by Brian Romanoff
News of the Saudi Crown Prince Sultan passing in the U.S. and his new successor to the post warrant a refresher on the attempts to name them in 9/11 lawsuits years ago.
ONE BIG FAMILY
Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, the Crown Prince to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, died just a weeks ago in a New York hospital due to ill health. The world’s largest oil-exporting nation has quickly found an heir to the Crown Prince, a position directly under the most powerful of the King. The new Crown Prince has been named as Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, brother of the deceased Crown Prince Sultan. Both were half-brothers to the current King of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah, and both are a part of the powerful Sudairi Seven.
Photo, left: The recently deceased Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz
The old Crown Prince Sultan is the father of Prince Bandar. Bandar is known to many in the world as “Bandar Bush” for his extremely close relationship with the Bush family. Bandar served as the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the U.S. from 1983 until 2005. The Royal family’s relationship with the Bush family goes back even further.
Photo, right: “Bandar Bush” and Condoleezza Rice join the Saudi King and Bush at Bush’s Texas property.
Prince Bandar has a history of involvement in scandals, undoubtebly we only know so much. A biography of Prince Bandar was written by William Simpson and praised by many, including Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher. The website for the book contains a brief description of Prince Bandar:
“Prince Bandar worked with CIA Director Bill Casey to fund covert CIA operations with Saudi petrodollars. He played a key role in the Iran-Contra affair…”
Digging into Iran-Contra and Prince Bandar, an article from Surrendering Islam sums it up well:
The CIA’s backing of the Mujahideen war in Afghanistan would become its largest covert operation in history, funded by an intricate series of clandestine and illegal activities, known as the Iran-Contra Affair, which involved the complicity of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Saudi regime…
The Saudis agreed to fund anti-communist guerrillas in Afghanistan, Angola, and elsewhere, who were supported by the Reagan administration, including the Contras of Nicaragua…
The Reagan administration used proceeds from arms sales to Iran to fund the right-wing Contras, in an effort to overturn Nicaragua’s left-wing, but democratically elected, Sandanista government. Both actions were contrary to acts of Congress…
Initially, in order to side-step Congress, the U.S. approached Prince Bandar to solicit Saudi aid in funding the Contras. Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who was the grandson of Ibn Saud, was appointed Saudi ambassador to the U.S. in 1983….
After Hezbollah bombed American facilities in Beirut and kidnapped CIA station chief William Buckley, it was Casey and Bandar who agreed to assassinate Sheikh Fadlallah, the terrorist group’s leader. Control of the operation was handed to the Saudis, who turned to the services of an operative from Britain’s elite special forces. The plan backfired, however, when the car bomb took down an apartment building near Beirut, killing eighty innocent civilians. Fadlallah escaped unharmed. And, to cover their tracks, the Saudis provided Fadlallah with information identifying the operatives they had hired..
Bob Woodward asserted that Cheney and Rumsfeld informed Prince Bandar of the decision to invade Iraq before Defense Sec. Colin Powell. Woodward told CBS 60 Minutes, “Saturday, Jan. 11 , with the president’s permission, Cheney and Rumsfeld call Bandar to Cheney’s West Wing office, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Myers, is there with a top-secret map of the war plan. And it says, ‘Top secret. No foreign.’ No foreign means no foreigners are supposed to see this.” Defense Sec. Colin Powell was informed of the decision on Jan. 13th, 2003.
Photo, left: Defense Sec. Rumsfeld and Prince Bandar Visit the Pentagon in February, 2001
It did not take long for questions to arise regarding his indirect involvment in 9/11.
Prince Bandar’s wife was embroiled in bad press due to her donated money getting extremely close to a couple of the alleged hijackers. A late 2002 article from the Guardian explains:
The possibility of a Saudi intelligence link emerged just hours after widespread reports of bank cheques indirectly linking two of the hijackers to a bank account under the name of a Saudi princess, the wife of the kingdom’s ambassador to Washington.
The Saudi embassy angrily denied the suggestion, calling it “untrue and irresponsible”. A spokesman said there was no evidence that cheques from Princess Haifa bint Faisal’s Washington account went to the hijackers Nawaq al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhar.
A FBI investigation leaked over the weekend traced regular monthly bank-certified cheques worth $3,500 (£2,200) from the princess’s account to a Saudi woman called Majida Dwaikat starting in early 2000, which was when Mrs Dwaikat’s husband, Osama Basnan, befriended al-Hazmi and al-Midhar in San Diego.
Incidentally, those are the two alleged hijackers from 9/11 that former counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke seems to think the CIA was hiding in order to “recruit” them for double agent work. An article from The Daily Beast in August, 2011 provides more details:
….Clarke offers an incendiary theory that, if true, would rewrite the history of the 9/11 attacks, suggesting that the CIA intentionally withheld information from the White House and FBI in 2000 and 2001 that two Saudi-born terrorists were on U.S. soil--terrorists who went on to become suicide hijackers on 9/11.
Clarke speculates--and readily admits he cannot prove--that the CIA withheld the information because the agency had been trying to recruit the terrorists, while they were living in Southern California under their own names, to work as CIA agents inside Al Qaeda. After the recruitment effort went sour, senior CIA officers continued to withhold the information from the White House for fear they would be accused of “malfeasance and misfeasance,” Clarke suggests.
Clarke’s theory addresses a central, enduring mystery about the 9/11 attacks-- why the CIA failed for so long to tell the White House and senior officials at the FBI that the agency was aware that two Al Qaeda terrorists had arrived in the United States in January 2000, just days after attending a terrorist summit meeting in Malaysia that the CIA had secretly monitored.
“To this day, it is inexplicable why, when I had every other detail about everything related to terrorism, that the director didn’t tell me, that the director of the counterterrorism center didn’t tell me,” Clarke said in the interview for the documentary, referring to Tenet and Cofer Black. “They told us everything--except this.”
He said that if he had known anything about Hazmi and Mihdhar even days before 9/11, he would have ordered an immediate manhunt to find them--and that it would have succeeded, possibly disrupting the 9/11 plot.
“We would have conducted a massive sweep,” he said. “We would have conducted it publicly. We would have found those assholes. There’s no doubt in my mind, even with only a week left. They were using credit cards in their own names. They were staying in the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square, for heaven’s sake.” He said that “those guys would have been arrested within 24 hours.
Beyond Prince Bandar, the deceased Prince Sultan had many sons, another of whom was secretly flown out of the U.S. in the days following 9/11. As detailed in a Tampa Bay Tribune article from Oct 5th, 2001:
Grossi said Tampa police intelligence detectives called him about 11 a.m. Sept. 13, needing help with a special situation: They had been watching three young Saudi men — at least one a student at the University of Tampa — at their south Tampa apartment, and the trio was scared and wanted to go home.
Jim Harf, director of [University of Tampa’s] international programs, confirmed one of them is the son of Prince Sultan, the defense minister.
Apparently arriving in the country “weeks before the attacks,” the son and two other Saudis were living an hour away from Sarasota in Tampa Bay, Florida. It is reported that they had come to the U.S. in order to learn English — and wanted to leave after 9/11 because they felt it was unsafe for them to stay. Close to 140 Saudis, a couple of dozen of which were bin Laden relatives, were reported to have been flown out of the country without heavy scrutiny or questioning by the FBI. This was during the unprecedented grounding of all flights nationwide following the attacks.
Regarding the flights Colin Powell stated, “my understanding is that there was no sneaking out of the country; that the flights were well-known, and it was coordinated within the government.” The flights might have been discussed and arranged during the private meeting of Bandar, VP Cheney, Bush and Condoleezza Rice on September 13th. Richard Clarke has admitted to permitting the flights, though states he does not know the level of interrogation the flyers faced.
LAWSUIT SEEKS ANSWERS
The late Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz held the third highest position of Interior Minister to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the 9/11 attacks.
In August of 2002 a $1 trillion lawsuit was filed against Prince Sultan and other Saudi-based organizations and Princes. From a 2002 CNN article (the full CNN article incorrectly states $116 trillion):
Calling themselves Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism, the plaintiffs are suing seven international banks; eight Islamic foundations, charities and their subsidiaries; individual terrorist financiers; the Saudi bin Laden Group; three Saudi princes; and the government of Sudan for allegedly bankrolling the terrorist al Qaeda network, Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.
Among the allegations in the complaint, said attorney Ron Motley, are that certain members of the Saudi royal family have been active supporters of and helped fund al Qaeda and bin Laden.
The attorneys and investigators were able to obtain, through French intelligence, the translation of a secretly recorded meeting between representatives of bin Laden and three Saudi princes in which they sought to pay him hush money to keep him from attacking their enterprises in Saudi Arabia, Motley said.
Should it be any surprise that the law firm that defended Prince Sultan was the American law firm Baker Botts? James Baker, a senior partner at Baker Botts served as Secretary of State for George W. Bush from 1989 to 1992. He was a personal friend to both the Bush family and the Saudi Royals for many decades prior to 2002. The appendix of Craig Unger’s book House of Bush House of Saud points out that:
Baker’s business links to the Saudis date back to 1981, when Khalid bin Mahfouz helped develop a seventy-five-story office building for the Texas Commerce Bank, in which Baker owned more than $7 million in stock.
James Baker is a senior counselor and partner at the Carlyle Group, which had many Saudi investors, including members of the bin Laden family.
The lawsuit had odds stacked against it from the beginning. Pressure from the Saudis to drop the lawsuits came in subversive and overt fashion. News in 2002 large that Saudi investors may “walk” from their U.S. investments if the lawsuits proceeded was mainstream headlines. A Telegraph article from 2002:
Saudi’s richest investors are threatening to pull billions of dollars out of America in anger at suggestions they helped fund Osama bin Laden.
Bishr Bakheet of the Bakheet Financial Consultancy said: “Naming Prince Sultan is the equivalent of saying J Edgar Hoover was a communist spy. Assuming the court proceeds with this lawsuit, the Saudi investment community, already in shock, will start withdrawing their money. People are really going to walk out.”
This threat comes as foreign investment in the US dries up because of business scandals, lower corporate earnings and the collapse of the technology boom. According to government figures, foreigners put $124 billion into the US last year, down from $301 billion in 2000.
Economists say the reluctance of wealthy outsiders to expand their business interests in America is a major threat to the world’s largest economy.
Saudi investors have $750 billion in the US. A mass walkout would seriously impede the US’s attempts to pull away from recession.
During the trial, it was revealed that Prince Sultan had donated over a $2 million dollars to organizations such as WAMY and the IIRO. Both organizations were investigated and suspected of having funded Al Qaeda operations, directly or indirectly.
In a 2002 New York Times article, Crown Prince Sultan (at the time Interior Minister) was described as one who:
…purchases the best weapons money can buy, including U.S. tanks, fighter planes, missiles and Awacs (airborne warning and control systems). Yet, in spite of billions spent, the Saudi military is considered inadequate, and much of the gear reportedly sits abandoned. Sultan, who has been dubbed Mr. 10 Percent, supposedly became extraordinarily wealthy from kickbacks from Western businesses that handled multibillion-dollar defense contracts.
From November 2003 to 2005 the Court dropped the case against a number of defendants, including Prince Sultan. From the Complete 9/11 Timeline:
In a series of rulings, a number of defendants are removed from a 9/11 lawsuit filed in August 2002.
One judge writes in a ruling, “Whatever their actions, they were performed in their official (government) capacities.” According to the court ruling, only the US president, not the courts, has the authority to label a foreign nation as a terrorist supporter. Judges rule that the plaintiffs failed to provide sufficient facts to overcome the kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s immunity.
Saudi defense minister Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, Saudi ambassador to Britain Prince Turki al-Faisal, and Prince Mohammed Al-Faisal Al-Saud, among others, are dismissed from the lawsuit, but the lawsuit is allowed to proceed against many more defendants, including the Saudi Binladin Group, the multibillion dollar bin Laden family company.
Diplomatic Immunity was going to keep the Prince and others from answering too many questions. The executive branch of the US Government could have had a say in moving around the Diplomatic status, and it could have done so in the name of “public interest.” Seeing that the Bush’s good family friends law firm Baker Botts was defending the Prince in Court, it was not likely to happen that Bush would move the Immunity to prosecute the Prince — even if the public was interested.
The court case was eventually dropped in 2005 though the families appealed, and in 2006 an appeals court decided in favor of the lower Court’s decision. In 2008 the case was brought to a Federal Judge who in the end ruled in support of the appeals court.
In 2009 Obama’s Justice Department sided with the lower courts decisions in not following through with a prosecution of the Saudis. A month later, documents were leaked to prosecutors that detailed even more than what had previously been disclosed. An article from the New York Times in 2009 explains:
Documents gathered by lawyers for the families of Sept. 11 victims provide new evidence of extensive financial support for Al Qaeda and other extremist groups by members of the Saudi royal family, but the material may never find its way into court because of legal and diplomatic obstacles.
Adding to the intrigue, classified American intelligence documents related to Saudi finances were leaked anonymously to lawyers for the families. The Justice Department had the lawyers’ copies destroyed and now wants to prevent a judge from even looking at the material.
Allegations of Saudi links to terrorism have been the subject of years of government investigations and furious debate. Critics have said that some members of the Saudi ruling class pay off terrorist groups in part to keep them from being more active in their own country.
But the thousands of pages of previously undisclosed documents compiled by lawyers for the Sept. 11 families and their insurers represented an unusually detailed look at some of the evidence.
Internal Treasury Department documents obtained by the lawyers under the Freedom of Information Act, for instance, said that a prominent Saudi charity, the International Islamic Relief Organization, heavily supported by members of the Saudi royal family, showed “support for terrorist organizations” at least through 2006.
In a 2011 lawsuit by Lloyds, an insurance agency from Europe, money was sought out for damages it had paid out to individual victims of the 9/11 attacks by again suing Saudi based organizations. Within 2 weeks the case was voluntarily dropped.
The new lawsuit by Lloyds and the old one by the 9/11 family members had named Nayef (sometimes spelled Naif) al Abdul Aziz as a defendant.
Nayef had been Director of the Saudi Joint Relief Committee which is alleged to have sent over $70 million to Al Qaeda, directly or indirectly.
From the Independent, detailing the latest (and short-lived) attempt by Lloyds:
Its complaint, which quotes heavily from US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks detailing investigations by the US authorities into al-Qa’ida, attempts to establish funding links between some Saudi charities, and the terror group, and implicate the Saudi government in that funding through its support of the charities.
The case singles out the activities of a charity, the Saudi Joint Relief Committee for Kosovo and Chechnya (SJRC), which was alleged by UN officials to have been used as a cover by several al-Qa’ida operatives, including two men who acted as directors of the charity. It is alleged that at the time the SJRC was under the control of Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, half-brother of King Abdullah and the long-standing Saudi Interior minister. The claim states: “Between 1998 and 2000, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, through the SJRC, diverted more than $74m to al-Qa’ida members and loyalists affiliated with SJRC bureaus. Throughout this time, the Committee was under the supervision and control of Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz.
The details of the case may be uploaded online. Following a comment-thread on an article that investigative journalist Russ baker wrote, Russ mentions he has obtained the court filings of the case and will post them online as possible.
The 9/11 families still seek answers. The Saudi Royals have so far escaped trial despite having so many connections to the alleged hijackers.
SECRETS STILL KEPT
Keep in mind the 28 pages of the joint Congressional report on the attacks of 9/11 blacked out by George W. Bush. Those pages were said to contain information regarding “specific sources of foreign support for some of the September 11 hijackers while they were in the United States.” It is widely assumed that the information that was redacted in those 28 pages concentrated on the Saudis.
Senator and 9/11 Joint Inquiry Co-Chairman Bob Graham has called for a deeper 9/11 investigation based upon the Saudi connections. Bob Graham recently visited MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan to discuss this during the 10th anniversary.
“In the final report of the congressional inquiry, there was a chapter related primarily to the Saudi role in 9/11 that was totally censored, every word of the chapter has been withheld from the public,” Graham says on MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show.
“Some of the other questions we ought to be asking are if we know that the Saudis who lived in San Diego and now apparently in Sarasota received substantial assistance, what about the Saudis who lived in Phoenix, Arizona? Or Arlington, Virginia? … What was happening in those places?”
“I believe these are questions for which there are definitive answers, but the American people and largely their elected representatives have been denied that information.”
Henry Kissinger, who was appointed at first to chair the 9/11 Commission, chose to step down from that position rather than disclose his business relationships to the Saudis. It was reported that a slip in the vetting procedures was to blame:
In a surprising break from usual procedures regarding high-profile presidential appointments, White House lawyers never vetted Kissinger for conflicts of interest. The Washington Post says that after the resignations of Kissinger and Mitchell, the commission “has lost time” and “is in disarray, which is no small trick given that it has yet to meet.”
Kissinger claims he did no current work for any oil companies or Mideast clients, but several corporations with heavy investments in Saudi Arabia, such as ABB Group, a Swiss-Swedish engineering firm, and Boeing Corp., pay him consulting fees of at least $250,000 a year. A Boeing spokesman said its “long-standing” relationship with Kissinger involved advice on deals in East Asia, not Saudi Arabia. Boeing sold $7.2 billion worth of aircraft to Saudi Arabia in 1995.
(The article saying that Prince Sultan “bought the best weapons money can buy..tanks, fighter planes, missiles..” comes to mind.)
Though Kissinger stepped down, Philip Zelikow arose and prevailed in keeping Saud investigations limited to the 9/11 Commission staff. One series of events of many is detailed by The Complete 9/11 Timeline:
Two investigators on the 9/11 Commission, Mike Jacobson and Dana Leseman, compile a list of interviews they want to do to investigate leads indicating that two of the 9/11 hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, were linked to elements of the Saudi government. The list is submitted to Philip Zelikow, the commission’s executive director, for approval. However, a few days later Zelikow replies that the twenty interviews requested is too much, and they can only do half the interviews. Leseman, a former Justice Department lawyer, is unhappy with this, as it is traditional to demand the widest range of documents and interviews early on, so that reductions can be made later in negotiations if need be.
After blocking important interviews, Zelikow blocked important documents:
9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow prevents two investigators, Mike Jacobson and Dana Leseman, from viewing a key document they need for their work. Jacobson and Leseman are working on the ‘Saudi Connection’ section of the commission’s investigation, researching leads that there may have been a link between two of the 9/11 hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, and elements of the government of Saudi Arabia. Zelikow is also involved in another, related dispute with Leseman at this time.
The disagreements between Zelikow and Dana Leseman, a 9/11 Commission investigator, lead to her being fired by Zelikow:
9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow fires one of the commission’s investigators, Dana Leseman, with whom he has had a number of conflicts. Leseman and a colleague were researching a possible link between two of the 9/11 hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, and elements of the government of Saudi Arabia.
Was Zelikow protecting CIA Brass, the Bush family, the Saudis…?
Zelikow and the 9/11 Commission Report failed.
9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey stated, “there are ample reasons to suspect that there may be some alternative to what we outlined in our version….”
Max Cleland, another 9/11 Commission member resigned saying, “I, as a member of the intelligence community, cannot look any American in the eye, especially family members of victims, and say the 9/11 Commission had full access. This investigation is now compromised.”
This article is barely scratching the surface of the 9/11 Saudi connections to 9/11.
For instance: The late Crown Prince Sultan had employed one Omar al-Bayoumi before Omar moved to the U.S. in 1994. Al-Bayoumi was receiving paychecks from a Saudi aviation company with extensive ties to the Suadi Ministry of Defense, while he was living in California. Which two alleged hijackers did al-Bayoumi meet at a restaurant after they flew into the LA airport in January, 2000, from Kuala Lumpur? None other than Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi! Accroding to an FBI document obtained by Intelwire (PDF here), Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi lived with Omar al-Bayoumi for a while as well.
These are same two alleged hijackers that were possibly receiving money from the late Crown Prince’s son Bandar’s wife, the same two that Zelikow seemed to go to lengths to protect, the same two who Richard Clarke alledges CIA brass were hiding from him in order to recruit them for double-agent work, and that’s not all.
Al-Bayoumi was likely a Saudi spy and handler for a few of the alleged 9/11 hijackers, though this could not be proved by the Congressional inquiry or 9/11 Commission Report. Still, Bob Graham and others described al-Bayoumi as, “someone who had been put on the ground in San Diego by his government to keep an eye on the activities of the relatively large Saudi community in Southern California.”
Though the Crown Prince is deceased but his son Bandar and brother Nayef continue to reign. Other brothers and sons also flourish in the Kingdom. The Saudi Arabia web of dealings, especially with the Bush’s, are far from completely known and deserve more attention.
The power-structure remains unchanged today.