Omar al-Bayoumi

Omar al-Bayoumi (Arabic: عمر البيومي‎) is a Saudi national who claims to have befriended, rather than ran as agents, two of the 9/11 hijackers in the United States. FBI files dating back to before the attacks demonstrate that he is a Saudi Arabian intelligence agent.[1]

Saudi Arabia claims that al-Bayoumi is not an agent of theirs.[1] Per previously-classified memoranda released by the National Archives in May 2016, as of June 6, 2003, "the FBI "believes it is possible that he was an agent of the Saudi Government and that he may have been reporting on the local community to the Saudi Government officials. In addition, during its investigation, the FBI discovered that al-Bayoumi has ties to terrorist elements as well."[2]

IncomeEdit

Al-Bayoumi was probably born around 1958, but virtually nothing is known of al-Bayoumi's early life.[citation needed] Until 1994, he lived in Saudi Arabia, working for the Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation, a department headed by Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz.

In August 1994, al-Bayoumi moved to the United States and settled down in San Diego, California, where he became involved in the local Muslim community. He was very inquisitive, and was known to always carry around a video camera. According to several sources,[3][4][5] al-Bayoumi was strongly suspected by many residents of being a Saudi government spy. The man the FBI considered their "best source" in San Diego said that al-Bayoumi "must be an intelligence officer for Saudi Arabia or another foreign power," according to Newsweek magazine.

During this time, al-Bayoumi was in the United States as part of a work-study program.[6] The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation paid al-Bayoumi's salary through a government contractor.[7] When the contractor proposed terminating its relationship with al-Bayoumi in 1999, a Saudi government official replied with a letter marked "extremely urgent" that the government wanted al-Bayoumi's contract renewed "as quickly as possible."[8] As a result, Al-Bayoumi's employment with the project continued.

In June 1998, an anonymous Saudi philanthropist donated $500,000 to have a Kurdish mosque built in San Diego, on the condition that al-Bayoumi be hired as maintenance manager with a private office. The donation was accepted, but because al-Bayoumi rarely showed up for work, the mosque's leadership became unhappy with him.[citation needed] Eventually, they moved to fire him.[citation needed]

Some time in late 1999 or early 2000, Omar al-Bayoumi began receiving another monthly payment—this one from Princess Haifa bint Faisal, the wife of Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. Checks for between $2,000 and $3,000 were sent monthly from the princess, through two or three intermediaries, to al-Bayoumi.[9] The payments continued for several years, totaling between $50,000 and $75,000. According to the recent release of documents by 2002 Congressional Inquiry into the September 11 Attacks, Omar al-Bayoumi was not the recipient of the checks Osama Bassnan wife was. He was a close associate of Omar al-Bayoumi, Bassan made comments to an FBI source "That he did more for the hijackers than al-Bayoumi did." The report further states the even though the money was meant for Bassnan, al-Bayoumi's wife had attempted to deposit three of the checks into her own account.[10]

Al-Hazmi and al-MihdharEdit

On January 15, 2000, after attending the 2000 Al Qaeda Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, future 9/11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar flew from Bangkok, Thailand to Los Angeles. Al-Bayoumi reportedly helped these two hijackers to settle in the United States. During the period that he did so, his salary greatly increased.[11]

The final 9/11 Commission Report noted:

Hazmi and Mihdhar were ill-prepared for a mission in the United States. ... Neither had spent any substantial time in the West, and neither spoke much, if any, English. It would therefore be plausible that they or [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] would have tried to identify, in advance, a friendly contact for them in the United States. ... We believe it unlikely that Hazmi and Mihdhar ... would have come to the United States without arranging to receive assistance from one or more individuals informed in advance of their arrival."

After they landed, Al-Bayoumi met them at a restaurant. He invited them to move to San Diego with him, where he found them an apartment, co-signed the lease, and advanced them $1,500 to help pay for their rent. (The 9/11 Commission, however, concluded that "[n]either then nor later did Bayoumi give money to either Hazmi or Mihdhar.")[12] Al-Bayoumi also helped them obtain driver's licenses, rides to Social Security, and information on flight schools.[13] While they lived across the street from al-Bayoumi, they had no furniture, they constantly played flight simulator games, and limousines picked them up for short rides in the middle of the night. Their neighbors later said they perceived them as strange.[14][15] They later moved into the house of Abdussattar Shaikh, a friend of al-Bayoumi's, who was secretly working as an FBI informant at the time.[16]

An October 2012 FBI report (declassified several years after it was written) named Fahad al-Thumairy, a Saudi Islamic Affairs official and King Fahd Mosque imam, as having worked with al-Bayoumi. The report also named a third man who allegedly had ordered al-Bayoumi and al-Thumairy to assist the hijackers; this man's name was not declassified, but was accidentally revealed when the FBI neglected to redact his name from a document filed in April 2020.[17]

Al-Bayoumi claims he met them by accident, was being kind to fellow Muslims in need, and had no idea of their plans. Some FBI officials concluded that al-Bayoumi was not a witting accomplice of the hijackers.[18] As one explained: "We could not find any contact between him and terrorists, any involvement (with al-Qaeda). There was nothing to indicate he's any different from any of the hundreds of people who had contact with the hijackers, who were unwitting to the fact that they were going to be hijackers. It just wasn't there."[19] But one former top FBI official told Newsweek: "We firmly believed that he had knowledge [of the 9/11 plot] and that his meeting with them that day was more than coincidence."[20]

Arrest and releaseEdit

In July 2001, Omar al-Bayoumi moved to England to pursue a PhD at Aston University. Ten days after the September 11 attacks he was arrested by British authorities working with the FBI. He was held on an immigration charge while the FBI and Scotland Yard investigated him. His phone calls, bank accounts, and associations were researched, but the FBI says they found no connections to terrorism. When interrogators asked Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, whether he knew al-Bayoumi, he said that he did not.[21] He was released, and went back to studying at Aston,[22] and later moved to Saudi Arabia.

The issue was reopened when the potential links between al-Bayoumi and the Saudi Embassy were reported in the press. Under pressure from Congress, the FBI re-examined the case. They concluded that the allegations were "without merit," and they "abandoned further investigation."[23] However, contemporary news accounts reported that "countless intelligence leads that might help solve [the case] appear to have been under investigated or completely overlooked by the FBI."[24]

The final 9/11 Commission reports stated "we have seen no credible evidence that he believed in violent extremism, or knowingly aided extremist groups."[25]

Per previously-classified memoranda released by the National Archives in May 2016, as of June 6, 2003, "the FBI "believes it is possible that he was an agent of the Saudi Government and that he may have been reporting on the local community to the Saudi Government officials. In addition, during its investigation, the FBI discovered that al-Bayoumi has ties to terrorist elements as well."[26]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Mathis-Lilley, Ben (April 11, 2016). "Your Guide to the 28 Classified Pages About Saudi Arabia and 9/11 That Obama Might Release". Slate.
  2. ^ page 7, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/05/17/us/document-saudi-memos-9-11.html
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-08-03. Retrieved 2004-07-22. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ Final Report on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. p. 218.
  7. ^ Final Report on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. pp. 218, 515 n.18.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-08-05. Retrieved 2004-07-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ [3]
  10. ^ "Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attack on September 11, 2001" (PDF).
  11. ^ http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/sep/07/questions-linger-over-two-san-diego-september-11th/
  12. ^ Final Report on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. p. 219.
  13. ^ "Funding Terror". In These Times.
  14. ^ [4]
  15. ^ [5]
  16. ^ [6]
  17. ^ Isikoff, Michael (12 May 2020). "FBI Goofs, Reveals Name Of Saudi Official Suspected Of Supporting 9/11 Hijackers". HuffPost. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  18. ^ Shannon, Elaine; Zagorin, Adam; Duffy, Michael. "Feds Doubt Allegations of Saudi Terror Funding". Time.
  19. ^ Shannon, Elaine; Zagorin, Adam; Duffy, Michael. "Feds Doubt Allegations of Saudi Terror Funding". Time.
  20. ^ Isikoff, Michael (3 August 2003). "Failure To Communicate". Newsweek. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  21. ^ Final Report on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. pp. 515–516 n.19.
  22. ^ [7]
  23. ^ [8]
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-08-03. Retrieved 2004-07-22. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ Final Report on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. p. 218.
  26. ^ "Memos on Alleged Saudi-Affiliated Support of the 9/11 Attacks". The New York Times. 2016-05-17. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-13.

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