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Unfinished Business

Bill Doyle is on a mission to prove that Saudi Arabia bankrolled the 9/11 attacks

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Veteran Middle East reporter Seymour Hersh also argued in the Oct. 22, 2001, issue of The New Yorker that Saudi royalty was paying “protection money” to terrorists, citing National Security Agency intercepts of high-level phone conversations between Saudi officials. Further along in the article, titled “King’s Ransom,” Hersh also wrote that “Saudi Arabia’s strict interpretation of Islam … and its use of mutawwa’in – religious police – to enforce prayer, is rivaled only by the Taliban’s.” This religious doctrine helps to explain the support for bin Laden within the Kingdom. According to an Oct. 2001 survey conducted by the Saudi GID (the kingdom’s equivalent to the CIA), 95 percent of the Saudis polled – educated adults ranging from 25 to 41 years of age – favored bin Laden’s cause.

Could it be that sympathetic and powerful Saudis had been donating money to al-Qaida, regardless of the government’s stated position? After all, the Islamic principle of zakat – tithing a percentage of one’s income to charity – is compulsory in Saudi Arabia (generally levied by the government at a rate of 2.5 percent), and oversight of where the resulting billions in revenue ultimately goes, says Brisard and other experts, is lax. The Saudi embassy in Washington would not return requests for an interview, though it did email a point-by-point response to the Vanity Fair article.

Interestingly, the embassy’s response contends that the Saudi government “has repeatedly requested – directly to the president and publicly – that the U.S. release the 28 pages to cease the perpetuation of conspiracy theory.” When Bob Graham is presented with that argument, he points to page 131 of his novel, in which the phrases “another chapter in the U.S.-Saudi cover-up” and “third-rate soap opera” appear.

In a written response to the Weekly from the White House, a senior administration official would not confirm whether the Saudi government directly requested the release of the 28 pages, nor would it comment on reports that Obama had told the families of 9/11 victims that he was willing to release the 28 pages. Instead, the official pointed out that in May 2010, Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body published a fatwa criminalizing terrorist acts. “Saudi Arabia is a strong partner in the fight against terrorism,” the official wrote.

On the night of Sept. 10, 2001, 25-year-old Joey Doyle and a dozen of his friends gathered at the home he shared with his parents in Staten Island, N.Y. The converted basement served as a sort of sports-themed lounge, replete with five TVs, a pool table and a jukebox. The Doyle family lived comfortably. Bill Doyle had made enough money on Wall Street to retire at age 48.

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