Jul 20, 2014 by Russ Baker
Here’s one of our most popular—and explosive—pieces of original reporting, which we first ran in June 2013.
The FBI apparently has known for a decade about links between powerful Saudi interests and the alleged 9/11 hijackers, and has been forced to tacitly admit that it lied about it for all of these years.
In case the import is not clear, let us state emphatically: this is a huge development.
In court filings seeking to stave off a media Freedom of Information request, the FBI has stated that releasing documents relating to this issue will harm “national security.” As proof of the sensitivity of the matter, the FBI gave the judge a document dated April 4, 2002, in which the FBI states that its own inquiries “revealed many connections” between a well-connected Saudi family with a house in South Florida and “individuals associated with the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001.”
The Sarasota Affair
The Freedom of Information request that prompted these reluctant admissions was filed by the Broward Bulldog, a South Florida nonprofit investigative site which first covered the Saudi connection in 2011.
The Bulldog’s reporting explained how a family living in an exclusive gated community outside Sarasota, on Florida’s West Coast, had apparently vanished suddenly some 10 days before the 9/11 attacks. Investigators, including a swarm of FBI agents, found that the family’s departure was clearly so sudden that they left almost their entire household intact, down to cars, clothing, and food in the refrigerator. Most significant, though, investigators had established that several of the men publicly identified as among the 9/11 hijackers, including purported ringleader Mohammed Atta, had visited the house and/or been linked to it through a web of telephone communications.
The FBI told none of this to Congress, and it was not mentioned in the original 9/11 Commission report released in 2004.
WhoWhatWhy, in an original investigation, went deeper, and established that the owner of the house was a prominent Saudi businessman who works directly for the Saudi prince most involved with aviation—including being the first Saudi who trained to fly planes in South Florida. You can read our complete story here.
The significance of this cannot be stated strongly enough. Although many people think they “already know” about ties between the hijackers and Saudi royals, they confuse these important revelations with reports that prominent Saudis were permitted to leave the country shortly after 9/11, as popularized in Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11.
This new revelation is far more significant. The older story shows possible favoritism toward, or at least concern for, well-connected Saudis on the part of the US government in permitting them to leave. The Sarasota story, however, shows that the US government came upon what may have been a command or control center for the men we are told hijacked the planes.
And with the connections documented by WhoWhatWhy, it is almost impossible not to conclude some kind of awareness, either before or after the act, on the part of Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud and the powerful clique he represents within the royal clan. Again, for more on this, please read the entire story, which continues over three pages on our site.
The FBI Reversal
Kudos to the Bulldog for filing the FOIA request, which unearthed that gem of an FBI submission. It was included in filings by Miami Assistant U.S. Attorney Carole M. Fernandez, and was part of a sworn 33-page declaration from FBI Records Section Chief David M. Hardy. He stated that producing classified information related to the matter “would reveal current specific targets of the FBI’s national security investigations.” The purpose of the filings was to convince U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch not to allow the FOIA suit to succeed.
The April 4 document is significant for three reasons: (1) it demonstrates that the authorities are aware of the Saudi link, (2) it demonstrates that the FBI previously lied when it declared that its inquiries in the matter found no links to the terrorists or the plot, (3) it has the FBI asserting that no more disclosures should be made in order to protect “national security.”
The FBI’s practice of finding evidence tied to Saudi Arabia, then denying it had such evidence, then reluctantly admitting that it did (but only as a way of blocking still more disclosure) is telling. The apparent willingness of the FBI to brazenly lie and then reverse itself—seemingly with no consequences—is now beginning to look like standard operating procedure.
As WhoWhatWhy has demonstrated in articles about the Boston Marathon bombing, the FBI has been guilty of an astonishing array of disinformation, story reversals, unaccountable violence, and general misbehavior just in that one affair alone. See this, this, this, and this.
In the Boston bombing case, the FBI claimed not to know anything about the alleged perpetrators, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, then was forced to admit it had had direct contact with them and their family. It also initially claimed via leaks to mainstream media reporters that one of its officers shot and killed Ibragim Todashev, a figure connected with the Tsarnaevs, because he attacked them with a knife, Since then, the story has changed repeatedly and is now obscured by a thick fog of misdirection. We’ve pointed out many other changing aspects of the FBI’s story.
Hence, when we look back at the granddaddy of all purported terrorist plots, 9/11, and see the FBI’s astonishing actions to block disclosure, we have to ask: Just what is going on in this country? What is the FBI, and does it actually serve democracy and the public interest? And where is the president, purportedly the most powerful person in the country, and the public’s representative? If the president is unable or unwilling to get to the bottom of these bizarre and deeply worrisome developments, what does that say about the health of the system itself?
The Biggest Revelations, Ignored
Fortunately for the FBI, almost the entirety of the media—from the corporate owned “mainstream” to purportedly outsider ”alternative” news outlets and websites—have steered clear of the entire subject.
The recent FBI court filings were revealed by a Bulldog article published in conjunction with one mainstream outlet—the Miami Herald. Previous revelations that appeared in The Herald were generally ignored by the rest of the press, and we may reasonably expect the same disturbing indifference to the latest bombshell.
This development leaves us with three significant conclusions:
-The US government knows about, and is concerned about, apparent ties between its allies in the Saudi royal family and the men accused of having hijacked the planes on 9/11 and orchestrated the greatest attack in history on the American mainland.
-The FBI continues to lie and suppress information in other matters of public concern, supposedly all in the interest of our shared “national security.”
-The media continues to demonstrate how weak, compromised and intimidated it is. With the majority of Americans still dependent for their understanding of current events and their world on these same media, the ramifications can be considered alarming.