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Saudis, Sarasota and the FBI

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Originally published at the Herald-Tribune on April 8, 2014

Instead of following the law and producing documents that could show whether or not Saudis living in Sarasota provided aid and assistance to the 9/11 terrorists, the FBI, a federal judge recently found:

• Provided records with “apparent” and unexplained chronological “gaps.”

• Presented to the court “located documents” that “seem incomplete.”

• Submitted “summary documents” that “do in fact seem to contradict each other.”

The FBI’s handling of requests for documents related to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, which had links to locations and venues in Sarasota County, is unacceptable.

We and anyone interested in knowing more of the truth about 9/11 are grateful that U.S. District Court Judge William Zloch has steadily sought to require the FBI to adequately search for, find and release to the court documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

In contrast, it’s troubling that the nation’s top law-enforcement agency would not only be intransigent but would submit documents with gaps and contradictions to a federal court. The fact that the documents sought are relevant to one of the United States’ greatest domestic tragedies compounds the concerns.

Saudis in Sarasota

The background:

In September 2011, two independent reporters writing for BrowardBulldog.org reported that a family from Saudi Arabia, who lived in Sarasota County’s prestigious Prestancia development prior to September 2001, had connections with individuals associated with terrorism.

The report, reprinted three years ago by the Herald-Tribune, cited documents showing phone calls to the house were made by hijackers who trained in Venice to fly airplanes. The report also said the family was visited by people using a car licensed to Mohammed Atta — who crashed the first plane into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.

The FBI subsequently said the family was not “related to any threat nor connected to the 9/11 plot.”

Yet neither the FBI nor anyone else has explained why the family, closely related to a prominent Saudi financier, abruptly left its Prestancia home two weeks before 9/11 — leaving clothes in closets, food in the refrigerator and three cars in the driveway and garage.

Given the involvement of Saudi terrorists in the attacks, and evidence of Saudi financial support for them, the public deserves more than contradictory and incomplete information from the FBI.

The agency’s credibility in this matter is not helped by the fact that its investigation of the family was not reported to Congress or mentioned in the independent 9/11 Commission report.

A more thorough search

In September and October 2011, the Broward Bulldog and reporter/editor Dan Christensen went to federal court to demand that the FBI release documents relevant to its investigation of the family. (Subsequently, Halifax Media Holdings, which includes the Herald-Tribune, and the Miami Herald filed “friend of the court” briefs in support of the plaintiffs.)

Judge Zloch, a Reagan appointee, has repeatedly ruled that the FBI is not complying with the Freedom of Information Act. The “gaps and consistencies” in documents provided to the court “underscore the need for a more thorough search,” Zloch wrote in an order issued Friday.

The judge went to the trouble of identifying specific search functions for the FBI to perform — citing the names, phrases and software to be used. Zloch gave the bureau deadlines, including one later this month, for conducting the additional search and submitting the relevant documents for his review.

It’s vital to note that it’s not known publicly whether the Saudi family had any role leading up to the attacks. But we do know, according to the FBI, that the family had “many connections” with “individuals associated with the terrorist attacks.” Yet, according to Zloch, the search conducted by the FBI “yielded no documentation” of the investigation.

“This alone moves the court to believe a further search is necessary,” Zloch wrote.

The judge emphasized that the efficacy of the investigation is not the matter before his court. At this point, Zloch wrote, the focus is on whether the FBI has submitted the documents required by federal law.

“Based on the limited information before it now,” Zloch stated, “the court is unable to glean the whole truth.”

The same can be said, unfortunately, for the nation as it relates to many things that happened before and after 9/11.

 

Editor’s Note: See London-based oil executive linked to 9/11 hijackers to discover the  more detailed information about this cover-up:

The home in the Sarasota gated community was visited by Mohamed Atta and several other 9/11 hijackers: they showed ID at the gate and their car’s plates were recorded.

Former Senator Bob Graham has repeatedly spoken out about the 28 redacted pages and Saudi involvement in the attacks.