Submitted by: Veronica Coffin
Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee released the long-awaited and much-speculated-about 28 pages from the report by the congressional Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001. 9/11 was the worst attack on U.S. soil in U.S. history, second only to the 1941 Imperial Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Until yesterday, those 28 pages had been classified, and therefore withheld from the American people, by both the George W. Bush and Obama Administrations.
The released 28 pages still contain a number of redactions, that appear to be the names of individuals and of Saudi businesses. The pages also make clear that they are based on FBI and CIA documents that the Joint Inquiry had not itself investigated, using the lame excuse that it did not have the resources to conduct such an investigation, which of course is horse manure.
As rumored, the 28 pages indeed implicate Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but not of other rumored countries/governments, such as Israel. The Saudi government has issued a denial, but the 28 pages again and again point to Saudi government officials as being associated and met with, and financially supporting the 9/11 hijackers, including:
- Former Saudi ambassador to the U.S. Prince Bandar and his wife; “blind” Shaykh al-Thumairy; and Abdullah Bin Laden, brother of Osama Bin Laden.
- Saudi intelligence officers Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Bassnan.
- Saudi companies and mosques in the U.S. with connections to the Saudi government,
The 28 pages are in PDF format that does not enable copy-and-paste. I have therefore painstakingly transcribed the bulk of the pages into text (see below). To read the 28 pages in PDF, go here.
From the formerly-classified 28 pages:
PART FOUR–FINDING, DISCUSSION AND NARRATIVE REGARDING CERTAIN SENSITIVE NATIONAL SECURITY MATTERS
Finding: 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. 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’s review confirmed that the Intelligence Community also has information, much of which has yet to be independently verified, indicating that individuals associated with the Saudi Government in the United States may have other ties to al-Qa’ida and other terrorist groups. The FBI and CIA have informed the Joint Inquiry that, since the September 11 attacks, they are treating the Saudi issue seriously, but both still have only a limited understanding of the Saudi Government’s ties to terrorist elements. In their testimony, neither CIA nor FBI witnesses were able to identify definitely the extent of Saudi support for terrorist activity globally or within the United States and the extent to which such support, if it exists, is knowing or inadvertent in nature. The FBI’s Washington Field Office created a squad devoted to [redacted]. Only recently and at least in part due to the Joint Inquiry’s focus on this issue, did the FBI and CIA establish a working group to address the Saudi issue. In the view of the Joint Inquiry, this gap in U.S. intelligence coverage is unacceptable, given the magnitude and immediacy of the potential risk to U.S. national security. The Intelligence Community needs to address this area of concern as aggressively and quickly as possible.
Discussion: One reason for the limited understanding is that it was only after September 11 that the U.S. Government began to aggressively investigate this issue. Prior to September 11, the FBI apparently did not focus investigative resources on [redacted] Saudi nationals in the United States due to Saudi Arabia’s status as an American “ally.” A representative of the FBI [redacted] testified that, prior to September 11, 2001, the FBI received “no reporting from any member of the Intelligence Community” that there was a [redacted] presence in the United States.
According to various FBI documents and at least one CIA memorandum, some of the September 11 hijackers, while in the United States, apparently had contacts with individuals who may be connected to the Saudi Government. While the Joint Inquiry uncovered this material during the course of its review of FBI and CIA documents, it did not attempt to investigate and assess the accuracy and significance of this information independently, recognizing that such a task would be beyond the scope of this Joint Inquiry. Instead, the Joint Inquiry referred a detailed compilation of information uncovered by the Inquiry in documents and interviews to the FBI and CIA for further investigation by the Intelligence Community and, if appropriate, law enforcement agencies. A brief summary of the available information regarding some of these individuals is illustrative for purposes of this report:
- Omar al-Bayoumi. The FBI has received numerous reports from individuals in the Muslim community, dating back to 1999, alleging that al-Bayoumi may be a Saudi intelligence officer. FBI files suggest that al-Bayoumi provided substantial assistance to hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi after they arrived in San Deigo in February 2000. Al-Bayoumi met the hijackers in a public place shorting after his meeting with an individual at the Saudi consulate and there are indications in the files that his encounter with the hijackers may not have been accidental. During this same time-frame, al-Bayoumi had extensive contact with Saudi Government establishments in the United States and received financial support from a Saudi company affiliated with the Saudi Ministry of Defense. According to the FBI files, [redacted] at the company said that al-Bayoumi received a monthly salary even though he had been there on only one occasion. This support increased substantially in April 2000, two months after the hijackers arrived in San Diego, decreased slightly in December 2000, and stayed at the same level until August 2001. That company reportedly had ties with Usami Bin Laden and al-Qa’ida. In addition, the FBI determined that al-Bayoumi was in contact with several individuals under FBI investigation and with the Holy Land Foundation, which has been under investigation as a fundraising front for Hamas.
- Osama Bassnan. Bassnan may have been in contact with al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi during their time in San Diego. Bassnan was a close associate of al-Bayoumi and Omar Bakarbashat, another one of the hijackers’ close associates. He also lived across the street from the hijackers, and made a comment to an FBI asset that he did more than al-Bayoumi did for the hijackers. According to an FBI document, Bassnan told another individual that he met al-Hazmi through al-Bayoumi and later that he met two of the hijackers through al-Bayoumi. He also told the asset that al-Bayoumi was arrested because he knew al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi very well. The document goes on to state that Bassnan and al-Bayoumi have been “close to each other for a long time.” Bassnan has many ties to the Saudi Government, including past employment by the Saudi Arabian Education Mission, referred to in FBI documents as [redacted]. The FBI also received reports from individuals in the Muslim community alleging that Bassnan may be a Saudi intelligence officer. According to a CIA memo, Bassnan reportedly received funding and possibly a fake passport from Saudi Government officials. He and his wife have received financial support from the Saudi Ambassador to the United States and his wife. A CIA report also indicates that Bassnan traveled to Houston in 2002 and met with an individual who was [redacted]. The report states that during that trip 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 Laden, and has been connected to the Eritrean Islamic Jihad and the Blind Shaykh;
- Shaykh al-Thumairy. According to FBI documents and a CIA memorandum, al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar may have been in contact with Shaykh al-Thumairy, an accredited diplomat in the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles and one of the “imams” at the King Fahad mosque in Culver City, California. 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;
- Saleb al-Hussayen. In September 2001, Saleb al-Hussayen, reportedly a Saudi Interior Ministry official stayed in the same hotel in Herndon, Virginia where al-Hazmi was staying. While al-Hussayen claimed after September 11 not to know the hijackers, FBI agents believed he was being deceptive. He was able to depart the United States despite FBI efforts to locate and re-interview him; and
- Abdullah Bin Laden. Abdullah Bin Laden claims to work for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. as an administrative officer. He is identified by the FBI as Usama Bin Laden’s half brother. He is a close friend of Mohammed Quadir-Harunani, a possible associate of [9/11 hijackers] Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi prior to September 11, 2001.
The Joint Inquiry also found other indications that individuals connected to the Saudi Government have ties to terrorist networks, including:
- The CIA and FBI have identifed the Ton Tamiyah Mosque in Culver City as a site of extremist-related activity. Several subjects of FBI investigation 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 Laden.In an interview, an FBI agent said he believed that Saudi Government money was being laundered through the mosque;
- Another Saudi national with close ties to the Saudi Royal Family, [redacted], is the subject of FBI counterterrorism investigations and reportedly was checking security at the United States’ southwest border in 1999 and discussing the possibility of infiltrating individuals into the United States;
- According to FBI documents, several of the phone numbers found in the phone book of Abu Zubaida, a senior al-Qa’ida operative captured in Pakistan in March 2002, could be linked, at least indirectly, to the 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.”
- According to an FBI document, the telephone number of a body guard at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC, who some have alleged may be a[redacted] — was also found in Abu Zabaida’s possessions; and
- According to an FBI agent in Phoenix, the FBI suspects Mohammed al-Qudhaeein of being [redacted]. Al-Qudhaeein was involved in a 1999 incident aboard an American West flight, which the FBI’s Phoenix office now suspects may have been a “dry run” to test airline security. During the flight, al-Qudhaeein and his associate asked the flight attendants a variety of suspicious questions; al-Qudhaeein then attempted to enter the cockpit on two occasions. Al-Qudhaeein and his associate were flying to Washington, D.C. to attend a party at the Saudi Embassy, and both claimed their tickets were paid for by the Saudi Embassy. During the course of its investigations, the FBI has discovered that both al-Qudhaeein and the other individual involved in this incident had connections to terrorism.
Finally, the Committees are particularly concerned about the serious nature ofallegations contained in a CIA memorandum found by the Joint Inquiry Staff in the files of the FBI’s San Diego Field Office. That memorandum, whichdiscusses alleged financial connections between the September 11 hijackers, Saudi Government officials, and members of the Saudi Royal Family, was drafted by a CIA officer [redacted], relying primarily on information from FI files. The CIA officer sent it to the CTC to determine whether CIA had additional information. He also provided a copy to the FBI agent responsible for the investigation of one of the individuals discussed in the memorandum. Despite the clear national implications of the memorandum, the FBI agent included the memoradum in an individual case file and did not forward it to FBI Headquarters. FBI Headquarters, therefore, was unaware of statements in the memorandum until the Joint Inquiry brought the memorandum’s implications to the Bureau’s attention. [redacted]
Possible Saudi Government Connections to Terrorists and Terrorist Groups
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, from FBI sources, that at least two of these individuals were alleged to be Saudi intelligence officers. The Joint Inquiry’s review confirmed that the Intelligence Community also has information, much of which remains speculative and yet to be independently verified, indicating that Saudi Government officials in the United States may have other ties to al-Qa’ida and other terrorist groups. […]
In their testimony before the Joint Inquiry, neither the CIA nor the FBI was able to definitively identify for these Committees the extent of Saudi support for terrorist activity globally or within the United States and the extent to which such support, if it exists, is intentional or innocent in nature. Both the FBI and CIA have indicated to the Committees that they are now aggressively pursuing Saudi-related terrorism issues. […]
It should be clear that this Joint Inquiry has made no final determination as to the reliability or sufficiency of the information regarding these issues that we found contained in FBI and CIA documents. It was not the task of this Joint Inquiry to conduct the kind of extensive investigation that would be required to determined [sic] the true significance of any such alleged connections to the Saudi Government. On the one hand, it is possible that these kinds of connections could suggest, as indicated in a [redacted] dated July 2, 2002, “incontrovertible evidence that there is support for these terrorists within the Saudi Government.” On the other hand, it is also possible that further investigation of these allegations could reveal legitimate, and innocent, explanations for these associations.
Given the serious national security implications of this information, however, the leadership of the Joint Inquiry is referring the staff’s compilation of relevant information to both the FBI and the CIA for investigative review and appropriate investigative and intelligence action.
~End of transcription~
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