Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Gum Arabic And Bin Laden

A story that broke days after Bin Laden was named as instigator of the the September 11th attacks but was quickly buried again was the discovery that Bin Laden's fortune was in part due to his holdings in the Sudan Gum Arabic industry.
As Gum Arabic is an important ingredient in soft drink syrups, sweets and chewing gum there was a short lived hysteria that every time a soft drink is sold or a stick of gum chewed, Osama bin Laden's wealth increased and with it the power of his terrorist network to wage war on the West.
As 80% of the ingredient is supplied by the Sudanese Gum Arabic Company, and as Bin Laden had owned a large slice of it, it was a reasonable assumption to make that we were all unwittingly adding to Bin Laden's £200 million fortune.
Disturbed by the thought that consumers would leave their wares on the shelves, the National Soft Drinks Association put out a press release stating that 'American industries that utilise gum arabic from Sudan obtain the final form of the product from domestic importers under the licensed approval of the US State Department who are very specific that it has no evidence that Bin Laden has any interest in the Sudanese gum arabic industry'. 
A US State Department report from 1998 on the links between Bin Laden and the Sudanese Gum Arabic industry explained that while Bin Laden had been a major shareholder in the Sudanese Gum Arabic company, he had 'divested himself of all holdings in 1996'.
Not so much a story after all as it would be a stretch to say that each can of coke you drank profited Bin Laden's banks balance and helped fund his war on the West, well, not those you drank after 1996 anyway.

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