JNN 08 Feb 2015 New York : Zacarias Moussaoui a former agent of al-Qaeda who imprisoned for suspected to be one of 9/11 hijackers, describes to plaintiffs’ lawyers of family of 9/11 victims which in meeting in Saudi Arabia with Salman, then the crown prince, and other Saudi royals while delivering them letters from Osama bin Laden.
Former operative for Al Qaeda, prisoner Zacarias Moussaoui says prominent members of Saudi Arabia’s royal family are major donors to the terrorist network in the late 1990s and he discussed a plan to shoot down Air Force One with a Stinger missile with a staff member at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, New York Post reprts.
The Qaeda member, Zacarias Moussaoui, wrote last year to Judge George B. Daniels who is presiding over a lawsuit filed against Saudi Arabia by relatives of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He said he wanted to testify in the case, and after lengthy negotiations a team of lawyers was permitted to enter the prison and question him for two days last October.
In a statement Monday night, the Saudi Embassy said that the national Sept. 11 commission had rejected allegations that the Saudi government or Saudi officials had funded Al Qaeda.
“Moussaoui is a deranged criminal whose own lawyers presented evidence that he was mentally incompetent,” the statement said. “His words have no credibility.”
Mr. Moussaoui received a diagnosis of mental illness but psychologist testified he was competent to stand trial on terrorism charges. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2006 and is held in the most secure prison in the federal system, in Florence, Colo.
Mr. Moussaoui’s accusations which could not be verified Comes at the sensitive time in Saudi-American relations, less than two weeks after the death of the country’s longtime monarch, King Abdullah, and the succession of his brother, King Salman.
There has often been tension between Saudi leaders and the Obama administration since the Arab uprisings of 2011 and the efforts to manage the region’s resulting turmoil.
Saudi King Salman ties with Osama bin laden
Mr. Moussaoui describes meeting in Saudi Arabia with Salman, then the crown prince, and other Saudi royals while delivering them letters from Osama bin Laden.
There has long been evidence that wealthy Saudis provided support for bin Laden, the son of a Saudi construction magnate, and Al Qaeda before the 2001 attacks. Saudi Arabia had worked closely with the United States to finance Wahabi Terrorists fighting the Soviet Army in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and Al Qaeda drew its members from those Terrorists .
But the extent and nature of Saudi involvement in Al Qaeda, and whether it extended to the planning and financing of the Sept. 11 attacks, has long been a subject of dispute.
Mr. Moussaoui’s testimony, if judged credible, provides new details of the extent and nature of that support in the pre-9/11 period. In more than 100 pages of testimony, filed in federal court in New York on Monday, he comes across as calm and largely coherent, though the plaintiffs’ lawyers questioning him do not challenge his statements.
The French-born Mr. Moussaoui was detained weeks before Sept. 11 on immigration charges in Minnesota, so he was incarcerated at the time of the attacks. Earlier in 2001, he had taken flying lessons and was wired $14,000 by a Qaeda cell in Germany, evidence that he might have been preparing to become one of the hijackers.
He said in the prison deposition that he was directed in 1998 or 1999 by Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan to create a digital database of donors to the group. Among those he said he recalled listing in the database were Prince Turki al-Faisal, then the Saudi intelligence chief; Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, the longtime Saudi ambassador to the United States; Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, a prominent billionaire investor; and many of the country’s leading Wahabi clerics.
“Sheikh Osama wanted to keep a record who give money,” he said in imperfect English — “who is to be listened to or who contributed to the jihad.”
Mr. Moussaoui said he acted as a courier for Bin Laden, carrying personal messages to prominent Saudi princes and clerics. And he described his training in Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.
He helped conduct a trial explosion of a 750-kilogram bomb as a trial run for a planned truck-bomb attack on the American Embassy in London, he said, using the same weapon used in the Qaeda attacks in 1998 on the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He also studied the possibility of staging attacks with crop-dusting aircraft.
In addition, Mr. Moussaoui said, “We talk about the feasibility of shooting Air Force One.”
Specifically, he said, he had met an official of the Islamic Affairs Department of the Saudi Embassy in Washington when the Saudi official visited Kandahar. “I was supposed to go to Washington and go with him” to “find a location where it may be suitable to launch a Stinger attack and then, after, be able to escape,” he said.
He said he was arrested before being able to carry out the reconnaissance mission.
Former Senators Bob Graham of Florida who was co-chairman of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 Commission says: “I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia”. Mr. Graham, who has long demanded the release of 28 pages of the congressional report on the attacks that explore Saudi connections and remain classified.
Mr. Carter, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, said that he and his colleagues hoped to return to the Colorado prison to conduct additional questioning of Mr. Moussaoui and that they had been told by prison officials that they would be allowed to do so. “We are confident he has more to say,” Mr. Carter said.
Salman Saudi financial point for proxy war
As former CIA official Bruce Riedel astutely pointed out, served as Saudi Arabia’s financial point man for bolstering fundamentalist proxies in war zones abroad.
Salman’s half brother King Khalid (who ruled from 1975 to 1982) appointing Salman to run the fundraising committee that gathered support from the royal family and other Saudis to support the mujahideen against the Soviets.
Riedel writes that in this capacity, Salman “work[ed] very closely with the kingdom’s Wahhabi clerical establishment.” Another CIA officer who was stationed in Pakistan in the late 1980s estimates that private Saudi donations during that period reached between $20 million and $25 million every month.
And as Rachel Bronson details in her book, Thicker Than Oil: America’s Uneasy Partnership With Saudi Arabia, Salman also helped recruit fighters for Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, an Afghan Salafist fighter who served as a mentor to both Osama bin Laden and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Reprising this role in Bosnia, Salman was appointed by his full brother and close political ally King Fahd to direct the Saudi High Commission for Relief of Bosnia and Herzegovina (SHC) upon its founding in 1992. Through the SHC, Salman gathered donations from the royal family for Balkan relief, supervising the commission until its until its recent closure in 2011.
By 2001, the organization had collected around $600 million — nominally for relief and religious purposes, but money that allegedly also went to facilitating arms shipments, despite a U.N. arms embargo on Bosnia and other Yugoslav successor states from 1991 to 1996.
And what kind of supervision did Salman exercise over this international commission? In 2001, NATO forces raided the SHC’s Sarajevo offices, discovering a treasure trove of terrorist materials: before-and-after photographs of al Qaeda attacks, instructions on how to fake U.S. State Department badges, and maps marked to highlight government buildings across Washington.
A defector from al Qaeda called to testify before the United Nations, and who gave a deposition for lawyers representing the families of 9/11 victims, alleged that both Salman’s SHC and the TWRA provided essential support to al Qaeda in Bosnia, including to his 107-man combat unit. In a deposition related to the 9/11 case, he stated that the SHC “participated extensively in supporting al Qaida operations in Bosnia” and that the TWRA “financed, and otherwise supported” the terrorist group’s fighters.
The SHC’s connection to terrorist groups has long been scrutinized by U.S. intelligence officials as well. The U.S. government’s Joint Task Force Guantanamo once included the Saudi High Commission on its list of suspected “terrorist and terrorist support entities.” The Defense Intelligence Agency also once accused the Saudi High Commission of shipping both aid and weapons to Mohamed Farrah Aidid, the al Qaeda-linked Somali warlord depicted as a villain in the movie Black Hawk Down. Somalia was subject to a United Nations arms embargo starting in January 1992.
Saudi Arabia’s role in Afghanistan and the Balkans
Saudi Arabia’s support for Islamist fighters in Afghanistan and the Balkans ultimately backfired when veterans of the jihad returned home, forming the backbone of a resurgent al Qaeda threat to Saudi Arabia in 2003. Salman fell back on a tried-and-true Islamist trope to explain the attacks targeting the kingdom, declaring that they were “supported by extreme Zionism whose aim is to limit the Islamic call.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel drinks ‘Arabic coffee’ with Saleh Kamel, the head of the Saudi Arabian Chamber of Commerce at his offices on May 26, 2010, in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah. AFP
The jihadi threat to Saudi Arabia, however, does not appear to have ended Salman’s willingness to associate with alleged jihadi funders and fundamentalist clerics. The board of trustees for the Prince Salman Youth Center, which Salman himself chairs, today includes Saleh Abdullah Kamel, a Saudi billionaire whose name showed up on a purported list of al Qaeda’s earliest supporters known as the “golden chain.” (The Wall Street Journal reported that Kamel “denies supporting terror.”) But as the United States sought to shut down Saudi charities with ties to terrorism in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Kamel and Salman both condemned the effort as an anti-Islamic witch hunt.
In November 2002, Prince Salman patronized a fundraising gala for three Saudi charities under investigation by Washington: the International Islamic Relief Organization, al-Haramain Foundation, and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth. Since 9/11, all three organizations have had branches shuttered or sanctioned over allegations of financially supporting terrorism. That same month, Salman cited his experience on the boards of charitable societies, asserting that “it is not the responsibility of the kingdom” if others exploit Saudi donations for terrorism.