Saturday, September 18, 2004
With shame we confess that we have not yet picked up a copy of Bob Graham's Intelligence Matters, and are therefore indebted to our distinguished colleagues at the All Spin Zone for reproducing this excerpt from the (subsciption-only) Forward:
In his book, Graham focuses on the contacts between two of the 19 hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, and a Saudi man named Omar al-Bayoum, based in San Diego. Citing an FBI assessment, Graham claims that Bayoumi was a Saudi intelligence agent in charge of monitoring Saudi students . . . .Two of our respected colleagues, Shaula Evans and Michael Miller, have recently brought to our attention one possible explanation for the DoJ's mysterious lapse. It comes from Bob Dole's former chief of staff Stanley Hilton, who is bringing a class-action suit against the US government on behalf of some 400 people whose relatives perished in the 9/11 attacks, and we must warn you in advance: it is quite wild and woolly, and we cannot vouch for its accuracy. If you are not wearing your tinfoil hat, put one on before you click on the link. If you are wearing your tinfoil hat, put another one on top of it.
Graham notes that Bayoumi's salary almost doubled after the two men's arrival, despite the fact that he did not show up for work at the aviation company that employed him — a subcontractor of the government-controlled Saudi civil aviation authority. He also said that Bayoumi had numerous phone conversations with Saudi officials after his encounter with the two men.
Graham cites a CIA agent saying the evidence of Saudi support for the two men is "incontrovertible."
"Saudi Arabia had set up a structure for the purpose of surveillance of Saudis in America, which they made available to Al Qaeda to support at least these two terrorists," Graham said, adding that the FBI had only "lethargically" investigated whether such an infrastructure helped the remainder of the 9/11 group. The senator added that his conversations with the 9/11 staff gave him the impression that the commission relied heavily on an interview with Bayoumi to reach its conclusion.
Graham, whose congressional probe did not talk with Bayoumi, said he was not "too sanguine" about the 9/11 Commission's interview since it took place in Saudi Arabia, probably in the presence of local officials.
Bayoumi left for Britain shortly before the 9/11 attacks. Within three weeks, the FBI asked Scotland Yard to detain him, Graham said. However, the British authorities had to let him loose after no FBI agent showed up to interrogate him within a week, the maximum period they could hold a suspect without charges.