Nearly 12 years after 9/11, there are still questions about the individuals and groups behind America’s most deadly terror attack. And now, newly-released FBI reports are raising more questions after they seemingly link one Saudi family that once resided in Florida to some of the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attack.
That family is the al-Hijji family, according to the Miami Herald (based on a report by BrowardBulldog.org). In the past, that family’s head — Abdulaziz al-Hijji — has denied ties to the assailants responsible for the horrific event, but his family’s apparent connections are now emerging in recently-obtained U.S. documentation.
New records were released by the FBI amid a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by BrowardBulldog.org, an investigative news web site. Intriguing — and some might argue disturbing — information is presented within them. Some political leaders believe that this information could provide more insight about how terrorists were able to carry out such a massive attack.
But, while some of the documents do seem to tie the family to 9/11 hijackers, more recent FBI information present in the documents denies viable relationships were found (the documentation can be read in its entirety here). A Sept. 2010 document reads, “The FBI found no evidence that connected the family members mentioned in the Miami Herald article to any of the 9/11 hijackers, not was any connection found between the family and the 9/11 plot.”
According to the Miami Herald, the records came out in two tiers. First, there are documents pertaining to reports and written information from 2001 and 2002, directly following the Sept. 11 attacks. Then, there are letters and e-mails from 2010 and 2011, when media first noted that an investigation into the family took place. Here’s one older record showing connections between the family and those involved in the terror attack:
The al-Hijji family purportedly fled its home just weeks before Sept. 11, 2001 and, according to earlier FBI records, they had “many connections” to the individuals associated with the terror attack. The Miami Herald explains how the contents in these newly-released documents may shed additional light on the 9/11 attacks:
A Saudi family who “fled” their Sarasota area home weeks before 9/11 had “many connections” to “individuals associated with the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001,” according to newly released FBI records.
One partially declassified document, marked “secret,” lists three of those individuals and ties them to the Venice, Fla., 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 twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center, killing nearly 3,000 people. Jarrah was the hijacker-pilot of United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania.
The names, addresses and dates of birth of the three individuals tied to the flight school were blanked out before the records were released to BrowardBulldog.org amid ongoing Freedom of Information Act litigation.
Again, it’s important to note that the FBI later said that there were no connections between the family and the hijackers. Furthermore, the family claims that its departure was scheduled. Clearly, there’s some disagreement.
The records are 31 pages long, although there are some areas that are blackened out and four pages were not released (so, there are 35 pages in sum), as authorities cited national security for these exclusions. The new information about the family’s ties sparks questions about what role, if any, Saudi Arabia played in the attacks (or, at the least, if the terrorists had additional help from other Saudis in the U.S.).
As the Herald noted earlier this month, the newer information in the document runs counter to previous statements made by FBI agents who said that an investigation found evidence linking hijackers to the al-Hijjis family. It has been nearly two years since the Herald and the BrowardBulldog.org first released information about the family and its alleged ties to 9/11 terrorists.
According to those earlier reports, neighbors tipped the FBI after the attacks, noting that the family fled in August of 2001, leaving cars, personal items and food behind. The Herlad continues, providing more information about the new revelations:
The FBI records as released do not identify al-Hijji or anyone else by name, citing various exemptions that protect persons’ names in law enforcement records. The names are apparent, however, because the documents describe unique, known events and were released in specific response to a request for information about the investigation at the al-Hijji residence.
An April 16, 2002, FBI report says “repeated citizen calls” led to an inspection of the home by agents of the Southwest Florida Domestic Security Task Force.
“It was discovered that the [family name deleted] left their residence quickly and suddenly. They left behind valuable items, clothing, jewelry and food in a manner that indicated they fled unexpectedly without prior preparation or knowledge,” the report says. “Further investigation of the [name deleted] family revealed many connections between the [name deleted] and individuals associated with the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001.”
The report lists three of those individuals. While their identities remain secret, the first person on the list was described as “a [name deleted] family member.”
That person and a second individual were said to be flight students at Huffman Aviation — the flight school at the Venice Municipal Airport attended by hijackers Atta and al-Shehhi.
Previously, Abdulaziz al-Hijji has said that he had no connection to the 9/11 plot. Rather than fleeing the home in haste, he has claimed that he and his family left so that he could take a job with Aramco, a Saudi oil company. It was reported in 2012 that he was living in London, although the company now claims that he is no longer in that office.
Despite denials, it seems some of the 9/11 terrorists have been to Hijji’s home. The Telegraph reported in 2012 that security records for the gated community that the al-Hijji home was located in show that Mohamed Atta, the leader of the terrorist team responsible for hijacking planes on 9/11, visited a number of times. Additionally, the outlet reported that Al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah also visited the home.
This already-known information teamed with new revelations provided in the FBI documents are causing some, like Sen. Bob Graham to wonder if there was a broader Saudi network in the U.S. that assisted the terrorists in carrying out the 9/11 attacks.
Graham, a Democrat, is seeking a new investigation into the situation to learn more about the extent to which a network may have gone. Following the release of the documents, Graham made it clear that he believes the 9/11 hijackers may have had assistance.
“One question that has gone unanswered through the investigation of 9/11 is, ‘Did the hijackers operate alone or did they have accomplices who facilitated their ability to act?’” he told the Herald. “I think the information we have now makes a very strong case that they did.”
The senator maintains that a deeper investigation into the family’s alleged ties could be helpful in gleaning more information about what led to the loss of thousands of American lives.
“What we’ve discovered in Sarasota may be another step toward exposing a larger network of Saudi-related individuals who assisted the hijackers,” he said.
For more about the new FBI documents that add more information about the family, read the Herald report.
(H/T: Zero Hedge)
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