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Better Late than Never: Appellate Court Clears the Way for 9/11 Families to Sue Saudi Arabia

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained here. (The flash drive includes the anti-fascist books avail­able on this site.)

COMMENT: Two recent items are worthy of noting–an appellate court has cleared the way for families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia, and the 28 pages redacted from the 9/11 Joint Intelligence Committee report are once again a topic of public discussion.

If the plaintiffs can get access to those 28 pages, things could get very interesting indeed. 

A point worth noting concerns the plaintiffs interest in the role of “charities” in financing the 9/11 attacks. That investigation could–conceivably–head toward Muslim charities linked with the Bank al-Taqwa. IF the 9/11 lawsuit were to proceed in the direction of Youssef Nada, Bank al-Taqwa the SAAR Network, the Safa Trust, and the overlapping Islamic Free Market Institute , the investigation would ensnare some very interesting individuals and institutions.

Not only would Grover Norquist, Karl Rove and Talat Othman come under scrutiny, but the al-Taqwa investigation would go back to Francois Genoud, Nada, Achmed Huber and the Underground Reich

Sadly, Operation Green Quest has remained almost completely buried, ignored by the major media, as well as the so-called “alternative” media. It has been deliberately eclipsed by the so-called “Truther” movement, financed by the very interests that executed the attacks.

“9/11 Families ‘Ecstatic’ They Can Finally Sue Saudi Arabia” by By Aaron Katersky and Russell Goldman [ABC News]; Yahoo News; 12/20/2011.

Families of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks today celebrated a federal court’s ruling that allows relatives of people who died in the 9/11 terror attacks to sue Saudi Arabia.

Most of the hijackers who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001 were from Saudi Arabia, and the complaint states that much of the funding for the al-Qaeda terrorists came from Saudi Arabia.

An attempt to Saudi Arabia in 2002 was blocked by a federal court ruling that said the kingdom had sovereign immunity. That ruling was reversed Thursday by a three-judge federal panel.

“I’m ecstatic…. For 12 years we’ve been fighting to expose the people who financed those bastards,” said William Doyle, the father of Joseph Doyle, 25, a Cantor-Fitzgerald employee who was killed in the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

“Christmas has come early to the 9/11 families. We’re going to have our day in court,” he told ABCNews.com.

The ruling struck down an earlier decision that found Saudi Arabia immune from lawsuits. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it’s in the “interests of justice” to allow them to proceed.

Families who lost loved ones in the Sept. 11 attacks and insurers who lost billions of dollars covering damaged businesses have alleged Saudi Arabia bankrolled al-Qaeda, knowing the money would be used for terrorism.

The lawsuit, filed a decade ago by the Philadelphia firm Cozen O’Connor, accuses the Saudi government and members of the royal family of serving on charities that financed al-Qaeda operations.

“9/11 Link To Saudi Ara­bia Is Topic Of 28 Redacted Pages In Gov­ern­ment Report; Con­gress­men Push For Release” by Jamie Reno; Inter­na­tional Busi­ness Times; 12/9/2013.

Since ter­ror­ists attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, vic­tims’ loved ones, injured sur­vivors, and mem­bers of the media have all tried with­out much suc­cess to dis­cover the true nature of the rela­tion­ship between the 19 hijack­ers – 15 of them Saudi nation­als – and the Saudi Ara­bian gov­ern­ment. Many news orga­ni­za­tions reported that some of the ter­ror­ists were linked to the Saudi roy­als and that they even may have received finan­cial sup­port from them as well as from sev­eral mys­te­ri­ous, mon­eyed Saudi men liv­ing in San Diego.

Saudi Ara­bia has repeat­edly denied any con­nec­tion, and nei­ther Pres­i­dent George W. Bush nor Pres­i­dent Obama has been forth­com­ing on this issue.

But ear­lier this year, Reps. Wal­ter B. Jones, R-N.C., and Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., were given access to the 28 redacted pages of the Joint Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Inquiry (JICI) of 9/11 issued in late 2002, which have been thought to hold some answers about the Saudi con­nec­tion to the attack.

“I was absolutely shocked by what I read,” Jones told Inter­na­tional Busi­ness Times. “What was so sur­pris­ing was that those whom we thought we could trust really dis­ap­pointed me. I can­not go into it any more than that. I had to sign an oath that what I read had to remain con­fi­den­tial. But the infor­ma­tion I read dis­ap­pointed me greatly.”

The pub­lic may soon also get to see these secret doc­u­ments. Last week, Jones and Lynch intro­duced a res­o­lu­tion that urges Pres­i­dent Obama to declas­sify the 28 pages, which were orig­i­nally clas­si­fied by Pres­i­dent George W. Bush. It has never been fully explained why the pages were blacked out, but Pres­i­dent Bush stated in 2003 that releas­ing the pages would vio­late national security.

While nei­ther Jones nor Lynch would say just what is in the doc­u­ment, some of the infor­ma­tion has leaked out over the years.A mul­ti­tude of sources tell IBTimes, and numer­ous press reports over the years in Newsweek, the New York Times, CBS News and other media con­firm, that the 28 pages in fact clearly por­tray that the Saudi gov­ern­ment had at the very least an indi­rect role in sup­port­ing the ter­ror­ists respon­si­ble for the 9/11 attack. In addi­tion, these clas­si­fied pages clar­ify some­what the links between the hijack­ers and at least one Saudi gov­ern­ment worker liv­ing in San Diego.

For­mer Sen. Bob Gra­ham, D-Fla., who chaired the Joint Inquiry in 2002 and has been beat­ing the drum for more dis­clo­sure about 9/11 since then, has never under­stood why the 28 pages were redacted. Gra­ham told IBTimes that based on his involve­ment in the inves­ti­ga­tion and on the now-classified infor­ma­tion in the doc­u­ment that his com­mit­tee pro­duced, he is con­vinced that “the Saudi gov­ern­ment with­out ques­tion was sup­port­ing the hijack­ers who lived in San Diego…. You can’t have 19 peo­ple liv­ing in the United States for, in some cases, almost two years, tak­ing flight lessons and other prepa­ra­tions, with­out some­one pay­ing for it. But I think it goes much broader than that. The agen­cies from CIA and FBI have sup­pressed that infor­ma­tion so Amer­i­can peo­ple don’t have the facts.”

Jones insists that releas­ing the 28 secret pages would not vio­late national security.

“It does not deal with national secu­rity per se; it is more about rela­tion­ships,” he said. “The infor­ma­tion is crit­i­cal to our for­eign pol­icy mov­ing for­ward and should thus be avail­able to the Amer­i­can peo­ple. If the 9/11 hijack­ers had out­side help – par­tic­u­larly from one or more for­eign gov­ern­ments – the press and the pub­lic have a right to know what our gov­ern­ment has or has not done to bring jus­tice to the perpetrators.”

It took Jones six weeks and sev­eral let­ters to the House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee before the clas­si­fied pages from the 9/11 report were made avail­able to him. Jones was so stunned by what he saw that he approached Rep. Lynch, ask­ing him to look at the 28 pages as well. He knew that Lynch would be aston­ished by the con­tents of the doc­u­ments and per­haps would join in a bipar­ti­san effort to declas­sify the papers.

“He came back to me about a week ago and told me that he, too, was very shocked by what he read,” Jones said. “I told him we need to join together and put in a res­o­lu­tion and get more mem­bers on both sides of the aisle involved and demand that the White House release this infor­ma­tion to the pub­lic. The Amer­i­can peo­ple have a right to know this information.”

A decade ago, 46 sen­a­tors, led by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., demanded in a let­ter to Pres­i­dent Bush that he declas­sify the 28 pages.

The let­ter read, in part, “It has been widely reported in the press that the for­eign sources referred to in this por­tion of the Joint Inquiry analy­sis reside pri­mar­ily in Saudi Ara­bia. As a result, the deci­sion to clas­sify this infor­ma­tion sends the wrong mes­sage to the Amer­i­can peo­ple about our nation’s antiter­ror effort and makes it seem as if there will be no penalty for for­eign abet­tors of the hijack­ers. Pro­tect­ing the Saudi regime by elim­i­nat­ing any pub­lic penalty for the sup­port given to ter­ror­ists from within its bor­ders would be a mis­take…. We respect­fully urge you to declas­sify the 28-page sec­tion that deals with for­eign sources of sup­port for the 9/11 hijackers.”

All of the sen­a­tors who signed that let­ter but one, Sen. Sam Brown­back (R-Kansas), were Democrats.

Lynch, who won the Demo­c­ra­tic pri­mary for his con­gres­sional seat on that fate­ful day of Sept. 11, 2001, told IBTimes that he and Jones are in the process of writ­ing a “Dear Col­league” let­ter call­ing on all House mem­bers to read the 28 pages and join their effort.

“Once a mem­ber reads the 28 pages, I think whether they are Demo­c­rat or Repub­li­can they will reach the same con­clu­sion that Wal­ter and I reached, which is that Amer­i­cans have the right to know this infor­ma­tion,” Lynch said. “These doc­u­ments speak for them­selves. We have a sit­u­a­tion where an exten­sive inves­ti­ga­tion was con­ducted, but then the Bush [admin­is­tra­tion] decided for what­ever pur­poses to excise 28 pages from the report. I’m not pass­ing judg­ment. That was a dif­fer­ent time. Maybe there were legit­i­mate rea­sons to keep this clas­si­fied. But that time has long passed.”

Most of the alle­ga­tions of links between the Saudi gov­ern­ment and the 9/11 hijack­ers revolve around two enig­matic Saudi men who lived in San Diego: Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Bas­nan, both of whom have long since left the United States.

In early 2000, al-Bayoumi, who had pre­vi­ously worked for the Saudi gov­ern­ment in civil avi­a­tion (a part of the Saudi defense depart­ment), invited two of the hijack­ers, Khalid Almi­hd­har and Nawaf Alhazmi, to San Diego from Los Ange­les. He told author­i­ties he met the two men by chance when he sat next to them at a restaurant.

Newsweek reported in 2002 that al-Bayoumi’s invi­ta­tion was extended on the same day that he vis­ited the Saudi Con­sulate in Los Ange­les for a pri­vate meeting.

Al-Bayoumi arranged for the two future hijack­ers to live in an apart­ment and paid $1,500 to cover their first two months of rent. Al-Bayoumi was briefly inter­viewed in Britain but was never brought back to the United States for questioning.

As for Bas­nan, Newsweek reported that he received monthly checks for sev­eral years total­ing as much as $73,000 from the Saudi ambas­sador to the United States, Prince Ban­dar, and his wife, Princess Haifa Faisal. Although the checks were sent to pay for thy­roid surgery for Basnan’s wife, Majeda Dweikat, Dweikat signed many of the checks over to al-Bayoumi’s wife, Manal Bajadr. This money allegedly made its way into the hands of hijack­ers, accord­ing to the 9/11 report.

Despite all this, Bas­nan was ulti­mately allowed to return to Saudi Ara­bia, and Dweikat was deported to Jordan.

0Sources and numer­ous press reports also sug­gest that the 28 pages include more infor­ma­tion about Abdus­sat­tar Shaikh, an FBI asset in San Diego who Newsweek reported was friends with al-Bayoumi and invited two of the San Diego-based hijack­ers to live in his house.

Shaikh was not allowed by the FBI or the Bush admin­is­tra­tion to tes­tify before the 9/11 Com­mis­sion or the JICI.

Gra­ham notes that there was a sig­nif­i­cant 9/11 inves­ti­ga­tion in Sara­sota, Fla., which also sug­gests a con­nec­tion between the hijack­ers and the Saudi gov­ern­ment that most Amer­i­cans don’t know about.

The inves­ti­ga­tion, which occurred in 2002, focused on Saudi mil­lion­aire Abdu­laziz al-Hijji and his wife, Anoud, whose upscale home was owned by Anoud al-Hijji’s father, Esam Ghaz­zawi, an adviser to Prince Fahd bin Salman bin Abdu­laziz al-Saud, the nephew of Saudi King Fahd.

The al-Hijji fam­ily report­edly moved out of their Sara­sota house and left the coun­try abruptly in the weeks before 9/11, leav­ing behind three lux­ury cars and per­sonal belong­ings includ­ing cloth­ing, fur­ni­ture and fresh food. They also left the swimming-pool water circulating.

Numer­ous news reports in Florida have said that the gated community’s vis­i­tor logs and pho­tos of license tags showed that vehi­cles dri­ven by sev­eral of the future 9/11 hijack­ers had vis­ited the al-Hijji home.

Gra­ham said that like the 28 pages in the 9/11 inquiry, the Sara­sota case is being “cov­ered up” by U.S. intel­li­gence. Gra­ham has been fight­ing to get the FBI to release the details of this inves­ti­ga­tion with Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act (FOIA) requests and lit­i­ga­tion. But so far the bureau has stalled and stonewalled, he said.

Lynch said he didn’t know how the Obama admin­is­tra­tion would respond to the con­gres­sional res­o­lu­tion urg­ing declas­si­fi­ca­tion, if it passes the House and Senate.

“But if we raise the issue, and get enough mem­bers to read it, we think we can get the cur­rent admin­is­tra­tion to revisit this issue. I am very opti­mistic,” he said. “I’ve talked to some of my Demo­c­ra­tic mem­bers already, and there has been recep­tiv­ity there. They have agreed to look at it.”

Discussion

11 comments for “Better Late than Never: Appellate Court Clears the Way for 9/11 Families to Sue Saudi Arabia”

  1. H.Res.428 – Urging the president to release information regarding the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks upon the United States.
    113th Congress (2013-2014)

    http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th/house-resolution/428/text

    Posted by Stu Kallio | December 22, 2013, 7:34 pm
  2. Posted by Stu Kallio | December 22, 2013, 11:51 pm
  3. Saudi-Sized Cracks in the 9/11 Wall of Silence
    By Russ Baker on Dec 19, 2013

    http://whowhatwhy.com/2013/12/19/saudi-sized-cracks-in-the-911-wall-of-silence/

    Posted by Stu Kallio | December 22, 2013, 11:56 pm
  4. http://www.thecuttingedgenews.com/index.php?article=82746&pageid=37&pagename=Page+One

    Inside the Saudi 9/11 coverup
    Paul Sperry January 7th 2014
    NY Post

    Twin Towers 9/11

    After the 9/11 attacks, the public was told al Qaeda acted alone, with no state sponsors. But the White House never let it see an entire section of Congress’ investigative report on 9/11 dealing with “specific sources of foreign support” for the 19 hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudi nationals.

    It was kept secret and remains so today.

    President Bush inexplicably censored 28 full pages of the 800-page report. Text isn’t just blacked-out here and there in this critical-yet-missing middle section. The pages are completely blank, except for dotted lines where an estimated 7,200 words once stood (this story by comparison is about 1,000 words).

    A pair of lawmakers who recently read the redacted portion say they are “absolutely shocked” at the level of foreign state involvement in the attacks.

    Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) can’t reveal the nation identified by it without violating federal law. So they’ve proposed Congress pass a resolution asking President Obama to declassify the entire 2002 report, “Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.”

    Some information already has leaked from the classified section, which is based on both CIA and FBI documents, and it points back to Saudi Arabia, a presumed ally.

    The Saudis deny any role in 9/11, but the CIA in one memo reportedly found “incontrovertible evidence” that Saudi government officials — not just wealthy Saudi hardliners, but high-level diplomats and intelligence officers employed by the kingdom — helped the hijackers both financially and logistically. The intelligence files cited in the report directly implicate the Saudi embassy in Washington and consulate in Los Angeles in the attacks, making 9/11 not just an act of terrorism, but an act of war. The findings, if confirmed, would back up open-source reporting showing the hijackers had, at a minimum, ties to several Saudi officials and agents while they were preparing for their attacks inside the United States. In fact, they got help from Saudi VIPs from coast to coast:

    LOS ANGELES: Saudi consulate official Fahad al-Thumairy allegedly arranged for an advance team to receive two of the Saudi hijackers — Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi — as they arrived at LAX in 2000. One of the advance men, Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi intelligence agent, left the LA consulate and met the hijackers at a local restaurant. (Bayoumi left the United States two months before the attacks, while Thumairy was deported back to Saudi Arabia after 9/11.)

    SAN DIEGO: Bayoumi and another suspected Saudi agent, Osama Bassnan, set up essentially a forward operating base in San Diego for the hijackers after leaving LA. They were provided rooms, rent and phones, as well as private meetings with an American al Qaeda cleric who would later become notorious, Anwar al-Awlaki, at a Saudi-funded mosque he ran in a nearby suburb. They were also feted at a welcoming party. (Bassnan also fled the United States just before the attacks.)

    WASHINGTON: Then-Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar and his wife sent checks totaling some $130,000 to Bassnan while he was handling the hijackers. Though the Bandars claim the checks were “welfare” for Bassnan’s supposedly ill wife, the money nonetheless made its way into the hijackers’ hands.

    Other al Qaeda funding was traced back to Bandar and his embassy — so much so that by 2004 Riggs Bank of Washington had dropped the Saudis as a client.

    The next year, as a number of embassy employees popped up in terror probes, Riyadh recalled Bandar.

    “Our investigations contributed to the ambassador’s departure,” an investigator who worked with the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington told me, though Bandar says he left for “personal reasons.”

    FALLS CHURCH, VA.: In 2001, Awlaki and the San Diego hijackers turned up together again — this time at the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center, a Pentagon-area mosque built with funds from the Saudi Embassy. Awlaki was recruited 3,000 miles away to head the mosque. As its imam, Awlaki helped the hijackers, who showed up at his doorstep as if on cue. He tasked a handler to help them acquire apartments and IDs before they attacked the Pentagon.

    Awlaki worked closely with the Saudi Embassy. He lectured at a Saudi Islamic think tank in Merrifield, Va., chaired by Bandar. Saudi travel itinerary documents I’ve obtained show he also served as the ­official imam on Saudi Embassy-sponsored trips to Mecca and tours of Saudi holy sites.

    Most suspiciously, though, Awlaki fled the United States on a Saudi jet about a year after 9/11.

    As I first reported in my book, “Infiltration,” quoting from classified US documents, the Saudi-sponsored cleric was briefly detained at JFK before being released into the custody of a “Saudi representative.” A federal warrant for Awlaki’s arrest had mysteriously been withdrawn the previous day. A US drone killed Awlaki in Yemen in 2011.

    HERNDON, VA.: On the eve of the attacks, top Saudi government official Saleh Hussayen checked into the same Marriott Residence Inn near Dulles Airport as three of the Saudi hijackers who targeted the Pentagon. Hussayen had left a nearby hotel to move into the hijackers’ hotel. Did he meet with them? The FBI never found out. They let him go after he “feigned a seizure,” one agent recalled. (Hussayen’s name doesn’t appear in the separate 9/11 Commission Report, which clears the Saudis.)

    SARASOTA, FLA.: 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta and other hijackers visited a home owned by Esam Ghazzawi, a Saudi adviser to the nephew of King Fahd. FBI agents investigating the connection in 2002 found that visitor logs for the gated community and photos of license tags matched vehicles driven by the hijackers. Just two weeks before the 9/11 attacks, the Saudi luxury home was abandoned. Three cars, including a new Chrysler PT Cruiser, were left in the driveway. Inside, opulent furniture was untouched.

    Democrat Bob Graham, the former Florida senator who chaired the Joint Inquiry, has asked the FBI for the Sarasota case files, but can’t get a single, even heavily redacted, page released. He says it’s a “coverup.”

    Is the federal government protecting the Saudis? Case agents tell me they were repeatedly called off pursuing 9/11 leads back to the Saudi Embassy, which had curious sway over White House and FBI responses to the attacks.

    Just days after Bush met with the Saudi ambassador in the White House, the FBI evacuated from the United States dozens of Saudi officials, as well as Osama bin Laden family members. Bandar made the request for escorts directly to FBI headquarters on Sept. 13, 2001 — just hours after he met with the president. The two old family friends shared cigars on the Truman Balcony while discussing the attacks.

    Bill Doyle, who lost his son in the World Trade Center attacks and heads the Coalition of 9/11 Families, calls the suppression of Saudi evidence a “coverup beyond belief.” Last week, he sent out an e-mail to relatives urging them to phone their representatives in Congress to support the resolution and read for themselves the censored 28 pages.

    Astonishing as that sounds, few lawmakers in fact have bothered to read the classified section of arguably the most important investigation in US history.

    Granted, it’s not easy to do. It took a monthlong letter-writing campaign by Jones and Lynch to convince the House intelligence panel to give them access to the material.

    But it’s critical they take the time to read it and pressure the White House to let all Americans read it. This isn’t water under the bridge. The information is still relevant ­today. Pursuing leads further, getting to the bottom of the foreign support, could help head off another 9/11.

    As the frustrated Joint Inquiry authors warned, in an overlooked addendum to their heavily redacted 2002 report, “State-sponsored terrorism substantially increases the likelihood of successful and more ­lethal attacks within the United States.”

    Their findings must be released, even if they forever change US-Saudi relations. If an oil-rich foreign power was capable of orchestrating simultaneous bulls-eye hits on our centers of commerce and defense a dozen years ago, it may be able to pull off similarly devastating attacks today.

    Members of Congress reluctant to read the full report ought to remember that the 9/11 assault missed its fourth target: them.

    Paul Sperry is a Hoover Institution media fellow and author of “Infiltration” and “Muslim Mafia.”

    Posted by Vanfield | January 8, 2014, 11:57 am
  5. It’s worth noting that the 9/11 victims’ families who won the right to sue the government of Saudi Arabia over its role in the 9/11 plot lost that right last month

    The Independent
    US judge rules 9/11 victims’ families cannot sue Saudi Arabia over alleged links to terror attack
    15 of the 9/11 attackers came from Saudi Arabia

    Rose Troup Buchanan
    Tuesday 6 October 2015

    A US judge has told the families of those killed in the 9/11 terror attacks they cannot sue Saudi Arabia over claims the country helped Al Qaeda carry out the atrocity.

    Manhattan District Judge George Daniels said that because Saudi Arabia enjoys sovereign immunity, which means a state cannot commit a legal wrong and therefore can’t be prosecuted in either criminal or civil cases, any attempt to sue the kingdom would be “futile”.

    He said that, despite the best efforts of families to provide additional evidence against the country, their claims would not “strip defendants of sovereign immunity.”

    “The allegations in the complaint alone do not provide this court with a basis to assert jurisdiction over defendants,” Daniels wrote on Tuesday.

    Families, as well as insurers that covered losses from the buildings and local businesses, had secured testimony from Zacarias Moussaoui, a former al-Qaeda operative imprisoned for his actions.

    But this effort proved fruitless as Judge Daniels refused to consider the case in Manhattan.

    Lawyers from both parties declined to on comment on the situation.

    In the years following the tragedy, civil action against Saudi Arabia has proceeded in fits and starts.

    So that’s pretty unfortunate.

    And in other international legal liability news…:

    The Washington Post
    If you keep saying Saudi Arabia is like ISIS, you might get sued

    By Adam Taylor
    November 26, 2015

    Authorities in Saudi Arabia have long been annoyed that everyone keeps suggesting they are anything like the Islamic State. Sure, they say, perhaps some of the laws on the books may look similar to the punishments in the extremist organization, but the Saudi kingdom is a sovereign state that abides by the rule of law and uses these punishments with discretion.

    Now, reports in the Saudi press suggest that authorities have a new tactic for those who compare them to the Islamic State: taking them to court. According to a report in pro-government newspaper Al Riyadh, the Saudi justice ministry is planning to sue a Twitter user who suggested that a death sentence recently handed out to a Palestinian artist for apostasy was “ISIS-like.”

    “Questioning the fairness of the courts is to question the justice of the Kingdom and its judicial system based on Islamic law, which guarantees rights and ensures human dignity,” a source in the justice ministry told the newspaper, according to a translation by Reuters. The ministry would not hesitate to sue “any media that slandered the religious judiciary of the Kingdom,” the source added.

    It is unclear who the Twitter user in question is, though his or her comments would have referred to the case of Ashraf Fayadh. According to Human Rights Watch, documents show that Fayadh was investigated for blasphemy, spreading atheism and having an illicit relationship with women, based on pictures found on his phone. After initially being sentenced to 800 lashes and four years in prison, he was retried and on Nov. 17 was sentenced to death.

    However, the comparison to the Islamic State appears to be a particular bone of contention for the Saudi kingdom. Speaking to NBC News earlier this year, Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki justified the use of capital punishments such as beheadings in the kingdom by saying the country’s Shariah-based legal system ensures fairness. “ISIS has no legitimate way to decide to decide to kill people,” Al-Turki said, adding that “the difference is clear.”

    “ISIS has no legitimate way to decide to decide to kill people…the difference is clear.”
    Yep, the difference between ISIS and Saudi justice system are like the difference between night and day (during a permanent solar eclipse). In retrospect, it’s difficult to imagine how anyone could see anything but differences between the two. What a new fun game.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 30, 2015, 10:28 am
  6. 28 rather notorious pages from the Congressional 9/11 investigation were just released, albeit with some redactions. It doesn’t sound like there were any big surprises in 28 pages, although that might be due in part to the fact that the pages point towards possibility that the 9/11 hijackers received assistance from Saudi government employees and we already knew that:

    Bloomberg Politics

    9/11 Attackers May Have Had Saudi Help, Classified Report Says

    Nafeesa Syeed
    July 15, 2016 — 1:03 PM CDT
    Updated on July 15, 2016 — 1:40 PM CDT

    * Lawmakers issuing long-secret pages call information unvetted
    * Saudis have said allegations of involvement are untrue

    Saudi nationals connected to the government in Riyadh may have aided some of the Sept. 11 hijackers in the U.S. before they carried out their attacks, according to a long-classified portion of a congressional inquiry.

    The 28-page section was made public Friday by the House Intelligence Committee with some portions blacked out after U.S. intelligence agencies delivered on a long-pending promise to declassify it as sought by the families of the almost 3,000 victims of the attacks.

    “While in the United States, some of the September 11 hijackers were in contact with, and received support or assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi government,” the report said.

    Saudi officials and the head of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency have long said the 28 pages provide no evidence that the U.S. ally was involved in the attacks, and American lawmakers underscored that in releasing the material.

    “It’s important to note that this section does not put forward vetted conclusions, but rather unverified leads that were later fully investigated by the intelligence committee,” Representative Devin Nunes of California, the committee’s Republican chairman, said in a statement.

    Complaints have re-emerged in recent months from some Americans, including relatives of Sept. 11 victims, that Saudi Arabia or organizations and wealthy individuals based there have financed groups linked to terrorism or failed to crack down on militants. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers in the 9/11 attacks were identified as Saudi nationals.

    The U.S. commission that investigated the 2001 attacks said in its 2004 report that it “found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior officials within the Saudi government funded al-Qaeda.”

    But some current and former members of Congress have said that formulation left room for less direct involvement and pressed for the release of the 28 classified pages. A CBS “60 Minutes” report in April suggested a Saudi diplomat “known to hold extremist views” may have helped the hijackers after they traveled to the U.S. to prepare for the attacks.

    White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Friday that “we do not think” the 28 pages shed any new light on a Saudi role in the Sept. 11 attacks. He said release of the “investigative material” is in keeping with the Obama administration’s commitment to transparency even though he acknowledged that “it did take quite some time for the decision to be made.”

    On June 17, Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir called the 28 pages an “internal U.S. matter, not a Saudi matter” and said when to release them was up to U.S. officials. But he added that the Saudi government has urged the U.S. to release the 28 pages since 2002, when they were initially classified. At that time, Prince Saud al-Faisal, who was foreign minister, came to Washington with a message from then-Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz to President George W. Bush, according to al-Jubeir.

    “In the White House we said we would like the 28 pages released so that we can respond to any allegations against us and so that we can punish any Saudis that may have been involved in this plot,” al-Jubeir told reporters at the Saudi embassy in Washington. “But we cannot because we don’t think it’s fair or just to respond to blank pages. That has been our position.”

    The foreign minister also said the Saudis understand that investigations were “conducted into the allegations that are in the 28 pages and that those investigations have revealed that these allegations are not correct,” al-Jubeir said. “They don’t hold. These allegations are unsubstantiated, unproven and nobody should make a big deal out of them.”

    ‘Inherited a History’

    Saudi officials have pointed to statements from U.S. officials supporting their position, including an interview CIA Director John Brennan did with the Saudi-owned Arabic news channel Al Arabiya on June 12 in which he said the 28 pages were part of “a very preliminary review.”

    “People shouldn’t take them as evidence of Saudi complicity in the attacks,” Brennan said. “Indeed, subsequently the assessments that have been done have shown it was very unfortunate that these attacks took place but this was the work of al-Qaeda, al-Zawahiri, and others of that ilk.”

    But Brennan also has addressed the underlying concern about the kingdom’s embrace, since its founding more than eight decades ago, of Wahhabism, a deeply conservative branch of Sunni Muslim theology that has proved fertile ground for terrorists.

    “The Saudi government and leadership today has inherited a history whereby there have been a number of individuals both inside of Saudi Arabia as well as outside who have embraced a rather fundamentalist — extremist in some areas — version of the Islamic faith, which has allowed individuals who then move toward violence and terrorism to exploit that and capitalize on that,” Brennan said in a speech in Washington on July 13.

    ““It’s important to note that this section does not put forward vetted conclusions, but rather unverified leads that were later fully investigated by the intelligence committee,” Representative Devin Nunes of California, the committee’s Republican chairman, said in a statement.”

    That is indeed important to note that the 28 pages was primarily about investigative leads. But it’s worth keeping in mind that a number of the people calling for the release of these 28 pages include the people that actually investigated those leads. People like 9/11 Commissions members:

    Mother Jones

    9/11 Commissioner Says Saudi Government Members Supported the Attack
    “Our report should never have been read as an exoneration of Saudi Arabia.”

    Max J. Rosenthal
    May 12, 2016 1:42 PM

    A former member of the 9/11 Commission says Saudi government officials offered support to the hijackers, and he joined the growing chorus calling for the government to release 28 classified pages of the commission’s report that may detail the roles those Saudi officials played.

    John Lehman, a former Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan, told the Guardian, “There was an awful lot of participation by Saudi individuals in supporting the hijackers, and some of those people worked in the Saudi government.” Details of their involvement are found in the 28 classified pages of the 9/11 Commission report, he said. The Obama administration says it may release those pages soon.

    The original report found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization,” and the commission’s leaders wrote an op-ed last month saying that the 28 classified pages should not be released. Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, the 9/11 Commission’s chairman and vice-chairman, argued that “the 28 pages were based almost entirely on raw, unvetted material that came to the FBI” and were more akin to “preliminary law enforcement notes,” not solid evidence.

    But Lehman says the report was too lenient on the Saudis, and that the commission saw “an awful lot of circumstantial evidence” that Saudi officials, likely members of the kingdom’s Islamic affairs ministry, were involved. “Our report should never have been read as an exoneration of Saudi Arabia,” he said during his Guardian interview.

    “John Lehman, a former Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan, told the Guardian, “There was an awful lot of participation by Saudi individuals in supporting the hijackers, and some of those people worked in the Saudi government.” Details of their involvement are found in the 28 classified pages of the 9/11 Commission report, he said. The Obama administration says it may release those pages soon

    Keep in mind that the “28 pages” were both in the 9/11 Commission report and also the congressional report. Whatever John Lehman saw as a 9/11 Commissioner presumably backed up or at least raised seriously questions related to the content of those 28 pages. Also note that 9/11 Commission staff director, Phil Zelikow, reportedly worked to prevent any thorough investigation of potential Saudi government involvement.

    So when we hear about how the content of those pages were speculative and subsequent investigations found no smoking gun, don’t forget that the people calling for the release of the 28 pages include the people involved in those subsequent investigations and who were allowed to investigate.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 15, 2016, 1:41 pm
  7. I was interested to note a guy called Abdullah bin Laden, I am not sure which of the many, was a friend of Mohammed Qaduir Harunani, and that Harunani had Atta’s father and sisters phone numbers.

    It’s the only time I heard about Atta’s father outside of Daniels work.

    Posted by Adam | July 16, 2016, 12:24 pm
  8. For the first time what we really need is a truth movement

    Posted by Adam | July 18, 2016, 4:51 am
  9. Here’s a rather interesting tension to watch unfold following Donald Trump’s enthusiastic trip to Saudi Arabia: after pledging to invest hundreds of billion of dollars into the US economy the Saudi government has something it would like to see in return (beyond all the weapons its buying and a possible war with Iran): reversing the law that law that would allow the relatives of 9/11 victim to sue the Kingdom. Part of what makes this tension so interesting is that it doesn’t sound like there’s actually a lot Trump can do about changing that law, but there’s still an apparent expectations among many Saudis that he has the power to change this and if he doesn’t there’s going to be some very hurt feelings

    McClatchy

    Saudis gave the U.S. $360b in deals. Now they want Trump to rescind 9/11 lawsuit law.

    By Anita Kumar
    May 22, 2017 6:12 PM

    RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA

    President Donald Trump struck a series of deals with Saudi Arabia on his two-day visit but the kingdom is still anxiously waiting for him to deliver on something else: the repeal of a contentious 2016 law that allows relatives of 9/11 victims to sue the kingdom for their deaths.

    Saudi officials have been quietly lobbying the administration and Congress to overturn the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which led more than 800 families to file suit in New York in March.

    The problem: Trump supported the bill and can’t do much to change it even if he wanted to. Still, Saudis are convinced the man they consider the ultimate salesman will make a deal.

    “Do you think he will agree after all these activities we are doing for him?” asked Abdulnasser Gharem, a well-known Saudi artist who went to high school with two of the 9/11 hijackers in his hometown of Namas. Altogether, 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis.

    Gharem, who has incorporated the 9/11 attacks into his artwork – he says he’s forbidden from showing it in Saudi Arabia – said Saudis, too, had suffered.

    “We were the same; we were victims. Someone like me in the middle of nowhere was affected by what happened in New York, but no one was listening to us,” he said during an interview at his Riyadh studio.

    U.S. and Saudi officials did not raise the issue publicly during Trump’s visit, the first stop on the first foreign trip of his presidency, and White House and National Security Council staff declined to comment on the issue. A Saudi official downplayed the topic, saying the kingdom had many pressing issues to discuss with U.S. officials, including the war in Syria, threats from nearby Iran and the civil war in Yemen.

    But Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Khalid al Falih, said in an an interview in March that his nation believed that the new administration and Congress would eventually reverse course, and others here see it as a major source of conflict.

    “If Trump supports the JASTA, he will lose the relationship with Saudi Arabia,” Mohammed Alhamza, a social researcher and writer, said bluntly through a translator during an interview in his Riyadh home, reflecting a view heard widely among Saudis.

    “Do you expect Trump will pass JASTA after (billions of) Saudi riyals went to the United States?”Alhamza asked, a reference to a series of agreements Trump and Saudi King Salman had signed totaling $360 billion in weapons sales and economic development.

    Like many Saudis, Alhamza thinks someone else helped the hijackers commit their sophisticated attacks and he is angry about a law he said was passed with no evidence that his nation was to blame and that could hurt his country economically.

    #POTUSAbroad in Riyadh, Saudi ArabiaSee more at https://t.co/HwWT5vo2Dg pic.twitter.com/DDnRURa5Oo— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 22, 2017

    The Saudi hijackers lived in Florida, California, Virginia and New Jersey before the attacks. All of them died in the worst terrorist attack in history, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

    Trump, however, has little incentive to revisit the law, which is popular with his supporters who want someone punished for the terrorist attack. He’s lost leverage on Capitol Hill, even with members of his own party, as the White House remains embroiled in investigations into whether his campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the presidential election.

    “The image of an American president going to Saudi Arabia and coming back, and then asking the Congress to be nice to Saudi Arabia . . . I don’t think that’s going to sell very well,” said Bruce Riedel, a former senior adviser to the last four presidents who is now a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

    Just before he left on his trip, a group representing the survivors and nearly 10,000 family members of victims wrote to Trump asking him to ignore any pressure from the Saudis to weaken the law and denounce their lobbying efforts.

    “We expect that the Saudis will try to convince you to betray the 9/11 families,” wrote Terry Strada, national chair of the 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism. “They will not put it that way, but will instead argue that you should ‘fix’ JASTA to eliminate ‘unintended consequences.’ Please do not let them get away with this dishonest approach. The Saudis do not want to ‘fix’ JASTA; they want you and Congress to pass a new law that arms them with a special defense against our lawsuits.”

    Congress passed the bill last September. President Barack Obama vetoed the measure but lawmakers quickly overrode him, handing him the first veto override of his presidency in his final months in office.

    Trump, then a presidential candidate, criticized Obama and distributed a statement by Rudy Giuliani, who had been the mayor of New York at the time of the attacks, calling Obama’s veto “an insult to those we lost on 9/11.” Trump has said little about the issue since he was inaugurated.

    “Trump is limited in his ability to change this at this point,” said Jordan Tama, a professor in the School of International Service at American University in Washington. “Trump can’t do anything to stop what’s in place. There’s no prospect that would be repealed.”

    The congressional action came after the release of a long-withheld 28-page section of the first U.S. report on the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks outlining possible links between the hijackers and Saudi officials that congressional investigators thought deserved more attention.

    Saudi Arabia organized a massive lobbying to stop the legislation, including asking former military leaders, business executives with interests in Saudi Arabia and veterans to warn lawmakers about the consequences.

    The accusation that Saudi Arabia should be held responsible for the attacks has prompted bitterness.

    Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed al Jubeir made that clear in Washington last year when the debate was raging over the release of the 28 pages that had been originally withheld from the 9/11 Commission report on the attacks.

    “The 28 pages were used . . . to cast aspersions on Saudi Arabia,” he said. “And everybody talked about once they are released it will show incontrovertible proof that Saudi Arabia is guilty. That Saudi Arabia was behind 9/11. That Saudi Arabia committed 9/11. Not true. The 28 pages don’t reveal anything.”

    ———-

    “Saudis gave the U.S. $360b in deals. Now they want Trump to rescind 9/11 lawsuit law.” by Anita Kumar; McClatchy; 05/22/2017

    ““If Trump supports the JASTA, he will lose the relationship with Saudi Arabia,” Mohammed Alhamza, a social researcher and writer, said bluntly through a translator during an interview in his Riyadh home, reflecting a view heard widely among Saudis.”

    That appears to be the Saudi sentiment: if Trump doesn’t deliver he can probably forget about being treated like a king in the future. But keep in mind that that the Said’s aren’t limited to threats against the US in general. Don’t forget Trump’s extensive investment portfolio across the Middle East, including the eight companies he registered in Saudi Arabia while campaigning for president. So, yeah, Trump’s business empire in at least Saudi Arabia could hinge on whether or not he can get that law reversed and there’s no obvious way for him to do it.

    Quid pro uh oh.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 25, 2017, 4:07 pm
  10. With the 16th anniversary of 9/11 upon us, it’s worth keeping in mind that the 9/11 anniversaries shouldn’t just be about remembering the events of that day. There’s also the unfinished business left to be taken care of, like the ongoing lawsuits against the Saudi government that continue to reveal more and more evidence of Saudi government operatives working with the hijackers:

    Harpers

    Crime and Punishment

    Will the 9/11 case finally go to trial?

    By Andrew Cockburn
    September 10, 2017, 9:00 am

    Meeting with the leaders of NATO countries in May, President Trump chastised them sternly for their shortcomings as allies. He took the time, however, to make respectful reference to the ruler of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, whom he had just visited at the start of his first overseas trip as president. “I spent much time with King Salman,” he told the glum-looking cluster of Europeans, calling him “a wise man who wants to see things get much better rapidly.”

    Some might find this fulsome description surprising, given widespread reports that Salman, who took the throne in January 2015, suffers from dementia. Generally seen wearing a puzzled look, the king has been known to wander off in the middle of conversations, as he reportedly did once while talking with President Obama. When speaking in public, he depends on fast-typing aides whose prompts appear on a discreetly concealed monitor.

    Whatever wisdom Trump absorbed from his elderly royal friend, the primary purpose of his trip to Riyadh, according to a former senior U.S. official briefed on the proceedings, was cash — both in arms sales and investments in crumbling American infrastructure, such as highways, bridges, and tunnels. The Trump Administration is “desperate for Saudi money, especially infrastructure investments in the Rust Belt,” the former official told me. An influx of Saudi dollars could generate jobs and thus redound to Trump’s political benefit. As a cynical douceur, the Saudis, derided by Trump during his campaign as “people that kill women and treat women horribly,” joined the United Arab Emirates in pledging $100 million for a women’s-empowerment initiative spearheaded by Ivanka Trump. A joyful president took part in the traditional sword dance and then helped launch a Saudi center for “combating extremism.”

    This was not the first time the Saudis had dangled the prospect of massive investments to leverage U.S. support. “Mohammad bin Salman made the same pitch to the Obama people,” the former official told me. “ ‘We’re going to invest all this money here, you’re going to be our great economic partner, etc.’ Because the Trump Administration doesn’t know much about foreign affairs, they were really seduced by this.”

    The president certainly viewed the visit as a huge success. “We made and saved the U.S.A. many billions of dollars and millions of jobs,” he tweeted as he left Saudi Arabia. The White House soon trumpeted $110 billion in weapons sales and billions more in infrastructure investments, with the total purportedly rising to $350 billion.

    Yet amid the sword dances and flattery, a shadow lingered over the occasion: 9/11. After years of glacial legal progress, the momentous charge that our Saudi allies enabled and supported the most devastating act of mass murder on American soil may now be coming to a resolution. Thanks to a combination of court decisions, congressional action, and the disclosure of long-sequestered government records, it appears increasingly likely that our supposed friend and peerless weapons customer will finally face its accusers in court.

    Over the years, successive administrations have made strenuous efforts to suppress discussion of Saudi involvement in the September 11 attacks, deploying everything from abusive security classification to the judiciary to a presidential veto. Now, at last, we stand a chance of discovering what really happened, largely because of a court case.

    In re Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001, which grew out of a suit filed in 2002 on behalf of bereaved family members and other victims of the attacks, includes a charge of direct Saudi government involvement in 9/11. It also claims that Riyadh directly funded the creation, growth, and operations of Al Qaeda worldwide. The Saudis, though scorning the accusation, have been striving ever more desperately to prevent the case from advancing through the legal system. To that end, they have employed to date no fewer than fifteen high-powered Washington lobbying firms.

    The task is growing more urgent because the kingdom, long confident of essentially unlimited wealth, is facing money problems. Oil prices are in a slump and likely to stay there. The war in Yemen, launched in 2015 by Salman’s appointed heir, Mohammed bin Salman, drags on, costing an estimated $200 million a day, with no end in sight. To alleviate his cash-flow problems, the young prince is set on raising as much as $2 trillion by floating the state-owned oil company, Saudi Aramco, on international stock markets. That is part of the reason the 9/11 lawsuit poses such a threat — it raises the possibility that much-needed cash from the stock sale might never find its way to Riyadh. “They’re afraid they’re going to get a default judgment against them, and some of their domestic assets will be seized,” the former senior official explained to me.

    To Sharon Premoli, one of the more than 6,500 plaintiffs in the lawsuit, that is precisely the goal. On September 11, she had been at her desk at a financial services software company, on the eightieth floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, when American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into the building thirteen floors above her. Fleeing the area, she had almost reached safety when the South Tower came crashing down, propelling her into a plateglass window. Coming to, she found herself lying on top of a dead body. Like many other survivors, she has developed an encyclopedic knowledge of the legal issues around the case, not to mention the world of terrorism and Saudi connections thereto. A multibillion-dollar award “would certainly stop the Saudis from financing terrorism,” she told me. “That’s the whole point of this. It is all about money. If you can cut that off, that would make a serious impact on the dissemination of this rabid ideology around the world.”

    Premoli was more fortunate than Peter Owens, a forty-two-year-old bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald, twenty-four floors above her, who had no chance of escape. He left behind a wife and three children. “It’s kind of sad to look forward to the anniversary,” Kathy Owens told me recently. Each September gives her hope that the recurring news peg will inspire journalists to explore the case. “We started a war because of 9/11 — more than one war — and the wars are still going on,” she said. “Every war we start now, we say it’s because of 9/11. It manages so much of our lives. They keep fighting the war on terror, but we are giving the Saudis a pass, despite all of this evidence.”

    There has always been evidence — in abundance. The Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 began work in February 2002. Congressional investigators soon uncovered numerous failures by the FBI and CIA. The degree of cumulative incompetence was breathtaking. Most egregiously, the CIA had been well aware that two known Al Qaeda operatives, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, were en route to the United States, but the agency had refused to tell the FBI. The FBI, meanwhile, had multiple reports in its San Diego office on locally based Saudis suspected of terrorist associations, but failed to take action.

    San Diego looms large in the recorded history of 9/11, though not because it was the focal point of the plot. While preparing for the operation, the future hijackers had been dispersed around the country, in such places as New Jersey and Florida. The reason we know so much about the West Coast activities of the hijackers is largely because of Michael Jacobson, a burly former FBI lawyer and counterterrorism analyst who worked as an investigator for the Joint Inquiry. Reviewing files at FBI headquarters, he came across a stray reference to a bureau informant in San Diego who had known one of the hijackers. Intrigued, he decided to follow up in the San Diego field office. Bob Graham, the former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told me recently that Robert Mueller, then the FBI director (and now the special counsel investigating connections between Russia and the Trump campaign) made “the strongest objections” to Jacobson and his colleagues visiting San Diego.

    Graham and his team defied Mueller’s efforts, and Jacobson flew west. There he discovered that his hunch was correct. The FBI files in California were replete with extraordinary and damning details, notably the hijackers’ close relationship with Omar al-Bayoumi, a Saudi living in San Diego with a no-show job at a local company with connections to the Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation. The FBI had investigated his possible connections to Saudi intelligence. A couple of weeks after the two hijackers flew into Los Angeles from Malaysia, in February 2000, he had driven up to the city and met with Fahad al-Thumairy, a cleric employed by his country’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs who worked out of the Saudi Consulate. Thumairy, reported to be an adherent of extreme Wahhabi ideology — he was later denied a U.S. visa on grounds of jihadi connections — was also an imam of the King Fahad mosque in Los Angeles County, which the hijackers had visited soon after their arrival.

    After meeting with Thumairy, Bayoumi had driven across town to a Middle Eastern restaurant where he “accidentally” encountered and introduced himself to Hazmi and Mihdhar. He invited them to move to San Diego, found them an apartment, paid their first month’s rent, helped them open a bank account, and introduced them to members of the local Saudi community, including his close friend Osama Bassnan.

    During the time Bayoumi was catering to the hijackers’ needs, his salary as a ghost employee of the aviation company got a 700 percent boost; it was cut when they left town. That was not his only source of extra funds: After Hazmi and Mihdhar arrived in San Diego, Bassnan’s wife began signing over to Bayoumi’s wife the checks she received from the wife of the Saudi ambassador in Washington. The total value reportedly came to nearly $150,000.

    Jacobson also found evidence, noted but seemingly ignored by the bureau, that Hazmi had worked for a San Diego businessman who had himself been the subject of an FBI counterterrorism investigation. Even more amazingly, the two hijackers had been close with an FBI informant, Abdussattar Shaikh. Hazmi had actually lived in his house after Mihdhar left town. Shaikh failed to mention his young Saudi friends’ last names in regular reports to his FBI case officer, or that they were taking flying lessons. Understandably, the investigators had a lot of questions for this man. Nevertheless, Mueller adamantly refused their demands to interview him, even when backed by a congressional subpoena, and removed Shaikh to an undisclosed location “for his own safety.” Today, Graham believes that Mueller was acting under orders from the White House.

    Another intriguing document unearthed by the investigators in San Diego was a memo from July 2, 2002, discussing alleged financial connections between the September 11 hijackers, Saudi government officials, and members of the Saudi royal family. It stated that there was “incontrovertible evidence that there is support for these terrorists within the Saudi Government.”

    Back in 2002, Graham himself was already coming to the conclusion that the 9/11 attacks could not have been the work of a stand-alone terrorist cell. As he later wrote, “I believed almost intuitively that the terrorists who pulled off this attack must have had an elaborate support network, abroad and in the U.S.A.,” with expenses far exceeding the official estimate of $250,000. “For that reason,” he continued, “as well as because of the benefits that come with the confidentiality of diplomatic cover, this infrastructure of support was probably maintained, at least in part, by a nation-state.”

    I asked Graham whether he believed that a careful search of the FBI files in Florida and elsewhere would yield similarly explosive disclosures. He told me that the inquiry would have doubtless discovered whom the hijackers were associating with in those places, and where that money came from. Fifteen years on, Graham still regretted not having pursued the possibility of revelatory FBI files in those other locations “aggressively.” Instead, he lamented, the inquiry ended up “with San Diego being the microscope through which we’ve been looking at this whole plot.”

    Even the comparatively comprehensive accounts of the San Diego phase of the plot may be missing some telling leads. FBI records detailed the close connections between Bayoumi, the hijackers, and a local imam, Anwar al-Awlaki.1 Awlaki apparently served as the hijackers’ spiritual mentor. He soon moved to Northern Virginia, and when Hazmi and another hijacker arrived in the neighborhood in April 2001 to begin their final preparations, he served in that capacity again, and also found them an apartment. Many investigators, including Graham, concluded that Awlaki was not only aware of the developing plot but very much a part of it.

    But before that, Awlaki reportedly served as a senior official of a “charity” — viewed by the FBI as a terrorist fund-raising operation — founded by Abdul Majid al-Zindani, a Saudi-backed cleric in Yemen. Zindani had been the spiritual mentor of Osama bin Laden himself. He also founded a powerful Yemeni political party and headed Iman University in Sanaa, often described as a jihadi recruiting hub. Both of these enterprises were supported by Saudi money.

    In 2004, the U.S. government listed Zindani as a “specially designated global terrorist” and a supporter of Al Qaeda. This in no way interfered with his travels to Saudi Arabia, however. As recently as this February, Zindani was observed in the company of prominent clerics in Mecca. Among those who have drawn attention to this in published reports is Michael Jacobson, who after service with the 9/11 inquiries returned to counterterrorism analysis with the U.S. Treasury. Currently, he is at the State Department. When I called him to discuss Zindani’s relationship with the Saudis, he quickly replied, “I can’t talk about that,” and ended the conversation with the words, “Good luck.”

    After a mere ten months, in December 2002, the Joint Inquiry team presented its report to the CIA for declassification. The agency demanded numerous cuts, only a few of which, in Graham’s view, were justified. But one section had been censored in its entirety: a twenty-eight-page summary, written by Jacobson, of the evidence relating to Saudi government support for the hijackers. It was the only area on which the Bush White House absolutely refused to relent. “The president’s loyalty apparently lay more with Saudi Arabia than with America’s safety,” Graham told me bitterly. To highlight the degree of censorship, he made sure that the published version of the report included the blacked-out pages, much to the irritation of the intelligence community.

    The report concluded that the FBI, in light of its lamentable performance, deserved to be drastically reformed. But many questions remained unanswered. The 9/11 families, now emerging as a powerful lobby, called for a more sweeping probe. In November 2002, Congress had authorized another bipartisan panel, a National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. The initial choice of chairperson for the new probe, Henry Kissinger, drew outrage from 9/11 families, particularly a formidable foursome of well-informed widows known as the Jersey Girls, who questioned his impartiality given his suspected professional ties to prominent Saudis. Rather than divulge his Saudi client list, Kissinger quit. Ultimately, the White House selected in his place two retired politicians — Tom Kean, the former governor of New Jersey, and Lee Hamilton, who had represented Indiana in the House. Neither, especially Hamilton, showed much inclination to challenge the Bush Administration’s preferred version of events.

    For the post of executive director, Kean and Hamilton appointed Philip Zelikow, a historian and national security scholar with strong connections to the Bush Administration. (He had served on the Bush transition team and prepared an important policy paper for his friend Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser.) A forceful personality, Zelikow maintained strict day-to-day control of the investigation. According to The Commission, by the former New York Times reporter Philip Shenon, Dana Lesemann, a Justice Department lawyer who had worked on the prior congressional investigation before transferring to the commission staff, asked for Zelikow’s permission to review the redacted twenty-eight pages. In Shenon’s account, he refused. Bucking his orders, she obtained them anyway, whereupon she was promptly fired.2

    Despite these obstacles, commission staffers did energetically pursue leads uncovered by the original probe. They were therefore frustrated when telling indications of a Saudi connection were largely excluded or downplayed in the main text of the final report. The staffers were, however, able to smuggle much of what they had uncovered into endnotes at the back of the document — an act of small-print, guerrilla-style resistance. For example, Jacobson and a colleague flew to Riyadh to interview Fahad al-Thumairy, the cleric from the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles subsequently banned from the United States as a suspected terrorist. During the interview, with Saudi officials in attendance, Thumairy denied any connection to the plot — in fact, he disclaimed ever having met Bayoumi or the hijackers. The investigators concluded that he was “lying” and “dangerous.” The main text of the report mentions both the allegations and his denials, without coming to any particular conclusion. But lengthy endnotes specify the numerous phone calls between Thumairy and Bayoumi over several years, as well as evidence that Thumairy’s occasional chauffeur had driven Hazmi and Mihdhar, at Thumairy’s request, on sightseeing trips to Sea World and other spots.

    The main conclusion from the final report was that there was “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization.” The Saudi authorities were so pleased by this verdict that they posted the quote on the website of their Washington embassy. The published version of the report was a bestseller, nominated for a National Book Award, and hailed by the novelist John Updike as the greatest masterpiece written by a committee since the King James Bible.

    So far as the U.S. government and most of the media were concerned, there was no need for further investigation. But the Bush Administration didn’t reject the notion that a nation-state had been behind the attacks. They merely offered up a different nominee for the role: Iraq. In the absence of any evidence to back this up, interrogators at Guantánamo were tasked, according to a 2008 report by the Senate Armed Services Committee, to torture detainees into admitting to such a link.

    The 9/11 families, however, had no interest in letting the kingdom off the hook. Nor did their lawyers. These included Ron Motley, of the South Carolina firm Motley Rice. He had recently scored the largest civil settlement in history — some $246 billion from America’s tobacco companies — and was eager for a fresh challenge. Also enlisted in the multiple suits were Jim Kreindler, the New York aviation lawyer who had won more than $2 billion from Muammar Qaddafi in the Pan Am Flight 103 case, and Stephen Cozen of Cozen O’Connor, specialists in recovering money for insurance companies.

    The 9/11 suit as it now stands is a compilation of many such suits. It cites evidence of direct support for the attacks by Saudi officials such as Thumairy, Bayoumi, and Bassnan. It also lays out the case for the intimate involvement of the Saudi government in the creation and expansion of Al Qaeda. Whereas the 9/11 Commission Report began its narrative with Osama bin Laden, In re Terrorist Attacks goes back to the foundation of the Al Saud family’s rule and its alliance with the puritanical and intolerant Wahhabi sect. In the 1970s, and then again in the early 1990s, violent challenges to the family’s legitimacy, fostered by its corruption and backsliding from the fundamentalist creed, persuaded the ruling princes to appease the clerics by giving them further leeway, and massive amounts of money, to export their extremist agenda.

    For example, according to internal Al Qaeda documents seized by U.S. forces in 2002, a man named Abdullah Omar Naseef was simultaneously the head of one such Saudi “charity,” the Muslim World League, and a member of the Majlis al-Shura, the kingdom’s consultative assembly, which is entirely appointed by the government. Naseef not only met with bin Laden and leaders of Al Qaeda at the time of its founding but reportedly agreed that the league’s offices would be used as a platform for the new organization. He then proceeded to appoint senior Al Qaeda figures to run league offices in such key outposts as Pakistan and the Philippines, the latter position being entrusted to bin Laden’s brother-in-law. Another group, the International Islamic Relief Organization, is meanwhile said to have funded terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, from which the 9/11 hijackers graduated, and in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, for the evident use of terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba.

    Should there have been any doubt about the connection between these Wahhabi missionary groups and the Saudi government, they were dispelled by the groups themselves. In documents filed between 2002 and 2005, some formally declared themselves to be organs of the state. They could thus shelter behind the principal Saudi defensive fortification in the case: the immunity enjoyed by foreign countries against being sued in U.S. courts, granted by the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act.

    For years, this appeared to be a sound strategy, in large part because of the 9/11 Commission’s concluding blanket absolution of the Saudi government. In 2005, U.S. District Judge Richard Casey dismissed the case against the kingdom itself and many of the individual defendants, on the grounds that they were covered by sovereign immunity.

    Casey’s judgment was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 2008, prompting an appeal to the Supreme Court in 2009, just as Barack Obama entered the White House. Candidate Obama had talked derisively about Bush’s “buddying up to the Saudi royal family and then begging them for oil.” President Obama’s Justice Department almost immediately informed the Supreme Court that the Saudis were in no way liable. Shortly thereafter, Obama flew to Riyadh, where he was royally entertained and duly bedecked with the gold chain and medal of the Order of King Abdulaziz, an honor also conferred on Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Trump. “Goodness gracious,” he exclaimed when presented with the costly bauble, “that’s something there!”

    “The mystery to me is Obama,” remarked Graham. He could, he said, understand Bush’s rationale for covering up the Saudi connection in order to bolster the case for war with Iraq. But Obama’s refusal to address the issue, which included a multi-year reluctance to release the twenty-eight pages, mystified him. Meeting with officials on Obama’s National Security Council, he found them “very non-forthcoming. ‘You’ve got all the files,’ ” he told them. “ ‘Go back and verify what I’ve just said and see if you hold the same opinion about the Saudis that you have just stated.’ Either they didn’t want to find out the facts, or if they found them out, they ignored them.”

    Similarly uninterested in the facts, at least as Graham saw them, was the 9/11 Review Commission authorized by Congress in 2014 to examine the progress of reforms recommended by the original commission, and recheck its conclusions on the attacks. Three commissioners were appointed to the task by the FBI director, James Comey: Reagan’s former attorney general, Edwin Meese; the former Democratic congressman Tim Roemer; and Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert and former RAND official. This inquiry, working with the “full cooperation” of the FBI, upheld the conclusions of the original commission in full. No one from this commission contacted Graham.

    In reality, the Obama Administration was well aware that Saudi Arabia was a supporter of terrorism, though it kept the information to itself. Only through WikiLeaks did we learn of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s classified cable, circulated to department officials in December 2009, stating as fact that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” Saudi Arabia was of course also a significant source of funding to the U.S. defense industry. Two years after the classified cable, Clinton aide Jake Sullivan emailed her the “good news” that the kingdom had just signed a $30 billion order for Boeing F-15 fighters. “Not a bad Christmas present,” observed someone else on the same email thread.

    However, while the administration and the intelligence agencies maintained the tradition of protecting the Saudis, the long-stalled legal case against the kingdom was coming back to life. One major stumbling block remained: the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act. Faced with this legal bulwark, the families and their lawyers resolved to get Congress to change the law. The resulting legislation, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), was crafted to blow away the Saudis’ immunity from prosecution.

    Kathy Owens was among the widows and other plaintiffs crowding the corridors of Congress in May 2016 to push for the bill. For the first decade after the attack, she had paid little attention to the lawsuit, adding her name only at her father’s urging. Then she happened to pick up a magazine excerpt from Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan’s book on 9/11, The Eleventh Day. “It woke me up,” she told me. “What? There was Saudi involvement and possibly our government was onto it, and nothing was being done about it, and things were being kept secret?” Learning about JASTA from a website run by Sharon Premoli, Owens started making trips to Washington.

    The government warned that the proposed law could inspire similar legislation abroad, allowing foreigners to sue America, and Americans (though JASTA did not apply to individuals). The president’s press secretary pushed this argument, as did State Department officials. Prominent former national security experts dispatched warnings to Congress. Even the Dutch parliament weighed in, apparently swayed by the State Department’s pronouncements.

    “It was a bogeyman they threw out in every setting,” one of the senior lawyers involved in the lawsuit told me, explaining that the government had been raising the same objection on previous occasions. Yet “we haven’t seen any floodgate of claims against the United States.” In the view of this attorney, who has spent most of his life since 9/11 working on the case, the Obama Administration was merely “feigning” concern. “They’re not dumb. They had to understand that these arguments didn’t hold water.”

    There was one foreign state threatening to strike back at the United States if JASTA became law. Visiting Washington in March 2016, before Congress began voting on the measure, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir explicitly warned that his government might sell its portfolio of “$750 billion” in U.S. Treasury bonds, thereby crashing the market in government securities, should JASTA become law. (The figure was a wild exaggeration — U.S. Treasury figures showed that the real amount was $117 billion.)

    Even with all the threats and warnings, the House passed the bill that September, whereupon Obama announced he would veto it, which he duly did. The battle resumed with greater intensity as both sides prepared another vote. “President Obama, you can’t hide! We’ll get Congress to override,” protesters chanted outside the White House.

    Despite frantic efforts by the administration, and ranks of lobbyists for the Saudis, the Senate crushed Obama’s veto, 97 to 1. It was the first and only time Obama suffered such an indignity. Reportedly, he was “furious.” Meanwhile, bipartisan pressure to release the censored twenty-eight pages in Graham’s original report had been building for some time, led by congressmen such as the Democrat Stephen Lynch and the Republican Walter Jones. Jones, once a fervent hawk, had turned sharply dovish, through guilt, as he told me, over voting for the Iraq war on the basis of “lies.” (He writes a letter of condolence to the family of every single casualty of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.) Jones, Lynch, and others on both sides of the aisle held regular press conferences about the twenty-eight pages “to keep a drumbeat going to give the 9/11 families the complete truth.”

    With the exception of that committed group, Owens was not impressed by what she found on Capitol Hill. Most of the senators and representatives she met didn’t seem to care who was behind 9/11. “They just didn’t want to be seen as voting against the 9/11 families. So they would vote yes for it, and then try to sabotage it behind the scenes. . . . Washington is an ugly place.” Encouraging this assessment was her discovery that at the very moment they were voting almost unanimously for the bill, a significant number of senators from both parties were quietly circulating and signing a letter citing “concerns” regarding JASTA’s “potential unintended consequences” to “the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” In effect, they were suggesting that the law they had just been seen enthusiastically supporting be weakened.

    Front and center in this sorry initiative were Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who, following the override, introduced amendments purportedly designed to “fix” JASTA. One of the 9/11 lawyers coolly appraised this tactic as “demonstrably the brainchild of Saudi lawyers here in Washington. They don’t fix JASTA, they’re designed to gut JASTA.” The lawyer speculated that the Saudis’ lobbyists hadn’t told their clients that “even if amendments like that were to be enacted, this litigation would continue.” The lobbyists’ interests, he suggested, lay in keeping the fight going as long as possible. “I think that you’ve got dozens of retainers out there that people would like to extend into the very distant future.”

    Meanwhile, after JASTA became law, dozens of veterans across the country received invitations to a “cool trip.” At no cost to themselves, they would fly to Washington, stay at the luxurious Trump Hotel — and tell Congress how the law endangered them and others who had fought in Iraq and Afghanistan by potentially opening them to lawsuits. The entire operation was sponsored by the Saudi government. However, according to multiple accounts by veterans who made the trip, they were not informed beforehand of the Saudi involvement as required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act. They discovered the connection only by accident. Scott Bartels, who served two tours in Iraq, described his experience to me. “We were told that a veterans’ advocacy group [had] brought us there to propose a fix to JASTA,” he said. “If anyone in Congress asked us what group we were from, or who we were associated with, then we were to simply say we were an independent group of concerned veterans here on our own, because JASTA posed a threat to veterans.”

    Jason Johns, a lobbyist for Qorvis, which brought Bartels and some 140 others to Washington, denied that the veterans were ever misinformed as to who was paying the tab. He also insisted to me that his failure to mention the Saudis in various written materials distributed to the veterans did not violate the law. (Justice Department guidelines specifically stipulate that all such material must state the name of the “foreign principal.”)3

    At the same time, another legal barrier, erected years before by George W. Bush, had already crumbled. Yielding to mounting pressure, Congress finally released the infamous twenty-eight pages in July 2016, albeit with many passages still censored. At long last, the discoveries unearthed by Jacobson and his colleagues in San Diego could be incorporated in the lawsuit. Though salient details, such as Omar Bayoumi’s role in assisting the hijackers, had previously been bruited about, many new ones came to light, such as the actions of Saleh al-Hussayen, a Saudi cleric and government employee who had suddenly moved to Hazmi and Mihdhar’s hotel the night before the attacks. Hussayen was “deceptive” about his relationship with the attackers when interviewed by the FBI and feigned a seizure to evade further questioning. Taken to the hospital, he escaped and fled the country. The world also learned about Mohammed al-Qudhaeein, another Saudi government agent whose “profile is similar to that of al-Bayoumi.” While on his way to a party at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, Qudhaeein researched ways to get into an American Airlines cockpit. (Thanks to a tip from a friendly government archivist, Kathy Owens meanwhile unearthed another long-censored document that had been quietly declassified. It reveals an Al Qaeda member’s flight certificate enclosed in a Saudi Embassy envelope.)

    Even before the release of these documents, some with a vested interest in the official story had already begun circling the wagons. Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton penned an op-ed in USA Today misleadingly asserting that the twenty-eight pages consisted merely of “raw, unvetted material,” and stated that 9/11 Commission staff had access to the classified pages and pursued the leads before absolving the Saudi government. In their motion to dismiss the lawsuit, filed on August 1, 2017, Saudi Arabia’s D.C. lawyers, Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick, hewed to much the same posture. Employing the assertive bluster common to such documents, they derided the relevance of the missing pages, invoked the findings of the 9/11 Commission as gospel, scorned assertions regarding Saudi government collusion with Al Qaeda, and challenged the very notion that JASTA would allow the lawsuit against the Saudi government to proceed. Naturally, they demanded that the suit be dismissed.

    ———-

    “Crime and Punishment” by Andrew Cockburn; Harpers; 09/10/2017

    The 9/11 suit as it now stands is a compilation of many such suits. It cites evidence of direct support for the attacks by Saudi officials such as Thumairy, Bayoumi, and Bassnan. It also lays out the case for the intimate involvement of the Saudi government in the creation and expansion of Al Qaeda. Whereas the 9/11 Commission Report began its narrative with Osama bin Laden, In re Terrorist Attacks goes back to the foundation of the Al Saud family’s rule and its alliance with the puritanical and intolerant Wahhabi sect. In the 1970s, and then again in the early 1990s, violent challenges to the family’s legitimacy, fostered by its corruption and backsliding from the fundamentalist creed, persuaded the ruling princes to appease the clerics by giving them further leeway, and massive amounts of money, to export their extremist agenda.”

    And it’s not just the 9/11 suits that shown evidence of direct Saudi government support for the 9/1 hijackers. The Saudi government’s own attempts to thwart these suits also demonstrates the same point with the repeated use of diplomatic immunity to stop the investigations:


    For example, according to internal Al Qaeda documents seized by U.S. forces in 2002, a man named Abdullah Omar Naseef was simultaneously the head of one such Saudi “charity,” the Muslim World League, and a member of the Majlis al-Shura, the kingdom’s consultative assembly, which is entirely appointed by the government. Naseef not only met with bin Laden and leaders of Al Qaeda at the time of its founding but reportedly agreed that the league’s offices would be used as a platform for the new organization. He then proceeded to appoint senior Al Qaeda figures to run league offices in such key outposts as Pakistan and the Philippines, the latter position being entrusted to bin Laden’s brother-in-law. Another group, the International Islamic Relief Organization, is meanwhile said to have funded terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, from which the 9/11 hijackers graduated, and in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, for the evident use of terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba.

    Should there have been any doubt about the connection between these Wahhabi missionary groups and the Saudi government, they were dispelled by the groups themselves. In documents filed between 2002 and 2005, some formally declared themselves to be organs of the state. They could thus shelter behind the principal Saudi defensive fortification in the case: the immunity enjoyed by foreign countries against being sued in U.S. courts, granted by the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act.

    For years, this appeared to be a sound strategy, in large part because of the 9/11 Commission’s concluding blanket absolution of the Saudi government. In 2005, U.S. District Judge Richard Casey dismissed the case against the kingdom itself and many of the individual defendants, on the grounds that they were covered by sovereign immunity.

    However, while the administration and the intelligence agencies maintained the tradition of protecting the Saudis, the long-stalled legal case against the kingdom was coming back to life. One major stumbling block remained: the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act. Faced with this legal bulwark, the families and their lawyers resolved to get Congress to change the law. The resulting legislation, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), was crafted to blow away the Saudis’ immunity from prosecution.

    And for years the shield of diplomatic immunity worked. But now there’s the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) opening the Saudi government to lawsuits and even the notorious 28 pages are been partially released, adding further evidence of Saudi government involvement:


    At the same time, another legal barrier, erected years before by George W. Bush, had already crumbled. Yielding to mounting pressure, Congress finally released the infamous twenty-eight pages in July 2016, albeit with many passages still censored. At long last, the discoveries unearthed by Jacobson and his colleagues in San Diego could be incorporated in the lawsuit. Though salient details, such as Omar Bayoumi’s role in assisting the hijackers, had previously been bruited about, many new ones came to light, such as the actions of Saleh al-Hussayen, a Saudi cleric and government employee who had suddenly moved to Hazmi and Mihdhar’s hotel the night before the attacks. Hussayen was “deceptive” about his relationship with the attackers when interviewed by the FBI and feigned a seizure to evade further questioning. Taken to the hospital, he escaped and fled the country. The world also learned about Mohammed al-Qudhaeein, another Saudi government agent whose “profile is similar to that of al-Bayoumi.” While on his way to a party at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, Qudhaeein researched ways to get into an American Airlines cockpit. (Thanks to a tip from a friendly government archivist, Kathy Owens meanwhile unearthed another long-censored document that had been quietly declassified. It reveals an Al Qaeda member’s flight certificate enclosed in a Saudi Embassy envelope.)

    So what’s next in this 16 year old pursuit to bring the people behind the 9/11 attacks to some sort of justice? How about new evidence obtained by the 9/11 lawsuit of a 9/11 “dry run” in 1999 that appears to have been conducted by Saudi intelligence agents:

    The New York Post

    Saudi government allegedly funded a ‘dry run’ for 9/11

    By Paul Sperry

    September 9, 2017 | 10:28am updated

    Fresh evidence submitted in a major 9/11 lawsuit moving forward against the Saudi Arabian government reveals its embassy in Washington may have funded a “dry run” for the hijackings carried out by two Saudi employees, further reinforcing the claim that employees and agents of the kingdom directed and aided the 9/11 hijackers and plotters.

    Two years before the airliner attacks, the Saudi Embassy paid for two Saudi nationals, living undercover in the US as students, to fly from Phoenix to Washington “in a dry run for the 9/11 attacks,” alleges the amended complaint filed on behalf of the families of some 1,400 victims who died in the terrorist attacks 16 years ago.

    The court filing provides new details that paint “a pattern of both financial and operational support” for the 9/11 conspiracy from official Saudi sources, lawyers for the plaintiffs say. In fact, the Saudi government may have been involved in underwriting the attacks from the earliest stages — including testing cockpit security.

    “We’ve long asserted that there were longstanding and close relationships between al Qaeda and the religious components of the Saudi government,” said Sean Carter, the lead attorney for the 9/11 plaintiffs. “This is further evidence of that.”

    Citing FBI documents, the complaint alleges that the Saudi students — Mohammed al-Qudhaeein and Hamdan al-Shalawi — were in fact members of “the Kingdom’s network of agents in the US,” and participated in the terrorist conspiracy.

    They had trained at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan at the same time some of the hijackers were there. And while living in Arizona, they had regular contacts with a Saudi hijacker pilot and a senior al Qaeda leader from Saudi now incarcerated at Gitmo. At least one tried to re-enter the US a month before the attacks as a possible muscle hijacker but was denied admission because he appeared on a terrorist watch list.

    Qudhaeein and Shalawi both worked for and received money from the Saudi government, with Qudhaeein employed at the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. Shalawi was also “a longtime employee of the Saudi government.” The pair were in “frequent contact” with Saudi officials while in the US, according to the filings.

    During a November 1999 America West flight to Washington, Qudhaeein and Shalawi are reported to have tried multiple times to gain access to the cockpit of the plane in an attempt to test flight-deck security in advance of the hijackings.

    “After they boarded the plane in Phoenix, they began asking the flight attendants technical questions about the flight that the flight attendants found suspicious,” according to a summary of the FBI case files.

    “When the plane was in flight, al-Qudhaeein asked where the bathroom was; one of the flight attendants pointed him to the back of the plane,” it added. “Nevertheless, al-Qudhaeein went to the front of the plane and attempted on two occasions to enter the cockpit.”

    The pilots were so spooked by the Saudi passengers and their aggressive behavior that they made an emergency landing in Ohio. On the ground there, police handcuffed them and took them into custody. Though the FBI later questioned them, it decided not to pursue prosecution.

    But after the FBI discovered that a suspect in a counterterrorism investigation in Phoenix was driving Shalawi’s car, the bureau opened a counterterrorism case on Shalawi. Then, in November 2000, the FBI received reporting that Shalawi trained at terrorist camps in Afghanistan and had received explosives training to perform attacks on American targets. The bureau also suspected Qudhaeein was a Saudi intelligence agent, based on his frequent contact with Saudi officials.

    More, investigators learned that the two Saudis traveled to Washington to attend a symposium hosted by the Saudi Embassy in collaboration with the Institute for Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America, which was chaired by the Saudi ambassador. Before being shut down for terrorist ties, IIASA employed the late al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki as a lecturer. Awlaki ministered to some of the hijackers and helped them obtain housing and IDs.

    The FBI also confirmed that Qudhaeein’s and Shalawi’s airline tickets for the pre-9/11 dry run were paid for by the Saudi Embassy.

    “The dry run reveals more of the fingerprints of the Saudi government,” said Kristen Breitweiser, one of the New York plaintiffs, whose husband perished at the World Trade Center.

    “These guys were Saudi government employees for years and were paid by the Saudi government,” she added. “In fact, the Saudi Embassy paid for their plane tickets for the dry run.”

    After the Nov. 19, 1999, incident — which took place less than two months before the first hijackers entered the US — both Saudi men held posts as Saudi government employees at the Imam Muhammad Ibn Saudi Islamic University, the parent of IIASA — “a further indication of their longstanding ties to the Saudi government,” the 9/11 complaint states.

    Carter said in an interview that the allegations that the Saudi Embassy sponsored a pre-9/11 dry run — along with charges of other Saudi involvement in the 9/11 plot, from California to Florida — are based on “nearly 5,000 pages of evidence submitted of record and incorporated by reference into the complaint.”

    They include “every FBI report that we have been able to obtain,” though hundreds of thousands of pages of government documents related to Saudi terror funding remain secret.


    ———-

    “Saudi government allegedly funded a ‘dry run’ for 9/11” by Paul Sperry; The New York Post; 09/09/2017

    ““When the plane was in flight, al-Qudhaeein asked where the bathroom was; one of the flight attendants pointed him to the back of the plane,” it added. “Nevertheless, al-Qudhaeein went to the front of the plane and attempted on two occasions to enter the cockpit.”

    And this apparent 9/11 dry run by these two fellows in 1999 incident just happened to be perpetrated by Saudi government employees, one of whom was suspected by the FBI of being a Saudi intelligence agent:


    But after the FBI discovered that a suspect in a counterterrorism investigation in Phoenix was driving Shalawi’s car, the bureau opened a counterterrorism case on Shalawi. Then, in November 2000, the FBI received reporting that Shalawi trained at terrorist camps in Afghanistan and had received explosives training to perform attacks on American targets. The bureau also suspected Qudhaeein was a Saudi intelligence agent, based on his frequent contact with Saudi officials.

    More, investigators learned that the two Saudis traveled to Washington to attend a symposium hosted by the Saudi Embassy in collaboration with the Institute for Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America, which was chaired by the Saudi ambassador. Before being shut down for terrorist ties, IIASA employed the late al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki as a lecturer. Awlaki ministered to some of the hijackers and helped them obtain housing and IDs.

    The FBI also confirmed that Qudhaeein’s and Shalawi’s airline tickets for the pre-9/11 dry run were paid for by the Saudi Embassy.

    After the Nov. 19, 1999, incident — which took place less than two months before the first hijackers entered the US — both Saudi men held posts as Saudi government employees at the Imam Muhammad Ibn Saudi Islamic University, the parent of IIASA — “a further indication of their longstanding ties to the Saudi government,” the 9/11 complaint states.

    And that evidence was known by government investigators for years and is just being made public now. So what else is hiding away in government vaults? Sadly, we’re apparently going to have to rely on the 9/11 families to force the US government to let us know.

    But those 9/11 families are indeed succeeding, bit by bit, year by year and the picture is becoming undeniable. It’s one of the things worth actually celebrating this 9/11 anniversary.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 11, 2017, 10:40 am
  11. @Pterrafractyl–

    One wonders if perhaps the drone/missile strike that killed Awlaki may have been intended to eliminate a key piece of the evidentiary puzzle.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | September 11, 2017, 1:08 pm

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