New evidence in a 9/11 lawsuit against the Saudi Arabian government suggests that the Arab nation’s embassy in Washington may have funded a practice run for the largest terrorist attack in human history.
The Saudi Embassy allegedly paid for two Saudi nationals, who were living “undercover” in the U.S. as students, to fly from Phoenix to Washington in a practice run for the 9/11 attacks, the New York Post reported Saturday.
Sean Carter, the lead attorney for the 9/11 plaintiffs, says that court documents show “a pattern” of “financial and operational support” for the 9/11 attacks from those inside the Saudi government.
“We’ve long asserted that there were longstanding and close relationships between al Qaeda and the religious components of the Saudi government,” said Carter.
The complaint alleges that Mohammed al-Qudhaeein and Hamdan al-Shalawi were members of Saudi Arabia’s “network of agents in the U.S,” according to cited FBI documents.
They had trained at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan at the same time some of the hijackers were there. And while living in Arizona, they had regular contacts with a Saudi hijacker pilot and a senior al Qaeda leader from Saudi now incarcerated at Gitmo. At least one tried to re-enter the US a month before the attacks as a possible muscle hijacker but was denied admission because he appeared on a terrorist watch list.
Qudhaeein and Shalawi both worked for and received money from the Saudi government, with Qudhaeein employed at the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. Shalawi was also “a longtime employee of the Saudi government.” The pair were in “frequent contact” with Saudi officials while in the US, according to the filings.
Police arrested both men in 1999 after an aircraft flying from Phoenix to Washington was forced to make an emergency landing in Ohio when the men tried to force their way into the cockpit in what was a test of flight-deck security.
In a 2016 article featured in Politico Magazine, Saudi officials reportedly admitted that they misled the U.S. regarding their role in funding Islamic terrorism.
“We did not own up to it after 9/11 because we feared you would abandon or treat us as the enemy,” the senior Saudi official told former U.S. official Zalmay Khalizad. “And we were in denial.”
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