What We Know from the 28 Pages
SPECIAL FEATURE, 18 Jul 2016
The families of 3,000 dead Americans are still waiting for justice.
15 Jul 2016 – Even given my longtime respect for Friday news dumps, this is a whopper. About damn time, too. Speak to us, mother Times.
The 28-page document is a wide-ranging catalog of possible links between Saudi officials and Qaeda operatives. It details contacts that Saudi operatives in Southern California had with the hijackers and describes the discovery of a telephone number in a Qaeda operative’s phone book that was traced to a corporation managing a Colorado home of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
The White House soft-pedaled this stuff Friday afternoon, but there’s still a lot in here that smells like a dead mackerel in the noonday sun.
But some investigators remain puzzled by the exact role played by Fahad al-Thumairy, a Saudi consular official based in the Los Angeles area at the time of the attacks. They believe that if there had been any Saudi government role in the plot, it probably would have involved him. Mr. Thumairy was the imam of a mosque visited by two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, and some American government officials have long suspected that Mr. Thumairy assisted the two men—Nawaq Alhamzi and Khalid al-Midhar—after they arrived in Los Angeles in early 2000. An F.B.I. document from 2012, cited last year by an independent review panel, concluded that Mr. Thumairy “immediately assigned an individual to take care” of Mr. Alhamzi and Mr. Midhar “during their time in the Los Angeles area,” but the F.B.I. has been unable to piece together other details of the movement of the two men during their early days in the United States. Two investigators for the Sept. 11 commission interviewed Mr. Thumairy for several hours in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, in February 2004, but he denied having any ties to the hijackers—even after being presented with phone records that seemed to link him to the two men.
Well, I’m convinced. This al-Bayoumi cat also appears to me to be worth a second look. Per NBC:
For example, the report speculates that a U.S. resident named Omar al Bayoumi may have been a Saudi intelligence agent. He had extensive contacts with Saudi officials and received money from a Saudi defense contractor. As is well known, the report discusses Bayoumi providing assistance to future 9/11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar in San Diego. He was arrested in Britain after the 9/11 attacks, but released after the FBI could not tie him to al Qaeda. The 9/11 commission found “no credible evidence that he believed in violent extremism or knowingly aided extremist groups.” The Saudis deny he was their asset.
Actually, the 28 pages themselves say a lot more than that.
They say that the FBI has information that al-Bayoumi provided “substantial assistance” to the two hijackers. Then there’s Osama Bassman, a friend of al-Bayoumi’s who also helped the same two hijackers and who the FBI suspected had connections not only with Saudi intelligence, but also with Osama bin Laden, the Eritean Islamic Jihad, and with Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind sheikh who is currently enjoying the government’s hospitality at the SuperMax in Colorado.
It is here where we remind you that two of Dzokhar Tsarnaev’s friends are doing serious federal time merely for cleaning out his room in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. I’m sure this will set the Intertoobz aflame with unfounded and occasionally lunatic conspiracy theories, but there is a helluva lot of smoke coming from these 28 pages and there certainly doesn’t seem to be any good reason for its having taken so long to pry them loose from our government. And covering an ally’s ass is not a good enough reason, not with the families of 3,000 dead Americans still waiting for justice.
Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently Idiot America. He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.
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