FBI publicly releases a few more pages about Sarasota Saudis; 80,000 pages given to judge

The Justice Department late Friday made public four new, heavily censored documents confirming that by 2002 the FBI had found “many connections” between 9/11 terrorist figures and the Florida family of “an allegedly wealthy international businessman” with ties to the Saudi Royal family.

“On or about 8/27/01 his family fled their house in Sarasota leaving behind valuable items in a manner indicating they left quickly without prior preparation,” says an FBI “case narrative” written on April 16, 2002.

The name of the international businessman, Esam Ghazzawi, is blanked out in the narrative. Ghazzawi’s name, however, is included on another page – an FBI form that accompanied a letter acquired by FBI agents in Tampa as “evidence” in July 2002. Details about the letter were not released.

Image of Sarasota Florida from Gulf
View of Sarasota Florida from Gulf

The release of Ghazzawi’s name is the first time the government has confirmed Ghazzawi’s involvement in the FBI investigation that lasted until at least 2004, yet was never disclosed to the 9/11 Commission or congressional investigators.

Ghazzawi, adviser to a senior Saudi prince, owned the upscale south Sarasota home where his daughter, Anoud, and her husband, Abdulaziz al-Hijji lived prior to 9/11. Law enforcement sources have said that after 9/11 investigators found evidence – telephone records and photographs of license tags and security gate log books – showing that hijack pilot Mohamed Atta, former Broward resident and fugitive al Qaeda leader Adnan Shukrijumah and other terror suspects had visited the home. The home is about 10 miles from the Venice airport, where Atta and the two other hijack pilots trained.

The four pages were released amid ongoing Freedom of Information litigation brought by BrowardBulldog.org after the FBI declined to release any records about the matter.

In April, Fort Lauderdale U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch ordered the FBI to conduct a thorough search of its records to identify documents about the once secret probe. The judge said the Justice Department had failed to convince him that the FBI’s prior searches had been adequate.

With Friday’s release, a total of 39 pages have been released since the lawsuit was filed in September 2012. That includes four pages that were completely censored.

The FBI withheld certain information from the just-released documents, saying disclosure would constitute “an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy” or reveal techniques and procedures of law enforcement

The four pages released Friday were all declassified shortly before their release.

FBI records chief David M. Hardy said in a declaration under oath that the Bureau has processed the Tampa field office’s complete “sub file” on 9/11 and is in the process of turning it over to the judge as ordered. Hardy said the files consists of 80,266 pages which was divided into 411 “individual documents section” that were burned onto three CDs in a searchable format.

The documents, and parallel hard copies, were provided for Judge Zloch’s private inspection. He will then decide whether any of those documents are releasable under the Freedom of Information Act.

Dan Christensen is the editor of Broward Bulldog. Anthony Summers is co-author with Robbyn Swan of “The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden,” published by Ballantine Books, which was a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for History in 2012.

The following was recorded On November 11, 2014. Former Senator Bob Graham was joined by investigative journalist Dan Christensen of the Broward Bulldog to deliver a thorough account of the untold story behind 9/11 and the ongoing Executive Branch coverup of the truth about who the true sponsors of those attacks were.

The Untold Story of 9/11: A Luncheon with Bob Graham

See related:

FBI found ‘many connections’ between Sarasota family and 9/11

9/11 victims’ case against Saudi Arabia restored

SOURCEOriginally published at The Broward Bulldog by Dan Christensen and Anthony Summers on 5/9/14
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Dan Christensen

Dan founded Florida Bulldog in 2009 using the name Broward Bulldog. He is an award-winning former investigative reporter for The Miami Herald and Daily Business Review, and one of South Florida’s most experienced reporters. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science from the University of Miami.

Dan’s stories about Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne’s private business dealings sparked a federal corruption investigation that landed Jenne in prison in 2007. His stories about hidden and falsified court records in Broward, Miami-Dade and elsewhere in Florida for The Miami Herald in 2006 led to a pair of unanimous Florida Supreme Court decisions in 2007 and 2010 outlawing those practices.

Similar stories for the Daily Business Review in 2003-2004 exposed excessive secrecy in the federal courts. The executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press later called Dan “the nation’s leading journalist on an issue of tremendous First Amendment importance: the increasing trend toward secrecy in our nation’s courts.”

In 2000-2001, Dan’s reporting about a deadly gun-planting conspiracy and cover-up by Miami police resulted in the indictment of more than a dozen officers and significant governmental reform, including the establishment of Miami’s long sought civilian review panel.

Dan's reporting and litigation on FBI record requests regarding the Florida - Saudi connections eventually led US District Court Judge William J. Zloch to order the FBI to turn over 80,000+ pages of documents from the Tampa Field Office's "sub-file" on 9/11.

Here are the Bulldog's 9/11 Articles.