By Washingtons Blog
Apr 30, 2013
But “We Can’t Afford to Irritate the Saudis” By Actually Looking Into Who Backed 9/11 … “Especially with Oil Prices Going Up Now”
Contrary to the official narrative, 9/11 was state-sponsored terror. The only question is which state sponsored it.
A 9/11 Commissioner and Co-Chair of the Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 say in sworn declarations that the Saudi government is linked to the 9/11 attacks.
This week, the Miami Herald provided more evidence of a Saudi link:
A Saudi family who “fled” their Sarasota area home weeks before 9/11 had “many connections” to “individuals associated with the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001,” according to newly released FBI records.
One partially declassified document, marked “secret,” lists three of those individuals and ties them to the Venice, Fla., flight school where suicide hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi trained. Accomplice Ziad Jarrah took flying lessons at another school a block away.
Atta and al-Shehhi were at the controls of the jetliners that slammed into the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center, killing nearly 3,000 people. Jarrah was the hijacker-pilot of United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania.
The names, addresses and dates of birth of the three individuals tied to the flight school were blanked out before the records were released to BrowardBulldog.org amid ongoing Freedom of Information Act litigation.
The information in the documents runs counter to previous FBI statements. It also adds to concerns raised by official investigations but never fully explored, that the full truth about Saudi Arabia and the 9/11 attacks has not yet been told.
The documents are the first released by the FBI about its once-secret probe in Sarasota. Information contained in the documents flatly contradicts prior statements by FBI agents in Miami and Tampa who have said the investigation found no evidence connecting the al-Hijjis to the hijackers or the 9/11 plot.
Concerned residents in the gated community of Prestancia tipped the FBI, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, to the al-Hijjis’ sudden departure in late August 2001. The family left behind three cars, clothes, furniture, diapers, toys, food and other items.
[A] counterterrorism officer and Prestancia’s former administrator, Larry Berberich, both said an analysis of gatehouse security records — log books and snapshots of license tags — had determined that vehicles either driven by or carrying several of the future hijackers had visited the al-Hijji home.
Phone records revealed similar, though indirect, ties to the hijackers, said the counterterrorism officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
An April 16, 2002, FBI report says “repeated citizen calls” led to an inspection of the home by agents of the Southwest Florida Domestic Security Task Force.
That person and a second individual were said to be flight students at Huffman Aviation — the flight school at the Venice Municipal Airport attended by hijackers Atta and al-Shehhi.
The third person on the list “lived with flight students at Huffman Aviation” and was “arrested numerous times by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office,” the report says.
A notice on the document indicates the censored information regarding the three individuals associated with the terrorist attacks is scheduled to remain classified for another 25 years — until March 14, 2038.
Al-Hijji, who following 9/11 worked for the Saudi oil company Aramco in England, could not be reached by phone or email last week. Aramco staff said there was no longer anyone by that name in the London office.
The FBI documents also disclose that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., queried Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller about the Sarasota investigation six days after its existence was disclosed in Broward Bulldog/Miami Herald story.
Similarly, Weich denied an assertion by then Sen. Bob Graham of Florida that the FBI had not turned over its Sarasota records to Congress. The bureau, he stated, made all of its records available and suggested they may have been overlooked by investigators.
The documents the FBI has released do not mention other known aspects of the Sarasota investigation, including information provided to the FBI by al-Hijji’s former friend, Wissam Hammoud.
Hammoud, 47, is a federal prisoner classified by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons as an “International Terrorist Associate.” He is serving a 21-year sentence for weapons violations and attempting to kill a federal agent and a witness in a previous case against him.
[S]hortly after his 2004 arrest, Hammoud told agents that al-Hijji considered Osama bin Laden a “hero,” may have known some of the hijackers, and once introduced Hammoud to fugitive al-Qaeda leader and ex-Miramar resident Adnan Shukrijumah.
When reached last year, al-Hijji acknowledged having known Hammoud well. He did not, however, respond to a question about Hammoud’s allegations and said Shukrijumah’s name did not “ring a bell.”
Other FBI documents about Sarasota are known to exist, but were not released, including a report Graham says he read last year but can’t discuss because it is classified.
The [Broward] Bulldog’s FOIA lawsuit asks U.S. District Judge William Zloch to order the FBI to produce all records of its Sarasota investigation, including the records seen by Graham.
The Daily Beast reported last year:
The FBI-led investigation in Sarasota reportedly focused on Saudi millionaire Abdulaziz al-Hijji and his wife, Anoud. Their 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 King Fahd.
An FBI informant hosted and rented a room to two hijackers in 2000. Specifically, investigators for the Congressional Joint Inquiry discovered that an FBI informant had hosted and even rented a room to two hijackers in 2000 and that, when the Inquiry sought to interview the informant, the FBI refused outright, and then hid him in an unknown location, and that a high-level FBI official stated these blocking maneuvers were undertaken under orders from the White House. As the New York Times notes:
Senator Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who is a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, accused the White House on Tuesday of covering up evidence ….The accusation stems from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s refusal to allow investigators for a Congressional inquiry and the independent Sept. 11 commission to interview an informant, Abdussattar Shaikh, who had been the landlord in San Diego of two Sept. 11 hijackers.
The 2 hijackers were Saudis. Indeed, 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudis.
The Daily Beast reported last year:
In San Diego, allegations of links between the Saudi government and the 9/11 hijackers revolve around two enigmatic Saudi men: Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Basnan, both of whom have long since left the United States.
Al-Bayoumi had previously worked for the Saudi government in civil aviation (a part of the Saudi defense department), and was alleged by many San Diego Muslims to be an agent for the Saudi government who reported on the activities of Saudi-born students living in Southern California.
In early 2000, al-Bayoumi 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.
As Newsweek reported in 2002, 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 near the San Diego Islamic Center mosque and paid $1,500 to cover their first two months of rent.
When asked not long after the 9/11 attacks about al-Bayoumi’s possible involvement, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore, then the San Diego head of the FBI, told this reporter that there was no evidence al-Bayoumi played a role.
But a former top FBI official later told Newsweek, “We firmly believed that [al-Bayoumi] had knowledge [of the 9/11 plot].”
After 9/11, al-Bayoumi was detained by New Scotland Yard while living in the U.K. Gore said the FBI sent agents to London to interview him, but he was released a week later and allowed to return to Saudi Arabia.
Newsweek reported that classified sections of the congressional 9/11 inquiry indicated that the Saudi Embassy in London pushed for al-Bayoumi’s release.
Where is al-Bayoumi now? “I can’t say too much, but what I can tell you is that he is still alive and living in Saudi Arabia,” says Graham.
As for Basnan, whom Graham calls “Bayoumi’s successor,” 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.
The checks were sent because Basnan’s wife, Majeda Dweikat, needed thyroid surgery, Newsweek and other media outlets reported. But Dweikat inexplicably signed many of the checks over to al-Bayoumi’s wife, Manal Bajadr. This money allegedly made its way into the hands of hijackers Almihdhar and Alhazmi, according to the congressional report.
At a post-9/11 gathering in San Diego, Basnan allegedly called the attack “a wonderful, glorious day” and celebrated the hijackers’ “heroism,” a law-enforcement official told Newsweek.
Despite all this, he was ultimately allowed to return to Saudi Arabia ….
Another man who might have helped investigators get to the bottom of this mystery is Abdussattar Shaikh, a longtime FBI asset in San Diego who was friends with al-Bayoumi and invited two of the San Diego-based hijackers to live in his home.
However, Shaikh was not allowed by the FBI or the Bush administration to testify before the 9/11 Commission or the JICI.
“For me, that was the low point of the [JICI] investigation,” says Graham. “Bayoumi introduced the hijackers to Shaikh, who clearly knew a lot, but the FBI, who had Shaikh in protective custody, seemed to care more about protecting their asset than allowing us to find out what he knew about 9/11.”
During roughly the same period after the 9/11 attacks, San Diego FBI agent Steven Butler alerted his superiors about a flow of money from Saudi government officials that had made its way into the hands of two of the San Diego-based hijackers, according to U.S. News & World Report. But the warning was ignored.
“Butler is claiming that people [in the FBI] didn’t follow up,” a congressional source told U.S. News & World Report. Another congressional source told U.S. News: “Butler saw a pattern, a trail, and he told his supervisors, but it ended there.”
The investigation into the Saudi government’s alleged connections to the hijackers seemed to end there. Arguably the greatest crime mystery of our time has become a cold case.
[The Co-Chair of the Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 and former Head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Bob Graham] believes the Bush administration protected the Saudis during the 9/11 inquiry [and] wonders why the Obama administration hasn’t reopened the investigation and sought answers.
“Perhaps they feel that we can’t afford to irritate the Saudis, especially with oil prices going up now,” he says. “I don’t know. Someday, I do believe we will get to the bottom of 9/11 and the Saudi government connections.”
Indeed, a U.S. congressman for 6 years, who is now a talking head on MSNBC (Joe Scarborough) says that – even if the Saudi government backed the 9/11 attacks – Saudi oil is too important to do anything about it: