Old Wives' Tales
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Toxin du jour
Claim: Osama bin Laden owns extensive gum arabic holdings.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2001]
Origins: The September 11 2001 attack on America has given rise to numerous rumors, some of which center on where terrorist Osama bin Laden gains his financing. In the wake of the attacks, rumors and and several erroneous media reports have linked him and his financial interests to a number of organizations and industries around the
The exact extent of bin Laden's fortune can only be guessed at. The most commonly mentioned figures indicate he is worth approximately
Gum arabic is a resin that is used as an emulsifier in soft drinks, a thickener in candies and jellies, a binder in special-purpose inks and drugs, even a foam stabilizer in beer. Its name derives from the fact that the gum was shipped to Europe from Arabic ports.
According to The National Soft Drink Association: "The U.S. State Department was very specific in saying it has no evidence that bin Laden has any interest in the Sudanese gum arabic industry." (The National Soft Drink Association is the premier trade association representing the broad spectrum of companies that manufacture and distribute alcohol free beverages in the United States.)
American industries that utilize gum arabic from Sudan — confectionery, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals dietary fiber, printing and some citrus-based soft drinks — obtain the final form of the product from domestic importers under the licensed approval of the U.S. State Department.Barbara "ungummed" Mikkelson
In a September 15, 1998 Baltimore Sun article, a U.S. State Department official said bin Laden divested himself of all (Sudanese) holdings when he was expelled from Sudan in 1996. In that same report, the Sun, quoting another State Department official said, "Bin Laden and his cronies tried to take over all the gum arabic crop in the early 1990's, 'but failed in their attempt.'"
Additionally, the Gum Arabic Company of Sudan, Ltd., which controls all gum arabic exports from Sudan, repeatedly has denied any bin Laden involvement in the gum arabic market in Sudan, dating back to 1969.
Gum Arabic (The National Soft Drink Association)
Last updated: 7 March 2008
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