ASHINGTON, July 25 — Senior officials
of Saudi Arabia have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to
charitable groups and other organizations that may have helped
finance the September 2001 attacks, a still-classified section of a
Congressional report on the hijackings says, according to people who
have read it.
The 28-page section of the report was deleted from the nearly
900-page declassified version released on Thursday by a joint
committee of the House and Senate intelligence committees. The
chapter focuses on the role foreign governments played in the
hijackings, but centers almost entirely on Saudi Arabia, the people
who saw the section said.
The Bush administration's refusal to allow the committee to
disclose the contents of the chapter has stirred resentment in
Congress, where some lawmakers have said the administration's desire
to protect the ruling Saudi family had prevented the American public
from learning crucial facts about the attacks. The report has been
denounced by the Saudi ambassador to the United States, and some
American officials questioned whether the committee had made a
conclusive case linking Saudi funding to the hijackings.
The public report concluded that the F.B.I. and C.I.A. had known
for years that Al Qaeda sought to strike inside the United States,
but focused their attention on the possibility of attacks
The declassified section of the report discloses the testimony of
several unidentified officials who criticized the Saudi government
for being uncooperative in terrorism investigations, but makes no
reference to Riyadh's financing of groups that supported terror.
Some people who have read the classified chapter said it
represented a searing indictment of how Saudi Arabia's ruling elite
have, under the guise of support for Islamic charities, distributed
millions of dollars to terrorists through an informal network of
Saudi nationals, including some in the United States.
But other officials said the stricken chapter retraces Saudi
Arabia's well-documented support for Islamic charitable groups and
said the report asserts without convincing evidence that Saudi
officials knew that recipient groups used the money to finance
The public version of the report identified Omar al-Bayoumi, a
Saudi student who befriended and helped finance two Saudi men who
later turned out to be hijackers.
Mr. Bayoumi helped pay the expenses for the men, Khalid Almidhar
and Nawaq Alhazmi. Mr. Bayoumi, the report said, "had access to
seemingly unlimited funding from Saudi Arabia." The report said Mr.
Bayoumi was employed by the Saudi civil aviation authority and left
open his motivations for supporting the two men.
The Saudi ambassador to the United States has angrily denied that
his country had failed to cooperate with the F.B.I. and C.I.A. in
fighting terrorism and dismissed accusations that it helped finance
two of the hijackers as "outrageous."
Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador, said in a
statement after the report was released on Thursday that his country
"has been one of the most active partners in the war on terrorism,
as the president and other administration officials have repeatedly
and publicly attested."
Prince Bandar dismissed the report's assertions about Saudi
involvement in the hijackings.
"The idea that the Saudi government funded, organized or even
knew about Sept. 11 is malicious and blatantly false," Prince Bandar
said. "There is something wrong with the basic logic of those who
spread these spurious charges. Al Qaeda is a cult that is seeking to
destroy Saudi Arabia as well as the United States. By what logic
would we support a cult that is trying to kill us?"
He added: "In a 900-page report, 28 blanked-out pages are being
used by some to malign our country and our people. Rumors, innuendos
and untruths have become, when it comes to the kingdom, the order of
Asked to comment on the report today, a Saudi Embassy
representative said Prince Bandar was out of town and could not be
Today, a senior Democratic senator wrote to President Bush asking
for the White House to demand that the Saudis turn over Mr. Bayoumi,
who is believed to be residing in the kingdom.
"The link between al-Bayoumi and the hijackers is the best
evidence yet that part of official Saudi Arabia might have been
involved in the attacks," said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New
York. "If the Saudi royal family is as committed to fighting
terrorism as it claims, it will turn this guy over to U.S. officials
immediately so that we can finally get to the bottom of his role in
the attacks and his links to Al Qaeda."
Behind the immediate issue of whether Saudi Arabia played any
role in terrorism are a complex web of political, military and
economic connections between the two countries. Successive
Republican and Democratic administrations have aggressively sought
to maintain the relationship with a huge producer of oil and an ally
in the Arab world.
One section of the report took issue with Louis J. Freeh, the
former F.B.I. director, who testified to the joint committee that
the bureau "was able to forge an effective working relationship with
the Saudi police and Interior Ministry."
The report quoted several senior government officials, who were
not identified, expressing contradictory views. One government
official told the panel "that he believed the U.S. government's hope
of eventually obtaining Saudi cooperation was unrealistic because
Saudi assistance to the U.S. is contrary to Saudi national
Another official said: "For the most part it was a very troubled
relationship where the Saudis were not providing us quickly or very
vigorously with response to it. Sometimes they did, many times they
didn't. It was just very slow in coming."