Sunday, July 3, 2016
With the Obama presidency drawing to a close and the 15-year anniversary of 9/11 approaching, the administration still hasn’t released the infamous “28 pages,” a much-clamored-for, redacted section of a preliminary congressional inquiry that reportedly names Saudi nationals suspected of helping the hijackers.
The White House’s own estimate of when intelligence officials will have concluded their review of the declassification process, by the end of June, has passed without an update.
Meanwhile, though, much of what’s in the 28 pages is already out there, quietly released by the government last summer as the 17th file in a cache of FBI documents related to 9/11.
First reported by 28pages.org, the file lists some three dozen people who had contact with the hijackers in a section headed “A Brief Overview of Possible Saudi Government Connections to the September 11th Attacks.”
“Much of the information upon which File 17 was written was based on what’s in the 28 pages,” former Democratic Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, who co-chaired of the congressional inquiry, told the AP.
Graham believes the 19 hijackers — 15 of whom were Saudi nationals — had an extensive Saudi support system providing financial and logistical aid while they were in the United States.
After all, Graham has reasoned, many couldn’t even speak English and had never been in the US before.
“File 17 said, ‘Here are some additional unanswered questions and here is how we think the 9/11 Commission, the FBI and the CIA should go about finding the answers,’ ” Graham said.
Graham also believes the 28 pages have been kept under wraps for fear of straining ties with Saudi Arabia.
The Saudis themselves have strongly denied aiding the hijackers, and the 9/11 Commission ultimately presented no conclusive proof that the Saudi government or senior Saudi officials knowingly helped the hijackers’ efforts.
Among the more interesting Saudi-tied names listed in File 17 as warranting further investigation are these:
OMAR AL-BAYOUMI, a suspected Saudi spy who was believed to have provided “considerable assistance” to two hijackers-in-training in San Diego the year prior to the attack, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar. Al-Bayoumi helped the two locate an apartment and co-signed their lease, File 17 states.
OSAMA BASSNAN, a vocal supporter of Osama bin Laden, was a close friend to al-Bayoumi and was in frequent contact with him throughout the time the two hijackers were in San Diego. He admitted to an FBI agent that he had met the two, only to deny it later. File 17 says Bassnan received “considerable funding” from Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then the Saudi ambassador to the US and a personal friend of President George W. Bush.
FAHAD AL-THUMAIRY, a Culver City, Calif., imam and “Sunni extremist” who was a diplomat at the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Los Angeles from 1996 to 2003. Al-Thumairy allegedly helped the two hijackers find housing and transportation. Thumairy’s last brush with the US was in 2003, when he was barred from re-entering the United States. The State Department said he might be involved in terrorism.
MOHDHAR ABDULLAH was tasked by al-Bayoumi with providing the two hijackers with whatever help they needed while in San Diego, and complied by translating for them, helping them open bank accounts and contacting flight schools on their behalf, File 17 says.