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Thread: Link To 9/11 Hijackers Found In Sarasota

  1. #11
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    Jan 2005
    FBI: No link between Sarasota family and 9/11 plot
    Tampa’s FBI office said the agency investigated the disappearance of a Saudi family from their Sarasota home days before the 9/11 terrorist attacks and found no links to the terrorist plot.

    By Dan Christensen
    Special to The Miami Herald

    A top Florida FBI agent said Thursday that members of a Saudi family living quietly near Sarasota were questioned after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but no evidence was found that linked them to the hijackers who slammed jetliners into New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

    A week after The Miami Herald published a story showing ties between the family and some of the terrorists, Tampa’s head FBI agent, Steven Ibison, released a statement Thursday saying the FBI investigated “suspicions surrounding” the Sarasota home, but never found evidence tying the family members to the hijackers.

    “There was no connection found to the 9/11 plot,” said the statement, released to the St. Petersburg Times.

    The agency’s statement came just days after U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., asked for a House investigation into the events surrounding the Sarasota family, which abruptly left the home several days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, leaving behind three vehicles, food in the refrigerator and toys in the swimming pool.

    The FBI’s official version, the second in a week, conflicts sharply with reports from people who worked at the homeowners’ association and a counterterrorism officer who joined the investigation.

    A senior administrator at the luxury community told The Herald that cars used by the 9/11 hijackers — the tag numbers noted by security guards at the gate — drove to the entrance asking to visit the family at various times before the attacks. One of the cars was linked to terrorist leader Mohamed Atta, said administrator Larry Berberich.

    In addition, a counterterrorism officer who requested anonymity said agents also linked telephone calls between the home and known hijacking suspects in the year before the attacks.

    So far, the FBI’s response to the discovery has drawn criticism from former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., who said he was never told of the Sarasota investigation when he was co-chair of the congressional inquiry into the 9/11 attacks. Thursday’s FBI statement said the agency provided all the information to the congressional inquiry.

    Graham, who appeared on national television this week, said the FBI failed to provide information in the years after 9/11 linking members of the terrorist team to other Saudis in California until congressional investigators discovered it themselves.

    “It was not because the FBI gave us the information. We had a very curious and effective investigator who found out,” Graham told the MSNBC cable television network.

    In an appearance Monday on MSNBC, Graham said he spoke with President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism advisor. He said he has gone to the White House’s chief of counterterrorism to ask that the administration look into the Sarasota case.

    The FBI, which has not released any results of its investigation, said family members who lived in the home owned by Saudi financier Esam Ghazzawi were tracked down and interviewed about the case after the attacks.

    It was not clear from Thursday’s statement whether the FBI or Saudi intelligence conducted the interrogations. The family was believed to have flown to Saudi Arabia after briefly stopping in Virginia several days before Sept. 11.

    Scott McKay, a Sarasota lawyer for the Prestancia Homeowners’ Association in its claim for unpaid dues, told The Herald that the FBI tried to get him to bring back the Saudis to Florida for the sale of the home.

    McKay said he tried on behalf of the agency, but Ghazzawi was able to sign his name before a notary at the U.S. embassy in Lebanon in September 2003.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #12
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    Jan 2005
    FBI Says Saudi Family in Sarasota Not Connected to 9/11
    Law enforcement agency found no evidence from published reports that al-Hijjis had ties to the hijackers.

    Published: Friday, September 16, 2011 at 11:53 p.m.
    Last Modified: Friday, September 16, 2011 at 11:53 p.m.

    The FBI said that it had interviewed members of a Saudi Arabian family that left Sarasota shortly before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and found no evidence they were connected to the hijackers or the terror plot.

    In what he called a statement "to correct the public record," Steven Ibison, special agent in charge of the Tampa office, took issue with a recent story that claimed the FBI found "troubling ties" between the hijackers and the al-Hijji family, the residents of a home in a gated Sarasota community.

    As the FBI investigated leads after Sept. 11, "family members were located and interviewed," the statement said.

    "At no time did the FBI develop evidence that connected the family members to any of the 9/11 hijackers, as suggested in the article, and there was no connection to the 9/11 plot."

    The FBI's statement did not say where or when it interviewed the family members.

    The statement, elaborating on one released Monday by the FBI, further called into question the accuracy of the story by Irish author Anthony Summers and Florida journalist Dan Christensen.

    First appearing on the website, the story was reprinted by the Miami Herald and followed by other media, including the St. Petersburg Times.

    The Saudi couple drew suspicion from neighbors after the terrorist attacks because they appeared to have abandoned the home and some vehicles.

    But the Times later found plausible reasons for their departure. Abdulaziz al-Hijji had just graduated from the University of South Florida and was soon to take a job with a Saudi oil company. When they were unable to rent out the home furnished, Anoud al-Hijji returned two years later to arrange a sale.

    In its original story, said that a "link analysis" of incoming and outgoing phone calls "lined up with the known suspects." Link analysis is an investigative technique that does not rely on direct contact between parties.

    Despite a request from the Times, the FBI did not specifically deny the most serious allegation in the story — that name and vehicle information for hijackers Mohamed Atta and Ziad Jarrah "fit that of drivers entering Prestancia on their way to visit" the Saudis' home.

    The FBI would not comment on whether it reviewed the Prestancia community's gate records because " it's not our policy to discuss any investigative techniques," said David Couvertier, an FBI spokesman in Tampa.

    The story's sources for that allegation were an anonymous "counterterrorism agent" and former Prestancia resident Larry Berberich, who represented the homeowners association on security issues.

    Ibison's statement said the unidentified source for the story apparently was not an FBI agent and "had no access to the facts and circumstances pertaining to the resolution of this lead — otherwise this person would know this matter was resolved without any nexus to the 9/11 plot."

    However, Summers told the Times on Wednesday that the " counterterrorism agent " had seen FBI reports. Berberich has not responded to several calls from the Times.

    Summers met with the "agent" and Berberich recently while in the United States to promote his book, The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of Osama bin Laden and 9/11, due out next month.

    Former Sen. Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who co-chaired the congressional committee that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks, said Thursday that he wants to see the documents on which the FBI based its conclusion that the al-Hijjis had no ties to the hijackers or the plot.

    "This is exactly what happened in San Diego when we were told by the FBI that there was no information that would have linked any activities in San Diego to terrorists," Graham said. But when investigators got there, Graham said, "they found these very extensive relations between two of the hijackers and Saudi entities in San Diego."

    The FBI has said it turned over all information it collected on the attacks to Graham's committee and the 9/11 Commission.

    U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat, said she "appreciated" the FBI's statements this week. However, she repeated her call for the House and Senate intelligence committees to verify what information the agency had given Congress and the 9/11 panel.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  3. #13
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    Jan 2005
    Who Funded 9/11 Attacks? Insurers, 9/11 Families Still Want Answers

    Sept. 15, 2011

    After the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11 and six months after the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, questions still remain regarding who funded the attacks that led to thousands of deaths and billions of dollars in damages.

    The latest legal pursuit is that of an insurance syndicate of British insurer Lloyd's, which says the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its banks and various charities should be financially responsible for the $215 million it paid in insurance settlements to 9/11 victims' families.

    William Doyle's family is one of the families determined to find those who funded the attacks on 9/11. Doyle's son, Joseph, was killed in the north tower of the World Trade Center.

    William Doyle told ABC News there are "concrete facts" showing the majority of the hijackers' funding originated from Saudi Arabia. He said the government helped "shield" some of that evidence when the joint congressional committee investigating the attacks published a report in December 2002 and redacted about 28 pages.

    Doyle and others believe names of Saudi financiers and companies have been removed.

    "How could they hide under diplomatic immunity?" Doyle said of those he believes have been protected. "People don't get missiles to strike down helicopters by themselves. Someone is funding them. If someone is funding them, let it be known and cut out their funding."

    Former Florida Democratic Sen. Bob Graham, former co-chair of the congressional committee, has called on the government to reopen its 9/11 investigation.

    Thousands of individuals and companies are still pursuing a multi-district litigation suit in New York called "Re: Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001," which has dismissed about 127 defendants, according to the law firm Motley Rice, which represents 6,700 individuals for that case, including Doyle. There are about 24 remaining active defendants, says Motley Rice.

    Craig Unger, journalist and author of "House of Bush, House of Saud," said there is widespread reason to believe prominent Saudis were funding terrorists through Islamic charities. But the United States-Saudi relationship is "duplicitous from both sides of the fence," in part because Saudi Arabia is the world's largest oil producer and exporter.

    "The relationship has soiled contradictions and we turn a blind eye to various aspects," he said. "The U.S. is so dependent on oil, you don't want to rock the boat."

    Despite unanimous dismissals of Lloyd's nine defendants in cases in New York, the insurer's suit, filed in a federal court in Pennsylvania on Sept. 8, claims "al Qaeda would not have possessed the capacity to conceive, plan and execute the September 11th attacks" without the funding.

    Sean Carter, an attorney with law firm Cozen O'Connor, whose client is the Lloyd's syndicate, said the lawsuit seeks recovery for amounts that were paid to settle claims brought against airlines and security companies related to Sept. 11.

    "The theme of the lawsuit is that the ultimate responsibility for a terrorist attack of this nature should rest with parties that were intentional actors rather than parties alleged to have been merely negligent," Carter said.

    The Pennsylvania lawsuit lists nine defendants, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Red Crescent Society, which is associated with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

    "Though this case has a different plaintiff, the suit is essentially based on the same claims around the tragic events of 9/11. However the court has dismissed most of the defendants," Lynne Bernabei of the law firm Bernabei & Wachtel, representing the Saudi Red Crescent Society, told ABC News.

    Bernabei said the lawsuit is another attempt to get around the rulings which have been mostly adverse to the plaintiffs. Her client was in part dismissed because it was not shown to have any involvement and because it is a sovereign defendant, or state entity, for which the requirements to sue were not met.

    Mark Hansen, whose law firm, Kelloff, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, represented the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the previous 9/11 suits, said the firm does not comment on pending litigation.

    While 2,983 families of 9/11 victims and 2,300 physically injured have received over $7 billion from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001, 94 families decided not to participate in the fund. Those families received on average an estimated $5 million each, using figures from the report of Sheila Birnbaum, the 9/11 mediator. However, that information is confidential.

    Only one victim's family is still pursuing litigation against United Airlines and security company Huntleigh under the plaintiff's arguments they were negligent in failing to prevent the attacks. A hearing will take place Monday in New York with a trial date scheduled for November.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  4. #14
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    Jan 2005
    Saudi/Florida link to 9/11

    Published: Wed, September 21, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

    The Miami Herald: Reports of a previously unknown Saudi connection to the events of 9/11 in Florida cry out for a full airing. There are simply too many troubling questions surrounding the mystery of a hastily-abandoned house in Sarasota days before the attacks to sweep this matter under the rug.

    The three-bedroom home in an upscale, gated residential compound was owned by a Saudi financier whose daughter, son-in-law and two young children lived there. They left a few days before 19 terrorists — 15 of whom were Saudis — carried out the plot to attack targets in this country. They left behind three cars, rooms of expensive furniture, food supplies, and other evidence of an abrupt exit, including clothes hanging in the closets, dirty diapers, mail left on the table and so forth.

    More worrisome, they also had ties to the al Qaida terrorists. FBI agents, acting on a tip from a neighbor weeks later, found gate logs of vehicle tags showing that a car owned by hijacker Mohamed Atta had visited the compound. More information indicated that he and Ziad Jarrah, another hijacker, were in the car. Agents reportedly linked phone calls from the house to the Saudi attackers.

    The FBI issued a statement saying it had followed up the information on the Sarasota house and “there was no connection found to the 9/11 plot.” The bureau said it had informed Congress and the 9/11 Commission about its investigation.

    Seeking answers
    That should not be the end of it, however. If there was an investigation, when did it end and what did they find? Who did they tell? What about the visits and phone calls? What was the nature of the connection between the hijackers and those who owned the house and lived there? There may be an explanation without connection to al Qaida, but after 10 years the public deserves answers.

    Former Florida Sen. Bob Graham, who chaired the congressional investigation into the hijackings, emphatically disputes the assertion that the FBI informed Congress. That, too, should be cleared up.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  5. #15
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    Jan 2005
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  6. #16
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    Jan 2005
    Questions over Saudis' abrupt exit from Sarasota still lingering

    By Susan Taylor Martin and Stephen Nohlgren, Times Staff Writers
    In Print: Sunday, September 25, 2011

    It began with an Irish journalist and a four-year-old tip. Then a meeting in a Florida motel room, an anonymous source and finally, a blockbuster story published just days before the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

    The website said the FBI had found "troubling ties'' between the hijackers and members of a Saudi family who "abandoned'' their Sarasota home and cars shortly before 9/11. But, the story said, the FBI had never turned over the information to Congress or the 9/11 Commission.

    So meticulously planned were the attacks that it still strains the imagination to think that 19 foreigners could have pulled them off without ample help from confederates in the United States. So the Bulldog story was read by many, including an influential former U.S. senator, as evidence that the government mishandled, even withheld, key information from Congress and the 9/11 Commission.

    But the FBI insisted "there was no connection found" between the Saudi family and the 9/11 plot. And other evidence suggests the family's departure might not have been all that surprising.

    Was it a case of different people seeing very different things, viewed through the kaleidoscope of fact and rumor still swirling around one of the most wrenching events in American history?

    Rich and good-looking
    Here are some facts about the young couple in the house at 4224 Escondito Circle:

    Anoud and Abdulaziz al-Hijji were born in Saudi Arabia. It is not clear how they landed 7,000 miles away in Sarasota, though Anoud had ties to the United States long before 9/11.

    Her mother, Deborah, is an American citizen from California. Her older brother, international businessman Abed Ghazzawi, was born in the United States, graduated from American University in Washington, D.C., and is a director of the EastWest Institute, a New York-based think tank.

    (Another director is Michael Chertoff, former head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the agency created after 9/11 to protect Americans from terrorists.)

    Anoud's father, Esam Abbas Ghazzawi, is a Saudi interior designer with an international clientele. In 1995 he and his wife were staying in a waterfront mansion on Sarasota County's exclusive Longboat Key.

    Jone Weist, a Sarasota property manager, recalls reading an article about Ghazzawi.

    "The thrust was that he owned this interior design company that specializes in houses of 25,000 square feet or more,'' Weist said. "It said that in order to accommodate all the beautiful furnishings and antiques that he used in his business, he had warehouses all over the world.''

    Accompanying the story were photographs of opulent homes Ghazzawi had designed, along with a photo of the man himself — "to die-for good looking, around 60, he had what appeared to be a white cashmere suit,'' Weist said.

    In 1995, the Ghazzawis bought a 3,300-square-foot house in Prestancia, a gated community where basketball star Michael Jordan briefly lived. Soon afterward, their daughter Anoud moved in with her new husband.

    Court records show the couple, he 22 and she 17, were married May 12, 1995 in Sarasota. Performing the ceremony was notary public Malik Sardar Khan, a Miami real estate agent and one of the top officials of the World Muslim Congress.

    As the al-Hijjis settled into married life, soon to be joined by twins and later another baby, they ran afoul of the Prestancia homeowners association for letting their yard go to weed.

    "The HOA had great difficulties with them, nothing criminal but not a neighborhood where you let the grass grow for a month,'' said Weist, then Prestancia's property manger.

    One neighbor helped Abdulaziz fix his sprinkler system so he could get his lawn back in shape. Other neighbors sometimes babysat for the kids. A nanny joined the family, enabling Anoud as well as her husband to attend the University of South Florida in Tampa.

    In August 2001, Abdulaziz graduated with a degree in management information and had a job waiting at Saudi Arabia's huge oil company, Saudi Aramco. The family left around the end of the month. There was one sign they might have intended to return at some point: They talked to real estate agents about renting out the house with its expensive furnishings.

    Then came Sept. 11 and news that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, including some who had attended flight schools not far from where the al-Hijjis lived.

    To neighbors, what appeared unremarkable before 9/11 was suddenly suspicious. Why had a Saudi family moved out just two weeks before the attacks? Why had they left vehicles, food and furniture, as if beating a hasty retreat?

    "I went on the FBI website and said, 'I don't want to waste your time on false leads, but here's something you might want to look into,' " recalled neighbor Patrick Gallagher, one of several people who contacted the agency.

    But none of this would be known to the wider world until almost a decade later.

    A nagging question
    Irish author Anthony Summers, 69, has written several books about famous people and events, including Richard Nixon, J. Edgar Hoover and the JFK assassination.

    About five years ago, he began researching The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden, which came out this summer.

    It's well documented, with 118 pages of footnotes, and asserts a sharp point of view: That U.S. officials bungled signs of an imminent attack and that the Bush administration suppressed evidence of a strong Saudi influence.

    Early in his research, Summers told the Times, he encountered a law enforcement official who mentioned that some hijackers had ties to a Saudi couple in Sarasota.

    At the time, Summers was focused on the hijackers' pilot training and not so much on the Saudi angle.

    "But it gnawed at me,'' he said. "Later, this was a thing I knew I should have gone further on.''

    When he recently returned to the United States to promote his book, he said, he paid his way to Sarasota to question his source more closely. Summers won't identify the man, but called him a "counter-terrorism agent'' who was in Sarasota on 9/11 when President Bush was reading to schoolchildren. During the investigation that followed, Summers said, the source had access to FBI reports.

    The source related how the al-Hijjis left Sarasota just before the attacks. He said telephone "link analysis'' had seemingly tied the couple to terrorists, including Mohamed Atta, pilot of the first plane to hit the World Trade Center.

    Phone link analysis is an investigative technique that doesn't necessarily show direct contact, but looks at whom a target subject communicates with and with whom those people, in turn, communicate.

    Since that analysis is subjective, Summers said, he was more intrigued when the "counter-terrorism agent'' said the Prestancia guard gate had recorded car and driver license information that linked Atta and other hijackers to the al-Hijjis.

    The agent suggested that Summers also talk to Larry Berberich, a former homeowners association president who had overseen security at Prestancia and was present when the guard gate records were pulled.

    Summers interviewed the two men in his motel room. He said they did not seem to be altering their stories to make them fit neatly together, but occasionally jogged each other's memories "in a way that added to credibility,'' he said. "One would say, 'Wasn't that in January?', and the other would say, 'No, I remember, because it was right after my daughter's birthday.' ''

    Only the agent knew about the phone link analysis, but both men seemed to know what had transpired at the guard gate, Summers said.

    Summers took his scoop to Dan Christensen, a friend and veteran South Florida investigative reporter who founded ("News you can sink your teeth into"), a nonprofit website distributed through Reuters. Together, they met with former Sen. Bob Graham, a Florida Democrat.

    Graham had co-chaired the joint congressional committee that investigated the 9/11 attacks. The FBI was supposed to forward all pertinent information, but Graham said he remembered nothing of the Sarasota couple. Nor did anything appear in the 9/11 commission report.

    That didn't surprise him, Graham said later. He had long felt that the Republican Bush administration had played down, if not suppressed, signs that support networks for the hijackers reached into high levels of the Saudi government. Graham had recently written a novel based on that premise.

    A shadow network?
    Christensen and Summers sold the BrowardBulldog story to the Miami Herald, which published it on Sept. 7. It appeared on the Bulldog's website the next day.

    Here's how the story began:

    Just two weeks before 9/11 hijackers slammed into the Pentagon and World Trade Center, members of a Saudi family abruptly left their Sarasota home, leaving a brand new car in the driveway, a refrigerator full of food, fruit on the counter — and an open safe in the master bedroom. In the weeks to follow, law enforcement agents not only discovered the home was visited by vehicles used by the hijackers, but phone calls were linked between the home and those who carried out the death flights — including leader Mohamed Atta — in discoveries never before revealed to the public.

    Graham reacted sharply. He called it "the most important thing about 9/11 to surface in the last seven or eight years.'' He urged President Barack Obama to reopen the investigation to determine "the full extent of Saudi involvement prior to 9/11.''

    Graham said the al-Hijjis and Anoud's wealthy father could have helped form a shadow support system for the hijackers. He cited the example of a Saudi man in San Diego who rented an apartment for two of the hijackers and left the United States two months before 9/11.

    But as the St. Petersburg Times and other media followed the story about the Sarasota family, new information shed contrasting light on the nature of their departure.

    Michael Otis, a former Sarasota sheriff's detective who helped the FBI check leads, said he saw the inside of the house some days after the hijackings. Did it look like it had been abandoned in a state of disarray?

    "Maybe not really,'' he said.

    Otis said the sheriff's office investigated to make certain there hadn't been any foul play. "But as far as gate records and things that appeared in that article, I never heard of any of that,'' he said.

    Berberich, of the homeowners association, did not respond to calls from the Times. Nor did former Sarasota Sheriff Bill Balkwill, who set up a counterterrorism unit and had access to at least some confidential FBI terrorism information. (He and Berberich, a wealthy political supporter and adviser, were so close that Berberich once had an office in the sheriff's department.)

    In 2003, Anoud al-Hijji and her mother returned to deal with the house, which sold in September of that year. The family could not be reached for comment so the following questions remain unanswered:

    Did the al-Hijjis have to depart so abruptly in 2001 that they didn't have time to clean out the refrigerator? Or did a harried mother with three young kids leave the chore for someone else, perhaps a rental agent or property manager?

    Was the empty safe a sign of something nefarious? Or the logical result of removing cash and valuables before going away?

    Did the al-Hijjis "abandon'' vehicles and furniture? Or would shipping them to Saudi Arabia have been so costly and cumbersome that they were left for the couple's representatives to handle? And why didn't Anoud return for two years? One possible answer: After 9/11, it became far harder for people from Muslim countries to get visas to go to the United States. A year before the attacks, there were 60,508 non-immigrant visas issued to Saudis. The year after, the number plunged to 14,126.

    Still not convinced
    Of all the allegations, the most serious involves the guard gate records. The Broward Bulldog's initial story said the home was visited by vehicles used by the hijackers. A later story, quoting a "senior administrator'' at Prestancia, said that "cars used by the 9/11 hijackers drove to the entrance asking to visit the family at various times before the attacks.''

    It is not clear from the Bulldog stories that any of the hijackers themselves visited or even tried to visit the al-Hijji family.

    Despite a request from the Times to confirm or deny it, the FBI has not addressed the question of whether gate records showed any visits or attempted visits by terrorists to the al-Hijjis' home.

    But in a statement, Steven Ibison, special agent in charge of the Tampa office, said that "family members were located and interviewed'' during the agency's investigation into the Sept. 11 attacks. "At no time did the FBI develop evidence that connected the family members to any of the 9/11 hijackers, as suggested in the (Bulldog) article, and there was no connection to the 9/11 plot,'' Ibison said. The statement did not say where or when the family members were interviewed. Or by whom.

    Graham wants more details.

    More than a week ago, he asked the FBI to provide the number of its file on the al-Hijji family and the date the file was transmitted to the congressional committee that investigated the 9/11 attacks. That way he could have the committee's archives searched to see exactly what information the FBI had sent.

    As of Friday, Graham was still waiting.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  7. #17
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    Jan 2005
    Former Senator reveals secrets about 9/11, Saudis

    By John Bachman

    ATLANTA — It's one of the largest sales of U.S. weapons ever. The government has approved sending billions of dollars worth of equipment to Saudi Arabia. But there are more concerns the sales shouldn't go through, because of new suspicions about the Saudis' role in the Sept. 11 attacks.

    The terrorist attacks of 9-11 were the deadliest on U.S. soil. Nineteen hijackers carried out the plot. Fifteen of them were from Saudi Arabia. There's at least one person who believes that's more than a coincidence.

    Former Senator Bob Graham was born in Georgia, but represented Florida in Congress. He co-chaired the Joint Congressional Committee that investigated the attacks.

    Graham wrote a book based on the committee's 800-page report, but government security officials stepped in.

    "In that report there was one chapter that primarily dealt with the role of the Saudis in 9-11," Graham said. "That was the only chapter in the book that was totally censored."

    So Graham wrote a second book, this one fiction. He called "Keys to the Kingdom" informed fiction, and said it's filled with a lot of events that really happened.

    One example is a Saudi agent Omar al-Bayoumi who lived in San Diego in 2001. Graham said the agent was paid for a job he never did, and was given a huge raise the same month two of the hijackers showed up in San Diego.

    Channel 2's John Bachman asked Graham what that reveals.

    "It tells us that Saudi Arabia is not the ally we think it is," Graham said.

    Still, the United States is selling Saudi Arabia $60 billion in weapons. It is one of the largest sales of arms ever, and includes F-15 fighter jets, helicopters and missiles.

    Retired Georgia National Guard Lt. Gen. David Poythress said keeping a close relationship with Saudi Arabia makes sense, not just because of oil, but because the Saudis help protect the U.S. fleet in the Persian Gulf.

    "At the same time, they need domestic and regional military security. We can provide that," Poythress said.

    Bachman asked him about the allegations of the Saudis connection to September 11.

    "Who will ever know. Clearly, there's this kind of incestuous relationship between the royal family and the most radical elements of Islam in the Arabia Peninsula," Poythress said. "The royal family has no doubt turned a blind eye to a great deal of the fundamental Islamic radicalism."

    Ten years after the attacks, even more evidence is surfacing. Just weeks ago, the Miami Herald reported a connection between September 11 ringleader Mohammad Atta and a Saudi family who lived in Sarasota, Florida.

    "At least in 5 instances, Atta visited in his home," Graham said. "Extensive telephone conversations. We also know that on August 30th, 12 days before 9-11, that fairly quickly in a very rushed situation, (the family) left Sarasota and returned to Saudi Arabia."

    The FBI said it interviewed and cleared the family of any involvement in 9-11.

    Graham said he's skeptical. He said thousands of Americans already have paid the ultimate price for America's close relationship with Saudi Arabia.

    Graham believes more Americans still are paying the price. "Because we're still treating the Saudis as if it were a loyal ally."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  8. #18
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    Jan 2005
    Graham: Still no FBI records on Sarasota 9/11 probe
    The agency has not been able to show that it disclosed any information about the investigation to a congressional committee that looked into the terrorist attacks. The FBI investigated possible links between a Saudi family in Sarasota and some of the 9/11

    By Dan Christensen

    In September, news about a previously unknown FBI investigation into possible ties between 9/11 hijackers and a Saudi family living near Sarasota led the agency to deny there was any connection and assert that it made all of its files available to congressional investigators a decade ago.

    But two months later, the FBI has been unable or unwilling to substantiate that it disclosed any information regarding its Sarasota investigation to Congress, says former Florida U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, who co-chaired Congress’s bipartisan joint inquiry into the terrorist attacks.

    “My suspicion is that either, one, the documents don’t exist; two, that if they do exist they can’t find them; or three, they did find them and they did not substantiate the statements that they’ve made and that they are withholding them,” said Graham. He has long contended the FBI stonewalled Congress about what it knows about possible Saudi support for the 9/11 hijackers.

    The FBI investigation began shortly after 9/11 when residents of the gated community of Prestancia, south of Sarasota, called to report the abrupt departure from their luxury home of a Saudi family about two weeks before four passenger jets originating in Boston, Newark and Washington were hijacked. The family left for Saudi Arabia, leaving behind cars, clothes in the closet and a refrigerator full of food.

    Neighbors said agents searched the house and hauled away bags of belongings. But the most important information came when the FBI examined gatehouse security logs and photographs of license plates, according to then-homeowner’s association administrator Larry Berberich and a counterterrorism agent involved in the investigation.

    They said the security records revealed that the home was visited by vehicles used by 9/11 terrorist leader Mohamed Atta and fellow hijacker-pilot Ziad Jarrah. Atta piloted the first plane to strike the World Trade Center. Jarrah was at the controls when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pa.

    The counterterrorism agent, who asked that his name not be disclosed, said an analysis of phone records found additional links between the residence and other hijackers and terrorist suspects, including Adnan Shukrijumah, a former Miramar resident who is on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

    FBI agents in Tampa and Miami issued separate statements denying that any connection existed between the family and the terrorists.

    Graham, a Democrat, has said that he and other members and staff of the joint inquiry were not made aware of the Sarasota investigation by the FBI.

    Graham asked the FBI in September to provide him with file numbers about the Sarasota inquiry and the dates those records were provided to congressional investigators, so the records could be located. At one point, Graham said, FBI agents produced 10 file numbers. But intelligence committee personnel deter mined “there was no information in any of the 10 files that was relevant” to the Sarasota investigation, he said.

    After failing to meet several subsequent self-imposed deadlines, Graham said, “The FBI asked [that] instead of finding the documents could they brief us instead. I said, ‘No, that would not be acceptable.’”

    The FBI has turned down a recent Freedom of Information request The Herald and Broward Bulldog that sought agency records about agents’ findings in Sarasota, saying release of the records would be an invasion of the family’s privacy.

    The Saudis who lived in the Prestancia home at 4224 Escondito Circle were Abdulaziz A. Al-Hijji, his wife, Anoud, and their small children. The home was owned by Anoud’s parents, Esam and Deborah Ghazzawi.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Former Sen. Graham talks about novel

    By Kim Hackett
    Published: Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 7:20 p.m.
    Last Modified: Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 7:20 p.m.

    Retired Senator and two-term Florida Governor Bob Graham speaks in Venice on Tuesday about his recently published novel, "Keys to the Kingdom." The book is a thriller about hijackers and an international conspiracy linking the Saudi Kingdom to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. The Herald Tribune's Kim Hackett talked to him about his novel.

    Q: As a member of the 9-11 committee, were you aware of the Sarasota family, Abdulazzi and Anoud al-Hiijjii, and the relationship they had with Sept. 11 mastermind Mohammed Atta and Ziad Jarrah?

    A: The answer is no. The FBI had said in their press statement that they had provided documentation to the 9-11 Commission and the joint Congressional Inquiry. It just so happened that three key people on the committees were from Florida. What is unbelievable to me if there had been something that had came to our attention about Sarasota, light bulbs would have gone off. None of us have any recollection of being told about this.

    Q: Have you been able to learn about any more support networks in the U.S.?

    A: The FBI had the responsibility to do the investigation and they were extremely tight with any information they found. The press release they issued for Sarasota was about word-for-word the same in San Diego.

    Q: You said the chapter in the 9-11 report detailing the Saudi connection was removed. Why do you think the Saudi connection remains such a mystery?

    A: It's been suggested the close relationship the Bush family had with the house of Saud going back three generations; the oil — the Saudis have been a reliable source of oil. There's a curious lack of curiosity about the Saudi ties.

    Q: You say about 40 percent of the book is fact. How did you come up with 40 percent?

    A: I counted the pages and about forty percent were factual.

    Q: What was the vetting process like with intelligence agencies?

    A: Every draft of the novel was submitted and actually there were very few changes.

    Q: Your character Billington has the same biography as you. What was it like killing yourself off?

    A: I didn't have qualms. We needed to clear the stage so that Tony could be the center of attention. In a movie version, I see Robert Redford playing Billington (laughs); he had to go quickly or we couldn't afford Redford.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Graham shares novel in Lee County
    Former senator says book is 40 percent fact, 40 percent speculation and 20 percent fiction.|head


    Florida’s former governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham left elected office 11 years ago, but standing in front of a Lee County crowd Tuesday, his talk was all politics — only now focused on terrorism and the threat of nuclear war, themes of his new novel, “Keys to the Kingdom.”

    Graham has written nonfiction books, but said he had a message, instigated largely by his work as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee before and after 9/11, that he believed might be easier delivered in a fictionalized version, his first novel.

    The book is about 40 percent fact, 40 percent “informed speculation,” and 20 percent fiction, said Graham, who relied on knowledge gathered through his work in intelligence matters to strengthen his story.

    But much of what a national investigation discovered about Saudi Arabia’s role in the 9/11 attacks was “censored” from official reports issued by his committee, Graham said in his talk before about 40 people at the Lakes Regional Library. “The novel is meant to tell that story,” he said, bringing to light what Graham believes is the Saudis’ role that’s otherwise been underplayed.

    The report “was not censored for reasons of national security, but because it was politically inconvenient to disclose the role of the Saudis” in 9/11, Graham said. He also speculated the relationship between the Saudis and the Bush family, along with the U.S. dependence on Saudi oil, may be reasons “why we’ve been so gentle with the Saudis and unwilling to disclose their involvement.”

    Frustrated by the secrecy, he said, “I thought I could tell the story of the Saudis’ involvement through a novel,” which underwent review by security officials before publication.

    The novel’s hero is a Cuban-American intelligence officer charged with finding nuclear material that’s fallen into the hands of terrorists, and foiling their planned attacks on America. There’s also a U.S. senator — bearing many similarities with Graham —with suspicions about the Saudis’ involvement, and who’s killed under suspicious circumstances.

    Graham joked it wasn’t difficult to kill off his character. “I wanted him out of the way early, and his murder was a good way to begin the story.”
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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