Top Bush administration officials were warned in the summer of 2001 that Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terrorist network was plotting to hijack aircraft and launch a “spectacular attack,” according to the final report of a congressional investigation into Sept. 11, reports the Miami Herald.
The paper quotes former Rep. Tim Roemer, D-Ind., as saying the long-awaited report will be ”highly explosive” when it becomes public in the next two weeks.
Roemer served on the House Intelligence Committee, is also a member of the independent National Commission on Terrorist Attacks and has read the congressional report. He declined to give details of the 800-page tome, which is the byproduct of nine public hearings and 13 closed sessions held by the joint House-Senate investigation.
”It’s compelling and galvanizing and will refocus the public’s attention on Sept. 11,” Roemer told the Herald. “Certain mistakes, errors and gaps in the system will be made clear.”
Citing an anonymous source familiar with the investigation, the Herald reports two ”sensitive areas” of the analysis include a coherent narrative of intelligence warnings prior to 9-11 that were ignored or not shared with other agencies and new information on ties between the Saudi royal family, government officials and terrorists.
“There’s little doubt that much of the funding of terrorist groups – whether intentional or unintentional – is coming from Saudi sources,” the Herald quotes John Lehman, a member of the independent commission, as saying at a hearing yesterday.
WorldNetDaily reported in February that, according to a report prepared for the United Nations, Saudi Arabia has transferred $500 million to al-Qaida over the past decade and continues to finance the terror network in the wake of Sept. 11.
Middle East Newsline reports the findings of a French investigator asked to study the issue by Colombia, which occupied the presidency of the U.N. Security Council at the time, indicated Saudi dollars still represented the most important source of financing for al-Qaida.
The 34-page U.N. report also found that, despite pressure from the United States and adamant claims to the contrary, Riyad has failed to turn off the spigot.
“One must question the real ability and willingness of the kingdom to exercise any control over the use of religious money in and outside of the country,” investigator Jean-Charles Brisard concluded.
Brisard was the expert on al-Qaida in France’s intelligence service. He has worked as a consultant over the last year. His clients include the relatives of victims of the 9-11 attacks in New York and Washington who filed a $1 trillion lawsuit in April 2002 against the Saudi royal family, other wealthy Saudis and Saudi charities.
As WorldNetDaily reported, the Saudis mounted an aggressive public relations campaign to deflect accusations amid the revelation that donations from Princess Haifa bint Faisal ended up in the hands of Sept. 11 hijackers.
Payments reportedly totalling nearly $150,000 were made by Princess Haifa, the daughter of the late King Faisal and wife of Saudi envoy Prince Bandar, to a woman who passed on the checks to the wife of a man thought to be the front man for the Sept. 11 terrorists, and then ultimately wound up in the hands of two al-Qaida operatives who later became hijackers.
The congressional report is said to include the revelation that the Federal Bureau of Investigation may have mishandled the probe into how two of the Sept. 11 hijackers received aid from Saudi groups and individuals.
WorldNetDaily also reported that federal authorities have been investigating whether the Saar Foundation, which is connected to the Saudi royal family, and other Saudi groups have been laundering money to Islamic terrorist groups through U.S.-based Muslim charities. Some 80 such charities, many of them headquartered in the Washington area, received federal subpoenas for financial records.
Although the congressional report was completed in December, battles with the Bush administration over what secret data to declassify has held up its release to the public. Eleanor Hill, the staff director with the congressional investigation told the Herald the disclosure issue had been resolved and the document is now headed to the printer.
Hill said the report will contain redacted text to show where information was withheld.
Co-chairman of the congressional investigation, Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., who is also running for president, has railed against the administration for stonewalling over the declassification issue.
Meanwhile, the independent commission similarly complained Tuesday that federal agencies, especially the Pentagon and the Justice Department, were not cooperating with its requests for documents and testimony.
The panel’s chairman, Tom Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, also took issue with the presence of administration “minders” at interviews of intelligence officials, calling it “intimidation.”
In addition to examining intelligence mistakes and oversights, the 10-member bipartisan commission is also exploring immigration, airline safety and congressional oversight of counterterrorism.
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