The question of official Saudi government involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been swirling almost since that fateful day. Now it appears we may have an answer – or at the very least, a name to attach to the query. Investigative journalist Michael Isikoff did some digging and came up with gold: the identity of the infamous third man. A spokesman for the 9/11 families is calling this information “a giant screw up” on the part of U.S. government officials trying to keep the Saudi role in the dark. Thus far, mum’s the word from the Justice Department and the Bureau.
Actions Speak Louder
But DOJ actions are speaking volumes. Soon after Isikoff’s report, Justice officials withdrew the document with the man’s name from the federal court docket in which it was filed. This rather unusual move signals a non-verbal oopsie that screams “error” in flashing red lights. The Saudi official’s name in the original document was redacted throughout – except for once. That single missed redaction provides “for the first time an apparent confirmation that FBI agents investigating the attacks believed they had uncovered a link between the hijackers and the Saudi Embassy in Washington,” Isikoff reported.
The whole mess that Justice and their law enforcement friends over at the Bureau find themselves in is an oddly twisted tale because the filing was intended to make the point that this type of sensitive information should stay out of the public eye. Assistant Director of the FBI’s counterterrorism division Jill Sanborn filed the original report. Her objective was to make the case that “interview reports, telephone and bank records, source reporting documents and foreign government information” would compromise U.S. intelligence sources.
But in missing that one redaction, Sanborn rendered her entire filing moot. Isikoff notes that the strength of the evidence against the Saudi Embassy official remains a question mark. Still, the public disclosure of his name proves there is smoke lurking about sanctioned Saudi government participation in 9/11.
Lawyers who represent 9/11 families have been chomping at the bit to have this information made public. A 2012 FBI report that has been declassified explored possible links between Saudi officials and the al-Qaida terrorists who carried out the attack:
“That probe, the existence of which has only become public in the past few years, initially focused on two individuals: Fahad al-Thumairy, a Saudi Islamic Affairs official and radical cleric who served as the imam of the King Fahd Mosque in Los Angeles and Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi government agent who assisted two terrorists, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, who participated in the hijacking of the American Airlines plane that flew into the Pentagon, killing 125.
After the two hijackers flew to Los Angeles on Jan. 15, 2000, al-Bayoumi found them an apartment, lent them money and set them up with bank accounts.”
This is where the plot thickens. Isikoff reports that a “three-and-a-half page October 2012 FBI ‘update’ about the investigation stated that FBI agents had uncovered ‘evidence’ that Thumairy [the LA Imam] and Bayoumi [the suspected Saudi agent] had been ‘tasked’ to assist the hijackers by yet another individual whose name was blacked out, prompting lawyers for the families to refer to this person as ‘the third man’ in what they argue is a Saudi-orchestrated conspiracy.”
This third man was the name redactors missed, leading to the unassailable conclusion that where there is a cover-up, there must be a crime lurking somewhere beneath the rubble.
For obvious international relation concerns, the Trump Administration has been reluctant to open documents that may reveal actual Saudi involvement in 9/11. But this inadvertent slip-up – even with all the back-pedaling and re-filing – is not going to put that genie back into the bottle.
Click here to read Mr. Isikoff’s full report published in Yahoo news.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.
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