Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the godfather behind the creation of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), now called the “Islamic State” or “Islamic Caliphate,” has returned to an influential position advising King Abdullah after being sacked as Saudi intelligence chief last April. Bandar’s new title is “adviser to the King and his special envoy.”
Bandar had never actually left the Saudi inner circle. After being dismissed as intelligence chief in April, he retained his position as secretary general of the Saudi National Security Council, a position similar to that held by Susan Rice as the White House National Security Adviser and director of the National Security Council.
Bandar’s restoration to favor within the House of Saud came as King Abdullah appointed the recently-fired deputy defense minister, Prince Khaled bin Bandar bin Abdul Aziz, as the new chief of Saudi intelligence. It took only two days for Khaled from being fired as deputy defense minister, a job he held for only 45 days, to being named as Saudi intelligence chief. The shuffle came about to ensure that key Saudi defense and intelligence officials are on the same page when it comes to reasserting control over ISIL as it continues to advance toward Baghdad.
However, the House of Saud has been a major bank roller of ISIL since the beginning of their roles in Syria’s civil war. The Al Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra), on the other hand, has been mainly funded by Qatar. However, the Al Nusra Front, far from being a rival to ISIL, has pledged its support for the group as its forces spread across northern and western Iraq.
The actual aim of Saudi Arabia is to destabilize Iraq and Syria, hoping that the Nouri al-Maliki and Bashar al Assad governments, respectively, will be overthrown and replaced with radical Sunni regimes beholden to the Saudis.
Bandar, who is widely credied for arming and financing radical jihadists in the Syrian opposition rebel army against so-called “moderate” Syrian opposition forces, was forced out as Saudi intelligence chief after President Barack Obama met with King Abdullah in Riyadh on March 28. Bandar’s duties as the chief Saudi interlocutor with Syria’s rebels was transferred to Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. Those duties will now be assumed by Prince Khaled. Prince Mohammed helped steer Saudi support to the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), which has become a second-tier and weak player in the Syrian civil war. FSA officials, many of whom are exiled former government officials in the Assad government, are more comfortable in Istanbul hotels and restaurants than on the front lines in Syria. However, after the success of ISIL in eastern Syria and Iraq, the Saudis decided to bring back ISIl’s main interlocutor, Prince Bandar, to bring the group’s leadership under firmer Saudi control.
Bandar has had long ties to Jihadist terrorism. Bandar, on a pre-Sochi Olympics trip to Moscow, offered Russia a lucrative weapons deal if Russia ceased its support for Assad. Bandar also told Putin that if Russia rejected Saudi Arabia’s offer, Saudi-backed Islamist terrorists in the Caucasus region would be free to launch terrorist attacks on the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Putin reportedly ordered Bandar out of his office in the Kremlin. There are also reports that Saudi-financed Islamist terrorists from Chechnya and Dagestan have been active in Ukraine fighting against Russian-speaking separatists in eastern Ukraine. In some cases, Islamist terrorists have joined Israeli paramilitary units in Ukraine in support of the Kiev governments military actions against eastern Ukraine. In Syria, there have been reports of Mossad coordination with ISIL units in attacks against Syrian government forces, including in the region north of the Golan Heights.
Bandar’s name is reportedly contained in the still-classified 28 pages from the Joint Congressional 9/11 Inquiry report on Saudi Arabia’s role in the 9/11 attack. Attempts to have the 28 pages declassified has met with strong opposition from Brennan and the CIA, as well as the Obama White House. Former Senator Bob Graham (D-FL), who chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time the report was written, has called for the 28 pages to be made public. A reliable source told WMR that Graham was cold-shouldered when he visited the White House last year to press for full disclosure. Graham was shuffled off to meet with a low-level White House staffer.
CIA Director John O. Brennan, a Saudophile and former CIA station chief in Riyadh, is, according to our sources, behind the restoration of Bandar to a key position in the Saudi government. Some 1,000 U.S. troops and advisers have been dispatched to Iraq not to prevent the Maliki government from falling but to assist in the transition to a post-Maliki government that will have strong pro-Saudi and Sunni representation. The U.S. military personnel are also in Iraq to protect U.S. assets in the country, including the massive U.S. embassy complex in Baghdad and U.S. oil industry interests.
There were varying unsubstantiated reports at the time of Bandar’s dismissal that he had been assassinated or wounded while visiting rebel-held positions in Syria. Other reports stated that Bandar, affectionately known by the Bush family as “Bandar Bush” because of his close ties to the American political dynasty, was poisoned in an internal Saudi feud aimed at eliminating the influence of Bandar, the chief of the Sudairi clan within the House of Saud. The clan also includes Prince Turki, also a former Saudi intelligence chief, and Crown Prince Salman, the heir apparent to the throne after King Abdullah dies.
Bandar was brought back into a significant position as adviser to King Abdullah in order to carry out the Saudi and Israeli master plan for the region. The Riyadh-Jerusalem axis has agreed that Iraq as a nation must cease to exist. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently publicly endorsed an independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq. The advance of ISIL forces into Iraq has convinced Turkey, long opposed to Kurdish statehood in Iraq, to support the idea or possibly face ISIL in charge of Kurdistan. The Turkish government has also started negotiations with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), considered a terrorist group by Turkey but now seen as a potential partner for Turkey against an ISIL takeover of Iraqi Kurdistan.
An ISIL on the move also gives Israel a powerful argument for why it must remain in charge of the West Bank. With ISIL changing its name from “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” to the more all-encompassing “Islamic State,” there is a belief, backed by recent public statements by ISIL leader and self-proclaimed “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, that ISIl’s plans for an Islamic caliphate include Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and beyond. Baghdadi has called for an Islamic revolt from the Central African Republic to Myanmar. For Netanyahu, ISIl’s offensive gives him political ammunition for not only maintaining control over the West Bank but in sabotaging the new Palestinian unity government of Fatah and Hamas.
Bandar’s goal is to eliminate the current governments of Syria and Iraq, thus depriving Iran of its only two allies in the region. With a radical Sunni caliphate in charge in Baghdad, ISIL will be poised to cross the Iranian border and start a rebellion among Iran’s Arab minority in Khuzestan province, the center of Iran’s oil industry. With ISIL gaining control of Iraq’s southern oil fields as well as part of the fields bordering Iraqi Kurdistan, the takeover by a Saudi proxy of Iran’s oil province would give Saudi Arabia effective control over much of the Middle East’s oil reserves. The shift of political and economic clout to Riyadh would also eliminate Qatar and its Muslim Brotherhood-aligned government as a serious rival to Saudi regional hegemony.
Bandar not only has Brennan in his corner in Washington but also Senator John McCain (R-AZ) who, while attending the February Munich Security Conference, said, “Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar.” McCain echoed similar comments he made earlier on CNN. In 2012, McCain covertly crossed into Syria from Turkey and was photographed with radical Islamists, some of whom are now fighting with ISIL in Iraq.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).