WASHINGTON – Was the Saudi government, seen by US diplomats as a crucial partner in the war on terror, involved in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001? According to two former senators who were privy to top secret information on the Saudis’ activities said they believe that the Saudi government might have played a direct role in the terrorist attacks.
"I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia,” former Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, was quoted by the New York Times as saying in an affidavit filed as part of a lawsuit brought against the Saudi government and dozens of institutions in the country by families of Sept. 11 victims and others.
Graham led a joint 2002 Congressional inquiry into the attacks.
'Findings not an exoneration.' Twin Towers attack (Archive photo: AFP)
According to the NYT report, published Wednesday, former Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a Democrat who served on the separate 9/11 Commission, said in a sworn affidavit of his own in the case that “significant questions remain unanswered” about the role of Saudi institutions.
“Evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi government agents in the September 11th attacks has never been fully pursued,” Kerrey said.
According to NYT, the Saudis are seeking to have the case dismissed in part because they say American inquiries — including those in which Graham and Kerrey took part — have essentially exonerated them.
A recent court filing by the Saudis prominently cited the 9/11 Commission’s “exhaustive” final report, which “found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi individuals funded” al-Qaeda, the report stated.
However, the report said, Kerrey and Graham said that the findings should not be seen as an exoneration and that many important questions about the Saudis’ role had never been fully examined, partly because their panels simply did not have the time or resources given their wider scope.
According to NYT, Graham said in his affidavit that unanswered questions include the work of a number of Saudi-sponsored charities with financial links to al-Qaeda, as well as the role of a Saudi citizen living in San Diego at the time of the attacks, Omar al-Bayoumi, who had ties to two of the hijackers and to Saudi officials.
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