When French citizen and 9/11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui told families of his victims in February last year that Saudi Arabian government officials had been involved in the infamous attacks, it barely caused a ripple in the British media. In an improvised court room inside the maximum security prison where he is now serving six life sentences, Moussaoui was said by the judge to be "completely competent" and an "extremely intelligent man", although the Saudi government later described him as "deranged".
What this supposedly intelligent and mentally competent terrorist had told the court was shocking; he had acted as a courier between Osama Bin Laden and senior princes in the Saudi court, who had assisted with the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington DC. Amongst those Saudi officials accused by Moussaoui were former Saudi ambassadors in the US capital, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan and Prince Turki Al-Faisal. These are Saudi officials, who, at least according to one convicted 9/11 plotter, actually plotted the attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon.
Last week I reported on how Rehman Chishti, a young Conservative Party MP in Westminster, is now on the payroll of the Saudi royal family, via a think tank named the King Faisal Centre for Research & Islamic Studies; its chairman is the same Prince Turki Al-Faisal named by Moussaoui. Prince Turki once attacked Michael Moore, the film-maker whose documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" suggested that the George W Bush, Bin Laden and Al-Saud families (the top ranks) knew about the deadly attacks in advance. Much of the film is conspiracy theory, but like all good conspiracy theories, perhaps it contains a kernel of truth.
That a wild-eyed Al-Qaeda plotter and an offbeat American film director think that Saudi Arabia's Prince Turki, amongst others, was behind the 9/11 attacks, is not evidence that he was; far from it. It is worth noting, though, that his own standards for "evidence" are curiously low. In an interview broadcast in Saudi Arabia in November 2001, Turki argued that, "The religious edicts issued by [Bin Laden] are the main evidence because they call for attacking American soldiers and civilians," as if such calls are rare or unique in the Arab world. That said, Bin Laden's involvement, albeit probably exaggerated, is now almost without doubt. What is less certain is which, if any, states backed him. It is certainly curious that an Al-Qaeda operative was captured shortly after 9/11 with a letter from the Saudi embassy stuffed in his pocket.
On Sunday, former Senator Bob Graham, a Democrat, announced that the White House had told him to expect a decision on the publication of twenty-eight redacted pages from the 9/11 Commission's gargantuan report, in just two months' time. Here's the rub, for Chishti at least; those pages might name Prince Turki Al-Faisal.
"I think it's implausible to think that people who couldn't speak English, had never been in the United States before, as a group were not well-educated, could have done that," Graham told a US news channel, referring to the plotters who infiltrated America before the 9/11 attacks. "So who was the most likely entity to have provided them that support? And I think all the evidence points to Saudi Arabia."
Congressman Thomas Massie, who has also been granted access to review the censored document, said: "I had to stop every couple pages and… try to rearrange my understanding of history. It challenges you to rethink everything." According to Republican Walter Jones, "I was absolutely shocked by what I read. What was so surprising was that those whom we thought we could trust really disappointed me… It does not deal with national security per se; it is more about relationships." An unnamed government official also briefed New Republic magazine as far back as 2003: "There's a lot more in the 28 pages than money. Everyone's chasing the charities. They should be chasing direct links to high levels of the Saudi government. We're not talking about rogue elements. We're talking about a coordinated network that reaches right from the hijackers to multiple places in the Saudi government."
Where could those "multiple places" be? An obvious place to look would be the Saudi intelligence services, whose chief between 1978 and 2001 was none other than Chishti's new employer, Prince Turki Al-Faisal. When asked by 60 Minutes if the 28 pages include specific names, Senator Graham said: "Yes. The average intelligent watcher of 60 Minutes would recognise them instantly." Prince Turki is certainly recognisable; after his career in the shadows, financing jihadi guerrillas in a thoroughly admirable war in Afghanistan in the eighties, he became the Saudi ambassador in Washington from 2005 to 2007, and in London from 2003 to 2005. He is now retired.
Rehman Chishti, of course, would recognise Turki instantly, for not only does he sign his £2,000 monthly pay cheques, but the Tory MP also invited him into parliament in February last year for a special event. In what could turn out to be a chilling coincidence, the event took place in the very same week that Moussaoui named Prince Turki Al-Faisal as being behind the 9/11 attacks. In last week's article, I warned Chishti to "tread carefully." If the full 9/11 Commission Report is published in June and it does, as expected, name figures like Prince Turki, Chishti will be in very hot water indeed.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.