A congressional report into the failures leading to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, rips the FBI for not investigating al-Qaida’s presence in America, especially in San Diego where two of the hijackers were living with an informant to the bureau, according to Newsweek magazine.
Ground-level view of the Twin Towers prior to the Sept. 11 attacks.
One congressional investigator told the magazine the report “is a scathing indictment of the FBI as an agency that doesn’t have a clue about terrorism.”
The government assessment is said to contain potentially explosive information about Saudi Arabian connections to the plot.
According to Newsweek, the report documents ties between the hijackers and Omar al-Bayoumi, who was possibly an agent for the Saudi government.
The FBI reportedly did not keep close track of al-Bayoumi, despite prior information suggesting he was a Saudi agent.
Newsweek says in January 2000, al-Bayoumi went from the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles to a restaurant where he met future hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, whom he took to San Diego and even helped them secure an apartment next to his and gave them two months rent money.
The information will likely spark questions about Riyadh’s possible role in the worst terrorist attack in American history.
Not all of the information in the congressional report is being made public, as the Bush administration refuses to declassify a 28-page section dealing with the Saudis and other foreign governments.
“They are protecting a foreign government,” charged presidential candidate Sen. Bob Graham, who oversaw the inquiry, says Newsweek.
Officials at the FBI reportedly say the 9-11 report misstates the evidence, that the agency checked out al-Bayoumi and concluded he did not provide any material support to the terrorists.
As for Almihdhar and Alhazmi, “there was nothing there that gave us any suspicion about these guys,” said one FBI official, according to Newsweek.