28 Pages of Saudi Ties to 9/11

by Greg Fernandez Jr. |September 9th, 2017

During an interview with Meet the Press host Tim Russert, on September 14th, 2003, Vice President Dick Cheney was asked about the connection between Iraq and the 9/11 terror attacks, “We learned more and more that there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda that stretched back through most of the decade of the ‘90s, that it involved training, for example, on biological weapons and chemical weapons, that al-Qaeda sent personnel to Baghdad to get trained on the systems that are involved; the Iraqis providing bomb-making expertise and advice to the al-Qaeda organization.”

Tim Russert reminded Cheney, “We could establish a direct link between the hijackers of September 11th and Saudi Arabia.”

“We know that many of the attackers were Saudi,” Cheney responded. “There was also an Egyptian in the bunch. It doesn’t mean those governments had anything to do with that attack. That’s a different proposition than saying the Iraqi government and the Iraqi intelligent service has a relationship with al-Qaeda that developed throughout the decade of the ‘90s. That was clearly official policy.”

“There are reports,” Russert explained, “that the investigation Congress did does show a link between the Saudi government and the hijackers but that it will not be released to the public.”

Cheney said he didn’t want to speculate on that, “It was the judgment of our senior intelligence officials, both CIA and FBI that that material needed to remain classified. At some point, we may be able to declassify it, but there are ongoing investigations that might be affected by that release and for that reason, we kept it classified. The committee knows what’s in there. They helped to prepare it. So it hasn’t been kept secret from the Congress, but from the standpoint of our ongoing investigations, we needed to do that.”

 

28 Pages

(Please read the twenty-eight pages in their entirety. This is simply a condensed version of the ties between the events of 9/11 and the Saudi Government.)

Twenty-eight pages of the 2002 “Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001” was finally declassified and released to the public on July 15th, 2016. “Together with additional views,” the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence called “for the establishment of a Director of National Intelligence, or DNI, who in addition to being the President’s principal intelligence adviser “shall have the full range of management, budgetary and personnel responsibilities needed to make the U.S. Intelligence Community operate as a coherent whole.””

For over fourteen years, pages 416 – 443 of the Joint Inquiry report remained classified. The twenty-eight pages, Part Four – Finding, Discussion and Narrative Regarding Certain Sensitive National Security Matters, focused on ties between September 11th hijackers and the government of Saudi Arabia. The Joint Inquiry report concluded, “While in the United States, some of the September 11 hijackers were in contact with, and received support or assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi Government. There is information, primarily from FBI sources, that at least two of those individuals were alleged by some to be Saudi intelligence officers.”

The Joint Inquiry also confirmed that “individuals associated with the Saudi Government in the United States may have other ties to al-Qa’ida and other terrorist groups.”

 

Omar al-Bayoumi

Two of the 9/11 hijackers, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, allegedly “received substantial assistance” from Omar al-Bayoumi when they arrived in San Diego in February of 2000.” A year later, on September 11th, 2001, al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi boarded American Airlines Flight 77, the aircraft which allegedly crashed into the Pentagon. “Shortly after meeting with someone at the Saudi Consulate in San Diego, al-Bayoumi then met with the two future hijackers. FBI files indicate that the “encounter with the hijackers may not have been accidental.”1 Between January and May of 2000, al-Bayoumi “called Saudi Government establishments in the United States almost 100 times.”2

While living in San Diego in the late 1990s, Omar al-Bayoumi was suspected of being a Saudi intelligence officer. The FBI “received numerous reports from individuals in the Muslim community, dating back to 1999, alleging that al-Bayoumi may be a Saudi intelligence officer.”3 Omar was a member of the Islamic Center of San Diego,4 whose mission today is to “to serve the religious needs of the San Diego Muslim population and work with the larger community to serve the less fortunate, to educate, and to better our nation.”

Al-Bayoumi received a monthly salary from Erean, a Saudi company affiliated with the Saudi Ministry of Defense “even though he had been there on only one occasion.”5 Someone at Erean refused to pay al-Bayoumi a monthly salary at first, “but he was told that his company would lose their contract if he did not pay him.” The Erean employee, or owner, “attributed this to Saudi corruption.”6

Erean is a subcontractor of Dallah and Avco, which held “contracts for cleaning and maintenance at the three major airports in Saudi Arabia.”7 Dallah and Avco are part of Dallah and Avco Trans Arab, which is a subsidiary of the Al Barakat Investment and Development Company. One of these companies, according to an FBI document, “has links to Usama Bin Laden. FBI Headquarters was informed of the affiliation between Dallah/Avco and Al Barakaat in February 2001, but the San Diego Field Office apparently never got this information.”8

An October 14th, 2002 FBI document revealed Omar al-Bayoumi had “extensive ties to the Saudi Government.” Between 1976 and 1993, al-Bayoumi worked as an accountant for the Saudi Civil Aviation Administration. He was in “frequent contact with the Emir at the Saudi Ministry of Defense, responsible for air traffic control.”9 He received $20,000 from the Saudi Ministry of Finance. In 1998, when applying to schools in the United States, Omar “had a letter from the Saudi Embassy, which stated that he was getting a full scholarship from the Government of Saudi Arabia.”10

According to the Joint Inquiry’s report, “Before the hijackers moved in with the long-time FBI informant, they stayed at al-Bayoumi’s apartment for several days.” When al-Bayoumi found an apartment for al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi, he co-signed their lease, and probably paid their first month’s rent and security deposit. Al-Bayoumi then threw a welcoming party to introduce the two men to the San Diego community. Modhar Abdullah, also a member of the Islamic Center of San Diego, soon became al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi’s “translator, helped them get drivers licenses and assisted them in locating flight schools.”11

Before Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi arrived in San Diego, Omar al-Bayoumi’s salary, or “allowance,” was $465 per month. In March of 2000, al-Bayoumi’s pay rate “jumped­ to over $3,700 a month and stayed constant until December 2000, when al-Hazmi left San Diego.” After al-Hazmi left San Diego, al-Bayoumi’s monthly salary dropped to $3,200. Omar left the United States one month before the September 11th terror attacks.12

Sometime before September 11th, 2001, Omar al-Bayoumi “received $400,000 from Saudi Arabia to help fund a new mosque in San Diego. The FBI conducted a counterterrorism investigation on al-Bayoumi in 1998 and 1999, but cleared the investigation at that point.”13

According to FBI reports, “After an exhaustive translation of Bayoumi’s documents, it is clear that in Bayoumi’s correspondence he is providing guidance to young Muslims and some of his writings can be interpreted as jihadist.”14

During a closed hearing before the Joint Inquiry, a former San Diego FBI agent testified that Omar al-Bayoumi “acted like a Saudi intelligence officer, in my opinion. And if he was involved with the hijackers, which it looks like he was, if he signed leases, if he provided some sort of financing or payment of sort, then I would say that there’s a clear possibility that there might be a connection between Saudi intelligence and UBL.”15

FBI agents discovered that “al-Bayoumi was in contact with at least three individuals at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC; two individuals at the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission in Washington, DC, and three individuals at the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles…he had the phone number for an individual at the Saudi consulate in London.”16

 

Osama Bassnan

Osama Bassnan lived in an apartment across the street from the two future hijackers, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, in San Diego, and spoke over the phone with Omar al-Bayoumi “several times a day while they both were in San Diego.” An FBI asset stated that Osama Bassnan and Omar al-Bayoumi were “close to each other for a long time.”17

According to the Joint Inquiry report, “Bassnan has many ties to the Saudi Government, including past employment by the Saudi Arabian Education Mission.” Some people from the San Diego Muslim community thought Omar Bassnan was a Saudi intelligence officer. Bassnan “reportedly received funding and possibly a fake passport from Saudi Government officials,” according to a CIA memo.18

In 1992, Bassnan “hosted a party for the Blind Shaykh at his house in Washington, DC in October 1992.” FBI assets reported how highly Bassnan spoke of Osama bin Laden, “Referring to Bin Laden as the official Khalifate and the ruler of the Islamic world.” Bassnan also told the asset there were “enough Muslims in the United States to destroy the United States and make it an Islamic state within ten to fifteen years.”19

Saudi Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar bin Sultan, of the House of Saud, sent Osama Bassnan a $15,000 check, which was cashed on May 14th, 1998. Before that, on January 8th, 1998, Bassnan’s wife cashed a check from the Saudi Ambassador’s wife, Princess Haifa. Between February 22nd, 1999, and May 30th, 2002, Bassnan’s wife received an additional $74,000 from Haifa.20

“What the money was for is what we don’t know,” FBI Executive Assistant Director D’Amuro told the Joint Inquiry.21

Bassnan’s close friend, Khaled al-Kayed, was “a commercial airline pilot and certified flight instructor living in San Diego. Al-Kayed admitted to the FBI that in May 2000, al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi contacted him about learning to fly Boeing jet aircraft.”22

Bassnan had connections to the Bin Laden family, in both Saudi Arabia and the United States.23

In 2002, Bassnan went to Houston where “a member of the Saudi Royal Family provided Bassnan with a significant amount of cash. FBI information indicates that Bassnan is an extremist and supporter of Usama Bin Ladin, and has been connected to the Eritrean Islamic Jihad and the Blind Shaykh.”24

 

Shaykh al-Thumairy

The Joint Inquiry report described Shaykh al-Thumairy as “an accredited diplomat at the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles and one of the “imams” at the King Fahad mosque in Culver City, California.” Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdulaziz funded the creation of the King Fahad mosque in 1998.25 9/11 Hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi both attended the mosque. “FBI documents indicate that Mohdhar Abdullah drove al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar to the King Fahad Mosque, before al-Mihdhar returned to Saudi Arabia.”

The Joint Inquiry staff reviewed a memorandum stating, “Initial indications are that al-Thumairy may have had a physical or financial connection to al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, but we are still looking at the possibility.” 26

“Also according to FBI documents, the mosque was built in 1998 from funding provided by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdulaziz. The mosque is reportedly attended by members of the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles and is widely recognized for its anti-Western views.” According to FBI and CIA reports, Shaykh al-Thumairy “may have been in contact” with both Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi before September 11th, 2001.27

Separately, CIA and FBI personnel “identified the Ibn Tamiya mosque in Culver City as a site of extremist related activity. Several subjects of FBI investigations prior to September 11 had close connections to the mosque and are believed to have laundered money through this mosque to non-profit organizations overseas affiliated with Usama Bin Ladin. In an interview, an FBI agent said he believed that Saudi Government money was being laundered through the mosque.” 28

 

Saleh al-Hussayen

The FBI labeled Saleh al-Hussayen as a “Saudi Interior Ministry employee/official.” 29 In September of 2001, Saleh al-Hussayen “stayed at the same hotel in Herndon, Virginia where [Nawaf] al-Hazmi was staying.” Several FBI agents at the Washington Field Office believed Saleh al-Hussayen “was being deceptive” when claiming he did not know any of the 9/11 hijackers. Saleh’s interview with the FBI ended abruptly when “al-Hussayen either passed out or feigned a seizure requiring medical treatment.”30 Sometime before 2002, al-Hussayen “was able to depart the United States despite FBI efforts to locate and re-interview him.”31

Saleh’s nephew, Sami Omar Hussayen, was under investigation by the FBI and had connections to the Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA). “According to the FBI, the IANA’s mission is actually to spread Islamic fundamentalism and Salafist doctrine throughout the United States and the whole world at large.”

Saleh al-Hussayen was “a major contributor to the IANA…according to FBI documents, IANA has solicited money from Prince Bandar, but the documents are unclear as to whether Bandar actually contributed money to the organization.”32

 

Abdullah bin Laden

Osama bin Laden’s half-brother, Abdullah bin Laden, claimed “to work for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. as an administrative officer…He is a close friend of Mohammed Quadir-Harunani, a possible associate of Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi prior to September 11, 2001.”33

In 1999, the FBI conducted a counterterrorism investigation on Mohammed Quadir-Harunani. Additionally, Abdullah bin Laden was the subject of several FBI investigations before September 11th, 2001. Abdullah “financed” Mohammed’s “company,” and the two frequently communicated via phone and email.34

Abdullah bin Laden was the President and Director of the World Arab Muslim Youth Association (WAMY) and the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America. Both of those non-governmental organizations are based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The FBI stated WAMY was “closely associated with the funding and financing of international terrorist activities and in the past has provided logistical support to individuals wishing to fight in the Afghan War.”35

 

Testing Security

In 1999, Mohammed al-Qudhaeein and Hamdan al-Shalawi boarded a plane in Phoenix, headed for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC. Mohammed and Hamdan claimed the flight was paid for by the Saudi Embassy. While on the flight, Mohammed and Hamdan “began asking flight attendants technical questions about the flight that the flight attendants found suspicious.” After a flight attendant told Mohammed al-Qudhaeein where the bathrooms were, in the back of the plane, Mohammed proceeded to go to the front of the plane “and on two occasions” tried to enter the cockpit. “The plane made an emergency landing and the FBI investigated the incident, but decided not to pursue a prosecution.”36

After 9/11, a report from the FBI’s Phoenix Field Office stated, “Phoenix FBI now believes both men were specifically attempting to test security procedures of America West Airlines in preparation for and in furtherance of UBL/Al Qaeda operations.” An FBI agent found Mohammed al-Qudhaeein’s profile “similar to that of al-Bayoumi and Bassnan.” Were FBI agents looking into the possibility that al-Qudhaeein was also a Saudi intelligence officer like al-Bayoumi and Bassnan? Al-Qudhaeein was “a student” in the United Stated and had no “visible means of income.” The FBI believed al-Qudhaeein received money from the Saudi Government at some point, while in the United States.37

 

Phone Numbers

On March 28th, 2002, senior al-Qaeda operative Abu Zabaida was captured at a safe house in Faisalabad, Pakistan. FBI documents showed that “several of the phone numbers found in the phone book of Abu Zabaida…could be linked, at least indirectly, to telephone numbers in the United States…One of those U.S. numbers is subscribed to by the ASPCOL Corporation, which is located in Aspen, Colorado, and manages the affairs of the Colorado residence of the Saudi Ambassador Bandar. The FBI noted that ASPCOL has an unlisted telephone number. A November 18, 2002 FBI response to the Joint Inquiry states that “CIA traces have revealed no direct links between numbers found in Zubaida’s phone book and numbers in the United States.””38

An unnamed male was interviewed by the FBI in June of 2002, after his Virginia phone number was found at an Osama bin Laden safe house in Pakistan, “He could not explain why his number ended up at a safehouse in Pakistan, but stated that he regularly provides services to a couple who are personal assistants to Prince Bandar.”39

 

Lack of Saudi Help

According to several FBI and CIA personnel, the Saudis displayed a lack of cooperation when it came to assisting with counterterrorism investigations, both before and after the September 11th attacks.40

“The former Chief of Alec station, the unit in the DCI’s Counterterrorist Center established in 1996 to focus specifically on Usama Bin Ladin, it was clear from about 1996 that the Saudi Government would not cooperate with the United States on matters relating to Usama Bin Ladin.”41

In May of 1999, a DCI Counterterrorist Center memo revealed why the Saudis were not helping the DCI with information about Osama bin Laden. Apparently, Osama bin Laden had “too much information about official Saudi dealings with Islamic extremists in the 1980s for Riyadh to deliver him into U.S. hands.” The former Chief of Alec Station felt that “Saudi assistance to the U.S. Government on this matter was contrary to Saudi national interests.”42

FBI Executive Assistant Director Pasquale D’Amuro told the Joint Inquiry, “To date, I can’t sit here and tell you that those ties go back, that we can prove that the Saudi royal family is sponsoring terrorism. But there’s enough smoke that we are conducting several investigations to try to determine what other information is out there.”43

During an October 9th, 2002 closed session with the Joint Inquiry, FBI Director Robert Muller admitted he was not aware of some of the facts about the Saudis until the Joint Inquiry staff investigated the sensitive issue, “I’m saying the sequence of events here, I think the staff probed and, as a result of the probing, some facts came to light here and to me, frankly, that had not come to light before, and perhaps would not have come to light had the staff not probed. That’s what I’m telling you. So I’m agreeing with you that the staff probing brought out facts that may not have come to this Committee.”

“But what you’re also saying,” Senator Mike Dewine clarified, “is that that probing then brought facts to your attention.”

“Yes,” Muller responded.”44

 

28 Pages Later

Inside the twenty-eight pages you will also find wire-transfers related to Osama bin Laden, links between al-Qaeda and the Saudi Government, and complaints from FBI agents about the lack of Saudi cooperation. The ties, however loose they may seem in these twenty-eight pages, between the Saudis and the events of 9/11 cannot be denied, and should be investigated further. The real question is what United States intelligence agencies did with this information. Were the twenty-eight pages classified because Saudi connections to terrorism were being investigated, or because the United States Government did not want to investigate their ally?

 

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  1. pg.416
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