At a news conference on April 9 Brett Eagleson, whose father was killed in the twin towers, said that the plaintiffs are planning a grassroots effort to force the CIA, the FBI and others to turn over information that could cast new light on potential Saudi complicity in the attacks.
“The 9/11 families aren’t going anywhere,” said Eagleson. “We had my dad’s grandchildren in the audience today who want to know the truth about what happened to their grandfather.”
In 2003 hundreds of bereaved relatives and 9/11 survivors sued the Saudi Arabian government for complicity in the attacks and for sponsoring charities that supported Al Qaeda. The Saudi government has consistently denied any involvement in the attacks. In March a federal court judge rejected a Saudi motion to dismiss the lawsuit, ruling that the court has jurisdiction under in the 2016 Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act.
While then-President Barack Obama vetoed the legislation congress pushed it through, allowing the lawsuits against the Saudi government to progress. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who was among those who lead the support for the legislation, appeared at the news conference alongside Eagleson. Blumenthal said he will help the plaintiffs in their struggle to get more information disclosed. “This fight for justice is about more than just these families. It is to deter also state sponsors of terrorism,” Blumenthal said.
Lawyers acting on behalf of the families filed a subpoena recently, demanding that the FBI produce several documents that are still classified and withheld from public scrutiny, and that they remove redactions from other files that were previously made public.
In the opinion of long-time 9/11 justice activist Jon Gold, all of these records should be released in full. Gold told Sputnik, “Everything having to do with the lead up to 9/11, after action reports, PDBs, basically, anything having to do with 9/11 should be released immediately and completely unredacted. The families of the victims, and the people of the world deserve to see these things happen.”
The Saudi Connections
Of the nineteen hijackers identified as the culprits behind the 9/11 attacks, fifteen were from Saudi Arabia. The FBI investigated some Saudi diplomats and others who were working for the Saudi government, but the 9/11 Commission found, “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded” the attacks.
It is likely that the new information being sought by the families concerns Saudi support for two of the hijackers on the plane that hit the Pentagon – Nawaf al Hazmi and Khalid Al Mihdhar. The two had been watchlisted in Saudi Arabia in the late 1990s for their role in a weapons-smuggling scheme, but obtained multiple-entry visas for the US from the consulate in Jeddah.
They were monitored by the CIA and NSA via the Al Qaeda communications hub in Yemen, and were tracked to a major Al Qaeda summit in Kuala Lumpur in January 2000. When they travelled to the US shortly after the summit, arriving at LAX, the CIA’s dedicated Bin Laden unit known as Alec Station deliberately withheld this information from the FBI.
Meanwhile, two Saudis with close connections to the Saudi government appear to have provided a support network for Al Hazmi and Al Mihdhar. Omar Al-Bayoumihelped the two move to San Diego, including giving them money and finding them somewhere to live. Osama Basnan, whose wife was receiving money from Prince Bandar’s wife, is also alleged to have given financial support to the pair in San Diego.
The infamous 28 pages from the congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11 details several other Saudi government officials and contacts who supported some of the hijackers. Shayk al-Thumairy, an accredited diplomat at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles, also seems to have been helping Al Hazmi and Al Mihdhar. Likewise Osama Bin Laden’s half brother Abdullah Bin Laden claimed to have been working for the Saudi embassy in Washington DC, while associating with lead hijacker Mohammed Atta.
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