Last year, al-Hijji told a reporter his family did not depart their Sarasota home in haste but left so he could take a job with Aramco in Saudi Arabia. He denied involvement in the 9/11 plot, which he called “a crime against the USA and all humankind.”
The FBI documents also disclose that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., queried Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller about the Sarasota investigation six days after its existence was disclosed in Broward Bulldog/Miami Herald story. Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote Leahy that the FBI’s response to the 9/11 attacks “comprehensive and unprecedented,” and assured him that agents found no evidence of contact between the hijackers and the al-Hijjis.
Similarly, Weich denied an assertion by then Sen. Bob Graham of Florida that the FBI had not turned over its Sarasota records to Congress. The bureau, he stated, made all of its records available and suggested they may have been overlooked by investigators.
The documents the FBI has released do not mention other known aspects of the Sarasota investigation, including information provided to the FBI by al-Hijji’s former friend, Wissam Hammoud.
Hammoud, 47, is a federal prisoner classified by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons as an “International Terrorist Associate.” He is serving a 21-year sentence for weapons violations and attempting to kill a federal agent and a witness in a previous case against him.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement documents obtained by BrowardBulldog.org state that shortly after his 2004 arrest, Hammoud told agents that al-Hijji considered Osama bin Laden a “hero,” may have known some of the hijackers, and once introduced Hammoud to fugitive al-Qaeda leader and ex-Miramar resident Adnan Shukrijumah.
When reached last year, al-Hijji acknowledged having known Hammoud well. He did not, however, respond to a question about Hammoud’s allegations and said Shukrijumah’s name did not “ring a bell.”
What the FBI did about Hammoud’s allegations is not known.
Other FBI documents about Sarasota are known to exist, but were not released, including a report Graham says he read last year but can’t discuss because it is classified.
The Bulldog’s FOIA lawsuit asks U.S. District Judge William Zloch to order the FBI to produce all records of its Sarasota investigation, including the records seen by Graham.
Dan Christensen is the editor of Broward Bulldog. Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, who also contributed to this story. Are co-authors of “The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden.”