9/11 panel probes secret flights

Geraldine Sealey
April 9, 2004 4:57PM (UTC)

The 9/11 commission is investigating the flights of Saudi nationals, including members of the bin Laden and Saudi royal families, from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia and their approval by the Bush administration in the days after 9/11, Salon has learned. Immediately after Sept. 11, all flights within the U.S. were grounded, except those receiving White House and military authorization. The Saudi ambassador, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, intervened with the Bush administration to secure passage of these privileged Saudis out of the country. About two dozen members of the bin Laden family and others were not thoroughly questioned by the FBI before they departed.

Among the passengers was Prince Ahmed bin Salman, a Saudi royal, best known as the owner of 2002 Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem, who was subsequently identified by a top al-Qaida in U.S. custody as a go-between for the terrorist group to members of the House of Saud. This source further alleged that he had foreknowledge of the Sept. 11 plot. These events are the subject of Craig Ungers book, "House of Bush, House of Saud." Unger has been contacted by the 9/11 commission seeking information. He told Salon that he was informed that the 9/11 commission already has in its possession the passenger manifests of four of these secret flights. These manifests can be seen here.

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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