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Judicial Watch Releases New FBI Documents: Osama bin Laden May Have Chartered Saudi Flight Out of U.S. After 9/11


WASHINGTON, June 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Judi­cial Watch, the pub­lic inter­est group that inves­ti­gates and pros­e­cutes gov­ern­ment cor­rup­tion, today released new doc­u­ments from the Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion (“FBI”) relat­ed to the “expe­di­tious depar­ture” of Sau­di nation­als, includ­ing mem­bers of the bin Laden fam­i­ly, from the Unit­ed States fol­low­ing the 9/11 attacks. Accord­ing to one of the for­mer­ly con­fi­den­tial doc­u­ments, dat­ed 9/21/2001, ter­ror­ist Osama bin Laden may have char­tered one of the Sau­di flights.

The doc­u­ment states: “ON 9/19/01, A 727 PLANE LEFT LAX, RYAN FLT #441 TO ORLANDO, FL W/ETA (esti­mat­ed time of arrival) OF 4–5PM. THE PLANE WAS CHARTERED EITHER BY THE SAUDI ARABIAN ROYAL FAMILY OR OSAMA BIN LADEN ... THE LA FBI SEARCHED THE PLANE [REDACTED] LUGGAGE, OF WHICH NOTHING UNUSUAL WAS FOUND.” The plane was allowed to depart the Unit­ed States after mak­ing four stops to pick up pas­sen­gers, ulti­mate­ly land­ing in Paris where all pas­sen­gers dis­em­barked on 9/20/01, accord­ing to the doc­u­ment.

Over­all, the FBI’s most recent doc­u­ment pro­duc­tion includes details of the six flights between 9/14 and 9/24 that evac­u­at­ed Sau­di roy­als and bin Laden fam­i­ly mem­bers. The doc­u­ments also con­tain brief inter­view sum­maries and occa­sion­al notes from intel­li­gence ana­lysts con­cern­ing the cur­so­ry screen­ing per­formed pri­or to the depar­tures. Accord­ing to the FBI doc­u­ments, incred­i­bly not a sin­gle Sau­di nation­al nor any of the bin Laden fam­i­ly mem­bers pos­sessed any infor­ma­tion of inves­tiga­tive val­ue.

More­over, the doc­u­ments con­tain numer­ous errors and incon­sis­ten­cies, which call to ques­tion the thor­ough­ness of the FBI’s inves­ti­ga­tion of the Sau­di flights. For exam­ple, on one doc­u­ment, the FBI claims to have inter­viewed 20 of 23 pas­sen­gers on the Ryan Inter­na­tion­al Air­lines flight (com­mon­ly referred to as the “Bin Laden Fam­i­ly Flight”). On anoth­er doc­u­ment, the FBI claims to have inter­viewed 15 of 22 pas­sen­gers on the same flight.

“Eight days after the worst ter­ror­ist attack in U.S. his­to­ry, Osama bin Laden pos­si­bly char­ters a flight to whisk his fam­i­ly out of the coun­try, and it’s not worth more than a lug­gage search and a few brief inter­views?” asked Judi­cial Watch Pres­i­dent Tom Fit­ton. “Clear­ly these doc­u­ments prove the FBI con­duct­ed a slap­dash inves­ti­ga­tion of these Sau­di flights. We’ll nev­er know how many inves­tiga­tive leads were lost due to the FBI’s lack of dili­gence.”

U.S. Dis­trict Court Judge Richard W. Roberts ordered the FBI to resub­mit “prop­er dis­clo­sures” to the Court and Judi­cial Watch, hav­ing pre­vi­ous­ly crit­i­cized the ade­qua­cy of redac­tion descrip­tions, the valid­i­ty of exemp­tion claims, and oth­er errors in the FBI’s dis­clo­sures. Incred­i­bly, the FBI had pre­vi­ous­ly redact­ed Osama bin Laden’s name from the records in order “to pro­tect pri­va­cy inter­ests.”

The lat­est ver­sion of the FBI doc­u­ments, obtained under the pro­vi­sions of the Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act and through ongo­ing lit­i­ga­tion (Judi­cial Watch v. Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty & Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion, No. 04- 1643 (RWR)) is avail­able on Judi­cial Watch’s web­site, http://www.judicialwatch.org.


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