Headlines Misleading Describing Declassified Pages of 9/11 Report

When the classified “28 pages” of the 9/11 report were released, headlines mirrored each other with one sentence: “No conclusive ties of Saudi government backing.” 

Most people would read that headline and assume closure of the issue in relation to the 9/11 hijackers.  However, the pages show that the Saudi government not only has an extensive network of contacts with known terrorists, but has provided financial support to terrorists, evaded investigative efforts by the U.S. to find suspected terrorists and has provided shelter and protection for known terrorists by use of diplomatic freedoms and “royal” perks.

Here are the main findings of the report:

(1)  The 9/11 Hijackers received support from suspected Saudi spies.

Nearly a dozen knowledgeable FBI informants stated that 9/11 hijackers received money, support, documents and information from suspected Saudi intelligence officers living in the U.S. “Many” of the 9/11 hijackers frequently contacted individuals with ties to the Saudi government while they were living in the United States.

Suspected Saudi Spy #1: Omar al-Bayoumi

·         Connected to 9/11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar.

·         Muslim community provided “numerous reports” to the FBI that al-Bayoumi was a Saudi intelligence officer.

·         In frequent contact with Saudi Ministry of Defense and former Saudi government employee.

·         Received a regular salary from Saudi Ministry of Defense company with “ties to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida” in the U.S. even though he only went to the office on “one occasion.” On one occasion, received $20,000 from the Saudi government for unknown reasons.

·         Served as a translator for hijackers, helped them get drivers licenses and assisted them in locating “flight schools.”

·         Made over 100 calls between January and May of 2000 to Saudi government offices in U.S.

·         “Al-Bayoumi was in continual contact with the Holy Land Foundation . . . a fundraising front for Hamas.” (Note: When the Holy Land Foundation was charged with terror funding, CAIR was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case.)

 

Suspected Saudi Spy #2: Osama Bassnan

·         Openly confessed he “did more for [al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar] than al-Bayoumi did.”

·         Received funding and fake passport from Saudi government, alleged to be Saudi spy by many in the U.S. Muslim community, employed by a Saudi Arabian diplomatic mission (that was likely a front for other activities).

·         “Saudi royal family provided Bassnan with a significant amount of cash.”

·         Known extremist and supporter of Osama bin Laden

·         Continual contact with Omar Abdel-Rahman, known as the Blind Sheikh, a radical cleric with ties to Jamaat ul-Fuqra and currently serving a life sentence for the 1993 Torld Trade Center bombings.  

The report noted that there was “limited evidence” that Bassnan had contact with the individuals, but failed to account for the admission by Bassnan, himself, that he provided support to 9/11 hijackers.

 

(2)Saudi diplomats, Saudi government officials and Saudi nationals in the U.S. with embassy ties have multiple connections to Al-Qaeda, many other terrorist groups and helped in the planning of the 9/11 attacks.

The report states that “Shaykh al-Thumairy [a man with ties to the 9/11 hijackers] is an accredited diplomat at the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles.” Another piece of the report noted that a Saudi Interior Ministry official stayed in the same hotel as 9/11 where hijacker al-Hazmi was staying a week before the attacks. Before investigators realized he had been deceptive after being questioned, he was able to peacefully leave the U.S. back to Saudi Arabia.

The report also mentioned Osama bin Laden’s half-brother, Abdullah bin Ladin, who works for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. as an “administrative officer.” Abdullah had ties to close associates of hijackers Mohammad Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi prior to September 11, 2001.

Hijacker Muhammad al-Qudhaeein was investigated by the FBI after asking flight attendants multiple detailed security questions while on board an America West flight in 1999 and attempted to enter the cockpit. Investigators believed this was one of the “dry runs” for the 9/11 attacks and a method of obtaining flight security protocol details. Hijackers Al-Qudhaeein and al-Shalawi were en route to the Saudi embassy in D.C. and had been supplied with the tickets for the flight to attend the embassy event by the Saudi government.

 

(3)The amount of evidence suggesting Saudi influence with known terrorist groups led the FBI to create a task force specifically designed to identify the extent of Saudi funding and influence.

The U.S. intelligence community believed there to be ample evidence and connections between Saudi officials and anti-Western, terrorist factions. However, due to lack of cooperation by the Saudi government (on multiple occasions), it did not know the extent of their influence nor the details of their funding and involvement.

This general knowledge, however, led the Washington Field Office to create a task force devoted to identifying the extent of Saudi government’s involvement in global terrorism following the report’s release in 2002.  Due to lack of intelligence sharing and gaps in U.S. investigative bodies, many Saudi ties to terrorism were not even realized until issues raised by the Joint Inquiry came to their attention.

One of the more startling findings from the report is the fact that U.S. “investigative resources” were not devoted to ties between terrorism-involved Saudi nationals in the U.S. and the Saudi government, even though reports surfaced that such individuals had ties to several global terrorist groups.

This was because of “Saudi Arabia’s status as an American ‘ally.’”  Despite this “alliance,” the reported stated that the Saudi Arabian government had been repeatedly uncooperative with U.S. investigative issues into terrorism and known terrorists, often refusing to divulge any information and giving extradited terrorists government jobs and safe haven in their country.

 

(4)Radical mosques exist in the U.S. that not only radicalize members but also serve as money laundering operations between the U.S, and Saudi Arabia to support terrorism domestically and throughout the world.

The first mosque mentioned in the 9/11 report is the King Fahad Mosque in Culver City, California, which was built in 1998 from funds provided by Saudi Crown Prince Abdulaziz.  U.S. intelligence sources verified that the mosque was widely recognized for its anti-Western and anti-American views.

Shaykh al-Thumairy was an “imam” at this mosque and in contact with at least two of the 9/11 hijackers.  Another Saudi-funded mosque, “Ibn Tamiyah Mosque,” which is also in Culver City, is known to hold “extremist-related activity.” This mosque was used to launder “Saudi government money” from the United States to non-profit organizations owned and operated by Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda network to promote terrorist acts.  

Despite the obvious shortcomings from intelligence community investigations prior to September 2001, the report indicates that the FBI and CIA are continuing to “aggressively pursue” the Saudi–funded terrorism issue.

The Joint Inquiry noted that it was “not the task of the committee” to deeply investigate Saudi government connections to terrorism and the 9/11 hijackers and that such an investigation would have been “beyond the scope” of their duties.

The report did note, however, that a certain classified documents reveled during the course of investigation showed there is “incontrovertible evidence that there is support for these terrorists within the Saudi Government.” No further details were provided in the report about those documents.

It is safe to say the newly-released “28 pages” of the 9/11 report show significant connections between the Saudi government and multiple instances of terrorism and terrorist organizations.  Even without any cooperation from the Saudi government regarding 9/11, the commission’s findings show culpability and complicity in aiding Osama bin Laden, funding Al-Qaeda operations and providing material support to those that were in close connection with several of the 9/11 hijackers.

 

Jennifer Breedon is Clarion Project's legal analyst.