WASHINGTON – Allegations the Saudi royalty had a role in 9/11 were expected to be among the discussion topics during President Obama’s trip to the Middle East nation, just as Congress considers a bill that would let relatives of 9/11 victims sue any country shown to have been complicit in attacks on the U.S. homeland, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
However, some national security experts believe focusing on the Saudis misses the bigger picture.
“We shouldn’t just single out the Saudis,” said former congressman Peter Hoekstra, who served from 1993 to 2011 and was chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. “What about proven state sponsors of terrorism like Iran, where judgments have been won but the (U.S.) government is unwilling to enforce,” Hoekstra told G2 Bulletin.
Hoekstra’s view is shared by John Schindler, a counter-intelligence officer with the National Security Agency at the time of 9/11. He similarly suggests Iran also was involved in the attacks.
“Focusing solely on Saudi tactical support to the planes’ operation obscures the bigger question of possible strategic support to 9/11,” Schindler wrote in a recent opinion piece for Observer.com.
“In other words, did any governments secretly aid al-Qaida in even more substantial ways than Riyadh did?
“Regrettably, this question was always considered even more off-limits inside the Beltway than talking about Saudi involvement in 9/11 – and it still remains explosive today,” Schindler said.
“That Iran had some sort of hand in the planes’ operation has long been suspected by many insiders,” he said. “Contrary to what ‘terrorism experts’ may say, Tehran was always willing to aid Sunni extremists like al-Qaida, while Osama bin Laden and his ilk were equally willing to accept secret help from the Shia they despise.”
Schindler said Iranian intelligence “has enjoyed a clandestine relationship with al-Qaida going back to the early 1990s, and U.S. intelligence has known of meetings between their leadership and top Tehran spies since 1996.”
While “The 9/11 Commission Report” refers to the Iran-al-Qaida relationship, it doesn’t go so far as to say Iran was involved. The closest it comes is to say that up to 10 of the would-be hijackers traveled “into or out of Iran between October 2000 and February 2001.”
The report states:
In sum, there is strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al-Qaida members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers. There also is circumstantial evidence that senior Hezbollah operatives were closely tracking the travel of some of these future muscle hijackers into Iran in November 2000.
However, we cannot rule out the possibility of a remarkable coincidence – that is, that Hezbollah was actually focusing on some other group of individuals traveling from Saudi Arabia during this same time frame, rather than the future hijackers.
We have found no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9/11 attack. At the time of their travel through Iran, the al-Qaida operatives themselves were probably not aware of specific details of their future operation.
The 9/11 commission documented at length Iran’s continuing assistance to al-Qaida and recommended that the U.S. government further investigate Iranian links to al-Qaida.