report on the still-censored “28 pages” implicating the Saudi government in
9/11, “60 Minutes” last weekend said the Saudi role in the attacks has been
“soft-pedalled” to protect America’s delicate alliance with the oil-rich
quite an understatement.
the kingdom’s involvement was deliberately covered up at the highest levels of
our government. And the cover-up goes beyond locking up 28 pages of the Saudi
report in a vault in the US Capitol basement. Investigations were throttled.
Co-conspirators were let off the hook.
I’ve interviewed at the Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Washington and San
Diego, the forward operating base for some of the Saudi hijackers, as well as
detectives at the Fairfax County (Va.) Police Department who also investigated
several 9/11 leads, say virtually every road led back to the Saudi Embassy in
Washington, as well as the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles.
and time again, they were called off from pursuing leads. A common excuse was
sources say the pages missing from the 9/11 congressional inquiry report —
which comprise the entire final chapter dealing with “foreign support for the
September 11 hijackers” — details “incontrovertible evidence” gathered from
both CIA and FBI case files of official Saudi assistance for at least two of
the Saudi hijackers who settled in San Diego.
information has leaked from the redacted section, including a flurry of
pre-9/11 phone calls between one of the hijackers’ Saudi handlers in San Diego
and the Saudi Embassy, and the transfer of some $130,000 from then-Saudi
Ambassador Prince Bandar’s family checking account to yet another of the
hijackers’ Saudi handlers in San Diego.
who worked with the JTTF in Washington complained that instead of investigating
Bandar, the US government protected him — literally. He said the State
Department assigned a security detail to help guard Bandar not only at the
embassy, but also at his McLean, Va., mansion.
added that the task force wanted to jail a number of embassy employees, “but
the embassy complained to the US attorney” and their diplomatic visas were
revoked as a compromise.
agent John Guandolo, who worked 9/11 and related al Qaeda cases out of the
bureau’s Washington field office, says Bandar should have been a key suspect in
the 9/11 probe.
ambassador funded two of the 9/11 hijackers through a third party,” Guandolo
said. “He should be treated as a terrorist suspect, as should other members of
the Saudi elite class who the US government knows are currently funding the
held sway over the FBI.
met on Sept. 13, 2001, with President Bush in the White House, where the two
old family friends shared cigars on the Truman Balcony, the FBI evacuated
dozens of Saudi officials from multiple cities, including at least one Osama
bin Laden family member on the terror watch list. Instead of interrogating the
Saudis, FBI agents acted as security escorts for them, even though it was known
at the time that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens.
was thwarted from interviewing the Saudis we wanted to interview by the White
House,” said former FBI agent Mark Rossini, who was involved in the
investigation of al Qaeda and the hijackers. The White House “let them off the
more, Rossini said the bureau was told no subpoenas could be served to produce
evidence tying departing Saudi suspects to 9/11. The FBI, in turn, iced local
investigations that led back to the Saudis.
covered their ears every time we mentioned the Saudis,” said former Fairfax
County Police Lt. Roger Kelly. “It was too political to touch.”
Kelly, who headed the National Capital Regional Intelligence Center: “You could
investigate the Saudis alone, but the Saudis were ‘hands-off.’ ”
Even Anwar al-Awlaki, the hijackers’ spiritual
adviser, escaped our grasp. In 2002, the Saudi-sponsored cleric was detained at
JFK on passport fraud charges only to be released into the custody of a “Saudi
until 2011 that Awlaki was brought to justice — by way of a CIA drone strike.
“The 9/11 Commission Report,” which followed the congressional inquiry, never
cites the catch-and-release of Awlaki, and it mentions Bandar only in passing,
his named buried in footnotes.
commission lawyers investigating the Saudi support network for the hijackers
complained their boss, executive director Philip Zelikow, blocked them from
issuing subpoenas and conducting interviews of Saudi suspects.
Commission member John Lehman was interested in the hijackers’ connections to
Bandar, his wife and the Islamic affairs office at the embassy. But every time
he tried to get information on that front, he was stonewalled by the White
refusing to declassify anything having to do with Saudi Arabia,” Lehman was
quoted as saying in the book, “The Commission.”
Did the US
scuttle the investigation into foreign sponsorship of 9/11 to protect Bandar
and other Saudi elite?
that should have been done at the time were not done,” said Rep. Walter Jones,
the North Carolina Republican who’s introduced a bill demanding President Obama
release the 28 pages. “I’m trying to give you an answer without being too
reformer with direct knowledge of embassy involvement is more forthcoming.
“We made an
ally of a regime that helped sponsor the attacks,” said Ali al-Ahmed of the
Washington-based Institute for Gulf Affairs. “I mean, let’s face it.”
Paul Sperry is a former Hoover Institution media
fellow and author of “Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have