An 'indirect link' between a company Saudi Arabian royalty and phone numbers held by an alleged al-Qaeda member held over the September 11 terror attacks has been revealed in documents kept private by the US government until last month.
After years of the Bush administration refusing to publish the “28 pages” – a congressional report from 2002 which was part of an investigation into the 9/11 attacks – the Obama administration agreed to release the documents in July this year.
The report reveals that a phone log maintained by an alleged senior al-Qaeda operative, Abu Zubaydah, a nom de guerre for Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, included the unlisted phone number for a Colorado company associated with a key member of the Saudi royal family, Prince Bandar bin Sultan.
A former highly-regarded ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar was close to George H W Bush during the lead-up to the Gulf War against Iraq in 1991.
The number was for the company that once managed Prince Bandar’s estate in Colorado. Another phone number was found for a bodyguard who worked at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, the "28 pages", which are actually 29 pages, also show.
"Both of those numbers were unpublished, so they had to have gotten into Zubaydah's phone book through a personal contact who knew what those numbers were and what they represented," said former Senator Bob Graham, co-chair of the congressional commission that compiled the 28 pages, according to CNN.
Zubaydah’s own senior role in al-Qaeda has never been fully confirmed. Indeed, the New York Times and other media outlets say the CIA no longer believes Zubaydah was in Osama bin Laden's inner circle as was once thought to be the case.
A transcript of the 45-year-old Palestinian speaking during a Combatant Status Review Tribunal at Guantanamo Bay back in 2007 shows he said: “They told me, ‘sorry, we discover that you are not Number 3 [in Osama bin Laden’s inner circle], not a partner, not even a fighter.’”
The CIA and FBI concluded that there was no evidence anyone from the Saudi royal family knowingly provided support for the 9/11 attacks.
Saudi officials have denied any possible allegations made against them with regards the 2001 attacks in which nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. They called for the pages to be released so Saudi Arabia could address ongoing accusations over its alleged role in 9/11, and pointed to a 2005 FBI investigation which cleared the Saudi government and royal family of funding or knowledge of the 19 hijackers – 15 of whom were Saudi nationals – who committed the atrocities.
Senator Graham for one has said the indirect connection between Zubaydah’s contact list and the comapny associated with Prince Bandar was “one of the most stunning parts of the investigation” and worthy of pursuing further.
Saudi ambassador to the US Abdullah Al-Saud said in a statement: "Since 2002, the 9/11 Commission and several government agencies, including the CIA and the FBI, have investigated the contents of the ‘28 Pages’ and have confirmed that neither the Saudi government, nor senior Saudi officials, nor any person acting on behalf of the Saudi government provided any support or encouragement for these attacks.
“We hope the release of these pages will clear up, once and for all, any lingering questions or suspicions about Saudi Arabia's actions, intentions, or long-term friendship with the United States.
"Saudi Arabia is working closely with the United States and other allies to eradicate terrorism and destroy terrorist organisations.”
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