The pages are devastating:
Page 415: “While in the United States, some of the September 11 hijackers were in contact with, and received support and assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi Government.… [A]t least two of those individuals were alleged by some to be Saudi intelligence officers.”
One of the individuals identified in the pages as a financial supporter of two of the 9/11 hijackers, Osama Bassnan, later received a “significant amount of cash” from “a member of the Saudi Royal Family”
One of the individuals identified in the pages as a financial supporter of two of the 9/11 hijackers, Osama Bassnan, later received a “significant amount of cash” from “a member of the Saudi Royal Family” during a 2002 trip to Houston.
Page 418: “Another Saudi national with close ties to the Saudi Royal Family, [deleted], is the subject of FBI counterterrorism investigations.”
Pages 418 and 419: Detained al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida had in his phone book the unlisted number for the security company that managed the Colorado residence of the then-Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan.
Page 421: “a [deleted], dated July 2, 2002, [indicates] ‘incontrovertible evidence that there is support for these terrorists inside the Saudi Government.’”
Page 426: Bassnan’s wife was receiving money “from Princess Haifa Bint Sultan,” the wife of the Saudi ambassador. (Her correct name is actually Princess Haifa bint Faisal.)
Page 436: The general counsel of the U.S. Treasury Department, David Aufhauser, testified that “offices [of the Saudi charity al-Haramain] have significant contacts with extremists, Islamic extremists.” CIA officials also testified “that they were making progress on their investigations of al-Haramain.… [T]he head of the central office is complicit in supporting terrorism, and it also raised questions about [then-Saudi Interior Minister] Prince Nayef.”
On reading this, I let out a shout: “Yes!”
In January 2002, U.S. News & World Report quoted two unidentified Clinton administration officials as saying that two senior Saudi princes had been paying off Osama bin Laden since a 1995 bombing in Riyadh, which killed five American military advisors. I followed up in an August 2002 Wall Street Journal op-ed, reporting that U.S. and British officials had told me the names of the two senior princes who were using official Saudi money — not their own — to pay off bin Laden to cause trouble elsewhere but not in the kingdom. I referred to the princes in a later Wall Street Journal op-ed: They were Prince Nayef, the father of the current crown prince, Muhammad bin Nayef, and his brother Prince Sultan, then-defense minister and father of Prince Bandar. Both Prince Nayef and Prince Sultan are now dead.
The U.S. News & World Reportarticle quoted a Saudi official as saying: “Where’s the evidence? Nobody offers proof.”
The U.S. News & World Report article quoted a Saudi official as saying: “Where’s the evidence? Nobody offers proof.” That official was current Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who has no doubt spent recent days lobbying members of Congress and doing advance damage control — my bet is he has probably been using the same lines.
But with the release of the 29 pages, and their detailed description of the financial connections between the 9/11 hijackers and Saudi officials, Jubeir’s argument has become increasingly difficult to make. The inquiry, after all, quotes a redacted source alleging “incontrovertible evidence that there is support for these terrorists within the Saudi Government.”
Upon the pages’ release, Washington-based public relations firm Qorvis, which has a lucrative contract with the kingdom, released its own analysis that began with a quote from an interview CIA Director John Brennan gave to Al Arabiya on June 11. It reads in part: “[T]here was no evidence to indicate that the Saudi government as an institution, or senior Saudi officials individually, had supported the 9/11 attacks.”
That could very well be right. But it still allows for the possibility, indeed the probability, that the actions of senior Saudi officials resulted in those terrorist outrages. I have never suggested that the Saudi government or members of the royal family directly supported or financed the 9/11 attacks. But official Saudi money ended up in the pockets of the attackers, without a doubt. I once asked a British official: “How do we know?” He replied that we know what account the money came out of and where it ended up.
On Friday, Jubeir held a news conference at the Saudi Embassy in Washington where he declared, “The matter is now finished.” Asked whether the report exonerated the kingdom, he replied: “Absolutely.” I think not.