by Larisa Alexandrovna Horton Antiwar.com
The classified 28 Pages of the Congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11 report have finally been made public, although in redacted form. It took fourteen years for the public to see this document, which was classified by the Bush Administration.
The 28 Pages make it clear that the hijackers had handlers who were reporting to, funded by and taking directions from figures at the highest levels of the Saudi government. But to understand why that conclusion follows inescapably from the revelations in these pages, it is essential to know how these lines of control work, both in intelligence agencies in general and within the Saudi royal family in particular.
Together with what is already known, this document is explosive.
Reports related to the 28 Pages – as well as all US and foreign government talking points – have focused on two claims in order to discredit or minimize the document:
- The information contained within the 28 page document is “raw” and unvetted.
- There is no new information in the document.
Neither of these talking points is true. The 28 Pages document has been classified for 14 years. In that time, many of the allegations contained within it have been leaked to the press, including FBI investigations of the allegations, the context of the allegations, as well as the confirmation of the allegations. The CIA has also leaked additional information related to this document. So while this document and the allegations within it may have been “raw” data in 2002, that is no longer the case.
The arguments that the 28 Pages provides no new information does not account for the new pieces of information that it does include as well as the context it provides.
Intelligence Stations and Operations
Intelligence organizations function via a strict chain of information delivery and also a firewall of information sequestering.
In order to fully grasp the connections of the people named in the 28 Pages, it is imperative that readers have a good grasp of how intelligence agencies work and are structured. By understanding how the people named relate to one another and their particular functions, people will come to the inescapable conclusion that these relationships cannot be written off as mere coincidence.
The basic questions the 28 Pages (and other related documents) raise are all related to how certain Saudi nationals could function in the United States and be supported by the Saudi government without the Saudi government knowing what it was supporting. The 28 Pages document does not answer these questions, but the pattern that emerges suggests that at the very least the Saudi government was actively involved in supporting the handlers of the hijackers.
Because most intelligent agencies are structured like the Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA will be used as a model for the purposes of this discussion. The CIA has its headquarters in its home country, specifically at Langley.
Foreign stations are “officially” located within the embassy of the home country. For example, the US embassy in Rome houses the CIA Rome station. These stations are known to the host country (for example, Italy), hence they are official. The host country usually does not know which employees are diplomats, embassy/consulate employees and which are spies, as all employees have official cover (meaning, they work for the embassy or consulate in some capacity). There are other “unofficial” stations. Those are unknown to the host country.
Regardless of status as ally or enemy, intelligence surveillance covers all foreign territory and activity. The emphasis on priority and the type of intelligence collected might change if the target is an ally, but intelligence gathering in general continues. This is an important point that will later be discussed in the 28 Pages section.
Each station has a leader, called a Station Chief. That person reports directly to headquarters and their direct supervisor. For example, the CIA chief of station for Beirut reports directly to the head of the Middle East and Near East division of the Department of Operations at the CIA. That person in turn reports directly to the the Director of the CIA. In many cases, the Ambassador of the embassy where the station is located is read into relevant reports. All important information would be related by the Director of the CIA to the White House and the National Security Council.
There are only two, in some cases maybe three, direct channels by which information flows into the leadership.
In addition, all satellite embassy/consulate offices would report directly to the main embassy head – the ambassador.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence and military agencies are structured much like this. In fact, they are modeled after the CIA. But as the key posts are held by members of the same family, the sequestrating of information is likely not as stringent. That is important, because it goes to the question of who inside the Saudi Government would know what and when they would know it.
Saudi Royals/Government Officials Mentioned in the 28 Pages
In the years since the classification of the 28 page document, a good portion of what was included has been investigated and leaked to the public. As a result, we know who most of the people mentioned directly as well as those whose identity is merely hinted at. Below is a list of the people already known to be discussed or hinted at in the 28 Pages as well as the historical information about them.
Bandar is the highest Saudi government official mentioned in the 28 Pages document. While at the time of the 9/11 attacks he was the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, his position in the Saudi Royal Family is much higher.
Unlike ambassadorships appointed in the US – which are strictly political or token gestures – Bandar’s background is much more complex and strategic.
Within the Saudi Royal Family, which is also the Saudi Government, there exists a family faction that is more powerful then the larger family. This group is called the Sudari Seven, which is made up of seven full brothers fathered by the Saudi Kingdom’s founding monarch and his favorite wife Hussa. The Sudari Seven are the full brothers who, along with their sons and grandsons, control the key posts in the Saudi Government, including the throne. Prince Sultan is one of the Sudari Seven and he is also the father of Prince Bandar.
Sultan was head of the Ministry of Defense and Aviation and later became Crown Prince – second to the throne – in 2005. Some of the Saudi nationals mentioned in the 28 Pages appear to be receiving funding directly through the Ministry of Defense or through its front companies.
Father and son (Sultan and Bandar) both held key positions in the Saudi Government at the same time and received promotions at the same time. It is valid to ask if Sultan knew what Bandar was doing and if Bandar knew what Sultan was doing. Since they are father and son, one would assume they likely knew. On the other hand, as they held different government positions with specific channels of intelligence flow, their mutual knowledge about these key events remains unclear.
From 1983 – 2005, Bandar served as the Saudi Ambassador to the United States. In this position, he reported directly to the King. In 2005, he was promoted to head of GID (Saudi Intelligence, like the CIA). This is the same year that his father, Prince Sultan, becomes Crown Prince.
The 28 Pages strongly implicate Bandar and his wife (his half cousin) in funding Saudi nationals who provided support for the 9/11 hijackers. While the 28 page document does not implicate Bandar in any direct contact or support for the hijackers themselves, it does show that without Bandar’s assistance to certain other Saudi nationals, the hijackers could not have completed their mission.
Bandar was also the person who organized the now infamous departure of all Saudi nationals in the US within days of 9/11, including members of the bin Laden family.
The official King of Saudi Arabia at the time of the 9/11 attacks was King Fahd, who after having suffered a stroke in the 1980s, was a ruler in name only. The technical, de facto, ruler of the Kingdom in 2001 was actually his half brother, Abdullah. After the death of Fahd in 2005, Abdullah became the official King. So all references in this discussion to the King as related to the 2001 attacks are strictly about Abdullah, not Fahd.
GID – Prince Turki
The Saudi General Intelligence Directorate (GID) was headed by Prince Turki up until 10 days before the September 11 attacks. He resigned abruptly. No public explanation has been given. Prince Turki is the full brother of Princess Haifa, the wife of Prince Bandar.
That means that the top three government positions under the King were filled by a family within a larger family: Sultan as head of the Ministry of Defense; his son Bandar as the key face of Saudi Arabia in the United States; and Bandar’s brother-in-law/half cousin, Turki, who was head of intelligence.
In 1998, Prince Turki allegedly made a deal with Osama bin Laden. The latter would stay out of Saudi Arabia and not attack targets inside the Kingdom. In exchange, bin Laden would get funding for the Taliban, al Qaeda training camps and would not face extradition. Businesses of Saudi origin would also provide bin Laden with direct monetary support. The US learned of this deal after the September 11 attacks.
In 2005, Turki would replace Bandar as the Saudi Ambassador to the United States. He abruptly resigned the position in 2006. Bandar took Turki’s place in 2005 as the head of the GID.
Although Turki is not named in the documents as having any connection to the handlers of the hijackers, his department is referenced quite a bit, as several of the Saudi nationals are identified as Saudi intelligence officers.
Other Saudi Nationals/Government Employees as Related to the 28 Pages
Bayoumi is the key to the September 11 attacks. Most intelligence community experts and officers have concluded that Bayoumi was a non-official cover (NOC) officer for either the GID or the Saudi Military of Defense and Aviation, if not both. That means he worked for departments of Prince Turki and/or Prince Sultan.
Per the background above on intelligence stations and operations, Bayoumi would likely report to an intermediary (handler) who would then report to the GID Chief of Station in the Saudi Embassy. That person, in turn, would report either directly to Sultan and/or Turki or to a division head in charge of the US stations. That person would most certainly report to either Sultan or Turki. There are maybe three channels that separate Bayoumi from two of the highest officials in the Saudi government.
Bayoumi’s cover was collecting a paycheck as a ghost employee of a Saudi defense company called Dallah Avco, as well as other Saudi fronts which were all run by the Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation – the head of which was Prince Sultan, Bandar's father. FBI surveillance documents revealed in 2008 include evidence of Bayoumi helping the San Diego 9/11 hijacker cell. This information was whitewashed in the 9/11 Commission Report and any reference to Bayoumi's role with the hijackers was re-written (including initial meetings dates and locations).
Bayoumi met the San Diego cell in a restaurant and brought them to his own apartment. Later he co-signed for an apartment for them and paid their rent. He drove them to and from the Social Security offices and he helped them obtain driver's licenses. He also helped them locate flight schools in the US. None of this help to the hijackers could have been accomplished without outside funding, which there is evidence to show came from the Saudi government and also separately from Prince Bandar.
The hijackers were later moved to a friend of Bayoumi's house. The friend, Abdussattar Shaikh, was an FBI informant (something Bayoumi was unaware of). The FBI later learned that Bayoumi had ties to terrorist activity.
Bayoumi moved to England two months before the attacks of September 11. He was arrested by British authorities at the behest of the FBI. After a search of his flat in England, the FBI found two numbers belonging to two Saudi embassy employees (their names remain unknown). Again, the Saudi Embassy at the time was lead by Prince Bandar. The FBI investigated Bayoumi and discounted him as a suspect (despite his terrorist ties and his obvious connection to the hijackers). This lack of action by the FBI against Bayoumi has been widely criticized in the years since this information has come to light.
Fahad al Thumairy
Thumiary was employed by the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles. He traveled under diplomatic passports while also acting as an imam of a local mosque in L.A. (which suggests that he may have been an agent of the GID, per how case officers of official cover are documented and placed). As a high level Consulate employee, Thumiary fell under the administration of the Saudi Embassy, again headed by Bandar in 2001. Thumairy was also prayer group leader at a local Mosque. Thumairy had extensive phone calls with Bayoumi and the two hijackers, but lied to the FBI about ever meeting Bayoumi or knowing the San Diego cell. When shown the phone records of his calls related to the men by investigators, he said the records were fabricated. The San Diego cell hijackers attended his mosque and he had assigned someone to look after them upon their arrival in L.A., but denied this to the FBI.
As a Saudi consulate satellite employee, Thumairy would have reported directly to Prince Bandar. If his work at the consulate was a cover – which many believe – then he would have also reported directly to the Saudi GID Chief of Station, who in turn, would have reported to Prince Turki.
It was later learned by investigators and is now believed to be the case that in January of 2000, Bayoumi met with Thumiary at the Saudi consulate. Directly after this meeting, Bayoumi went to the restaurant at which he met the San Diego cell.
The assumption is that Thumiary instructed Bayoumi to handle the two hijackers just arriving in the US. It may be assumed that Thumiary was Bayoumi’s handler.
There is a considerable amount of additional information on Thumairy and his involvement with terrorism. Here is one example.
Hussayen was a Saudi government official working for the Saudi Ministry of the Interior. He stayed at the same hotel as three of the hijackers on the night prior to the 9/11 attacks: Hani Hanjour, Khalid Almihdhar, and Nawaf Alhazmi. The last two men were the San Diego cell and the ones that Bayoumi handled. Hanjour arrived almost a full year later and the three then moved to Arizona. Hussayen was later questioned by federal investigators about his stay at the same hotel as the hijackers on the same night, but faked a seizure during the FBI interview. Upon arriving at the hospital, his seizures mysteriously ended and he was discharged. Hussayen then left for Saudi Arabia, where he got a significant promotion as the President of the Holy Sites/Mosques. The FBI was never able to interview or question him again.
Hussayen is believed by many in the intelligence community to have been a Saudi government intelligence operative with his cover as an official of the Ministry of the Interior. If he was indeed an intelligence operative, he would have reported directly to the GID Chief of Station at the Saudi Embassy in DC, who in turn would have reported to Prince Turki.
Bassnan was an expatriate Saudi living in California. He was an associate of al-Bayoumi. He attended the mosque where Thumairy was imam. Bassnan was close with the two San Diego hijackers. One of his associates was found to be a contact of admitted 9/11 co-conspirator Ramzi Binalshibh. He was a very vocal supporter of Osama bin Laden and publicly bragged about doing more for the San Diego hijackers than Bayoumi.
In 1998, Bassnan wrote a letter to Princess Haifa, Prince Bandar’s wife, asking for money, saying his wife, Majeda Dweikat, needed thyroid surgery. Haifa in turn, wrote a check for roughly $15,000 and sent it to Dweikat. The latter, however, did not have any surgery until 2000.
Haifa, however, continued to send money to Dweikat, who in turn, signed her checks over to Bayoumi’s wife. The total amount reported in the news has varied from $75,0000 to upwards of $130,000. All of the checks from Haifa were cashier’s checks, originating from Riggs Bank.
Bassnan and his wife were found to have forged all of their travel documents, including passports. At one point, Bassnan’s passport was reported stolen when he was in Houston, Texas. The dates of his travel to Houston line up with when King Abdullah was in Houston meeting with George W. Bush. While Bassnan was in Houston, April 24 2002, he also met with an unidentified Saudi royal who provided him with extensive funds.
It is widely believed by those in the intelligence community that Bassnan (and possibly his wife) was a Saudi intelligence operative. If Bassnan was indeed an intelligence operative, he would have reported via a handler to the GID Chief of Station in the Saudi Embassy, who in turn would have reported to Prince Turki.
This is the information we had prior to the release of the 28 Pages. Over a 14 year period, this information has been vetted and leaked to the press by those in the intelligence community. Any argument that claims the 28 Pages data is “raw” in reference to what is known is misinformed.
The 28 Pages document refers to most of this and years of continued investigation have added additional information. There is also new information in the 28 Pages that, when examined against the backdrop of what is already known, paints a damning picture of Saudi government complicity in providing the handlers of the 9/11 hijackers with everything possible including funding and cover.
FBI/CIA Saudi Funding Issues
The document states that the FBI and CIA both did not investigate the Saudis in the United States nor their activities outside of the United States because the Saudis are an ally of the US.
“In their testimony, neither the CIA nor the FBI witnesses were able to identify definitively 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.
“One reason for the limited understanding is that it was only after September 11 that the US government began to aggressively investigate the issue. Prior to September, the FBI apparently did not focus investigative resources on [REDACTED] …Saudi nationals in the United Slates due to Saudi Arabia’s status as an American ‘ally.'”
Analysis: An intelligence organization is tasked with investigating all foreign presence and activities as related to the home country. It would be unusual for an intelligence body to simply avoid investigating an ally. The surveillance, information gathering, etc., might be limited and the methods might be different, but all foreign governments with a presence in the United States are investigated. Most every embassy has an intelligence operation (see background above). At the very least, those players would be monitored to some extent.
So what is the real reason that the FBI and the CIA both managed to avoid looking into Saudi Arabia and its relationship to terrorism? What we have learned in the 14 years since this document was classified is that they were told not to investigate the Saudis by consecutive Presidents of the US.
Context: What we do know is that the FBI was always a bit constrained when it came to investigating members of the bin Laden family. According to FBI sources, this policy of “hands off the Saudis,” became much worse and more broad after the Bush administration took office. The FBI was told to “back off” investigating any of the Saudi royals as well as the bin Laden family.
The question is why? The answer may be related to the alleged deal that Prince Turki made with bin Laden (see background above). How likely is it, however, Saudi protection money would be paid to operatives in the US directly linked to the hijackers rather than paid through Middle Eastern channels and directly to bin Laden and the Taliban?
Saudi Refusal to Cooperate with the US
The 28 Pages makes several references to the Saudi government refusing to cooperate prior to the September 11 attacks as well as after. Here is an example:
"When a high-level [REDACTED] officer was asked how the September 11 attacks might have been prevented, he cited greater Saudi cooperation, pointing to an example from the summer of 2001, when the U.S. Government requested Saudi assistance, with no success. In May 2001, the U.S. Government became aware that an individual in Saudi Arabia was in contact with Abu Zubaida and was most likely aware of an upcoming al-Qa’ida operation. The U.S. Government pressured the Saudi Government to locate him. The Saudis informed the U.S. Government that they required additional information to do so. The U.S. Government agency that had originally learned of this individuals’ knowledge refused to provide the Saudis with additional information because it would reveal sources and methods. The National Security Council also tried to pressure the Saudis, but the Saudis would not cooperate without additional information."
Context: This again could be related to the alleged deal that Prince Turki made with Osama bin Laden (see background above). But it is still important because it underscores how the US Government refused to collect intelligence on an ally while that very ally refused to share important information related directly to our national security.
According to the document, Bayoumi was working for a company that was affiliated with the Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation. The company is not named. It is either Dallah Avco or one of the other front companies that have been uncovered to be Saudi intelligence fronts.
Although we already knew a great deal about Bayoumi, here is what is new, however, in the documents:
“According to FBI files [REDACTED] at the company said that al-Bayoumi received a monthly salary even though he had been there only one occasion. The support increased substantially in April 2000, two months after the hijackers arrived in San Diego, decreased slightly in December of 2000, and stayed at the same level until August 2001.”
Analysis: The 28 Pages document further confirms the connection between Bayoumi and the Ministry of Defense and Aviation. Something we already knew. It further confirms that Bayoumi was being paid via the Saudi government. The head of the Ministry of Defense and Aviation was Prince Sultan, Bandar’s father.
Do we know for certain that Bayoumi was a known entity to Prince Sultan? No. But we do know that Bayoumi was getting additional funds via Prince Bandar. What are the odds that two different government departments, headed by a father and son, are both paying the same man but are unaware of those payments or that man?
But most intriguing is the new information related to the increase in payments. Why did the payments to Bayoumi increase and then decrease? The 28 Pages tell us that the increase appears to coincide with the arrival of the San Diego cell. But what happened in December of 2000 to warrant the decrease in Bayoumi’s payments from the Saudi government? We now know that in December of 2000, the San Diego cell, recently joined by Hani Hanjour, had moved to Arizona. Why did the payments again change in August of 2001? The report does not tell us.
What this shows however, is a definite connection between not only Bayoumi and the Saudi government, but also a direct link in payments as related to the 9/11 hijackers.
Context: We also know from FBI documents that the San Diego cell had purchased tickets to return abroad after 9/11. Was the August 2001 payment to Bayoumi possibly used to buy these tickets in order to create a false paper trail – an attempt to hide the identities of the hijackers?
The document goes on to provide additional information. The company that Bayoumi worked for had ties to terrorism and al Qaeda. The company in question may or may not be one we are already aware of.
If the company is a front for the Ministry of Defense and Aviation and the company has ties to al Qaeda, would it not be accurate to state that the Ministry of Defense and Aviation has ties to al Qaeda either knowingly or unknowingly?
Bayoumi also tasked another Saudi national to help with the San Diego cell by the name of Modhar Abdullah:
"When al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar moved to San Diego, al-Bayoumi provided them with considerable assistance. Before the hijackers moved in with the long-time FBI informant, they stayed at al-Bayoumi’s apartment for several days until al-Bayoumi was able to find them an apartment. Al-Bayoumi then co-signed their lease and may have paid their first month’s rent and security deposit. After al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar moved into their own apartment, al-Bayoumi threw a party to welcome them to the San Diego community. He also tasked Modhar Abdullah, another individual from the Islamic Center of San Diego (ICSD), to help them get acclimated to the United States. Abdullah served as their translator, helped them get drivers’ licenses, and assisted them in locating flight schools."
Here are all of the connections listed in the 28 Pages that Bayoumi has with the Saudi government:
"During the post September 11 investigation, the: FBI discovered that al-Bayoumi had far more: extensive ties to the Saudi Government than previously realized. In fact, according to an Octobcr 14, 2002 FBI document, al-Bayoumi has ‘extensive ties to the Saudi Government.’ The connection identified by the FBI are:
– Al-Bayoumi had been an accountant at the Saudi Civil Aviation Administration from 1976 to 1993, when he relocated to the United States;
– According to the FBI, al-Bayoumi was in frequent contact with the Emir at the Saudi Ministry of Defense responsible for traffic control;
– The FBI has also located records, indicating that al-Bayoumi received $20.000 from the Saudi Ministry of Finance at one point;
– When al-Bayoumi applied to schools in the United States in 1998, he had a letter from the Saudi Embassy, which stated that he was getting a full scholarship from the Government of Saudi Arabia, and;
– While in San Diego, al-Bayoumi was receiving money from tho Saudi Ministry of Defense through a Saudi company called ‘Ercan.’ [REDACTED] of that company informed the FBI after September 2001 that, although al-Bayoumi only showed up at the company on one occasion, he received a salary and allowances.
[REDACTED]stated that at first, he attempted to refuse to pay al-Bayoumi a monthly salary, but he was told that his company would lose their contract if he did not pay him. [REDACTED] informed the FBI that at the time, he attributed this to Saudi corruption.
[A]l-Bayoumi also had frequent contacts with Saudi establishments in the United States. In a review of telephone toll record,. the FBI learned that al-Bayoumi called Saudi Government establishments in the United Status almost 100 times between January and May 2000. According to the FBI, al-Bayoumi was in contact with at least three individuals at the Saudi Embassy in Washington DC; two individuals at the Saudi Cultural Mission in Washington DC; and three individuals at the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles."
Context: We know that one of the three Saudi individuals at the L.A. Consulate with whom Bayoumi was in contact was Thumiary.
Analysis: This makes it quite clear that Bayoumi was not a low government official. Rather, he was a highly placed intelligence operative of the Saudi government. He collected money from the Saudi Ministry of Defense (headed by Prince Sultan, Bandar’s father). He collected money for the Saudi Embassy in DC (Bandar), etc. He was vouched for by the Saudi Embassy in his school application. A company was pressured to pay him money by someone important enough to threaten the company. All of this – all of it – makes clear, that Bayoumi was incredibly well protected by the Saudi government.
What do we know about Ercan? Why was this small company threatened and by whom?
Apparently, Ercan was a subcontractor of Dallah Avco, which was a company under the umbrella of Avco Dallah Trans Arab, which is a subsidiary of Al Barakat Investment and Development company. Al Barakat was shut down after the September 11 attacks. Numerous investigations found no connection to terrorism, however. It was relaunched in 2012.
Analysis: But the question of Dallah Avco remains. It has extensive contracts with the Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation (Prince Sultan). No investigation was done on Dallah Avco, despite Al Barakat nearly being destroyed. Was Al Barakat pressured (in the same way that Ercan was to pay Bayoumi) into buying Dallah Avco and later, after the terrorist attacks, took the fall while Dallah Avco remained in the clear? Who has the kind of money and ability to pressure companies into acquiring other companies for cover?
The section related to Bassnan is fascinating. It mentions an associate of the San Diego cell who had helped them learn English and also took over their first San Diego apartment when they moved out. His name is Omar Bakarbashat. He was briefly mentioned in reports in relation to the hijackers. But the document now also connects him to Bassnan.
The report goes on to confirm that Bassnan was introduced to the hijackers by Bayoumi.
What is new and incredibly important are the allegations from the FBI that Bassnan was also employed by the Saudi government as an intelligence officer. The document goes on to cite the CIA with regards to Bassnan:
“Bassnan has many ties to the Saudi Government, including past employment by the Saudi Arabia Education Mission.”
“According to a CIA memo, Bassnan reportedly received funding and possibly a fake passport from Saudi Government officials.”
Analysis: We now know that Bassnan was interviewed by the FBI and admitted to having false documents (see Background above). We knew that Bassnan was suspected of being a Saudi intelligence operative. We did not know that he was employed directly for the Saudi Arabia Education Mission.
It was known that Bassnan had forged documents. But what we now know is that those documents may have been provided by the Saudi Government.
This seems to confirm that two Saudi nationals (Bayoumi and Bassnan) were employed by the Saudi government as cover but who were actually intelligence operatives. In this latter capacity, they would have reported directly to the GID Chief of Station at Saudi Embassy, who in turn would have reported to Prince Turki.
We also know that Prince Bandar’s wife, Haifa, sent money to Bassnan’s wife, who then signed it over to Bayoumi’s wife. That is two channels of financing that both men received from the Saudi Government as they helped the San Diego cell with everything they needed to carry out the September 11 attacks.
"The [REDACTED] memorandum dated July 2, 2002, incorrectly noted that al-Bayoumi’s wife, while living in San Diego, was receiving $1200 a month from Princess Haifa Bin Sultan, the wife of Prince Bandar, the Saudi Ambassador to the United States. The FBI has now confirmed that only Osama Bassnan’s wife received money directly from Prince Bandar’s wife, but that al-Bayoumi’s wife attempted to deposit three of the checks from Prince Bandar’s wife, which were payable to Bassnan’s wife, into her accounts."
Context: In addition to 15 of the hijackers being Saudi nationals as well as the suspected role of Saleh al-Hussayen (see background above), this makes 18 Saudi nationals either directly involved in the attacks of 9/11 or in helping those involved. Three of these men are now confirmed employees of the Saudi Government.
While US Government officials have gone to great lengths in stating that the 28 Pages document only incriminates low level Saudi Government officials, it is clear from this information that their role in the Saudi Government was merely cover provided by the Saudi Government. Low level government officials cannot create covers for themselves.
But here is the bombshell:
“He and his wife also received financial support from the Saudi Ambassador to the United States and his wife.”
We knew that Bassnan’s wife had requested money from Princess Haifa (see background above). We did not, however, know the amounts and dates of the checks. This is also the first time Prince Bandar is mentioned as being involved in financial transactions with Bassnan.
If the above excerpt seems vague, then the below excerpt leaves little doubt that Prince Bandar also provided money directly from his account at Riggs Bank. It also confirms that Princess Haifa made a lot of payments to someone she did not know over a period of several years, which began a year prior to the arrival of the hijackers and ended a year after the 9/11 attacks:
"Bassnan also has other ties to the Saudi Government. Bassnan’s wife received a monthly stipend from Princess Haifa. In a recent search of Bassnan’s residence, the FBI located copies of 31 cashier checks totaling $74, 000 during a period of February 22, 1999 to May 30, 2002.
"The FBI has determined that there has been a standing order on Princess Haifa’s account since January 1999 to send $2000 a month to Bassnan’s wife. Bassnan’s wife was allegedly receiving the funding for “nursing services,” but according to the [REDACTED] document, there is no evidence of Bassnan’s wife providing nursing services. [REDACTED].
"On at least one occasion, Bassnan received a check directly from Prince Bandar’s account. According to the FBI, on May 14, 1998, Bassman cashed a check from Bandar in the amount of $15,000. Bassnan’s wife also received at least one check from Bandar."
As noted in the background above, in 2002, Bassnan traveled to Houston, Texas. While there, he reported that his documents were stolen to the Houston police department. Here is more on that trip from the 28 Pages:
“A CIA report also that Bassnan traveled to Houston in 2002 and met with individual who was [REDACTED] …The report states that during the trip a member of the Saudi Royal Family provided Bassnan with a significant amount of cash.”
Context: We knew that Bassnan was in Houston on April 24 2002. What we did not know is that he actually met with someone of note and that a member of the Saudi Royal family provided him with money. Since the document refers to Bandar as the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, the person Bassnan met with was someone other than Bandar, but a royal nonetheless and someone in the circle of the King.
The news at the time describes the incident:
"Crown Prince Abdullah, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, is due to arrive in Houston, Texas, to meet with President Bush at his ranch in nearby Crawford, Texas. Abdullah’s entourage is so large that it fills eight airplanes. As these planes land, US intelligence learns that one person on the flight manifests is wanted by US law enforcement, and two more are on a terrorist watch list. An informed source will later claim that the FBI is ready to “storm the plane and pull those guys off.” However, the State Department fears an international incident. An interagency conflict erupts over what to do. The Wall Street Journal will report in 2003, “Details about what happened to the three men in the end are not entirely clear, and no one at [the State Department] was willing to provide any facts about the incident. What is clear, though, is that the three didn’t get anywhere near Crawford, but were also spared the ’embarrassment’ of arrest. And the House of Saud was spared an ‘international incident.'” [Wall Street Journal, 10/13/2003] The next day, Osama Basnan, an alleged associate of 9/11 hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, reports his passport stolen to Houston police. [Newsweek, 11/24/2002] This confirms that Basnan is in Houston on the same day that Crown Prince Abdullah, Prince Saud al-Faisal, and Saudi US Ambassador Prince Bandar meet with President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Powell, and National Security Adviser Rice at Bush’s Crawford ranch. [US-Saudi Arabian Business Council, 4/25/2002]."
Analysis: This Houston meeting is a red flag. The US State Department keeps an online roster of all visits by foreign dignitaries. Here is the list for 2002. This visit from the King of Saudi Arabia is not listed. Moreover, everyone who is listed at Houston meeting is a high level Saudi as they are all traveling with the King. It is unclear if the Saudi royal who Bassnan met with is also the same person who later gave him cash in Houston as the 28 Pages make it appear as though these may be two different people.
What we do know is that Bassnan is receiving money from Bandar, Bandar’s wife and another Saudi royal who traveled with the King to Houston in 2002. He also had a Saudi Government job as cover.
Watch Lists Were Ignored
As per the above visit to Houston by the Saudi Royals and the attempted raid by the FBI that was stopped by the State Department, it appears that no fly lists and watch lists were ignored in relation to the Saudi Royal Family:
"Although his name was on the State Departments’ watchlist, [REDACTED] was apparently able to circumvent the Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service because he was traveling with the Saudi prince. The FBI only learned of the trip after the fact. Agents in the FBI’s Portland Field Office expressed their concern that [REDACTED] and others were using their status as Saudi Arabian Airlines employees as a cover to enable them to transport weapons in and out of the United States."
Analysis: Just how many Saudi nationals either traveling for a royal or fronting with Saudi Arabian Airlines were engaged in criminal activity as well as possible terrorist activity? Is this related to the “back off” orders given to US authorities to stay away from the Saudi Royal Family? (see background above).
The portion of the 28 Pages that deals with Hussayen tells us nothing new. The public had actually learned a great deal more about Hussayen prior to the release of the 28 pages. For example, while the 28 Page document notes that Hussayen stayed at the same hotel as the hijackers, it does not mention the date of this incident. We know that Hussayen stayed at the same hotel as the hijackers on September 10, 2001. We also know that he got a significant promotion after he returned to Saudi Arabia: President of the Holy Sites/Mosques (See background above).
"Saleh al-Hussayen. In September 2001, Saleh al-Hussayen, reportedly a Saudi Interior Ministry official, stayed at 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;"
Abdullah bin Laden
This section discusses the half brother of Osama bin Laden. On it’s face, the familial connection means very little. The bin Laden’s are a prominent Saudi family with hundreds of members. They are close to the House of Saud. Here is how the 28 pages describes him:
"Abdullah bin Laden. Abdullah Ladin claims to work for the Saudi Embassy Washington, DC. as an administrative officer. He is identified by the FBI as Osama bin Ladin's half brother."
But, Abdullah bin Laden has connections that raise red flags:
"He is a close friend Quadir-Harumani, a possible associate of Mohammed Atta and [Marwan]al-Shehhi prior to September 1, 2001."
Context: It is unclear if the above Abdullah is the same brother discussed here as a sympathetic American immigrant. This particular reference could be called the “raw” data that needs additional vetting.
The 28 Pages do not provide any new information in relation to Thumairy. As with Hussayen, the public has learned a great deal about Thumairy outside of the 28 Pages document (see background above). In context, however, he is the fourth Saudi government official (Bayoumi, Bassnan and Hussayen are the other three) to be directly tied to the hijackers and the Saudi Embassy.
Unnamed Saudi National
According to the 28 Pages, there is an unnamed person with ties to the Saudi Royal family (although not mentioned as having ties to the Saudi government) who was scouting security around the US in 1999:
"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."
Bandar and the Safe House in Pakistan
The below excerpt with regards to Prince Bandar is entirely new information:
"The U.S. Government also located another Virginia number at Usama Bin Ladin’s safe house in Pakistan. The number is subscribed to by an individual named [REDACTED] was interviewed by the FBI in June, 2002. He could not explain why his number ended up a safe house in Pakistan, but stated that he regularly provides services to a couple who are personal assistants to Prince Bandar. This couple’s driver is an individual named [REDACTED], who is assigned to the Saudi Embassy in DC. According to [REDACTED] regularly called businesses and frequently travels back and forth to Pakistan."
Analysis: Although the implications are unclear and do not on their own prove Bandar’s involvement in terrorism, this revelation adds to the larger picture of Bandar seeming to have a very extensive network of relationships connected to terrorism or suspicious activity.
Abu Zubaydah Connections
Abu Zubaydah is an alleged member of al Qaeda. He has been held at Gitmo for years and tortured. There is debate as to his role, if any, in al Qaeda. You can read more about him here.
The following information is also entirely new with regard to Bandar. In 2002 Zubaydah was apprehended in Pakistan, US officials obtained a phone-book that belonged to him. In that phone-book were several interesting US numbers. The excerpt is so striking that it has to be provided in full:
"On March 28, 2002 U.S. and coalition forces retrieved the telephone book of Abu Zubaida, whom the US. Government has identified as senior al-Qa'ida operational coordinator. According to an FBI document, ‘a review of the telephone troll records has linked several of the numbers found in Zubaida's phonebook with U.S. phone numbers.’
"One of the numbers is unlisted and subscribed to by the ASPCOL Corporation in Aspen, Colorado. According to the FBI's Denver Office, ASPCOL is the umbrella corporation that manages the affairs of the Colorado residence of Prince Bandar. the Saudi ambassador to the United States.
"The facility is protected by Scimitar Security. Agents of Denver Field Office noted that neither ASPCOL nor Scimitar Security is listed in the phone book or is easily locatable.
"In addition, tho Colorado Secretory of State's office has no record of ASPCOL."
Analysis: A phone number for a ghost property management company in Colorado, protected by a ghost security company in Colorado, is found on a terrorism suspect/alleged high level al Qaeda operative in Pakistan. The ghost property management company manages the private property of the Saudi Ambassador to the United States.
Again, this on its face proves nothing, but it once again raises questions about Bandar’s extensive network of connections to terrorists and suspected terrorists.
The document continues:
“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."
Analysis: It is unclear what “traces” means in this context as Zubaydah was already in US custody and his capture was already known to anyone he was in contact with. But assuming that there is no connection, how is it possible that this type of coincidence could exist?
What does this number and the “traces” that discount it have to do with the 9/11 attacks, if anything? Is there a connection? If not, why is this information included? If there is a connection, why is that information not elaborated on?
Another number found in Zubaydah’s phone book is that of an unnamed bodyguard at the Saudi Embassy in DC. The document goes onto say that “some allege” something about the bodyguard, but that information is entirely redacted. However, later in the document, the bodyguard is described as showing up on the FBI radar because of the size and cost of his home in Virginia and his attempts to approach US intelligence officials.
A pattern is emerging implicating the Saudi Embassy in a great deal of activity involving possible terror suspects and Saudi intelligence officers. Moreover, that pattern continues to focus almost exclusively around Bandar and his inner circle.
Another Saudi national named Mohammed al-Qudhaeein is alleged to have made a possible “dry run” of entering the cockpit of a US plane. This is entirely new information and it is striking:
"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 America 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 the investigations, the FBI has discovered that both al-Qudhaeein and the other individuals involved in this incident had connections to terrorism."
Analysis: Did the FBI ever finally confirm if the tickets were indeed paid for by the Saudi Embassy in the US? What party was this and who was determined to have invited al-Qudhaeein? What connections does this man have to terrorism in general and al Qaeda in particular?
The 28 Pages document refers to numerous instances of Saudi government money laundering through various religious and community organizations as well as business fronts. It directly references Al Barakar Trading company. In this instance, however, the 28 Pages document misidentifies what is clearly supposed to be Al Barakat, the same company connected to the Dallah Avco scandal (see Bayoumi above). But in this section, there is an interesting tid-bit that was missing in the earlier Dallah Avco discussion:
"In approximately 1998, the FBI became aware of millions of dollars in wire transfers from the Somali community in San Diego to Al Barakaar Trading Company and other businesses affiliated with Usama Bin Laden. At the time, the funding appeared to be originating from the local Somali community in the form of donations to various Somali non-profits. However, the FBI now believes that the some of the funding actually originated from Saudi Arabia and that both the Ibn Tamiyah Mosque in Los Angeles and the Islamic Center of San Diego were involved in laundering the money."
Analysis: This would support the earlier theory (see Bayoumi above) that Al Barakat was somehow pressured into acquiring Dallah Avco in order to provide cover for a front company. This section of the document makes clear, that the actual money laundered came from Saudi Arabia and was laundered not through Al Barakat, but through local religious organizations in San Diego. Dallah Avco is entirely written out of this part of the document.
The 28 Pages report is primarily focused on the San Diego cell of the 9/11 plot, with a few exceptions. There is no such in depth examination of Saudi government connections to the other 9/11 hijackers. Consider the case of the al-Hijji couple.
Yet even just based on the San Diego cell connections alone, there is concrete proof of Saudi government funding to the handlers of 9/11 hijackers – handlers who also happen to be Saudi intelligence officers.
1. Prince Bandar is implicated through financial support and through phone records to the handlers of the San Diego cell as well as other terrorist activity in Pakistan and Afghanistan. While some have argued that his financial support may be part of the alleged deal that Prince Turki made with Osama bin Laden (see background), the channels of funding do not match the alleged agreement and appear to be operation based rather than organization based – meaning the funding was provided toward a specific group of people all working together on something rather than the broader ideological movement.
Many in the media have said there is no "smoking gun" in the 28 Pages document. If by smoking gun they mean the type of evidence that would put Prince Bandar and Mohammad Atta in the same room together, then no such smoking gun will ever be discovered. That is not how intelligence operatives work. There are middlemen and the US government has identified five of them by name: Bayoumi, Bassnan, Hussayen, Thumiary, and al-Qudhaeein. Four out of the five have Saudi Government jobs as well as ties to 9/11 hijackers. Four of them also appear to be Saudi intelligence officers using Saudi Government jobs as their cover. Two of them received direct funding from Prince Bandar and Princess Haifa as well the Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation (run by Prince Bandar’s father). As intelligence officers of the Saudi Government, they likely got funding from the GID (run by Prince Bandar’s brother-in-law/half cousin). One of them got additional funding by an unidentified Saudi Prince within the circle of the King. One of them reported directly to Bandar in his capacity as a Saudi Consulate employee. Three of them are tied through phone calls to the Saudi Embassy and other Saudi Government departments. All of them were protected by the Saudi Government. Add to this the several unnamed individuals who are linked to both the Saudi Embassy and the hijackers. Moreover, connections to Bandar appear in several terrorist suspect’s phonebooks.
Finally, Bandar’s promotion to the head of the GID in the three years after the 9/11 attacks also adds context. All of this together is a smoking gun that links one of the key Saudi Government officials and one of the highest ranking members of the Saudi Royal Family to terrorist activity. While this evidence does not prove that Bandar was involved in the 9/11 plot or even aware of it, it is enough evidence to warrant naming him a suspect.
2. Bayoumi, Bassnan, Hussayen, Thumiary and Qudhaeein as well as Abdullah (see Bayoumi in 28 Pages section above) should all be named as suspects and co-conspirators in the attacks of the 9/11. Along with the 15 hijackers of Saudi nationality, these six men make a total of 21 Saudi nationals involved either knowingly or unknowingly in the largest attack on US soil.
3. The Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation is implicated in supporting the handlers of the 9/11 hijackers financially and structurally. While some may argue that the funding from the Ministry of Defense is part of protection money paid by Saudi Arabia via Prince Turki’s agreement (see background above), the financials are outside of the perimeters of the alleged agreement. Moreover, all of the human resources, covers, documents, etc., provided for the 9/11 hijackers show support for a specific operation rather than a larger, ideological movement.
4. Prince Sultan as head of the Ministry of Defense and Aviation may have not know what Bayoumi was up to, but he certainly had to have known who Bayoumi was. Moreover, since Sultan was not only head of the a Saudi Government agency that financed Bayoumi, but is also the father of Bandar – who in turn also financed Bayoumi – it defies logic that the two men had never discussed Bayoumi or questioned his activities. Sultan’s promotion as the Crown Prince in 2005 also appears to provide context. There is enough evidence to warrant naming Prince Sultan a person of interest in the attacks of 9/11.
5. The Saudi GID is implicated in supporting the 9/11 plot financially and structurally. Four Saudi intelligence officers have been identified as part of the plot to fund, train, and acclimate the hijackers to American society. All four were provided with Saudi Government cover jobs. Two were allegedly provided with falsified documents by the Saudi Government Two additional suspected Saudi intelligence officers were tied to two different incidents of casing/dry run. In addition, there is the matter of al-Hajjii, not named in the 28 Pages (or referenced, but redacted). That brings the total of known and suspected Saudi intelligence operatives to seven, in addition to the Saudi hijackers. All of these men were paid by the Saudi intelligence apparatus, which reported directly to Prince Turki. While not named directly in the 28 page report, the role of the GID is clear. There is enough evidence to warrant naming Prince Turki a suspect in the attacks of 9/11.
5. An unnamed Saudi Royal provided funding to Bassnan. This person should be named a person of interest.
6. The Saudi Government’s refusal to share intelligence before 9/11 as well makes them a questionable ally. But their refusal to make available all of the suspects as well as protect the highest members of the Saudi Royal Family who may or may not be involved (although should be named suspects), makes them conspirators after the fact. The Saudi Government’s refusal to allow civil action against key suspects by the victims of the 9/11 attacks and their families demonstrates that Saudi Arabia is not an ally of the American people. The Saudi Government’s threats of undermining of US currency should the victims of 9/11 be allowed to take civil action further underscore that they are no friend or ally to the United States.
US Coverup and Protection of the Saudi Government – Why?
1. The FBI continues to withhold more than 80,000 classified pages relating to the Saudis and the attacks of 9/11. Why?
2. The Bush administration allowed for the unprecedented evacuation of Saudi nationals, including persons of interest to investigators, in the days after 9/11. Why?
3. All attempts to detain, question or investigate (and in some cases, attempts to charge) Saudi nationals with connections to the 9/11 attacks were shut down by the White House of the Bush Administration. Why?
4. All attempts to conduct a formal public investigation into the 9/11 attacks were thwarted by the Bush administration, who finally conceded after public pressure and even then, would only alot a pittance for the funding. See this documentary. Why?
5. All attempts to bury the Saudi role and the documents related to it as well as to whitewash the findings by the Bush and Obama administration. Why?
6. The US naming the government of Saudi Arabia as an ally on the war on terror and then attacking Iraq, which had no ties to 9/11 or al Qaeda, was diabolical given what we now know. Why did this happen?
Larisa Alexandrovna Horton is an award-winning investigative reporter, formerly with RawStory.com and the Huffington Post.