L.A. Was a Hotbed for 9/11 Plotters, New Document Suggests
King Fahd Mosque in Culver City
A newly released document summarizing possible connections between Saudi officials and 9/11 hijackers places Los Angeles in a central role. The findings from a 2002 congressional inquiry into the terrorist attacks were unveiled by the House Intelligence Committee today after a long-term push to make them public. The 28 pages were previously kept under wraps as a result of concerns they would harm the United States' relationship with Saudi Arabia.
Hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi might have been aided in L.A. by a then-Saudi consular official in L.A., Shaykh al-Thumairy, who also served as an imam at the King Fahad Mosque in Culver City, the findings suggest.
Mihdhar and Hazmi are believed to have visited the mosque in 2000. Another set of federal documents from 2012 state Thumairy "immediately assigned an individual to take care" of the two while they were in town.
In 2004 Thumairy was grilled by U.S. investigators in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He denied any connections to 9/11 hijackers, even after being presented with phone records connecting him to the duo, according to a New York Times report from June. The investigators concluded he was probably lying.
Today the White House reiterated its stance that the congressional release does not reveal any connection between the Saudi government and al-Qaida 9/11 plotters. The final 9/11 commission report released in 2004 also concluded there was no evidence of Saudi government connections to the attacks.
Eleanor J. Hill, the staff director of the congressional inquiry, has characterized the 28 pages as an outline of things to be further investigated — not as conclusive findings.
The document released today with the blessing of the White House says the Culver City mosque was allegedly a site of "extremist-related activity both before and after September 11." It suggests "Saudi government money was being laundered through" the mosque. Some of the findings and suggestions were based on FBI and CIA inquiries.
Another Saudi national in California, Omar al-Bayoumi, was an alleged Saudi intelligence officer who helped Mihdhar and Hazmi during their time in the Golden State, according to the document.
Bayoumi had "extensive contact with Saudi government establishments in the United States and received financial support from a Saudi company affiliated with the Saudi Ministry of Defense," the document states. "That company reportedly had ties to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida."
The Saudi government today welcomed the document's release, saying it would help "bring an end to the speculation and conspiracy theories."
L.A. Weekly reached out to the members of the mosque today but did not hear back.
The mosque opened in 1998. It was built with $8 million provided by Saudi King Fahd bin Abdulaziz and his son, Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.