On Saturday, the FBI released a report documenting several pieces of circumstantial evidence tying the government of Saudi Arabia to the 9/11 terrorists.
The report was released late Saturday on the 20th anniversary of the attacks, which resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people and sparked the Global War on Terror. The document was released under an executive order issued by President Joe Biden earlier this month.
The report details many connections the FBI saw between a Saudi national named Omar al-Bayoumi, and at least two of the 9/11 hijackers, including providing “travel assistance, lodging and financing” to the hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar.
The report further revealed Bayoumi was well regarded by Saudi Consulate officials in the U.S. and held a “very high status.” Bayoumi was in contact with Fahad al-Thumairy, an imam and consular official at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles. Bayoumi would frequent the Los Angeles consulate throughout his numerous interactions with Hazmi and Mihdhar.
Bayoumi was interviewed by the FBI in 2003 and that his testimony was contradicted at multiple points.
In the 2003 interview with the FBI, Bayoumi said he came to the U.S. to study and work for a Saudi aviation company, Dallah AVCO. Witnesses at the Saudi aviation company said Bayoumi was a “ghost employee” who was being paid at the company but did not show up for work.
Bayoumi also denied discussing jihad with Hazmi and Mihdhar. While a witness said she met Bayoumi several times and he was often talking about how the Islamic community should take action and that “they were rat Jihad.”
Bayoumi also described coming to befriend the Hazmi and Mihdhar through a chance encounter after overhearing them speaking in Arabic at a restaurant and then asked them where they were from. A witness who spoke to the FBI said Bayoumi had positioned himself at the restaurant to look out its front window and that he began approaching the two 9/11 hijackers from such a distance that he could not have overheard them speaking in Arabic.
Following the 9/11 attacks, Bayoumi was detained in the U.K. and investigators reviewing his phone book found an entry for a Dr. Abdullah Al Jortthen with two phone numbers. A communications analysis of the two phone numbers were linked to Ali Khudair Fad al-Khudair, who was arrested in Medina, Saudi Arabia in May of 2003. According to the FBI, Khudair is considered a spiritual adviser to a senior Osama Bin Laden, Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, who is currently held at Guantanamo Bay.
Bayoumi was also in regular contact with Osama Bassnan. In 1992, Bassnan had hosted a dinner party for Omar Abdel-Rahman, the convicted mastermind of 1993 World Trade Towers bombing. Bassnan reportedly knew Bin Laden’s family in Saudi Arabia and was an enthusiastic supporter of Bin Laden.
Bayoumi was also in contact with a man by the name of Mutaib al-Sudairy, throughout his time interacting with Hazmi and Mihdhar. Sudairy was later recorded at an address in Falls Church, Virginia – the same area Hazmi and Mihdhar established a residence in the lead up to the 9/11 attacks.
While much of the evidence laid out in the newly released FBI document is circumstantial, the families of 9/11 victims see the information as important in holding the Saudi government accountable for the attacks.
In a written statement to the Washington Post, Brett Eagleson, whose father was killed in the attacks, said, “Today marks the moment when the Saudis cannot rely on the U.S. government from hiding the truth about 9/11.”
Terry Strada of the group 9/11 Families United told the Washington Post, “Now the Saudis’ secrets are exposed.” Strada added, “It is well past time for the Kingdom to own up to its officials’ roles in murdering thousands on American soil.”
Several family members of 9/11 victims are suing the Saudi government in connection with the attack. James Kreindler, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, told ProPublica, “This validates what we have been saying. The FBI agents working this case detailed a Saudi government support network that was working in 1999, 2000 and 2001 to provide the hijackers with everything they needed to mount the attacks — apartments, money, English lessons, flight school.”
Responding to the FBI’s plans to release the report, the Saudi Embassy in Washington said, “The Kingdom has always advocated for transparency surrounding the September 11 tragedy. No evidence has ever emerged to indicate that the Saudi government or its officials had previous knowledge of the terrorist attack or were in any way involved in its planning or execution. Any allegation that Saudi Arabia is complicit in the September 11 attacks is categorically false.”