Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said during a Sunday interview that he has concerns about the Saudi royal family’s alleged role in Wahhabi terrorism. But the Vermont senator said he has not taken a decision whether to vote in favor of the 9/11 bill that would allow relatives and families of victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) and Pentagon to sue Saudi Arabia over the alleged role in the attacks.
According to the Vermont senator during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, he has not yet taken a decision on whether to vote in favor of the measure because he has not studied the bill co-sponsored by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and John Cornyn (R-TX).
“Clearly, you have heard me say I have concerns about the role Saudi Arabia played for many years, not just the individuals who came from Saudi Arabia and attacked us on 9/11, but their support for ISIS [the Islamic State group] and other terrorist organizations,” the Democratic presidential hopeful said.
“I do have a lot of concern about the role the Saudi royal family has played in terrorism,” he continued. Wahhabism is the extreme right-wing Islamic movement, which is part of what ISIS and al Qaeda are about.”
Also during an appearance on ABC’s This Week, he asserted that the U.S. cannot be blackmailed by Saudis.
He was referring to the threat issued by a senior Saudi official ahead of voting on the 9/11 bill that the Saudi government would sell off about $750 billion in U.S. treasury assets if Congress approves the legislation. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir issued the threat during a visit to Washington last week, saying that Saudi Arabia would be forced to sell off the assets as a way of forestalling U.S. courts freezing them.
Commenting on the threat, Sanders said that “Saudi Arabia is one of the most powerful and wealthiest families of the world. That’s why they can threaten to withdraw hundreds of billions of dollars from our economy. The evidence is quite clear that sections of that very large royal family have funded Wahhabism.”
Despite the comments from the Vermont senator, the U.S. has never formally acknowledged that the Saudi government was linked directly or indirectly with the deadly 9/11 attacks in which 3,000 innocent souls lost their lives. However, based on a body of circumstantial evidence, such as the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers who crashed planes into the World Trade Center (WTC) and Pentagon were Saudis, it is believed widely that the Saudi royal family was complicit in the attacks.
The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act grants foreign countriess immunity against lawsuits in U.S. But the new 9/11 bill says that foreign nations and citizens involved in deadly attacks on U.S. soil will not enjoy immunity.
It is also widely alleged that the classified 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission report — classified by the U.S. government on the grounds that releasing it would jeopardize national security — contain evidence that could implicate members of the royal family.
But the Obama administration is reportedly moving to douse speculation about the documents by releasing them in June this year, according to the New York Times.
Some cite other evidence allegedly implicating the Saudi royal family, such as the alleged testimony by Zacarias Moussaoui serving a life sentence for his role in the 9/11 attacks.
Moussaouij claimed that members of the Saudi royal family support al-Qaeda.
The 46-year-old French Algerian had claimed in a court deposition in 2015 that al Qaeda continued to be funded by senior members of the Saudi royal family even after Osama bin Laden’s 1998 declaration of war against the U.S.
Moussaoui also claimed to have held a secret meeting with a Saudi diplomat to discuss how to assassinate the U.S. president. But the Saudis denied the allegations, describing the terrorist as a “deranged criminal.”
Some independent analysts have also raised doubts about the credibility of Moussaoui’s claims, and Saudi officials had reportedly asked the U.S. government to declassify the 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission report to disprove allegations that they contain proof of the Saudi royal family’s involvement in the 9/11 attacks.
[Photo By Mary Altaffer/AP]