The Corner

Can We Handle the Truth About Saudi Arabia and 9/11?

This weekend CBS’s 60 Minutes ran a fascinating report on the now-famous 28 pages redacted from the joint congressional report on intelligence activities before and after the 9/11 attacks. There are renewed calls to release the full report. A key question is whether the redacted pages detail a previously-undisclosed level of Saudi involvement and cooperation with the hijackers. You can see the entire report here:

The segment quotes former senator Bob Graham:

I think it is implausible to believe that 19 people, most of whom didn’t speak English, most of whom had never been in the United States before, many of whom didn’t have a high school education– could’ve carried out such a complicated task without some support from within the United States.

It also highlights the activities of specific Saudi diplomats and agents, like Fahad al-Thumairy:

During their first days in L.A., witnesses place the two future hijackers at the King Fahd mosque in the company of Fahad al-Thumairy, a diplomat at the Saudi consulate known to hold extremist views. Later, 9/11 investigators would find him deceptive and suspicious and in 2003, he would be denied reentry to the United States for having suspected ties to terrorist activity.

Tim Roemer: This is a very interesting person in the whole 9/11 episode of who might’ve helped whom– in Los Angeles and San Diego, with two terrorists who didn’t know their way around.

And Omar al-Bayoumi:

Phone records show that Thumairy was also in regular contact with this man: Omar al-Bayoumi, a mysterious Saudi who became the hijackers biggest benefactor. He was a ghost employee with a no-show job at a Saudi aviation contractor outside Los Angeles while drawing a paycheck from the Saudi government.

Steve Kroft: You believe Bayoumi was a Saudi agent?

Bob Graham: Yes, and–

Steve Kroft: What makes you believe that?

Bob Graham: –well, for one thing, he’d been listed even before 9/11 in FBI files as being a Saudi agent.

On the morning of February 1, 2000, Bayoumi went to the office of the Saudi consulate where Thumairy worked. He then proceeded to have lunch at a Middle Eastern restaurant on Venice Boulevard where he later claimed he just happened to make the acquaintance of the two future hijackers.

Tim Roemer: Hazmi and Mihdhar magically run into Bayoumi in a restaurant that Bayoumi claims is a coincidence and in one of the biggest cities in the United States.

Steve Kroft: And he decides to befriend them.

Tim Roemer: He decides to not only befriend them but then to help them move to San Diego and get residence.

My general philosophy of the Middle East is simple — however bad you think the place is, in reality it’s far worse. Even our “allies” will constantly surprise even the most hardened cynic with their mendacity and double-dealing. We’ve long known that our so-called alliance with Saudi Arabia has put us in bed with the devil. It’s time the American people learned how evil that devil truly is. 

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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