WASHINGTON – It’s an explosive charge, but evidence keeps mounting to support it.
“Make no mistake: Support to al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden for the 9/11 attacks was official Saudi government policy.”
That is the bombshell comment made to WND by Clare Lopez, the vice president for research and analysis at the Center for Security Policy. She is also a member of the national security advisory team for GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz.
The accusation is staggering because, if true, it would mean it was official Saudi policy to help conduct what was, essentially, a military act of war against the U.S., a supposed ally.
WND reported a year-and-a-half ago concerns by lawmakers that some members of the Saudi government did, in fact, assist the hijackers.
But an article in the New York Post on Sunday by former WND Washington Bureau Chief Paul Sperry, based on well-placed government sources, directly ties Prince Bandar bin Sultan to the 9/11 conspiracy. Bandar was Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States from 1983 to 2005.
If Bandar was involved, it would likely mean support for the 9/11 attacks went to the highest levels of the Saudi government.
Lopez takes Sperry’s revelation a shocking step further by declaring support for the “9/11 attacks was official Saudi government policy.”
Sperry also reported, “[T]he kingdom’s involvement was deliberately covered up at the highest levels of our government.”
“After he (Bandar) met on Sept. 13, 2001, with President Bush in the White House, where the two old family friends shared cigars on the Truman Balcony, the FBI evacuated dozens of Saudi officials from multiple cities, including at least one Osama bin Laden family member on the terror watch list. Instead of interrogating the Saudis, FBI agents acted as security escorts for them, even though it was known at the time that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens,” reported Sperry.
Lopez told WND, “The involvement of (then-Saudi ambassador to the U.S.) Prince Bandar as well as the passport issue, above all, make that abundantly clear. They may have gambled on the personal relationship between Bandar and President George W. Bush – as well as a very different energy situation at that time – to evade accountability for their role in the 9/11 attacks, but those days are over.”
The passport issue Lopez referenced was from testimony in a court case that she said “talked about the mark that the Iranian and Saudi governments collaborated to have placed in the Saudi hijackers’ passports, so that when they crossed the Iranian border on their various pre-9/11 training trips, the Iranian border guards would not stamp them. This allowed these hijackers eventually to obtain U.S. visas in ‘clean’ passports.”
That testimony was made by Janice L. Kephart, former immigration counsel to the 9/11 Commission, in the December 2011 ruling in the Havlish case by U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels in Manhattan that, according to the court record, “Iran and Hezbollah materially and directly supported al Qaeda in the September 11, 2001 attacks and are legally responsible for damages to hundreds of family members of 9/11 victims who are plaintiffs in the case.”
What makes the remarks by Lopez and Sperry so timely is the growing bipartisan pressure on President Obama to release classified information from the 9/11 Commission findings that reportedly implicates the government of Saudi Arabia in supporting the 9/11 hijackers and helping them execute the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.
For what it called reasons of “national security,” the Bush administration removed 28 pages of the bipartisan “Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001” that was published in 2002.
Republicans and Democrats, including lawmakers who have read the redacted pages, are calling on Obama to release the information. Obama is resisting, apparently because that could seriously rupture diplomatic relations with the Saudis at a time when they are officially portrayed as U.S. allies in fighting ISIS.
Already, the Saudi government is threatening to dump billions of dollars in American assets if Congress passes a bipartisan bill that would allow victims of terrorist attacks to sue foreign governments.
That legislation is co-sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and is even supported by Democratic Party presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
Lopez told WND the prospect that the Saudis supported the Sept. 11 attacks is “not shocking at all” because the country “is birthplace of Islam, whose doctrine commands Muslims to conquer and subjugate the Dar al-Harb” (regions where Islam does not dominate).
The Middle East expert continued, “Saudis are guardians of the ‘Two Holy Places,’ in Mecca and Medina, the stewards of the annual hajj. They, along with ISIS, are the truest of the true believers.”
WND asked: If Bandar was involved in supporting the 9/11 hijackers, as the sources claim, what should the U.S. response be?
“Release the 28 pages (redacted from the 9/11 Commission report), inform Saudis that we hold them responsible for their role. They must come clean, pay reparations and we will go from there. Allow them an out, in that leadership now is not same as leadership then.”
She added, “It is not just Prince Bandar. So much more.”
Lopez said it was worth recalling that the 9/11 Commission report stated on Page 240 that in October 2000 “a senior operative of Hezbollah visited Saudi Arabia, to coordinate activities there.”
“This,” she said, “is a much-redacted version of what really happened: Imad Mughniyeh (a senior member of Hezbollah) was ordered by Iran to go to KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) to recruit Saudi hijackers.”
“Of course, the Saudi government at the highest levels knew about this and permitted it to happen.”
Lopez said less well-corroborated were reports that then-Saudi Intelligence Director Turki bin Faisal met Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan before Sept. 11, 2001.
In addition to spending two decades in the field as a CIA operations officer, Lopez was an instructor for military intelligence and special forces students; has been a consultant, intelligence analyst and researcher within the defense sector; and has authored two books, and contributed to many others, on Iran and jihadism. She turned to history to further her case against the Saudis.
Lopez said more proof was provided by “the funding that senior Saudis and other wealthy Gulf figures provided to bin Laden in the 1990s, when he was mostly broke because he’d spent his family inheritance in the 1980s in Afghanistan.”
“These Saudis may not have been members of the royal family, but they were certainly close to them and there is no way the Riyadh royals did not know they were funding bin Laden and allowing it to happen. This was the so-called ‘Golden Chain’ – including such individuals as Abdullah Omar Nasseef, he of the Rabita Trust, who has been ‘godfather’ to the Huma Abedin family for all these decades.”
Huma Abedin is Hillary Clinton’s top aide and former top State Department official whose family has been repeatedly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group dedicated to spreading militant Islam worldwide.
WND asked Lopez: In light of growing evidence of Saudi support of the 9/11 hijackers, and in light of their continuing export of wahhabism (a form of radical Islam), is that government really an ally of the U.S., or is it an enemy?
She replied, “The Saudi regime is a ‘frenemy.’ The House of Saud made a deal with (wahhabism founder) Ibn Wahhab in late 1700s, which has held, off and on, ever since. The deal is that Wahhabi clergy will lend theological legitimacy to Riyadh royals in return for which said royals will use power and wealth to spread Islam, jihad and Shariah (strict Islamic law) throughout the world, both by force and stealth.”
But the emergence of ISIS has become a grave threat to the Saudis.
“A serious problem now for those Riyadh royals is that they have not been leading exactly devout Muslim lives. Wahhabi establishment today, in fact, finds more in common, ideologically speaking, with the more pure practice of Islam by the Islamic State than by the House of Saud, at a time when both ISIS and Iran pose possibly existential threats to the Riyadh regime.”
WND asked the Cruz foreign-policy adviser, what should U.S. policy be toward Saudi Arabia? Is it time to dramatically reassess our relationship with the regime?
“U.S. leaders need to make very clear to Riyadh that, yes, we share certain key objectives: free flow of oil from the Gulf, countering the Iranian regime’s quest for deliverable nuclear weapons and its geo-strategic aggression and expansion in the region, stopping ISIS aggression and expansion, and generally supporting regional stability.”
“That said,” she concluded, “we will no longer permit Riyadh to pretend to work with the U.S., purchase top-of-the-line U.S. military equipment, or pose as American partners while simultaneously funding and/or allowing funding from the kingdom to support the export and expansion of jihad and Shariah.”
“Riyadh must choose: We are willing to work with them on mutual objectives but will no longer tolerate a double game. Decide – or there will be consequences.”