A long-classified section of a report on the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was released Friday and includes numerous references to a pair of hijackers who lived in San Diego County for a time, and the assistance they received from people with ties to the government of Saudi Arabia.
The pages that were withheld from the public after a congressional inquiry led some to believe it contained damning information on the involvement of a U.S. ally in the hijackings of four passenger jets — two of which were purposely flown into the World Trade Center in New York and another which crashed into the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C.
The fourth aircraft slammed into a Pennsylvania field during a scuffle between hijackers and passengers.
The report, which includes numerous redactions, focuses in part on hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, who settled in San Diego in February 2000.
According to the report, the pair received “substantial assistance” from Omar al-Bayoumi. Sources within the Muslim community told the FBI that al- Bayoumi might be a Saudi intelligence officer.
The report said that around the time al-Bayoumi met with the two, he also had extensive contact with Saudi government establishments and received financial support from a Saudi company affiliated with that country’s defense ministry, the terrorist organization al Qaida and the mastermind of the 9/11 plot, Osama bin Laden.
Among other things, the report said al-Bayoumi allowed the hijackers to stay with him while they looked for an apartment, co-signed a lease and paid the first month’s rent and security deposit on a new residence and threw them a party to welcome them to San Diego.
Al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi also had interactions with several other men with ties to the Saudi government, according to the report. Their government connections and contacts with the hijackers, whose San Diego connection was well-known after the attacks, may have only been coincidental, according to the report.
The pages that were released today said congressional investigators were also “particularly concerned about the serious nature of allegations contained in a CIA memorandum” discovered in the files of the FBI San Diego field office.
The document, written by an unnamed CIA officer, covered FBI information on financial connections between the hijackers, Saudi government officials and members of the country’s royal family, but was never forwarded to FBI headquarters.
“In their testimony before the joint inquiry, neither the CIA nor the FBI was able to definitively identify for these committees the extent of Saudi support for terrorist activity globally or within the United States and the extent to which support, if it exists, is intentional or innocent in nature,” the report said.
Both the administration of President Barack Obama and the Saudi government said the pages contain no evidence that the Saudi government or top leaders funded al Qaida, according to news reports.
–City News Service