Saudi "Deep State" Prince Bandar Among Those Arrested In Purge: Report

According to a new report by Middle East Eye, Prince Bandar bin Sultan - Saudi Arabia's most famous arms dealer, longtime former ambassador to the US, and recent head of Saudi intelligence - was among those detained as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's (MBS) so-called "corruption purge" that started with the initial arrests of up to a dozen princes and other top officials last weekend.

If confirmed, the arrest and detention of Bandar would constitute the most significant and high profile figure caught up in the purge - even above that of high profile billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal - given Bandar's closeness to multiple US administrations and involvement in events ranging from Reagan's Nicaraguan Contra program (including direct involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal), to making the case for the Iraq War as a trusted friend of Bush and Cheney, to directing US-Saudi covert operations overseeing the arming of jihadists in Syria.


Famous photograph of George W. Bush and his close confidant Prince Bandar bin Sultan.

Middle East Eye issued the report based on multiple contacts "inside the royal court" and indicates further that the scale of MBS' aggressive crackdown is much larger than previously reported, and even involves the torture of "senior figures" among those detained:

Some senior figures detained in last Saturday's purge in Saudi Arabia were beaten and tortured so badly during their arrest or subsequent interrogations that they required hospital treatment, Middle East Eye can reveal.  People inside the royal court also told MEE that the scale of the crackdown, which has brought new arrests each day, is much bigger than Saudi authorities have admitted, with more than 500 people detained and double that number questioned.

And shockingly, those sources say that the longtime Saudi 'deep state' power broker and liaison with the West, Prince Bandar, is among the detained:

One of the most famous is Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a former Saudi ambassador to Washington and confidant of former US President George W Bush.  There is no word on his fate, but Saudi authorities said that one of the corruption cases they are looking at is the al-Yamamah arms deal, in which Bandar was involved.

While no doubt Bandar's very well-known role in Saudi "oil for arms" programs which have come to define Saudi relations with the West over the past decades is a trumped up and "selective" charge (insofar as the highest levels of the state have overseen such shady dealing) the al-Yamamah deal in particular - which goes back to the mid-1980's - has been an historical embarrassment to both the UK and Saudi governments (BAE Systems was the prime British contractor involved) for the astounding level of fraudulent accounting exposed in UK courts. 

Concerning Prince Bandar's role in the al-Yamamah deal, Middle East Eye continues

Bandar bought an entire village in the Cotswolds, a picturesque area of central England, and a 2,000-acre sporting estate with part of the proceeds from kickbacks he received in the al-Yamamah arms deal, which netted British manufacturer BAE £43bn ($56.5bn) in contracts for fighter aircraft.

 

As much as $30m (£15m) is alleged to have been paid into Bandar’s dollar account at Riggs Bank in Washington and the affair led to corruption probes in the US and UK, although the case was dropped in the UK in 2006 after an intervention by then-prime minister Tony Blair.

But more likely is that Bandar has been caught up in this week's MBS dragnet for his closeness to Western heads of state and foreign intelligence services. With MBS' aggressive consolidation of power which could result in ascension to the throne at any moment, and with fate of multiple princes and officials still unknown - not the least of which is now ex-PM of Lebanon Saad Hariri - a shroud of secrecy has resulted in myriad theories concerning what is really happening behind the scenes. 

Likely, Bandar has been detained to ensure a communications blackout with Western intelligence and media until MBS' plans are complete, with the added benefit of ensuring the "anti-corruption" angle to the purges for the consumption of international media. 


Bandar (left) has been close to multiple US administrations
 spanning decades with direct involvement in events ranging from Reagan's Nicaraguan Contra program (including being named in the Iran-Contra scandal), to making the case for the Iraq War as a trusted friend of Bush and Cheney, to directing Obama-era covert operations to arm jihadists in Syria.

Ironically, Bandar himself once seemed to publicly boast about receiving massive kickbacks in relation to Saudi weapons dealing, which perhaps further made him an easy and high profile target in this week's crackdown. According to a royal family profile highlighting corruption in the New York Times from early this week

Perhaps the most famous statement on corruption in Saudi Arabia was made by Prince Bandar. In an interview with PBS in 2001, he said: “If you tell me that building this whole country, and spending $350 billion out of $400 billion, that we had misused or got corrupted with $50 billion, I’ll tell you, yes. But I’ll take that anytime.”

And the New York Times summarized the key events of the multi-billion pound weapons deal with the UK as follows:

Weapons contracts have long been a source of wealth. British media reported that Prince Bandar received well over $1 billion in secret payments from BAE Systems, the leading British military contractor, over the course of a decade. The son of founding King Abdulaziz’s personal doctor, Adnan Khashoggi, became a billionaire as an arms dealer and go-between for weapons makers and members of the royal family.

Meanwhile news of Bandar's possible arrest and detention hasn't spread very widely in international media reports as of this writing, but it will be interesting to see the response in the West should the news be confirmed. Will Bandar's friends in Washington and London go to bat for him? Or will Prince Bandar quietly recede into the background of a permanent forced retirement from public life?

Most likely the latter will be the case. Regardless, for friends of the former powerful Saudi intelligence director on either side of the Atlantic and within Saudi Arabia itself, Bandar no doubt knows where all the skeletons are buried, and this alone makes him a worrisome, volatile and unpredictable figure in the midst of a transfer of power.

Comments

ludwigvmises Fri, 11/10/2017 - 14:17 Permalink

Bandar was the piece of shit who lobbied the Bush administration to fly out the entire Bin Laden family from the US without questioning them after 9/11. 

Escrava Isaura Manthong Fri, 11/10/2017 - 16:52 Permalink

tmosley below: One wonders if the peanut gallery will EVER understand what has happened here? It should be fucking obvious that Trump is eliminating the Deep State, starting with the Saudis. Oh boy. Highly recommend that you, and many more here, do some research before commenting. It’s the other way around. Saudi Arabia is playing Trump.  “The Saudis played Donald Trump like a fiddle” - Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution.   

In reply to by Manthong

Escrava Isaura Manthong Fri, 11/10/2017 - 17:16 Permalink

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Underestimate? Trump clearly expressed his views of Saudi Arabia during his Presidential campaign. We’ll find out if he’ll follow-through in the next three years. I don’t think he will.  

In reply to by Manthong

Manthong Escrava Isaura Fri, 11/10/2017 - 17:44 Permalink

 
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Well, the good news is that Prescott Bush, the grandfather of GHW and great grandfather of GW with his business partner (Herbert Walker) financed Nazis from their Union Bank……… so everything is cool

In reply to by Escrava Isaura

Escrava Isaura Manthong Fri, 11/10/2017 - 17:55 Permalink

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Please don’t change the subject. We’re talking Saudi Arabia and Trump. My point being that Saudi Arabia is run by right wingers. And Trump will love them. So, all Trumps’ campaign rhetoric about Saudi Arabia will be just that: Rhetorical.  

In reply to by Manthong

Escrava Isaura Bubuzinho Sat, 11/11/2017 - 04:24 Permalink

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Bubuzinho: You're quoting a piece published by the Brookings Institution, which receives funding directly from Dr. Evil First, that was just a quote. The article is not by the Brookings Institute. Second, Brooking Institute has left and right ideologies within. There’s nothing wrong with a think tank left and right views. The problems are not within the think thanks but, within the current ‘capitalist’ reality. The problem is that the people from the left and right that were left behind by the current capitalist system are angry to the point that facts don't matter for them. Once anger arrives at a capitalist social order it becomes very hard to reason. Your post is a good example, religious education is another. Social views another. So is science. And this list is long. The problem of failing is within the capitalist system and not the ideologies within. Saudi Arabia is a great example. Saudi Arabia is supposed to be the richest and most powerful nation in the world. The capitalist system never allowed them that opportunity. As it will never allow the working class either. Just look around your town.  

In reply to by Bubuzinho

Captain Nemo d… Escrava Isaura Sat, 11/11/2017 - 07:15 Permalink

The report simply assumes that Trump is vain and so is being manipulated by the Saudis. Perhaps he is getting something real in return for his support: cleaning house of at least some corrupt people who were deeply embedded with US and other global events. I agree that neither capitalist nor socialist systems help anyone in the end except those who get to the top, but then the systems start to break down. If Saudi Arabia was supposed to be the most powerful country in the world but the capitalists did not let that happen, and kept down all the local workers as well, then ...now if the report were to be true then Saudi Arabia did become a very powerful country because they control US policy via Trump ... who was elected because of the workers being kept down by the capitalists :).

In reply to by Escrava Isaura

Escrava Isaura Captain Nemo d… Sat, 11/11/2017 - 08:05 Permalink

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Saudi’s cleaning house has to do with its internal issues/power grabbing. It doesn’t matter in the end. Saudis cannot abandon the US. And neither the US can abandon the Saudis. The most “telling” word of the whole week, in my view, was when the Secretary of State Tillerson used the word ‘restrain’ about Saudi Arabia and Lebanon exchange of words. Restrain is code word for ‘go ahead with’ war.     

In reply to by Captain Nemo d…

Escrava Isaura MK13 Sat, 11/11/2017 - 09:32 Permalink

If we have lived in a free market economy, Saudis would have been the richest nation, because they possess the most important, and largest energy source of the world, crude oil, while having less than half of 1 percent (0.44%) of the world population. They could have easily acquired most of the gold in the world, meaning having the strong currency. Also, Egypt, which borders Saudi Arabia, would have been an agriculture powerhouse because they didn’t need slave. Which leaves us with this question: Why that you don’t know these? Because the west indoctrination system is very good. And, if you’re in America, it’s the best in the world.   

In reply to by MK13

earleflorida Pinto Currency Fri, 11/10/2017 - 17:43 Permalink

america doesn't need OPEC anymoar. period!the years since 1979 - present are now no longer needed in ussa policy--- the petrodollar (the liquidity [keynesianism] money trap) is DOA!!! america has,... along with the EU (designed to crush the EU ?) has wasted its hegemony on a failed FRB System of 'QE to Infinity' leaving our deficit compromised for decades.with are currency worthless with no way out but interest hikes being all but China's 'Dionysius Trap'?!? so,... the great empire of short duration finds the 'Sword of Damocles' thrust through its very heart by the 'City' of money changers now teaching the Chinaman the ways of the Chosen?!?

In reply to by Pinto Currency