Claim: "50/50 chance" Saudi spy knew of 9/11, aided hijackers

Henkka

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This claim is somewhat unusual, as it does not come from a conspiracy website, but from the FBI. It's also unusual that is is actually new news relating to 9/11, as the information comes from a report declassified only in March of this year. I wanted to post it here to here to see what skeptics think of stuff like this.

First, a CBS report lays out the broad picture of this claim:


Then from Wikipedia:

On 15 January 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, California. Al-Bayoumi reportedly helped these two hijackers to settle in the United States, eventually finding them housing in the neighborhood where he resided. During the period that he did so, his salary greatly increased.[17]

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.")[18] Al-Bayoumi also helped them obtain driver's licenses, rides to the Social Security office, and information on flight schools.[19] 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.[20][21] 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.

The final 9/11 Commission reports stated "we have seen no credible evidence that he believed in violent extremism, or knowingly aided extremist groups."[11] Despite this, the FBI reached a much different conclusion in 2016 during Operation Encore. In a report, declassified on September 12, 2021, FBI agents stated that Fahad al-Thumairy "tasked" al-Bayoumi with assisting the two hijackers upon their arrival in Los Angeles, and said they were, "two very significant people," more than a year before the attacks. Rather than the chance meeting al-Bayoumi previously described to investigators, in which al-Bayoumi was seen with al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar at a restaurant, a witness told the FBI that al-Bayoumi had been waiting at the window for their arrival, and had a lengthy conversation with them. The report says a woman told investigators that al-Bayoumi was often saying the Islamic community needs to "take action," and that the community was, "at jihad." This directly contradicts the findings of the 9/11 Commission Report and its conclusion he did not knowingly aid extremist groups.[1]

Per previously-classified memoranda released by the National Archives in May 2016, as of 6 June 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."[30]

In March 2022, the FBI declassified a 510 page report about 9/11 that it produced in 2017. The report found that "there is a 50/50 chance [al-Bayoumi] had advanced knowledge the 9/11 attacks were to occur." from the two Islamists he befriended that were involved in plotting 9/11. al-Bayoumi also helped the Islamists find housing in San Diego.[4][5] In response, 9/11 Commission chairman and former New Jersey governor Tom Kean said that "If that's true I'd be upset by it", adding "The FBI said it wasn't withholding anything and we believed them."[4][5]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omar_al-Bayoumi

So basically, despite being incredibly suspicious, the 9/11 commission somehow bought the story that al-Bayoumi's meeting and assistance to the two hijackers was coincidental and innocent. But a later report now contests this, and claims he worked for Saudi intelligence.

So yeah, I wanted to see what you guys thought of this... Because officially, the 9/11 attacks were committed by Al-Qaeda under the leadership of Osama bin Laden, with no foreign state assistance. 20 years ago many Americans thought Iraq may have had something to do with it, but this turned out to be disinformation spread by the US government. Meanwhile, these incredibly suspicious links pointing to the Saudis were seemingly ignored. If someone on the payroll of Saudi intelligence had foreknowledge of 9/11 and actively assisted the hijackers, what does that mean for the "official story"? Should the 9/11 commission report be updated with this information?
 

econ41

Senior Member
This claim is somewhat unusual, as it does not come from a conspiracy website, but from the FBI. It's also unusual that is is actually new news relating to 9/11, as the information comes from a report declassified only in March of this year. I wanted to post it here to here to see what skeptics think of stuff like this.

So yeah, I wanted to see what you guys thought of this...
My own thinking hasn't changed much since I first became involved in online debate of 9/11. I first learned in early 2007 that there was a conspiracy theory that the WTC Towers collapses were caused by "CD". I thought that was arrant nonsense and the real issues of 9/11 were not in the technical domain. They were in the politics. Starting with "Why didn't the US Government prevent 9/11?" But the debate on the forum I joined 13 Nov 2007 was about "CD or Not CD at the Twin Towers?" I decided "Lets clear up this nonsense about CD so we can discuss the real issues!" In hindsight that was somewhat naive. :rolleyes:
Because officially, the 9/11 attacks were committed by Al-Qaeda under the leadership of Osama bin Laden,...
That should be the agreed starting point. And these issues:
with no foreign state assistance. 20 years ago many Americans thought Iraq may have had something to do with it, but this turned out to be disinformation spread by the US government. Meanwhile, these incredibly suspicious links pointing to the Saudis were seemingly ignored. If someone on the payroll of Saudi intelligence had foreknowledge of 9/11 and actively assisted the hijackers,
...should have been discussed much more. The truth movement essentially ignored the politics - preferring to pursue the easy to "sell" claims for CD which would attract a gullible simplistic thinking body of supporters.

what does that mean for the "official story"?
.. at this late stage? Very little. Too late.
Should the 9/11 commission report be updated with this information?
Why? There is little to be gained by crying over spilled milk.

The 9/11 Commission was a reluctantly authorised compromise. 9/11 was a US political failure. Any political failure is no go territory for most politicians. The derailing of the Truth Movement onto guaranteed loser issues like false technical claims took the spotlight off a massive Government failure. Few people seem to have realised it BUT, by concentrating TM energy on claims for CD at WTC, not that plane at Pentagon and Shankesville the Movement has distracted attention off the political failure. Just what most politicians would want. And, ironically, AE911Truth has de facto been the most effective "Government Shill".
 

LilWabbit

Senior Member
The original 9/11 Commission Report citation in context (p. 218):

Article:
Bayoumi is a devout Muslim, obliging and gregarious. He spent much of his spare time involved in religious study and helping run a mosque in El Cajon, about 15 miles from San Diego. It is certainly possible that he has dissembled about some aspects of his story, perhaps to counter suspicion. On the other hand, we have seen no credible evidence that he believed in violent extremism or knowingly aided extremist groups. Our investigators who have dealt directly with him and studied his background find him to be an unlikely candidate for clandestine involvement with Islamist extremists.


FBI's later revelations on al-Bayoumi's links to the Saudi Government would no doubt be troubling to the Commission chairman Tom Kean who would have obviously wanted to be fully in the know already back then. On the other hand, it is not the practice of FBI to comment on the details of any ongoing investigations. Especially if there's political pressure to churn up a report soon assigned to some other agency.

FBI's belief in the possibility "that he [al-Bayoumi] was an agent of the Saudi Government and that he may have been reporting on the local community to the Saudi Government officials" is not implausible. He may have been tasked to infiltrate anti-KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) elements under the cover of a wealthy, devout and pro-jihadist Saudi citizen dissatisfied with the KSA, while extending friendliness and indirect assistance to Hazmi and Mihdhar. It's important to call to mind that Al-Qaida is vehemently anti-KSA and that Osama bin Laden was expelled from the KSA in 1991 after having criticized the KSA-US alliance.

As the original report states (cited above), it's also possible that Bayoumi conspired with Al-Qaida and was clandestinely working against both KSA and US interests in planning the 9/11 attack. In the latter case, it would be in both the USG and the Saudi Government's interest to conceal or play down the fact (emerging during post-9/11 investigations) that he was under KSA's payroll. If such details were to have been unclassified too early, they would have cast serious suspicion on KSA intelligence services and by extension the US-KSA alliance which has remained critical to US economic interests. Ever since the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi seemingly at the behest of KSA Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, severe cracks have appeared in this alliance. By extension, USG and its various government entities appear more free to openly criticize the KSA which, among other things, may show in an increased amount of declassified information uncomfortable for the KSA. It's no surprise KSA is exploring new alliances and could potentially become another US-antagonist in the international community.

Whatever the truth, any claim of Al-Qaida conspiring with its sworn enemy -- the KSA -- in the early 2000s against the US makes little sense. The US orchestrating all of the above is an even more outlandish claim unsupported by evidence.

The 9/11 attackers had enough personal ideological fervour, ideologically motivated support (which Bayoumi may or may not have been providing), capability and traceable funds to carry out what they did, and in the way they obviously did, without any need to invoke a further conspiracy behind their actions and affiliations.

The burden of proof rests squarely on the claimant that the above factors weren't sufficient in terms of the human and financial resources needed for carrying out the 9/11 attacks.
 

Henkka

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Banned
That should be the agreed starting point. And these issues:
I don't really agree... The only agreed starting point should be that which is directly captured on video. That is, some planes hit the WTC towers, and then those towers collapsed. A third tower that wasn't hit collapsed. Something crashed in Shanksville and something crashed into the Pentagon. Those would be the starting points of an investigation, nothing about the culprit or anything like that.

(Btw, just to clarify I do believe a plane hit the Pentagon, I just don't think that is the starting point. The starting point is that there is a smoking hole in the Pentagon, as we don't have good footage of the plane hitting it.)
.. at this late stage? Very little. Too late.
I don't think it's ever "too late" to reevaluate an important historical event. Historians debate what really happened with some Roman emperor or whatever all the time. If there is evidence of Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks, hopefully history books will reflect that in the future.

I didn't make too much of a point of it in the OP, but what really disturbs me about this is the comparison to Iraq. The Wikipedia article says that his Saudi intelligence ties were already suspected in the 90s:

In August 1994, al-Bayoumi moved to the United States and settled in San Diego, California, where he became involved in the local Muslim community. He was perceived as being very inquisitive, and was known to always carry around a video camera. According to several sources,[8][9][10] al-Bayoumi was strongly suspected by many residents to be 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.

But the 9/11 commission was seemingly not aware of this, or just brushes it aside as, oh, we don't think he "believed in violent extremism" like LilWabbit quoted above. But the problem with that dismissal is that they're already presuming that the motive of the 9/11 attacks was just religious extremism, and there wasn't any cynical geopolitical motivations at play. Like how can you dismiss a suspected Saudi intelligence operative providing apartments and bank accounts to the hijackers? It's insane. And instead of pursuing those leads, the US government focused on entirely imaginary leads to blame Iraq. Ignoring evidence that points at one country and then manufacturing evidence to blame another is literally a conspiracy, not just a "political failure".
 

Henkka

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Banned
Few people seem to have realised it BUT, by concentrating TM energy on claims for CD at WTC, not that plane at Pentagon and Shankesville the Movement has distracted attention off the political failure. Just what most politicians would want. And, ironically, AE911Truth has de facto been the most effective "Government Shill".
I do sort of agree with this, though... Like even if you believe there is solid evidence for CD, it is nearly impossible to talk about it to an average person, they'll just think you're crazy. And because 9/11 conspiracies are associated with CD, or hologram planes, or space lasers, it's also difficult to talk about any of the other stuff involving intelligence agencies or anything else. A youtuber by the name of Adam Fitzgerald is a good resource for that kind of thing if you're interested. From what I can tell he's agnostic on CD, and only talks about 9/11 from the point of view of geopolitics, intelligence agencies etc.
 

benthamitemetric

Senior Member
I don't really agree... The only agreed starting point should be that which is directly captured on video. That is, some planes hit the WTC towers, and then those towers collapsed. A third tower that wasn't hit collapsed. Something crashed in Shanksville and something crashed into the Pentagon. Those would be the starting points of an investigation, nothing about the culprit or anything like that.

(Btw, just to clarify I do believe a plane hit the Pentagon, I just don't think that is the starting point. The starting point is that there is a smoking hole in the Pentagon, as we don't have good footage of the plane hitting it.)

I don't think it's ever "too late" to reevaluate an important historical event. Historians debate what really happened with some Roman emperor or whatever all the time. If there is evidence of Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks, hopefully history books will reflect that in the future.

I didn't make too much of a point of it in the OP, but what really disturbs me about this is the comparison to Iraq. The Wikipedia article says that his Saudi intelligence ties were already suspected in the 90s:



But the 9/11 commission was seemingly not aware of this, or just brushes it aside as, oh, we don't think he "believed in violent extremism" like LilWabbit quoted above. But the problem with that dismissal is that they're already presuming that the motive of the 9/11 attacks was just religious extremism, and there wasn't any cynical geopolitical motivations at play. Like how can you dismiss a suspected Saudi intelligence operative providing apartments and bank accounts to the hijackers? It's insane. And instead of pursuing those leads, the US government focused on entirely imaginary leads to blame Iraq. Ignoring evidence that points at one country and then manufacturing evidence to blame another is literally a conspiracy, not just a "political failure".
Video evidence is not the only type of evidence, and video evidence itself is often not dispositive of what happened, especially when "what happened" was a complicated plot that was planned and carried out by multiple individuals over several years.

The criminal investigation into the 9/11 plot was the FBI's single largest investigation in history, involving more than 7,000 FBI agents and more than 150,000 pieces of evidence. There have been multiple prosecutions relating to the 9/11 attacks and multiple convictions that resulted from this investigation. The facts unearthed by the FBI were used in those prosecutions and presented to the public in the 9/11 commission report and a separate PENTTBOM summary report. These facts present an extensive and unambiguous record of the actions of the 9/11 terrorists leading up to their hijackings on 9/11, including hundreds of financial records, receipts, and travel documents, as well as extensive witness testimony from those who came into contact with them. The 9/11 "truth" community simply ignores this incredibly robust wealth of actual evidence of what happened because they'd rather stare at grainy videos and make up fairy tales that shoehorn those videos into a story that is consistent with their worldview, and those fairy tales, which are nonsense on their face, make even less sense when viewed against the fact that we know without any doubt who actually carried out the 9/11 attacks and how they did so.
 
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Landru

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Staff member
The claim here is:

"50/50 chance" Saudi spy knew of 9/11, aided hijackers​

That is the discussion.
 

Henkka

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Banned
Video evidence is not the only type of evidence, and video evidence itself is often not dispositive of what happened, especially when "what happened" was a complicated plot that was planned and carried out by multiple individuals over several years.

The criminal investigation into the 9/11 plot was the FBI's single largest investigation in history, involving more than 7,000 FBI agents and more than 150,000 pieces of evidence. There have been multiple prosecutions relating to the 9/11 attacks and multiple convictions that resulted from this investigation. The facts unearthed by the FBI were used in those prosecutions and presented to the public in the 9/11 commission report and a separate PENTTBOM summary report. These facts present an extensive and unambiguous record of the actions of the 9/11 terrorists leading up to their hijackings on 9/11, including hundreds of financial records, receipts, and travel documents, as well as extensive witness testimony from those who came into contact with them. The 9/11 "truth" community simply ignores this incredibly robust wealth of actual evidence of what happened because they'd rather stare at grainy videos and make up fairy tales that shoehorn those videos into a story that is consistent with their worldview, and those fairy tales, which are nonsense on their face, make even less sense when viewed against the fact that we know without any doubt who actually carried out the 9/11 attacks and how they did so.
Well okay, but as outlined in the OP, even the FBI themselves admit they may have gotten some things wrong. Whether or not a foreign intelligent agent had specific foreknowledge of 9/11 and assisted carrying out the plot is not some small thing you can just brush aside. It's in direct contradiction to the official story, which claims Al-Qaeda acted on their own.
 

benthamitemetric

Senior Member
Well okay, but as outlined in the OP, even the FBI themselves admit they may have gotten some things wrong. Whether or not a foreign intelligent agent had specific foreknowledge of 9/11 and assisted carrying out the plot is not some small thing you can just brush aside. It's in direct contradiction to the official story, which claims Al-Qaeda acted on their own.
It's not a direct contradiction of the official story at all. It is beyond dispute that it was a cell of Al Qaeda that planned and carried out the attack. If that cell also received some immaterial aid from one or more sympathetic individuals who may (or may not) have ties to a foreign government, that just expands the circle of culpability slightly at the edges. The story here, however, does not establish exactly what Bayoumi knew about the plot, that he worked for the Saudi government, or that the plot would have failed without his knowing or unknowing involvement. If there were some big gap in our understanding of Al Qaeda's operations, strategy or financing, this story might be more interesting, but there isn't much about those we don't know at this point as they relate to these attacks.

Also, I'd like to see a source for your claim that the official story is just that "Al Qaeda acted on their own," which strikes me as a drastic oversimplification at best. The 9/11 commission report, for example, discusses at length larger systemic issues (such as shady charitable donations, sympathy for extremist religious views in the Middle East (including in Saudi Arabia), connections between terrorist cells and state sponsors, etc.), and does not rule out such factors contributing to Al Qaeda's ability to carryout the attacks, and the entire national conversation of the US was dominated for years with the subject of state sponsors of terrorism, which led the US into two wars. While the "official story" doesn't include any evidence that the 9/11 attacks were state sponsored in any direct sense, as far as I know, there isn't any evidence that such evidence exists and is being ignored (and, in fact, this story attests to the fact that, all this time later, the US government is still running down potential leads on that front).
 
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Ann K

Senior Member.
The claim here is:

"50/50 chance" Saudi spy knew of 9/11, aided hijackers​

That is the discussion.
The title is poorly worded, because there is no information available that allows us to assign a numerical probability - indeed, there is no information possible that would make such a computation feasible. I suggest taking the "50/50" off of this altogether.
 

econ41

Senior Member
The title is poorly worded, because there is no information available that allows us to assign a numerical probability - indeed, there is no information possible that would make such a computation feasible. I suggest taking the "50/50" off of this altogether.
Agreed. The single issue in the title is a subset of the full scope raised by the actual OPost. Viz "9/11 involved technical issues and political issues. The technical issues have been shown to be false. The political issues have possibly not been sufficiently discussed." AND the single topic: "50/50 chance" Saudi spy knew of 9/11, aided hijackers" is just one example of the issues within the scope of the OP.

Besides - I would claim it is 70/30 that "Saudi spy knew" and 60/40 that "Saudi spy...aided hijackers". And I doubt anyone could prove me wrong for the reasons you identify. :rolleyes:
 
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Landru

Moderator
Staff member
The title is poorly worded, because there is no information available that allows us to assign a numerical probability - indeed, there is no information possible that would make such a computation feasible. I suggest taking the "50/50" off of this altogether.
The title comes from the claim stated in https://www.northjersey.com/story/n...bi-links-saudi-arabia-spy-attacks/9442454002/

The FBI concluded five years ago that there was a "50/50 chance" that this Saudi spy knew ahead of time that the two Islamists he befriended were about to join the plot to hijack commercial jetliners and crash them into buildings in what turned out to be America's deadliest terrorist attack. But the FBI refused to go public with its findings — until now.
If you want to have another discussion start another thread as long as it conforms to the Posting Guidelines.
 

Henkka

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Banned
Yeah the "50/50 chance" is a quote, obviously it's not meant to be taken literally... I think it's a way of saying he basically certainly knew what the hijackers were up to, without directly making the accusation.
 

econ41

Senior Member
Yeah the "50/50 chance" is a quote, obviously it's not meant to be taken literally... I think it's a way of saying he basically certainly knew what the hijackers were up to, without directly making the accusation.
Decide what topic you want to discuss. Your OP says "I wanted to post it here to here to see what skeptics think of stuff like this."

I responded to that statement statement of what you saw as the topic. Strict reading of the Posting Guidelines limits debate to what you make as the claim in the thread title. I don't see much value in limiting discussion to that single example of "stuff like this". Your call.
 

benthamitemetric

Senior Member
Yeah the "50/50 chance" is a quote, obviously it's not meant to be taken literally... I think it's a way of saying he basically certainly knew what the hijackers were up to, without directly making the accusation.
A "50/50" chance of something is the logical opposite of a certainty; it's literally a coin flip. You should spend some time thinking deeply to recognize the bias in your mind that would let you interpret a 50/50 chance as a certainty with respect to a narrative you'd like to believe.
 
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LilWabbit

Senior Member
As I tried to explain in my previous post, Al-Bayoumi was either:

1. A KSA intelligence operator on a mission to infiltrate Al-Qaida and gather information on any activities against the KSA.
2. A rogue operator within KSA intelligence services with Islamist/jihadist leanings working against both KSA and USA.
3. An independent actor with Islamist sympathies who was not working with an intelligence service.
4. A KSA intelligence operator on a clandestine KSA mission to assist in the planning of the 9/11 attacks.
5. A KSA intelligence operator assisting in the planning of the 9/11 attacks as part of a clandestine US-KSA conspiracy.

Out of these options the FBI seems to have considered the first two as viable. Hence the "50/50" metaphorical coin toss. The 9/11 commission considered 3 as a "possibility" as cited earlier whilst stating they had no "credible evidence" Bayoumi was a believer in violent extremism. The report stating a lack of credible evidence is not to be read as the commission's conclusion to that effect, nor does such wording demonstrate any manner of suspicious cover-up. Options 4 and 5 are evidently outlandish. To seriously entertain them as options demonstrates ignorance on the KSA and its internal dynamics, ignorance of the USG and a biased predisposition to cherry-pick "evidence" to support a conspiracy theory.
 

Henkka

Banned
Banned
As I tried to explain in my previous post, Al-Bayoumi was either:

1. A KSA intelligence operator on a mission to infiltrate Al-Qaida and gather information on any activities against the KSA.
2. A rogue operator within KSA intelligence services with Islamist/jihadist leanings working against both KSA and USA.
3. An independent actor with Islamist sympathies who was not working with an intelligence service.
4. A KSA intelligence operator on a clandestine KSA mission to assist in the planning of the 9/11 attacks.
5. A KSA intelligence operator assisting in the planning of the 9/11 attacks as part of a clandestine US-KSA conspiracy.

Out of these options the FBI seems to have considered the first two as viable. Hence the "50/50" metaphorical coin toss. The 9/11 commission considered 3 as a "possibility" as cited earlier whilst stating they had no "credible evidence" Bayoumi was a believer in violent extremism. The report stating a lack of credible evidence is not to be read as the commission's conclusion to that effect, nor does such wording demonstrate any manner of suspicious cover-up. Options 4 and 5 are evidently outlandish. To seriously entertain them as options demonstrates ignorance on the KSA and its internal dynamics, ignorance of the USG and a biased predisposition to cherry-pick "evidence" to support a conspiracy theory.

Why is 4) outlandish? You need to consider all the evidence, not just what you believe was the relationship between the Saudis and Al-Qaeda. From the Wiki:

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, Mussaed Ahmed al-Jarrah, 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.[23]
The final 9/11 Commission reports stated "we have seen no credible evidence that he believed in violent extremism, or knowingly aided extremist groups."[11] Despite this, the FBI reached a much different conclusion in 2016 during Operation Encore. In a report, declassified on September 12, 2021, FBI agents stated that Fahad al-Thumairy "tasked" al-Bayoumi with assisting the two hijackers upon their arrival in Los Angeles, and said they were, "two very significant people," more than a year before the attacks. Rather than the chance meeting al-Bayoumi previously described to investigators, in which al-Bayoumi was seen with al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar at a restaurant, a witness told the FBI that al-Bayoumi had been waiting at the window for their arrival, and had a lengthy conversation with them.

That he was "tasked" with doing this by a Saudi official seems to rule out 2) and 3).
 

LilWabbit

Senior Member
Why is 4) outlandish? You need to consider all the evidence, not just what you believe was the relationship between the Saudis and Al-Qaeda.
That he was "tasked" with doing this by a Saudi official seems to rule out 2) and 3).

Not 2 since Jarrah himself can be regarded a rogue element in the Saudi foreign service. One of the complexities of the Saudi system is that the Saudi royal family -- the authoritarian absolute rulers of Saudi Arabia -- knows very well its domestic enemies, namely the Muslim Brotherhood type Islamists. These "extremists" (in Saudi lingo "extremist" means something different than for the rest of us to whom many of the time-honoured Saudi interpretations of Islam -- Wahhabism -- would qualify as pretty extreme in themselves) question the Islamic legitimacy of the Saudi state as well as its close ties to the US. Osama bin Laden was the most famous Saudi "extremist", banished from the Kingdom for his criticisms.

In order to keep religious extremism at bay, there is a long tradition of co-opting religious clergy and scholars into state positions. Most, even highly conservative, Islamic clergymen in Saudi Arabia are loyal to the ruler since they are given handsomely paid jobs as state officials to preach and practice strict Islamic interpretations in various official capacities. However, in so doing, the royal family takes the calculated risk of recruiting disloyal and rogue elements into the system whilst these elements feign loyalty to the ruler. The Saudi state systematically sacks and/or arrests anyone deemed disloyal to the ruler, and the official state religion of Wahhabism (think of Medieval Catholicism in Europe) effectively teaches obedience to the Saudi ruler as one of its central tenets. Some of these extremists (within or without the Saudi government) have been independently funding militant Islamists around the world for decades, ranging from the likes of al-Qaida (global) and al-Shabaab (Somalia) all the way to the Taliban (Afghanistan, Pakistan).

As long as they're not planning to subvert the Saudi Kingdom and undermine policies critical to the interests of the Saudi royal family (including maintaining strong economic ties with the United States), the Saudis seem to have adopted a largely laissez-faire approach towards the activities of the ulama (Muslim clergy), and even supported their efforts to spread Wahhabism in the world. But when they get caught for working against Saudi interests, the Saudis descend on the extremists brutally. It's very possible indeed that Jarrah, Thumairy (whose US visa was later revoked due to being regarded an extremist) and Bayoumi all operated under the radar of the Saudi state whilst on the state payroll advancing "Islamic affairs". In sum, 4 is very unlikely as far as 'going all the way to the top in the KSA' or 'being even secretly authorized by the Saudi state to plot 9/11' is concerned.

It just doesn't make any sense for the Saudi state to want to even risk losing its American gold mine, and by extension, its own very existence, by plotting an attack against it. A risk that would have materialized with the eventual exposure of its responsibility for the attacks no matter how cleverly or clandestinely plotted. For FBI and CIA are pretty clever too and the Saudis aren't stupid.

Article:
Former FBI officials said a special team of investigators began to examine Jarrah’s activities as part of a look at radical Islamists and possible Qaida sympathizers within the Saudi kingdom’s large diplomatic operation in the United States.

Jarrah seemed to espouse hard-line Islamist views, the former officials said, although some suspected that he might have been doing so in order to inform on others, including Saudi exchange students in the United States, for the Saudi security services or the government’s religious-affairs apparatus.
 
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benthamitemetric

Senior Member
...
1. A KSA intelligence operator on a mission to infiltrate Al-Qaida and gather information on any activities against the KSA.
2. A rogue operator within KSA intelligence services with Islamist/jihadist leanings working against both KSA and USA.
...
Out of these options the FBI seems to have considered the first two as viable. Hence the "50/50" metaphorical coin toss.

I didn't read the underlying report, and maybe there is more nuance there, but the article Henkka linked in the OP did not describe the 50/50 chance as being between those two options; instead, it says:

The report found that "there is a 50/50 chance [al-Bayoumi] had advanced knowledge the 9/11 attacks were to occur."

That reads as though the report concluded there is, on the one hand, a 50% chance that al-Bayoumi acted for any reason to support the terrorists with knowledge of their plot (which would cover all five scenarios you listed, if I'm understanding those scenarios correctly), and, on the other hand, a 50% chance that al-Bayoumi's aid was given without any knowledge of the terrorists' plot. Both sides of that 50/50 probability split are independent of whether al-Bayoumi was at any time working for or affiliated with any governmental entity or agent.
 

LilWabbit

Senior Member
That reads as though the report concluded there is, on the one hand, a 50% chance that al-Bayoumi acted for any reason to support the terrorists with knowledge of their plot (which would cover all five scenarios you listed, if I'm understanding those scenarios correctly),

I laid scenario 1 out with the assumption that Bayoumi did not know about the plot whilst offering help to the two would-be 9/11 attackers to earn their trust and confidence. Scenario 3 was laid out with the open premise that Bayoumi either might have or might not have been aware of the plot. Knowledge of the plot is a given in scenarios 2, 4 and 5. Thanks for pointing out the need to clarify.

Personally I'm leaning towards 2 for the reasons outlined in post #18.

Scenario 2 could be reworded:

2. A rogue operator within Saudi state with Islamist/jihadist leanings working against both KSA and USA.

And it would be applicable to Jarrah, Thumairy as well as Bayoumi acting in concert at Jarrah's (unofficial) instruction. Obviously, if true, it's very embarrassing for the Saudis.

P.S. All three have backgrounds as Muslim scholars/students rather than intelligence operators or diplomats (which doesn't mean that they can't be intelligence operators). The FBI, as cited in post #18, was specifically investigating such rogue elements within the KSA working with the Saudi US mission.
 
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Rory

Closed Account
Listen, 9/11 happened. Naughty Arabs flew planes into buildings and the buildings fell down. It's done and it's time to forget about it and move on: I don't think there's a single thing anyone can type in this thread about whether or not this Saudi bloke knew or helped that can add value to anything.
 

Oystein

Senior Member
I'll bite.

So there is a claim, which is really a personal assessment, a guess by someone with, I'll admit, good knowledge of the topic, that some suspect in a crime 21 years ago "knew of 9/11" and/or even "aided hijackers".

A claim of the form "maybe yes, maybe no" is made when the extant evidence falsiefies neither option. Instead, both options are possible, with a very significant probability of being true.
And again, the extant evidence as known by the, I'll admit, knowledgeable informant does not, according to same informant, allow to decide either way with any confidence.

How are we to decide then?
Logically, I see three distinct possibilities:
1. Assess the same knowledge the informant used to arrive at his "50/50" assessment, and find points of significant disagreement such that we come to a significantly different probability distribution - i.e. lean heavily one way.
2. Show that the informant is not privy to, or does not use, all of the extant evidence, and that including evidence not used would sway the assessment of probabilities significantly
3. Investigate, and discover new evidence

No. 1 is subject to all sorts of bias and at the end boils down to personal expertise, evaluating which is subject to biases of its own. In other words, this would spawn endless discussions with no hope of agreement and resolution
No 2 would have been tried already by someone with more knowlege, as Pulitzer prices and stellar careers in jurisprudence, politics or law enforcement may be in play
No 3 seems to be the best course of action - but it seems unlikely that the members of this forum have the resources and the access to documents that this would require. This ought to be the job of proper government agencies, or of senior investigative journalists with trusted contacts in said agencies, deep networks and the long-term support of a well-endowed media publisher / news media.
 

LilWabbit

Senior Member
I'll bite.

So there is a claim, which is really a personal assessment, a guess by someone with, I'll admit, good knowledge of the topic, that some suspect in a crime 21 years ago "knew of 9/11" and/or even "aided hijackers".

A claim of the form "maybe yes, maybe no" is made when the extant evidence falsiefies neither option. Instead, both options are possible, with a very significant probability of being true.
And again, the extant evidence as known by the, I'll admit, knowledgeable informant does not, according to same informant, allow to decide either way with any confidence.

How are we to decide then?
Logically, I see three distinct possibilities:
1. Assess the same knowledge the informant used to arrive at his "50/50" assessment, and find points of significant disagreement such that we come to a significantly different probability distribution - i.e. lean heavily one way.
2. Show that the informant is not privy to, or does not use, all of the extant evidence, and that including evidence not used would sway the assessment of probabilities significantly
3. Investigate, and discover new evidence

No. 1 is subject to all sorts of bias and at the end boils down to personal expertise, evaluating which is subject to biases of its own. In other words, this would spawn endless discussions with no hope of agreement and resolution
No 2 would have been tried already by someone with more knowlege, as Pulitzer prices and stellar careers in jurisprudence, politics or law enforcement may be in play
No 3 seems to be the best course of action - but it seems unlikely that the members of this forum have the resources and the access to documents that this would require. This ought to be the job of proper government agencies, or of senior investigative journalists with trusted contacts in said agencies, deep networks and the long-term support of a well-endowed media publisher / news media.

4. Arrive, for the purposes of this thread, at the somewhat safe consensus that there's still no credible evidence for a state actor or a number of state actors conspiring with one another behind the 9/11 attacks.
 

Oystein

Senior Member
4. Arrive, for the purposes of this thread, at the somewhat safe consensus that there's still no credible evidence for a state actor or a number of state actors conspiring with one another behind the 9/11 attacks.
If you buy, and don't dispute, the claim made by the opening post (or rather the thread title), you could have as well picked the opposite wording:
"4. Arrive, for the purposes of this thread, at the somewhat safe consensus that there's still no credible evidence to rule out some state actor or a number of state actors conspiring with one another behind the 9/11 attacks."

Or even stronger than that:
"4. Arrive, for the purposes of this thread, at the somewhat safe consensus that there's still some credible evidence for a state actor or a number of state actors conspiring with one another behind the 9/11 attacks."

Essentially, you chose to ignore one of the 50s in the "50/50" claim, to make life easier.

If, on the other hand, you don't buy, and do wish to dispute, the full claim made, how are you going to go about it?
 

LilWabbit

Senior Member
If you buy, and don't dispute, the claim made by the opening post (or rather the thread title), you could have as well picked the opposite wording:

I don't think there's a need to dispute the fact that an FBI official has made such a 50/50 claim, and that there's some logic to it. To accept its truth at face value would obviously be premature and epistemologically careless.

"4. Arrive, for the purposes of this thread, at the somewhat safe consensus that there's still no credible evidence to rule out some state actor or a number of state actors conspiring with one another behind the 9/11 attacks."

There's no credible evidence to rule out aliens visiting earth. That doesn't mean the hypothesis of aliens is equal in plausibility to other hypotheses. I've already revisited on this thread why state-sponsored terror is an implausible hypothesis for 9/11. That doesn't mean it's ruled out.

There's credible evidence that even without a particular state or a number of states acting in conspiracy the 9/11 attacks had sufficient funds, means, planning and operators to be carried out exactly the way they were. That some operators who 'might have been plotting the attacks' or 'been in the know of the plot' were Saudi state officials doesn't change the foregoing conclusion. Having said that, it's a disconcerting matter to be taken seriously that, despite not being particularly instrumental to the actual attacks, such operators existed and might have been in the know. In the minimum, it reflects badly on the entire Saudi state irrespective of whether the state was behind the attacks or not.

For this reason alone this thread is not entirely without merit and @Henkka raised some interesting facts.

Or even stronger than that:
"4. Arrive, for the purposes of this thread, at the somewhat safe consensus that there's still some credible evidence for a state actor or a number of state actors conspiring with one another behind the 9/11 attacks."

We have some credible evidence for individuals working as state officials with the KSA helping the would-be attackers. That's as far as we can go with the evidence anecdotally cited as being in FBI's possession according to public sources. The epistemological principle of empirical adequacy cannot be met for any broader conclusion about "a state actor" being directly involved where by "state actor" we refer to official policies, plans and objectives (even if clandestine) sanctioned by the central authorities of a particular state.

Essentially, you chose to ignore one of the 50s in the "50/50" claim, to make life easier.

Actually I carefully laid out both options as implicit in scenarios 1 and 2. So, no. I didn't ignore one nor the other at any point in this discussion.
 

Oystein

Senior Member
@LilWabbit Oops I ... I had not been actively reading here for like a week or two, and when I clicked on a notification, it lead me past your previous posts, such that I was unaware of them when I took a "bite" two days ago.
 
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