The George W. Bush administration classified thousands of documents after the terrorist hijackings of three commercial airlines brought down the World Trade Center and crashed into the Pentagon. A fourth airplane was heroically crashed by passengers who stopped the terrorists from crashing it into the White House.
For the last thirteen years, former Senator Bob Graham has fought for the declassification of several dozen pages of the 9/11 Report, the formal investigation into the terrorist attacks. Now 28 pages that were completely classified have been publicly released, albeit in a heavily redacted form. Although much information is still obscured behind the redactions, the pages contained several shocking revelations about the Saudi Arabian Royal Family.
Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a member of the royal family with close ties to the Bush family and other notable politicians, played a role in funding the hijackers. Prince Bandar’s wife sent at least two known cashier’s checks to Omar al-Bayoumi, a Saudi intelligence agent who provided logistical support to two of the 9/11 hijackers.
Prince Bandar and his wife also financially supported Osama Bassnan, another likely Saudi agent who lived across the street from the hijackers in San Diego. Bandar’s wife sent more than $74,000 to Bassnan, who later bragged that he did more for the hijackers than al-Bayoumi. The report says
“On at least one occasion, Bassnan received a check directly from Prince Bandar’s account. Accordion to the FBI, on May 14, 1998, Bassnan cashed a check from Bandar in the amount of $15,000. Bassnan’s wife also received at least one check directly from Bandar She also received one additional check froth Bandar’s wife, which she cashed on January 8, 1998 for 10,000.”
The report goes on to say the FBI considered Bassnan “an extremist and supporter of Usama Bin Ladin, and has been connected to the Eritrean Islamic Jihad and the Blind Shaykh [sic].” A memo from the CIA described Basssnan as possibly having a fake passport from the Saudi Government.
Other people who are associated with terrorist activity used their Saudi Royal connections to enter the United States. The report says one such person, whose name is redacted, sneaked into the United States by traveling with the Saudi Royal Family. The person was closely affiliated with al-Qaeda and the hijackers. A second unnamed Saudi citizen who has ties to the Saudi Royal Family has been investigated by the FBI’s counterterrorism unit. This person was seen traveling the American border in the Southwest, reportedly checking on security in order to bring other people into the U.S.
Prince Bandar was the Ambassador to the United States until 2004. He went on to become the head of the powerful Saudi Arabian intelligence agency. The Bush family has long had ties to the Saudi Royal Family. They are so close to Prince Bandar, that they refer to him by the nickname, “Bandar Bush.” The New York Times has written about the close relationship, pointing out in 2007 that “No foreign diplomat has been closer or had more access to President Bush, his family and his administration than the magnetic and fabulously wealthy Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia.”
Some observers believe the 28 pages were heavily classified by the Bush Administration in order to protect Prince Bandar, and consequently the entire Saudi Royal Family, from scrutiny and criticism. Advocates continue to argue that additional documents and passages relied upon by the 9/11 Report be declassified.