(Ken Silva, Headline USA) Some 20 years after it took place, the U.S. government has finally released notes of the 9/11 Commission’s interview with Saudi Arabia Prince Turki bin Faisal, who was the country’s chief spy from 1979 to months before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The notes—there were no transcripts or recordings taken—indicate that the 9/11 Commission asked Turki him little to no probing questions about Saudi Arabia’s foreknowledge of the deadliest terrorist attack to be perpetrated on American soil.
For instance, Turki was apparently not questioned about Saudi intelligence officers allegedly financially supporting 9/11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar—even though the 9/11 Commission report references this, and even though one of those intelligence officers received $74,000 from Turki’s sister.
According to the interview notes, the 9/11 Commission did ask Turki about al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, in relation to Turki’s earlier claims in 2003 that his intelligence agency warned the CIA about them.
“What we told [the CIA] was these people were on our watchlist from previous activities of al Qaeda, in both the [East African] embassy bombings and attempts to smuggle arms into the Kingdom in 1997,” Turki reportedly said in August 2003, mere weeks before he was interviewed by the 9/11 Commission.
The CIA denied Turki’s claims at the time, and according to the 9/11 Commission interview notes, Turki backtracked when asked about the matter.
“In response to a question about recent press reports quoting Prince Turki as claiming to have provided the U.S. with information about al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar in late 1999, the Prince acknowledged that he was incorrect on the issue, and that [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] embassy in Washington DC’s recent statement that no such information was passed should be considered authoritative,” the interview notes stated.
In the roughly 20 years since Turki was interviewed, much more damning information has come forward about al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, and their connections to the CIA and Saudi intelligence.
Perhaps most notably, veteran national security reporter Seth Hettena published a government document in March, citing two unnamed FBI agents who allegedly said that the CIA was monitoring and attempting to recruit al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar in the lead-up to the attack.
The government document is a sworn statement from Office of Military Commissions investigator Don Canestraro, who summarized the inteviews he conducted with FBI agents about the 9/11 case.
According to Canestraro, at least two FBI agents told him that the CIA had attempted to recruit al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar.
The notes were first obtained and published last month by journalist Robbyn Swan.
Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.