Just plain Osama

— That La Mesa-based Saudi Arabian who reportedly got thousands of dollars from Saudi Princess Haifa al Faisal prior to the World Trade Center attacks owes the U.S. government some back taxes. According to county records, the Internal Revenue Service filed a tax lien against Osama Y. Bassnan for $5638 on February 2 of this year. Congressional investigators say they discovered that the princess, wife of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., began sending monthly $2000 checks to Bassnan's wife, Majeda Dweikat, in January 1999. And the ambassador himself reportedly gave Bassnan $15,000, all supposedly because he needed assistance for his kids and ailing spouse, who underwent thyroid surgery. After 9/11, Bassnan was linked to another San Diego-based Saudi national, Omar al-Bayoumi, who had befriended two of the men who wound up hijacking Flight 77 and flying it into the Pentagon. At least one of the checks the Bassnans got from the princess was signed over to al-Bayoumi's wife, and the money ultimately made its way to the hijackers. Al-Bayoumi subsequently left the country and, after being arrested and released in London, disappeared back into Saudi Arabia. Will the IRS ever collect the taxes it says are owed by Bassnan? Unlikely, since the government charged him and his wife with visa fraud and deported them back to Saudi Arabia two months ago. Their six children are reportedly U.S. citizens.

Speed rocker Thai princess Ubol Ratana, onetime Del Mar resident and friend of ex-con Dick Silberman, has returned to her homeland, where she has become a rock star with a cause. The eldest child of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Ratana, 51, was once married to La Jolla's Peter Jensen, who along with Silberman, onetime husband of ex-San Diego mayor Susan Golding, ran the ill-fated Yuba Natural Resources gold-mining venture back in the 1970s. In 1999, Ratana got into a nasty divorce spat with Jensen involving custody of their three children in which she charged that Jensen was using them as a "bargaining chip." After that, she moved back to Thailand. These days the great-great-granddaughter of King Mongkut of Siam is campaigning against her country's methamphetamine dealers by donning "skin-tight jeans" and singing anti-drug songs at local rock concerts. According to an interview she recently gave to the Sunday Times of London, her two daughters live with Jensen and a son with her in Thailand. "I'm a single mum now. I've got nobody to look after me, apart from my three children, who are the best thing in my life. Now I'm back in Thailand; I am going to make a difference. I can't be ordinary anymore. In America I was just a person. Here I am the princess."

Fatherly intervention Just before the city council elections last month, Monsignor "Father Joe" Carroll, the homeless housing czar, dispatched a letter to his charity mailing list. "I am writing -- for once -- not to ask for a donation, but for a favor," the letter began. "I have wasted too much time in recent years fighting politicians who fail to recognize the causes I believe in. I fought a valiant and successful battle to be placed in City Council District 2. Now that the District 2 seat has come up for election, I believe Kevin Faulconer will provide the most balanced, realistic, and compassionate support for the causes to which I have dedicated my life." On election day, Faulconer went down to defeat at the hands of Michael Zucchett ... Attorney Mike Aguirre, the bane of San Diego mayor Dick Murphy, is hosting a weekend get-together of some of the city's biggest dissidents to map out plans to effect policies and practices ranging from use of city-owned land to the Chargers' stadium deal to the coming airport imbroglio ... John Walton, the Wal-Mart billionaire who once lived in Bonita but now hails from Wyoming's Jackson Hole, contributed $6 million last year to School Futures, the San Diego-based charter- school management operation. Walton is also a big backer of San Diego Unified School District superintendent Alan Bersin, having given more than $20,000 this year in an effort to elect Bersin-backed school-board candidates ... The widow of Tsunao Saito, the UCSD Alzheimer's researcher gunned down along with his 13-year-old daughter on the night of May 9, 1996, as they arrived at their La Jolla home, has finally won her legal battle with a Japanese magazine publisher over suggestions she had something to do with the killings -- which San Diego police have never solved. Last week the supreme court of Japan upheld a 350,000-yen defamation verdict for Shizue Saito against Shukan Bunshun.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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