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Saudi Arabia directly involved in 11. September?

The first official US designation of Saudi Arabia as possibly guilty of the 2001 attack is now available.


The 15. July they were released, they now saw the mythical 28 pages about the terrorist attack on New York and Washington the 11. September 2001. In January, 2003 presented the US Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the attack, but 28 of the pages of the report – which is about Saudi Arabia's role – has so far been withheld from the public.

Not least, Senator Bob Graham – then head of the Intelligence Committee, a member of the CIA's advisory board and co-author of the report – has been a driving force in downgrading the 28 pages. Graham has spoken about the Saudi regime's direct support for the hijackers, and that the Saudi Arabians have continued to fund Al Qaeda and ISIS. The important thing was not that 15 by 19 hijackers were Saudi Arabians. According to Senator Graham, it was important that they could not carry out the attack without funding and direct support from the Saudi regime.

Immediately after 11. The September attack saw Saudi Arabia's Washington ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan call on President George W. Bush. 144 Saudi Arabians, including several members of Osama bin Laden's family, were flown out of the United States, while all other aircraft in the United States stood still. The FBI has said they would interrogate several of these Saudi Arabians. In May this year, the Senate passed a law allowing 11. September victims' families go to trial against the Saudi government for their role in the attack. The White House has threatened to veto.

The 28 pages express criticism of the FBI and the CIA, which according to the Senate report should not have understood "the extent of the Saudi government's ties to terrorists". Two Saudi Arabians, Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Bassnan, who are described as Saudi intelligence agents, are said to have "provided substantial support to hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi after arriving in San Diego in February 2000". They should have provided housing for them, and helped them fix both the driver's license and the flight school. Bayoumi and Bassnan should have been funded by the Saudi regime: Bayoumi with money from the Department of Defense, Bassnan with funds directly from the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington Prince Bandar and his wife. The Saudi royal family must also have contributed a large sum in cash to Bassnan on one occasion. Both are believed to have had ties to or supported Osama bin Laden. The report concludes that "Saudi government officials in the United States are believed to have ties to Osama bin Laden's terrorist network."

Prince Bandar bin Sultan. © AFP / Scanpix
Prince Bandar bin Sultan. © AFP / Scanpix

The 28 pages does not present any absolute evidence that the Saudi government deliberately supported the terrorist attack in the United States, but it is undoubtedly the feeling left behind after reading the report – and that is definitely the opinion left behind after hearing Senator Graham's presentation of it. The other "hijackers of September 11, 2001" must also have had contacts with the Saudi government's representatives. The 28 pages indicate that the Saudi regime may have been directly involved in the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States.

But it also means that the demand to have the 28 pages downgraded may have been used for blackmail against Saudi Arabia. The US political leadership has been able to say: There is a strong opinion in the US to remove the stamp of secrecy on the 28 pages. If you follow our recommendations, we can veto publication.

When in 2014 the US wanted to force Moscow into retreat through sanctions and conflicts in Ukraine, the United States turned to Saudi Arabia to assure sharply lower oil prices that could radically limit Russian revenues. Only Saudi Arabians within OPEC could prevent a continued fall in oil prices. Venezuela wanted to limit production to maintain oil prices, but despite Saudi Arabia's interest in higher oil prices, they stopped Venezuela's proposal. Just before that, the debate on the 28 pages had reached new heights – which had apparently forced Saudi Arabia to accept US instructions. The fall in oil prices was US policy, and the Saudi Arabs apparently reluctantly adapted.

Similarly which in the 1980s forced the US with Saudi assistance through an oil price fall that drained Moscow of revenue. CIA chief Bill Casey's central idea in the 1980s was that the United States, along with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, would wage a deputy war in Afghanistan, forcing Moscow to wage an impossible war with enormous costs. Saudi Islamists were trained and armed to fight in Afghanistan. Moscow's war spending was going to take its toll on the country, while Casey, with the help of the Saudi Arabians, forced an oil price drop to bring Moscow's revenue near zero. It has now been confirmed that this was American politics: Moscow was put in an economic crevice it was impossible to get out of. The same policy seems to be taking place today by the US administration.

The 28 pages indicate that the Saudi regime may have been directly involved in the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States.

But in the 1980s, this strategy was largely based on US-Saudi Arabia agreement. Today, it seems to have been based on extortion, where the 28 pages and the threat of a lawsuit against the Saudi government may have played a not insignificant role. The Saudi Arabians have, as a contraction, threatened to sell hundreds of billions of dollars in the United States. Perhaps a compromise has gradually been reached. The Saudi side may have received guarantees of some "damage limitation", and the Saudi Arabians have been able to say that a US designation of the Saudi regime as responsible for the 2001 attacks may strike back on their own. The Saudi Arabians would not have been able to operate in the United States without some US support.

The ties between the Saudi Arabian and American leadership became linked after World War II. They have been close since the early 1980s, and above all it has been the Bush family – which is best illustrated by President George W. Bush's close ties to the Saudi Arabian ambassador. Accusing the Saudi Arabians of September 11, 2001, as suggested by Senator Graham and implied by the 28 sides, is not so easy.

CIA agent Robert Baer reported that in the summer of 2001 he was informed by a representative of an Arab prince that a "spectacular" terrorist attack would be carried out shortly. The information seemed to indicate that Saudi Arabians were attacking the United States. Baer got a list of Osama bin Laden's people in Saudi Arabia, whom he showed in August to an adviser to Saudi Arabian defense minister Prince Sultan bin Abd-al-Aziz – but he was not interested. Other similar information has also been available, but the 28 pages are the first official US designation of Saudi Arabia as possibly guilty of the 2001 attack. Despite this conclusion, the United States chose to go to war against Iraq at the time of the report release – not Saudi Arabia – which gives us a good picture of the close ties between the American and Saudi Arabian elite. If the Saudi Arabs participated in the preparations for the attack, they were certainly not alone.

In the late 1980s and early 90s, Michael Springman worked at the US Consultation in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He has told the BBC, among other things, that he was repeatedly forced to issue visas to Saudi nationals who did not qualify for US visas. The CIA responsible intervened and demanded that these persons be admitted into the United States. They should receive training in sabotage and bombing attacks in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Springman protested, but had to accept his superiors' decision.

Robert Baer described how he went through an advanced terrorist course in the CIA training camp at Harvey Point, North Carolina, where he learned, among other things, how to build fertilizer car bombs. "We blew a school bus into the air using ten pounds of US C-4. We also used Czech Semtex and other foreign plastic explosives as a comparison. ” Arabs who were to fight against Russians in Afghanistan were also trained here. The CIA helped them obtain visas. Springman says all the suspected hijackers on September 11 had obtained a visa from the US Consulate in Jeddah. If Saudi Arabia was involved in the attack, it was also very likely that people on the US side were involved.

But the thing is probably a lot more complicated than that. Several of the 19 "hijackers" were interviewed in Saudi Arabia (and Morocco) for weeks by The events of September 11: These individuals had the same identity as the hijackers, and were upset that their identity had been used for the September 11 attack. Wleed al Shehri told the BBC he had left the United States a year earlier. Ahmed al-Nami told The Telegraph from his home in Saudi Arabia: "I live, as you see, and I am shocked that my name was on the US Department of Justice list." Abdulaziz al-Omari told The Telegraph that he and Saeed al-Ghamdi were upset about being referred to as hijackers, with all personal information properly reproduced. When asked by FBI chief Robert Mueller about the hijackers, he said that the identities, ie the passports, could have been stolen, and that the FBI did not really know what the hijackers' real name was.

One must also ask how a passport from one of the "hijackers", Satam al-Suqami, could end up beneath one of the Word Trade Center towers, completely intact. How could a paper-made passport fly through a fireball the size of a football field without being damaged? We know that the heat at the World Trade Center had melted large amounts of steel (melting at 1500 degrees Celsius) and that the US Geological Survey found molybdenum (melting at 2600 degrees Celsius) at the Word Trade Center towers – while a pass from a Saudi hijackers must have survived these temperatures. Here is something wrong somewhere. A lawsuit against the Saudi government risks opening Pandora's box, and so does the White House.

The 28 pages show that Saudi government officials funded the "hijackers" in the September 11 attack – but do we even know who the hijackers were and what they did? Did they really have the role they were officially assigned to? They were financed by Saudi agents – but what is the significance of that? The hijackers were hardly Islamists. Some of them lived in porn clubs, with alcohol and cocaine. Mohammed Atta's girlfriend was nude dancer with pink hair. And why did more of them live on US military bases? There's a lot that doesn't matter. Perhaps the 28 pages are more about the US game with the Saudi Arabians than about the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.

See article on Ola Tunander's peace work «30 years in the service of peace»In the same newspaper!

Ola Tunander
Ola Tunander
Tunander is Professor Emeritus of PRIO. See also wikipedia, at PRIO: , as well as a bibliography on Waterstone

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