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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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That night, Joey announced to his friends and family that he had been promoted to the position of government bond supervisor at Cantor Fitzgerald, a financial firm that occupied the 101st through the 105th floors of the World Trade Center’s North Tower. “I’m well on my way,” Doyle recalls his son saying.

That same evening, Waleed Alshehri, a 22-year-old from the Saudi Arabian city of Khamis Mushait (where U.S. F-117A stealth fighters were stationed during the Gulf War), was making final preparations in Room 432 of the Park Inn in Chestnut Hill, Mass. He had entered the U.S. through Orlando in April and had received a Florida driver’s license in May. Alshehri had studied to be a teacher, but by late 1999, he and his older brother, Wail, had drifted under the wing of a militant Islamic cleric in Mecca.

By the time Alshehri settled into seat 2B on American Airlines Flight 11 at 7:45 a.m. on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Joey was already at his office. The youngest Doyle child was a hard worker, says his father, and per his usual routine, he was already out of the house when his father woke up at 6 a.m.

At 8:46 a.m., the paths of Waleed Alshehri and Joey Doyle crossed: The plane Alshehri was in crashed just two floors below Joey’s office. The young Saudi was suspected of assisting in the hijacking of the plane by stabbing two flight attendants on board. The explosion that resulted when the Boeing 767 made impact with the building eventually caused the collapse of the North Tower. The South Tower was hit 17 minutes later by another 767 aircraft. Of the 10 hijackers, including Alshehri, who caused the death of 2,753 people in New York City, eight of them were Saudis.

Joey’s mother says she “knew right away” that her son was dead, but his father thought differently. “If there’s a person who could get out, it’d be Joey,” Doyle says. “He was a great athlete.” After four days of calling hospital triages with no luck, however, he accepted what his wife had already known. The only remains of his son found at Staten Island’s Fresh Kills landfill, where much of the debris from 9/11 was eventually dumped, was a driver’s license, credit card and two club cards.

After a month of grieving at home, receiving visits from friends and family, Doyle needed to get out. He did some driving. He frequented support groups across New York City and New Jersey, collecting information on counseling, burial, financial aid and other resources for families affected by the attack. He became versed in Social Security and the inner workings of the health insurance system, and his email address circulated in the human resources departments of financial firms that once occupied the towers. He wanted to make sure victims’ families knew what resources they could access. He soon became the go-to guy, the middleman, the glue.

Messages began pouring into Doyle’s inbox, from which he created a database of affected families, verifying names with the city of New York’s Community Affairs Unit. By the time New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani decided to convene lengthy meetings with select 9/11 family members near the end of 2001, Doyle’s slot was assured. “I don’t think there’s a family that doesn’t know Bill Doyle,” says Richard Sheirer, a close confidant of Giuliani’s (and senior vice president at consulting group Giuliani Partners) and New York City’s director of emergency management in September 2001. “He was a keystone in helping people. And I think it was cathartic for him, also.”

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