A former US Army psyops officer named Scott Bennett has published a report titled "Shell Game" alleging that data on al-Qaeda's finances are hidden from US intelligence and military by US government officials at the highest levels. It opens with an executive summary alleging that:

  • unnamed members of the intelligence community are committing treason.
  • unnamed people responsible for "intentional" intelligence failures.
  • Union Bank of Switzerland banker Brad Birkenfeld was jailed for reporting terrorist funding to US intelligence agencies.
  • Booz Allen Hamilton fired Bennett for reporting terrorist finance issues up the chain of command.
  • Edward Snowden turned traitor after seeing what happened to Birkenfeld.
  • Bennett predicted the Benghazi attack.
  • The Department of Justice attempted to assassinate a whistleblower.

Bennett ties together so many big claims that the report is difficult to believe. I almost stopped reading at this point. The report opens like a crime novel, not a report. The facts are buried under layers of rhetoric. Stripping that away, Bennett makes a number of notable specific claims. These claims include:

About Booz:

  • Booz Allen Hamilton ran the terrorist finance investigation unit of the US Central Command. It was called the Optimus Foundation and stationed in Fort MacDill. Bennett worked there.
  • BAH antiterrorist officials include Mike Maravilla, William Lubliner, Troy Hensely, and Bob Thompson.

About Bennett

  • Bennett worked counterterrorism and psyops at the State Department before he joined the Army, and was given a "VIP" flight to Florida on the executive jet of Eric Olson, head of US Special Operations Command.
  • Shortly after arriving in Florida, Bennett was arrested off-base by MPs, interrogated for 12 hours, and beaten by Detective Edward Garcia and Lt. Col. Martin Mitchell. The supposed justification for the arrest was a failure to properly register privately owned firearms that he had declared.
  • Mitchell distributed "BOLO" wanted posters of Bennett to every US military post showing his picture and describing him as an Army intelligence officer investigating al-Qaeda's money supply. Bennett describes this as an attempt to have him killed by supposing that the information would reach al-Qaeda through a spy.
  • The Army made some kind of policy change "due to negative stigma given to Psychological Operations by another defense contractor named Mike Furlong", a former coworker of Bennet.
  • Bennett forecasted the Benghazi attack in report written two years before the incident on the subject of the Furlong-inspired psych policy change and a prediction of its strategic impact.
  • After writing the psych report, Bennett was prosecuted by the Department of Justice for the earlier gun incident. Bennett claims that this is the first time in US history that the military has surrendered its jurisdiction to civilian authorities.
  • Assistant US Attorney Sara Sweeney "invented all kinds of exaggerations, had me followed by Secret Service, and engaged in the same illegal harassment which the Justice Dept. had employed against Senator Ted Stevens", and Special Assistant US Attorney Timothy Goins dressed in a US Air Force uniform to give the jury the impression that the military supported the prosecution.
  • Bennett is selling a book titled Conspiracy, Torture, and Betrayal at US Central Command. It is self-published on Lulu and the single review is not good.

About the DoJ:

  • Attorney General Eric Holder and Assistant AG Lanny Breuer formerly worked for UBS and suppressed attempts to prosecute the company.
  • The DoJ "assassination attempt" against Birkenfeld was in the form of writing a letter to UBS claiming that Birkenfeld was giving away proprietary banking information. The letter was forged in the name of an Islamic "international banking friend" in London. The letter came from the CIA substation in Bern.
  • Bennett suspects DoJ attorneys Kevin O'Connor and Kevin Downing of being behind the forgery against Birkenfeld, and alleges that the two have connections to Rudy Giuliani and an Abdullah Azziz named as an al-Qaeda financier in Matt Taibbi's article Too Big To Jail. There is no one by that name in Taibbi's article, but it does mention Sulaiman bin Abdul Aziz Al Rajhi of the SAAR Foundation. Bennett also calls the Golden Chain the "Golden Triangle".


  • Edward Snowden personally observed CIA communications regarding the operation against Birkenfeld and turned traitor because of it.
  • In 2009, Hillary Clinton agreed to jail Birkenfeld and release two Uighur terrorists from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for "the US being given preferential status on a Swiss financial treaty." This treaty is likely the US-Switzerland tax information exchange treaty of 2009 The detainees are likely Arkin Mahmud and Bahtiyar Mahnut who were transferred to Switzerland in February 2010 (according to Wikipedia).
  • Birkenfeld's information was not known to the Optimus Foundation, the National Counterterrorism Center, Treasury's Office of Terrorism and Financial intelligence, the Defense Intelligence Operations Coordination Center, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, SOCOM, JSOC, CENTCOM, CAPOC, or EUCOM.
  • Senator Carl Levin personally suppressed Birkenfeld's report on al-Qaeda's finances from reaching Army intelligence. The evidence is that Birkenfeld claims to have given Levin this information, and it did not spread any further.
  • President Obama personally suppressed Birkenfeld's information as repayment for campaign contributions from Robert Wolf. No evidence is presented.

Overall conclusions:

Bennett does not seem like a reliable source. The report is written like a work of fiction. The most sweeping stuff is most likely bullshit.

The most serious allegations, in the sense of being able to take them seriously, hinge on the presumption of Birkenfeld having this information about al-Qaeda financing.

[Edit Feb 11] Regarding the naming of "Fort MacDill", from a comment to WaPo in 2009:

FYI, yello, if you Google "Fort MacDill" with quotes around it, you get 160 hits, the gist of which are that Fort MacDill is the informal nickname of the two Army headquarters based inside the larger MacDill AFB complex. One is CENTCOM, Central Command, Gen. Petraus's outfit, the unit with jurisdiction over the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters. The other is SOCOM, Special Operations Command, one of Clancy's great loves. ... It would appear that Clancy did his homework so well he knew the special "insider" nickname of CENTCOM and SOCOM. Posted by: Curmudgeon- | May 29, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

A bunch of financial data from HSBC was leaked to a consortium of journalists. What they have released so far includes this scrap of information about Abdul-Karim Dan Azoumi which is small enough that I will copy it in full:

Abdoul-Karim Dan-Azoumi is the owner of Badica, the largest diamond exporter in the Central African Republic (CAR). An October 2014 United Nations report by a panel of experts branded Dan-Azoumi’s company a key financial backer of the rebel Seleka group which has been fighting government forces in the CAR conflict that has resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians. The United Nations alleged that fees paid by Dan-Azoumi’s companies to Séléka rebels in order to illegally export diamonds allowed the rebels to remain armed. Dan-Azoumi lives in Antwerp, Belgium’s diamond capital.

Dan-Azoumi became an HSBC client in 2000. He was linked to five bank accounts. Two of them were associated with a client account under the name of “Kampala Holdings S.A.,” which lists Dan-Azoumi as beneficial owner. The maximum amount in the account in 2006/2007 was $467,592. The other three bank accounts belonged to a numbered client account, which was closed in 2006. He was linked to “32618 BG” alongside another individual. HSBC bank communications explain that the bank closed the account for the benefit of an offshore account that was going to have Dan-Azoumi as beneficial owner.

So according to this report, this guy was a key financier of al-Qaeda's invasion of the Central African Republic (mentioned earlier and earlier). Neither this guy or his company appear in a web search, and I cannot find this supposed United Nations report. Al-Qaeda had been involved in the West African diamond trade in the 1990s, as described in Douglas Farah's book Blood From Stones.


Feb. 11th, 2014 05:52 pm

The latest news from the Central African Republic is the retaliatory ethnic cleansing of Muslims by everyone else. Considering the recent history, it's odd that this is actually getting into the mainstream media and that this violence is being allowed by the powers that be.

The "Seleka" "rebel" alliance swept across the country in an instant and deposed the then-existing government. The only resistance they met was a South African peacekeeping force which they defeated by sending human waves until the South Africans ran out of ammo and surrendered. Western reaction: it's the middle of Africa, so nobody cares. Local reaction: every neighbouring country immediately recognized Seleka as the legitimate government.

Then we started getting reports from Christian missionaries who said that the "rebel" alliance was actually foreign fighters from al-Qaeda killing everyone, and the old Seleka commanders were only figureheads. This was allowed to go on for a year with all media considering that this was not news. There were rare reports of "bandits" or "highwaymen" appearing deeper into the rural areas as time went on, but these were reported as crime stories and not considered as part of the war.

Then there was a report that 20% of the country's population had fled their homes to escape the Muslims. Finally, the French sent peacekeepers to the country. Tens of thousands of refugees headed to the airport expecting the French to protect them. The French ignored them. Seleka's commanders were honored guests, even as the refugees accused them of war crimes. The French were there for the sole purpose of disarming the "anti-machete" militias fighting against Seleka. These militias had been threatening to recapture the capitol before the French arrived. So that became the stable state of affairs for a few months.

Very suddenly, the head of Seleka surrenders the country and Chad removes thousands of Muslim foreign fighters as "refugees". A new non-Muslim leader is appointed, and the survivors of the war start ethnically cleansing Muslims wherever they can find them. The peacekeepers are sitting back and letting it happen. With the foreign fighters out of the area, the targets are going to be the locals who were there before the war and may not have had any part in it.

It seems like foreign powers were involved and backroom deals were made at every major shift in power. Somebody financed and armed Seleka. Somebody convinced the other African governments to support Seleka and give no aid to the old CAR gov. Somebody convinced the French that disarming the local militia was a good idea. Somebody convinced the French and the world community to make a 180-degree shift in their policy toward the country. Somebody decided to allow the foreign fighters to escape rather than trying them for war crimes or at least identifying them. Somebody decided to let the victors have their bloodletting. None of this was done in public.

Rumour has it that the old CAR government, before the invasion, had just made a mining deal with China. This little bit of possibly non-information is the closest thing I have to a piece of the puzzle.

When the mainstream media bothers to report on the Central African Republic, they say that a generic rebel movement overthrew the government. There is hope that democracy shall now flourish, but with rebels being rebels, don't get your hopes up.

A quite different story is told by Wayne Madsen on April 17: The Salafists move into central Africa

The Qatari- and Saudi-backed Salafists, Muslim radicals who follow the extreme radical Wahhabi sect of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the rest of the Gulf, have now moved into a governing position in the Central African Republic (CAR).


Some reports out of central Africa claim that Obama sent U.S. troops into the CAR, Uganda, and South Sudan not to capture Kony but to help the Qatari- and Saudi-backed Seleka, UFDR, UFR, and the Darfur-based Sudan Liberation Army overthrow Bozize, Deby, and declare Darfur independent, thus creating the right conditions for the establishment of an Islamic emirate in the Sahel region of central Africa.

The attempt by the Qatari and Saudi Salafists to extend their reach into Sudan, Chad, and the CAR have the support of CIA chief John O. Brennan, a veteran of the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca and someone whose Saudi links are so close, CIA personnel have started calling him "Shaikh Brennan" and "Brennan of Arabia."

A month later, there is a report from the Barnabas Fund, a Christian aid group:

A pastor in CAR said that “a reign of terror” is being conducted against Christians by the Seleka rebels who took over the country in a bloody coup on 24 March. A number of Christians have been killed or wounded.

The church leader said that the rebels have a hit list of pastors and other Christian workers, and that places of worship are being attacked. Christian property is being looted.

And back in March, there was a report from one anonymous Internet user claiming to be a "peace observer" in CAR:

The Central African Republic has gone from bad to the worst with the ousting of the president at least accepted multiculturalism, democracy and freedom! We are facing now a group of people who look like Taliban(Afganistan), Boko Haram(in Nigeria), or fanatic muslim brotherhood! evidences are that they systematically destroyed, or looted shops run by people of different faith like christians but they not destroy business run by the "muslim brotherhood"

  • In Bangui the Capital city those who conive with them and clap for them are mostly muslim if any by stander clap, it is out of fear,
  • Some people who connive with them point finger at other people properties or businesses and those seleka rebel would go and loot and kill.
  • Their leaders call it collateral dommage? it is not, they are tracking down any friend or any person who was friend to the ousting president and killed them. If they were fighting for the people and democracy, why electricity, running water, and telephones lines are not yet re-established after 72 hours? Those ruthless criminals shut down all those services so that they can kill the people and hide the evidences then deny any crime against humanity accusation!

I heard from Cameroon afriend of Bozize called Mr. Ngaidiro was killed cold blooded by the Seleka rebels. Bozize thoough he has a huge support of his KNK( work just work) and as a general escaped to avoid another Rwanda in CAR, because the local conspirators were accusing him and his sons of distributing guns to young people….. but the Seleka has failed from day one to secure the population, Killings, rape, beating, torturing, lootings, all types of atrocities are happening, they have been holding the civilian population in hostages for several months without basic services. After the democratic elections all the Seleka members should face international tribunal with their sponsors like Al Bechir and Idris Deby. Those two are united in their evil plan and muslim faith….for them all other people are infidels, or has forgotten their God as they say.

The Central African Republic is in a strategic location, Al Bechir and Idriss Deby envy that country, and the French know that but the French is considering their interest in mineral resources only while those two islamist are looking to deep into many things. So this newly forceful terrorist regime should be isolated and the learder punished soon

So... how much of Madsen's story was correct?

(Background: Madsen is extremely controversial and has a reputation of making stuff up for the blog hits.)

Edit May 29: Here is a third report claiming that Seleka "are the jihadists, probably paid for by someone from the outside ... The situation is very similar to that of Mali".

On Madsen's accusation of US aid to Seleka, The US Special Forces, with Ugandan assistance, were set up in Obo on the southeast corner of CAR between tribal-held South Sudan and the undeveloped northern Congo. All three sides -- the Americans, the South Sudanese, and the Ugandans -- would not have approved of weapons transfers to Seleka, and somebody would have talked.

Absent the construction of a newer road through the unpopulated eastern CAR, a land route from Obo would need to pass along southern Route 2 through Mboki, Zemio, and Bangassou. Seleka took Bangassou in March with no opposition, suggesting a long-standing presence in the area. The next major city on the proposed Obo arms route would be Bambari, which opens to the Seleka-controlled northeast. Seleka seized Bambori last year. An Obo / Route 2 arms route would require bypassing any CAR security presence in Bangassou and the smaller towns. While possible, the Chadian and Darfur routes proposed by the anonymous commenter are more direct, going directly into Seleka-controlled territory; and air traffic destined for Obo could also theoretically have gone straight to Seleka.

On the question of Chad's involvement, Idriss Deby has called for a larger multinational force in the CAR. Also, Exiled CAR leaders accuse Chadian forces of leading the attack on Bangui. An interesting part of that last article is that the Economic Community Of Central African States has already recognized Seleka as the sole legitimate government of CAR.

Edit June 11: I found so little to support the theory of US aid to Seleka that I stopped looking and did not get around to posting notes until now.

Were any USAID projects in CAR? The only one I could find was that USAID fixed 137km of road between Bozoum and Bossangoa, in the northwestern Ouham and Ouham-Pende provinces. These are outside Seleka's core area and likely have no relation to the war. Side note: Bandits attacked Bouca, Ouham around May 18. Bouca is further east of the USAID road project and there is not enough information to connect it to the war.

For the eastern Obo operation, The USAID partnered with Catholic Relief Services. That does not sound like an organization likely to supply arms to jihadists, if those reports are true. As of 2008, the CRS representative for CAR was Jennifer Nazair. LinkedIn now says she is the rep for Rwanda. The RFA for the SECC program was managed y Ketan Sood, Daniel Harter, and Regional Agreement Officer John A. May.

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