On December 19, the Florida Bulldog, an online news publication, released an October 2012 FBI document, revealing that the Bureau's investigation into Saudi support for the September 11, 2001 terrorists continued for at least a decade after the Joint Congressional Inquiry completed their report and eight years after the 9/11 Commission report partially exonerated the Saudi regime. Attorneys for the Florida publication filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in Federal Court earlier this year, to obtain records relating to the Bureau's internal 9/11 Review Commission.
That internal review commission, chaired by former Reagan Administration Attorney General Edwin Meese, denied that there were new leads on the 9/11 attack, the worst terrorist assault on U.S. territory in history, and sought to discredit an FBI memo citing a second Sarasota, Florida Saudi businessman with close dealings with the Royal Family, who hosted lead hijacker Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 terrorists, and who fled the United States weeks before the attacks.
As part of the Court-ordered document release, the FBI turned over a heavily redacted copy of an FBI "Updates and Initiatives" report dated October 5, 2012 (which was not scheduled to be declassified until December 31, 2037). That document showed that the FBI was still actively investigating leads on 9/11 co-conspirators, and that at least two individuals had been identified as collaborators of two of the hijackers who lived in San Diego for more than a year, prior to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. At least one of those newly identified individuals was working on behalf of Saudi intelligence agents Osama Basnan and Omar al-Bayoumi, and was assigned to assist hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi in their "day-to-day" activities. Basnan and al-Bayoumi were subjects of the recently declassified 28-page chapter from the original December 2002 Joint Inquiry Report, which was suppressed by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama until July of this year. The two Saudi spies were paid at least $50,000 by then-Saudi Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar bin-Sultan, and one of the pair received regular monthly "salary and expense" payments from a Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation contractor.
Although the names of many of the newly identified contacts with the San Diego terrorists were blacked out of the document, two names were released, because both have criminal ties. Osama "Sam" Mustafa owned a gas station near San Diego, where hijacker al-Hazmi worked in 2000. Mustafa was already a subject of FBI terrorism investigations prior to that time frame, and in 2012, Mustafa was arrested in Tampa, Florida on charges he was part of a $17 million tax fraud scheme. Convicted a year later, Mustafa skipped out on a bond and remains a fugitive to this day. He was sentenced ultimately to 20 years in prison.
The other individual, Mohdar Abdullah, was identified in the FBI document as one of two people assigned by al-Bayoumi on February 4, 2000 to assist the two San Diego-based hijackers in their daily lives. Abdullah, the FBI report explained, "played a key role in facilitating the daily lives aned assisting future Flight 77 hijackers." Abdullah was arrested by the FBI on September 19, 2011 and deported on immigration fraud charges. While in detention awaiting deportation, according to the FBI document, "he bragged to two fellow inmates that he assisted the hijackers. The FBI and SDNY have debriefed these individuals."
The heavily redacted FBI four-page memo, which is one of an estimated 1,100 documents to be released to the Florida Bulldog under the FOIA suit, referenced investigations still underway in Copenhagen, Denmark; London, England; and New York City.
Members of Congress are continuing to work with former U.S. Senator and Florida Governor Bob Graham on pursuing full release of all of the still-classified materials relating to 9/11. Graham told the Bulldog that "This [document] has never been disclosed before and it's to the contrary of everything the FBI has produced so far that has indicated that 9/11 is history. It's interesting that it took them 11 years to get there, and a FOIA to get this information to the public."
While the newly released document shows that the FBI continued to develop new leads on the network of support for the hijackers more than a decade after the attacks, and it reinforced leads first contained in the long-suppressed 28 pages, detailing possible Saudi regime backing for the terrorists, it more importantly suggests that U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies will be under renewed pressure to make full disclosure--no matter how it impacts on the already strained U.S.-Saudi relationship.