One Man’s Quest to Prove Saudi Arabia Bankrolled 9/11

Moderators: DrVolin, Wombaticus Rex, Jeff

One Man’s Quest to Prove Saudi Arabia Bankrolled 9/11

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:56 pm

One Man’s Quest to Prove Saudi Arabia Bankrolled 9/11
This New York lawyer says he has found a link between Saudi officials and the hijackers. The U.S. government refuses to do anything about it.
By CALEB HANNAN April 07, 2017


When Jim Kreindler got to his midtown Manhattan office on Friday, July 15, 2016, he had a surprise waiting for him. Twice in the previous eight years, Kreindler had been in the room as then-President Barack Obama promised Kreindler’s clients he would declassify a batch of documents that had taken on near mythic importance to those seeking the full truth of who had helped plan and fund the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Now, Kreindler learned, “the 28 pages” as they were known, were open for inspection and it was up to his team to find something of value. It wasn’t long before they did—a single, vague line about a Somali charity in Southern California.

That obscure reference would soon become part of the backbone of an argument that Kreindler and his firm have been making for a long time: Without financial and logistical support from members of the government of Saudi Arabia, the 9/11 attacks would have never taken place.


Proving the link between Saudi Arabia and the hijackers has been Kreindler’s nearly sole focus since the moment, several days after the Twin Towers fell, when grieving families began to file into the lobby of the burly, boisterous 61-year-old’s firm. That firm, Kreindler & Kreindler, was started by his grandfather and brought to prominence by his father, Lee, who the families knew was the man who had won a $3 billion judgment against Libya for the bomb that in 1988 destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. They were hoping he could find the culprit here, too. But, just over a year after the attacks, Lee was dead from a stroke. The case, and some 850 clients, became Jim’s to manage.

Lawyer Jim Kreindler. Courtesy of Jim Kreindler
Lawyer Jim Kreindler. Courtesy of Jim Kreindler
On that July morning, the case had slogged on for nearly a decade and a half. Some judges found it too large and unwieldy to understand. Sometimes it seemed as though Kreindler’s own government were actively working against the firm; agencies denied Freedom of Information Act requests and shared information with the Saudis as often as with his team. “I’ve stopped calling what our government has done a cover-up,” says former Senator Bob Graham, the co-chair of Congress’s 9/11 Joint Inquiry and the most prominent voice alleging a connection between the Saudis and the hijackers. “Cover-up suggests a passive activity. What they’re doing now I call aggressive deception.”

Saudi Arabia was Kreindler’s focus because many, including well-placed people like Graham, had long suspected that it had played a role in the plot, a charge the Saudis had always vociferously denied. Suspicions were fueled, however, by what the U.S. government had chosen not to reveal after the attacks. The post-9/11 Joint Inquiry, the first U.S. investigation led by the House and Senate intelligence committees, had exposed nearly 1,000 pages of documentation and evidence to public scrutiny. But upon its release in 2002, President George W. Bush ordered a small portion—the 28 pages—to remain classified. They were allegedly full of unpursued leads that hinted at a relationship between the 19 hijackers—15 of whom were Saudi nationals—and people possibly linked to the Saudi government. Then came the later 9/11 Commission, whose own members protested drastic, last-minute edits that seemed to absolve the Saudi government of any responsibility.

Kreindler’s team knew they were unlikely to ever find a smoking gun, a document that they jokingly referred to as “a thank-you note from Osama bin Laden to the Saudi King.” But even before the release of the 28 pages, they thought that they had amassed enough circumstantial evidence to meet the standards of a civil suit, where the burden of proof is considerably lower than in criminal court. Over the course of 15 years, Kreindler’s firm had named hundreds of defendants, ranging from wealthy Middle Eastern businessmen to even wealthier charities. In that time, the firm had compiled a tremendous amount of revealing information on its defendants—from the inner workings of secretive Swiss bank accounts to internal audits of massive corporations. So much information, in fact, that its lawyers often wondered whether the people they were suing knew what they were handing over. Legally, the firm knew it would be difficult to win a case against Saudi Arabia—the country had never been considered a state supporter of terrorism, which was the minimum standard needed for a lawsuit. Still, the firm kept tabs on the most interesting evidence suggesting a connection between the Saudi government and the plotters, especially a support network in Southern California. Yet there was skepticism that Kreindler’s team could ever turn its immense amount of data into a winning case. A newspaper editor once derisively described the firm’s evidence as being burdened by the presence of “Too many Mohameds.”

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir leaves after holding a press conference in Washington, DC, on July 15, 2016, following the release of 28 pages of a 9/11 congressional report. | Getty
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir leaves after holding a press conference in Washington, DC, on July 15, 2016, following the release of 28 pages of a 9/11 congressional report. | Getty
But on March 20, 2017, for the first time in the case’s long history, the firm named the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as its lead defendant. This was made possible because the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, a bill that allows U.S. nationals to sue countries even if those countries have not been deemed a state sponsor of terrorism, had passed in September and survived Obama’s veto.

The new filing—which seeks $10 million per death, the same as in the Lockerbie suit—is chock full of obscure names of private citizens and massive charities. Some of the names would be familiar to anyone who has waded into the minutiae of the Joint Inquiry and the lengthy, bestselling 9/11 Commission report. But the new filing also contains a narrative about a trail of money that Kreindler’s team believes will help further implicate the Saudis. That trail is still centered in Southern California, but it involves people whom the firm says no one has connected before. One of the key players: a lanky former teacher’s aide in San Diego.

***

Early on the morning of January 22, 2004, Omar Abdi Mohamed sat across from Immigration and Customs Enforcement Senior Agent Steve Schultz looking untroubled. Mohamed, 42, 6’2’’ and rail thin, may have believed he had been called in to talk about his pending citizenship, for which he had applied four years earlier. But the real reason for the interview was more serious. Mohamed was one of roughly 25 men in the San Diego area who had been targeted by a Joint Terrorism Task Force established in the wake of 9/11. The goal was to use immigration laws to charge, convict and deport people suspected of having terrorist ties. Mohamed may have thought Agent Schultz to be harmless. He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Omar Abdi Mohamed
Omar Abdi Mohamed
According to a government transcript, as the interview began Mohamed sketched out some of the details of his life. His first wife had been killed during a civil war in their home country of Somalia, and their son, now a teenager, lived in the same refugee camp in Kenya where Mohamed’s parents had settled. Mohamed had arrived in the United States in 1995 on a religious worker’s visa. He had come to work and study under the tutelage of an imam at a local mosque. Not long after he arrived he got a job as an instructor’s aide in the San Diego City School system, where he helped young Somalis adjust to American culture. Mohamed had arrived in America with his second wife and their two kids. They now had four more. He was fluent in Arabic, well-versed in English, and knew some Swahili. He had a master’s in health care management and dreams of opening an African food market, and he had started two separate nonprofits aimed at assisting his fellow countrymen. One was something like an after-school program designed to keep kids from joining the gangs that had become a problem among second-generation immigrants. The other was called the Western Somali Relief Agency. It was meant to help the hundreds of thousands of Somalis still struggling from the after-effects of a famine. Mohamed, it seemed, was a man doing his best to raise a family and benefit his community.

Agent Schultz knew all this. He and Mohamed had gone over much of the same territory in another interview two years earlier. For this interview, though, Schultz wanted to start somewhere different. “The things that I was concerned about are the travel that you listed here,” he told Mohamed, according to transcripts. “Have you done any travel since the last time that we interviewed you?”

Mohamed said he had recently come back from Australia. Then he did something that, according to the complaint, had become routine when speaking to federal officials: He told part of the truth. In their previous interview, Mohamed had told Schultz that he had cousins in Sydney whom he visited often. What he had failed to mention was his real reason for the visit—the birth of his second child with his third wife, a native Australian.

In his initial conversation with Schultz, Mohamed had said he had seven children— the teenager in Kenya and the six who lived with him and their mother in a one-story stucco home with a white picket fence. Mohamed had neglected to tell Schultz that the Australian woman had just given birth to their first child. Now he left out another detail. That most recent trip to Australia had been planned so Mohamed could visit his newest child, his ninth in total. His failure to give the government a proper accounting of his offspring would eventually be one of the details that led to Mohamed’s deportation. But Schultz had more pressing matters on his mind.

Mohamed had claimed previously that the Western Somali Relief Agency brought in almost nothing in donations. “It didn’t make it,” he had told Schultz. Money was so tight, he said, that if he and his organization had been given a box of blankets they wouldn’t have been able to afford postage for shipping.

By now, according to the agent’s later grand jury testimony, Schultz knew this to be untrue. As he and Mohamed were speaking, Schultz’s colleagues were rifling through that stucco home and finding deposit slips that told a very different story. Far from destitute, the Western Somali Relief Agency had received more than $370,000 in donations in less than three years. The vast majority of that money had come from the suburban Chicago branch of an international nonprofit called Global Relief, according to the indictment that the government would ultimately file against Mohamed. In the two years between Mohamed’s first interview and his second, Global Relief had been designated by the United States Treasury Department as a supporter of terrorism due to its alleged connections to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, according to Schultz’s grand jury testimony. What’s more, the agents discovered checks that showed Mohamed quickly moved the cash he had received from Global Relief to a money transfer service that operated throughout the Middle East. For a nonprofit allegedly created to provide humanitarian assistance, the series of events looked suspicious. So did the fact that Mohamed refused to tell the truth.

Schultz also knew something else. Mohamed had claimed that his one and only job was as a teacher’s aide. But ICE officials had just discovered that was also untrue. Even before his arrival in the United States, Mohamed had been employed as a “propagator” for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs, an agency long suspected of ties to extremists. For nearly a decade, Mohamed had received $1,750 a month to provide written reports on the local Islamic community. Even Mohamed’s listed reason for obtaining a religious worker’s visa, that he was to assist a San Diego imam, had been untrue. That same imam had told Schultz that Mohamed didn’t actually do any work. The mosque where he was supposedly first employed was just a small apartment. The story had been a ruse meant to help him gain entry into the United States.

Roughly 45 minutes into their conversation, Schultz asked Mohamed to stand up. He told him he was under arrest for immigration fraud. Mohamed pleaded with the agent. “I didn’t hide anything,” he said as he was being handcuffed. “I swear to God you have the wrong information.” Within two years, Mohamed would be gone from the country for good.

***

This might have been the last anyone ever heard of Mohamed if it hadn’t been for a member of Kreindler’s team who noticed that one vague line in the “28 pages.” It was a reference to a Somali nonprofit that, according to an FBI agent, “may allow the Saudi government to provide al Qaeda with funding through covert or indirect means.” They knew of only one Somali nonprofit with Saudi ties in San Diego—Mohamed’s Western Somali Relief.

In their 15 years on the case, Kreindler’s team hadn’t persuaded the U.S. government to provide them much of anything useful. And it certainly hadn’t had any success with the government’s Saudi counterparts. But they had spent more than a decade legally compelling some of the largest charities in the Middle East to hand over documents. Many individuals within the U.S. government knew these charities had provided financial and logistical support for the people and groups American officials labeled as terrorists. This trove of documents had grown into a database made up of terabytes worth of information—the firm’s well-organized haystack. And after Kreindler started looking more closely at Omar Abdi Mohamed, the firm found a needle.

During his 2004 interview with ICE, Mohamed said he once had been visited by an official from the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, the same department from which he was receiving a monthly check. Mohamed gave the man’s name as “Khaleid”, though the last name he offered was garbled. The ICE agent helpfully provided him with one: Sowailem. Khaleid Sowailem was, at the time, the head of Da’Wah, a department within the ministry whose stated goal is proselytizing. It’s a mission the Saudis accomplish by spending more than anyone in the world to build, staff and support madrassas and mosques to spread Wahhabism, the ultraconservative form of Islam unique to the kingdom and embraced by Osama bin Laden. It’s the main reason why one analyst once described Saudi Arabia as “both the arsonist and the firefighter” when it comes to global terrorism. It only made sense, then, that a man like Mohamed, a “propagator,” would be of interest to Sowaleim, the bureaucrat in charge of propagation.

Former Senator Bob Graham, a Democrat from Florida, speaks during a news conference on the “Transparency for the Families of 9/11 Victims and Survivors Act of 2015” with Sen. Rand Paul, of Kentucky in Washington, D.C. in June 2015. | Getty
Former Senator Bob Graham, a Democrat from Florida, speaks during a news conference on the “Transparency for the Families of 9/11 Victims and Survivors Act of 2015” with Sen. Rand Paul, of Kentucky in Washington, D.C. in June 2015. | Getty
Bob Graham had long suspected that men like Sowailem working in the Ministry of Islamic Affairs were the strongest link between the hijackers and the Saudis. “I came to the conclusion that there was a support network by trying to assess how the 19 hijackers could pull it off with their significant limitations,” Graham told me recently. “Most couldn't speak English, most had never been in the United States, and most were not well educated. How could they carry out such a complex task?” Graham’s suspicions were heightened by the connections between the ministry and two men in what had come to be known as the San Diego cell.

The first man was Fahad al-Thumairy, an imam at the King Fahad mosque in Los Angeles who was known for his virulently anti-American views. Thumairy was also an employee of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. The second was Omar al-Bayoumi, a garrulous man who many in San Diego’s Islamic community assumed to be a spy, since he could often be found walking around with a video recorder, taping everyone he encountered. Bayoumi was also paid by the Saudis—he had been employed in a series of ghost jobs since the ‘70s, according to the complaint. He was also the man who had made a claim that many U.S. investigators still find too coincidental to be true.

Clockwise from top left: Fahad al-Thumairy; Omar al-Bayoumi; Khalid al-Mihdhar; Nawaf al-Hazmi.
Clockwise from top left: Fahad al-Thumairy; Omar al-Bayoumi; Khalid al-Mihdhar; Nawaf al-Hazmi.
In a post-9/11 interview with the FBI, Bayoumi had said that he was dining in a Middle Eastern restaurant in Los Angeles in early 2000 when he happened to strike up a conversation with two complete strangers with familiar accents. A friendship developed, based off that single encounter. Bayoumi helped the strangers find apartments in San Diego; threw them a large welcome party; co-signed their leases and provided them money for rent; let them borrow his cellphone; even introduced them to people who helped them obtain drivers licenses and contact flight schools. Those two men were hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, the first plotters to enter the United States, whose lives would end when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.

The FBI has long believed that Bayoumi’s chance encounter came immediately after meeting with Thumairy. Shortly after that meeting, Bayoumi’s $3,000-a-month Saudi salary was bumped up to $7,000. To people like Graham, the implication was clear: Thumairy, a Ministry of Islamic Affairs employee, had tasked Bayoumi with helping the hijackers settle into a foreign country, and his Saudi employers had provided him with extra cash to do so.

Kreindler’s team knew all of this, as did any student of 9/11. What they didn’t know was whether there was any link to Mohamed, or to the man whom ICE agents had identified as his boss. So Kreindler’s team took Sowailem’s name and plugged it into their database. They got a hit. Years before, Kreindler had received hundreds of thousands of pages of documents from a Saudi-funded charity called World Assembly of Muslim Youth, which according to the complaint, was linked to Al Qaeda. There, at the top of a single page, it found a note from Khaleid Sowailem written on official letterhead from the ministry. On that note was Sowailem’s phone number at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. They then plugged that number into the database and, again, out came a hit—this time, one that linked back to the men Kreindler and the rest of the world had already heard of.

The FBI released a group of photos on March 30, 2017, showing the aftermath of the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crash into the Pentagon. | AP
The FBI released a group of photos on March 30, 2017, showing the aftermath of the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crash into the Pentagon. | AP
According to heavily redacted FBI records gathered after 9/11, in the three months after Bayoumi allegedly randomly ran into and befriended the two hijackers, he also made nearly 100 calls to Saudi officials in the U.S. Thirty of those calls went to the number that Kreindler had uncovered as Sowailem’s direct line. What’s more, Kreindler’s team knew that in December 2003 the U.S. State Department had quietly revoked the diplomatic credentials of two dozen Saudi personnel. Kreindler knew that the State Department published complete lists of diplomats every quarter. They checked the last listing in 2003—Sowailem’s name was on it. They then checked the first listing in 2004—Sowailem’s name was gone.

***

In its new filing, Kreindler contends not only that Omar Abdi Mohamed was receiving and passing on hundreds of thousands of dollars from another charity, Global Relief, known to support Al Qaeda, but that the money itself was used to fund the attack. Here’s Kreindler’s theory:

Sometime late in 1998, a Somali Al Qaeda operative named Mohamed Sulaiman Barre established a branch of Dahabshiil in Karachi, Pakistan. (Dahabshiil is like an Islamic Western Union. A Somali-owned, Dubai- and London-based money transfer service.) Barre, who would later be held and interviewed repeatedly at Guantanamo Bay, operated the branch out of his apartment and internet cafes. He never had it registered, either, which meant that a branch supposedly intended to receive and send money to and from the whole world only had the capacity to accept it.

Also in Karachi at the same time was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of 9/11. KSM, as U.S. officials later called him, was the point man for getting money to the 19 hijackers. He did this in a number of different ways, including by sending $100,000 via courier to his nephew in Dubai, who would later wire it to the hijackers in the U.S. (In the interim, KSM’s nephew hid the cash in a laundry bag stored under his bed.)

According to court documents filed in the case against him, starting in December 1998 and continuing until May 2001 Omar Abdi Mohamed wrote 65 checks—some as small as $370; others as large as $60,000—to Dahabshiil. The total amount, some $370,000, is roughly the same as what the 9/11 Commission estimated as the cost of the plot. When John Pistole, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, testified in 2003 before the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, he acknowledged a “continuing investigation” into the “origin of the funding of 9/11 back to financial accounts in Pakistan.” When Pakistan’s CIA-equivalent raided Barre’s apartment in November 2001, its agents found that the Dahabshiil employee’s address book was full of aliases and phone numbers for senior Al Qaeda officials. They also interrupted Barre as he shredded documents.

To the people at Kreindler, there’s something else suspicious about Mohamed’s money transfers. It’s not just that he lied about them to the government. Or lied about the fact that he conducted them while working for the Saudis. It’s also the timing. The transfers came just months after two massive truck bombs went off almost simultaneously in front of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. One of the statements issued by 9/11 Commission staff shows that in the aftermath of those bombings, Vice President Al Gore made a trip to Riyadh with the express purpose of getting the Saudis to give American investigators more access to people who could shed light on Al Qaeda’s financial backing—people who were already in Saudi custody. The Saudis, the 9/11 Commission staff wrote, were “reluctant or unable to provide much help … the United States never obtained this access.”

Kreindler’s theory holds that in the wake of the embassy bombings and increased pressure from then-President Bill Clinton’s administration for the Saudis to provide investigative assistance, Al Qaeda was either encouraged or decided independently to make its money harder to trace. Kreindler’s complaint and other government documents, including the indictment against Omar Abdi Mohamed, trace a circuitous route that would take hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Chicago office of the Al Qaeda-linked charity Global Relief on to San Diego and Omar Abdi Mohamed’s Western Somali Relief Agency, then through the money transfer service Dahabshiil to Karachi, Pakistan, where a waiting Khalid Sheikh Mohammed sent it to his nephew in Dubai, who put it into the pockets of the 19 men who would travel to the United States.

Getty
Getty
Kreindler’s team knows the chain they’ve put together is missing a link. They have no direct evidence that when Mohamed wrote checks to Dahabshiil from his charity’s bank accounts that they ended up in the Karachi branch. Yet they do have Barre, the Al Qaeda operative who set it up, telling U.S. investigators specifically that he received money from Somalis in the U.S. Kreindler also has the knowledge that the U.S. Department of Defense has extensive records seized at the time of Barre’s arrest that they’ve yet to share with them or anyone else. They, of course, would like to see those records.

In the aftermath of the “28 pages” release, the Saudis once again proclaimed their innocence and asserted that the details within were vindicating. (Neither Michael Kellogg, the lawyer representing the Saudis in the lawsuit, nor the Saudi Embassy would answer questions for this story.) And there is always the possibility that a very small number of officials in one branch of government, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, went rogue without the knowledge or blessing of the kingdom’s royal family. But Kreindler has experienced that scenario before with Libya, where then-Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi paid the settlement even as he denied ordering the bombing. Even if that happens, Kreindler believes he and his clients still win.

There’s also another element that ties the 9/11 case back to Libya. “Our secret sauce,” says Kreindler, “is sharing all the information we have with Justice and State and then getting to the point where plaintiffs’ demand for compensation becomes part of U.S. policy.” In short, Kreindler thinks he can win by being transparent and accommodating with a series of administrations that have shown no willingness to offer their own transparency or accommodation.

***

Omar Abdi Mohamed’s second wife and their six children still live in San Diego today. When reached by phone, one of them, now an adult, says her father is living happily in Nairobi, Kenya, with his third wife, the Australian, and the children they have together. That adult daughter, who didn’t want to be named, says the family isn’t sure whether her father has plans to return to the United States, though she thinks he may have recently reached out to an immigration attorney. What Mohamed’s daughter does finally know is that the case she had always assumed was a mere religiously motivated witch hunt actually had the weight of evidence behind it. It’s fair to characterize her reaction to this new information as shock. She promised to pass along my contact information to Mohamed at his new home in Nairobi. She said she thought there was a chance he would call. So far he hasn’t.

Similar attempts to reach ICE’s Schultz and the FBI agent who helped investigate Mohamed were also unsuccessful. During Mohamed’s immigration trial, the government successfully persuaded a judge to suppress the evidence it had gathered against him, citing matters of national security. In late March, Jim Kreindler’s firm received a formal notice from the Justice Department that its request to review that evidence would be denied.

What happens next in Kreindler’s case against Saudi Arabia is unclear. JASTA allowed him and his firm to name the country as a defendant, but the bill has come under serious attack since its passage. (Congress overrode Obama’s veto, the first of his two terms.) Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham have spent a considerable amount of time arguing against it, and continue to argue to water it down, saying that if other countries pass similar laws the nation hurt most by the trend may be our own. Then there is the Saudi lobbying apparatus, which at one point last fall numbered more than 10 firms and millions of dollars in fees per month. Just recently, the Daily Caller reported that U.S. military veterans were allegedly being offered what they thought were merely free trips to Washington, D.C., that were actually a Saudi-backed attempt by a lobbying firm to use former service members to argue against JASTA.

Least known of all is what might happen now that Donald Trump is president. During the campaign, Trump described Obama’s veto of JASTA as “shameful” and “one of the low points of his presidency.” Once in office, however, Trump has seemingly reverted to the status quo. He recently held a series of high-level meetings with Saudi deputies that the country’s delegates described optimistically as a “historic turning point” in the two allies’ relationship. Trump’s administration is now said to be weighing even greater involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, which the Saudis see as a proxy battle with Iran, its primary Middle East antagonist. The Trump State Department has also approved a resumption of sales of precision-guided weapons to the Saudis, a measure that was suspended late in the Obama administration.

It seems exceedingly unlikely that Kreindler’s firm will receive anything like the sort of treatment it got from the U.S. government during its two decades-long case against Libya. Back then, the firm worked hand in glove with high-ranking officials in the State Department in order to resolve the Lockerbie case—paying victims’ families their settlement money was one of the conditions Qadhafi had to satisfy in order to have key economic sanctions finally lifted. In lieu of that level of support, Kreindler has identified a series of smaller measures Trump could take that would still help his case and, just as important, paint a fuller picture of the years and months of stateside planning prior to 9/11. Key among those are FBI reports that might shed light on who, if anyone, was helping the terrorists in the many other American cities in which they lived. As Bob Graham points out, the only reason the evidence in San Diego is compelling is because we actually know it, a result of some good detective work by a member of his Joint Inquiry staff. “I believe if we knew all the facts,” Graham says, “We would find that there were people similar to al-Bayoumi and Mohamed in southeast Florida, Virginia and New Jersey.”

That we don’t have definitive answers is a testament to the enduring secrecy that persists almost 16 years later. It’s also a testament to the patience of people like Kreindler, whose team has been working that whole time to get what it needs to prove its case, and who believes that no matter who is in office, there will only be one conclusion.

“If the president does nothing, we’ll still prevail,” he says. “The only question is how much longer it will take.”


http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/ ... yer-214996
More importantly, the way Cambridge Analytica gained access to some 30 million Facebook accounts without users’ consent, along with private voting records, raises serious privacy concerns.
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 23850
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

Re: One Man’s Quest to Prove Saudi Arabia Bankrolled 9/11

Postby Grizzly » Tue Jun 13, 2017 2:29 pm

bump... Thanks slad, this didn't go unnoticed. And I wanted to comment; just get overwhelmed with life, sometimes. And all the way the HYDRA (for lack of a better word) has power our very lives, on this 'mental plantation'.
If Barthes can forgive me, “What the public wants is the image of passion Justice, not passion Justice itself.”
User avatar
Grizzly
 
Posts: 1538
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 4:15 pm
Blog: View Blog (0)

Re: One Man’s Quest to Prove Saudi Arabia Bankrolled 9/11

Postby SoulsQuiver » Wed Jun 14, 2017 6:45 am

Western Somali Relief Agency was at 4979 University San Diego 92105. It is next door to a number of Somali mosques.
Fahad al-Thumairy from the Saudi Consulate in LA admits to having visited one of those mosques.
SoulsQuiver
 
Posts: 12
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:26 pm
Blog: View Blog (0)

Re: One Man’s Quest to Prove Saudi Arabia Bankrolled 9/11

Postby semper occultus » Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:36 pm

http://nypost.com/2017/09/09/saudi-government-allegedly-funded-a-dry-run-for-911/

Saudi government allegedly funded a ‘dry run’ for 9/11
By Paul Sperry September 9, 2017

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 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.”


Lawyers representing Saudi Arabia last month filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which may finally be headed toward trial now that Congress has cleared diplomatic-immunity hurdles. A Manhattan federal judge has asked the 9/11 plaintiffs, represented by lead law firm Cozen O’Connor, to respond to the motion by November.

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.

‘The dry run reveals more of the fingerprints of the Saudi government.’
- Kristen Breitweiser
“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.

Attempts to reach lawyers representing the Saudi government by phone and email were unsuccessful. However, in last month’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, they argued that the plaintiffs cannot prove the kingdom or its employees directly supported the hijackers.

Paul Sperry is a former Hoover Institution media fellow and author of “Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington.”
User avatar
semper occultus
 
Posts: 2821
Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2006 2:01 pm
Location: London,England
Blog: View Blog (0)

Re: One Man’s Quest to Prove Saudi Arabia Bankrolled 9/11

Postby Grizzly » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:34 am

Subversives eh?
Who and what defines Subversives?
If Barthes can forgive me, “What the public wants is the image of passion Justice, not passion Justice itself.”
User avatar
Grizzly
 
Posts: 1538
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 4:15 pm
Blog: View Blog (0)

Re: One Man’s Quest to Prove Saudi Arabia Bankrolled 9/11

Postby semper occultus » Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:02 am

that was published in Jan 2001 aswell
User avatar
semper occultus
 
Posts: 2821
Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2006 2:01 pm
Location: London,England
Blog: View Blog (0)

Re: One Man’s Quest to Prove Saudi Arabia Bankrolled 9/11

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Sep 16, 2017 10:01 am

'Will the 9/11 Case Finally Go to Trial?': Andrew Cockburn on New Evidence Linking Saudis to Attacks
Saudi Arabia is already trying to change the law so that they can’t be sued.
By Amy Goodman / Democracy Now! September 15, 2017, 1:53 PM GMT

Former Exxon CEO and current U.S. Sec. of State, Rex Tillerson, shakes hands with Saudi Defense Minister, Prince Mohammad bin Salman during Trump's recent visit.
Photo Credit: Saudi Press Agency via Twitter

As the nation marks the 16th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, questions still swirl about the role of Saudi Arabia in the attacks. The 9/11 attack was carried out by 19 hijackers, 15 of whom were from Saudi Arabia. Sixteen years after the attacks, 9/11 families and survivors are continuing their efforts to take Saudi Arabia to trial. Just this week, the New York Post reported new evidence presented in the case alleging the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., funded a "dry run" of 9/11 two years before the attacks. The families’ lawyers say the new allegations offer "a pattern of both financial and operational support" by the Saudi government. We speak with Andrew Cockburn, whose latest piece is headlined "Crime and Punishment: Will the 9/11 case finally go to trial?"

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: As the nation marks the 16th anniversary this week of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, questions still swirl about the role of Saudi Arabia. The 9/11 attacks were carried out by 19 hijackers. Fifteen of them were from Saudi Arabia. Sixteen years later, 9/11 families and survivors are continuing their efforts to take Saudi Arabia to trial. Just this week, the New York Post reported new evidence presented in the case alleging the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., paid for two Saudi nationals who were living in the U.S. undercover to fly from Phoenix to Washington, D.C., quote, "in a dry run for the 9/11 attacks," unquote. The families’ lawyers say the new allegations offer, quote, "a pattern of both financial and operational support" by the Saudi government.

We go now to Washington, D.C., where we’re joined by Andrew Cockburn. His latest piece in Harper’s is headlined "Crime and Punishment: Will the 9/11 case finally go to trial?"

Welcome, Andrew. Can you please lay out that case?

ANDREW COCKBURN: Well, the case, it’s a consolidation of various lawsuits that were brought in almost immediately after the attacks. And it alleges that the hijackers received material support and backing, and both financial and organizational, from agents of the Saudi government, acting in their capacity as agents of the Saudi government, and therefore, that the Saudi government is itself liable for the attacks on 9/11.

AMY GOODMAN: And talk about who the plaintiffs are.

ANDREW COCKBURN: Well, they’re a whole bunch of people, 6,500, roughly, in all. They are the, first of all, bereaved families, widows, parents, children, orphaned or not orphaned, but bereaved families, whose husbands, sons, mothers were killed in the attacks. Also includes survivors, people who were—you know, who were in the attacks but managed to at least escape with their lives, even if they were injured. And it also includes insurance companies, who had to pay out millions and billions of dollars in claims, but are now seeking to get some of that money back from the people they allege actually caused the attacks.

AMY GOODMAN: Andrew, last year, I interviewed former Senator Bob Graham, the former chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, co-chair of the joint congressional inquiry into the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This is what he said.

BOB GRAHAM: Immediately after 9/11, the government began to look for suspects who had helped these hijackers, and they focused on Iraq. They even had a concocted story that a representative of Saddam Hussein had met with al-Qaeda operatives in Prague, in the Czech Republic. That turned out to be false. My feeling is that what happened is they wanted to go to war with Iraq, had wanted to, particularly people like Cheney and Rumsfeld, and it was embarrassing to find out that the information that was becoming available seemed to more point to Saudi Arabia as having been the country that aided the 9/11, rather than Iraq. And so, the response to that is, let’s suppress the information about Saudi Arabia’s involvement, so that we don’t confuse the people in the Congress as we push hard to get authorization for war in Iraq.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s the former U.S. Senator Bob Graham. Talk more about what he’s saying, Andrew Cockburn.

ANDREW COCKBURN: Well, that’s right. I mean, in a way, there’s one thing that the Bush administration and Senator Graham agreed on, which was that the—for the hijacking, for the 9/11 operation to succeed, they had to have had the support of—the structured support of a nation-state, I mean, the elaborate—in terms of money, in terms of contacts, in terms of—you know, these were a bunch of, basically, sort of hicks, who—most of them, who arrived in this country, didn’t speak English, didn’t know people. And they were all taken care of and found places to live and given money and, you know, steered to flying lessons. You know, it was a very sophisticated or well-organized operation. And that had to have been—in Graham’s view, and, it seems, in mine, too, had to have been done by a state. Now, the Bush administration tried to say it was Iraq. In fact, they so wanted it to be Iraq, or wanted people to believe it was Iraq, that prisoners—interrogators at Guantánamo were under instructions to torture detainees in Guantánamo into admitting, falsely, this link between Iraq and the 9/11 hijackings.

AMY GOODMAN: So, why was Iraq the focus after—I mean, if you polled most people in the United States, they would not know that 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. Why was it in the interest, do you believe, of the state to do this?

ANDREW COCKBURN: Well, first of all, the relationship with Saudi Arabia is so sacrosanct in the eyes of the—if you want to call it, the sort of ruling apparatus in this country. And it runs very, very deep. You know, there’s all sorts of aspects to it—most vividly, obviously, the huge financial benefits that flow at least to the U.S. defense industry, the U.S. military-industrial complex, in terms of arms contracts, consultancy contracts for retired general officers. You know, there’s just a very close sort of symbiotic relationship between the two. The whole relationship of the oil companies to Saudi Arabia, you know, things that you wouldn’t think of. For example, every American—I’ve been informed that every time an American military flight flies over Saudi Arabia, which they really have to do to get to the big bases in the Gulf, they have to ask permission from the Saudis, which the Saudis, just to jerk our chain, occasionally refuse. There were subsidies on the price of oil for a long time. There was allegedly support in the worldwide network of mosques. So, you know, this was the idea that we would—even though they had just attacked us, that we would sort of suddenly turn on the Saudis, I think, just couldn’t—didn’t compute.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you—

ANDREW COCKBURN: Go on.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about Michael Jacobson, who he was and what he uncovered, Andrew?

ANDREW COCKBURN: He’s absolutely key. Let me say, Jacobson was an investigator on the Senate, the intelligence—the joint inquiry by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, which was chaired by Bob Graham, that was set up right after the attacks. Jacobson was an investigator in that. And really early on, he noticed an odd discrepancy, an odd mention in FBI files here in Washington, that seemed to say—that said that one of the hijackers had been in contact with an FBIinformant. And he thought, "This is quite interesting." And he wanted—he put in to go to San Diego. This is a hijacker, sorry, I should say, who had been living in San Diego. He pushed to go to San Diego to look into the files in the local FBI office. Interestingly, the then-head of the FBI, Mr. Mueller, Robert Mueller, now investigating the Trump—allegations about Donald Trump, pushed—moved heaven and earth to stop Jacobson going to San Diego. Nevertheless, the committee insisted he do so. And he went there and found most of what we know about the Saudi connection.

He found that in the files they had—there was plenty of information about a Saudi agent, Mr. al-Bayoumi, who everyone in the FBI, certainly, out there believed was a Saudi agent, who had been in close contact with the hijackers, who had found them a place to live in San Diego, had opened a bank account for them, had helped them—well, introduced them to people who helped them get flying lessons, helped them to get driver’s licenses—had basically been their case officer, it seemed. This was all turned up in—I mean, I could go on. You know, there’s other people. There were checks that went from the Saudi Embassy in Washington that went, more or less—I mean, indirectly, but in a pretty straightforward procedure—to the hijacker, or to Mr. Bayoumi, for looking after the hijackers. Mr. Bayoumi himself worked for a company owned by the Saudi Ministry of Defense, but never showed up to work.

AMY GOODMAN: Andrew, we just have 20 seconds, but the subtitle of your piece, "Will the 9/11 case finally go to trial?" Will it?

ANDREW COCKBURN: Yes. I mean, despite the best efforts of the U.S. government and court system. It’s moving remorselessly toward that. We’ve had the complaint. We’ve had the motion to dismiss, that will be answered. Looks like sometime next year we’ll actually get an actual trial going. And the Saudis, I might say, are freaked out about this. They’re making every effort to derail this thing, to try and get the law changed so that they can’t be sued.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there, but we will continue to follow it. Andrew Cockburn, Washington editor for Harper’s magazine. We’ll link to your piece, "Crime and Punishment."

And that does it for today’s broadcast. My co-host Juan González’s continuing speaking tour, you can check our website at Democracy Now! He’ll be in Tempe on Thursday, and Austin, as well.



Amy Goodman is the host of Democracy Now!, a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,200 stations in North America. She is the co-author of The Silenced Majority, a New York Times best-seller.
http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politi ... saudis-911



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZtXlqv97B0


Crime and Punishment

Will the 9/11 case finally go to trial?
By Andrew Cockburn

Download PdfRead Online
Single Page
Print Page
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.


Illustrations by Darrel Rees. Source photographs: King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud © Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa/Alamy; Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, September 20, 2001 © David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images; President George W. Bush and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, August 27, 2002 © Eric Draper/The White House/The New York Times

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.

ver 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.”


Source photographs: Anwar al-Awlaki © Tracy Woodward/The Washington Post/Getty Images; Abdussattar Shaikh’s San Diego home © Dave Gatley/The New York Times; hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 crashes into the South Tower of the World Trade Center © Spencer Platt/Getty Images; the San Diego skyline © Ian Dagnall/Alamy; hijacker Nawaf al-Hazmi; Colony Hotel, Delray Beach, Florida © Ian Dagnall/Alamy

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.”

1 Several years later, Awlaki would become notorious as a recruiter of terrorists; he was deemed so dangerous that President Obama ordered his execution by drone in Yemen, in 2011.
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.”

fter 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

2 Speaking to Harper’s Magazine, Zelikow denied the account and said that Lesemann, who had a security clearance, had been fired for “violating her security agreement.” He declined to elaborate further, citing what he called a “privacy issue.” Lesemann died in March 2017.
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.

o 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.”

imilarly 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.”
here 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.”

eanwhile, 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

3 Three of Johns’s colleagues in the veterans-against-JASTA effort echoed his argument that no laws had been broken. It was, in any case, a highly profitable enterprise for the organizers. Johns himself received $100,000, while the Trump Hotel billed Qorvis $270,000 for lodging, refreshments, and parking. In total, Saudi payments to their lobbyists during the JASTA fight ran to at least $1.3 million a month.
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.

Ironically, the newly released pages also resonated among a group of lawyers very far removed from the JASTA plaintiffs, but no less embroiled in the story of the attacks. In a courtroom in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, attorneys employed by the Defense Department were defending five of the original 9/11 conspirators, who were facing charges in a military court. Now these attorneys demanded that portions of the twenty-eight pages still being withheld by the government — a total of three pages — be made available to the defense. (The military judge rejected the motion in an order that was, naturally, withheld from the public at large.) Edwin Perry, who is defending Walid bin Attash, pointed out that his client and the other defendants were being held wholly responsible for the attacks. If there was information, he argued, that identified “other individuals more responsible,” then the government should make it known.

It seems a reasonable request.
https://harpers.org/archive/2017/10/cri ... hment-4/7/
More importantly, the way Cambridge Analytica gained access to some 30 million Facebook accounts without users’ consent, along with private voting records, raises serious privacy concerns.
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 23850
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)


Return to 9/11

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest