October 3, 2003

OUR FRIENDS THE SAUDIS:

A senior Saudi Arabian official, now minister for the holy places, stayed at the same hotel as three September 11 hijackers the night before the suicide attacks.

American investigators are trying to make sense of the disclosure that Saleh Ibn Abdul Rahman al-Hussayen, who returned to Saudi Arabia shortly after the attacks, stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn in Herndon, Virginia. . . .

FBI agents recommended that the Saudi should not be allowed to leave until he was questioned further, but as soon as flights resumed on Sept 19, Mr Hussayen and his wife flew home.

He is not now suspected of breaking any laws and there is no evidence that he met the hijackers at the Virginia hotel.

But investigators are pooling what they know about his trip to North America, during which he allegedly visited or contacted several Saudi-sponsored charities now accused of links to terrorist groups. There is no suggestion that he knew of any such links.

Could be a coincidence, of course, and it probably is. But there are too many coincidences like this where the Saudis are involved. There’s more on what this guy was up to here.

And I’d be interested in knowing who decided to let him leave over the recommendations of the agents who interviewed him.

UPDATE: Spoons thinks that I’m too easy on the Saudis. He could be right — I’m known for that. . . .

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