- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Adventures of Bandar

He is the illegitimate son of a Saudi prince and a servant girl who grew up to be a dashing fighter pilot, one of the most influential ambassadors in Washington and a real-life international man of mystery.

If some men live history, Prince Bandar bin Sultan manipulated it.

“He started as a playboy prince,” said William Simpson, author of the new biography “The Prince: The Secret Story of the World’s Most Intriguing Royal.”

“He helped bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union. … He subverted Italian democracy. … He was the world’s largest arms dealer. He hoodwinked the United States by concealing Saudi Arabia’s purchase of Chinese weapons.”

Besides all of that, Prince Bandar likes the book, Mr. Simpson said at a book party Tuesday at the Library of Congress.

“He gave a copy to the president,” he added, referring to President Bush.

Mr. Simpson called the Saudi diplomat a “colorful Bedouin prince” who dealt in “intrigue and deception” and endeared himself to the world’s most powerful leaders, including PresidentsReagan and George Bush, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, South African President Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul II.

Prince Bandar was the Saudi ambassador in Washington from 1983 to 2005 and held the prestigious position of dean of the diplomatic corps, which gave him front-row attention in Washington’s ceremonial events. He also had unparalleled access to the Oval Office.

Mr. Simpson, a former British air force officer, met Prince Bandar when they were classmates at the Royal Air Force College in Cranwell, England. Their lives crossed again when Mr. Simpson decided to write his book. Prince Bandar cooperated but had no editorial control over the final product, Mr. Simpson said.

The revelations in the book describe how Prince Bandar:

• Conspired with John Paul, Mr. Reagan, Mrs. Thatcher and Saudi Crown Prince Fahd to deposit $10 million into the Vatican bank to use in the political campaign against Italian communists in the 1983 election.

• Delivered an ultimatum from the first President Bush and the Saudi government, telling Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to withdraw his troops from Afghanistan in the 1980s.

• Helped Saddam Hussein negotiate an end to the eight-year Iran-Iraq war and later manipulated the Iraqi dictator into refusing to withdraw from Kuwait, thus ensuring a U.S.-led invasion to dislodge him.

• Tricked the U.S. National Security Agency into revealing the flight times of U.S. spy satellites, allowing the Saudis to conceal the purchase of nuclear-capable Chinese missiles.

• Helped Mr. Reagan win Senate approval for the sale of Airborne Warning And Control System surveillance aircraft to Saudi Arabia but conceal from Congress a $50 billion plan to build proxy U.S. military bases in the kingdom.

• Developed a close friendship with first lady Nancy Reagan, which allowed him to influence the selection and resignation of key Cabinet members.

• Acquired hundreds of billions of dollars in military equipment to become “the biggest arms dealer in history.”

Mr. Mandela sent a letter to Mr. Simpson, praising his book as a “valuable and overdue tribute” to “my dear friend, Prince Bandar.”

When he was not conspiring on behalf of Saudi Arabia or the United States, he entertained lavishly in his mansion in McLean, his chalet in Vail, Colo., or his country home in Britain. He made some singers swoon.

Roberta Flack, the popular soul, jazz and folk singer who attended the book party, called Prince Bandar a “gorgeous hunk of a man.”

Judith Regan, who published the book and once reported for the National Enquirer, called the book “the greatest tabloid story I’ve ever published.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

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