Saudi Arabia & 9/11


After years of lobbying from pressure groups, 28 pages from the 2002 congressional investigation into 9/11 previously withheld from publication were declassified and released into the public domain in July 2016. They confirm that two of the 9/11 hijackers received assistance from a Saudi national called Osama Bassan. The report states that Bassan had 'extensive ties' to the Saudi government and that, several years before the attacks, he had received thousands of dollars directly from Prince Bandar (Prince Bandar was the Saudi goverment official who worked to finance and support the CIA backed jihad of the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s). Bassan's wife also received a monthly $2,000 stipend from Bandar's wife.

"The House will vote this week on whether to allow 9/11 survivors and family members of those killed that day to sue Saudi Arabia in connection with the attacks, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan confirmed Wednesday. The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) passed the Senate unanimously in mid-May. President Obama has threatened to veto the legislation, saying it could open the door for other countries to allow lawsuits against Americans in courts abroad. But Congress appears to have enough votes for an override....In July, the Obama administration finally declassified 28 pages of the report from the 9/11 Commission that pointed to multiple links between the terrorists and associates of Saudi Arabian Prince Bandar, the former longtime ambassador to the United States. The report also mentions possible conduits of money from the Saudi royal family to Saudis living in the United States and two of the 9/11 hijackers in San Diego. The documents also indicate substantial support to California mosques where radical Islamist sentiments ran high. Families of the 9/11 victims say the legislation would allow several lawsuits -- consolidated into one case on behalf of 9/11 victims and several insurance companies -- to proceed, as lawyers attempt to prove Saudi government involvement in the terrorist plot. The bill specifically provides an exception to sovereign immunity for countries involved in terrorist attacks inside the United States. Families who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon say they've never received an explanation of how the attacks were financed. They have pursued a lawsuit since 2003 in federal court in the Southern District of New York seeking to find out. The lengthy legal battle has stretched out as lawyers have battled over whether the Saudi government has immunity from prosecution under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 or whether they are covered by an exception for terrorist acts in the U.S. The latest setback for the 9/11 families came last September in a ruling by U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels, who said the court lacked jurisdiction. Attorneys for the 9/11 families have said the legislation merely clarifies existing law."
House to vote this week on letting 9/11 families sue Saudis
USA Today, 7 September 2016

"The 28 pages of newly declassified material from the 9/11 Commission released Friday by Congress show multiple links to associates of Saudi Arabian Prince Bandar, the former longtime ambassador to the United States. The details in the newly released documents are a mix of tantalizing, but often unconfirmed, tidbits about the Saudi Arabian ties of some of the 9/11 hijackers. They show possible conduits of money from the Saudi royal family to Saudis living in the United States and two of the hijackers in San Diego. The documents also indicate substantial support to California mosques with a high degree of radical Islamist sentiment.... Osama Bassnan, who the documents identify as a financial supporter of two of the 9/11 hijackers in San Diego, received money from Bandar, and Bassnan's wife also got money from Bandar's wife. "On at least one occasion," the documents show, "Bassnan received a check directly from Prince Bandar's account. According to the FBI, on May 14, 1998, Bassnan cashed a check from Bandar in the amount of $15,000. Bassnan's wife also received at least one check directly from Bandar." Bassnan and Omar al-Bayoumi, another Saudi living in San Diego, "provided substantial assistance" to two of the hijackers — Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi — the documents said."
Declassified 9/11 pages show ties to former Saudi ambassador
USA Today, 15 July 2016

"Brushing aside White House warnings about national security, Congress moved decisively Wednesday to override a presidential veto — for the first time in the Obama administration — of a bill that will allow 9/11 families to sue the Saudi Arabian government for damages. Supporters say it will give victims of terrorism their day in court. But opponents, including the White House, warn it will complicate U.S. relationships abroad, impede national security investigations and open the floodgates to similar lawsuits by foreigners against the U.S. government. CIA Director John Brennan had warned of “grave implications” and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said it could be “devastating” to the department and “undermine” counterterrorism efforts abroad. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, lamented Wednesday that a measure with such potentially far-reaching consequences to U.S. foreign policy had not even been subject to a hearing in Congress before it sailed through both chambers. Yet just moments later, he joined his Senate colleagues, who voted 97 to 1 to override Obama’s veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. The House swiftly followed with a vote of 348 to 77. The legislation will amend existing law to allow U.S. courts to hear terrorism cases against foreign states, narrowing the scope of immunity now granted to sovereign foreign actors. Families of the 9/11 attacks had been stymied for years in their legal attempts to seek compensation from the Saudi Arabian government. They note that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens. The United States and the 9/11 Commission investigated possible links between Saudi Arabia and the Sept. 11 attacks and found no conclusive evidence. “We are overwhelmingly grateful that Congress did not let us down," said Terry Strada, national chair of the 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism. "We rejoice in this triumph and look forward to our day in court and a time when we may finally get more answers regarding who was truly behind the attacks.""
In a first, Congress rebukes Obama with veto override of 9/11 bill
Los Angles Times, 28 September 2016

"Last week’s unanimous passage of a Senate bill making it easier for 9/11 families to sue Saudi Arabia and other foreign terror sponsors was widely heralded as a major victory. It’s more of a cruel hoax. It turns out that just before the vote, Sen. Charles Schumer and other proponents of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act stuffed an amendment into the final draft allowing the attorney general and secretary of state to stop any litigation against the Saudis in its tracks. Yes, JASTA would remove the statutory restrictions that have prevented 9/11 families from taking the Saudi kingdom to court. But Schumer helped craft an entirely new section to the original bill, giving the Justice and State departments the power to stay court action indefinitely. All they have to do is inform the judge hearing the case that the US government has engaged with ­Riyadh in diplomatic talks to resolve the issue. The quiet, behind-the-scenes watering-down of the controversial bill explains why it passed without a single Republican or Democratic objection. The White House had lobbied senators heavily to kill the bill."
Schumer upends 9/11 Saudi suit bill at 11th hour
New York Post, 24 May 2016

"Saudi Arabia has told the Obama administration and members of Congress that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.... Saudi officials have long denied that the kingdom had any role in the Sept. 11 plot, and the 9/11 Commission found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization.” But critics have noted that the commission’s narrow wording left open the possibility that less senior officials or parts of the Saudi government could have played a role. Suspicions have lingered, partly because of the conclusions of a 2002 congressional inquiry into the attacks that cited some evidence that Saudi officials living in the United States at the time had a hand in the plot. Those conclusions, contained in 28 pages of the report, still have not been released publicly...The Senate bill is intended to make clear that the immunity given to foreign nations under the law should not apply in cases where nations are found culpable for terrorist attacks that kill Americans on United States soil. If the bill were to pass both houses of Congress and be signed by the president, it could clear a path for the role of the Saudi government to be examined in the Sept. 11 lawsuits"
Saudi Arabia Warns of Economic Fallout if Congress Passes 9/11 Bill
New York Times, 15 April 2016



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