December, President Bush named Thomas Kean, the former Republican
governor of New Jersey, chairman of an independent commission examining
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But FORTUNE has learned that Kean
appears to have a bizarre link to the very terror network he's
Here's how the dots connect: Kean is a director of petroleum
giant Amerada Hess, which in 1998 formed a joint venture--known as
Delta Hess--with Delta Oil, a Saudi Arabian company, to develop oil
fields in Azerbaijan. One of Delta's backers is Khalid bin Mahfouz, a
shadowy Saudi patriarch married to one of Osama bin Laden's sisters.
Mahfouz, who is suspected of funding charities linked to al Qaeda, is
even named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by families of Sept. 11
victims. True, Hess is hardly the only company to cross paths with
Mahfouz: He has shown up in dealings with, among others,
ultra-secretive investment firm Carlyle Group and BCCI, the lender
toppled by fraud in 1992.
Kean, who was unavailable for comment, may not have been aware
of the Mahfouz connection. But Hess spokesman Carl Tursi did reveal
another interesting coincidence: Three weeks before Kean's appointment,
Hess severed its ties with Delta.