CBS, 911 and the Saudis Part II: The Iran Angle - Blackmail?

By WILLIAM MAYER

April 20, 2016 - San Francisco, CA – PipeLineNews.org – We recently authored a piece, 911 Report Redactions: Saudi Officials Implicated in World Trade Center and Pentagon Attacks - Part I: Obama Moves to Shield Hillary and Stoke BushDerangementSyndrome, which dealt with the CBS 60 Minutes expose, "28 Pages."

Recap:

“Last Sunday [4.11.16] CBS’ 60 Minutes featured a segment which more than strongly hinted that members of the Saudi government were complicit in aiding the 911 attacks, most of whom [15 of 19] were Saudi citizens [see, Steve Croft, Howard Rosenberg and Julie Holstein 28 Pages, CBS/60 Minutes].

Actually it went farther than that, with the expose suggesting that not only was the House of Saud involved but that it had agents working from inside the United States, specifically Los Angeles and San Diego, CA.

Former Senator Bob Graham [D-FL] who chaired the Senate Special Select Committee investigation into intelligence failures pre the September attacks which generated an 800 plus page report [the 911 Commission - Co-Chaired by Thomas H Kean and Lee H. Hamilton - produced the nearly 600 page 9/11 report itself, largely a creation of the Commission's Executive Director, Philip D. Zelikow] figured prominently in the CBS production, doing an on-air and pulling little in the way of punches, though why he chose this particular time to air his allegations is more than a bit suspicious:

Steve Kroft: You believe that support came from Saudi Arabia?

Bob Graham: Substantially.’”

Though after the initial buzz, there hasn’t been much in the way of coverage devoted to the potential nuke aimed at our erstwhile “ally,” the House of Saud, beneath the surface things are percolating mightily. Within intel circles one of the big topics is based upon speculation knowing that the Obama regime is in the process reviewing the referenced documents for potential declassification. Though we have no idea where this is going - the permutation of motives being almost limitless and given the Dem/MSM obsession with [imam] Bush 43 – the mere mention by the granddaddy of leftist media sources of a possible Saudi connection to the most devastating attack ever to his America has the shaykh’s frothing at the mouth and falling off their magic carpets.

Before we get too far into this, allow us to provide the primary source for the entire matter, The 911 Commission Report, courtesy of the PipeLineNews.org’s archives.

Though the text of the 911 Commission Report [herafter referred to as the Report] the word Saudi is mentioned nearly 400 times, the suggestion 15 years after the jihadist attack that there was heavy Saudi involvement in the plot still has the power to shock.

The Iran Connection:

Note - This section is based upon guidance and information provided by a former career intelligence officer with extensive experience in matters pertaining to national security, state-craft and terrorism.

Upon 60 Minutes’ refloating alegations of a 911/Saudi connection - which the program’s key presenter, former Senator Graham, has been pushing in various forms forever - the question arises why hasn’t this weapon been used?

Much of the information appears entirely substantiable, there is indeed a long-known and heavily documented Saudi connection to the September 11, 2001 attacks and all that prevents the release of the “28 pages” is the formal process which is currently underway by the Obama administration, whereby the information would be declassified and become available.

The lack of action is especially difficult to understand since - assuming that the surrounding narrative is one of Bush/GOP incompetence - it could prove especially damaging to the Republican old guard by way of further sliming the George Walker Bush [43] administration and his family's ties, going back 3 generations, to the Saudi royal family.

What could be holding Team Obama back?

It’s certainly not a matter of ethics, for which one would have to search long and hard to find examples. No, it’s something which the Democrat party fears might develop – blowback – as a result of re-opening a national wound - though there are potentially more strategic national implications which will be teased out at the conclusion of this section.

Could it center on Obama’s curious relationship with his new found best friend and secret pen-pal, Iran’s theocratic dictatorship, the chief state sponsor of world wide terrorsm?

We turn to the Report, pp. 240-241. Note: the the term “muscle hijacker,” is applied to terrorists who had been provided extensive combat, especially hand to hand, training which included butchering animals with knives, a useful skill in taking over an airliner back in the carefree days when knives and boxcutters where still allowed to be taken on board by passengers.

Though to some this angle might be surprising, Iran's involvement was also well documented by the Commission, demonstrating the free reciprocal passage of terrorists between Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic as well as into and out of Lebanon, Hezbollah’s base of operations, Hezbollah being Iran's proxy army. Given the high level of Saudi state security and especially noting the deep seated animosity between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia, it strains credulity to believe that the Saudi government, at a high level, was unaware of these comings and goings.

Below from the Report. representative references from the 587 page document regarding, variously, cooperation between Iran, Saudi Arabia, Hezbollah and most likely al-Qaeda in the conspiracy to attack the United States on September 11, 2001.

First, collusion between the Saudis and the Iranians and just possibly al-Qaeda in the Khobar Towers attack:

“In June 1996, an enormous truck bomb detonated in the Khobar Towers residential complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, that housed U.S. Air Force personnel. Nineteen Americans were killed, and 372 were wounded. The operation was carried out principally, perhaps exclusively, by Saudi Hezbollah, an organization that had received support from the government of Iran. While the evidence of Iranian involvement is strong, there are also signs that al Qaeda played some role, as yet unknown.48…” [source, Report, Chapter 2, p. 60]

Assistance from Hezbollah and Iran to al Qaeda:

As we mentioned in chapter 2, while in Sudan, senior managers in al Qaeda maintained contacts with Iran and the Iranian-supported worldwide terrorist organization Hezbollah, which is based mainly in southern Lebanon and Beirut. Al Qaeda members received advice and training from Hezbollah.

Intelligence indicates the persistence of contacts between Iranian security officials and senior al Qaeda figures after Bin Ladin’s return to Afghanistan. Khallad has said that Iran made a concerted effort to strengthen relations with al Qaeda after the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, but was rebuffed because Bin Ladin did not want to alienate his supporters in Saudi Arabia.Khallad and other detainees have described the willingness of Iranian officials to facilitate the travel of al Qaeda members through Iran,on their way to and from Afghanistan. For example, Iranian border inspectors would be told not to place telltale stamps in the passports of these travelers. Such arrangements were particularly beneficial to Saudi members of al Qaeda. 120

Our knowledge of the international travels of the al Qaeda operatives selected for the 9/11 operation remains fragmentary. But we now have evidence suggesting that 8 to 10 of the 14 Saudi “muscle” operatives traveled into or out of Iran between October 2000 and February 2001.121

In October 2000, a senior operative of Hezbollah visited Saudi Arabia to coordinate activities there. He also planned to assist individuals in Saudi Arabia in traveling to Iran during November.A top Hezbollah commander and Saudi Hezbollah contacts were involved.122

Also in October 2000, two future muscle hijackers, Mohand al Shehri and Hamza al Ghamdi, flew from Iran to Kuwait. In November, Ahmed al Ghamdi apparently flew to Beirut, traveling—perhaps by coincidence - on the same flight as a senior Hezbollah operative. Also in November,Salem al Hazmi apparently flew from Saudi Arabia to Beirut.123

In mid-November, we believe, three of the future muscle hijackers, Wail al Shehri,Waleed al Shehri,and Ahmed al Nami, all of whom had obtained their U.S. visas in late October, traveled in a group from Saudi Arabia to Beirut and then onward to Iran. An associate of a senior Hezbollah operative was on the same flight that took the future hijackers to Iran. Hezbollah officials in Beirut and Iran were expecting the arrival of a group during the same time period. The travel of this group was important enough to merit the attention of senior figures in Hezbollah. 124

Later in November, two future muscle hijackers, Satam al Suqami and Majed. Moqed,flew into Iran from Bahrain. In February 2001,Khalid al Mihdhar may have taken a flight from Syria to Iran, and then traveled further within Iran to a point near the Afghan border.125

KSM and Binalshibh have confirmed that several of the 9/11 hijackers (at least eight, according to Binalshibh) transited Iran on their way to or from Afghanistan, taking advantage of the Iranian practice of not stamping Saudi passports. They deny any other reason for the hijackers’ travel to Iran. They also deny any relationship between the hijackers and Hezbollah.126

In sum, there is strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11,and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers.There also is circumstantial evidence that senior Hezbollah operatives were closely tracking the travel of some of these future muscle hijackers into Iran in November 2000. However,we cannot rule out the possibility of a remarkable coincidence—that is,that Hezbollah was actually focus=ing on some other group of individuals traveling from Saudi Arabia during this same time frame, rather than the future hijackers.127

We have found no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9/11 attack. At the time of their travel through Iran, the al Qaeda operatives themselves were probably not aware of the specific details of their future operation.

After 9/11, Iran and Hezbollah wished to conceal any past evidence of cooperation with Sunni terrorists associated with al Qaeda.A senior Hezbollah official disclaimed any Hezbollah involvement in 9/11.128

We believe this topic requires further investigation by the U.S.government.” [source, Report, Chapter 7, pp. 240-241]

It's impossible to comprehend how any serious investigation would suggest that this multi-way shuttle terrorism between the Kingdom, the Islamic Republic and points in between took place without either of the principles being aware of the breadth of the intended operation - a simple demonstration in how bureacracies - especially those revolving around DC's myriad investigations - work, the dots intentionally never being connected.

Summarizing this collusion and paraphrasing our source, “there is much evidence attesting to the mark that the Saudi & Iranian governments mutually agreed upon to be placed in the Saudi hijackers' passports, so that when they crossed into Iran for pre-9/11 training, the Iranian border guards would not stamp their passports....thus allowing them eventually to obtain U.S. visas in 'clean' passports.”

To further flesh out these seemingly odd relationships, we refer readers to:

“…Imad Mughniyah, the most notable and notorious world terrorist of his time, an agent of Iran and a senior operative of Hizballah, facilitated the international travel of certain 9/11 hijackers to and from Iran, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan, and perhaps various other locations for the purpose of executing the events of September 11, 2001. This support enabled two vital aspects of the September 11, 2001 plot to succeed:

1. The continued training of the hijackers in Afghanistan and Iran after securing their United States visas in Saudi Arabia

2. Entry into the United States. [source, Affidavit submitted on behalf of Fiona Havlish in her own right, and as Executrix of the Estate of Donald G. Havlish, Jr., et al. Civil case, U.S. Dist. Court, Southern Dist. Of New York, In Re Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001 ]

Also please consider a similar affidavit in the same case which also finds substantial evidence of linkage in the 911 attacks between, the Saudis, Iranians, al-Qaeda and Hezbollah. A more comprehensive archive of the Havlish case can be found here: Iran 911 Case.

Even from evidence gleaned from common public sources it’s clear that both the Saudi’s and the Iranians [despite their sectarian differences which are profound] served key roles in facilitating the 911 attacks and thus a release of the documents which were the centerpiece of the recent CBS expose would be injurious to both regimes, especially from a PR standpoint. One might ordinarily assume that theocratic dicatorships are immune to public opinion, but 911 isn't just another passing event, it's a scar burned forever into the American psyche.

We also know that Obama has shown much more deference to Iran than to Saudi Arabia, contrasting the accommodative nuclear weapon deal and subsequent release of $150B to the Ayatoll-ocracy vs. Team O’s refusal to provide even token assistance to the Saudi’s as they attempt to roll-back the Iranian backed Houthi terrorists based in Yemen who have targeted the “apostate” House of Saud.

A further demonstration of Obama's animus towards the Saudis was demonstrated just today as he visits the Magic Muslim Kingdom, where his top priority is lecturing his hosts on "civilian" deaths in Yemen which, if they are even much of a factor, are entirely the fault of Iran's insurgency. Of course Obama remains entirely mum on the murderous Houthi rampage.

Concluding this section we again paraphrase our intel source as to the possible motivation for the Obama Administration's expected quashing of the declassification process regarding the "28 Pages:"

“We know that the Saudis have already threatened to dump U.S. assets if this information is released…”

Though ominous on its face, this “threat” might largely represent a lot of heat and smoke but little fire, essentially a wild shot across the bow in that the House of Saud is already shaky financially in the face of plummeting world oil prices a rising domestic terror threat by Salafists and hence the need to retain “safe” U.S. assets as a hedge against instability, would seem paramount. Terror authority Dr. Sebastian Gorka has also dismissed the possibility of this being a genuine threat.

But what about Iran?

As we have noted on these pages numerous times, Iran’s proxy army, Hezbollah [the Party of God] already has terror cells placed within the United States merely awaiting the Ayatollah's "go" sign to commence hostilities.

Another of our intel sources went on the record 5 years ago alleging that there is coordination between these mini-terror armies and certain U.S. mosques [see, Iranian Defector Reza Kahlili - Iran Runs "Large Network" Through U.S. Mosques And Islamic Organizations , the PipeLineNews.org interview, June 8, 2011].

Could that be the ultimate threat, that the terror state of Iran might be holding over the administration and of course by extension, the American people?

This does indeed seem to represent a far more serious matter than that made by the Saudis especially given the inexplicable “thaw” [thus facilitating travel, a key component in any terror plot] in relations between the United States and Castro’s prison state, Cuba where, according to our source, a Hezbollah “command and control base” is located.

End Notes/Bulltepoints/Closing Observations:

Though [intellectually at least] the threat posed by Islamic terrorism has been recognized essentially since this country's inception - dating back to President Jefferson's War against the Ottoman Muslim Barbary Pirates [1801-1805] - who were raiding U.S. vessels and kidnapping American sailors - in modern times the U.S. government has been a portrait of an entity entirely unprepared for the reality of jihadism.

Every administration from Carter onward bears responsibility.

Clinton's refusal to accept the head of bin-Laden on a platter - at least twice - was classic. Below from a 2004 PipeLineNews.org piece, written by an insider's insider, Janet McElligott, a registered foreign againt who was pursuing the matter on the ground in Africa:

"When the Clinton administration demanded that Sudan expel bin-Laden - which took place on May 18, 1996 - the Sudanese knew that a refusal to cooperate could have dire consequences. The demand for expulsion had first been raised in early 1996 by U.S. Ambassador Tim Carney, a respected career diplomat.

On Carney's last night in Sudan - Feb. 6, 1996 - he was invited to the home of Foreign Minister Ali Osman M. Taha, who asked Carney what could be done to dissuade the United States from its hard-line view on Sudan...Erwa believed he could reason with the administration. At a hotel in Rosslyn, Va., just across the river from Georgetown, he participated in a meeting with David Shinn, chief of the State Department's Africa Desk, Carney and other U.S. government officials.

Unfortunately, they were not - as Erwa hoped - willing to listen. Instead, they handed him a memorandum dated March 8, 1996, that outlined a list of U.S. demands of the Sudanese. Item No. 2 on the list was a demand for information about bin-Laden.

Intead, Erwa offered to hand bin-Laden to the United States on a silver platter - just as the Sudanese had done when the gave Carlos the Jackal to the French - but the representatives of the United States told Erwa the United States only wanted bin-Laden out of Sudan.

Clinton himself confirmed this on Feb. 15, 2002, while speaking in Woodbury, N.Y. Asked about terrorism, Clinton said: "We tried to be quite aggressive with (terrorists). We got -- uh -- well, Mr. bin-Laden used to live in Sudan. He was expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1991, and then he went to Sudan. And we'd been hearing that the Sudanese wanted America to start dealing with them again.

"They released him. At the time, 1996, he had committed no crime against America so I did not bring him here because we had no basis on which to hold him, though we knew he wanted to commit crimes against America. So I pleaded with the Saudis to take him, 'cause they could have. But they thought it was a hot potato and they didn't and that's how he wound up in Afghanistan..."

The next time he [McElligott's contact] and I met it was after I finished work in Kazakhstan. He told me about the embassy bombing suspects, showed me the files compiled during their interrogations, and let me examine a virtual treasure trove of other information in the hands of the Sudanese pertaining to al-Qaida. "I can give these to the FBI," Gutbi told me referring to the information spread out before me, "if only they will talk to me." "We don't trust the CIA. They are listening to liars and fabricators, but the FBI is based on law. We can deal with them. Go back to Washington and help us. I will give you something to convince them," he said.

As I left for the airport that night, an armed courier arrived at my hotel with an envelope. Inside was a six-page, handwritten note to FBI Director Louis Freeh detailing the movements of the two suspects they'd caught coming in from Nairobi. He told Freeh their names, movements, and much more -- information that could possibly get me killed if anyone else knew I had it in my possession.

I met with my "people," as the Sudanese continued to call them, at the FBI. They told me they again wanted to meet with the Sudanese. From January through May of 1999, I shuttled Washington, Khartoum and Cairo, trying to arrange the meeting. In May - while in Khartoum putting the last pieces in place - I received word from the FBI that the State Department had stopped the meeting. What's more, the U.S. Department of the Treasury had previously issued a "cease and desist" order with my name on it, commanding that I cease all contact with the Sudanese government.

Additionally, Steven Schwartz, of the State Department's Sudan Desk, acting - I was told - on orders from above, threatened to have me arrested for "running around the world conducting personal diplomacy."

That summer I gave up. I'd been run ragged but no one seemed to believe me. Soon afterward Gutbi moved on to a different, more senior position within the Sudanese government, putting an end to the urgency of the whole thing. I was advised to forget the whole thing and, until Sept. 11, 2001, I tried.

After the planes hit the towers, it all came racing back in one phone call from a staff aide working for the Bush National Security Council. Diligently - in my view – they were digging under every rock they could find for information about al-Qaida. They had reached out to me because, I thought, they wanted help getting the bin-Laden files that had several times been offered to but not accepted by the previous administration.

The aide had no idea what I was talking about when I said, "Finally, someone cares. So, do you want the bin-Laden files?" My name had only surfaced because of the Treasury Department's attempt to sanction me for dealing with the Sudanese government, not because of what those dealings had been about.

Incredibly, in my view, the information from the Clinton White House about the Sudanese offers of information about al-Qaida had not been passed along to the incoming Bush administration..." [source, Janet McGelligot, The Clinton Administration and the "Non" Extradition of Osama bin-Laden - the True Story, PipeLineNews.org, 2004] .

Revelation of Clinton's dithering certainly was the stuff of ruining a legacy...so it was with a view to limiting further, and more substantial damage, to his former boss - and himself, since he was Clinton's most trusted foreign policy advisor - that led Sandy Berger [Deputy National Security Advisor - serving under Anthony Lake, a piece of work in his own right] to personally conduct a search of top secret documents which were housed in the National Archives.

Representing the Clinton administration in dealing with the 911 Commission made Berger acutely aware of the fallout which would accrue from a full examination of the relevant documents. It could bolster the already mainstream impression that Bill Clinton's foreign policy, especially as it related to terrorsm, had been a failure. So during 2003, just before he was scheduled to testify before the Commission, this former high ranking public official, as he was poking through hard copies of the nation's most sensitive documents [including those under the ultra top-secret classification of SAP, Special Access Programs which are only available on a need to know basis and then only viewed in a guaranteed secure setting as they often referred to "Black Ops"] decided to pilfer a still unknown number of them, which we must assume reflected poorly on he and his former boss. It turns out Berger wasn't much of a burglar and was quickly caught, convicted and was forced to relinquish his license to practice law.

He being a Democrat, the media quickly lost interest, the damage limited...time to move on.

This is not to single out Bill Clinton as every agency of the federal government over two administrations, bore some measure of responsibility for 911 including of course the occupants of the Oval Office, the FBI, DOJ, CIA, NORAD, FAA, DOD, etc.

In an example of the paranoia and subsequent stonewall erected by the Bush 43 administration regarding 911, it actually had the audacity to claim that Osama bin-Laden had privacy rights [see, Florida Bulldog, A stonewall of secrecy hides many 9-11 records on 14th anniversary of terrorist attacks.

“You must submit an authorization (privacy waiver) signed by Usama Bin Laden, consenting to the USNCB's release to you of any record that it may have pertaining to him. By completing and signing the enclosed Certification of Identity form,a person may authorize the USNCB to release any records pertaining to the person that it may have.” [source, DOJ asserts privacy rights for bin-Laden, August 8, 2002]

Below excerpts from NYT reporter Philip Shenon's 2008 book - Shenon, Philip (2008-02-05). The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation. Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Though following in the long tradition of the Times' employing, talented but hard-left journos, in the course of his 418 page book, Shenon manages to savage many of the most notable members of either party, though of course reserving his special ire for Republicans, especially George Walker Bush. This material is presented simply to set the plate as to the environment in which the Commission was forced to operate and the many forces which sought to impede any investigation, let alone one that was comprehensive.

Regarding the Berger theft:

"He moved quickly. He ripped off the top fifteen pages of his handwritten notes from the pad, folded them into thirds, and placed them in one of the inner pockets of his jacket. He left two other pages behind in hopes that would throw the archivist off the trail. He hated to leave any notes behind, but he was pleased to have something he could review in his office. Some notes were better than none, he thought. It was on his third visit, on September 2, 2003, that Berger began to steal the documents themselves." (p. 7).

A little known fact is that Henry Kissinger initially chaired the Commission, but resigned almost immediately because he would have had to disclose business relationships. As a result, Thomas Keane, the Republican, former governor of New Jersey took over. Bush had resisted the very idea of “independent” commission - fearing that it might end his bid for a second term - but when the investigation became inevitable he chose the long-time GOP fixer to act essentially as his gate-keeper. Specifically, Kissinger withdrew as Commission Chair the morning after a delegation of 911 widows visited with him. One member of the group, an attorney pressed him if bi-Laden was one of his clients.

"It was Lorie who then asked the question directly. “With all due respect, Dr. Kissinger,” she said, trying to look him in the eye, “I have to ask you: Do you have any Saudi clients? Do you have any clients named bin Laden?” It was Lorie who then asked the question directly. “With all due respect, Dr. Kissinger,” she said, trying to look him in the eye, “I have to ask you: Do you have any Saudi clients? Do you have any clients named bin Laden?” (p. 13).

In many ways the information presented by Graham in his "28 Pages" appearance, was prefigured in Shenan’s book:

“What Jacobson found in searching through the FBI’s files was that Hazmi and Mihdhar had been befriended shortly after their arrival in California by a mysterious Saudi expatriate, Omar al-Bayoumi; Bayoumi seemed clearly to be working on behalf of some part of the Saudi government. Bayoumi was in his early forties at the time. He entered the United States as a business student and had lived in San Diego since 1996. He was on the payroll of an aviation contractor to the Saudi government, paid about $ 2,800 a month, but apparently did no work for the company. Bayoumi was described by another worker as one of several “ghost employees” on the payroll. He instead spent much of his day at a mosque in El Cajon, about fifteen miles outside San Diego.” (p. 52).

And:

“Bayoumi’s income had grown dramatically in the period in which he had assisted the two hijackers— almost $ 40,000 above his usual salary from his “ghost” job. Jacobson had found evidence that another Saudi in San Diego who appeared to work as a spy, Osama Bassan, had funneled thousands of dollars to Bayoumi. The source of Bassan’s money was an additional shock to the congressional investigators: Much of it had come in the form of cashier’s checks directed to his family by Princess Haifa al-Faisal, wife of the Saudi ambassador to Washington.” (p. 53).

Below we present selected footnotes from the Commission Report which bear on the Saudi connection, showing that even at that time the linkage was commonly understood and well beyond dispute.

Appendix:

Chapter: 4

67. See, e.g., Mike interview (Dec. 11, 2003).The Saudis, however, were reluctant to provide details of incomplete investigations and highly sensitive to any information related to Saudi nationals,particularly those in the Kingdom. See CIA memo, Saudi CT Cooperation, June 18, 1998.

113. On further information, see Intelligence report, possible arrest of persons involved in hijacking plan, Dec. 18, 1998; Intelligence report, timeframe for completion of hijacking operation, Dec. 24, 1998; Intelligence report, claim that Bin Ladin postponed hijacking,Jan.8,1999;CIA analytic report,“Reporting on Al-Qaida plans to Use Aircraft as Terrorist Weapons,”Aug.26,2002.After 9/11,the U.S.government checked again with the foreign government to determine if there could be any connection between the attacks and these 1998–1999 reports.The foreign government had no intelligence of such links, but judged that the 1998 plan could have influenced planning for the 9/11 operation. Ibid.

On the FBI followup in 1998–1999, see FBI memo, Jack S. to FAA ACI,“FBI Investigative Efforts,” Jan. 27, 1999; FAA records, information in FAA Intelligence Case File 98-0199B. A Saudi who had just completed pilot training, boarding a flight to return to Saudi Arabia, had been arrested at JFK Airport in late November 1998. He had been carrying an inert hand grenade, which was detected by a checkpoint screener.The terminal was evacuated,and police found miscellaneous gun parts,pistol ammunition,and military paraphernalia in the man’s checked bags.FAA record,“Security Summary NY-99-007,”undated.The man was released after a few days in jail and, assisted by the local Saudi consulate, had returned to Saudi Arabia.The new threat information caused the FBI and the CIA to look again at this case. FBI agents found that the man’s statements about his flight training were true and that his firearms were legally registered.The Saudi investigators reported that the Saudi had enjoyed shooting at a gun club in Texas, where he had completed his flight training for a commercial pilot’s license.The Saudis further indicated that the man had no apparent political motive, and the results of a security investigation in the Kingdom were negative. FAA memo, Matthew K. to Jack S. and Tom K., Saudi national, Jan. 17, 1999; FBI memo, Jack S.to FAA ACI,“FBI Investigative Efforts,”Jan.27,1999;Intelligence report (to FAA),Saudi information,Apr.13, 1999.For the expiration of the FAA security directive,see FAA security directive,SD 108-95;FAA record,“SD/EA Status: 108 Security Directives,” May 20, 2002.

Chapter: 5

41.For the four individuals,see Intelligence report,interrogation of KSM,Aug.18,2003.Abu Bara al Yemeni is also known by the names Abu al Bara al Taizi, Suhail Shurabi, and Barakat. Ibid. KSM has also stated that he did not learn of the selection of Hazmi and Mihdhar for the planes operation until November 1999.Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM,Apr. 2, 2004. For Mihdhar’s and Hazmi’s eagerness, see Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM,Jan.9,2004;Feb.20,2004 .For Bin Ladin’s instruction,see Intelligence report,interrogation of KSM,Feb. 20, 2004. Hazmi obtained a B-1/B-2 multiple-entry visa issued at Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, on April 3, 1999; Mihdhar obtained the same type of visa at the same location on April 7, 1999. DOS records, NIV applicant details for Hazmi and Mihdhar, Nov. 8, 2001. Hazmi and Mihdhar both obtained new passports shortly before they applied for visas. FBI report,“Summary of Penttbom Investigation,”Jan.31,2003,p.9.

Chapter: 6

10.Patrick J.McDonnell,“Saudi Envoy in L.A.Is Deported,” Los Angeles Times, May 10, 2003, p. B1; Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman, with Jamie Reno,“Failure to Communicate,” Newsweek,Aug.4,2003,p.34.As of January 2000,Thumairy was employed by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Religious Endowments and Religious Guidance,to act as the consulate’s liaison to the mosque.FBI electronic communication,“Fahad Al Thumairy,”Sept.4,2002.Before 9/11,Saudi imams employed by the ministry often were dispatched to help serve Muslim communities around the world,sometimes—as in Thumairy’s case—with diplomatic status in the host country. On Thumairy’s leadership, see FBI letterhead memorandum, investigation of Mohammed bin Suleiman al Muhanna, July 9, 2003; FBI letterhead memorandum, investigation of Mohamed Ibrahim Aliter, Dec. 2, 2002.

Chapter: 7

14.We have checked, for example, the records for apartments where Thumairy is known to have placed Saudi visitors during 2001.The most intriguing lead concerns an Arabic-speaking taxicab driver, Qualid Benomrane,who was arrested on immigration charges in early 2002.When asked to look at a series of photographs that included the 19 hijackers involved in the 9/11 attacks, Benomrane responded ambiguously, seeming first to pick out the photographs of Hazmi and Mihdhar but then denying that he recognized them. Later in the interview, Benomrane told the FBI about driving “two Saudis” around Los Angeles and to San Diego’s Sea World after being introduced to them by Thumairy at the King Fahd mosque before 9/11. According to Benomrane, someone at the consulate had asked Thumairy to assist the two Saudis, who had recently arrived in Los Angeles and had moved to an apartment near the mosque.FBI electronic communication,“Fahad Althumairy,”Sept.4,2002;Ashour E.interview (May 20, 2004); FBI reports of investigation, interviews of Qualid Moncef Benomrane, Mar. 7, 2002; Mar. 13, 2002; May 23, 2002.Working with agencies of the U.S. government, we have attempted to locate and interview Benomrane overseas, since he was deported in 2002. After checking many possible avenues of corroboration for this story, our investigation has not substantiated the hypothesis that Benomrane’s “two Saudis” were Hazmi and Mihdhar. In fact, we have established that Benomrane did not obtain a taxi license, or even a driver’s license, until months after he could be supposed to have chauffeured Hazmi and Mihdhar. Moreover, before his deportation, Benomrane described the two Saudis as sons of a sick father who was seeking medical treatment in Los Angeles. Ibid.We have found evidence corroborating this account.

18. Saudi Civil Aviation Authority employment records for Bayoumi, Mar. 2000–Jan. 2002 (provided by the FBI);FBI report of investigation,“Connections of San Diego PENTTBOMB Subjects to the Government of Saudi Arabia,”undated;FBI letterhead memorandum,investigation of Bayoumi,Apr.15,2002.While in San Diego,Bayoumi was officially employed by Ercan, a subsidiary of a contractor for the Saudi Civil Aviation Administration, although a fellow employee described Bayoumi as a “ghost employee,” noting that he was one of many Saudis on the payroll who was not required to work. In April 2000, Bayoumi received a promotion and his status was also adjusted from “single”to “married”(despite the fact that he was already married).As a result,his salary was raised and his “other allowances” stipend increased significantly, from approximately $465 to $3,925 a month, remaining at that level until December 2000.In January 2001,the stipend was reduced to $3,427.It stayed constant until August 2001,when Bayoumi left the United States.Saudi Civil Aviation Authority employment records for Bayoumi,Mar. 2000–Jan. 2002 (provided by the FBI); Richard L. Lambert prepared statement, June 26, 2003, pp. 7–9; FBI reports of investigation,interviews of Samuel George Coombs,Apr.8,2002;July 24,2002;Aug.26,2002.

13. On Thumairy’s religious views, see FBI letterhead memorandum, investigation of Mohamed Aliter, Dec. 2,2002; Fahad alThumairy interviews (Feb.23–25,2004). However,two witnesses we interviewed who knewThumairy and used to hear him preach at the King Fahd mosque deny that he promoted extremism. Sami A. Mekhemar interview (Apr. 21, 2004); Interview (Apr. 23, 2004). Despite the disparate views as to whether Thumairy qualified as an extremist while he was in Los Angeles, it does appear that both the Saudi Arabian government and the leadership of the mosque attempted to discipline him in the summer of 2002 and early 2003 for espousing extremist views.Thumairy denies incurring any such disciplinary measures. Fahad al Thumairy interviews (Feb. 23–25, 2004); FBI letterhead memorandum, investigation of Mohammed bin Suleiman al Muhanna, July 9, 2003. On Bayoumi,see Khalil A.Khalil interview (Feb.24,2004). Bayoumi and Thumairy had numerous telephonic contacts between December 1998 and December 2000. Specifically, Bayoumi called Thumairy’s home telephone 10 times during this period, and Thumairy called Bayoumi’s cellular and home phones 11 times between December 3and December 20, 2000. FBI electronic communication,“Fahad Al-Thumairy,” Nov. 20, 2002. Bayoumi recalls consulting with Thumairy, solely on religious matters, both by telephone and in person at the mosque. Omar al Bayoumi interview (Oct.16–17,2003).As to Thumairy’s contact with Mohdar Abdullah,see FBI electronic communication,“Fahad Althumairy,”Oct.25,2002;FBI report of investigation,interview of Mohdar Abdullah,July 23, 2002.According to one individual,Abdullah visited the mosque frequently and was “very close”to radical followers of Thumairy.FBI electronic communication,“Fahad Althumairy,”Oct.25,2002.

18. Saudi Civil Aviation Authority employment records for Bayoumi, Mar. 2000–Jan. 2002 (provided by the FBI);FBI report of investigation,“Connections of San Diego PENTTBOMB Subjects to the Government of Saudi Arabia,”undated;FBI letterhead memorandum,investigation of Bayoumi,Apr.15,2002.While in San Diego,Bayoumi was officially employed by Ercan, a subsidiary of a contractor for the Saudi Civil Aviation Administration, although a fellow employee described Bayoumi as a “ghost employee,” noting that he was one of many Saudis on the payroll who was not required to work. In April 2000, Bayoumi received a promotion and his status was also adjusted from “single”to “married”(despite the fact that he was already married).As a result,his salary was raised and his “other allowances” stipend increased significantly, from approximately $465 to $3,925 a month, remaining at that level until December 2000.In January 2001,the stipend was reduced to $3,427.It stayed constant until August 2001,when Bayoumi left the United States.Saudi Civil Aviation Authority employment records for Bayoumi,Mar. 2000–Jan. 2002 (provided by the FBI); Richard L. Lambert prepared statement, June 26, 2003, pp. 7–9; FBI reports of investigation,interviews of Samuel George Coombs,Apr.8,2002;July 24,2002;Aug.26,2002.

19.On Bayoumi’s activities,see FBI electronic communication,interview of Bayoumi,Sept.17,2003.Although Bayoumi admits knowingThumairy,no telephone records document any contact between the two just before Bayoumi’s lunch with Hazmi and Mihdhar in Los Angeles. Nor do individuals who regard Thumairy as an extremist place Bayoumi in Thumairy’s circle of associates. KSM has denied knowing Bayoumi. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM,Aug.18,2003.

Bayoumi was once the subject of an FBI counterterrorism investigation, prompted by allegations about him that appear to have been groundless.On the closing of the investigation,see FBI electronic communication,“Omar Ahmed Al Bayoumi,” June 7, 1999. Another possible source of suspicion is his passport, which contains a cachet that intelligence investigators associate with possible adherence to al Qaeda. It is a marking that can be obtained by especially devout Muslims.Although we believe the marking suggests the need for further inquiry,it is not the kind of fraudulent manipulation that would conclusively link the document with a terrorist organization. INS records,copy of Bayoumi passport;CIA analytic report, Al-Qa’idaTravel Issues,CTC 2004-40002H,Nov.14,2003, pp.ii,18.

29.On the purchase of the car,see FBI report,“Hijackers Timeline,”Nov.14,2003 (citing Bank of America records). Law enforcement officials recovered the blue 1988 Toyota from the parking lot at Dulles International Airport on September 11.On the wire transfer,see FBI report of investigation,interview,Sept.17,2001.After 9/11, the mosque administrator came forward because he feared he had unwittingly aided the hijackers.He recalled Hazmi and Mihdhar arriving at the mosque on their own and describing themselves as clerks employed by the Saudi Arabian government.The two said they needed help finding a school where they could study English, which neither spoke well enough, in the administrator’s opinion, to permit them to become pilots.The administrator also suspected that Mihdhar might have been an intelligence agent of the Saudi government.After first declining Hazmi’s request for a loan, the administrator agreed to permit him to use the administrator’s bank account to receive the $5,000 wire transfer. Claiming to have been suspicious of the entire transaction, the administrator distanced him-self from Hazmi and Mihdhar,but not before they had received the assistance they needed.Ibid.We have no evidence contradicting the administrator’s account.

42.At KSM’s direction,Khallad notified Hazmi that another operative,who turned out to be Hanjour,would be joining Hazmi soon. Intelligence report, interrogation of Khallad, Feb. 17, 2004. On Hazmi’s work at the gas station and his statement about becoming famous, see FBI report of investigation, interview, May 21, 2002.The owner of the gas station, Osama Mustafa, and the manager of the station, Iyad Kreiwesh, have both been the subject of FBI counterterrorism investigations.The investigations did not yield evidence of criminal conduct.Thumairy, the Saudi imam in Los Angeles, allegedly presided over Kreiwesh’s wedding at the King Fahd mosque, witnessed by Abdullah and Benomrane, likely around September 2000. FBI report of investigation, interview of Mohdar Abdullah, July 23, 2002; 4377 Parks Avenue, San Diego record,“Application to Rent and Rental Deposit,” Sept.21,2000.

Chapter:7, Iran

42.At KSM’s direction,Khallad notified Hazmi that another operative,who turned out to be Hanjour,would be joining Hazmi soon. Intelligence report, interrogation of Khallad, Feb. 17, 2004. On Hazmi’s work at the gas station and his statement about becoming famous, see FBI report of investigation, interview, May 21, 2002.The owner of the gas station, Osama Mustafa, and the manager of the station, Iyad Kreiwesh, have both been the subject of FBI counterterrorism investigations.The investigations did not yield evidence of criminal conduct.Thumairy, the Saudi imam in Los Angeles, allegedly presided over Kreiwesh’s wedding at the King Fahd mosque, witnessed by Abdullah and Benomrane, likely around September 2000. FBI report of investigation, interview of Mohdar Abdullah, July 23, 2002; 4377 Parks Avenue, San Diego record,“Application to Rent and Rental Deposit,” Sept.21,2000.

121. Intelligence report, analysis of Hezbollah, Iran, and 9/11, Dec. 20, 2001; Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, July 16, 2004.

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