Secret ’28 Pages’ on Alleged Saudi Ties to 9/11 Released
The long-awaited secret 9/11 report dubbed the “28-pages” that discusses alleged links between the hijackers and Saudi Arabia has been released by the Obama administration.
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals.
The pages were part of a larger 2002 investigation of the terrorist attacks by the House and Senate intelligence committees.
The report says, “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 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 nature,” the documents say.
The report says one of the reason why there is not much understanding on the Saudis’s involvement is because the U.S. government only began to “aggressively investigate” the issue after 9/11.
“Prior to September 11th, the FBI apparently did not focus investigative resources on […] Saudi nationals in the United States due to Saudi Arabia’s status as an American ‘ally.'”
Inside the Report
The 28 pages say the FBI received numerous reports dating back from 1999 which allege that Omar al-Bayoumi was a Saudi intelligence officer. FBI files suggest he “provided substantial assistance” to hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi when they arrived in San diego in February 2000. The documents say al-Bayoumi met with the terrorists at a public place after he had met someone else at the Saudi consulate. During that time he had “extensive contact” with Saudi government establishments in the United States, and received monetary support from a Saudi company associated with the Saudi Ministry of Defense, which also allegedly had ties to Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. The FBI found that he had only been to the company once, but received a salary every month, which increased significantly in April 2000, decreased in December 2000, and remained at that rate until August 2001. A 2002 FBI document says al-Bayoumi had “far more extensive ties to the Saudi government than previously realized.”
The report says Omar Bassnan, who had been close to al-Bayoumi for a long time, may have been in contact with hijackers al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi in San Diego. He was also a close associate to Omar Bakarbashat, who was closely connected with the hijackers. Bassnan lived across the street from the terrorists and told the FBI “he did more than al-Bayoumi did for the hijackers,” the report says. The FBI received reports that Bassnan “might be a Saudi intelligence officer.” A CIA report shows that Bassnan traveled to Houston in 2002 and that the Saudi Royal Family “provided Bassnan with a significant amount of cash.” FBI information indicated that Bassnan was an extremist and supporter of Osama Bin Laden.
The report shows various Saudis who were allegedly linked to the hijackers, including a diplomat, an administrative officer at the Saudi embassy in Washington D.C., and a Saudi Interior Ministry official. The Joint Inquiry also found other individuals, connected to the Saudi government, linked to terrorist networks.
A Saudi who had close ties to the Saudi Royal Family, whose name was redacted from the report, was also investigated by the FBI. He was allegedly checking security at the southwest U.S. border in 1999 and discussed “the possibility of infiltrating individuals” into the country.
Al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaida, who was captured in March 2002 in Pakistan, had a telephone number in his phone book for a corporation in Aspen, Colorado, which “manages affairs of the Colorado residence of the Saudi Ambassador Bandar,” the report says. Zubaida also had the telephone number of a body guard at the Saudi embassy in D.C.
Mohammed al-Qudhaeein was also investigated by the FBI after officials suspected an earlier incident in 1999 on an America West flight “may have been a ‘dry run’ to test airline security.” Al-Qudhaeein and his associate asked the flight attendants a “variety of suspicious questions” and tried to enter the cockpit twice. Al-Qudhaeein and his associate were on their flight bound for a party at the D.C. Saudi embassy, and claimed their tickets had been paid for by the Saudi embassy. The FBI found both had connections to terrorism.
The committees were “particularly concerned about the serious nature of allegations” in a CIA memorandum, which discussed “alleged financial connections between the September 11 hijackers, Saudi Government officials, and members of the Saudi Royal Family,” the report says.
Bassnan’s wife received a monthly stipend from Princess Haifa. The FBI searched Bassnan’s home and found copies of 31 cashiers checks worth $74,000 spanning from Feb. 22, 1999 to May 30, 2002. The checks were payable to Bassnan’s wife and were drawn on the Riggs Bank account of Prince Bandar’s wife.
“On at least one occasion Bassnan received a check directly from Prince Bandar’s account,” the report says.
“According to the FBI, on May 14, 1998, Bassnan cashed a check from Bandar in the amount of $15,000. Bassnan’s wife also received at least one check directly from Bandar,” documents say. Bassan’s wife also received a $10,000 check from Bandar’s wife in January 1998.
“What the money was for is what we don’t know,” FBI Executive Assistant Director Pasquale D’Amuro said in 2002.
Saudis’s Lack of Cooperation in Investigations
In interviews and testimonies FBI and CIA agents complained about the lack of Saudi cooperation in counterterrorism investigations, the report says. A New York FBI agent said “the Saudis have been useless and obstructionist for years,” and that they only act when it is in their self interest. A high level officer said the 9/11 attacks might have been prevented if there was “greater Saudi cooperation,” adding that the U.S. government requested Saudi assistance in the summer of 2001, but with no success.
The full 28 pages can be read here.