04-27-03, 09:04 AM
MP may be tried as traitor <br />
Antony Barnett and Martin Bright <br />
Sunday April 27, 2003 <br />
The Observer <br />
George Galloway, the anti-war Labour MP who is suing over allegations he secretly took money...
04-27-03, 09:05 AM
How Scottish feuds were reignited in desert sands <br />
As George Galloway fights for his political life, Stephen Khan explains how old rivalries in Dundee have come to a head in Baghdad <br />
04-27-03, 09:06 AM
Fresh doubts surface over embattled MP
Martin Bright, Antony Barnett and Mark Hollingsworth
Sunday April 27, 2003
The embattled Labour MP George Galloway acted as the secret 'emissary' for a British-based Islamic dissident who purchased a satellite phone supplied to al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
The phone was used by Osama bin Laden and his associates to plan the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.
Further details of Galloway's relationship with Saad al-Fagih, a fundamentalist opponent of the Saudi regime, emerged this weekend as the Glasgow MP continued to fight for his political life.
A former media adviser to Saudi dissidents in London has told The Observer that Galloway, who last week denied that he had received money from Saddam Hussein's regime, flew to Morocco on 2 February 1996 for a secret meeting to discuss the political situation in Saudi Arabia. Only two others were present: Crown Prince Mohammed (now the King) and a senior Moroccan intelligence official.
The meeting was arranged by the Moroccan embassy in London to explore the possibility of negotiations between the Saudi dissidents in the UK, including al-Fagih and the House of Saud. Galloway has always spoken out against bin Laden and Islamic terrorism and there is no suggestion he supported al-Fagih's relationship with al-Qaeda.
However the disclosure of this secret meeting raises further concerns over his involvement with foreign political interests. Speaking from Portugal, Galloway refused to comment on this trip or his relationship with al-Fagih.
Galloway was unaware that, just months after his trip to Morocco on al-Fagih's behalf, the Saudi purchased an 'Exact-M' satellite phone on behalf of bin Laden's representative in London, Khalid al-Fawaaz.
It was later shipped to bin Laden's second-in-command, Mohammed Atef. Al-Fawaaz was tried in absentia for the African embassy bombings and is now in Belmarsh prison fighting extradition to the US.
At the time of his secret trip to Morocco, Galloway was giving advice to Islamic dissidents in London, including al-Fagih and Mohammed al-Masaari, a Saudi dissident whom the Government was seeking to deport. Galloway was closely associated with the Committee for Defence of Legitimate Rights, a Saudi opposition group run jointly by the two Saudis.
In May of that year, he was reported to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards over allegations that he had not declared his interest when he spoke in a Commons debate on Saudi Arabia. Galloway told the investigation that he did not receive money from CDLR, but was simply reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses by al-Fagih.
The commissioner found that he had not broken the rules, but expressed 'concern that he was acting on behalf of an overseas interest'.
According to John Franklin-Webb, who worked as a media adviser for the CDLR for 18 months, Galloway's discreet overtures to the Saudi royal family were carried out with al-Fagih's blessing. Franklin-Webb claims the Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah also approved the meeting.
According to Franklin-Webb's account, at the end of the meeting Galloway was asked to board a private jet to fly to Saudi Arabia for talks. Galloway initially tried but failed to contact al-Fagih and so did not fly. Al-Fagih refused to comment on Galloway but said: 'We have always rejected any overtures made by the Saudi regime.'