In December of 2002, Congress released its report on the “Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.” Part of that report, anyway: 28 pages remained classified until July 15, 2016, when they were finally presented to the public with significant redactions.
Why the long wait, and what do the 28 pages reveal?
If we’re to believe the headlines in Saudi media (e.g. Al Arabiya) and mainstream American media (e.g. Time and the Washington Times) the big news is what they don’t reveal: A “smoking gun” connecting the government of Saudi Arabia to the 9/11 attacks.
If we’re to believe the 28 pages themselves, the big news is that they do, in fact, reveal a “smoking gun” connecting the government of Saudi Arabia to the 9/11 attacks.
Here’s the opening sentence from the newly released material: “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 with the Saudi government.”
Among those individuals was Omar al-Bayoumi, who sported a “no-show” job at a company affiliated with the Saudi Ministry of Defense (the company reported that he visited their facilities once, thereafter collecting a continuing salary). When 9/11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hamzi and Khalid al-Midhar arrived in the United States, they stayed with al-Bayoumi until he found them an apartment and someone to help them get drivers’ licenses … and locate flight schools.
The two also appear to have received assistance from Osama Bassnan, who lived across the street from them in San Diego. According to the CIA, Bassnan received significant funds from Saudi government sources and members of the Saudi royal family. According to the FBI, Bassnan was a supporter of both Osama bin Laden and New York terror plotter Omar Abdel-Rahman.
Why are we only now finding out all this? Because four words make the whole thing problematic: “The Saudi royal family.” In particular, Prince Bandar bin-Sultan, Saudi ambassador to the US at the time, whose wife appears to have been the conduit through which money was routed to Osama Bassnan – and then, quite possibly, used to service the needs of the 9/11 plotters.
But Saudi Arabia controls much of the world’s oil supply either directly or as the dominant member of OPEC, the Saudi military buys lots of US-manufactured weaponry, and Saudi assets in the US – which the Saudi government threatened to sell off if the US changed its laws to hold them responsible for their role in the attacks – top $750 billion.
In other words, unlike Afghanistan’s Taliban regime, the Saudi regime carries considerable clout with the US government. In fact, Prince Bandar visited president George W. Bush at the White House immediately after the 9/11 attacks.
In response to those attacks, Afghanistan suffered US invasion, the overthrow of its government, and is now in its 15th straight year of war and occupation.
Saudi Arabia enjoyed not just a 13-year reprieve from the exposure of damning evidence, but seemingly better relations with the US government than ever before. Go figure.
Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism. He lives and works in north central Florida. This article is reprinted with permission from William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.