The newly-declassified 28 pages of a congressional inquiry into the 9/11 terrorist attacks has alleged possible connections to a Los Angeles, California mosque.
The report alleges that two of the 9/11 hijackers were in contact with a Saudi diplomat who was an “imam” at the Muslim place of worship.
The findings, which are littered with redactions, suggest two of the hijackers, Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, may have been in contact with Shaykh Fahad al-Thumairy, an accredited diplomat at the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles, between 1996 and 2003. Al-Thumairy was described by the report as “one of the ‘imams’ at the King Fahad mosque located in Culver City, California.”
The King Fahad mosque, which is also referred to as the “Ibn Tamiyah Mosque,” was identified by the FBI as a site of “extremist-related activity both before and after September 11.” The report goes on to detail: “In an interview, an FBI agent said he believed that Saudi Government money was being laundered through the mosque,” and sent “to non-profit organizations overseas affiliated with Usama bin Laden.” It also notes that “the findings suggest Saudi Government officials in the United States may have ties to Usama bin Laden’s terrorist network.”
The mosque was built in 1998 from funding largely provided by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdulaziz, a member of the House of Saud.
The commission report “also found other indications that individuals connected to the Saudi Government have ties to terrorist networks … Several subjects of FBI investigations prior to September 11 had close connections to the mosque and are believed to have laundered money through this mosque.”
Today, the mosque’s website condemns terrorism in a video that plays automatically: “These difficulties are perpetrated by people who do evil in the name of good … These actions have no place in Islam.”
Raul Patel, a man who described himself as the director of King Fahad Mosque for the last four years, told Breitbart News via phone on Sunday that “Mr. Thumairy was paid for by Saudi confidants.” When asked about the terrorism-related money trail that led to the mosque, Patel said, “We are not associated with al Qaeda or any group.”
Al-Midhar and al-Hazmi, who arrived in California in January of 2000, were among the five hijackers who flew the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon in September 11, killing all 64 people who were on board in addition 125 people who were on the ground.
In another part, the declassified document says: “There is a May 1996 memo from the DCI’s Counterterrorist Center [REDACTED TEXT] stating that the Saudis had stopped providing background information or other assistance on Bin Laden because Bin Laden had ‘too much information about official Saudi dealings with Islamic extremists in the 1980s for Riyadh to deliver him into U.S. hands.'” Essentially, in this context “Saudi assistance to the U.S. Government on this matter was contrary to Saudi national interests.”
The report goes on to say that another Saudi national who was also suspected of being a Saudi intelligence officer, Omar al-Bayoumi, had also helped two of the California hijackers, although the initial 9/11 Commission report had found him to be “an unlikely candidate for clandestine involvement” with radical Islamists. The report further details that “the FBI conducted a counterterrorism investigation on al-Bayoumi in 1998 and 1999, but closed the investigation at that point.”
The California link also extends to San Diego, where a man named Osama Bassnan — “an extremist and supporter of Usama bin Laden” — is believed to “have been in contact with al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi during their time in San Diego”. Furthermore, “The FBI also received reports from individuals in the Muslim community alleging that Bassnan might be a Saudi intelligence officer.”
Osama Bassnan reportedly “made a comment to an FBI source after the September 11 attacks suggesting that he did more for the hijackers than Omar al-Bayoumi did.” Al-Bayoumi was allegedly a Saudi intelligence officer and “FBI files suggest he provided substantial assistance to hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Ahazmi after the arrived in San Diego in February 2000.” The report adds: “According to FBI documents, Basnnan also knew Bin Laden’s family in Saudi Arabia and speaks on his mobile telephone with members of the family who are living in the United States.”
One part of the report reads, “Prior to September 11th, the FBI apparently did not focus investigative resources on [REDACTED TEXT] Saudi nationals in the United States due to Saudi Arabia’s status as an American ‘ally.'”
Foreign Minister Adel Aljubeir posted a tweet to the Saudi Embassy’s official Twitter account on Friday saying “the Kingdom welcomes” the report’s release, and that he hopes it will “bring an end to the speculation and conspiracy theories.”
FM @AdelAljubeir: The Kingdom welcomes the release of the 28 pages. It is time to bring an end to the speculation and conspiracy theories.
— Saudi Embassy (@SaudiEmbassyUSA) July 15, 2016
Today, the King Fahad Mosque is involved in interfaith activities, including a recent interfaith vigil at a Los Angeles synagogue.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz