By Abigail Tracy, vanityfair.com
After being kept out of the public eye for 13 years, Congress on Friday declassified 28 pages of a controversial report outlining a series of potential connections between the terrorist hijackers who attacked the United States on 9/11 and the government of Saudi Arabia. The document details a number of alleged instances wherein individuals linked to the Al Saud family may have assisted or provided financial support to the al Qaeda operatives who committed the terrorist attacks.
The result of a joint 2002 congressional investigation, the report sheds light on the potential role the Saudi government played in the attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people. The newly-declassified 28 pages, which were long believed to contain information implicating the House of Saud, are highly redacted and do not take a definitive position on the country’s involvement in 9/11. However, the report does state that “while in the United States, some of the September 11 hijackers were in contact with, and received support or assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi Government.”
Here are some of the most interesting takeaways from the newly released report.
Members of the Saudi royal family were sending money to a woman connected to the 9/11 hijackers
Prince Bandar, who served as the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States from 1983 to 2005, and his wife allegedly sent money to the wife of Osama Bassman. Bassman is suspected of having provided assistance to Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, two of the terrorists involved in the hijacking. Bassman’s wife reportedly received a monthly stipend from Bandar’s wife of $2,000, and the F.B.I. found cashier’s checks totaling $74,000 in the couple’s residence. According to the document, Baseman also cashed a check from Bandar for $15,000.
A suspected Saudi agent provided help to two hijackers
Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi intelligence officer, co-signed a lease and provided the first month’s rent and security deposit for hijackers al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, and helped the duo find flight schools, according to the report. Al-Bayoumi also received a monthly salary from a company called “Erean,” which the report claims has ties to Saudi Arabia and Osama Bin Laden, even though he only showed up for work on one occasion and was “known to have access to large amounts of money from Saudi Arabia, despite the fact that he did not appear to have a job.”
Two men conducted a “dry run” on a flight to D.C., with tickets paid for by the Saudi government
In 1999, Mohammed al-Qudhaeein and Hamdan al-Shalawi reportedly asked flight attendants a handful of suspicious questions and tried to enter the cockpit of the airplane twice. Al-Qudhaeein and al-Shalawi were flying to Washington, D.C., where they planned to attend a party at the Saudi Embassy. The two claimed the embassy also paid for their tickets aboard the flight.
The U.S. phone number of the Saudi ambassador was found in an al Qaeda operative’s possessions
Abu Zubaida, a senior al-Qaeda operative who was captured in Pakistan in 2002, had a telephone number in his phone book that could be linked to that of Prince Bandar’s Colorado residence. The telephone number of a bodyguard at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., was also found among Zubaida’s belongings.
A man on a U.S. government watchlist snuck into the country with Prince Bandar
An unnamed suspect who was on the State Department’s watch list was reportedly “able to circumvent the Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalizations Service because he was traveling with the Saudi prince.”