Lawsuit Claims Saudi Arabia Funded ‘Dry Run’ Operation Before 9/11

United Airlines Flight 175 approaches the World Trade Center. (AP Photo/ William Kratzke)
AP Photo/ William Kratzke

A new lawsuit filed against Saudi Arabia alleges that the country’s embassy in Washington funded a “dry run” operation in preparation for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a report from The New York Post has detailed.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of 1,400 victims and their families under the 9/11 bill that allows survivors and relatives of victims to sue foreign governments in U.S. federal courts for damages related to those attacks, claims that the Saudi embassy in Washington funded training for both Mohammed al-Qudhaeein and Hamdan al-Shalaw, two Saudi nationals living undercover in America as students, who were part “the Kingdom’s network of agents in the US.”

According to FBI documents, one of the main missions funded by the Saudis included a flight from Phoenix to Washington, in what was a “dry run for the 9/11 attacks.” The pair reportedly used the flight to “ask flight attendants technical questions about the flight,” and twice attempted to enter the cockpit. Flight attendants were so disturbed by the behavior that they made an emergency landing in Ohio, where the pair were arrested but later released.

“The dry run reveals more of the fingerprints of the Saudi government,” said Kristen Breitweiser, one of the New York plaintiffs, whose husband died in the attacks. “These guys were Saudi government employees for years and were paid by the Saudi government. In fact, the Saudi Embassy paid for their plane tickets for the dry run.”

The complaint also provides further details of “a pattern of both financial and operational support,” given that both men held positions as Saudi government employees at the Imam Muhammad Ibn Saudi Islamic University and received training from a Saudi hijacker pilot whilst in Arizona, described as “a further indication of their longstanding ties to 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 Sean Carter, the lead attorney for the 9/11 plaintiffs. “This is further evidence of that.”

Of the 19 terrorists of the 9/11 attacks, which now took place 16 years ago, 15 of them were Saudi.

However, the Saudi government, which maintain close ties with the United States, rigorously denies claims it was involved and last month filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

Last year, the House Intelligence Committee released the long-sought 28 classified pages of the 2002 Joint Congressional inquiry 9/11 report, which found that “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.’” It also revealed that the committee found evidence linking at least two of the 9/11 hijackers to Shaykh Fahad al-Thumairy, “an accredited diplomat at the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles.”

During his visit to Saudi Arabia this year, President Donald Trump addressed leaders of the Muslim world on the challenges of Islamic terrorism, urging them to “drive” potential terrorists out of their country.

“Drive them out. Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land and drive them out of this earth,” he declared. “This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life and decent people all in the name of religion … this is a battle between good and evil.”

During the visit, Trump also helped establish a coalition of 41 Arab nations to combat the Islamic State and other extremist groups, known as the Islamic Military Alliance, in which Saudi Arabia is a prominent member.

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