The New York Post is reporting that new evidence suggests the Saudi embassy may have funded a “test run” for the 9/11 hijackings.
According to documents submitted in a lawsuit against the Saudi government by 9/11 family members, in 1999 the embassy paid for two Saudi nationals, Mohammed al-Qudhaeein and Hamdan al-Shalawi, to fly from Phoenix to Washington, D.C. The documents, drawn from FBI files, allege that the Saudis, who entered the United States as students, were members of “the Kingdom’s network of agents in the US,” and participated in the terrorist conspiracy. The two individuals both reportedly trained at al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and kept regular contacts with one of the hijacker pilots and a senior al-Qaeda leader.
During their test Qudhaeein and Shalawi attempted to gain access to the cockpit of the plane multiple times. Their actions resulted in the plane making an emergency landing in Ohio individuals were handcuffed and questioned by the FBI.
The FBI also confirmed that Qudhaeein’s and Shalawi’s airline tickets for the pre-9/11 dry run were paid for by the Saudi Embassy.
The current lawsuit against the Saudi government follows the passage of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which allows courts to waive claims of sovereign immunity for foreign government officials in cases involving acts of terrorism on U.S. soil.
The law was passed in 2016, partially in response to the 2015 decision of a U.S. Judge to dismiss claims against Saudi Arabia by families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. who accused the country of providing material support to al Qaeda. U.S. District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan said Saudi Arabia had sovereign immunity from damage claims by the victims. Fifteen of the nineteen men who carried out the 2001 attacks were Saudi nationals.
On July 15th 2016, 28 pages of declassified material from the “Congressional Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11”, were released by Congress and show multiple links between associates of Saudi Arabian Prince Bandar, the former longtime ambassador to the United States, and 9/11 hijackers. The reports suggest possible conduits of money from the Saudi royal family to Saudis living in the United States and two of the hijackers in San Diego. The documents also indicate substantial support to California mosques with a high degree of jihadis sentiment. However, some of this information from the released pages are unconfirmed allegations.
While the 9/11 commission report which was published in 2004, found no direct evidence at the time that senior Saudi officials were involved in the 9/11 attack, the report did criticize the Saudi government for tolerating radical Islam by funding schools and mosques around the world that spread jihadist ideology. The report also noted that some rich Saudis gave money to charities with terrorist links.
The Saudi Arabian government continues to deny any ties to the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks. On August 1st 2017, the Saudi government requested the dismissal of a $100 billion dollar lawsuit filed before the U.S. District Court in Manhattan for 25 pending 9/11 lawsuits. A decision has not been made yet, however, with this new evidence linking the Saudi embassy to the dry run test for the hijackers, may allow for the victims claims to be upheld in court.