New FBI records connecting Saudis who lived in Sarasota before 9/11 to individuals associated with the terrorist attacks has spurred a renewed push to find out whether the al Qaeda suicide hijackers who killed nearly 3,000 people had help.
One question that has gone unanswered through the investigation of 9/11 is, Did the hijackers operate alone or did they have accomplices who facilitated their ability to act? said former Florida Sen. Bob Graham. I think the information we have now makes a very strong case that they did.
Graham, co-chair of Congresss Joint Inquiry into the attacks a decade ago, met Tuesday with Senate Intelligence Committee member Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, to discuss disclosures in the FBI records released to BrowardBulldog.org.
Hes very interested in getting to the bottom of the events in Sarasota, said Graham, who plans to meet with senior Obama administration officials in Washington next week.
The fact is that most of the hijackers spoke no English and had not been in the U.S. before, yet were able to carry out a very complicated plot while maintaining anonymity, said Graham. What weve discovered in Sarasota may be another step toward exposing a larger network of Saudi-related individuals who assisted the hijackers.
The FBI records provide new information about an investigation into what occurred prior to 9/11 at the upscale home of Abdulaziz al-Hijji and his family in the gated community of Prestancia. Information in the records contradicts prior FBI statements that no evidence was found connecting the al-Hijjis to 9/11.
The names of individuals were redacted before the reports were made public, but are apparent because the documents describe unique, known events. The records were released in response to a specific request for information about the probe at al-Hijjis former residence at 4224 Escondito Cir.
Agents determined the al-Hijjis fled their home on August 27, 2001 two weeks before the attacks leaving behind three cars, furniture, clothing, toys, food and other items.
Further investigation of the [name deleted] family revealed many connections between the [name deleted] and individuals associated with the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001, says an April 16, 2002 FBI report.
The report lists three of those individuals. Two, including one described as a family member, were described as students at the nearby Venice airport flight school where suicide hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi trained. The third person lived with some flight students, the report says.
BrowardBulldog.org previously reported that a counterintelligence officer speaking on condition of anonymity said an FBI examination of gatehouse log books and photos of license tags revealed that vehicles linked to the future hijackers visited al-Hijjis residence. Phone records also reportedly showed indirect ties to the hijackers.
FBI agent Gregory Sheffield was the lead agent on the case. He wrote two released 2002 reports, including one citing connections between al-Hijji and others tied to the attacks, the counterterrorism official said. Sheffields name is blanked out of the FBI documents, too.
On July 22, 2002, Sheffield interviewed al-Hijjis wife, Anoud, and mother-in-law, Deborah Ghazzawi regarding possible terrorist activity. The women, who had returned briefly to the home, denied fleeing before 9/11 or knowing certain unnamed individuals, according to the 2002 reports.