SLUG: 2-305793 Congress-Setp 11-Saudi (L-only)
TITLE=CONGRESS SEPT. 11 SAUDI (L ONLY)
/// MAY BE USED AS SIDEBAR TO SEPT. 11 STORY ///
INTRO: Congressional Democrats are calling on the Bush administration to release information on the role that Saudi Arabia may have played in the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. The administration withheld such information from a Congressional report on the attacks that was released Thursday, as correspondent Deborah Tate reports from Capitol Hill.
TEXT: The September 11th attacks are a sensitive issue between the United States and Saudi Arabia because 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi.
The report released by a joint Congressional committee details its probe into the attacks, and it raises new questions about Saudi links to the hijackers.
The document says two of the hijackers, who had been living in San Diego, California in 2000, had received financial help from a student in Los Angeles who, the report says, had links to officials at the Saudi consulate there.
The student, identified as Omar al-Bayoumi, had 'access to seemingly unlimited funding from Saudi Arabia', the document says.
According to the report, 'a high-level U-S government officer cited greater Saudi cooperation when asked how the September 11th attacks might have been prevented.'
But the document does not go much further than that, as the Bush administration, citing national security concerns, has refused to declassify 28 pages dealing with Saudi Arabia.
Democrats are calling for release of the information, suggesting that the administration is not doing so to avoid embarrassing a key ally in the Gulf.
Senator Charles Schumer is a New York Democrat:
/// SCHUMER ACTUALITY ///
We know there are terrorists working in the open over there. We know they raise millions of dollars in telethons for suicide bombers and their families. We know they have cooperated less with America and American intelligence than just about any other country. And we continue to coddle them, and we continue to cover up their wrongdoing.
/// END ACT ///
But Republicans, including Congressman Porter Goss, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, takes the administration at its word when it says the information must remain classified for national security reasons.
/// GOSS ACTUALITY ///
I do not think that there is abuse of the classification process in this final report.
/// END ACT ///
Meanwhile, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, says in his words 'the idea that the Saudi government funded, organized or even knew about September 11th is malicious and blatantly false.'
He continued 'the 28 blanked-out pages are being used by some to malign our country and our people', and he said 'Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide.'
The U-S government has criticized the Saudi government in the past for not doing more to curb terrorist and cut off funding for terrorist groups. But U-S officials have praised Saudi cooperation in the probe of a deadly attack in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, earlier this year. That attack killed 35 people, including nine Americans and nine Saudi suicide bombers. (Signed)
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|