Sarasota investigation

9/11 family members demand the FBI ‘come clean’ about Sarasota Saudis

A group representing 6,600 survivors and relatives of those killed and injured in the 9/11 attacks has called on the FBI to “come clean” about its investigation of Saudis in Florida who may have aided the terrorist hijackers.

The reaction by 9/11 Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism on Thursday followed news that former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham had accused the FBI in court papers of concealing the existence of its Sarasota investigation and impeding Congress’s Joint Inquiry into the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“After almost 12 years, the time has come for the Department of Justice, the FBI and this administration to give the American people access to the truth about who financed the murder of 3,000 people on 9/11,” said Sharon Premoli, who was pulled from the rubble of the World Trade Center.

Graham, co-chairman of the congressional probe, discussed the FBI’s performance in a sworn declaration given in support of a Freedom of Information lawsuit pending in federal court in Fort Lauderdale. filed the suit last summer while seeking FBI records of its investigation of Esam Ghazzawi, a former advisor to a senior Saudi prince — who, had he lived, was well placed to become king — Ghazzawi’s wife, Deborah, and son-in-law and daughter, Abdulaziz and Anoud al-Hijji.

The Ghazzawis owned the upscale home at 4224 Escondito Circle where the al-Hijjis lived until about two weeks before 9/11. Neighbors called the FBI after the family’s hurried departure — leaving behind cars, furniture and other possessions.

Sources have said that security records — including photos of license plates — from the gated community where the al-Hijjis lived later revealed that vehicles used by the future hijackers had visited the al-Hijji home.

The FBI, however, has publicly denied finding any evidence linking the family to 9/11.

Yet 31 pages of FBI documents released to in March say something very different: that the Sarasota Saudis had “many connections” to “individuals associated with the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001.”

The Justice Department recently asked U.S. District Judge William Zloch to end the lawsuit, citing national security and declaring that it has no more documents to produce.

Bill Doyle, who lives in The Villages, lost his son Joseph in the attacks.

“The FBI keeps contradicting itself,” Doyle said in a statement released by the group on Thursday. “But they can’t have it both ways. And the courts should not let them get away with it.”

Survivor Premoli is a Vermont resident who maintains the advocacy “It is simply implausible that release of this information would interfere with any current national security investigation,” she said. “Rather, the FBI’s obstruction creates at least the perception of a cover-up to protect Saudi potentates.”

Terry Strada, a Mount Vernon, N.J., resident whose husband Tom died in the World Trade Center, said through the group that she believes the Sarasota “documents will lead us to our ultimate goal of truth, accountability and justice we so desperately seek.”

Since 2002, the 9/11 Families group has been suing an array of individuals, banks, corporations and Islamic charities that the group’s lawyers have said were “historically implicated in the sponsoring of al-Qaeda’s terrorist activities.”

The suit, pending in federal court in New York, seeks more than $1 trillion in damages.

Broward Bulldog is a not-for-profit online only newspaper created to provide local reporting in the public interest. 954-603-1351

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