09/11/2014 08:58 am ET Updated Nov 11, 2014

Thirteen Years After September 11, 2001, Terrorism Financing Remains Our Biggest Challenge


Today marks the thirteenth anniversary of the brutal attacks of September 11, 2001. While we honor and remember those we loved and lost, much still remains secret about who financed the 19 hijackers who were responsible for the worst terrorist attack on American soil. Not withstanding the horrific death and destruction of that day, followed by endless wars with mounting human losses and taxpayer costs already in the trillions, why has the truth about who was behind these attacks been withheld from the American people?

Since the war in Afghanistan began, there has rarely been as bleak a picture about the future of that region of the world as now. Terrorist organizations like al Qaeda, ISIS, al Nursra and countless others rely on vast sums of money for their daily operations of feeding, clothing, sheltering and supplying weapons, vehicles and ammunition to the tens of thousands terrorists who carry out heinous acts of violence and murder against innocent men, women and children all over the globe. Money is the lifeblood of terrorism.

On September 11, 2001, 19 hijackers nearly crippled our nation when they brutally killed airplane crews and passengers, commandeered the controls and attacked Capitalism by flying two fully fueled aircrafts into the World Trade Center in New York City, attacked our Defense by crashing another into the Pentagon and were aiming for our nation's capital with a fourth airplane. This aircraft never hit its target due to the valiant efforts of those on board the fateful United Airline Flight 93, which crashed into a field in Shanksville, PA.

Without money 9/11 never would have happened -- ever. It is the financiers of these horrible acts of brutality against us who need to be stopped. Americans need to band together in our effort to stop the bankrollers by employing our legal system to hold he perpetrators accountable in United States courts of law for their acts of violence and murder against Americans on American soil.

As long as the terrorist financiers continue to funnel support to terrorist organizations with impunity, we will never be safe. Terrorist organizations like al Qaeda operate in the cloak of darkness. While they depend on secrecy and silence in order to grow and spread, they cannot operate without the massive sums of money necessary for them to exist not just in far away places of the world, but here in America as well.

Back in 2002, the 9/11 families united for truth and fought for the 9/11 Investigations, which resulted in the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001. However, 28 pages of the congressional report, implicating certain people and sovereign countries in the financing and support of those murderous attacks, were withheld from the American people. According to the report, those pages hold information regarding "specific sources of foreign support for some of the September 11 hijackers while they were in the United States."

Former Senator Bob Graham, familiar with the content of the 28 pages from his time as the co-chair of the Joint Inquiry, has vigorously and persistently been seeking the truth, asking for the declassification of the 28 pages for several years.

We, and the American people at large, deserve to know the truth. On June 23, 2013, a group of 9/11 families wrote to President Obama specifically calling on him to release the 28 pages that Senator Graham, and other members of Congress who have read the pages, maintain would not compromise national security. To date, we have received no response even though President Obama promised 9/11 family members that he would release the pages, most recently in a meeting at the White House in early 2009.

Now, Reps. Walter B. Jones (R-NC) and Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA) have introduced a bi-partisan resolution, H. Res. 428, urging President Obama to make public the 28 pages which were almost entirely blacked out when the panel issued its final report in December 2002. "I was absolutely shocked by what I read," Jones told International Business Times. "What was so surprising was that those whom we thought we could trust really disappointed us." In a statement to the AP, Lynch said the 28 pages "contain information that is vital to a full understanding of the events and circumstances surrounding this tragedy" and "The victims' family members and the American people deserve a full accounting of the events."

Reps. Jones and Lynch are not alone. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) with then Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) made the same request of the Bush administration in a letter signed by 44 Senators in 2003 including previous Secretary of State Hilary R. Clinton and current Secretary of State John F. Kerry. They wrote "[T}he decision to classify this information sends the wrong message to the American people about our nation's anti-terror efforts and makes it seem as if there will be no penalty for foreign abettors of the hijackers."

Timely declassification of the 28 pages is essential for our national security. YES, declassification will actually protect us, not endanger us. We need to know who our enemies are. As long as those pages remain hidden, we will be proxies in the wars of those who are the subject of the 28 pages and they will remain with impunity to repeat themselves again and again.

Many people believe our suffering is in the past and future attacks are diminished. Neither is true. Our loss is for the rest of our lives and so is the real threat of a future attack.

Terrorism financing may be our biggest challenge but we must expose, take action and hold the bankrollers accountable for the role they play in their monstrous acts of murder. As long as there are well funded radical Islamists who continue to vow to kill Americans and are ruthless enough to behead captured journalists if we do not cave into their demands. we are not a safe nation.

Terry Strada
National Co-Chair, 9/11 Families United for Justice Against Terrorism and