JUNE 06, 2013
The FBI lied to Congress about the deep ties between a Florida Saudi family—that abruptly fled weeks before the 9/11 terrorist attacks—and the hijackers who carried out the plot, according to alarming new records uncovered by a journalism watchdog that’s led the effort to expose the government cover-up.
This scandal has been circulating for years and only a Florida journalism watchdog along with a few local papers have bothered covering it, though it’s huge. It involves a Saudi family that lived in a Sarasota gated community and suspiciously fled weeks before 9/11, leaving behind three cars, food in the fridge and toys in the pool. Security officials at the gated community revealed that cars used by the 9/11 hijackers visited the family various times before the attacks, including the vehicle linked to plot leader Mohamed Atta.
When local media started asking questions, the head of the area’s FBI office admitted that the agency investigated “suspicions surrounding” the Sarasota home but never found evidence tying the family to the terrorists. Thankfully, the news watchdog kept digging—and litigating to obtain information—and years later uncovered damaging records in which the FBI acknowledges the family with ties to a one-time advisor to a Saudi Prince did in fact have “many connections” to “individuals associated with the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001.”
The Florida home was owned by Esam Ghazzawi, a former advisor to a senior Saudi Prince, and occupied by Ghazzawi’s daughter, Abdulaziz, and son-in-law, Anoud al-Hijji and their small children. Their hurried departure prompted neighbors to call the FBI. A “secret” document obtained by the watchdog earlier this year ties individual family members to the Venice, Florida flight school where suicide hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi trained. Accomplice Ziad Jarrah took flying lessons at another school a block away.
Atta and al-Shehhi were at the controls of the jetliners that slammed into the New York World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, killing nearly 3,000 people. Jarrah hijacked United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania. Those records, obtained by the Florida journalism group in April, flatly contradict the FBI’s longtime denials of having no evidence connecting the al-Hijjis to the 9/11 terrorists.
Now the feds are in full cover-up mode, with a senior FBI official asserting in a sworn declaration that disclosing information—that for years the agency denied even existed—about the Florida Saudis with ties to the terrorists “would reveal current specific targets of the FBI’s national security investigations.” The 33-page declaration was filed in support of a Department of Justice (DOJ) court motion seeking to end the news watchdog’s litigation to obtain more information involving the secret probe.
In light of this new evidence, a U.S. Senator who chaired the 9/11 Commission filed court papers accusing the FBI of impeding Congress’s inquiry into the September 2001 attacks by withholding information about the Florida connection to the terrorists who carried them out. The former Florida Senator, Bob Graham, writes that “the FBI’s failure to call (to the Joint Inquiry’s attention) documents finding ‘many connections’ between Saudis living in the United States and individuals associated with the terrorist attack(s)…interfered with the Inquiry’s ability to complete its mission.”
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