NEWSWEEK WRITES March 11, 2019....An advocate for the families of victims and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks said that Republican and Democrat administrations have taken the side of Saudi Arabia over American citizens impacted by the tragedy. "They've all handled it the same," Terry Strada, the national chairwoman of 9/11 Families and Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism, told Hill.TV co-host Krystal Ball. "They have sided with the Saudis more than they have sided with the 9/11 families,” the Washington, D.C. news site reported Monday. However, Strada pointed out that President Donald Trump had not “done anything, to my knowledge, that has hurt us.” She reminded Ball that Trump actually supported the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) before he was elected. Although the legislation passed Congress, it was vetoed by former President Barack Obama. Congress garnered the votes to override his veto, allowing the bill to inevitably pass. “Democrat, Republican, past administrations, they usually side with the Saudis," Strada said. "Obama, he vetoed the bill that we needed to pass, and we came back and overrode his veto. Unanimously we passed it out of the Senate, unanimously out of the House, and then we came back with a veto override, his one and only veto override of his entire presidency." The attacks of September 11, 2001, commonly referred to as 9/11, were orchestrated by Saudi Arabian citizen and Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers who carried out the terrorist attacks were Saudi citizens, while the others hailed from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon. Saudi Arabia has consistently denied any government involvement in the attacks, but a lawsuit by victims’ families alleged that the Saudi embassy paid for two Saudi Al-Qaeda terrorists Mohammed al-Qudhaeein, Hamdan al-Shalawi to fly from Phoenix to Washington two years before the hijackings as part of a "dry run" to prepare for the attacks, according to Al Jazeera. Their lawyers said it was part of "a pattern of both financial and operational support.” The lawsuit targeting Saudi Arabia was allowed to move forward after JASTA was passed. Obama had attempted to block the measure. Trump publicly voiced his support for JASTA at the time, criticizing Obama’s veto as “shameful.” However, since taking office, the president has become staunchly supportive of Saudi Arabia. In the wake of the murder of journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi late last year, Trump defended the Middle Eastern kingdom as a “great ally” and praised close ties between Washington and Riyadh.
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PHOENIX CONNECTION: Saudi Al-Qaeda terrorists Mohammed al-Qudhaeein, Hamdan al-Shalawi, Hani Hanjour and Nawaf al Hazmi were in Phoenix years before 9/11. Two years before 9/11 attacks Saudi Embassy in Washington paid the airfare for two Saudi nationals living undercover in the US as students to fly from Phoenix to Washington “in a dry run for the 9/11 attacks,” alleges the amended complaint filed on behalf of the families of some 1,400 victims who died in the terrorist attacks 18 years ago. The story cites FBI documents in the complaint alleging Saudi students Mohammed al-Qudhaeein and Hamdan al-Shalawi were in fact members of "the Kingdom's network of agents in the US", and participated in the conspiracy. During the flight in November 1999, the Saudis are reported to have attempted to get into the plane's cockpit to test security. The pilots made an emergency landing because of the incident, and the men were interrogated by the FBI, which eventually let them go. According to the Post story, the FBI confirmed the men's airline tickets were paid for by the Saudi embassy in Washington. Citing FBI documents, the complaint alleges that the Saudi students — Mohammed al-Qudhaeein and Hamdan al-Shalawi — were in fact members of “the Kingdom’s network of agents in the US,” and participated in the terrorist conspiracy. They had trained at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan at the same time some of the hijackers were there. And while living in Arizona, they had regular contacts with a Saudi hijacker pilot, Hani Hanjour, and Ghassan al Sharbi a senior al Qaeda leader from Saudi now incarcerated at Gitmo. At least one tried to re-enter the US a month before the attacks as a possible muscle hijacker but was denied admission because he appeared on a terrorist watch list.
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, CUBA A review board has decided that a Saudi prisoner who attended flight school in the U.S. and was trained to make explosives by al-Qaida should continue to be held without charge. The Periodic Review Board said in a decision released Friday that Ghassan Abdallah al-Sharbi, 41, should remain in custody at the U.S. base in Cuba because he remains a security threat. He spoke with candor at his June 23 board hearing, the decision said. Sharbi attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, and later went to a U.S. flight school, where he “associated with” two of the 9/11 hijackers, according to a profile released by the Pentagon before his review board hearing. Authorities said he later received training by al-Qaida in the manufacture of improvised explosive devices and was captured in a raid on a terrorist safe house in Faisalabad, Pakistan in 2002. One of Guantanamo Bay’s most dangerous and longest-held terror suspects is a Saudi national who knows how to fly planes and build sophisticated bombs, speaks fluent English and remains committed to killing Americans, say former U.S. officials who dealt with Ghassan al Sharbi face-to-face.Revelations last week that Al Sharbi’s flight training certificate, tucked into a Saudi Arabian Embassy envelope, had been found in 2003 among a trove of documents buried in Pakistan following his arrest there, raised fresh questions about the Kingdom’s possible involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Although Al Sharbi, who trained with several of the 9/11 hijackers at an Arizona flight school, did not take part in the attacks, he is seen as one of the most lethal and committed terrorists held at the military base
"This is a window of opportunity you are seldom presented with." Hanjour would end up with Alhamzi and Al-Midhar on American Airlines Flight 77, the jet that smashed into the Pentagon shortly after departing from Dulles airport outside Washington. A government report on the Sept. 11 attacks, which was prepared by a joint House-Senate committee and released today, says the FBI's informant knew that Alhamzi and Al-Midhar were going to flight school in Arizona but never told his FBI handler, Butler, who was in the dark about the significance of the two men. Nawaf alHazmi and a longtime friend, Khalid al-Mihdhar, left their homes in Saudi Arabia in 1995 to fight for Muslims in the Bosnian War. Hazmi later traveled to Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban against the Afghan Northern Alliance. He returned to Saudi Arabia in early 1999. Already long time affiliates of al-Qaeda with extensive fighting experience, Hazmi and Mihdhar were chosen by Osama bin Laden for an ambitious terrorist plot to pilot commercial airlines into designated targets in the United States. Hazmi and Mihdhar both obtained US tourist visas in April 1999.
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