Saudi Arabia

Did the Saudi Goverment Know About the 9/11 Plot? Two Former Senators Seem to Think So


Here's a New York Times story worth burning one of your 20-free-per-month limit for.

Last week the Gray Lady published this story on page A19 with the headline "Saudi Arabia May Be Tied To 9/11, 2 Ex-Senators Say."

Maybe it's just me, but I'm surprised the story hasn't gotten bigger play (indeed, I didn't even note it until a recent conversation with former Reason staffer and inveterate Middle East watcher Charles Paul Freund).

From the Times:

"I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia," former Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, said in an affidavit filed as part of a lawsuit brought against the Saudi government and dozens of institutions in the country by families of Sept. 11 victims and others. Mr. Graham led a joint 2002 Congressional inquiry into the attacks.

His former Senate colleague, Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a Democrat who served on the separate 9/11 Commission, said in a sworn affidavit of his own in the case that "significant questions remain unanswered" about the role of Saudi institutions. "Evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi government agents in the September 11th attacks has never been fully pursued," Mr. Kerrey said.

Graham's and Kerrey's statements are in affidavits for a lawsuit against the Saudi government that has been wending its way through American courts since 2002. This is pretty stunning stuff, according to the Times' gloss:

Unanswered questions include the work of a number of Saudi-sponsored charities with financial links to Al Qaeda, as well as the role of a Saudi citizen living in San Diego at the time of the attacks, Omar al-Bayoumi, who had ties to two of the hijackers and to Saudi officials, Mr. Graham said in his affidavit.

Still, Washington has continued to stand behind Saudi Arabia publicly, with the Justice Department joining the kingdom in trying to have the lawsuits thrown out of court on the grounds that the Saudis are protected by international immunity.

More here.

Graham and Kerrey are not nutjobs. Both were hip-deep in government investigations of the 9/11 attacks, which were largely carried out almost exclusively by Saudi nationals. As Yaroslav Trofimov documented in his excellent 2007 book, The Seige of Mecca, after the 1979 occupation of Islam's holiest city by radicals, the Saudi government essentially bought off domestic fundamentalists by helping to promote their agenda abroad. According to a Wikileaks dump from 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton averred that donors in Saudi Arabia were "the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide." That's not the same as saying that a "direct line" exists between the government of Saudi Arabia and some of the 9/11 terrorists, but it surely deserves more scrutiny from the press than it's been getting.

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  1. In 2005, the clerics in the pay of the Saudi Government were preaching jihad against the Iraqi occupation by the U.S.

    They got a lot of people living in the poorer provinces who otherwise might have caused the king problems to go north to Iraq to be slaughtered by American guns.

    They also bankrolled a significant portion of the Taliban’s operating costs back when the Taliban were the good guys fighting the evil Iranian-backed Northern Alliance.

    1. That is what the Saudis are doing. They are sending their young and unemployed to die at the hands of the Americans fighting the jihad. It is a great pressure release for them.

  2. All this time I actually thought it had been accepted that the Saudis did know about the plot, but we were going to ignore that because the consequences knowing would be too great.

    1. But what would be their motivations in letting it happen?

      1. The jihadists continue their sort-of detente with the SA government and the SA government continues to benefit from teh delusion that they are our ally.

        1. That doesn’t seem to follow for me, because presumably the Saudis could have tipped the United States clandestinely and maintained both illusions regardless.

          1. That’s what I was thinking. If they knew, they’d have let us know on the sly, to preserve the illusion of brotherly love.

    2. If it were true and came out today, the cry here for some action against the Saudis would be overwhelming, even all of these years later. And Allah help anyone in our government who knew about it and covered it up.

      I have a feeling they didn’t know about the attack, but they also try to play both sides to the middle to avoid getting overthrown from within or without, so who knows how dirty their hands are?

      1. And it is not as if there is a single “Saudi government”. They have rogue elements in their intelligence and military just like every other country.

      2. The Saudi king has it within his power to utterly destroy the United States government: end his embargo on payment with currencies other than US$.

        This is why the U.S. government will sacrifice everything, its citizens lives, their security and their wealth to preserve the throne of a king who orders people beheaded for practicing witchcraft.

        1. Why would paying for dollars in Euros be the end of the United States?

          1. The major reason why the U.S. dollar is in demand worldwide is so that people can buy oil with it.

            It people don’t need dollars to buy oil anymore, guess what’s going to happen to the US dollar? The economic activity that the U.S. government taxes is going to drop dramatically, and absent a default, the U.S. government would have to inflate like crazy to print the money they need to cover their operating costs. At that point the U.S. economy starts down the path that Zimbabwe took.

            If the U.S. government were to repeal legal tender laws and permit people to pay taxes in other currencies than U.S. dollars as Ron Paul advocates, the U.S. economy could survive such a shock . But we all know that they’ll follow the same stupid route that led to the collapse of the previous U.S. government as defined by the Articles of Confederation.

        2. I’m not following this. Why would that end the U.S.?

          1. Some people dont get that fiat money is fungible. It doesnt matter what it is paid with.

            Its a crazy conspiracy theory all over the internet. But it makes no rational sense.

            1. As I understand the theory, isn’t the thought that requiring oil to be purchased in USD adds demand for the USD, elevating its purchasing power relative to that of other currencies? This elevated demand allows the US Gov’t to run larger deficits than usual, without incurring larger interest rates or price inflation, if the elevated demand for the USD weren’t present. (Obligatory link to the petrodollar theory behind the 2nd Iraq War.)

            2. Some people dont get that fiat money is fungible.

              Because in this sense its not, the USD is not fungible with any other currency.

              Its a crazy conspiracy theory all over the internet. But it makes no rational sense.

              MV = PQ

              If you reduce Q by something the size of the oil industry, what happens to P?

        3. I don’t buy this. Fact is, the USD even as a fiat currency has a long track record of being the best fiat currency.

  3. Graham and Kerrey are not nutjobs.

    [Citation needed]

  4. Worst. Ally. Ever.

    1. Agreed.

      Washington was a frickin genius when it came to foreign policy.

    2. Even worse than the Pakistanis?

      1. False Dichotomy – Pakistan is pretty much a client state of Saudi Arabia.

      2. Good question. Wait, Pakistan is a SA client state?

  5. More idle thoughts: why don’t the Saudis have nukes yet? I feel like they can afford it, and would have no difficulty in obtaining scientific aid.

    1. They dont want to lose a war with Israel?

      1. That. And no matter what they say, they really don’t care about Israel or the Palestinians. It is the Iranians they are terrified of.

      2. Who would start that war?

        1. Israel would only have to fly over Jordan to reach Saudi Air Space. Easier bombing run than the one on Iraq.

          1. But why would Israel make a run on a nuclear Saudi Arabia? This may sound like gross ignorance, but I wasn’t aware that those nations were necessarily antagonistic to each other (despite the fact that logically they should be).

            1. They are not. And now that I think about it, you are probably right. If it was in response to Iranian nukes, the Israelis probably wouldn’t say a work. But if they just went and got them, Israel probably would do something.

        2. Israel would bomb them like they did Iraq to prevent them from getting nukes.

          And like Israel is offing every scientist in Iran (or so it seems).

          1. I am not convinced Israel would do any such thing. Isn’t the concern with Iran the government of Iran possessing nukes? Saudi Arabia’s government is officially neutral-to-friendly with Israel.

            1. True, and it might be that way because they havent pursued nukes. If they started to, Israel might be less neutral-to-friendly.

      3. It has very little to do with Israel (all politics are internal), nukes would require a capable military to maintain them and the Saud princes aren’t going to create any opposing power structure like that. Instead they out-source their military to the USA and channel their general population by means of the worlds worst (most expensive/repressive) version of Islam. The system allows them lives of utter luxury.

    2. The rumor is that they have them on layaway in Pakistan. If Iran ever goes nuclear they will go ahead and complete the purchase from Pakistan.

      Nukes are a lot of hassle. You really have to be willing to be an outlaw state to get them unless are you an established regional power like Pakistan or India. And the Saudis are most certainly not that. Why bother with nukes when you can just hire the Americans to defend you?

      1. My pet theory is that they already have a few from the former Soviet bloc. I am not convinced that U.S. efforts like Project Sapphire were totally successful in buying back all of the bomb parts floating around the old U.S.S.R. I do not think that actual weapons were sold, but I’m not so sure about fissionable cores or bomb-grade material, from which the Saudis (or other wealthy Gulf states) could fabricate their own devices. I don’t trust Soviet-era bookkeeping for their fissionable material.

        One problem is that the weapons and components have limited shelf-lives, and I don’t think the Saudis have a reactor to make their own, e.g. tritium or deuterated lithium or beryllium.

        1. That is a good point about the reactor. And that makes it all the more sensible to keep them on layaway in Pakistan, someone who can keep them up to date, until you need them.

          1. My problem with your theory is this: I don’t see Pakistan and KSA being in lockstep on foreign policy. Indeed, since KSA is bankrolling most of the Wahhabi mullahs that constantly stir up religious tensions in the Pakistani populace—which threaten to overthrow the Pakistani government, should it get too secular—you can argue that the two countries are often at cross purposes.

            Moreover, does Pakistan strike you as a nice, stable place to safeguard your ultimate trump cards? Me neither. Much easier to stick them in some out of the way base in the Empty Quarter. If it’s also a black site for torturing people, all the better to explain the security, the secrecy, and the airfield to get the weapons out.

    3. The Saudis paid for the development of the Pakistani nukes, which means they have done all the preliminary work to make their own nukes.

  6. If we start or get involved with a war on Iran, I might go John Kerry and toss my medals onto the White House lawn.

  7. If you put your tinfoil hat on, you could see where 9-11 resulted in the US finally taking out two of the Saudi’s biggest enemies, Saddam and Bin Ladin. And we are about to take out their final regional rival, Iran.

    Just saying.

  8. Never mind, Taliban, we came after you because you looked beatable. Unlike Pakistan’s military and intelligence with their nuclear arsenal, nor the Saudi’s with their controlling interest in the American economy. Ever wonder how much funding they gave to greens in the seventies and eighties to demonize American energy production?

    1. Or are still giving now? One sure way to increase the value of existing oil reserves is to keep new ones from coming on line.

      Of course one of these days, those fuckers really are going to run out of oil. And when the US and Russia are then producing most of the oil in the world, they are going to be in trouble.

      1. The Islamist who rip the saudi ‘royal’ family apart are going to make the Furies of legend look like whelps.

  9. Not surprising that the story didn’t get more play. Kind of hard to call Truthers “conspiracy nuts” when two former US Senators are spouting their own conspiracy theories…

  10. “Maybe it’s just me, but I’m surprised the story hasn’t gotten bigger play (indeed, I didn’t even note it until a recent conversation with former Reason staffer and inveterate Middle East watcher Charles Paul Freund).”

    If you didn’t know about it, how could you be surprised that other people didn’t know about it? If you read Glenn Greenwald as often as you should, you would have known about it.

    Also underreported. That Egyptian airliner that crashed into the sea for no apparent reason, prior to 9/11, with the pilot crying “Allah Akbar” at the time of the crash.

    One reason why our Middle Eastern policy is so disfunctional is that we’re in bed with both Israel and the Saudis. No wonder we’re just covered with K-Y Intense!

  11. What do you expect from a ruling class whose members all look like Frank Zappa?

  12. Somebody recently wrote a novel about this very issue called “28 Pages”. I picked up a copy earlier this year. It’s pretty solid.

  13. Ask yourself this: Just how did the 9/11 conspirators who came into the US to carry out the plot get “sanitized” passports and visas erasing their trips to Pakistan and Afghanistan without someone in the Saudi government knowing what they were up to? The Saudis were paranoid as hell about those folks, because they knew that they were getting indoctrinated with anti-regime philosophies while they were on their visits there.

    There’s no way the Saudis were completely unaware of something going on. The entire Saudi government may not have been in on it, but part of it had to have had the knowledge, or those clean passports would never have been issued, and they wouldn’t have told our visa-issuing agencies that these known trouble-makers were “clean”, either.

  14. “Graham and Kerrey are not nutjobs.”

    You lost me at that point.

  15. That’s not the same as saying that a “direct line” exists between the government of Saudi Arabia and some of the 9/11 terrorists, but it surely deserves more scrutiny from the press than it’s been getting.

    Info regarding connections between Saudi financial resources funding the ISI, Islamic front-groups for al-q, as well as a panoply of islamic ‘charities’ providing an array of resources for the Taliban et al have been pretty well documented. There was everything from direct to indirect funding from individuals, charities, as well as government figures.

    specifically tying the saudi government to 9/11 hijackers is more fuzzy, but the person you named (Omar al-Bayoumi) was widely believed to be a saudi agent, and assumed to be protected by the FBI. His sources of funding led directly to Saudi government figures, as per below:…..umi#Income

    1. … that said, the ostensible purpose of most Saudi funding to ‘extremists’ was to keep them on the hook at arms’ length, not to attack the US. There were always questions about Saudi reticence to forcefully go after bin laden…or to later force the Taliban to give him up… but it would be difficult from their longstanding behaviors to impute any support for direct attacks against western powers. The book “The Looming Tower” was very good in proving details re: saudi relations with bin laden and his ilk in the 90s.

  16. If Bob Graham isn’t a “nut job,” it would be hard to define the term in a meaningful way. Bob Kerrey had his own eccentricities, too. They were anything but the two soundest of mind in the Senate.

    Recall Graham’s short-lived Presidential campaign for reference. Perhaps you are too young to remember.

  17. This is nothing new. Investigative journalist Gerald Posner revealed how two different U.S. government sources informed him that al-Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaydah revealed extensive involvement by the Saudi Royal family in the 9/11 attacks.

  18. what about the large insurance and airline stock shorts in the euro markets placed prior to 9/11 and executed immediately after? i remember reading about them at the time, not so much since. anyone else remember that?

    1. Have you any proof?

      As in, change in the short float of any specific entity? I call big rumor-mill bullshit.

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