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Before 9/11

Warning Signs (228)
Foreign Intelligence Warnings (27)
Insider Trading (36)
Counterterrorism Before 9/11 (181)
Able Danger (39)
Military Exercises (38)
Hunt for bin Laden (73)
Pipeline Politics (54)

Al-Qaeda Members

Al-Qaeda in Germany (42)
Alhazmi and Almihdhar (74)
Other 9/11 Hijackers (48)
Marwan Alshehhi (21)
Mohamed Atta (37)
Ziad Jarrah (9)
Hani Hanjour (15)
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (33)
Zacarias Moussaoui (40)
Nabil al-Marabh (10)

Geopolitics and 9/11

Pakistani ISI (126)
Randy Glass (7)
Sibel Edmonds (6)
Saeed Sheikh (3)
Mahmood Ahmed (3)
Drugs (21)
Saudi Arabia and the bin Laden Family (110)
Bin Laden Family
Israel (33)
Iraq (49)
US Dominance (34)

Day of 9/11

All day of 9/11 events (401)
Flight AA 11 (62)
Flight UA 175 (49)
Flight AA 77 (70)
Flight UA 93 (105)
George Bush (66)
Dick Cheney (24)
Donald Rumsfeld (24)
Richard Clarke (22)

The Post-9/11 World

Afghanistan (49)
Investigations (166)
9/11 Congressional Inquiry (0)
9/11 Commission (0)
Other 9/11 Investigations (0)
Other events (79)
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Complete 911 Timeline: Bin Laden Family

 
  

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October 1980: Osama's Brother Allegedly Involved in October Surprise

      
Salem bin Laden in 1975.
Salem bin Laden, Osama's oldest brother, described by a French secret intelligence report as one of two closest friends of Saudi Arabia's King Fahd who often performs important missions for Saudi Arabia, is involved in secret Paris meetings between US and Iranian emissaries this month, according to a French report. Frontline, which published the French report, notes that such meetings have never been confirmed. Rumors of these meetings have been called the “October Surprise” and some have speculated that in these meetings, George H. W. Bush negotiated a delay to the release of the US hostages in Iran, thus helping Ronald Reagan and Bush win the 1980 Presidential election. All of this is highly speculative, but if the French report is correct, it points to a long-standing connection of highly improper behavior between the Bush and bin Laden families. [PBS Frontline, 2001 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Iran, George Herbert Walker Bush, Ronald Reagan, Salem bin Laden
          

Mid-1980s: Osama's Brother Is Allegedly Involved in the Iran-Contra Affair

       Quoting a French intelligence report posted by PBS Frontline, The New Yorker reports, “During the nineteen-eighties, when the Reagan administration secretly arranged for an estimated $34 million to be funneled through Saudi Arabia to the Contras in Nicaragua, [Osama's eldest brother] Salem bin Laden aided in this cause.” [New Yorker, 11/5/01; PBS Frontline, 2001 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Contras, Reagan administration, Salem bin Laden
          

1988: Bin Ladens Bail Out George W. Bush?

      
Bush during his Harken days.
Prior to this year, President George W. Bush is a failed oilman. Three times, friends and investors have bailed him out to keep his business from going bankrupt. However, in 1988, the same year his father becomes president, some Saudis buy a portion of his small company, Harken, which has never performed work outside of Texas. Later in the year, Harken wins a contract in the Persian Gulf and starts doing well financially. These transactions seem so suspicious that the Wall Street Journal in 1991 states it “raises the question of ... an effort to cozy up to a presidential son.” Two major investors in Bush's company during this time are Salem bin Laden and Khalid bin Mahfouz. [Salon, 11/19/01; Intelligence Newsletter, 3/2/00] Salem bin Laden is Osama's oldest brother; Khalid bin Mahfouz is a Saudi banker with a 20 percent stake in BCCI. The bank will be shut down a few years later and bin Mahfouz will have to pay a $225 million fine (while admitting no wrongdoing) (see October 2001)). [Forbes, 3/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Harken, Salem bin Laden, George W. Bush, Khalid bin Mahfouz
          

June 4, 1992: FBI Investigates Ties Between George W. Bush and Saudi Money

      
James Bath.
The FBI investigates connections between James Bath and George W. Bush, according to published reports. Bath is Salem bin Laden's official representative in the US. Bath's business partner contends that, “Documents indicate that the Saudis were using Bath and their huge financial resources to influence US policy,” since George W. Bush's father is president. George W. Bush denies any connections to Saudi money. What becomes of this investigation is unclear, but no charges are ever filed. [Houston Chronicle, 6/4/92]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Bath, Salem bin Laden, George W. Bush
          

April 9, 1994: The Saudi Government Publicly Breaks with Osama bin Laden

       The Saudi government revokes bin Laden's citizenship and moves to freeze his assets in Saudi Arabia because of his support for Muslim fundamentalist movements. [PBS Frontline, 9/01; New York Times, 4/10/94] However, allegedly, this is only a public front and they privately continue to support him as part of a secret deal allegedly made in 1991 (see Summer 1991).
People and organizations involved: Saudi Arabia, Osama bin Laden
          

December 16, 1994-May 1995: Osama's Brother-in-Law Held in US, Then Let Go Despite Ties to Islamic Militancy

      
Mohammed Jamal Khalifa.
Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, a brother-in-law to bin Laden, is arrested in the US. Khalifa, who financed the Abu Sayyaf militant group in the Philippines, has recently been sentenced to death in Jordan for funding a group that staged a series of bombings in that country. The FBI finds and quickly translates literature in Khalifa's luggage advocating training in assassination, explosives, and weapons, bombing churches, and murdering Catholic priests. Over the next weeks, they discover his ties to funding bin Laden's activities, as well as to Ramzi Yousef and other Operation Bojinka plotters (see December 16, 1994-February 1995). [New York Times, 5/2/02 (B); Lance, 2003, pp 233-35] Bin Laden could be connected to many Islamic militant activities through Khalifa's connections. Yet, in January 1995, Secretary of State Warren Christopher writes to Attorney General Janet Reno asking for Khalifa's deportation to Jordan for the sake of international cooperation against terrorism. By April, Khalifa's conviction in Jordan is overturned, and the evidence of his ties to Islamic militancy is growing. For instance, US media accounts in April allege he “bankrolls a network of Arab terrorists” including Ramzi Yousef, plus “violent Muslim extremists” in the Philippines, the Mideast, Russia, Romania, Albania, and the Netherlands. It is noted that he denies “any nefarious link with his brother-in- law, Osama bin Laden, who financed Arab volunteers to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 4/18/95; Associated Press, 4/26/95] Yet the US government's attempt to deport him to Jordan continues. Khalifa is sent to Jordan in May 1995. In a later retrial there, he is set free. Says one expert working at the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center at the time, “I remember people at the CIA who were ripsh_t at the time. Not even speaking in retrospect, but contemporaneous with what the intelligence community knew about bin Laden, Khalifa's deportation was unreal.” [New York Times, 5/2/02 (B); San Francisco Chronicle, 4/18/95; Lance, 2003, pp 233-35; Associated Press, 4/26/95] The Saudi government claims that they jailed Khalifa after 9/11, but in fact he appears to be free and running a seafood restaurant in that country. [New York Times, 5/2/02 (B); Chicago Tribune, 2/22/04]
People and organizations involved: Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Warren Christopher, Sheik Mohammed ibn Rashid al Maktum, Osama bin Laden, Ramzi Yousef
          

December 16, 1994-February 1995: Phone Numbers Link Bin Laden Bother-in-Law to Bojinka Plotters

       When bin Laden's brother-in-law Mohamed Jamal Khalifa is arrested in San Francisco, his phonebook and electronic organizer are found. They contain phone numbers to Bojinka plotter Wali Khan Amin Shah, associates of Bojinka plotter Ramzi Yousef, and Osama bin Laden's phone number. When the Manila apartment used by these two plotters is raided, Yousef's computer contains Khalifa's phone number. Wali Khan Shah is arrested several days later, and his phone book and phone bills contain five phone numbers for Khalifa, plus Khalifa's business card. Phone bills also show frequent telephone traffic between Khalifa and Khan's apartment in Manila in November 1994. When Yousef is arrested in February 1995 (see February 7, 1995), he has Khalifa's phone number and address, and more information on him in an encrypted computer file. Not surprisingly given all these links, Yousef is questioned about his ties to Khalifa within hours of being taken into US custody. He admits that he knew the name bin Laden, and knew him to be a relative of Khalifa's. [San Francisco Chronicle, 4/18/95; Associated Press, 4/26/95; FBI Affadavit, 4/29/02] Khalifa has already been tied to two others convicted of the 1993 WTC bombing. Yet despite these ties to Islamic militancy, and others, he will be deported from the US.
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Wali Khan Amin Shah, Ramzi Yousef, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

May 1996: Saudis and al-Qaeda Allegedly Strike a Secret Deal

      
The Hotel Royale Monceau.
French intelligence secretly monitors a meeting of Saudi billionaires at the Hotel Royale Monceau in Paris this month with the financial representative of al-Qaeda. “The Saudis, including a key Saudi prince joined by Muslim and non-Muslim gun traffickers, [meet] to determine who would pay how much to Osama. This [is] not so much an act of support but of protection—a payoff to keep the mad bomber away from Saudi Arabia.” [Palast, 2002, pp 100] Participants also agree that bin Laden should be rewarded for promoting Wahhabism (an austere form of Islam that requires literal interpretation of the Koran) in Chechnya, Kashmir, Bosnia, and other places. [Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 10/29/03 (C)] This extends an alleged secret deal first made between the Saudi government and bin Laden in 1991. Later, 9/11 victims' relatives will rely on the “nonpublished French intelligence report” of this meeting in their lawsuit against important Saudis. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 8/16/02] According to French terrorism expert Jean-Charles Brisard and/or reporter Greg Palast, there are about 20 people at the meeting, including an unnamed brother of bin Laden and an unnamed representative from the Saudi Defense Ministry. [Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 10/29/03 (C)] Palast, noting that the French monitored the meeting, asks, “Since US intelligence was thus likely informed, the question becomes why didn't the government immediately move against the Saudis?” [Palast, 2002, pp 100]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Saudi Arabia, al-Qaeda
          

September 11, 1996: Investigation of bin Laden Family Members Is Closed

      
WAMY logo.
The FBI investigation into two relatives of bin Laden, begun in February 1996, is closed. The FBI wanted to learn more about Abdullah bin Laden, “because of his relationship with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth [WAMY]—a suspected terrorist organization.” [Guardian, 11/7/01] Abdullah was the US director of WAMY and lived with his brother Omar in Falls Church, Virginia, a suburb of Washington. The coding on a leaked FBI document about the case, marked secret, indicates the case related to national security. WAMY's office address is 5613 Leesburg Pike. It is later determined that four of the 9/11 hijackers lived at 5913 Leesburg Pike at the same time the two bin Laden brothers were there. WAMY has been banned in Pakistan by this time. [Guardian, 11/7/01; BBC Newsnight, 11/6/01] The Indian and Philippine governments have also cited WAMY for funding Islamic militancy. The 9/11 Commission later hears testimony that WAMY “has openly supported Islamic terrorism. There are ties between WAMY and 9/11 hijackers. It is a group that has openly endorsed the notion that Jews must be killed. ... [It] has consistently portrayed the United States, Jews, Christians, and other infidels as enemies who have to be defeated or killed. And there is no doubt, according to US intelligence, that WAMY has been tied directly to terrorist attacks.” [9/11 Commission, 7/9/03, pp 66] “WAMY was involved in terrorist-support activity,” says a security official who later serves under President Bush. “There's no doubt about it.” [Vanity Fair, 10/03] After 9/11, a high-placed intelligence official will tell the Guardian: “There were always constraints on investigating the Saudis. There were particular investigations that were effectively killed.” [Guardian, 11/7/01] An unnamed US source will tell the BBC, “There is a hidden agenda at the very highest levels of our government.” [BBC Newsnight, 11/6/01] The Bosnian government will say in September 2002 that a charity with Abdullah bin Laden on its board had channeled money to Chechen guerrillas, something that “is only possible because the Clinton CIA gave the wink and nod to WAMY and other groups who were aiding Bosnian guerrillas when they were fighting Serbia, a US-approved enemy.” The investigation into WAMY is only restarted a few days after 9/11, around the same time these bin Ladens leave the US. [Palast, 2002, pp 96-99] (Note that this Abdullah bin Laden is possibly bin Laden's cousin, not brother, and is not the same as the Abdullah bin Laden who serves as the bin Laden family spokesperson. [Palast, 2002, pp 98-99] ) WAMY is still not listed by the US as a terrorist organization.
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Abdullah bin Laden, Clinton administration, World Assembly of Muslim Youth, Central Intelligence Agency, Omar bin Laden
          

1997: Bin Laden Family Financial Connection With Osama Continues Until At Least This Year

       In 2004, Osama bin Laden's half brother Yeslam Binladin admits that he and other bin Laden family members share a Swiss bank account with Osama bin Laden from 1990 until 1997. The bin Laden family claims to have disowned Osama bin Laden in 1994, and the US government officially designated him as a financier of terrorism in 1996. Yeslam had previously denied any financial dealings with Osama at this late date until evidence of this bank account was uncovered by French private investigator Jean-Charles Brisard. In December 2001, French authorities will open an investigation into the financial dealings of the Saudi Investment Company (SICO) run by Yeslam Binladin. [Scotsman, 9/28/04; Agence France-Presse, 7/26/04] In 2002, his house will be raided by French police. [Associated Press, 3/20/2] No charges have been made as of yet, but the investigation will continue and in fact widen its scope in late 2004. A French magistrate will claim he is looking into “other instances of money laundering” apparently involving financial entities connected to Yeslam and other bin Laden family members. [Reuters, 12/26/04] Yeslam claims he's had no contact with Osama in 20 years. Yet, in 2004, when asked if he would turn in Osama if given the chance, he replies, “What do you think? Would you turn in your brother?” [MSNBC, 7/10/04] His ex-wife Carmen Binladin will also comment around the same time, “From what I have seen and what I have read, I cannot believe that [the rest of the bin Laden family] have cut off Osama completely. ... And I cannot believe that some of the sisters [don't support him.] They are very close to Osama.” [Salon, 7/10/04]
People and organizations involved: Jean-Charles Brisard, Carmen Binladin, Saudi Investment Company, Bin Laden Family, Yeslam Binladin, Osama bin Laden
          

November 1997: Enron and bin Laden Family Team Up for Project

       Industry newsletter reports that Saudi Arabia has abandoned plans for open bids on a $2 billion power plant near Mecca, deciding that the government will build it instead. Interestingly, one of the bids was made by a consortium of Enron, the Saudi Binladin Group (run by Osama's family), and Italy's Ansaldo Energia. [Alexander's Gas and Oil Connections, 1/22/98]
People and organizations involved: Saudi Arabia, Enron, Saudi Binladin Group, Office for the Protection of the Constitution
          

Spring 1998: Bin Laden's Stepmother Visits Afghanistan

       Sources who know bin Laden claim his stepmother, Al-Khalifa bin Laden, has the first of two meetings with her stepson in Afghanistan during this period. This trip was arranged by Prince Turki al-Faisal, then the head of Saudi intelligence. Turki was in charge of the “Afghanistan file” for Saudi Arabia, and had long-standing ties to bin Laden and the Taliban since 1980. [New Yorker, 11/5/01]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Osama bin Laden, Turki bin Faisal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud
          

November 1998: Former President George H. W. Bush Meets with bin Laden Family

       Former President George H. W. Bush meets with the bin Laden family on behalf of the Carlyle Group. The meeting takes place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. [Sunday Herald, 10/7/01]
People and organizations involved: Bin Laden Family, George Herbert Walker Bush, Carlyle Group
          

June 1999: Enron Plans Power Plant with bin Laden Family

       Enron announces an agreement to build a $140 million power plant in the Gaza Strip, between Israel and Egypt. One of the major financiers for the project is the Saudi Binladin Group, a company owned by bin Laden's family. This is the second attempted project between these two companies. Ninety percent complete, the construction will be halted because of Palestinian-Israeli violence and then Enron's bankruptcy. [Washington Post, 3/2/02]
People and organizations involved: Saudi Binladin Group, Enron
          

January 2000: Former President Bush Meets with bin Laden Family on Behalf of Carlyle Group

      
Ex-President Bush Sr. meeting with Saudi Arabia's King Fahd on behalf of the Carlyle Group in 2000.
Former President George H. W. Bush meets with the bin Laden family on behalf of the Carlyle Group. He had also met with them in November 1998 (see November 1998), but it is not known if he meets with them again after this. Bush denies this meeting took place until a thank you note is found confirming that it took place. [Guardian, 10/31/01; Wall Street Journal, 9/27/01]
People and organizations involved: George Herbert Walker Bush, Carlyle Group, Bin Laden Family
          

2000: $250 Million Bank Transfer Suggests Links Between Bin Laden, His Family, and Unnamed Pakistani

       A transfer of 241 million euros (over $250 million) is made to Pakistan in this year from a Swiss bank account belonging jointly to Osama bin Laden and an unnamed person of Pakistani nationality. This Deutsche Bank joint account belongs to a company called Cambridge, which is a subsidiary of the Saudi Binladin Group, the bin Laden family company. After French investigators discover records of this money transfer in late 2004, a French judge authorizes widening a probe into the financial network surrounding the bin Laden family. [Reuters, 12/26/04] The discovery of this sizable joint bank account contradicts the conclusions of the 9/11 Commission, which claims that bin Laden inherited far less than is commonly reported and never had a fortune in the hundreds of millions of dollars. [Agence France-Presse, 7/26/04]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Cambridge, 9/11 Commission, Bin Laden Family, Deutsche Bank
          

March 2000: Bin Laden Relative Associates With Islamic Militants in Philippines

       Four Arabs allegedly visit the headquarters of the Abu Sayyaf Islamist militant group, deep in the jungles of the southern Philippines. One of them goes by the name Ibnu bin Laden and appears to be a close relative of Osama bin Laden. They give equipment and money. Just days later, Abu Sayyaf militants seize about 50 students and teachers and demand the release of Ramzi Yousef and Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman from US prisons in exchange for their hostages. (They are ultimately unsuccessful in winning their demands.) Osama bin Laden's ties to Abu Sayyaf go back at least to 1988, when it is believed he personally visited the Philippines. [South China Morning Post, 10/11/01 Sources: Wahab Akbar]
People and organizations involved: Abu Sayyaf, Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden, Ibnu bin Laden, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman
          

Spring 2000: Saudi Suggestion to Track bin Laden's Stepmother in Planned Meeting with Bin Laden Is Rejected

       Sources who know Osama bin Laden later claim that his stepmother, Al-Khalifa bin Laden, has a second meeting with her stepson in Afghanistan (her first visit took place in the spring of 1998 (see Spring 1998)). The trip is approved by the Saudi royal family. The Saudis pass the message to him that “‘they wouldn't crack down on his followers in Saudi Arabia’ as long as he set his sights on targets outside the desert kingdom.” In late 1999, the Saudi government had told the CIA about the upcoming trip, and suggested placing a homing beacon on her luggage. This does not happen—Saudis later claim they weren't taken seriously, and Americans claim they never received specific information on her travel plans. [New Yorker, 11/5/01; Washington Post, 12/19/01]
People and organizations involved: Al-Khalifa bin Laden, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, Saudi Binladin Group
          

Late January 2001: US Intelligence Told to Back Off from bin Laden and Saudis

       The BBC later reports, “After the elections, [US intelligence] agencies [are] told to ‘back off’ investigating the bin Ladens and Saudi royals, and that anger[s] agents.” This follows previous orders to abandon an investigation of bin Laden relatives in 1996 (see September 11, 1996), and difficulties in investigating Saudi royalty. [BBC, 11/6/01] An unnamed “top-level CIA operative” says there is a “major policy shift” at the National Security Agency at this time. Bin Laden could still be investigated, but agents could not look too closely at how he got his money. One specific CIA investigation hampered by this new policy is an investigation in Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan and his Khan Laboratories. Khan is considered the “father” of Pakistan's nuclear weapons capability. But since the funding for this nuclear program gets traced back to Saudi Arabia, restrictions are placed on the inquiry. [Palast, 2002, pp 99-100] Presumably another investigation canceled is an investigation by the Chicago FBI into ties between Saudi multimillionaire Yassin al-Qadi and the US embassy bombings in August 1998 (see October 1998), because during this month an FBI agent is told that the case is being closed and that “it's just better to let sleeping dogs lie.” Reporter Greg Palast notes that President Clinton was already hindering investigations by protecting Saudi interests. However, as he puts it, “Where Clinton said, ‘Go slow,’ Bush policymakers said, ‘No go.’ The difference is between closing one eye and closing them both.” [Palast, 2002, pp 102]
People and organizations involved: Abdul Qadeer Khan, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Bin Laden Family, Osama bin Laden, Yassin al-Qadi
          

February 2001: Bin Laden's Sisters Seen Handing Money to al-Qaeda Member

       A former CIA anti-terrorism expert later claims that an allied intelligence agency sees “two of Osama's sisters apparently taking cash to an airport in Abu Dhabi [United Arab Emirates], where they are suspected of handing it to a member of bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization.” This is cited as one of many incidents showing an “interconnectedness” between bin Laden and the rest of his family. [New Yorker, 11/5/01]
People and organizations involved: Bin Laden Family, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda
          

February 26, 2001: Osama Attends Son's Wedding with Other bin Laden Family Members

      
Mohammed bin Laden (center), the son of Osama bin Laden (right), marries the daughter of Mohammed Atef (left).
Bin Laden attends the wedding of his son Mohammed in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Although bin Laden is supposedly long estranged from his family, bin Laden's stepmother, two brothers, and sister are also said to attend, according to the only journalist who was invited. [Sunday Herald, 10/7/01; Reuters, 3/1/01]
People and organizations involved: Mohammed bin Laden, Al-Khalifa bin Laden, Osama bin Laden
          

September 11, 2001: Bin Laden Brother Attends Carlyle Group Conference

       The Carlyle Group is a company closely associated with officials of the Bush and Reagan administrations, and has considerable ties to Saudi oil money, including ties to the bin Laden family. Those ties are well illustrated by the fact that on this day the Carlyle Group is hosting a conference at a Washington hotel. Among the guests of honor is investor Shafig bin Laden, brother to bin Laden. [Observer, 6/16/02]
People and organizations involved: Carlyle Group, Bin Laden Family, Shafig bin Laden
          

September 13, 2001: Saudi Royals Fly to Kentucky in Violation of Domestic Flight Ban

       After a complete air flight ban in the US began during the 9/11 attacks, some commercial flights begin resuming this day. However, all private flights are still banned from flying. Nonetheless, at least one private flight carrying Saudi royalty takes place on this day. And in subsequent days, other flights carry royalty and bin Laden family members. These flights take place even as fighters escort down three other private planes attempting to fly. Most of the Saudi royals and bin Ladens in the US at the time are high school or college students and young professionals. [New York Times, 9/30/01; Vanity Fair, 10/03] The first flight is a Lear Jet that leaves from a private Raytheon hangar in Tampa, Florida, and takes three Saudis to Lexington, Kentucky. [Tampa Tribune, 10/5/01] Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the US who is so close to the Bush family that he is nicknamed “Bandar Bush,” pushes for and helps arrange the flights at the request of frightened Saudis. [Vanity Fair, 10/03; Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 10/29/03 (D)] For two years, this violation of the air ban is denied by the FAA, FBI, and White House, and decried as an urban legend except for one article detailing them in a Tampa newspaper. [Tampa Tribune, 10/5/01] Finally, in 2003, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke confirms the existence of these flights, and Secretary of State Powell confirms them as well. [Vanity Fair, 10/03; MSNBC, 9/7/03] However, the White House remains silent on the matter. [New York Times, 9/4/03] Officials at the Tampa International Airport finally confirm this first flight in 2004. But whether the flight violated the air ban or not rests on some technicalities that remain unresolved. [Lexington Herald-Leader, 6/10/04] The Saudis are evacuated to Saudi Arabia over the next several days (see September 14-19, 2001).
People and organizations involved: Bin Laden Family, Bandar bin Sultan, Bush administration, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Colin Powell, Richard A. Clarke
          

September 14-19, 2001: Bin Laden Family Members, Saudi Royals Quietly Leave US

      
Khalil bin Laden at the Orlando, Florida, airport, about to be flown out of the country in the days after 9/11.
Following a secret flight inside the US that is in violation of a national private airplane flight ban, members of the bin Laden family and Saudi royalty quietly depart the US. The flights are only publicly acknowledged after all the Saudis have left. [Boston Globe, 9/21/01; New York Times, 9/30/01] About 140 Saudis, including around 24 members of the bin Laden family, are passengers in these flights. The identities of most of these passengers are not known. However, some of the passengers include:
The son of the Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan. Sultan is sued in August 2002 for alleged complicity in the 9/11 plot. [Tampa Tribune, 10/5/01]
He is alleged to have contributed at least $6 million since 1994 to four charities that finance al-Qaeda. [Vanity Fair, 10/03]
Khalil bin Laden. He has been investigated by the Brazilian government for possible terrorist connections. [Vanity Fair, 10/03]

Abdullah bin Laden and Omar bin Laden, cousins of bin Laden. Abdullah was the US director of the Muslim charity World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY). The governments of India, Pakistan, Philippines, and Bosnia have all accused WAMY of funding terrorism. These two relatives were investigated by the FBI in 1996 (see September 11, 1996) in a case involving espionage, murder, and national security. Their case is reopened on September 19, right after they leave the country. [Vanity Fair, 10/03]
Remarkably, four of the 9/11 hijackers briefly live in the town of Falls Church, Virginia, three blocks from the WAMY office headed by Abdullah bin Laden. [BBC Newsnight, 11/6/01]
Saleh Ibn Abdul Rahman Hussayen. He is a prominent Saudi official who is in the same hotel as three of the hijackers the night before 9/11. He leaves on one of the first flights to Saudi Arabia before the FBI can properly interview him about this. [Washington Post, 10/2/03]
There is a later dispute regarding how thoroughly the Saudis are interviewed before they leave and who approves the flights. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke says he agrees to the flights after the FBI assures him none of those on board has connections to terrorism and that it is “a conscious decision with complete review at the highest levels of the State Department and the FBI and the White House.” [Congressional Testimony, 9/3/03] Clarke says the decision to approve the flights “didn't get any higher than me.” However, the question of who made the request of Clarke is still unknown. [The Hill, 05/18/04] According to Vanity Fair, both the FBI and the State Department “deny playing any role whatsoever in the episode.” However, Dale Watson, the FBI's former head of counterterrorism, says the Saudis on the planes “[are] identified, but they [are] not subject to serious interviews or interrogations” before they leave. [Vanity Fair, 10/03] An FBI spokesperson says the bin Laden relatives are only interviewed by the FBI “at the airport, as they [are] about to leave.” [National Review, 9/11/02] There are claims that some passengers are not interviewed by the FBI at all. [Vanity Fair, 10/03] Abdullah bin Laden, who stays in the US, says that even a month after 9/11, his only contact with the FBI is a brief phone call. [Boston Globe, 9/21/01; New Yorker, 11/5/01] Numerous experts are surprised that the bin Ladens are not interviewed more extensively before leaving, pointing out that interviewing the relatives of suspects is standard investigative procedure. [Vanity Fair, 10/03; National Review, 9/11/02] MSNBC claims that “members of the Saudi royal family met frequently with bin Laden—both before and after 9/11” [MSNBC, 9/5/03] , and many Saudi royals and bin Laden relatives are being sued for their alleged role in 9/11. The Boston Globe opines that the flights occur “too soon after 9/11 for the FBI even to know what questions to ask, much less to decide conclusively that each Saudi [royal] and bin Laden relative [deserve] an ‘all clear,’ never to be available for questions again.” [Boston Globe, 9/30/03] Senator Charles Schumer (D) says of the secret flights, “This is just another example of our country coddling the Saudis and giving them special privileges that others would never get. It's almost as if we didn't want to find out what links existed.” [New York Times, 9/4/03]
People and organizations involved: Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Bin Laden Family, Bush administration, Abdullah bin Laden, Khalil bin Laden, Omar bin Laden, Saleh Ibn Abdul Rahman Hussayen, Charles Schumer, Federal Bureau of Investigation, World Assembly of Muslim Youth, Abdullah bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Richard A. Clarke, US Department of State, Dale Watson
          

October 7, 2001: Bin Laden Brother's Ties to Islamic Militancy Revealed

       It is reported that Mahrous bin Laden, brother to Osama bin Laden, is currently manager of the Medina, Saudi Arabia, branch of the bin Laden family company, the Saudi Binladin Group. In 1979, bin Laden company trucks were used by 500 dissidents who seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest city. All the men who took part were later beheaded except Mahrous, who is eventually released from prison apparently because of the close ties between the bin Ladens and the Saudi royal family. The bin Laden family claims that no family members have any ties to terrorism except Osama. [Sunday Herald, 10/7/01]
People and organizations involved: Saudi Binladin Group, Mahrous bin Laden
          

November 5, 2001: Has Bin Laden Family Really Disowned Osama?

       The New Yorker points to evidence that the bin Laden family has generally not ostracized itself from bin Laden as is popularly believed, but retains close ties in some cases. The large bin Laden family owns and runs a $5 billion a year global corporation that includes the largest construction firm in the Islamic world. One counterterrorism expert says, “There's obviously a lot of spin by the Saudi Binladin Group [the family corporation] to distinguish itself from Osama. I've been following the bin Ladens for years, and it's easy to say, ‘We disown him.’ Many in the family have. But blood is usually thicker than water.” The article notes that neither the bin Laden family nor the Saudi royal family have publicly denounced bin Laden since 9/11. [New Yorker, 11/5/01]
People and organizations involved: Saudi Binladin Group, Bin Laden Family, Osama bin Laden
          

November 28, 2001: Bin Laden Family Business Valued at $36 Billion; Osama's Share Is Uncertain

       The Financial Times estimates that the bin Laden family's business, the Saudi Binladin Group, is worth about $36 billion. Osama bin Laden inherited about $300 million at the age of ten on the death of his father, but he may be worth much more today. While he spends large amounts each month supporting terror, he reportedly gets large amounts from rich Saudis every month to make up for the losses. [Financial Times, 11/28/01] The 9/11 Commission later disputes these figures and claims that bin Laden only gets about $1 million a year for about two decades until around 1994. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/16/04 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Saudi Binladin Group, Bin Laden Family
          

March 2002: Al-Qaeda Golden Chain Financiers Revealed

      
The "golden chain" list of names.
Authorities in Bosnia, Sarajevo, raid the offices of the Benevolence International Foundation due to suspected funding of al-Qaeda. The raid uncovers a handwritten list of twenty wealthy donors sympathetic to al-Qaeda. The list, referred to as “The Golden Chain,” reveals both the names of the donors, and the names of the recipients. Seven of the payments were made to bin Laden, and at least one donation to him was made by the “bin Laden brothers.” UPI points out that “the discovery of this document in Sarajevo calls into question whether al-Qaeda has received support from one of Osama's scores of wealthy brothers.” Adel Batterjee, a wealth businessman from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, who is also the founder of both the charity BIF and its predecessor, Lajnatt Al-Birr Al-Islamiah, appears to be mentioned as a recipient three times. Batterjee has been named as a defendant in a 9/11 lawsuit against wealthy Saudis, but he has been missing in Saudi Arabia for over a year by the time this report comes out. When the document was written is not revealed, but it may date from the early 1990s. [UPI, 2/11/03]
People and organizations involved: Adel Batterjee, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Bosnia, Benevolence International Foundation
          

March 29, 2002: Bin Laden Family Denies Terrorist Connections

      
Abdullah bin Laden, bin Laden family spokesman (not the Abdullah connected to WAMY).
Abdullah bin Laden, spokesman for the bin Laden family and one of Osama's many brothers, speaks directly to the press for the first time since 9/11. He says that the family cut all personal and financial ties to Osama in 1993 and that no family member has contact with him or provides any kind of support for him. “We went through a tough time. It was difficult. We felt we are a victim as well.” [ABC News, 3/29/02]
People and organizations involved: Abdullah bin Laden, Osama bin Laden, Bin Laden Family
          

August 15, 2002: Relatives File Lawsuit Against Alleged Saudi al-Qaeda Financiers

      
Deena Burnett, wife of Flight 93 passenger Tom Burnett, speaks on behalf of the victims' relatives suing the Saudis.
More than 600 relatives of victims of the 9/11 attacks file a 15-count, $1 trillion lawsuit against various parties they accuse of financing al-Qaeda and Afghanistan's former Taliban regime. (The number of plaintiffs will increase to 2,500. Up to 10,000 were eligible to join this suit. [Newsweek, 9/13/02] ) The defendants include the Saudi Binladin Group (the company run by Osama bin Laden's family), seven international banks, eight Islamic foundations and charities, individual financiers, three Saudi princes, and the government of Sudan. [CNN, 8/15/02; Washington Post, 8/16/02] Individuals named include Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan, former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal, Yassin al-Qadi, and Khalid bin Mahfouz (Mahfouz denies supporting terrorism and has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint). [Associated Press, 8/15/02; MSNBC, 8/25/02] “The attorneys and investigators were able to obtain, through French intelligence, the translation of a secretly recorded meeting between representatives of bin Laden and three Saudi princes in which they sought to pay him hush money to keep him from attacking their enterprises in Saudi Arabia.” [CNN, 8/15/02] The plaintiffs also accuse the US government of failing to pursue such institutions thoroughly enough because of lucrative oil interests. [BBC, 8/15/02] Ron Motley, the lead lawyer in the suit, says the case is being aided by intelligence services from France and four other foreign governments, but no help has come from the Justice Department. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 8/16/02] The plaintiffs acknowledge the chance of ever winning any money is slim, but hope the lawsuit will help bring to light the role of Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 attacks. [BBC, 8/15/02] A number of rich Saudis respond by threatening to withdraw hundreds of billions of dollars in US investments if the lawsuit goes forward. [Daily Telegraph, 8/20/02]
People and organizations involved: Khalid bin Mahfouz, Osama bin Laden, Yassin al-Qadi, Turki bin Faisal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, US Department of Justice, Ron Motley, Taliban, Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, United States, Sudan, Saudi Binladin Group, al-Qaeda
          

September 17, 2002: Tie Between 9/11 Arrest and bin Laden Family Members

       CBS reports that in the days after the arrest of Ramzi bin al-Shibh (see September 11, 2002) and four other al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan on September 11, 2002, “a search of the home of the five al-Qaeda suspects turned up passports belonging to members of the family of Osama bin Laden.” No more details, such as which family members, or why bin al-Shibh's group had these passports, is given. [CBS News, 9/17/02]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Bin Laden Family
          

September 20, 2002: Saudi Charity in Bosnia Linked to al-Qaeda

       A Bosnian government probe connects the Saudi charity Talibah International Aid Association to the funding of Islamic militant groups and an al-Qaeda front group. Talibah has been under investigation since shortly after 9/11 due to a foiled attack in Bosnia that has been connected to Talibah and al-Qaeda. Abdullah bin Laden (bin Laden's cousin and not the bin Laden family spokesman of the same name), is a Talibah officer in its Virginia office. An investigation into Abdullah bin Laden was cancelled in September 1996. The US has been criticized for failing to list Talibah as a sponsor of terrorism and for not freezing its assets. [Wall Street Journal, 9/20/02]
People and organizations involved: Talibah International Aid Association, al-Qaeda, Abdullah bin Laden
          

January 18, 2005: Some Defendants Are Dismissed in Saudi 9/11 Lawsuit

      
Ron Motley, lead lawyer in the Saudi-9/11 lawsuit.
A US judge dismisses the government of Saudi Arabia, three Saudi princes, and several Saudi financial institutions as defendants in the Ron Motley lawsuit that accuses them of supporting al-Qaeda before the 9/11 attacks (see August 15, 2002). The judge rules that only the US president, not the courts, has the authority to label a foreign nation as a terrorist supporter. He says the plaintiffs failed to provide sufficient facts to overcome the kingdom of Saudi Arabia's immunity. Saudi defense minister Prince Sultan, Saudi ambassador to Britain Prince Turki al-Faisal, and Prince Mohammed Al-Faisal Al-Saud, among others, are dismissed from the lawsuit, but the lawsuit is allowed to proceed against many more defendants, including the Saudi Binladin Group, the multibillion dollar bin Laden family company. [Associated Press, 1/19/05]
People and organizations involved: Mohammed al-Faisal al-Saud, Turki bin Faisal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Saudi Arabia
          


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