Huffpost WorldPost
Sharon Premoli Headshot

11 Years and Counting: Part 1

Posted: Updated:

Part 1: Time to Face the Truth About Who Made 9/11 Possible

The path forward from the tragic events of September 11, 2001, has been a very difficult one for those who lived through it. Those of us who lost family members, who were injured in the attacks, or who were fortunate enough to escape the burning towers or the Pentagon have undergone more than a decade of coping and adjustment, and for no one has it been easy.

Most of this recovery has been deeply private and personal, but there are aspects of the post-September 11 era that have been profoundly public. That is because, while each of us has had to come to a personal peace, we also have been engaged in an ongoing struggle for a public justice, and that justice has not been forthcoming.

The demise of Osama bin Laden is obviously welcome, but despite the large, symbolic victory that it represents, there is far more to be done. That is because it took far more than a few murderous masterminds and 19 hijackers to attack our nation. It took a large, international network of terrorist financiers and the help of foreign government officials to make it happen, and those individuals and their organizations have not seen justice.

Nowhere is this more pressing than with our nation's shameful refusal to demand that the Saudi government accept culpability for supporting the terrorists who attacked us. The Saudi regime was singularly responsible for promoting the extremist ideology and infrastructure that enabled the September 11th attacks to occur, and it must be held to account. Sadly, the U.S. government has covered up the Saudi involvement, and when family members sued the Saudi establishment, including Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud and other Saudi Royal Family members, to force a public airing of their involvement, the U.S. government intervened to try to block that suit.

Former Senator Bob Graham's article also published here discusses the Saudi role in sordid detail, but one additional aspect of Saudi involvement deserves highlighting: that of Prince Salman himself.

The recent ascension of Prince Salman to the throne of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, even if only on a temporary basis, is cause for grave concern.1 Through our ongoing litigation against the Saudis, we have learned much about al Qaeda's Saudi benefactors. The concern about Prince Salman's ascension derives from the fact that, all too often, the evidence uncovered about Saudi involvement in supporting al Qaeda has pointed directly back to Prince Salman and Saudi government institutions under his control.

We have learned that Prince Salman served for many years as head of the "Saudi High Commission" for Bosnia and Herzegovina, a purported charity established as an arm of the Saudi government.2 We have further learned that the apparent terrorist and militant activities of Prince Salman's SHC were a source of significant concern to U.S. intelligence agencies for many years before the September 11th Attacks. Indeed, a 1996 CIA Report identified the SHC as one of several Saudi "charities" that "employ members or otherwise facilitate the activities of terrorist groups operating in Bosnia,"3 and a Defense Intelligence Agency report from that same time period concluded that the al Qaeda-affiliated Somali warlord responsible for the massacre of U.S. military personnel during the battle of Mogadishu, infamously depicted in the movie Black Hawk Down, "receiv[ed] weapon shipments from the Saudi Arabian High Commission for Relief."4

Given this evidence, it is hardly surprising that NATO peacekeeping forces raided SHC facilities in Bosnia just after the September 11th attacks, at the urging of the United States. During the raid, authorities discovered computer files on the use of crop duster aircraft, instructions on how to fake U.S. state department identification badges, photographs and maps of Washington marking government buildings, before and after pictures of the World Trade Center, and anti-Semitic and anti-U.S. computer material for children.5 Less than a year later, a German Federal Criminal Police investigation revealed that more than $120 million dollars was channeled through SHC accounts under Prince Salman's control and accounts in Prince Salman's own name to an al Qaeda front organization.6 Corroborating this evidence of the SHC's intimate ties to al Qaeda under Prince Salman's leadership, a confessed former al Qaeda member and employee of the SHC testified for the 9/11 families that "the Saudi High Commission was extensively involved in supporting al Qaeda's operations in Bosnia."7 This evidence contributed to the Department of Defense including the SHC as suspected "terrorists and terrorist support entities" in its Threat Matrix for Enemy Combatant.8

A recently discovered Arabic news account in a Saudi newspaper, though seemingly insignificant on its face, raises more questions concerning the intimacy of Prince Salman's ties to al Qaeda. The article describes an official Saudi visit to Bosnia in September 2000, headed by Prince Salman, to survey purported "charitable" activities undertaken by the Saudi government in Bosnia, and to commemorate the opening of several new mosques funded by the government of the Kingdom. The article identifies a number of senior Saudi officials and luminaries who were invited to participate with Prince Salman in state activities during the visit, among them a purported Saudi charity official named Wa'el Jelaidan.9

But Wa'el Jelaidan is anything but a legitimate humanitarian. In Part 2 of this blog, we will find out who Jelaidan is and much more about Prince Salman -- The Man Who Would Be King.

Sharon Premoli, a survivor of the attack on the North Tower of the World Trade Center, now runs the website www.justiceagainstterrorism.net for the families, survivors and all who support the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act S.1894 (JASTA )

Footnotes:

1 In June, Prince Salman was chosen to become Crown Prince, heir to the throne, when his brother, Prince Nayef, died. Royal Decree: Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud is Chosen as Crown Prince, State News Service, June 20, 2012. Then last week, when the 88 year-old Saudi King Abdullah left the country for a "personal holiday" of undetermined length, Prince Salman was left to manage state affairs. "Crown Prince in Charge as Saudi King Leaves on Holiday," Reuters, August 27, 2012; "Saudi King on 'Special Leave' in Morocco as Crown Prince Takes Temporary Powers," Washington Post, August 28, 2012.

2 Declaration of Saud Bin Mohammad Al-Roshood, dated February 17, 2004, in In re Terrorist Attacks on September 11 2001, No. 03-MDL-1570 (S.D.N.Y.), Docket Entry. No. 262-3, paragraph 7; Declaration of Dr. Mutlib Bin Abdullah Al-Nafissa, dated January 31, 2004, in In re Terrorist Attacks on September 11 2001, No. 03-MDL-1570 (S.D.N.Y.), Docket Entry. No. 262-5, paragraph 6; Testimony of Evan F. Kohlmann before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs, July 14, 2010, page 4.

3 1996 Central Intelligence Agency Report, In re Terrorist Attacks on September 11 2001, No. 03-MDL-1570 (S.D.N.Y.), Docket Entry No. 2557-6, Exhibit 5, at pp. 4-5, 7-8, 12.

4 Defense Intelligence Agency Report, In re Terrorist Attacks on September 11 2001, No. 03-MDL-1570 (S.D.N.Y.), Docket Entry No. 2557-7, Exhibit 6, p. 1.

5 Dow Jones Newswire, "Raid On Bosnia Saudi Grp Finds Terror Plan," Feb. 21, 2002; Testimony of Evan F. Kohlmann before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs, July 14, 2010, page 4; Ian Bruce, "Bosnian Raid Shows Saudi Aid Agency Had Files of Targets," The Herald (Glasgow), Feb. 22, 2002, p. 14.

6 Report of the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation, In re Terrorist Attacks on September 11 2001, No. 03-MDL-1570, Docket Entry No. 2557-9, Exhibit 8, p. 12. According to the Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States ("9/11 Commission"), the Third World Relief Agency (or "TWRA"), which is the organization referenced in Exhibit 8, was one of the ostensible charities Osama bin Laden used to fuel al Qaeda's growth and development. 9/11 Final Report at p. 58.

7 Declaration of Ali Ahmad Ali Hamad, In re Terrorist Attacks on September 11 2001, No. 03-MDL-1570 (S.D.N.Y.), Docket Entry No. 2557-5, Exhibit 4, paragraph 41, at p. 7.

8 JTF-GTMO Matrix of Threat Indicators, In re Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001, No. 03-MDL-1570 (S.D.N.Y.), Docket Entry No. 2557-4, Exhibit 3, pp. 15-17; see also Department of Defense JTF-GTMO Detainee Assessment, 17 April 2008, In re Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001, No. 03-MDL-1570 (S.D.N.Y.), Docket Entry 2557-8, Exhibit 7, p.2 and 3, n.3. ("The SHRC is a [National Intelligence Priority Framework] Priority 4 Terrorist Support Entity (TSE) Priority 4 TSEs have available resources and are in a position to provide financial support to terrorist organizations willing to attack US persons or interests, or provide witting operational support to Priority 4 terrorist groups."). Remarkably, our own State Department also intervened on behalf of the SHC in our suit, and as a result we were foreclosed form pursuing claims against the SHC as well.

9 "Senior politicians and clerics in Bosnia-Herzegovina laud the results of Prince Salman bin Abdul Al Aziz's visit," Al Sharq al Awsat, 18 September 2000.