New VPC Report Debunks
Gun Industry Claim That Bin Laden's 50 Caliber Sniper Rifles Were Obtained
Through CIA Aid Program
to Shift Blame to CIA
Former CIA Officials, Corroborating Documents, Give Lie to Industry Red
Violence Policy Center (VPC) today released a study rebutting gun industry
claims that twenty-five 50 caliber sniper rifles obtained by Osama bin
Laden in the 1980s were part of U.S. government aid to Afghan rebels fighting
Soviet invaders. Based on interviews with the top three former Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA) officials who ran the Afghan-aid program, sworn
court testimony, and other independent sources, the report�The
U.S. Gun Industry and Others Unknown: Evidence Debunking the Gun Industry's
Claim that Osama bin Laden Got His 50 Caliber Sniper Rifles From the U.S.
Afghan-Aid Program�demonstrates that the Barrett rifles bought
by bin Laden were not part of the U.S. freedom fighter aid program.
A VPC report issued
last October�Voting from the Rooftops:
How the Gun Industry Armed Osama bin Laden, other Foreign and Domestic
Terrorists, and Common Criminals with 50 Caliber Sniper Rifles�revealed
that Osama bin Laden's organization now known as Al Qaeda bought 25 powerful
Barrett 50 caliber military anti-materiel sniper rifles in the late 1980s.
It noted that the military sniper rifles are easier to buy legally in
the United States than handguns. Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Inc.
and its president, Ronnie G. Barrett, claimed in response that bin Laden's
25 rifles were transferred as part of the U.S. Afghan-aid program. Barrett
made these assertions despite the sworn testimony of bin Laden associate
Essam al Ridi, cited in the VPC report, that al Ridi had shipped the guns
"We went straight
to the top of the former Afghan-aid program and worked our way down,"
said Tom Diaz, VPC senior policy analyst. "We interviewed the former CIA
counter-terrorism chief, the former CIA Pakistan station chief, and the
former CIA official who bought weapons in the United States. They absolutely
rejected Barrett's claims and insisted that the U.S. program never helped
bin Laden directly or indirectly, and specifically not with any Barrett
sniper rifles. Barrett is apparently more interested in hiding behind
its own government than in helping stop the flow of its killer guns to
Diaz added that the
VPC sent Ronnie G. Barrett an overnight letter on January 10, 2002 asking
for any documentation he might have supporting his version of the bin
Laden transaction, but it has received no reply.
The VPC report concludes
that the 25 rifles were bought in the United States by an agent of bin
Laden, Essam al Ridi, who shipped them abroad�just as he recounted in
sworn testimony in a federal district court�by unknown means. The report
cites this as merely one example among many of how the U.S. gun industry
has increasingly manufactured weapons of extreme lethality that are ridiculously
easy for terrorists like Al Qaeda legally to buy in the civilian market.
"This is dangerous and risky for American security," states the report.
The Violence Policy Center is a
national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence
in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals.
The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research
on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related
death and injury.
Wednesday, Februay 13, 2002
Violence Policy Center
(202) 822-8200 x105