Let us try to put 9/11 within its historical context with a quick review of what was happening in the years that preceded and followed that day.
In 1991, Saudi Arabia withdrew the Saudi citizenship from Osama bin Laden when he refused to return to his home country. At the time, he was known to be leading and supporting terrorist operations from his place of residence in Sudan. In 1996, he left for Afghanistan and took over as the prince of a terrorist organization that would later become officially known as al-Qaeda.
In 1993, the Pakistani Ramzi Youssef tried to bring down the World Trade Center in New York by crashing a mid-sized truck into the building parking lot and blowing it up. Despite the explosion, the tower did not collapse, but six persons lost their lives and over a thousand others were injured, including rescue workers, firefighters, and civilians.
In 1994, an attempt by Algerian terrorists who hold the ideology of al-Qaeda to blow up an Air France airplane near the Eiffel Tower in Paris was foiled. The following year, a terrorist attack targeted a building rented by a US mission in Riyadh working for the Saudi National Guard. The four perpetrators were arrested, tried, condemned, and executed. Once again, the planning and execution of the operation was al-Qaeda’s doing, as admitted by the group’s chief bin Laden.
On 25 June 1996, Hezbollah executed an attack on a building operated by the US Army in the Saudi city of Khobar using an explosive truck, killing 19 persons and injuring hundreds.
In August 1998, two bombings targeted the US Embassies in the Kenyan and Tanzanian capital cities of Nairobi and Dar es Salaam on the eighth anniversary of the arrival of US troops in Saudi Arabia to liberate Kuwait. Once again, it was al-Qaeda who planned and executed the operation.
In October 2000, al-Qaeda in Yemen (AQY) attacked and destroyed USS Cole near the coasts of Aden, leaving 17 US soldiers dead.
Then came the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington. In an attempt to strike US-Saudi relations, al-Qaeda recruited 15 Saudi men, as well as one Egyptian, one Lebanese, and two Emiratis. The architect and mastermind was the Pakistani Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the uncle of the aforementioned Pakistani terrorist Ramzi Youssef, both of whom are currently in custody in the US. Had security agencies dealt properly with the correspondences of the CIA, US national security could have foiled the plan, as was lately unveiled (watch “Turning Point and the War on Terror” on Netflix). Unfortunately, that was not the case.
In October 2002, al-Qaeda also planned the Bali Operation in Indonesia, which left 220 victims and thousands of wounded. Similarly, dozens of al-Qaeda-planned terrorist explosions took place inside Saudi Arabia against security hubs and residential complexes in the following two years, causing hundreds of deaths among Saudi soldiers and civilians. Al-Qaeda and its media arms, supported by Al-Jazirah, gloated about these operations and covered them, promising the Saudi people that victory and the fall of the state are around the corner.
A few years later, in 2006 and 2007, several bombings shook Spain, the UK, and other parts of the world, all devised and executed by al-Qaeda or followers of its ideology.
Two days ago, there was talk that some secrets that appear in the 9/11 report issued by the US Congress and security agencies will be unveiled. Western media outlets are portraying these undisclosed secrets as harmful to the Saudi Government. In fact, the US Government would thus be doing a favor to Saudi Arabia, which has been asking for years that the report be published and its entire contents revealed, confident that it has got nothing to hide. However, US government entities always attribute their inability to do so to “security reasons.”
It is widely known that no one in Washington pointed fingers at Algeria, Egypt, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran or its militias, the UAE, Yemen, or even Qatar, which sheltered Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and managed to get him out despite the US extradition request. No one accused these states of providing facilitations to those terrorists and others who carried out multiple terrorist acts across the world. None of the victims’ relatives sued for compensation from any state to which one or some of these terrorists belong. Only Saudi Arabia was a target of such suspicious movements every now and then, especially under Presidents Obama and Biden.
Surprisingly, the fact that such claims are still heard today implicitly means that since 2001, four presidents have sat in the Oval Office and viewed the entire reports, but they chose to remain silent, thus violating the oath they took upon entering the White House. This is neither plausible nor logical. In fact, their silence clearly means there is no evidence that the Saudi Government had a hand in this horrible crime.
Lastly, the obvious question remains: what is the motive that would push the Saudi Government precisely to inflict damage on a state like the US, with which it shares long-standing relations, huge economic interests, and billions of dollars’ worth of trade? In general, as a rule for legal reasoning, the absence of motive weakens the prosecution case and may even lead to the dropping of charges, and this rule applies to minor criminal offenses just as much as major criminal operations.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, Saudi newspaper Okaz.