LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Lawmakers are calling on the White House to declassify more than two dozen pages in the 9/11 Commission report that they say outlines evidence for possible support from the Saudi government for two hijackers who settled in Southern California.
A CBS News “60 Minutes” report quoted officials familiar with the 2003 report as saying 28 pages of redacted information raises questions over whether Saudi officials were involved in assisting Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar upon their arrival in Los Angeles in Jan. 2000.
Former Democratic congressman and U.S. ambassador to India Tim Roemer told “60 Minutes” the two Saudi nationals found a way to gain access to housing and flight lessons upon their arrival despite “extremely limited language skills and no experience with Western culture.”
“L.A., San Diego, that’s really you know, the hornet’s nest,” said Roemer. “That’s really the one that I continue to think about almost on a daily basis.”
According to the report, witnesses say both al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar met at the King Fahad mosque in Culver City with Fahad al-Thumairy, “a diplomat at the Saudi consulate known to hold extremist views.” He was denied reentry to the U.S. in 2003 for suspected terrorist ties.
Thumairy was a “a ghost employee with a no-show job at a Saudi aviation contractor outside Los Angeles while drawing a paycheck from the Saudi government”, according to the report.
“60 Minutes” also cited phone records that lawmakers say may link Thumairy to Omar al-Bayoumi, a mysterious Saudi who became the hijackers’ biggest benefactor.
Former U.S. Senator Bob Graham said he believes Bayoumi was a Saudi agent, telling CBS News’ Steve Kroft that Bayoumi had “been listed even before 9/11 in FBI files as being a Saudi agent.”
According to “60 Minutes”, Bayoumi visited Thumairy at a Saudi consulate office where he worked on the morning of Feb. 1, 2000. The two then had lunch “at a Middle Eastern restaurant on Venice Boulevard”, a meeting which Bayoumi later claimed was a “coincidence”, Roemer said.
Another 9/11 Commission member, former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey, has read the redacted 28 pages and told Kroft he and “a solid majority of former 9/11 commissioners” believes they should be declassified.
“We all have dealt for our careers in highly classified and compartmentalized in every aspect of security,” Kerrey said. “We know when something shouldn’t be declassified…those 28 pages in no way fall into that category.”
In response to the 60 Minutes report, the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia issued a statement which read in part: “The CBS 60 Minutes program was a compilation of myths and erroneous charges that have been thoroughly addressed not just by the Saudi government but also by the 9-11 Commission and the U.S. courts.”
The White House is reviewing whether to declassify the 28 pages, according to CBS News.
Click here to read the entire “28 Pages” report from 60 Minutes.