By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.orgThe Saudi ambassador who met with President George W. Bush at the White House two days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 had connections to a major al-Qaeda figure and other Saudis suspected of helping two of the suicide hijackers while they were in the United States.
Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan’s contacts are contained in FBI and CIA reports cited in the 28 pages from Congress’ Joint Inquiry into 9/11 that were ordered declassified by President Obama after 13 years and made public Friday.
The “28 pages,” which are actually 29 pages, assert that 9/11 hijackers were helped by individuals “who may be connected with the Saudi government.’’ They do not, however, address the apparent ties of Mohamed Atta and other hijackers to Saudis living in Sarasota prior to 9/11.
FBI reports say agents found “many connections” between the September 11 plotters and the Sarasota Saudis, but neither Congress nor the subsequent 9/11 Commission were informed. The matter did not become public until 2011 when the Florida Bulldog, working with Irish author Anthony Summers, first reported it.
The 28 pages, however, do contain a new Florida angle.
“FBI documents also indicate that several Saudi Naval officers were in contact with the September 11 hijackers,” the 28 pages say. One of those officers, Saleh Ahmed Bedaiwi, was posted to the U.S. Naval Air Station in Pensacola.
The FBI’s Jacksonville Field Office investigated Bedaiwi at the time, but what else the 28 pages had to say about the matter was blacked out by the government before their public release.
Government officials, including House Intelligence Committee members Devin Nunes, R-CA, and Adam Schiff, D-CA, said the 9/11 Commission and the nation’s intelligence community investigated, but could not substantiate the 28 pages’ leads about possible Saudi involvement. However, there is little information in the public record to back up those assertions.
For example, while the names of Bedaiwi and fellow Saudi Naval officers Osama Nooh and Lafi al-Harbi are included in a declassified June 2003 9/11 Commission work plan as “interview candidates,” none is identified on a list of 1,200 persons interviewed by commission investigators.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who coordinated the declassification review of the 28 pages, said in a statement Friday that the final chapter of the Joint Inquiry’s 2002 report was kept secret so long because it “contained still-sensitive national security and law enforcement information.”
Secrecy ‘outweighed by the public interest’ in transparency
The declassification review, however, “determined that the harm to national security” by releasing the 28 pages “is outweighed by the public interest in additional transparency… Some information has been redacted because the document includes discussion of properly classified matters the disclosure of which would still cause significant harm to national security.”
Clapper’s statement was accompanied by the less-noticed release of a one-page “executive summary” of a September 2005 “joint FBI-CIA intelligence report assessing the nature and extent of Saudi government support of terrorism.”
Congress required the previously unknown joint assessment in a classified annex of the Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal year 2004. Several sentences of the report’s transmittal letter to Congress by FBI Director Robert Mueller and CIA Director Porter Goss were blanked out, as were several sentences in the summary. The full report remains classified.
The assessment’s key finding marked the latest government statements in defense of the Saudis: “There is no evidence that either the Saudi government or members of the Saudi royal family knowingly provided support for the attacks of 11 September 2001 or that they had foreknowledge of terrorist operations in the Kingdom or elsewhere.”
The assessment, however, also noted, “There is evidence that official Saudi entities, [redacted] and associated nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), provide financial and logistical support to individuals in the United States and around the world, some of whom are associated with terrorism-related activity.” Further, the assessment said, “The Saudi government and many of its agencies have been infiltrated and exploited by individuals associated with or sympathetic to Al-Qa’ida.”
While the 28 pages reference the sometimes bitter testimony of FBI agents and CIA officers who complained “about a lack of Saudi cooperation on terrorism investigations both before and after the September 11 attacks,’’ the 2005 joint FBI-CIA report observed that the Saudis began cooperating with the U.S. following several bombings inside Saudi Arabia starting in May 2003.
The 28 pages include a variety of new information about figures in the 9/11 drama. Among the most intriguing is a previously unreported connection between Prince Bandar, Saudi Arabia’s longtime ambassador to the U.S. whose nickname was Bandar-Bush because of his close ties to President George W. Bush, and Abu Zubaydah, the “high-value” Guantanamo detainee who before his March 2002 capture in Pakistan was among al Qaeda’s highest ranking members and a confidant of Osama bin Laden.
U.S. and coalition forces recovered Zubaydah’s phone book. “According to an FBI document, ‘a review of toll records has linked several of the numbers found in Zubaida’s [sic] phonebook with U.S. phone numbers.’ One of the numbers is unlisted and subscribed to by ASPCOL Corporation in Aspen, Colorado,” the 28 pages say.
An FBI investigation stayed pending ‘guidance’ from headquarters
In July 2002, FBI headquarters asked its Denver office to investigate “this connection.”
Two months later, the 28 pages say, agents in Denver reported that 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 the Denver Field Office noted that neither ASPCOL nor Scimitar Security is listed in the phone book or is easily locatable. In addition, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office has no record of ASPCOL.”
The 28 pages say the FBI reported that “CIA traces have revealed no direct (emphasis added) links between numbers found in Zubayadah’s phone book and numbers in the U.S.”
“The Denver office did not attempt to make any local inquiries about ASPCOL as they believed that any inquiries regarding ASPCOL would be quickly known by Prince Bandar’s employees,” the 28 pages say. “Due to the sensitivity of this matter, they decided to hold their investigation of ASPCOL in abeyance until they received additional guidance from FBI headquarters.”
Asked about the matter via email, FBI Supervisory Special Agent Matthew Bertron said Tuesday, “The FBI has no comment on your specific questions.”
The 28 pages contain additional new information involving other individuals who worked at Saudi Arabia’s Washington embassy. One was an embassy bodyguard whose phone number was also in Zubaydah’s possession. The paragraph about the matter includes a number of redactions, including the name of the bodyguard, that make it difficult to understand what’s being said.
Bin Laden’s half-brother, Abdullah Bin Laden, also surfaces in the 28 pages under a section titled, “Connections between Saudi government officials in the U.S., and other possible terrorist operatives.”
“For example, according to FBI documents there is evidence that hijackers Marwan al-Shehhi and Mohammed Atta [who piloted the jets that struck the Twin Towers] were in contact with Mohammed Rafique Quadir Harunani, the subject of an FBI counterterrorism investigation since 1999 and a close associate of Abdullah Bin Laden… He claims to work for the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington, D.C. as an administrative officer. Abdullah Bin Laden has financed Quadir’s company and is listed by Quadir as the emergency contact for Quadir’s children. They are in frequent email and phone contact as well.”
Osama Bin Laden half-brother’s terrorist connections
The chapter goes on to discuss Abdullah Bin Laden’s connections to “terrorist organizations.”
“He is the president and director of the World Arab Muslim Youth Association (WAMY) and the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America. Both organizations are local branches of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. According to the FBI, there is reason to believe that WAMY is ‘closely associated with the funding and financing of international terrorist activities and in the past has provide logistical support to individuals wishing to fight in the Afghan war.’”
The 28 pages also provide new information about a known episode that raised questions about Prince Bandar’s possible ties to some of the hijackers more than a decade ago.
Back then, it was reported that Bandar’s wife, Princess Haifa, had for some time sent a monthly stipend to $2,000 the wife of Osama Bassnan, a suspected Saudi agent, alleged al Qaeda sympathizer and “close associate” of Omar al-Bayoumi, another apparent Saudi agent who provided financial and other support to two 9/11 hijackers in San Diego in 2000.
The 28 pages say “in a recent search of Bassnan’s residence the FBI located copies of 31 cashiers checks totaling $74,000 during the period February 22, 1999 to May 30, 2002. These checks were payable to Bassnan’s wife and were drawn on the Riggs Bank account of Prince Bandar’s wife.” The money was supposed to be for “ ‘nursing’ services, but according to the [blank] document, there is no evidence that Bassnan’s wife provided nursing services.”
The pages say Prince Bandar himself also sent checks directly to Bassnan and his wife. Those checks, cashed in 1998, were for $15,000 and $10,000.
On Oct. 9, 2002, FBI Executive Assistant Director Pasquale D’Amuro told the Joint Inquiry, “What the money was for is what we don’t know.”
One year later, on Oct. 7, 2003, investigators with the 9/11 Commission interviewed Bandar. What he was asked and his replies are not known. A “memorandum for the record” about his interview, and the interview itself, are classified. The reason, according to the National Archives, is national security.
FRANK DADDARIO / July 19, 2016 7:09 am
Bandar BUSH, as he was known, was the connection indeed but go back and remember America was addicted to crude oil and over the decades paid TRILLIONs to the middle east producers – so as the BUSH family wealth arose from domestic oil distribution it is no surprise such a close relationship occurred
Guy Mullins / July 19, 2016 10:28 am
When the final report on the Abbottabad raid is published, it will read like Osama’s Angel by Michael McWilliams. In the book, bin Laden was not killed but taken to Germany for interrogation. A stand-in was buried at sea and the SEALS who knew about the ruse were killed in a Chinook crash weeks later. The drone strike programme was so successful because it was informed by bin Laden who spilled the beans because the CIA used a new interrogation technique developed using virtual reality at Guantanamo Bay. Read the book, its on Amazon , it covers all the facts known while presenting a fascinating new version of what really happened.
James Dorman / July 19, 2016 8:52 pm
None of my buddies have given thousands and thousands of dollars to Bin Laden supporters assisting the 9/11 hijackers.
But President Bush’s buddy did.
Good thing he was President. It was bad luck that his friend was accidentally funding Bin Laden supporters, but good luck that he’s President and makes sure no one jumps to conclusions.
Poor guy, …Bandar Bush must be pretty embarrassed by accidentally helping Al Qaeda.
That must be what they talked about on September 13 2001.
Bush being the nice guy that he is (not to mention a loyal friend)graciously accepted the top secret apology from his very embarrassed incompetent Saudi friend.
It wouldn’t be fair to allow any American taxpaying citizen to see any of this because they might not know that it’s all a coincidence and accidental.
It certainly looks bad, and doesn’t even mention Iraq.
Bush being the incredible, understanding, nice loyal friend, we all wish we had, then brightens up his embarrassed, and shaken, incompetent, Saudi friends’ day, by telling him that this all has a silver lining.
They can take out Saddaam and Iraq now. After all…….Iraq has long standing ties to Al Qaeda…….right Bandar?
Bush had to censure the report so Americans can get the real evidence from himself….
“Tuesday, October 8, 2002
Bush: Don’t wait for mushroom cloud
President Bush outlined his case against the regime of Saddam Hussein in a speech to the American people
Here is a transcript of his speech:
“And we know that Iraq is continuing to finance terror, and gives assistance to groups that use terrorism to undermine Middle East peace.”
We know that Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy — the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade.
“Tuesday, October 8, 2002
Bush: America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”
The evidence in the 28 pages might not be “the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”
But it sure looks bad.
We should all thank God and Allah that Bush was President, and knew no matter how bad the pages looked, Bandar is innocent and Iraq is guilty.
Most people would not have realized that, and might make a horrendous blunder with the report, containing Evidence against Saudi Arabia and nothing on Iraq.
Besides, he has to censure the report after FBI Field Agents “got fooled” by all the evidence and said this …….
From 28 pages:
“According to the former FBI agent in San Diego who was involved in this investigation, this scheme may allow the Saudi Government to provide al-Qa’ida with funding through covert or indirect means. In his October 9, 2002 testimony the former agent commented on the possible money laundering:
My guess Saudi-it’s connected somehow with the Saudis. And knowing that probably 70-80 percent of the population of Saudi Arabia support Usama Bin Ladin, it might be an indication.”
“There are also indications of Saudi governmental support for terrorist activity through charitable organizations.”
“San Diego agents addressed the issue of whether al-Bayoumi was an intelligence officer at the October 9, 2002 closed hearing. The former case agent who handled Muppet testified:”
“[Al-Bayoumi] acted like a Saudi intelligence officer, in my opinion. And if he was involved with the hijackers, which it looks like he was, if he signed leases, if he provided some sort of financing or payment of some sort, then I would say that there is a clear possibility that there might be a connection between Saudi intelligence and UBL.”
Why are these FBI Investigators making our President look bad? Didn’t they know he just laid out the case for Iraq, in the days just prior?
“Tuesday, October 8, 2002
We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade.”
Bush had to censure the report so all that false disinformation would not confuse the American people. They might start thinking that Saudi Arabia was somehow connected to Al Qaeda, but our brave hero will not bow down to pressure, and his strict ethics, and morality, will be the reason for protecting his embarrassed and incompetent Saudi friend.
Hope that finally clears this all up.
Nothing to see here, but a heartwarming story on friendship, and standing up to do the right thing.
Adam / July 23, 2016 4:46 pm
WHERE IS Osama Basnan?
WHERE IS Omar al Bayoumi?
IF they are not Saudi agents, WHO are they? WHERE are they?
disgruntled / July 25, 2016 12:58 pm
GO GET EM DAN NEVER LET UP THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE SOMEWHERE I HOPE