World Trade Center, 9/11. George W. Bush, Crown Prince Abdullah
World Trade Center, New York City, September 11, 2001 (left). US President George W. Bush and Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Crawford, Texas, April 25, 2005 (right). Photo credit: White House / Wikimedia and 9/11 Photos / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The killing and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside a Saudi consulate has brought unwanted attention to the oil-rich kingdom. It’s perhaps a good time to remind the public of the often ignored Saudi royal family connections to 9/11.

Most everyone, it seems, recently awoke to the fact that the rulers of Saudi Arabia are not exactly the kindest, gentlest of folks.

It took the murder and dismemberment of a Washington Post columnist to get people (and the media) focused on a government that, by most standards, does not deserve the kind of diplomatic favor it has long enjoyed with democratic Western powers.

One might say the same about other countries, but Saudi Arabia is truly extraordinary, by many measures. Its years-long bombing campaign in neighboring Yemen has produced what the UN called “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis” — with millions on the verge of starvation and an ongoing cholera outbreak seen as the worst in recorded history.

“Criminals” in Saudi Arabia — including those who challenge the regime, such as activists and journalists — are routinely flogged in public, beheaded, and even crucified. And while western journalists lauded the government’s recent decision to allow women to drive, women’s rights are still severely restricted.

The royal family itself is a massive kleptocracy, living in unimaginable splendor and bingeing on luxuries worldwide like drunken sailors.

Of course, the basis for their special treatment comes largely from the nation’s massive oil reserves, which have bought it astonishing impunity — even, it seems, when the lives of thousands of Americans are involved. One issue that always remains in the background but never addressed: the little-understood, though well-documented, relationship between the Saudi royal family and 9/11.

On the surface, the simple fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia should give one pause. Plus, a congressional report found that some of the hijackers “were in contact with, and received support or assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi Government.”

But we’re still not getting the whole story. Former Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL), who co-chaired the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during 9/11, said in a recent interview:

The mystery is, over three administrations, why has there been this reticence to release information? … So we’ve gone for three presidencies, [with] no assertive effort from the White House to let the American people share the information that the government has, and form opinions as to who has responsibility for 9/11.

It certainly begs for further scrutiny by the major media outlets. Instead, the public’s attention — focused in 2001 on Afghanistan, the Taliban, Osama bin Laden, Iraq, Saddam Hussein, WMDs, and anthrax — has never been directed toward the Saudi royal-family connection.

In the wake of the global war on terrorism, Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi was taken out, and a “civil war” has been fomented by the US in partnership with Gulf State countries — including Saudi Arabia — to overthrow the government of Syria by arming “moderate rebels” (in a CIA operation code-named Timber Sycamore).

It all sounds vaguely like the secret plan that General Wesley Clark warned us about. He claims that, right after 9/11, he was privy to information contained in a classified memo. In it, were US plans to use the attacks on Washington and New York to justify America’s own project to remove governments in seven countries over five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.

Most, if not all, of these nations were seen as hostile to American (particularly corporate) interests and, as significantly, to Saudi interests.

While the government and the media may be reluctant to call out the kingdom for its links to 9/11, the families of victims certainly have not forgotten. Following the passage of a law in 2016 allowing families to sue Saudi Arabia, a class action lawsuit was brought claiming Saudi involvement; it is presently in the discovery phase.

Some years back, WhoWhatWhy conducted its own inquiry into the Saudi royal family–9/11 connection. We’re republishing it here because of its timeliness.

-Introduction by WhoWhatWhy Staff

AndyBushThe FBI apparently has known for a decade about links between powerful Saudi interests and the alleged 9/11 hijackers, and has been forced to tacitly admit that it lied about it for all of these years.

In case the import is not clear, let us state emphatically: this is a huge development.


In court filings seeking to stave off a media Freedom of Information request, the FBI has stated that releasing documents relating to this issue will harm “national security.” As proof of the sensitivity of the matter, the FBI gave the judge a document dated April 4, 2002, in which the FBI states that its own inquiries “revealed many connections” between a well-connected Saudi family with a house in South Florida and “individuals associated with the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001.”

The Sarasota Affair


The Freedom of Information request that prompted these reluctant admissions was filed by the Broward Bulldog, a South Florida nonprofit investigative site which first covered the Saudi connection in 2011.

The Bulldog’s reporting explained how a family living in an exclusive gated community outside Sarasota, on Florida’s West Coast, had apparently vanished suddenly some 10 days before the 9/11 attacks. Investigators, including a swarm of FBI agents, found that the family’s departure was clearly so sudden that they left almost their entire household intact, down to cars, clothing, and food in the refrigerator. Most significant, though, investigators had established that several of the men publicly identified as among the 9/11 hijackers, including purported ringleader Mohammed Atta, had visited the house and/or been linked to it through a web of telephone communications.

The FBI told none of this to Congress, and it was not mentioned in the original 9/11 Commission report released in 2004.

WhoWhatWhy, in an original investigation, went deeper, and established that the owner of the house was  a prominent Saudi businessman who works directly for the Saudi prince most involved with aviation — including being the first Saudi who trained to fly planes in South Florida. You can read our complete story here.

The significance of this cannot be stated strongly enough. Although many people think they “already know” about ties between the hijackers and Saudi royals, they confuse these important revelations with reports that prominent Saudis were permitted to leave the country shortly after 9/11, as popularized in Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11.

This new revelation is far more significant. The older story shows possible favoritism toward, or at least concern for, well-connected Saudis on the part of the US government in permitting them to leave. The Sarasota story, however, shows that the US government came upon what may have been a command or control center for the men we are told hijacked the planes.

And with the connections documented by WhoWhatWhy, it is almost impossible not to conclude some kind of awareness, either before or after the act, on the part of Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud and the powerful clique he represents within the royal clan. Again, for more on this, please read the entire story, which continues over three pages on our site.

The FBI Reversal


Kudos to the Bulldog for filing the FOIA request, which unearthed that gem of an FBI submission. It was included in filings by Miami Assistant US Attorney Carole M. Fernandez, and was part of a sworn 33-page declaration from FBI Records Section Chief David M. Hardy. He stated that producing classified information related to the matter “would reveal current specific targets of the FBI’s national security investigations.” The purpose of the filings was to convince US District Judge William J. Zloch not to allow the FOIA suit to succeed.

The April 4 document is significant for three reasons: (1) it demonstrates that the authorities are aware of the Saudi link, (2) it demonstrates that the FBI previously lied when it declared that its inquiries in the matter found no links to the terrorists or the plot, (3) it has the FBI asserting that no more disclosures should be made in order to protect “national security.”

The FBI’s practice of finding evidence tied to Saudi Arabia, then denying it had such evidence, then reluctantly admitting that it did (but only as a way of blocking still more disclosure) is telling. The apparent willingness of the FBI to brazenly lie and then reverse itself — seemingly with no consequences — is now beginning to look like standard operating procedure.

As WhoWhatWhy has demonstrated in articles about the Boston Marathon bombing, the FBI has been guilty of an astonishing array of disinformation, story reversals, unaccountable violence, and general misbehavior just in that one affair alone. See this, this, and this.

In the Boston bombing case, the FBI claimed not to know anything about the alleged perpetrators, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, then was forced to admit it had had direct contact with them and their family. It also initially claimed via leaks to mainstream media reporters that one of its officers shot and killed Ibragim Todashev, a figure connected with the Tsarnaevs, because he attacked them with a knife. Since then, the story has changed repeatedly and is now obscured by a thick fog of misdirection. We’ve pointed out many other changing aspects of the FBI’s story.

Hence, when we look back at the granddaddy of all purported terrorist plots, 9/11, and see the FBI’s astonishing actions to block disclosure, we have to ask: Just what is going on in this country? What is the FBI, and does it actually serve democracy and the public interest? And where is the president, purportedly the most powerful person in the country, and the public’s representative? If the president is unable or unwilling to get to the bottom of these bizarre and deeply worrisome developments, what does that say about the health of the system itself?

The Biggest Revelations, Ignored


Fortunately for the FBI, almost the entirety of the media — from the corporate owned “mainstream” to purportedly outsider “alternative” news outlets and websites — have steered clear of the entire subject.

The recent FBI court filings were revealed by a Bulldog article published in conjunction with one mainstream outlet — the Miami Herald. Previous revelations that appeared in The Herald were generally ignored by the rest of the press, and we may reasonably expect the same disturbing indifference to the latest bombshell.

This development leaves us with three significant conclusions:

  • The US government knows about, and is concerned about, apparent ties between its allies in the Saudi royal family and the men accused of having hijacked the planes on 9/11 and orchestrated the greatest attack in history on the American mainland.
  • The FBI continues to lie and suppress information in other matters of public concern, supposedly all in the interest of our shared “national security.”
  • The media continues to demonstrate how weak, compromised, and intimidated it is. With the majority of Americans still dependent for their understanding of current events and their world on these same media, the ramifications can be considered alarming.


Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Saudis ( and Pentagon (US Air Force / Flickr).


  • Russ Baker

    Russ Baker is Editor-in-Chief of WhoWhatWhy. He is an award-winning investigative journalist who specializes in exploring power dynamics behind major events.

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