Congress released 28 pages of previously classified information on Friday detailing connections of Saudi nationals to the 9/11 hijackers.
The attackers were in contact with and received assistance from several individuals believed to be part of the Saudi government, the document says. It’s suspected at least two of these individuals were Saudi intelligence officials.
Members of the Saudi government and the royal family were financially connected to the hijackers, according to the newly declassified material. Omar al-Bayoumi, a Saudi national who provided several of the attackers with flight lessons, had “extensive ties” to the Saudi government. He worked for the Saudi Civil Air Administration from 1976-1993 and was responsible for directing air traffic control in Saudi Arabia.
Telephone records prove he was in frequent contact with Saudi establishments while in the United States and at least three officials at the Saudi embassy in Washington DC.
Upon the arrival of two hijackers in San Diego in the late 1990s, al-Bayoumi threw them a welcoming party and helped them find an apartment and get driver’s licenses.
Prior to 9/11, the FBI received a dozen reports from individuals who suspected al-Bayoumi was a Saudi intelligence officer. The agency investigated al-Bayoumi from 1998-1999 after he reportedly received $400,000 from the Saudi government for a new mosque in San Diego, but they closed the investigation shortly thereafter. He was also sympathetic to terrorism and reportedly spent time attempting to radicalize young Muslim men.
The United States can’t really be sure how deep the connections were because they had no comprehensive counterterrorism strategy before 9/11, the report stated. U.S. intelligence also didn’t keep an eye on Saudi nationals living in the states prior to 9/11 because their country was considered an ally.
While living in San Diego, al-Bayoumi’s wife received $1,200 a month from Princess Haifa Bint Sultan — who was married to Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the United States.
Osama Bassnan, an associate of al-Bayoumi, also received financial assistance from Princess Haifa and maintained contact with two of the 9/11 hijackers. In 1998, he received a payment for $15,000 directly from Prince Bandar himself. In 1992, Bassnan spoke of Osama Bin Laden “as if he were a god” to several FBI assets. Several Saudi naval officers were also in contact with the 9/11 attackers in 2000.
Just before the documents were released, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the documents “don’t shed any new light or change the conclusions about the responsibility for the 9/11 attacks.”
“It will confirm what we’ve been saying for quite some time,” he said, according to the Washington Examiner.
You can read the full report here.