By Walid Shoebat
What is a Saudi prince worth? The answer is one Saudi prince is worth 1,000 Americans – if, as evidence suggests, it’s a simple mathematical equation that included a deal being struck between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia whereby three Saudi princes suspiciously perished in July 2002 within days of each other.
In a Vanity Fair article, a former CIA operative was cited as the source that identified those three princes as having been named by the captured No. 3 man in al-Qaida, Abu Zubaydah, during interrogations. Each of these three princes were said to have been financiers of 9/11. Many believe that the 9/11 Commission Report omitted the princes’ involvement and that a 28-page, redacted chapter in a Joint Inquiry report – which remains classified – confirms foul play by Saudi Arabia regarding these deaths.
With that as a backdrop, what I provide here are more details about the deaths of those Saudi princes, courtesy of Arabic sources, believed never to have been released in English until now.
I include the only eyewitness account and translated reports that could help provide more pieces of the puzzle.
To date, in English, I cannot find any testimonies, eyewitness accounts, details, or any official investigation that provides any evidence that puts a closure to these mysterious deaths aside from the typical few lines and obituary notices.
The first was the story of Prince Ahmed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the well-known horse racing enthusiast and owner of Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem. Less than one year earlier, bin Salman was allowed to fly out of the United States on Sept. 16, 2001. His cause of death was ruled a heart attack during routine abdominal surgery on July 22, 2002.
The United States still refuses to release the names of over 140 Saudis that were permitted to leave the country on several jets in the days after 9/11. Prince bin Salman was one of the few that was, cited in a 9/11 staff report published about one month after the Commission Report; the staff report focused on the issue of terrorist travel.
The second curious death is that of Prince Sultan bin Faisal bin Turki bin Abdullah al-Saud who mysteriously died on his way to bin Salman’s funeral in a car accident one day later, on July 23, 2002.
The third is Fahd bin Turki bin Saud al-Kabir, who mysteriously got lost in the desert and died of thirst on July 30, 2002.
Before discussing the Arabic sources I examined, a crucial link is necessary to establish between the three and Abu Zubaydah, when he was captured in 2002.
In 2003, Time magazine published an article by Johanna McGeary that focused on Zubaydah, considered to be “the Rosetta stone of 9/11” who provided a wealth of information about the internal dealings between al-Qaida and Saudi Arabia. According to McGeary, Zubaydah was a:
“… leading member of Osama bin Laden’s brain trust and the operational control of al-Qaida’s millennium bomb plots as well as the attack on the USS Cole in October 2000.”
Subsequently, America depended largely on its allies to do some of the dirty work. Jordan – after an al-Qaida attack on a hotel there – was asked to help get some of Abu Zubaydah’s henchmen as they were rounded up in a Jordanian prison. It was in fact my cousin – Jawad Younis – who took the case, defending Abu Zubaydah’s terrorists to save some of the al-Qaida operatives from facing the hangman. Abu Hushar (named in the 9/11 Commission Report on Page 175) and Abu Sammar weren’t so lucky; both were sentenced to death by hanging.
As an aside, I recall that Jawad’s brother – Kamal Younis – helped spread the word, planting seeds of doubt about my terrorist past to one gullible American named Eileen Fleming while his brother Jawad, the prominent lawyer, works with other Muslim Brotherhood activists to topple the Kingdom of Jordan and convert it to a Muslim Brotherhood state. Yet, people like Fleming give them credibility and attempt to impugn mine.
McGeary wrote that Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan in March of 2002 and was transferred to Afghanistan. While in captivity he was sedated with truth serum; then the two Arab-American agents told him that he was in a Saudi prison facility to induce fear and make him divulge the contents of his memory bank.
Zubaydah’s reaction “was not fear, but utter relief.” Happy to see “Saudi agents,” he:
“… reeled off telephone numbers for a senior member of the royal family who would, said Zubaydah, ‘tell you what to do.’ The man at the other end would be Prince Ahmed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, a Westernized nephew of the late King Fahd and a publisher better known as a racehorse owner.”
Abu Zubaydah mentioned all three royal-princes as intermediaries.
Yet, an examination of Arabic sources yields more reasons to suspect foul play. Take Prince Sultan bin Faisal bin Turki bin Abdullah al-Saud. There were four media reports that gave scant information about the circumstances of his death.
The official statements were provided to Al-Jazeera, to Okaz, to Al-Iktisadiyeh and Asharq Al-Awsat, based in London. Only Asharq Al-Awsat preserved its version of the story in its archives; all the others purged their articles, which I had to obtain from other sources.
Okaz was a call-in by Faisal’s half-brother Abdullah who called the paper to report a summary of the death.
There was only one eyewitness account provided secondhand from Sultan’s other brother. Prince Khalid relayed the testimony of an Ethiopian “Akhwiya” by the name of Muhammad Hassan. “Akhwiya” is a term used only in Saudi Arabia, for what they consider lower-class, handpicked non-Saudi helpers who usually tag along and hang around Saudi royals in hopes of gaining special favors.
Al-Jazeera’s exclusive interview by Abdullah al-Kathiri with Prince Khalid seems more like an attempt to portray Hassan as an alibi in an oddly created section subtitled “Eye Witness Account,” to answer the question about how the prince was the only one killed in the alleged accident, despite having several helpers with him.
The story goes – as told by Hassan – that Prince Sultan took off at 2 a.m. en route from Jeddah to Riyadh after he paid sums of money to the usual beggars who surrounded his castle. While its unusual to have beggars two hours past midnight, more troubling was that all reports conflict about how many cars were trailing the prince during his journey to attend Prince bin Salman’s funeral after the latter had died of a heart attack a day before.
Al-Jazeera reported that “several cars” trailed the prince while Asharq Al-Awsat cited the prince’s business manager, Hamdan Khalil Hamdan, as saying that “two cars” trailed behind. Okaz reported there was only “one car” trailing the prince and then finally produced merely one lone man – an Ethiopian named Muhammad Hassan – who was following the prince.
The story continues that when Prince Sultan stopped in Ta’if to lead the group in the morning prayers, one of the helpers (no name) offered to accompany the prince in his car and was shunned away by Prince Sultan, who loved to speed, and as a gesture of self-sacrifice told him, “you are the only son of your mother.”
After the prayers were finished, when it would still be pitch dark (4-5 a.m.), they continued on the journey while the entourage tailed the prince, who was speeding erratically. Then all hell broke loose 70 miles before reaching to Riyadh in an area called Alhawmiyat. Hassan allegedly witnessed the tire explode while he was following directly behind Prince Sultan. The vehicle (an Audi) then rolled several times in the air, crashing to the side of a mountain. As to the debris and how car pieces were flung all over the place (an unexplained piece of the puzzle that had no source), Hassan assumed it was a result of the high rate of speed at which the prince was traveling. No reference was provided as to the shattering of the vehicle or how this piece of information came about. But for Hassan to see a tire blowout, we must assume that he was traveling at the same high speed as well. Why would the prince refuse passengers because he was a speeding fanatic while also expecting one of those would-be passengers – Muhammad Hassan (a name akin to Bob Smith) – to speed in order to keep up with him?
Hassan even relayed a miraculous ending to the prince’s demise, saying that even after his high-speed crash, Sultan died with his body arranged halfway out of the car while facing Mecca and miraculously pointing his right index finger (a typical gesture Muslims make) to proclaim that Allah is the indivisible One God.
There was not a single firsthand account, no photos of the site of the accident or of the wreckage, no statements from police, nothing.
If foul play was involved, Alhawmiyat (where the death allegedly occurred) is an excellent place to claim an accident. Just searching Alhawmiyat in Arabic shows the notoriety of this place for car accidents. Yet, how is it possible to find countless reports including photos galore of vehicles crashed by lay persons and even several VIPs but nothing on Prince Sultan? For example, Prince Muhammad bin Nay, while accompanying a Malaysian diplomat, had an accident and didn’t even die. Nonetheless, several photos of the accident scene can be found, as can hospital photos, wreckage photos, etc. An ambassador from Bosnia even had a simple accident and a report with photo can be found. Yet, an incident in which a Saudi prince died on his way to the funeral of another Saudi prince who died mysteriously one day earlier has nothing of the sort?
Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Saud al-Kabir’s story about being lost in the desert is also another unsolved mystery. The little detail of the story came from only a couple of purged media sources, which I obtained elsewhere. They relayed the testimony of “Brigadier Abdul Qadir Altalha” who can be verified and does exist as working for the kingdom’s authority. The prince’s death was issued in the form of a statement from Altalha that was more about being an official warning to “beware of wandering in the desert” than it was an announcement of the death of a royal Saudi. It was definitely a great idea for minimum circulation, and the report only existed on a handful of sites. Here is the report translated verbatim:
“An accident forced the death of three Saudis, including a prince who died of thirst in the desert. Saudi authorities had issued a warning urging citizens not to hike in the desert during the hot summer days in order to preserve their lives. The Royal Court issued in Riyadh yesterday a statement which mourned Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Saud Al-Kabeer, aged 25 years, who died Monday afternoon as a result of thirst during a trip that was carried out in the desert of the southern province of Rumah near the Omani Centre, 90 kilometers east of the capital. The details of the incident as relayed by Brigadier Abdul Qadir Altalha were that three victims were on a picnic with two other colleagues in the Rumah area. While they were returning, the car fell into a ditch, which rendered it unusable, prompting three of them to move in an attempt to get rescued from the desert. The three lost the road and decided to return to the car and died beside it as a result of thirst. The other two were lucky and were able to guide a colleague to their place by using their mobile phone.”
None of this adds up. A man with a royal pedigree is stranded in the desert without fancy, sparkling water and leaves his vehicle on foot to get help while his other “helpers” have a cell phone and were able to use it? The two who stayed behind got rescued while the royal prince lay dead by his car? Why are there no names of the eyewitnesses attached to the story except Prince Fahd and an official named Altalha? The story seems like an alibi to answer how a body was found. How could the other two who died with the prince have no names or any mention of an obituary showing they died with a royal?
When it comes to any “Al Saud” stranded somewhere, the Kingdom sends its best. The story of Princess Lawlawa bint Mashhur is a case in point. When the Jeddah flood of 2011 left an entire city stranded, a private chopper was sent at night not to rescue all or even some of the girls who were drowning at Dar al-Hekma College, but to pick up only one – Princess Lawlawa – while leaving the rest of the women stranded; those left behind can be seen getting rescued a day later by courageous civilians.
Countless died in Jeddah and were buried under the mud and debris. This is the insane government that left girls to die in a fire fearing that rescuing them could reveal some female flesh.
And why would a simple abdominal surgery cause a healthy young athlete like Prince bin Salman a heart attack? These are accounts that remain highly suspect. While coverage by cameramen who visited the funerals was in abundance, none asked serious questions or took photos of the sites of these deaths; none provided any details apart from the fantastic, princely piety and self-sacrifice.
So here is the question that begs an answer:
What are the mathematical probabilities of three princes named by Abu Zubaydah as having helped plan 9/11 and whose stories were removed from the 9/11 Commission Report dying by chance within days of each other – with original Arab media sources providing no photos or verifiable names – two of whom die in a dignified manner, one facing Mecca pointing his index finger while his car spun several times in the air, while the other had no water or a mobile phone and walks on foot, only to die of thirst?
Perhaps a Washington Post article written by Douglas Farah in 2002 can provide some insight into what happened. In that article, Farah references a National Security Council task force that was making recommendations to President Bush about how best to hold the Saudi government accountable for cracking down on al-Qaida’s financiers.
Farah relayed what officials told him might happen if the Saudis didn’t play ball:
… they said the United States would first present the Saudis with intelligence and evidence against individuals and businesses suspected of financing al-Qaida and other terrorist groups, coupled with a demand that they be put out of business. In return, one senior official said, the administration will say, “We don’t care how you deal with the problem; just do it or we will” after 90 days.
Interestingly, this article was written four months after the mysterious deaths of three Saudi princes who had been outed by a captured Abu Zubaydah four months earlier than those deaths.
Farah reported another interesting assertion by these officials, who allegedly “said they would press the Saudis to act even if there was not enough information to convict someone in a court of law.”
Three. Saudi. Princes.
Shoebat was a radicalized Muslim willing to die for the cause of jihad until he converted to Christianity in 1994. As a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, he was involved in terror activity, and was imprisoned in Jerusalem for three weeks. In prison, he was recruited to plant a bomb in Bethlehem, though no one was injured. His mother was an American and his father a Palestinian Arab. In 1978, his parents sent him to the United States to study at Loop College in Chicago Illinois. There he was recruited at a hotel “Terror Conference” by Jamal Said, a founder of the Islamic Association of Palestine and imam at one of the largest mosques in Chicago. The IAP was a forerunner to today’s Hamas terror organization and also to the Muslim Brotherhood front group CAIR (Council for American Islamic Relations). In the early 1980s he was being trained for jihad activities in the U.S. Later he became a convert to Christianity and has dedicated his life to exposing Islamic radicalism and teaching the Bible.