Largely unreported and widely unknown is therecent pushto re-establish an Iranian role in the 9/11 attacks. To be more specific,some in Washingtonare currently trying to allege that Iran played a larger role in the 9/11 attacks than the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Whythis assertion about Iran— that has been lying fallow for years — is so recently being resurrected raises questions, bears scrutiny, and begs an examination.
The World Trade Center’s Twin Towers burning on 9/11. (Photo credit: National Park Service)
Prior to delving into the Iranian question, some background is needed to best understand the ratherinorganicevolutionof this Iranian “evidence.” As many know, the 9/11 Families have spent the past 16 years trying to hold the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks accountable for the mass murder of our loved ones.
First,we foughtfor the9/11 Commissionso that we might have an independent investigation into the attacks, learn lessons, fix problems, and hold those in government accountable for their failures that contributed to the vast devastation of that horrific day. Next, as an expressly granted right given to us by Congress in the creation of the2001 Airline Stabilization Act(more commonly known as the 9/11 Victims’ Compensation Fund), we attempted to hold all the co-conspirators of the 9/11 attacks accountable in a federal court of law. Notably, to the 9/11 Families, the definition of “co-conspirators” was always a “both-and” situation, not the more exclusionary “either-or” scenario. In other words, we wanted any and all of those who played a hand (however large or small) in the murder of our loved ones held accountable.
Blaming ‘Enemies,’ Shielding ‘Friends’
Trying to hold co-conspirators of the 9/11 attacks accountable in federal court is not as easy as the public might think. First, the U.S. government plays a large role with a strong hand in determining who can be qualified as a “co-conspirator.” Notably, this decision historically hinges upon who is “in favor” or “out of favor” with the U.S. government. It can also depend on the foreign and domestic policy agendas of the U.S. government. (Ironically enough, both of these things —domesticandforeign policy agendas— are what created the 9/11 attacks in the first place but that is a much larger topic in need of a tome not a blog.)
Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-first session. 22 September 2016 (UN Photo)
As an example of how the U.S. government and its agendas control who gets held accountable for bad acts and who doesn’t, in 2002, alawsuiton behalf of some 9/11 families was filed against Saddam Hussein and Iraq. Obviously, this lawsuit fell in favor with the U.S. government, since at the time, President George W. Bush was trying to establish a connection between Iraq and the 9/11 attacks toserve as a basisfor the war in Iraq. Meanwhile, nearly at the same time in 2002, another group of 9/11 family members (represented by yet another attorney) filed theirlawsuitagainst the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This lawsuit was not looked upon as favorably by the U.S. government for several reasons: President Bush considered the members of the Saudi Royal Family to beclosefamilyfriends; the United States was extremelydependent on Saudi oil; the U.S. had long beendependentonSaudi cash; and finally, perhaps most pragmatically, the U.S. needed Saudimilitary basesto stage its upcoming war in Iraq. It should come asno surprisethen, that the Saudi lawsuit continues to falter to this day while the Iraq lawsuit had a favorable resolution.
Fifteen years later, the 9/11 families are still trying to hold the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia accountable in a federalcourt of lawfor the mass murder of our loved ones. And, unfortunately for us, the Kingdom seems to still remain “in favor” with the U.S. government — which is probably why our path to justice has taken so long and why our court case against the Saudis is constantly getting delayed and dismissed by the Judge.
To wit, 16 years after the cold-blooded murder of our loved ones, we have yet to even reach the discovery phase of our federal court case — the part of our case where we get to show our evidence (the money transfers, the checks, the FBI reports, the travel documents, the correspondence, the wiretaps, etc.).
As an aside, the U.S. government in its own criminal prosecution of the co-conspirators of the 9/11 attacks, via its use of the military tribunal system, is as largely unsuccessful as the 9/11 families have been in our federal civil court case. Notably, nearly all of the Guantanamo Baycaseshaven’t even moved passed the pre-trial stages and/or hearings, yet.
Clearly, the government’s self-created military tribunal system has proven to be (much like its twin-sister program of enhanced interrogation) — just another ill-conceived, hastily done, colossal mistake, and abject failure. And more importantly, both of these post-9/11 U.S. government-created programs have, thus far, only obstructed our rocky path to justice.
Letting the Saudis Walk
The 9/11 Families’ case against the Saudis has beendismissed at the trial levelfor a myriad of reasons, more recently, because the Kingdom was not a named State Sponsor of Terrorism. In case you didn’t already know this horrifying dirty little secret, for the most part, getting on and off the official State Sponsor List is mostly apolitical decision, having very little to do with reality — i.e.whether you really deserve to be on the listin the first place.
King Salman of Saudi Arabia and his entourage arrive to greet President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
And typically, you can get off the list by buying your way off, just as long as you are deemed “in favor” with the right people and/or Presidents at the right time. This is what happened withPan AmLockerbie and Libya, by the way. Notably, while Libya took responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am Lockerbie, more recent reports have shown that Iran was actually responsible for the terrorist attack.
Nevertheless, in response to being unable to hold the Saudis accountable for their role in the 9/11 attacks because the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was not an “officially named State Sponsor of Terrorism,” the 9/11 Families fought for and wonJASTA(Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act). JASTA enables any victim of mass terrorism on U.S. soil to hold any nation accountable — regardless if that nation was on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.
JASTA is a solid anti-terrorism law that can in some ways get around the “politics” that sometimes block the path to justice for victims of terrorism. Notably, the entities that fought most stridently against JASTA were certain key members of theForeign Relations Committeesand theArmed ServicesCommittees; theU.S. State Department’s Near East Affairs Desk; formerCIA Director John Brennan; former Attorney GeneralMichael Mukasey; American Enterprise Institute’s John Bolton;Secretary of State John Kerry; andPresidentBarack Obama. Obviously, each of these individuals andentitieshad their ownagendas, but clearly theiroverall reasonto oppose anti-terrorism legislation like JASTA should be fairly apparent to all. Sadly, saving lives from terrorist attacks and holding official and unofficial state sponsors of terrorism accountable for their role in supporting terrorism and/or terrorist groups — were not chief amongtheir interests.
Nevertheless, after overcoming suchstaunch“establishment”opposition, JASTAbecame the lawof the land in October 2016. And, the 9/11 Families returned, once again, to federal court to hold one of the largest co-conspirators of the 9/11 attacks, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, accountable for its verywell-documented and well-knownlogistical and financial support of the 9/11 hijackers and Al Qaeda.
President Donald Trump touches lighted globe with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi King Salman at the opening of Saudi Arabia’s Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology on May 21, 2017. (Photo from Saudi TV)
Finally last spring, directly due to the enactment of JASTA, the 9/11 Familiesfiled our Complaintnaming the Kingdom — regrettably, not specific Saudi Royal Family Members like Prince Bandar bin Sultan or his wife who sent money to the 9/11 hijackers — as defendants in ournew lawsuit. In their answer to our complaint, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia claimed that the 9/11 Families’ lawsuit should bedismissedfor several reasons, chief among them, that the 9/11 Commissionexonerated the Saudisfrom any role in the 9/11 attacks.
This novel defense was not new to us. In fact, in 2016, when the infamous “28 pages” were finally released to the American public, many establishment-type folks — theSaudis, theDirector of the CIA,the Obama Administration, etc. — said eerily similar things about that long-suppressed chapter of the congressional 9/11 report “exonerating the Saudis” and there being “no there, there” with regard to the evidence presented in the “28 pages” (actually 29 pages).
Of course, these statements were ridiculous since the pages themselves represented 29 f-u-l-l pages of facts and evidence detailing the Saudi role in the 9/11 attacks—indeed, even Forrest Gump could discern that there was plenty of “there, there.”
Nevertheless, hearing this same tired argument of “exoneration” now being put forth by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s attorneysas a legal basisto dismiss the Saudi lawsuit from federal court was received with exceptional incredulity by the 9/11 Families. After all, we were the very same peoplewho had fought for the creation of the 9/11 Commission in the first place and we knew its limitations, including its consensus-seeking mandate not to find fault or point fingers. Now, the Saudis were using the 9/11 Commission against us because it didn’t find fault or point fingers?
Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then Saudi ambassador to the United States, meeting with President George W. Bush in Crawford, Texas, on Aug. 27, 2002. (White House photo)
We knew everythingabout the Commission— we had fought over its creation; its members and make-up; its budget; its timetable; its access to documents and people; its subpoena power; its open hearings; its extension; its hampered and flawed final recommendations; and, perhaps, most notably its mandate. So, we knew — first hand — that theCommission’smandate was to specifically not find fault or finger point in order to remove any taint of embarrassment and also to achieve consensus.
To quote the 9/11 Commission Chairmen in the 9/11 Commission’s Final Report’sPreface: “Our aim has not been to assign individual blame.” Logically speaking then, how could a Commission with a specifically tailored, strict and narrow mandate tonot find fault or finger point, exonerate anyone? Plain and simple, it can’t.
(Note: we fought very hard to try to have the Commission’s mandate strong enough to hold people responsible and accountable but we lost that fight. Regrettably, to date, not one person in the U.S. government has been held accountable, fired, or reprimanded for their role in facilitating and/or failing to prevent the 9/11 attacks. In fact, some people like formerDirector of the CIA, George Tenet, were given medals.)
Knowing the preposterousness of this new Saudi defense, the 9/11 families reached out to the former 9/11 Commission members and made a simple request: Please sign an affidavit saying, “Our report speaks for itself. We did not exonerate the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” To us, it seemed a no brainer. Note, we did not ask the Commission to say the Saudis were guilty or responsible — we merely asked for them to say that they did not exonerate the Saudis.
We knew all of thesemen and women. We knew theirwork product. We knew theCommission’s Final Reportand its footnotesinsideandout. And,we knewtheStaff Director, too. It was at this juncture that the 9/11 Families were informed by certain key members of the 9/11 Commission that they could not sign any affidavits and that they believed thatIranhad more to do with the 9/11 attacks than the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.I–r–a–n????
Obviously, as key 9/11 family members who fought to have the Commission created, closely followed the Commission’s investigation, attended every hearing, testified before the Commission, held regular conference calls with the Commission throughout its existence, monitored their progress, and were actively engaged with the follow-up to the 9/11 Commission’s Final Report, we were stunned and confused in hearing this revelation about Iran. To us, it seemed bothhalf-bakedandvery over–cooked. Frankly, we’d been downthis roadbefore.
The Usual Suspects
So, exactly where was this Iranian information coming from and how had it remained secret for 16 years? … We began to wonder: Had the FBI in its PENTTBOM investigation (the code name for the FBI’s massive 9/11 investigation) come across this same evidence?
Iranian women attending a speech by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. (Iranian government photo)
Were there mountains of FBI 302’s involving: Fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 Hijackers beingIranians; some of those 9/11 hijackers visiting theIranConsulateandEmbassy;Iranianofficials meeting thehijackers at U.S. airportsand escorting them through border security;Iranianofficials paying rent, openingchecking accounts, and getting drivers’ licenses for the 9/11 hijackers; anIranian–visa-expressprogram; theIranianAmbassador’spersonal checks and/or wire transfers to the 9/11 hijackers; anIraniansupport networkinside the United States for the 9/11 hijackers that was made up ofIranianofficials on theIranianpayroll;evidenceofIranianFBI informants; evidence ofIranian-connectedimamscounseling andproviding supportto the 9/11 hijackers; evidence ofphone callsmade between theIranianEmbassyand the 9/11 hijackers;Iranpaying forplane ticketsfor the dry-runs of the 9/11 hijackers;Iraniansin U.S.flightschools; and/or,Iranianfunding of thetrainingcamps inAfghanistan.
Is that why the U.S. military went to Afghanistan immediately after the 9/11 attacks — to ferret outIranianfunded Al Qaeda training camps? WasIranmentioned in its own28-page suppressed chapterof the Joint Inquiry of Congress’ Investigation into the September 11th attacks? Were members of theIranianRoyal Familyflown outof the United States in the hours after 9/11?
WhenAbu Zubaydahwas captured, did he have the phone number of theIranianAmbassador’s home inAspen? Or the name and phone number of theIranianKing’snephewwho was living in the United States? Did Osama Basnan meet with anIranianprince inHoustonback in 2002 prior to that sameIranianPrince meeting President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas?
Were the Senate and HouseIntelligenceCommitteesand Foreign Relations Committees briefed about thisIranianinformation and evidence? Did President Bush know thisIranianinformation when he started the war in Iraq? More recently, did President Obama know thisIranianinformation when he promoted and signed hisnuclear treaty with Iranmerely two years ago?
Of course not — BECAUSE ALL OF THAT EVIDENCE WAS ABOUT THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA, NOT THE REPUBLIC OF IRAN.
Obama’s Troubling Role
Incidentally, prior to promoting the Iran deal, President Obama must have known about the little bits of Iranian evidence thatwas actually collectedby the 9/11 Commission since the person who largely took credit for selling the Iran deal to the American public, Ben Rhodes, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting for the Obama Administration, was also former 9/11 Commission Co-ChairLee Hamilton’sright-hand man during the term of the Commission.
Saudi King Salman bids farewell to President Barack Obama at Erga Palace after a state visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
In fact, a quick search of the 9/11 Commission archives can easily show Iran documents very likelypenned in Ben’s own handrevealing that Rhodes knew plenty about the Commission’s investigation and work-product — and even the scant bit of evidence the Commission was able to dig up about Iran.
So, assuming arguendo, that this Iranian evidence is to be perceived as persuasive and more damning than all of the evidence the Commission collected against the Saudis, just how could Ben Rhodes and Barack Obamapromote an international agreementwith these perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks? Maybe someone should ask Rhodes and Obama?
Interestingly, and nearly at the same time as President Obama and Ben Rhodes were selling the Iran nuclear deal, the 9/11 Families were fighting for JASTA — and President Obama was strongly opposing JASTA thereby siding on behalf of the Saudis, instead of with U.S. victims of terrorism.
These two things may seem unrelated until you consider how President Obama was reportedly finally able to ward off Saudi opposition to his precious Iran deal — he gave the Saudis incentives. One of theseincentiveswas the$110 billion weapons dealthat President Trump was just recently given credit for. And, perhaps, the other incentive was Obama’s promise to oppose JASTA and block the 9/11 Families’ Saudi lawsuit? One wonders.
Also going on at this very same time in the summer of 2015, an entirely different group of 9/11 Family members with an entirely different set of attorneys were in federal court and received a final defaultjudgment against Iranfor its role in the 9/11 attacks (when Iran refused to recognize the legitimacy of the process).
Quite ironically, several 9/11 staffers apparently handily provided affidavits in that case attesting to an Iranian role in the 9/11 attacks. While busy fighting for JASTA in Washington (to hold the Saudis accountable for the 9/11 attacks), a few 9/11 Families took note of this Iranian final default judgment being so breezily signed off on by the usually recalcitrant federal judge (recalcitrantat least when things are related to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and we clearly saw the writing on the wall: In 2016, the U.S. government wants Iran to be held responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
Which brings us to the evidence linking Iran to 9/11. To quote former CIA DirectorGeorge Tenet: It’s a real “slam dunk.”
The evidence is scant and the information surrounding it is even more obscure. But it’s not like many haven’t taken such odds to the bank before — witness the war in Iraq over bogus claims about non-existent WMD.
A Suspicious Investigator
Indeed, most of what we know about the 9/11-Iran connection is provided by Phil Shenon in his book,The Commission.Shenon writes about an eleventh-hour discovery of Iran evidence by a 9/11 Commission staff member named Lorry Fenner. Interestingly, while Fenner is finding this Iranian information in National Security Agency files, nearly at the same time, Staff Director Philip Zelikow and Staff Member Dieter Snell are also doing an eleventh-hour re-write of the Saudi section of the 9/11 Commission’s Final Report so as to downplay and discount the Saudi role in the 9/11 attacks. (FYI,Snellis one of the 9/11 Staffers who happily provided an affidavit in the aforementioned Iran lawsuit. How convenient.)
CIA seal in lobby of the spy agency’s headquarters. (U.S. government photo)
Some background research on Fenner reveals, according to Shenon’s book, that Fenner was placed on the Commission staff with encouragement by Jamie Gorelick. Some believe that Gorelick, herself an “old friend” of CIA Director George “slam dunk” Tenet, might have been placed on the Commission to downplay CIA failures and protect the agency from undue exposure — for which the CIA had plenty — particularly when it comes to the CIA’s role with regard to Saudi Arabia and Al Qaeda, generally, and the 9/11 hijackers, specifically. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that Gorelick’s reported staff pick, Fenner, is responsible for this eleventh-hour investigation into NSA files.
First, according to Shenon’s book, Fenner was a staffer assigned to an entirely different part of the Commission’s investigation and was, therefore, not officially authorized to be investigating NSA files when she made her belated discovery about Iran playing a role in the 9/11 attacks. Reportedly, according to Shenon, other 9/11 Commission staffers who did similar things (i.e. went outside official channels toinvestigate matters like the Saudis) weresummarily fired for going outside their investigative purview. It appears that Fenner did not meet the same fate from her Iranian forays. In fact, it appears that she received Staff Director Zelikow’s approval for same. Second, it’s probably not exactly surprising that a staffer placed on the Commission by someone like Gorelick (think CIA) would want to find dirt inNSA filesas a way to discount and distract from the CIA’s own failures and facilitations. And, what better way to do this than by rifling through NSA files and finding information that pins blame on Iran so as to downplay the CIA’s largest 9/11angle of exposure, the role played by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In other words, Fenner’s foray was meant as a distraction.
Thus, Fenner singlehandedly pours over “tens of thousands” of documents that are “densely written, with code names and abbreviations and acronyms and geographic locations that she would not understand,” and miraculously (within a few hours) discovers proof that Iran played a role in 9/11 — EUREKA! Yes, in the tens of thousands upon thousands of NSA documents — Fenner apparently found what she was likely sent to look for: a crumb of Iranian evidence.
But, according to Shenon’s account, Fenner needed more evidence. So according to Shenon, knowing that she was not supposed to be operating inside the NSA files, Fenner asked for help from a Commission ally who could legally operate within the confines of the NSA files. Shenon reports that Fenner turns to Lloyd Salvetti for help. It should come as no surprise that Salvetti, according to Shenon, is a former CIA career officer (and Staff Director Philip Zelikow’s appointee to the Commission).
Together, Salvetti and Fenner engaged the support of yet another Commission staffer, Doug MacEachin, who also, according to Shenon, just happens to be a veteran CIA analyst. How shocking. Shenon writes that these three staffers focused on these NSA files literally during the last few days, indeed the very last weekend, of the Commission’s investigative lifespan.
According to Shenon, the three learned that the connections between Hezbollah and Iran and Al Qaeda were much more “direct” and “recent” than previously thought. And, they wanted to make sure this vital information made it into the Commission’s Final Report that was about to go to press. Perhaps, due in large part toZelikow and Snell’s last-minute edits and rewrites to the Saudi sectionof the 9/11 Commission’s Final Report (also reported by Shenon in his book), the new Iran evidence could be added just in time.
Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden
(A little known fact about the Commission’s Final Report is the very tightpublishing restrictionsplaced on the Commission’s Final Report by its publisher, Norton. In short, apparently, the 9/11 Commission’s Final Report couldn’t exceed a certain page limit. Thus, a heavy editing hand was required in writing the Final Report. Good to know the nation’s worst terrorist attack that killed 3,000 people was abridged for space concerns! And what bother if the damning evidence about the Saudis had to be cut out!)
Nevertheless, this Iran evidence needed to get out to the public. In fact, in June 2004, 9/11 Commission ChairmanThomas Keanfelt compelled to say, “We believe that there were a lot more active contacts, frankly, with Iran and with Pakistan than there were with Iraq.” Unfortunately, by that time, President Bush’s war in Iraq was well underway.Iran would have to wait.
As for theIranian connections to 9/11, upon inspection, it is likely far less than what can be found about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. After all, super-sleuth Fenner and her two CIA cohorts only found approximately100 instancesof Iran being mentioned in the thousands and thousands of pages of NSA files.
Now, I don’t fancy myself a mathematician but let’s just say that out of 60,000 files, the word “Iran” was mentioned 100 times? Folks, that’s less than .001%. Not exactly an overwhelming number when you consider how many times those three intrepid investigators also probably came across “KSA,” “UAE,” “Pakistan,” and/or “Qatar” in those documents.
Reportedly according to Shenon, the NSA files “showed that Iranian authorities had helped facilitate the travels of several of the 9/11 hijackers in the year before the attacks. There was nothing to suggest Iran or Hezbollah leaders had knowledge of the 9/11 plot. But there was plenty of evidence to show that they had made special arrangements to allow many of the 9/11 hijackers to visit or pass through Iran,” from Afghanistan.
Notably, the Iranian border control policy was a sort of blanket special treatment extended to Al Qaeda members transiting Iran from Afghanistan — they simplydid not stamp their passports and gave border security instructions to not harass them, in general. In other words, the failure to stamp these 8 hijackers’ passports was not an isolated and/or unique incident.
It’s important to also know that underinterrogation detaineesKhalid Sheikh Mohammad and Ramzi bin al Shibh acknowledged that some of the 9/11 hijackers passed through Iranbut that the Iranian government had no knowledge of the plot. Of course, this information is problematic since it was gained via torture. In addition, most of the information found in the NSA files that was discovered by Fenner, Salvetti and MacEachin was apparently written by the NSAafter the 9/11 attacks— in fact, one of the files was written as late asAug. 9, 2002.
These revelations could seem to discount the authenticity and weight of the Iran evidence (especially given the fact that Iran was then on the Bush administration’s “regime change” hit list as part of the “axis of evil”).
Nevertheless, a federal court relied on this evidence surrounding thefacilitation of travelof some of the 9/11 hijackers to find the government of Iran accountable for the murder of 3,000 on 9/11. Forgive me for asking, but doesn’t this legal threshold for the chain of causation seem considerably lower than that for Saudi Arabia and others?
For example, such “facilitation of travel” for Al Qaeda operatives is somewhat akin to how the CIA facilitated the travel of Al Qaeda operatives pre-9/11 by arranging/granting approval for visas and/or failing to “watchlist” certain known Al Qaeda terrorists when they entered the United States. Frankly, the CIA has a long (and lethal) history of doing this kind of “facilitation of travel.”
For example, in 1993, at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, it was a CIA officer who signed the May 1990 visa request thatallowed Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman— the Blind Sheikh — to enter the United States. In fact, “Central Intelligence Agency officersreviewedall seven applications made by Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman to enter the United States between 1986 and 1990 and only once turned him down because of his connections to terrorism.”Three years later,the Blind Sheikh helped carry out the first World Trade Center attack killing six people and injuring more than a thousand. The CIA was not held accountable.
Undeterred, the CIA went on to also help “facilitate the travel” of (at least) two 9/11 hijackers, Khalid al Mihdar and Nawaf al Hazmi bypurposefully withholdingtheir visa information from the FBI and failing to “watchlist” the two terrorists for a full 18 months before the 9/11 attacks. Moreover,four days before the 9/11 attacks, even though these two men were considered “armed and dangerous” and “potentially participating in terrorist acts” that might have included the use of weapons of mass destruction, the instructions to law enforcement was to let these terrorists go because they were part of an ongoing investigation.
Three thousand people, including my husband, were killed during the September 11th attacks as a result of these two men being let into this country by the CIA. Unfortunately, no federal judge has ever held the CIA accountable for, in my humble opinion, arguably doingmore thanat least Iran with respect to the “facilitation of travel” for the 9/11 hijackers.
Hijacked plane about to strike the second of New York City’s Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001.
And, then there’s theUAEwhich also, in my humble opinion, arguably “facilitated the travel” of the 9/11 hijackers in a far larger way and degree than the Republic of Iran. Indeed,17 of the 19 9/11 hijackers passed through Dubaiairport in the immediate months leading up to the 9/11 attacks (that’s long after far fewer — only eight, not 17 — of these same menunknowinglypassed through Iran, by the way).
Moreover, nearlyall of the financing of the 9/11 attacks flowed through the UAE, as well. In addition, when Osama bin Laden was forced to leave Sudan and had to flee to Afghanistan, he was permitted toland in Dubaito refuel his airplane. Nobody knows what would have happened if the UAE did not extend this courtesy to bin Laden back in 1997 — perhaps he wouldn’t have had the ability to build his Afghan training camps, recruit Al Qaeda operatives, or plan the 9/11 attacks.
Thanks to the UAE, we’ll never know. But really, when one examines the “facilitation of travel” of the 9/11 hijackers and Osama bin Laden, doesn’t it seem like UAE has more to answer for than the Republic of Iran?
And, I am not saying that Iran is innocent. They are not innocent when it comes to other issues of terrorism. What I am asking for is the fair and honest application of the same standards of proof and evidence to be applied across the board to all entities that played a role in the 9/11 attacks — not just thenations that the U.S. government wants to demonize and go to war with.
One must wonder what otherbits of evidencemight have been found if the full NSA files were ever actually examined by a truly independent investigation — especially since the NSA (and CIA) had reportedly monitored what’s called the “Al Qaeda Switchboard” since 1996. Inshort, because of this surveillance of the Al Qaeda switchboard, the NSA and CIA already had the information that could have stopped the 9/11 attacks but the CIA withheld the critical information from the FBI for whatever reasons.
Unfortunately, nearlyall of the NSA information and evidence(with the exception of the scant evidence used to pin blame on Iran) has beenleft completely unexaminedfor the past 16 years — and that, in and of itself, is acrime.
Nevertheless, for right now, some in the U.S. government, forforeign policy reasons, seem to favor pinning the blame for the 9/11 attacks on the Republic of Iran. Historically speaking, the 9/11 Families have learned that when the U.S. government assigns blame (or blocks the assignment of blame) to another foreign government for whatever crime it has committed (or not committed), it’stypically done to servea veryclear foreign policy agendaof the United States — and certainly not done to provide any modicum of justice to the victims and their families.Just ask someof thefamilies of the Pan Am Lockerbiebombing, or thefamilyof American journalistCharles Horman(who was murdered during the CIA-backed coup in Chile in 1973), or any othervictim of terrorism.
To quoteCharles Horman’s widow, “There is still a long way to go: the United States military continues to lie to the public, and take every opportunity available to cover up their abuses of power. We all have an interest inuncovering the truth. Charles’ mother, Elizabeth, often used the refrain, ‘we will leave no stone unturned.’ That, too, is mymission, and should be the goal of all those dedicated to a just world in which no individual is too big, or too powerful, to answer for their crimes.”
My husband Ron was killed — murdered in cold blood. Sixteen years after I watched him — on live television — either burn alive, get crushed to death, or jump out of a window of the 94th floor of the World Trade Center to escape the horror, the smoke and flames, I still don’t know all of thefacts and circumstancessurrounding how and why the 9/11 attacks occurred.I want to know why 3,000 innocent, beautiful souls were wantonly killed that day. And the people — every single last one of them — who are responsible for my husband’s murder along with the slaughter of 3,000 othersmust be held accountable for their crimes.
Kristen Breitweiseris a 9/11 widow and activist who – working with other 9/11 widows known collectively as the “Jersey Girls” – pressured the U.S. government to conduct a formal investigation into the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. This article previously appeared at HuffingtonPost and is reposted with permission. Follow Kristen Breitweiser on Twitter:www.twitter.com/kdbreitweiser.