The death of American jihadist Douglas McAuthur McCain in Syria raised few eyebrows. It is no secret that there are about 7,000 foreigners fighting alongside the terrorists known as the Islamic State of Islam (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq, of which perhaps 150 to 300 are American.
McCain was a Christian who converted to Islam and many times posted his religious beliefs on social media, which may have connected him to ISIS terrorists overseas.
Some fear that terrorist groups are recruiting and working within the United States. Growing evidence seems to point to that conclusion, enough for the federal government to be investigating more than a few cases. One hits close to home.
Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha died in northern Syria earlier this year, having taken part in a suicide bombing as a member of al-Nusra Front, an al Qaida-linked terrorist organization. Abu-Salha died in May after detonating a truck full of explosives outside a restaurant that was popular with soldiers.
He was from Florida; some reports indicate that he lived 130 miles from Miami, though others pin him further north. The Sunshine State is no stranger to terrorists some of Osama bin Laden’s most militant fighters, such as Mohammed Atta, lived low-key, unassuming lives in Coral Springs with other terrorists using simulators to learn how to pilot airplanes. Oddly, they had no clear means of support, nor did they speak English even at a passing grade.
None of this information is new except that we, as a nation, have a tremendous capacity to turn the page on events and sometimes forget what we have seen. That is not the case with Florida’s former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, who has been fighting both the Bush and Obama administrations to declassify 28 pages of a 9/11 intelligence report that may detail and expose the efforts of members of the Saudi Arabian royal family in aiding and abetting these terrorists in Florida, many who were themselves Saudi.
Graham is befuddled as to why the Obama administration does not release these documents, which he read when he was chair of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee and co-chair of a congressional inquiry into the 9/11 attacks. As a result, he has joined a Freedom of Information Act request alongside others, asking that 80,000 pages of information on a Saudi family that disappeared just before the attacks be made public.
"It isn’t credible that 19 people most that could not speak English well and did not have experience in the United States could carry out such a complicated task without external assistance," Graham insists in an interview on WPBT2’s public affairs show Issues, which I host. The Saudi family living in Sarasota fled to Saudi Arabia just prior to the 9/11 attacks. Were they tipped off that they should leave? If so, by whom?
Graham believes that there was a deliberate effort to cover up Saudi involvement in the tragedy of 9/11 by the Bush administration, one, he says, that the Obama administration appears to support.
One thing is clear: The United States has a complex relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is our strategic ally, while at the same time tolerant of members of government or the royal family who support terrorists.
In the past, both countries agreed on economic and political issues that led to regional stability, but over the years mistrust and misunderstanding have cast a shadow over this relationship.
The Saudis were not pleased when the United States distanced itself from Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, for example. At the same time, the United States is concerned about Saudi Arabian support of Islamic extremists around the world.
The relationship between the two is entering a new phase, one that is not heavily based on U.S. reliance on Saudi oil but, rather, a more regional partnership to achieve certain goals. Graham has catalogued this as "a perfidious relationship." Given the suspicious Saudi link with 9/11 terrorists, why the United States did not rethink this alliance before?
The American public needs to know. The families of those who were lost to the 9/11 attacks or those who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq deserve an answer as well.
Helen Aguirre Ferré is an award-winning, bilingual journalist who maneuvers through various media platforms to deliver the news and analysis in print and broadcast media.
This originally appeared in the Miami Herald and is reprinted with permission.