Terrorists, Saudi Arabia, and the CIA

Jun 12, 2023
Remembering 9 11, Patriot day, remember 11 September. USA flag with the twin towers background. We will never forget, the terrorist attacks of 2021

Documents publicly available make it clear that Saudi Arabian government officials assisted the two 9/11 hijackers, Nawaf Al-Hazmi and Khalid Al-Midhar, who crashed an airliner into the Pentagon. Newly released testimonies further reveal that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was aware of the activities of the two hijackers before the 9/11 attacks and suggest that the agency was seeking to use them to penetrate Al-Qaeda.

The latest extraordinary revelations come from a series of testimonies collected by Donald C. Canestraro, an investigator assigned to the US Office of Military Commissions Defence Organisation, who in July 2016 began an investigation into the possible involvement of the Saudi Government and the CIA in the events leading to the 9/11 attacks.

In his investigations Canestraro interviewed more than 20 insiders including ten former FBI agents, 9/11 Commission Investigators and former CIA officials.

Central to the story Canestraro reveals is the role of the CIA’s Usama Bin Laden Station (UBL Station) and its observation of a key Al Qaeda 9/11 planning meeting, early in 2000, that the two hijackers attended in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The CIA station — a “virtual” station located in the US — was aware that the two hijackers attended the meeting but nevertheless made no effort to stop them later travelling to the US via Bangkok, Thailand.

According to one former FBI agent, CS-3, Al-Hazmi and Al-Midhar obtained their visas to enter the US from the American Consulate in Jeddah. The visas were issued to “facilitate the operation run by the Saudi’s GID [the Saudi’s primary intelligence agency] and the CIA team at UBL Station.”

In a testimony in August 2016 a former FBI Special Agent referred to as CS-5 told Canestraro that a US intelligence agency learnt of the meeting by conducting a wiretap on a telephone belonging to an Al-Qaeda safe house in Yemen. The CIA was not able to place a clandestine listening device in the meeting itself.

According to CS-5 the CIA knew that Al-Hazmi and Al-Midhar had multiple entry visas that allowed them to travel to the US but did not pass this information on to the FBI. CS-5 stated that this information was not passed on as the CIA was running a “long term intelligence operation” to penetrate Al Qaeda.

CS-5 stated that the CIA’s reluctance to pass the information on did not make sense to many agents assigned to the New York Field Office’s counter terrorism squad. This led CS-5 to conclude that the CIA was running an intelligence operation targeting Al-Qaeda that somehow involved Al-Hazmi and al-Midhar. He/she believed the CIA operation may have “spun out of control.”

Former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Clinton and President George W. Bush, Richard Clarke, also told Canestraro that he believed the FBI had not been informed that Al-Hazmi and Al-Midhar had attended the Al-Qaeda meeting and had multiple US entry visas. He believed the reason for this was that the CIA was running a “false flag” operation to recruit the hijackers.

According to an FBI document released in 2021 when Hazmi and Midhar arrived in the US they were supported by Omar Al Bayoumi, a Saudi intelligence officer and Fahad Al Thumairy, a radical imam at the King Fahad Mosque in Los Angeles. Bayoumi provided logistics support to Hazmi and Midhar including translation services, travel assistance lodging and finance.

The FBI found that while Hazmi and Midhar were in Los Angeles and San Diego, Bayoumi was in almost daily contact with Osama Bassnan. On 17 October 1992 Bassnan had hosted a party at his house in Washington for the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman, the convicted mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Towers bombing. Multiple sources said Bassnan expressed enthusiastic support for Osama Bin Laden and endorsed suicide bombings.

A former 9/11 Commission investigator told Canestraro that Bayoumi had been under investigation prior to the 9/11 attacks. It was the investigator’s belief that Bayoumi was receiving substantial sums of money from the Saudi Embassy in Washington. The investigator recalled that this money was being funnelled from accounts at Riggs Bank belonging to Haifa bin Faisal, the wife of the Saudi Ambassador to the US, Bandar bin Sultan.

Canestraro was told by another former FBI Special Agent, referred to as CS-8, that as part of a counter intelligence investigation before the 9/11 attacks, Bayoumi was under investigation by the FBI. Bayoumi was never employed in San Diego but was receiving funds from the Saudi Embassy.

CS-8 stated that there was diplomatic pressure exerted on the FBI not to investigate the Saudi government’s connections to the 9/11 attacks.

The CIA’s failings in its Hazmi/Midhar dealings is not the only example of the CIA going badly wrong in its efforts to recruit an Al Qaeda insider. In 2009 a Jordanian doctor Humam Khalil Abu Mulal Al-Balawi was believed to have been turned to become an Al Qaeda informer. Without a search, he was allowed into CIA’s Camp Chapman in Afghanistan where he detonated a suicide vest killing himself and nine other people.

It is interesting to note that some effort is being made to discredit Canestraro and the testimonies he has collected. Disinfo Review, a website that describes itself as a site providing a weekly update into pro-Kremlin disinformation, claims that the testimonies are “a gross distortion of facts aiming to promote the narratives that the 9/11 attacks were an inside job and that the US supports terrorism.”

The testimonies do no such thing. They do not suggest that the CIA orchestrated the attacks. Rather they suggest that the CIA was aware of two of the hijackers and their extremist views but thought they could possibly recruit them to provide inside information of Al Qaeda operations. With this single-minded obsession, they failed to spot and stop the actual terrorist operation the men finally undertook.


For more on this topic, P&I recommends:

How deep was the Saudi government’s involvement in 9/11?

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