9/11 pages released - reveal links to Saudi

People walk in the street in the area where the World Trade Center buildings collapsed September 11, 2001. Photo / Getty
People walk in the street in the area where the World Trade Center buildings collapsed September 11, 2001. Photo / Getty

The 28 formerly classified pages of the 9/11 report have been released, revealing a myriad of supposed links between the hijackers and Saudi officials.

The documents say two of the hijackers were 'in contact with, and received support or assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi government'.

It also states that the FBI and CIA were aware of possible links between terrorists Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi and two Saudi government officials, one of whom had connections to the Saudi ambassador to the U.S.

Both al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 - the plane that was crashed into the Pentagon.

The declassified pages also suggest that Osama bin Laden's half-brother, Abdullah, worked for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC, and was in charge of an organization believed to support terror.

They also reveal that the FBI had evidence suggesting a 'close associate' of Abdullah was in contact with Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi, who were on board the planes flown into the World Trade Center.

Despite the vast collection of evidence, the White House say the documents show no evidence of Saudi involvement in the attacks on September 11, 2001, in which 2,997 innocent people died.

The report lays bare the sheer number of links between the hijackers and prominent Saudis that were deemed worthy of further examination by the FBI and CIA.

The report states that Osama bin Laden's half-brother, Abdullah bin Laden, claimed that he worked as an administrative officer in the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC.

FBI files cited in the report say Mohammed Rafique Quadir Harunami - an associate of Abdullah - was in contact with 9/11 hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi.

The rubble of the World Trade Center smoulders. Photo / Getty
The rubble of the World Trade Center smoulders. Photo / Getty

Atta was on board American Airlines Flight 11 when it crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, while al-Shehhi was on United Airlines Flight 175 when it hit the South Tower.

The FBI believed Abdullah had 'a number of connections to terrorist organizations', according to the report.

He was president and director of the World Arab Muslim Youth Association, which the FBI believed was 'closely associated with the funding and financing of international terrorist activities'.

According to a CIA paper in 1998, the group had links to Hamas, Algerian extremists and militants in the Philippines.

The previously secret pages include a finding that while in the U.S., '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'.

The pages provide information from FBI sources that 'at least two of those individuals were alleged by some to be Saudi intelligence officers.'

Although the report said the information had 'yet to be verified' at the time, it was also in the possession of the intelligence community.

It also cited information that people 'associated with the Saudi Government' in the U.S. 'may have other ties' to Al Qaeda.

The documents state that in March 2002, U.S. security officers obtained the telephone book of Abu Zubaida - a key al-Qaeda operative.

Smoke comes out from the Southwest E-ring of the Pentagon building September 11, 2001. Photo / Getty
Smoke comes out from the Southwest E-ring of the Pentagon building September 11, 2001. Photo / Getty

Several of the numbers discovered linked back to the U.S., including the number for ASPCOL Corporation in Aspen, Colorado.

ASPCOL is the umbrella corporation that manages the affairs of the Colorado residence of Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the United States.

The report makes clear that a later investigation found that 'CIA traces have revealed no direct links between numbers found in Zubaida's phone book and numbers in the United States'.

The report also states that the FBI discovered that a man named Saleh al-Hussayen, who appeared to work for the Saudi Interior Ministry, stayed at the same hotel in Virginia as hijacker al-Hazmi.

When al-Hussayen was questioned by the FBI, he denied knowing the hijackers but agents believed he was 'being deceptive'.

He then 'either passed out or feigned a seizure requiring medical treatment', the report states, citing FBI intelligence.

After several days in hospital, he 'managed to depart the United States despite law enforcement efforts to locate and re-interview him'.

The FBI documents reviewed for the report also suggest that 'several Saudi naval officers were in contact with the September 11 hijackers, specifically al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi.

One officer, Lafi al-Harbi, phoned the pair nine times during a 17-day period in March 2000, the once-classified report says.

Among the most chilling pages in the documents one which relates to Osama Bassnan, who the documents identify as a financial supporter of two of the 9/11 hijackers in San Diego.

It states that he had made 'laudatory' remarks about bin Laden and, according to an informant, spoke of him 'as if he were a God'.

During the early 1990s Bassnan had heard that the US government had stopped foreign students from getting visas to America.

But this did not bother him as there were 'already enough Muslims in the United States to destroy the United States and make it an Islamic State within 10 to 15 years'.

The FBI were also investigating a terrorist suspect with 'close ties' to a member of the Saudi royal family, the report states.

The suspect - whose name is redacted - was an employee of Saudi Arabian Airlines and came under investigation after his contact details were found in Zubaida's phone book, according to the newly declassified documents.

Another terrorist suspect who was interrogated at Guantanamo Bay told U.S. security officials that the suspect with supposed links to Saudi royals had a 'source of income through a Saudi prince' named Khalid al-Bandar.

The detainee at Guantanamo - who is not named in the report - said the other suspect did administrative jobs for the prince and his grandmother, and also traveled with him to Europe and the U.S., allowing him to avoid proper customs checks.

The FBI also feared that the man and others were 'using their status as Saudi Arabian Airlines employees as a cover to enable them to tansport weapons in and ut of the United States', the pages say.

The declassified documents also make clear that the in the years before 9/11 the Saudi government repeatedly blocked efforts by the American authorities to investigate bin Laden.

A veteran New York FBI agent is quoted as saying the Saudis had been 'useless and obstructionist for years' - but there was nothing they could do about it.

According to a 1996 memo from the CIA unit set up to look into bin Laden, the Saudis refused to help because 'bin Laden had too much information about official Saudi dealings with Islamic extremists in the 1980s for Riyadh to deliver him to US hands'.

The FBI highlighted the case of Madani Al-Tayyib who was bin Laden's financier and managed all of his expenses during the 1990s.

According to the documents, the Saudis 'continually refused' requests from the US to interrogate him.

Incredibly, the Saudis said at one point he was 'just a poor man who who lost his leg. He doesn't know anything'.

Despite the long list of connections, later investigations found no evidence that the Saudi government or senior Saudi officials knowingly supported those who orchestrated the attacks.

Terry Strada, ‎National Chair of the 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism, had campaigned for the 28 pages to be declassified.

Ms Strada, whose husband Tom died on 9/11, told Daily Mail Online: 'This is just the tip of the iceberg. It might answer 100 questions but it asks 1,000 more.

'I still don't know why they decided to declassify this in the first place, and there should be no redactions. 'We should be getting transparency on this.

'I would still like a full independent judicial committee to look into the links between the Saudi government and 9/11.

'We deserve to have it'.

Former President George W. Bush classified the chapter to protect intelligence sources and methods and perhaps to avoid upsetting Saudi Arabia, a close U.S. ally.

President Barack Obama ordered a declassification review of the chapter, which Congress released on Friday.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the report 'does not change the assessment of the U.S. government that there's no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded Al Qaeda'.

Former Democratic Senator Bob Graham of Florida, who co-authored the 2003 report and pushed for the release of the classified material, told '60 Minutes' in April he believed Saudi Arabia was 'substantially' behind the attack.

Pressed on whether that meant the government, rich people, charities, he replied: 'All of the above.'

- NZ Herald

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