Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Brian Mast (R-Fla.) conduct a news conference in Rayburn Building on May 17, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
Tulsi Gabbard, the marginally sane candidate in the Democratic presidential field, said Thursday that Saudi Arabia is “undermining our national security interests” and that “it is our government — our own government — that is hiding the truth” about Saudi involvement in the 9/11 jihad attacks.
Gabbard noted that “for so long, leaders in our government have said, ‘well, Saudi Arabia is our great ally, they’re a partner in counterterrorism’ — turning a blind eye or completely walking away from the reality that Saudi Arabia time and again, has proven to be the opposite.”
The Hawaii congresswoman also broke ranks with the bipartisan conventional wisdom about exactly what side the Saudi government is on when she noted that the Saudis are “the number one exporter of this Wahhabi extremist ideology. They’re a fertile recruiting ground for terrorists, like al-Qaeda and ISIS around the world. They’re directly providing arms and assistance to al-Qaeda in places like Yemen and in Syria.”
Gabbard has a point. The 28-page section of the 9/11 report detailing Saudi involvement in the September 11, 2001 jihad attacks was finally released in 2016 (albeit with substantial portions still redacted), and it is now clear why one president who held hands with the Saudi King and another who bowed to him worked so hard all these years to keep these pages secret: they show that it is highly likely that the 9/11 jihad murderers received significant help from people at the highest levels of the Saudi government.
The report states that Omar al-Bayoumi, who “may be a Saudi intelligence officer,” gave “substantial assistance to hijackers Khalid al-Mindhar and Nawaf al-Hamzi after they arrived in San Diego in February 2000. Al-Bayoumi met the hijackers at a public place shortly after his meeting with an individual at the Saudi consulate.”
Around the same time, al-Bayoumi “had extensive contact with Saudi Government establishments in the United States and received financial support from a Saudi company affiliated with the Saudi Ministry of Defense.” That company “reportedly had ties to Usama bin Ladin and al-Qa’ida.”
Another possible Saudi agent, Osama Bassnan, who “has many ties to the Saudi government” and was also a supporter of Osama bin Laden, boasted that he did more for al-Mindhar and al-Hamzi than al-Bayoumi did. He also “reportedly received funding and possibly a fake passport from Saudi government officials.” The report says that at one point, “a member of the Saudi Royal Family provided Bassnan with a significant amount of cash,” and that “he and his wife have received financial support from the Saudi ambassador to the United States and his wife.”
That ambassador was Prince Bandar, about whom the New York Times later noted: “No foreign diplomat has been closer or had more access to President Bush, his family and his administration than the magnetic and fabulously wealthy Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia.”
Then there was Shaykh al-Thumairy, “an accredited diplomat at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles and one of the ‘imams’ at the King Fahad mosque in Culver City, California,” who also “may have been in contact” with al-Mindhar and al-Hamzi.
Saleh al-Hussayen, “reportedly a Saudi Interior Ministry official, stayed at the same hotel in Herndon, Virginia where al-Hazmi was staying. While al-Hussayen claimed after September 11 not to know the hijackers, FBI agents believed he was being deceptive. He was able to depart the United States despite FBI efforts to locate and re-interview him.” Who got him out of the country?
There is much more. The report redacts the name of “another Saudi national with close ties to the Saudi Royal Family,” but notes that he “is the subject of FBI counterterrorism investigations and reportedly was checking security at the United States’ southwest border in 1999 and discussing the possibility of infiltrating individuals into the United States.” There is no telling who this could have been, but Prince Bandar’s unlisted phone number turned up in a phone book of Abu Zubaida, “a senior al-Qa’ida operative captured in Pakistan in March 2002.” Abu Zubaida also had the number of “a bodyguard at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC.”
The report also mentions a CIA memorandum that “discusses alleged financial connections between the September 11 hijackers, Saudi Government officials, and members of the Saudi Royal Family.” This memorandum was passed on to an FBI investigator; yet “despite the clear national implications of the CIA memorandum, the FBI agent included the memorandum in an individual case file and did not forward it to FBI Headquarters.” Why?
There is still more, and with this much smoke, there is almost certainly fire: the Saudi connection to 9/11 goes to the highest levels of the Saudi government. Gabbard is correct that this should be investigated, and there needs to be a further investigation as well: why has this been covered up for so long, and this sham alliance maintained with a nation whose highest officials were apparently involved with those who attacked us?
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS.