Special to WorldTribune.com
Saudi Arabia has threatened to sell off $750 billion in U.S. assets it owns if Congress passes legislation holding the kingdom responsible in any way for the attacks of September 11, 2001, the N.Y. Times reported.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has tried to stop Congress from passing the bipartisan Senate legislation. Congress is looking to unseal a 28-page section of the 9/11 report in which many believe implicates, at least in part, the Saudis in the attacks.
President Obama will decide by June whether to declassify the sealed documents.
Obama will visit Riyadh on April 20 for meetings with King Salman and other Saudi officials.
Meanwhile, a “60 Minutes” report earlier this month said the Saudi role in the attacks was “soft-pedaled” by the U.S. government to protect America’s delicate alliance with the kingdom.
Writing in the New York Post, Paul Sperry said that “case agents I’ve interviewed at the Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Washington and San Diego, the forward operating base for some of the Saudi hijackers, as well as detectives at the Fairfax County (Va.) Police Department who also investigated several 9/11 leads, say virtually every road led back to the Saudi Embassy in Washington, as well as the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles.
“Yet time and time again, they were called off from pursuing leads. A common excuse was ‘diplomatic immunity.’ ” said Sperry, a former Hoover Institution media fellow and author of “Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington”.
The missing 9/11 report pages, Sperry contends, hold “incontrovertible evidence” gathered from both CIA and FBI case files of official Saudi assistance for at least two of the hijackers.
“Some information has leaked from the redacted section, including a flurry of pre-9/11 phone calls between one of the hijackers’ Saudi handlers in San Diego and the Saudi Embassy, and the transfer of some $130,000 from then-Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar’s family checking account to yet another of the hijackers’ Saudi handlers in San Diego,” Sperry wrote.
Sperry noted that “an investigator who worked with the JTTF in Washington complained that instead of investigating Bandar, the U.S. government protected him — literally. He said the State Department assigned a security detail to help guard Bandar not only at the embassy, but also at his McLean, Va., mansion.
“The source added that the task force wanted to jail a number of embassy employees, ‘but the embassy complained to the US attorney’ and their diplomatic visas were revoked as a compromise.”
Sperry added that former FBI agent John Guandolo, said Bandar should have been a key suspect in the 9/11 investigation.
“The Saudi ambassador funded two of the 9/11 hijackers through a third party,” Guandolo said. “He should be treated as a terrorist suspect, as should other members of the Saudi elite class who the U.S. government knows are currently funding the global jihad.”
And the FBI “iced local investigations that led back to the Saudis,” Sperry noted.
“The FBI covered their ears every time we mentioned the Saudis,” said former Fairfax County Police Lt. Roger Kelly. “It was too political to touch.”
A U.S. commission established after the attacks concluded there was no evidence of official Saudi participation.
During a trip last month to Washington, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said his country would sell up to $750 billion in U.S. treasury securities and other assets before the Senate bill puts the Saudis in jeopardy.
Al-Juberi said the kingdom would be forced to sell the American financial assets on the world market, fearing the legislation could become law and U.S. courts would then freeze the assets.
The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 many of the families of 9/11 victims from bringing the Saudi royal family and charities to court over suspicion of financially supporting the attacks.
Of the 19 men who hijacked four planes on 9/11, 15 were Saudi citizens. Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a U.S. raid on his lair in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May 2011, was also of Saudi origin. He was the son of a Saudi billionaire with close ties to the kingdom’s royal family.
Former Florida Sen. Bob Graham has long campaigned for the documents to be declassified, but both the Bush and Obama administrations have argued doing so was a national security risk.
“The Saudis know what they did. We know what they did,” Graham told 60 Minutes.
“There are a lot of rocks out there that have been purposefully tamped down, that if were they turned over, would give us a more expansive view of the Saudi role.”
Graham believes the 9/11 terrorists were “substantially’ helped by the Saudi government along with other financiers and charities in the kingdom.