Neighbors in an upscale Sarasota subdivision had become suspicious almost immediately following the 9/11 attacks of the circumstances concerning the abrupt departure of the Saudi residents who occupied an upscale home in their subdivision. The family abruptly left the home at the end of August, 2001, leaving behind virtually all of their personal possessions in the home and several vehicles, and never returned. Alerted by neighbors, the FBI searched the home and immediately learned of the home's owners' ties to several of the 9/11 terrorists, including the ringleader, Mohamed Atta. Several of the 9/11 attackers lived not far from the home prior to the attacks and had learned how to fly planes at a nearby aviation school. One of the neighbors voicing concerns, Larry Berberich, had actually been among the group of Sarasota residents who welcomed President George W. Bush to a Sarasota elementary school he visited on the day of the attacks.
WhoWhatWhy delved deeper into the mystery of the Saudi businessman who owned the Sarasota home and learned that he was a rather prominent Saudi businessman with close ties to Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, the member of the Saudi royal family most involved in aviation. A lawsuit brought in federal district court by the Broward Bulldog sought to force the FBI to release documents about the investigation surrounding the abandoned Sarasota home. While the FBI is seeking to block release of much of the information concerning the investigation on national security grounds, the information it did release should be making national headlines. The Miami Herald sums up the released information:
The government’s latest court filings, thick with veiled references to foreign counterintelligence operations and targets, deepen the mystery about a once-secret FBI investigation of Esam and Deborah Ghazzawi and their tenants, son-in-law and daughter, Abdulaziz and Anoud al-Hijji . . .
The FBI later confirmed the existence of the probe, but said it found no evidence connecting the Ghazzawis or the al-Hijjis to the hijackers or the 9/11 plot.
The newly released FBI records contradict the FBI’s public denials. One report dated April 4, 2002, says the investigation “revealed many connections” between the Saudis who fled Sarasota and “individuals associated with the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001.”
The report goes on to list three of those individuals and connect them to the Venice, Florida, flight school where suicide hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi trained. The names of those individuals were not made public.
The FBI removed additional information in the report, citing a pair of national security exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act.
In his declaration to U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch, the FBI’s Hardy sought to explain those deletions and others. He said information was withheld “to protect an intelligence method utilized by the FBI for gathering intelligence data.” Such methods include confidential informants.
Hardy, who stated that he has been designated a “declassification authority” by Attorney General Eric Holder, said redactions regarding the Sarasota investigation were also made to protect “actual intelligence activities and methods used by the FBI against specific targets of foreign counterintelligence investigations or operations.”
“The information obtained from the intelligence activities or methods is very specific in nature, provided during a specific time period and known to very few individuals,” Hardy said.
No details were provided, but Hardy said the information was “compiled regarding a specific individual or organization of national security interest.” He added that its disclosure “reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage to the national security.”
Disclosure would reveal the FBI’s “current specific targets” and “allow hostile entities to discover the current intelligence gathering methods used and reveal the criteria and priorities assigned to current intelligence or counterintelligence investigations,” Hardy said.
“With the aid of this detailed information, hostile entities could develop countermeasures which would, in turn, severely disrupt the FBI’s intelligence gathering capabilities” and damage efforts “to detect and apprehend violators of the United States’ national security and criminal laws.”
For months, the FBI claimed it had no responsive documents regarding its Sarasota investigation. But on March 28, Hardy unexpectedly announced the Bureau had located and reviewed 35 pages of records. It released 31 of them.
Prosecutor Fernandez now contends the FBI conducted a “reasonable search” and that “no agency records are being improperly withheld.”
Her motion asks the court to grant summary judgment in the government’s favor.From the very beginning of the investigation, there were signs that pointed to the government covering up a potential role of the Saudis in the 9/11 attacks. It's not surprising that such efforts would be made if you consider the fact that the Saudi royal family is a puppet regime for the U.S. government. It's always been known that 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers received visas to enter the U.S. at a consulate in Saudi Arabia run by the CIA. FBI whistle blower Sibel Edmonds and a State Department official who worked at the consulate have disclosed the role the CIA played in authorizing the issuance of visas to persons initially denied visas by State Department officials working there. We also knew that while every other American flight was grounded after 9/11, several private aircraft owned by the Saudis were allowed to depart the U.S. with a number of prominent Saudi residents, including relatives of bin Laden.
WhoWhatWhy's Russ Bakers says the significance of the latest disclosures cannot be understated. The information clearly reveals substantial evidence that the Sarasota home was used as a command center of sorts for the 9/11 hijackers and that the FBI withheld that information from not only the public, but key congressional investigators and the 9/11 Commission. "And with the connections documented by WhoWhatWhy, it is almost impossible not to conclude some kind of awareness, either before or after the act, on the part of Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud and the powerful clique he represents within the royal clan," Baker opines. He notes that the newly-released information confirms a strong Saudi link to the 9/11 attacks, that the FBI lied when it claimed no such links existed, and that the FBI now seeks to block further disclosures in the name of national security.
Bakers draws analogies to the more recent case of the Boston Marathon bombings. The FBI lied initially about its past contacts with the Tsarnaev brothers and family members until their mother publicly outed their role in handling her sons while speaking in their defense from her home in Russia. Later, the Russian government came forward with information it had shared about the Tsarnaevs with both the FBI and the CIA long before the Boston bombings. Alternative news investigative journalists linked the Tsaraevs' uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, to a former top CIA official with whom he had once lived as his son-in-law, and his employment by USAID, a CIA cut out organization, as well as his past employment with several energy companies tied to Haliburton. The FBI also initially claimed one of its agents had shot and killed one of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's friends in his Florida apartment several weeks after the bombing during an interrogation of him after he supposedly lunged at the agent with a knife. Later, the FBI admitted the man was unarmed, and the friend's father showed pictures to the media that confirmed his son had been shot at least 7 times, including once in the back of the head.
Baker draws three conclusions from the latest revelations: the FBI has long known about the Saudi royal family's ties to the 9/11 terrorists and is concerned about the public knowledge of that information; the FBI continues to lie and suppress information in the name of national security; and the mainstream media continues "to demonstrate how weak, compromised and intimidated it is." The fact that most Americans rely on the mainstream media for their source of news is "alarming" Baker says.