What We Know About Saudi Arabia’s Role in 9/11

The Saudi government still says it had no connection to the hijackers. Newly released classified information proves otherwise.


Photo credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Sometimes reality is so absurd, it outstrips anything conspiracy theorists could come up with. More than 13 years after the congressional investigation published its report into the events surrounding the 9/11 attacks, the much discussed “28 pages” on Saudi involvement in the terrorist assault, which were held back as too sensitive to publish, were released.

As it turns out, there are 29 pages, not 28, numbered 415 through 443 in the congressional inquiry into the 9/11 attacks. And deletions on the pages — sometimes words, often whole lines — add up to the equivalent of a total of three pages. So we still are not being given the full story.

It is instantly apparent the widely held belief for why the pages were not initially released — to prevent embarrassing the Saudi royal family — is true.

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The pages are devastating:

Page 415: “While in the United States, some of the September 11 hijackers were in contact with, and received support and assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi Government.… [A]t least two of those individuals were alleged by some to be Saudi intelligence officers.”

Page 417: One of the individuals identified in the pages as a financial supporter of two of the 9/11 hijackers, Osama Bassnan, later received a “significant amount of cash” from “a member of the Saudi Royal Family” during a 2002 trip to Houston.

Page 418: “Another Saudi national with close ties to the Saudi Royal Family, [deleted], is the subject of FBI counterterrorism investigations.”

Pages 418 and 419: Detained al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida had in his phone book the unlisted number for the security company that managed the Colorado residence of the then-Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan

Page 421: “a [deleted], dated July 2, 2002, [indicates] ‘incontrovertible evidence there is support for these terrorists inside the Saudi Government.’”

Page 426: Bassnan’s wife was receiving money “from Princess Haifa Bint Sultan,” the wife of the Saudi ambassador. (Her correct name is actually Princess Haifa bint Faisal.)

Page 436: The general counsel of the U.S. Treasury Department, David Aufhauser, testified “offices [of the Saudi charity al-Haramain] have significant contacts with extremists, Islamic extremists.” CIA officials also testified “they were making progress on their investigations of al-Haramain.… The head of the central office is complicit in supporting terrorism, and it also raised questions about [then-Saudi Interior Minister] Prince Nayef.”

On reading this, I let out a shout: “Yes!”

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In January 2002, U.S. News & World Report quoted two unidentified Clinton administration officials as saying that two senior Saudi princes had been paying off Osama bin Laden since a 1995 bombing in Riyadh, which killed five American military advisors. I followed up in an August 2002 Wall Street Journal op-ed, reporting U.S. and British officials told me the names of the two senior princes using official Saudi money — not their own — to pay off bin Laden to cause trouble elsewhere, but not in the kingdom. I referred to the princes in a later Wall Street Journal op-ed: They were Prince Nayef, the father of the current crown prince, Muhammad bin Nayef, and his brother Prince Sultan, then-defense minister and father of Prince Bandar. Both Prince Nayef and Prince Sultan are now dead.

The U.S. News & World Report article quoted a Saudi official as saying: “Where’s the evidence? Nobody offers proof.”

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That official was current Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who no doubt spent recent days lobbying members of Congress and doing advance damage control — my bet is probably using the same lines

With the release of the 29 pages, and their detailed description of the financial connections between the 9/11 hijackers and Saudi officials, Jubeir’s argument becomes increasingly difficult to make. The inquiry, after all, quotes a redacted source alleging “incontrovertible evidence there is support for these terrorists within the Saudi Government.”

Summary: New Trove of 9/11 Documents Released

Upon the pages’ release, Washington-based public relations firm Qorvis, which has a lucrative contract with the kingdom, released its own analysis that began with a quote from an interview CIA Director John Brennan gave to Al Arabiya on June 11. It reads in part: “There was no evidence to indicate the Saudi government as an institution, or senior Saudi officials individually, supported the 9/11 attacks.”
Very well, this could be right. However, it still allows for the possibility, indeed the probability, the actions of senior Saudi officials resulted in these terrorist outrages. I never suggested the Saudi government or members of the royal family directly supported or financed the 9/11 attacks.

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Yet official Saudi money ended up in the pockets of the attackers, without a doubt. I once asked a British official: “How do we know?” He replied we know what account the money came out of and where it ended up.
On Friday, Jubeir held a news conference at the Saudi Embassy in Washington where he declared, “The matter is now finished.”
Asked whether the report exonerated the kingdom, he replied: “Absolutely.”
I think not.

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5 thoughts on “What We Know About Saudi Arabia’s Role in 9/11

  1. Reblogged this on Marmalade and commented:
    This offers further context to a mystery that perplexed so many at the time. When American flights were grounded after the 9/11 terrorist attack, the Saudi royal family in the United States was allowed to take flights out of the country. This was done despite (or one suspects because) the Bush administration knew the terrorists came from Saudi Arabia. They were attempting to defuse a dangerous situation, as US geopolitical power is so dependent on alliance with Saudi Arabia.

    That Saudis have been funding religious extremists who sometimes commit terrorism has long been an open secret, but this is nothing new since the US has been supporting terrorist organizations going back to the Cold War. In fact, the US intentionally destroyed secularism in the Middle East and placed the theocrats into power. This puts the US government in an uncomfortable position after the American people suffered the blowback of their own government’s evil actions.

    This information, suppressed and silenced in the past, is dynamite. The US political elite have no rational or moral way of justifying the situation to the American people. They can’t explain why they hid this damning part of an official report, why this wasn’t taken seriously before (and by ‘they’ I mean Republicans and Democrats). These aren’t minor connections to Saudi officials and the number of these connections isn’t insignificant. It merits, at the very least, a massive public investigation that is done with full transparency and accountability, especially in light of the recent Saudi assassination of a journalist.


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