In a 1998 interview, Osama bin Laden — the terrorist organizer of 9/11 who still roams free — listed as one of his many grievances against the U.S. that Americans “have stolen $36 trillion from Muslims” by purchasing oil from Persian Gulf countries at low prices. The real price of a barrel of oil should be $144, bin Laden demanded.
One month after 9/11, the New York Times wrote of possible “nightmare” scenarios that would deliver bin Laden’s goal. Neela Banerjee warned that among the “misguided decisions” that would put oil supplies at risk would be “that the United States attacks Iraq.” The Times included this quote in its story:
“If bin Laden takes over and becomes king of Saudi Arabia, he’d turn off the tap,” said Roger Diwan, a managing director of the Petroleum Finance Company, a consulting firm in Washington. “He said at one point that he wants oil to be $144 a barrel” — about six times what it sells for now.
Bin Laden didn’t have to become king of Saudi Arabia to achieve his goal; in fact, Bush’s policies delivered it for him. The Bush administration’s catastrophic decision to invade Iraq, sink the nation into debt to pay for that war, and consequently, weaken the dollar have all caused oil prices to soar astronomically.
Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee last May, Anne Korin, the co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, reminded Congress about bin Laden’s goal:
[A]bout ten years ago, Osama bin Laden stated that his target price for oil is $144 a barrel and that the American people, who allegedly robbed the Muslim people of their oil, owe each Muslim man, woman, and child $30,000 in back payments. At the time, $144 a barrel seemed farfetched to most. […]
I would like to impress upon this Committee that $144 a barrel oil will be perceived as a victory for the Jihadist movement and a reaffirmation that the economic warfare component of its campaign against the West is a resounding success. There is no need to elaborate on the implications of such a victory in terms of loss of U.S. prestige and our ability to prevail in the Long War of the 21st century.
Indeed, ten years later, a mission accomplished for bin Laden.