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Image Credit: AP

Last week marked the 18th anniversary of the carnage at the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York, by aircraft allegedly piloted by Arabs ramming into them. And in the same week, the US Justice Department disclosed the name of the Saudi official who is said to have helped the hijackers carry out the 9/11 terror attacks. The name is not meant to be public.

Now the northeast flight corridor of the United States is unquestionably the most monitored area in the word through satellites and ground radar. It ensures security for the political and financial centres of the United States. For aircraft flying way out of course for more than an hour and not raising a single alarm at any of the government monitoring agencies was a blow to the reputation and efficiency of the US federal agencies responsible for keeping the skies safe.

Following the attacks in 2001, the US claimed that 15 of the 19 attackers were Saudi citizens and led by Osama Bin Laden, a man who had previously helped Afghans fight the Russian invasion of their country.

At the time, some facts emerged that seemed to suggest a full-scale Saudi involvement in the terror attack. Passenger manifests of the aircraft involved in the attack were released displaying 19 names, 15 of whom held Saudi passports. Names of other suspects were included but later disregarded following the intensive investigation.

Religious fanatics

Some facts don’t add up.

The black boxes, normally deemed to be virtually indestructible, of the two aircraft involved in the twin tower attacks in New York were deemed beyond service. A Saudi passport was found a few blocks away from the site of the tower buildings rubble.

A vehicle allegedly rented by one of the attackers was found parked at Logan Airport in Boston with Arabic material was strewn all over the back seat for all to see. And a flight handbook in Arabic? (Flight crew will tell you that training material is always in the language of the manufacturer. And the aircraft that were flown were assembled in Seattle!)

This strong-arm tactic used by some Americans to try to dip into the country’s wealth, based on the alleged actions of a few individuals carrying Saudi passports, doesn’t make sense.

- Tariq A. Al Maeena, Saudi socio-political commentator

A major US network at the time reported that two of the Arab hijackers were involved in a bar altercation in Florida sometime before the bombings. This was over the price of alcoholic drinks. I’ve always wondered how some religious fanatics or terrorists would be preparing to meet God in a state of drunkenness, or with alcohol coursing through his veins!

In late 2002, US President George W. Bush signed on congressional legislation to establish the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9/11 Commission), an independent, bipartisan commission whose charter was to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including ‘preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks. The commission is also mandated to provide recommendations designed to guard against future attacks.’ The 9/11 Commission did not find evidence that the Saudi government or senior Saudi officials were involved in any manner pertaining to the attacks on September 11, 2001.

Strong-arm tactic

Relatives of many of the victims were not entirely satisfied and perhaps encouraged by avaricious lawyers eying the golden prize of dipping into Saudi coffers, kept petitioning politicians to pursue more action and three years ago, the JASTA law, short for justice against sponsors of terrorism was passed by both the US Senate and by the House of Representatives with no opposition. The law permits civil claims brought upon by the US against a foreign state or official for injuries, death, or damages from an act of international terrorism.

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The Saudis has repeatedly reiterated that they were not involved in any way, period! This strong-arm tactic used by some Americans to try to dip into the country’s wealth, based on the alleged actions of a few individuals carrying Saudi passports, doesn’t make sense.

I support full disclosure of all evidence pertaining to the 9/11 attacks and to hold whoever was involved in one of the most dastardly acts of terrorism responsible. But I will also stand for my nation in denouncing any attempts by people motivated by greed to place the blame on my country or its people. A passport does not make a nation.

— Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena