Eurasia. He states that for the US to maintain its global primacy, it must prevent any possible adversary from controlling that region. He notes that, “The attitude of the American public toward the external projection of American power has been much more ambivalent. The public supported America's engagement in World War II largely because of the shock effect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.” Furthermore, because of popular resistance to US military expansionism, his ambitious Central Asian strategy could not be implemented “except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat.” [The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives]
          

October 27, 1997

       Halliburton, a company with future Vice President Cheney as CEO, announces a new agreement to provide technical services and drilling for Turkmenistan, a country in Central Asia. The press release also mentions that “Halliburton has been providing a variety of services in Turkmenistan for the past five years.” On the same day, a consortium to build a pipeline through Afghanistan is formed. It's called CentGas, and the two main partners are Unocal and Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia. [Halliburton press release 10/27/97; CentGas press release 10/27/97]
          

November 26, 1997

       An industry newsletter reports that Saudi Arabia has abandoned plans to have open bids on a $2 billion power plant near Mecca, deciding that the government will build it instead. What's interesting is that one of the bids was made by a consortium of Enron, the Saudi Binladen Group (run by Osama's family),and Italy's Ansaldo Energia. [Alexander's Gas and Oil Connections 1/22/98]
          

December 4, 1997

       Representatives of the Taliban are invited guests to the Texas headquarters of Unocal to negotiate their support for the pipeline. Future President Bush Jr. is Governor of Texas at the time. The Taliban appear to agree to a $2 billion pipeline deal, but will do the deal only if the US officially recognizes the Taliban regime. The Taliban meet with US officials, and the Telegraph reports that “the US government, which in the past has branded the Taliban's policies against women and children ‘despicable,’ appears anxious to please the fundamentalists to clinch the lucrative pipeline contract.” A BBC regional correspondent says “the proposal to build a pipeline across Afghanistan is part of an international scramble to profit from developing the rich energy resources of the Caspian Sea.” [BBC, 12/4/97, Telegraph, 12/14/97] [FTW]
          

December 14, 1997

       It is reported that Unocal has hired the University of Nebraska to train 400 Afghani teachers, electricians, carpenters and pipefitters in anticipation of using them for their pipeline in Afghanistan. 150 students are already attending classes. [Telegraph 12/14/97]
          

Early 1998

       Bill Richardson, the US Ambassador to the UN, meets Taliban officials in Kabul (all such meetings are technically illegal, because the US still officially recognizes the government the Taliban ousted as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan). US officials at the time call the oil and gas pipeline project a “fabulous opportunity” and are especially motivated by the “prospect of circumventing Iran, which offered another route for the pipeline.” [Boston Globe 9/20/01]
          

February 12, 1998

       Unocal Vice President John J. Maresca—later to become a Special Ambassador to Afghanistan—testifies before the House of Representatives that until a single, unified, friendly government is in place in Afghanistan the trans-Afghani pipeline will not be built. He suggests that with a pipeline through Afghanistan, the Caspian basin could produce 20 percent of all the non-OPEC oil in the world by 2010. [House International Relations Committee testimony, 2/12/98] [FTW]
          

June 1998 (B)

       Enron's agreement to develop natural gas with the government of Uzbekistan is not renewed (see June 24, 1996). Enron closes its office there. The reason for the “failure of Enron's flagship project” is an inability to get the natural gas out of the region. Uzbekistan's production is “well below capacity” and only 10 percent of its production is being exported, all to other countries in the region. The hope was to use a pipeline through Afghanistan, but “Uzbekistan is extremely concerned at the growing strength of the Taliban and its potential impact on stability in Uzbekistan, making any future cooperation on a pipeline project which benefits the Taliban unlikely.” A $12 billion pipeline through China is being considered as one solution, but that wouldn't be completed until the end of the next decade at the earliest. [Alexander's Gas and Oil Connections 10/12/98]
          

June 23, 1998

       Future Vice President Cheney, working for the Halliburton energy company, states: “I can't think of a time when we've had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian. It's almost as if the opportunities have arisen overnight.” The Caspian Sea is in Central Asia. [Cato Institute Library; Chicago Tribune 8/10/00]
          

August 9, 1998

       The Northern Alliance capital of Afghanistan, Mazar-i-Sharif, is conquered by the Taliban. Military support of Pakistan's ISI plays a large role; there is even an intercept of an ISI officer stating, “My boys and I are riding into Mazar-i-Sharif.” [ New York Times, 12/8/01] This victory gives the Taliban control of 90%of Afghanistan, including the entire pipeline route. CentGas, the consortium behind the gas pipeline that would run through Afghanistan, is now “ready to proceed. Its main partners are the American oil firm Unocal and Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia, plus Hyundai of South Korea, two Japanese companies, a Pakistani conglomerate and the Turkmen government.” However, the pipeline cannot be financed unless the government is officially recognized. “Diplomatic sources said the Taliban's offensive was well prepared and deliberately scheduled two months ahead of the next UN meeting” to decide if the Taliban should be recognized. [Telegraph 8/13/98]
          

October 1998 (B)

       Julie Sirrs, a military analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), travels to Afghanistan. Fluent in local languages and knowledgeable about the culture, she had made a previous undercover trip there in October 1997. She was surprised that the CIA wasn't interested in sending in agents after the failed missile attack on bin Laden in August 1998 (see August 20, 1998) so she returns at this time. Traveling undercover, she meets with Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, who is later assassinated by the Taliban (see September 9, 2001). She sees a terrorist training center. Sirrs claims, “The Taliban's brutal regime was being kept in power significantly by bin Laden's money, plus the narcotics trade, while [Massoud's] resistance was surviving on a shoestring. With even a little aid to the Afghan resistance, we could have pushed the Taliban out of power. But there was great reluctance by the State Department and the CIA to undertake that.” She partly blames the interest of the US government and the oil company Unocal to see the Taliban achieve political stability so a pipeline could be built across the company. She claims, “Massoud told me he had proof that Unocal had provided money that helped the Taliban take Kabul.” She also states, “The State Department didn't want to have anything to do with Afghan resistance, or even, politically, to reveal that there was any viable option to the Taliban.” After two weeks she returns with a treasure trove of maps, photographs, and interviews. [New York Observer 3/11/04; ABC News 2/18/02] By interviewing captured al-Qaeda operatives she learns that the official Afghanistan airline, Ariania Airlines, is being used to ferry weapons and drugs, and also learns that bin Laden goes hunting with “rich Saudis and top Taliban officials.” [Los Angeles Times 11/18/01 (B)] When she returns her material is confiscated and she is accused of being a spy. Says one senior colleague, “She had gotten the proper clearances to go, and she came back with valuable information,” but high level officials “were so intent on getting rid of her, the last thing they wanted to pay attention to was any information she had.” She is cleared of wrongdoing, but her security clearance is pulled. She eventually quits the DIA in frustration. [New York Observer 3/11/04; ABC News 2/18/02] She claims that the US intelligence on bin Laden and the Taliban relied too heavily on the ISI for its information. [ABC News 2/18/02 (B)]
          

Late 1998 (B)

       During the investigation of the 1998 embassy bombings, FBI counter-terrorism expert John O'Neill finds a memo by al-Qaeda leader Mohammed Atef on a computer. The memo shows that bin Laden's group has a keen interest in and detailed knowledge of negotiations between the Taliban and the US over an oil and gas pipeline through Afghanistan. Atef's analysis suggests that the Taliban are not sincere in wanting a pipeline, but are dragging out negotiations to keep Western powers at bay. [Salon 6/5/02]
          

December 5, 1998

       In the wake of the al-Qaeda US embassy attacks (see August 7, 1998), the US gives up on putting a pipeline through Afghanistan. Unocal announces it is withdrawing from the CentGas pipeline consortium, and closing three of its four offices in Central Asia. A concern that Clinton will lose support among women voters for upholding the Taliban also plays a role in the cancellation. [New York Times, 12/5/98] [FTW]
          

March 1999 B)

       German intelligence gives the CIA the first name of hijacker Marwan Alshehhi and his telephone number in the United Arab Emirates. The Germans learned the information from surveillance of suspected terrorists (see January 31, 1999). They tell Alshehhi has been in contact with suspected al-Qaeda members Mohammed Haydar Zammar and Mamoun Darkazanli (see September 20, 1998 and December 1999) . He is described as a United Arab Emirates student who has spent some time studying in Germany. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03; Stern 8/13/03; Deutche Presse-Agenteur 8/13/03; New York Times 2/24/04] The Germans consider this information “particularly valuable” and ask the CIA to track Alshehhi, but the CIA never responds until after the 9/11 attacks. The CIA decides at the time that this “Marwan” is probably an associate of bin Laden but never track him down. It is not clear why the CIA fails to act, or if they learn his last name before 9/11. [New York Times, 2/24/04] The Germans monitor others calls between Alshehhi and Zammar (see September 21, 1999), but it isn't clear if the CIA is also told of these or not.
          

June 1999

       Enron announces an agreement to build a $140 million power plant in the Gaza Strip. One of the major financiers for the project comes from the Saudi Binladin Group, a company owned by Osama's family. This is the second attempted project between these two companies. 90% complete, the construction is halted because of Palestinian-Israeli violence and then Enron's bankruptcy. [Washington Post 3/2/02]
          

July 4, 1999

       With the chances of a pipeline deal with the Taliban looking increasingly unlikely, the US government finally issues an executive order prohibiting commercial transactions with the Taliban. [Executive Order 7/4/99]
          

December 20, 1999

       The BBC explains one reason why the Northern Alliance has been able to hold out for so long in its civil war against the Taliban in Afghanistan: “Iran has stirred up the fighting in order to make sure an international oil pipeline [goes] through its territory and not through Afghanistan.”[BBC, 12/20/99] In the summer of 2001 Pakistan and India appear to be leaning towards putting a gas pipeline through Iran but this plan is apparently canceled after the 9/11 attacks (see June 27, 2001).
          

September 2000

      
People involved in the 2000 PNAC report (from top left): Vice President Cheney, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Cheney Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby, Undersecretary of State John Bolton, Und
The neoconservative think-tank Project for the New American Century writes a “blueprint” for the “creation of a ‘global Pax Americana’ ” (see also June 3, 1997). The document, entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century, was written for the Bush team even before the 2000 Presidential election. It was commissioned by future Vice President Cheney, future Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, future Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Florida Governor and President Bush's brother Jeb Bush, and future Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby. The report calls itself a “blueprint for maintaining global US preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests.” The plan shows Bush intended to take military control of Persian Gulf oil whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power and should retain control of the region even if there is no threat. It says: “The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.” The report calls for the control of space through a new “US Space Forces,” the political control of the internet, the subversion of any growth in political power of even close allies, and advocates “regime change” in China, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Iran and other countries. It also mentions that “advanced forms of biological warfare that can ‘target’ specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.” A British Member of Parliament says of the report, “This is a blueprint for US world domination—a new world order of their making. These are the thought processes of fantasist Americans who want to control the world” (see also Spring 2001 and April 2001 (D)). [Sunday Herald, 9/7/02, click to download the think tank report] However, the report complains that these changes are likely to take a long time, “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.” [Los Angeles Times 1/12/03] In an NBC interview at about the same time, Vice Presidential candidate Cheney defends Bush Jr.'s position of maintaining Clinton's policy not to attack Iraq because the US should not act as though “we were an imperialist power, willy-nilly moving into capitals in that part of the world, taking down governments.” [Washington Post 1/12/02] This report and the Project for the New American Century generally are mostly ignored until a few weeks before the start of the Iraq war (see February-March 20, 2003).
          

Mid-July 2001 (B)

       John O'Neill, FBI counter-terrorism expert, privately discusses White House obstruction in his bin Laden investigation. O'Neill says: “The main obstacles to investigate Islamic terrorism were US oil corporate interests and the role played by Saudi Arabia in it.” He adds: “All the answers, everything needed to dismantle Osama bin Laden's organization, can be found in Saudi Arabia.” O'Neill also believes the White House is obstructing his investigation of bin Laden because they are still keeping the idea of a pipeline deal with the Taliban open. [CNN 1/8/02; CNN 1/9/02; Irish Times 11/19/01; Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth]
          

January 21, 2001

       George Bush Jr. is inaugurated as the 43rd US President, replacing Clinton. The only Cabinet-level figure to permanently remain in office is CIA Director Tenet, appointed in 1997 and reputedly a long time friend of Bush Sr. FBI Director Louis Freeh stays on until June 2001. Numerous figures in Bush's administration have been directly employed in the oil industry, including Bush, Vice President Cheney and National Security Advisor Rice. It is later revealed that Cheney is still being paid up to $1 million a year in “deferred payments” from Halliburton, the oil company he headed. [Guardian, 3/12/03] Enron's ties also reach deep into the administration. [Washington Post 1/18/02] Security precautions are taken to guard against the possibility of an attack on the inauguration ceremony using an airplane as a flying weapon (see also January 20, 1997). [Wall Street Journal 4/1/04]
          

February 9, 2001

       Vice President Cheney is briefed that it has been conclusively proven bin Laden was behind the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole (see October 12, 2000). Bush has been in office a matter of days, when secret pipeline negotiations with the Taliban have begun. The new administration has already twice threatened the Taliban that the US would hold the Taliban responsible for any al-Qaeda attack. But, fearful of ending those negotiations, the US does not retaliate against either the Taliban or known bin Laden bases in Afghanistan in the manner Clinton did in 1998. [Washington Post 1/20/02]
          

April 2001 (D)

       A report commissioned by former US Secretary of State James Baker and the Council on Foreign Relations entitled “Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century” is submitted to Vice President Cheney this month. “The report is linked to a veritable who's who of US hawks, oilmen and corporate bigwigs.” The report says the “central dilemma” for the US administration is that “the American people continue to demand plentiful and cheap energy without sacrifice or inconvenience.” It warns that the US is running out of oil, with a painful end to cheap fuel already in sight. It argues that “the United States remains a prisoner of its energy dilemma,” and that one of the “consequences” of this is a “need for military intervention” to secure its oil supply. It argues that Iraq needs to be overthrown so the US can control its oil. [Sunday Herald 10/5/02; Sydney Morning Herald 12/26/02] In what may be a reference to a pipeline through Afghanistan, the report suggests the US should “Investigate whether any changes to US policy would quickly facilitate higher exports of oil from the Caspian Basin region… the exports from some oil discoveries in the Caspian Basin could be hastened if a secure, economical export route could be identified swiftly” (see also September 2000 and Spring 2001). [Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century, 4/01] Could the Bush administration have let 9/11 happen to get access to Central Asian oil, and gain support for a war with Iraq, amongst other reasons?
          

Spring 2001

       The Sydney Morning Herald later reports, “The months preceding September 11 [see] a shifting of the US military's focus … Over several months beginning in April [2001] a series of military and governmental policy documents [are] released that [seek] to legitimize the use of US military force” “in the pursuit of oil and gas.” Michael Klare, an international security expert and author of Resource Wars, says the military has increasingly come to “define resource security as their primary mission.” An article in the Army War College's journal by Jeffrey Record, a former staff member of the Senate armed services committee, argues for the legitimacy of “shooting in the Persian Gulf on behalf of lower gas prices.” He also “advocate[s] the acceptability of presidential subterfuge in the promotion of a conflict” and “explicitly urge[s] painting over the US's actual reasons for warfare with a nobly high-minded veneer, seeing such as a necessity for mobilizing public support for a conflict.” In April, Tommy Franks, the commander of US forces in the Persian Gulf/South Asia area, testifies to Congress in April that his command's key mission is “access to [the region's] energy resources.” The next month US Central Command begins planning for war with Afghanistan, plans that are later used in the real war (see May 2001 (F)). [Sydney Morning Herald, 12/26/02] Other little noticed but influential documents reflect similar thinking (see September 2000 and April 2001 (D)).
          

May 2001 (G)

       Vice President Cheney's national energy plan is publicly released. It calls for expanded oil and gas drilling on public land and easing regulatory barriers to building nuclear power plants. [AP, 12/9/02] There are several interesting points, little noticed at the time. It suggests that the US cannot depend exclusively on traditional sources of supply to provide the growing amount of oil that it needs. It will also have to obtain substantial supplies from new sources, such as the Caspian states, Russia, and Africa. It also notes that the US cannot rely on market forces alone to gain access to these added supplies, but will also require a significant effort on the part of government officials to overcome foreign resistance to the outward reach of American energy companies. [Japan Today, 4/30/02] The plan was largely decided through Cheney's secretive Energy Task Force. Both before and after this, Cheney and other Task Force officials meet with Enron executives, including a meeting a month and a half before Enron declares bankruptcy (see December 2, 2001). Two separate lawsuits are later filed to reveal details of how the government's energy policy was formed and if Enron or other players may have influenced it, but so far the Bush Administration has resisted all efforts to release these documents (see October 17, 2002 and February 7, 2003 (B)). [AP 12/9/02] At the very least, it's known that Enron executives met with the Commerce Secretary about its troubled Dabhol power plant in 2001 (see November 1993). [New York Times, 2/21/02] If these documents are released, they could show what the government did to support Enron's Dabhol plant with an Afghanistan gas pipeline.
          

June 2001 (J)

       Enron's power plant in Dabhol, India, is shut down. The failure of the $3 billion plant, Enron's largest investment, contributes to Enron's bankruptcy later in the year (see December 2, 2001). Earlier in the year, India stopped paying its bill for the energy from the plant, because energy from the plant cost three times the usual rates. [New York Times, 3/20/01] Enron had hoped to feed the plant with cheap Central Asian gas, but this hope was dashed when a gas pipeline through Afghanistan was not completed (see June 1998 (B). The larger part of the plant is still only 90 percent complete when construction stops at about this time. [New York Times, 3/20/01] It is known that Vice President Cheney lobbies the leader of India's main opposition party about the plant this month. [New York Times, 2/21/02] A lawsuit is in motion to get additional government documents released that could reveal what else the US did to support this plant (see October 17, 2002 and February 7, 2003 (B)). Enron may eventually restart the plant (see October 18, 2002 (B)).
          

June 27, 2001

       The Wall Street Journal reports that Pakistan and India are discussing jointly building a gas pipeline from Central Asian gas fields through Iran. This would circumvent the difficulties of building the pipeline through Afghanistan. [Wall Street Journal, 6/27/01] Iran has been secretly supporting the Northern Alliance to keep Afghanistan divided so no pipelines could be put through it (see December 20, 1999). Presumably the US government would be opposed to this, since much of its support for Afghanistan pipelines has been to prevent them from going through Iran (see Early 1998).
          

July 21, 2001

       Three American officials, Tom Simons (former US Ambassador to Pakistan), Karl Inderfurth (former Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs) and Lee Coldren (former State Department expert on South Asia) meet with Pakistani and Russian intelligence officers in a Berlin hotel. [Salon, 8/16/02] It is the third of a series of back-channel conferences called “brainstorming on Afghanistan.” Taliban representatives sat in on previous meetings, but boycotted this one due to worsening tensions. However, the Pakistani ISI relays information from the meeting to the Taliban. [Guardian, 9/22/01] At the meeting, former US State Department official Lee Coldren passes on a message from Bush officials. He later says, “I think there was some discussion of the fact that the United States was so disgusted with the Taliban that they might be considering some military action.” [Guardian, 9/26/01] Accounts vary, but former Pakistani Foreign Secretary Niaz Naik later says he is told by senior American officials at the meeting that military action to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan is planned to “take place before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the middle of October at the latest.” The goal is to kill or capture both bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar, topple the Taliban regime and install a transitional government of moderate Afghans in its place. Uzbekistan and Russia would also participate (see also December 19, 2000, March 15, 2001 and June 26, 2001). Naik also says “it was doubtful that Washington would drop its plan even if bin Laden were to be surrendered immediately by the Taliban.” [BBC, 9/18/01] One specific threat made at this meeting is that the Taliban can choose between “carpets of bombs” —an invasion— or “carpets of gold” —the pipeline. [Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth] Niaz Naik says Tom Simons made the “carpets”statement. Simons claims: “It's possible that a mischievous American participant, after several drinks, may have thought it smart to evoke gold carpets and carpet bombs. Even Americans can't resist the temptation to be mischievous.” Naik and the American participants deny that the pipeline was an issue at the meeting. [Salon 8/16/02] So then what was the “carpets of gold” phrase referring to? [FTW]
          

August 2, 2001

       Christina Rocca, the Director of Asian Affairs at the State Department, secretly meets the Taliban ambassador in Islamabad, apparently in a last ditch attempt to secure a pipeline deal. Rocca was previously in charge of contacts with Islamic guerrilla groups at the CIA, and oversaw the delivery of Stinger missiles to Afghan mujaheddin in the 1980s. [Irish Times, 11/19/01, Salon, 2/8/02, Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth] [FTW]
          

August 6, 2001

       President Bush receives a classified intelligence briefing at his Crawford, Texas ranch indicating that bin Laden might be planning to hijack commercial airliners. The memo read to him is titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.” The entire memo focuses on the possibility of terrorist attacks inside the US.[Newsweek, 5/27/02, New York Times, 5/15/02] A page and a half of the contents are released after National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice testifies to the 9/11 Commission [Washington Post, 4/10/04]. The 9/11 Congressional inquiry call it “a closely held intelligence report for senior government officials” presented in early August 2001. Rice testifies that the memo is mostly historic regarding bin Laden's previous activities and she says it contains no specific information that would have prevented an attack. The memo, as released, includes at least the following information:
  1. Bin Laden has wanted to conduct attacks inside the US since 1997.
  2. “Members of al-Qaeda, including some US citizens, [have] resided in or travelled to the US for years and the group apparently maintain[s] a support structure” in the US.
  3. A discussion of the arrest of Ahmed Ressam (see December 14, 1999) and the 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998).
  4. Uncorroborated information obtained in 1998 that bin Laden wants to hijack airplanes to gain the release of US-held extremists such as Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman (see July 1990).
  5. Information acquired in May 2001 indicating al-Qaeda is planning to infiltrate the US from Canada and attack the US using high explosives (see May 2001 (B)).
  6. “FBI judgments about patterns of activity consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks.”
  7. The number of on-going bin Laden-related investigations. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
Incredibly, the New York Times later reports that Bush “[breaks] off from work early and [spends] most of the day fishing” (see also August 4-30, 2001). [New York Times 5/25/02] The existence of this memo is kept secret, until it is leaked in May 2002, causing a storm of controversy (see May 15, 2002). National Security Advisor Rice gives an inaccurate description of the memo, claiming it is only one and a half pages long (other accounts state it is 11 and a half pages instead of the usual two or three). [Newsweek 5/27/02; New York Times 5/15/02; Die Zeit 10/1/02] She falsely claims, “It was an analytic report that talked about [bin Laden]'s methods of operation, talked about what he had done historically, in 1997, in 1998…. I want to reiterate, it was not a warning. There was no specific time, place, or method mentioned.” [White House 5/16/02]
          

October 5, 2001

       Contrary to popular belief, Afghanistan “has significant oil and gas deposits. During the Soviets' decade-long occupation of Afghanistan, Moscow estimated Afghanistan's proven and probable natural gas reserves at around five trillion cubic feet and production reached 275 million cubic feet per day in the mid-1970s.” Nonstop war since has prevent further exploitation, but that soon changes. [Asia Times, 10/5/01] A later article suggests the country may also have as much copper as Chile, the world's largest producer, and significant deposits of coal, emeralds, tungsten, lead, zinc, uranium ore and more. Estimates of Afghanistan's natural wealth may even be understated, because surveys were conducted decades ago, using less-advanced methods and covering limited territory. [Houston Chronicle 12/23/01]
          

October 9, 2001 (B)

       US Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin meets with the Pakistani oil minister. She is briefed on the gas pipeline project from Turkmenistan, across Afghanistan, to Pakistan, which appears to be revived “in view of recent geopolitical developments.” [Frontier Post, 10/10/01] [FTW]
          

October 15, 2001 (C)

       According to the Moscow Times, the Russian government sees the upcoming US conquest of Afghanistan as an attempt by the US to replace Russia as the dominant political force in Central Asia (see also June 2001 (D)), with the control of oil as a prominent motive: “While the bombardment of Afghanistan outwardly appears to hinge on issues of fundamentalism and American retribution, below the surface, lurks the prize of the energy-rich Caspian basin into which oil majors have invested billions of dollars. Ultimately, this war will set the boundaries of US and Russian influence in Central Asia—and determine the future of oil and gas resources of the Caspian Sea.” [Moscow Times, 10/15/01] The US later appears to gain military influence over Kazakhstan, the Central Asian country with the most resource wealth, and closest to the Russian heartland (see also December 19, 2001 and March 30, 2002).
          

December 2, 2001

      
Enron's logo.
Enron files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy—the biggest bankruptcy ever (that is, until WorldCom some months later). [BBC, 1/10/02] However, Enron reorganizes as a pipeline company, and it may yet complete its controversial Dabhol power plant (see October 18, 2002 (B)). [Houston Business Journal 3/15/02]
          

December 8, 2001

       During a visit to Kazakhstan in Central Asia, Secretary of State Powell states that US oil companies are likely to invest $200 billion in Kazakhstan alone in the next five to 10 years. [New York Times 12/15/01]
          

December 22, 2001

      
Afghan leader Hamid Karzai.
Afghani Prime Minister Hamid Karzai and his transitional government takes power in Afghanistan. It was revealed a few weeks before that he had been a paid consultant for Unocal, as well as Deputy Foreign Minister for the Taliban. [Le Monde, 12/13/01, CNN, 12/22/01 (B)] [FTW]
          

January 1, 2002

       Zalamy Khalilzad, already a Special Assistant to the President (see May 23, 2001), is appointed by Bush as a special envoy to Afghanistan. [BBC, 1/1/02] Khalilzad, a former employee of Unocal, took part in negotiations with the Taliban to build a pipeline through Afghanistan. He also wrote op-eds in the Washington Post in 1997 supporting the Taliban regime, back when Unocal was hoping to work with the Taliban. [Independent, 1/10/02] FTW Now the US envoy is a former Unocal employee consulting with a prime minister who is a former Unocal employee (see December 22, 2001) in a country where Unocal might build gas and oil pipelines (see May 13, 2002).
          

January 2002 (D)

      
A Mirage 2000-D fighter in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
It is reported that now the US is improving bases in “13 locations in nine countries in the Central Asian region” (see also September 22, 2001-December 2001and Early October 2001). [] 60,000 US military personnel now work in these new bases surrounding Afghanistan. [Los Angeles Times, 1/6/02] “Of the five ex-Soviet states of Central Asia, Turkmenistan alone is resisting pressure to allow the deployment of US or other Western forces on its soil….” [Guardian, 1/10/02] “The task of the encircling US bases now shooting up on Afghanistan's periphery is only partly to contain the threat of political regression or Taliban resurgence in Kabul. Their bigger, longer-term role is to project US power and US interests into countries previously beyond its reach. … The potential benefits for the US are enormous: growing military hegemony in one of the few parts of the world not already under Washington's sway, expanded strategic influence at Russia and China's expense, pivotal political clout and—grail of holy grails—access to the fabulous, non-OPEC oil and gas wealth of central Asia .” [Guardian, 1/16/02] On January 9, the speaker of the Russian parliament states, “Russia would not approve of the appearance of permanent US bases in Central Asia,” but Russia seems helpless to stop what a Russian newspaper calls “the inexorable growth” of the US military presence in central Asia. [Guardian 1/10/02]
          

February 9, 2002

       Pakistani President Musharraf and Afghan leader Hamid Karzai announce their agreement to “cooperate in all spheres of activity” including the proposed Central Asian pipeline, which they call “in the interest of both countries.” [Irish Times, 2/9/02] [FTW]
          

February 14, 2002

       The Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv astutely notes: “If one looks at the map of the big American bases created [in the Afghan war], one is struck by the fact that they are completely identical to the route of the projected oil pipeline to the Indian Ocean.” Ma'ariv also states, “Osama bin Laden did not comprehend that his actions serve American interests… If I were a believer in conspiracy theory, I would think that bin Laden is an American agent. Not being one I can only wonder at the coincidence.” [Chicago Tribune, 3/18/02] [FTW]
          

March 30, 2002

       With US troops already in many Central Asian countries (see January 2002 (D)), it is now reported that US Special Forces soldiers are training Kazakhstan troops in a secret location. [London Times, 3/30/02] An anonymous source in the Kazakh government previously stated, “It is clear that the continuing war in Afghanistan is no more than a veil for the US to establish political dominance in the region. The war on terrorism is only a pretext for extending influence over our energy resources ”(see October 11, 1996). [Observer 1/20/02]
          

May 13, 2002

       The BBC reports that Afghanistan is about to close a deal for construction of the $2 billion gas pipeline to run from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India. “Work on the project will start after an agreement is expected to be struck” at a summit scheduled for the end of the month. Afghan leader Hamid Karzai (who formerly worked for Unocal) calls Unocal the “lead company” in building the pipeline. [BBC, 5/13/02] FTWThe Los Angeles Times comments, “To some here, it looked like the fix was in for Unocal when President Bush named a former Unocal consultant, Zalmay Khalilzad, as his special envoy to Afghanistan late last year.” [Los Angeles Times 5/30/02 (B)]
          

May 30, 2002 (B)

       Afghanistan's interim leader, Hamid Karzai, Turkmenistan's President Niyazov, and Pakistani President Musharraf meet in Islamabad and sign a memorandum of understanding on the trans-Afghanistan gas pipeline project. [Alexander's Gas and Oil Connections, 6/8/02, Dawn, 5/31/02] FTWThe agreement is finalized by the end of the year (see December 27, 2002).
          

July 10, 2002

       A briefing given to a top Pentagon advisory group states, “The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader … Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies.” They are called “the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent.”This position still runs counter to official US policy, but the Washington Post says it “represents a point of view that has growing currency within the Bush administration.” The briefing suggests that the Saudis be given an ultimatum to stop backing terrorism or face seizure of its oil fields and its financial assets invested in the United States . The group, the Defense Policy Board, is headed by Richard Perle. [Washington Post, 8/6/02] An international controversy follows the public reports of the briefing in August 2002 (for instance, [Scotsman, 8/12/02]). In an abrupt change, the media starts calling the Saudis enemies, not allies of the US. Slate reports details of the briefing the Post failed to mention. The briefing states, “There is an ‘Arabia,’ but it needs not be ‘Saudi’ ”. The conclusion of the briefing: “Grand strategy for the Middle East: Iraq is the tactical pivot. Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot. Egypt the prize.” [Slate, 8/7/02] Note that a similar meeting of the Defense Policy Board appears to have preceded and affected the US's decision to take a warlike stance against Iraq (see September 17, 2001 (B) and August 6, 2001).
          

August 15, 2002

      
Deena Burnett speaks on behalf of the relatives suing the Saudis.
More than 600 relatives (later rising to over 2,500 out of 10,000 eligible [Newsweek, 9/13/02]) of victims of the September 11 attacks file a 15-count, $1 trillion lawsuit against various parties they accuse of financing al-Qaeda and Afghanistan's former Taliban regime. The defendants include the Binladin Group (the company run by Osama bin Laden's family), seven international banks, eight Islamic foundations and charities, individual terrorist financiers, three Saudi princes, and the government of Sudan. [CNN, 8/15/02, Washington Post, 8/16/02] Individuals named include Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan (see June 1998 (D), August 2001 (G), and August 31, 2001), former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal (see July 1998, August 31, 2001, and October 18, 2002), Yassin al-Qadi (see October 12, 2001), and Khalid bin Mahfouz (see 1988, August 13, 1996, December 4, 2001 (B) and Early December 2001 (B)). [AP, 8/15/02, MSNBC, 8/25/02] “The attorneys and investigators were able to obtain, through French intelligence, the translation of a secretly recorded meeting between representatives of bin Laden and three Saudi princes in which they sought to pay him hush money to keep him from attacking their enterprises in Saudi Arabia.” [CNN 8/15/02] The plaintiffs also accused the US Government of failing to pursue such institutions thoroughly enough because of lucrative oil interests. [BBC 8/15/02] Ron Motley, the lead lawyer in the suit, says the case is being aided by intelligence services from France and four other foreign governments, but no help has come from the Justice Department. [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 8/16/02] The plaintiffs acknowledge the chance of ever winning any money is slim, but hope the lawsuit will help bring to light the role of Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 attacks. [BBC, 8/15/02] A number of rich Saudis respond by threatening to withdraw hundreds of billions of dollars in US investments if the lawsuit goes forward. [Telegraph, 8/20/02] Saudi businesses withdraw more than $100 billion from the US in response to the suit (see August 20, 2002), and the US government later threatens to block or limit the suit (see November 1, 2002).
          

October 18, 2002 (B)

       “The massive mothballed Dabhol power project that bankrupt US energy company Enron Corp. built in western India could be running within a year, with a long-standing dispute over power charges close to being renegotiated, a government official said.” Dabhol is the largest foreign investment project in India's history. Despite reorganizing from a bankruptcy, Enron still holds a controlling 65 percent stake in the plant, while General Electric Co. and Bechtel Corp. hold 10 percent each. The local Indian state electricity board holds the remaining 15 percent (see also November 1993 and June 2001 (J)). [AP, 10/18/02] In 2004, Dabhol is still closed, and negotiations to reopen it continue. [The Economist 5/1/04]
          

December 13, 2002

      
Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger resigns as head of the new 9/11 investigation (see November 27, 2002). [AP, 12/13/02, ABC, 12/13/02, Kissinger's resignation letter] Two days earlier, the Bush Administration argued that Kissinger was not required to disclose his private business clients. [New York Times, 12/12/02] However, the Congressional Research Service insists that he does, and Kissinger resigns rather than reveal his clients. [MSNBC 12/13/02; Seattle Times 12/14/02] It is reported that Kissinger is (or has been) a consultant for Unocal, the oil corporation, and was involved in plans to build pipelines through Afghanistan (see October 21, 1995, and August 9, 1998). [Washington Post 10/5/98; Salon 12/3/02] Kissinger claimed he did no current work for any oil companies or Mideast clients, but several corporations with heavy investments in Saudi Arabia, such as ABB Group, a Swiss-Swedish engineering firm, and Boeing Corp., pay him consulting fees of at least $250,000 a year. A Boeing spokesman said its “long-standing” relationship with Kissinger involved advice on deals in East Asia, not Saudi Arabia. Boeing sold $7.2 billion worth of aircraft to Saudi Arabia in 1995. [Newsweek 12/15/02] In a surprising break from usual procedures regarding high-profile presidential appointments, White House lawyers never vetted Kissinger for conflicts of interest. [Newsweek, 12/15/02] The Washington Post says that after the resignations of Kissinger and Mitchell, the commission “has lost time” and “is in disarray, which is no small trick given that it has yet to meet.” [Washington Post 12/14/02]
          

December 27, 2002

      
Leaders sign the pipeline agreement
Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan sign an agreement for the building of the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline, a US$3.2 billion project that has been delayed for many years. [AP, 12/26/02, BBC, 12/27/02] A study by the Asian Development Bank stated that the pipeline would move natural gas from Turkmenistan's huge Dauletabad-Donmez fields to the Pakistani port city of Gwadar. The pipeline was originally launched in 1996 (see August 13, 1996), but was abandoned when a consortium led by Unocal withdrew over fears of being seen as supporting the Taliban and because the US launched missile attacks on Afghanistan in 1998 (see December 5, 1998). The Afghan, Pakistani and Turkmen leaders relaunched the project in May 2002 (see May 30, 2002 (B)). Unocal has denied it is interested in returning to Afghanistan. Skeptics say the project would require an indefinite foreign military presence in Afghanistan. [AP 12/26/02; BBC 5/30/02]
          


Except where otherwise noted, the textual content of each timeline is licensed under the Creative Commons License below:

Creative Commons License Home |  About this Site |  Development |  Donate |  Contact Us
Terms of Use