Center for Security Policy, by Benjamin Weingarten, July 20, 2016:
The infamous 28 previously classified pages from Congress’ joint inquiry into intelligence activities surrounding 9/11 represent far more than a symbolic reckoning with a politically controversial history of apparent Saudi duplicity that the U.S. government felt it imperative to suppress.
As we continue to be struck by jihadists at home and abroad under an at best rudderless and at worst suicidal national security and foreign policy, the report’s substance is live, relevant and beckons critical questions that ought to be demanded by our representatives and the public at large.
Why the federal government in general, and Bush and Obama administrations in particular, sought to keep such information from the public for 15 years is a worthy question, as is the question of why law enforcement did not move to arrest and prosecute or deport many of the individuals associated with the 9/11 attack that were under investigation.
Hindsight is 20/20, it is an open secret that diplomatic officials in foreign countries frequently are involved in pernicious activities like espionage and are provided with certain privileges and immunities if not legally than politically derived. Intelligence and law enforcement officials must use their discretion as to whether to move on suspects or continue monitoring them in the hopes of uncovering bigger networks and threats.
But the suspicious activities and associations of the individuals described in these 28 pages are well beyond the pale, as are many of the report’s other findings.
Here are five of the most consequential points from the 28 declassified pages, along with the critical questions we must be demanding of our government:
- America subordinated National Security to politicsThe first page of the report notes that “Prior to September 11th, the FBI apparently did not focus investigative resources on [redacted] Saudi nationals in the United States due to Saudi Arabia’s status as an American “ally.”Given the House of Saud’s longtime funding of and overall support for Islamic supremacist Wahhabism around the world, this admission is stunning.And it raises questions that we should be asking today.
Does the intelligence community not focus investigative resources on Saudi nationals in America today? How about nationals from other Sunni nations in the Middle East that harbor jihadists? What about Iranian nationals, now that the Islamic Republic upon whom we have lavished over $100 billion and offered protection of their nuclear infrastructure has become ade facto ally against ISIS?
Was the decision not to pursue Saudi nationals a conscious move to subordinate national security considerations to political ones? Is this still American policy?
There are other revelations as well that merit grave concern and inquiry.
- Jihadi front group Proliferated on American soil (and they persist)
Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi intelligence officer who “provided substantial assistance” to two of the 9/11 hijackers was reportedly in contact with individuals under FBI investigation. He also communicated with others at the Holy Land Foundation, which had been under investigation for and ultimately would be charged with providing material support for Hamas as a fundraising front.The federal government today considers individuals from Muslim Brotherhood-tied groups to be legitimate law enforcement partners with whom to consult and to whom to outsource Countering Violent Extremism efforts. Glaringly, law enforcement continues to collaborate with The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)—an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case—in spite of policies to the contrary.Does law enforcement work to identify and monitor the activities of such groups? What are the standards for shutting down such groups? Does law enforcement monitor the activities of those tied to such groups and pursue investigations when merited? What specific policies and practices in place today would prevent other Omar al-Bayoumis from operating on American soil?
- Islamic Supremacist Mosques Proliferated on American Soil (And They Persist)
Several times the 28 pages’ authors make reference to a mosque “widely known for its anti-Western views” that was created in 1998 with funding from the late Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdulaziz. The Culver City, CA-based King Fahad Mosque, then led by among others jihadist-supporting imam Sheikh al-Thumairy—an accredited diplomat at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles—remains open today.This raises a number of questions.If the King Fahad Mosque has not been shut down in spite of the facts described above, on what grounds would the government shut down a mosque? What, if any policies, has the federal government considered in connection with the funding of mosques and other institutions in the U.S. from regimes with ties to jihad? Does law enforcement monitor mosques for anti-Western or other subversive views today? Given exemptions for religious experts, what immigration protections are there to stop Islamic supremacist imams from entering the U.S.?It bears noting that a survey of 100 mosques in America revealed that 84.5% of such mosques had an imam recommending studying violence-positive texts. 58% of mosques invited guest imams who had been known to promote violent jihad.
- Jihadists believed Islamic supremacist immigration had hit critical mass over a decade ago
Another vital section of the report concerns Osama Bassnan, an individual with extensive ties to both two of the 9/11 hijackers and the Saudi government. Page 428 reads:
Bassnan…stated to an FBI asset that he heard that the U.S. Government had stopped approving visas for foreign students. He considered such measures to be insufficient as there are already enough Muslims in the United States to destroy the United States and make it an Islamic state within ten to fifteen years.
Juxtapose this statement with the fact that America has admitted approximately 1.6 million immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries between 2001 and 2013, among other critical data on Islamic immigration compiled by Conservative Review’s Daniel Horowitz.
While Bassnan is just one man, whether our federal government recognizes it or not, immigration is a tenet of jihad known as “Al-Hijra.” While we fret over the potential for jihadist infiltration among refugees from the Middle East today, over a decade ago Islamic supremacists were already claiming that there was a critical mass of Islamic supremacists ready, willing and able to ultimately take down America.
Should not all future immigration policies be formulated based upon an understanding of the jihadis’ goals, strategies and tactics? Should not current homeland security policies be focused upon isolating and removing the jihadist cancer already metastasizing within?
- Saudi self-interest trumped all, and America was (and is) willfully blind
One of the most significant statements in the declassified pages comes courtesy of a veteran New York FBI agent. In light of Saudi recalcitrance when it came to Islamic terrorism investigations before and after 9/11, this agent “stated that, from his point of view, the Saudis have been useless and obstructionist for years. In this agent’s opinion, the Saudis will only act when it is in their self-interest.”The report goes on to cite several examples of Saudi non-cooperation.
What is so critical here is that the FBI agent in question identified openly and honestly the nature of the House of Saud. His description could work for practically all other regimes not only in the Middle East but throughout the world.
One wonders, does U.S. foreign policy start from the first principle of identifying the nature of such regimes, as well as non-state actors with whom they may or may not be allied?
I would submit that self-evidently our national security and foreign policies do not recognize the comprehensive nature of the jihadist threat, Sunni and Shia, state and non-state, violent and civilizational, as has been reflected in numerous examples from the revelations of the recent Senate Judiciary Committee “willful blindness” hearing, to the redaction of the Orlando jihadist transcript, to the purging of documents that identify the very nature of the jihadist threat on American soil from law enforcement offices.
Given the perilous state of America’s national security and foreign policy today with respect to a global jihadist enemy that we fail to even call by its name, it is readily apparent that while we may have identified failures in connection with 9/11, we have not adequately answered the question as to what we must do to prevent such failures in the future.
The declassified 28 pages provide another opportunity for us to ask the necessary questions and seek out answers that may mean the difference between life and death for our nation.