By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org
A Saudi diplomat who FBI agents have said “tasked” others with aiding two future 9/11 hijackers in Southern California was “heavily connected/linked to Saudi Sunni extremists operating inside the U.S.”
That assessment of Musaed al-Jarrah, then-director of Islamic Affairs at Saudi Arabia’s Washington, D.C. embassy, is contained in a report by the FBI’s Washington Field Office written in early 2003. The exact date of the report was censored.
The report is among hundreds of pages of formerly secret FBI records that were recently declassified in line with President Joe Biden’s September Executive Order mandating a broad review and release of government records regarding the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Information contained in the 2003 FBI report later became central to Operation Encore – the FBI’s once-confidential probe of suspected Saudi government involvement in 9/11. Encore’s existence became public in 2016 when a highly redacted 2012 FBI report about the investigation was released to Florida Bulldog amid Freedom of Information Act litigation.
Jarrah, who was a suspected Saudi intelligence officer, was among a trio of Saudis named in the 2012 report as subjects of the Encore probe. His identity was not made public until the government mistakenly released it in a court filing in 2020.
The 2003 FBI report tied Jarrah “specifically with the Southern California based network of Muhammad al-Muhannah [also spelled Muhanna] and Fahad al-Thumairy.’’
JARRAH ‘TASKED’ 9/11 HELPERS
Thumairy, also named in the 2012 report as one of the persons Jarrah “tasked” with helping 9/11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, was a Saudi consular official and imam at the King Fahd Mosque near Los Angeles between 1996 and 2003. The other person Jarrah allegedly “tasked” with helping Hazmi and Mihdhar was another suspected Saudi agent, Omar al-Bayoumi.
Other declassified FBI documents identify Muhanna as an “administrative officer” at the Saudi’s Los Angeles consulate and a “more radical individual” who a 2010 FBI report says Thumairy brought into the mosque in late 2000 or 2001. An October 2007 FBI report says Muhanna “had numerous phone connections with al-Thumairy, as would be expected, and with al-Jarrah.”
The 2003 FBI report characterized Jarrah, born in 1960, as “a controlling, guiding and directing influence on all aspects of Sunni extremist activity in Southern California and has been directing, controlling and funding al Muhanna and al Thumairy since their arrival in the U.S.”
Interestingly, the report goes on to note that the pair’s “recent removals” from the U.S. “was at the behest of the Saudi Ministry of Interior…” The next several lines are redacted.
The Los Angeles Times reported in May 2003 that Thumairy, then 31, was denied entry into the U.S. because of his suspected ties to terrorists. It said that two months earlier, “acting on undisclosed intelligence information,” the U.S. had revoked Thumairy’s visa.
The report goes on, “Al Jarrah may be trying to bring other Saudi Sunni Salafi extremists into the U.S through his position at the EKSA [Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia]. Al-Jarrah’s official responsibilities are to manage and control all assignments of Saudi Imams (clerics) into the U.S. and facilitate the issuance of diplomatic visas to these individuals. Saudi Imams who are assigned to the U.S. through this process report to al Jarrah and he serves as the coordinator of their activity while they are inside the U.S. Al-Jarrah is purposely selecting Saudi Salafi extremists to be assigned to the U.S.
“Al Jarrah travels in and around the U.S. visiting the Saudi imams under his control. It should be noted that Al-Jarrah is listed as an accountant for the EKSA on the U.S. Department of State diplomat’s list.”
The FBI’s 2003 report censored some information at “the direction of another [unnamed] U.S. government agency or department.”
But an Oct. 23, 2007 FBI report out of New York declaring the initiation of the “full field investigation” named Operation Encore restates almost word for word much of what the 2003 report said about Jarrah, while also appearing to attribute it to that unidentified U.S. agency, likely the CIA.
Another section of the 2007 report says that Al Jarrah, who “reportedly left his post in 2005 after serving approximately 14 years in such position,” was apparently “the sole distributor of [Saudi government] funds in California.”
In mid-June 2021, Jarrah was deposed via Zoom from his home in Morocco by lawyers representing the families and victims of 9/11 who are suing the kingdom in federal court in New York City. His 610-page deposition, secret by court order, was leaked to a Yahoo! reporter a month later – sparking a still-pending leak inquiry by the presiding magistrate judge.
The admitted leaker, an investigator for lead law firm Kreindler & Kreindler, said he did it because of his concerns that Jarrah was consuming and possibly trafficking in child pornography. Testimony and attorney statements at a November hearing before Magistrate Sarah Netburn established that FBI agents found “numerous” images of child porn on Jarrah’s computer in 2004-2005.
JARRAH DENIES 9/11 CONNECTION
“But the gambit does not appear to have worked,” the story continued. “After acknowledging he was confronted by an FBI agent with a photo of a naked child taken off his computer, Jarrah testified that he basically told the agent to take a hike.”
Yahoo!’s July 15 story reported the deposition transcript showed that FBI agents questioned Jarrah “at least three times and even threatened him, confronting him with photos of child pornography found on his home computer in an apparent attempt to ‘flip’ him and gain his cooperation.”
“Then I told him, ‘If you are here to threaten me with the pictures, just go ahead, go to the Embassy,’” Jarrah testified. “Then I got in my car and drove off.” He never spoke to the FBI again, he later said.
How agents came to find Jarrah’s porn stash, and why he wasn’t arrested, were not disclosed. The Yahoo! story cited speculation by a former Justice Department national security attorney that it was “very likely” agents obtained a warrant from a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court judge. The no arrest decision apparently involved Jarrah’s protected status as a Saudi diplomat.
The Yahoo! story further reported Jarrah denied knowing or having discussed the two hijackers prior to 9/11.
“No, not at all,” he replied when asked if he had ever heard the names of Khalid al-Mihdhar or Nawaf al-Hazmi before the terrorist attacks.