20 Years Ago, Prior to 9/11: US Preparations for the Invasion of Afghanistan
The Bush administration was planning its invasion of Afghanistan before the 9/11 attacks
By Shane Quinn
Global Research, August 06, 2021
As George W. Bush entered the White House on 20 January 2001, having been granted a controversial election victory, his cabinet swiftly drew up a particularly hawkish foreign policy program. This included identifying a number of strategically important states to gain full ascendancy over, through military attack if needs be, and among the first countries selected for invasion was Afghanistan.
Due to America’s declining oil and natural gas stocks, the top priority for president Bush was to increase US influence over rich fossil fuel sources, constructing pipelines, refineries and other such infrastructure.
Contrary to what numerous mainstream outlets have claimed over the past two decades, the Bush administration was planning its invasion of Afghanistan before the 9/11 attacks on America, which were then used as a pretext for armed intervention. Niaz Naik, Pakistan’s experienced former foreign secretary, has provided testimony on this.
Naik informed the BBC a week after 9/11 how he was told by senior US officials, in mid-July 2001, that Washington was preparing military action against Afghanistan (1). Naik was informed by the Americans that their invasion of Afghanistan would begin, at the latest, in the middle of October 2001, before the first Afghan snow flurries arrived. The US Armed Forces would launch their attack from bases in Tajikistan, the Central Asian country, which borders Afghanistan to the north. US advisers were present in Tajikistan by the summer of 2001.
Consequently, Bush was planning to wage a war in Afghanistan at least 8 weeks prior to the 9/11 atrocities, and indeed most probably longer than that. Naik’s comments are supported by General Hamid Gul, the former head of ISI, Pakistan’s leading intelligence agency. General Gul believed that US plans to engage militarily in Afghanistan “predated 9/11” (2). It is not terribly surprising that he came to such a conclusion. The 9/11 attacks obviously occurred on 11 September 2001, while the US-led invasion of Afghanistan commenced on 7 October 2001 – that is 26 days after 9/11.
It is not possible to prepare and initiate a large-scale military assault in less than 4 weeks, especially against a country on the other side of the world. As any commander would surely admit the planning alone takes months, before the offensive can begin.
World Trade CentreUS drones, such as the RQ-1 Predator, were hovering above the Afghan skies before 9/11. These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were partaking in reconnaissance sorties, and collecting other information about Afghanistan, in preparation for the invasion. A US military operation in Afghanistan was not concerned with either “combating terrorists” or capturing Osama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda chief. President Bush said 5 months after the offensive had begun on 13 March 2002, “I am truly not that concerned about him [Bin Laden]”. The authenticity of this remark was confirmed by White House transcripts. (3)
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Taliban fighters have captured Mazar-i-Sharif, the last major city in northern Afghanistan which was still under government control.
The fall of the traditional anti-Taliban bastion marked a major gain for the militants, who have been advancing at speed as US-led forces withdraw.
President Ashraf Ghani travelled to the city just days ago to rally troops.
The Taliban are now in control of much of the country and are edging closer to the capital Kabul.
More than a quarter of a million people have been displaced by the violence, and many have fled to the capital in the hope of finding safety.
Fighting has been reported in Maidan Shar, 40 kilometres from Kabul.
Women in areas captured by the Taliban have described being forced to wear burkas and the militants are also reported to have beaten and lashed people for breaking social rules.
Western countries are scrambling to evacuate their citizens.
By Eva Bartlett
Global Research, May 16, 2021
RT Op-Ed 14 May 2021
The destruction of two important Gaza buildings housing 20 media outlets was both shocking and predictable. History shows that if the media aren’t around to document Israel’s war crimes, it’s a lot easier for it to commit them.
On Tuesday, Israel bombed the 10-storey Al-Jawhara Tower, causing it to collapse. Before doing so, it had ‘benevolently’ warned that the airstrikes were coming. The following day, it bombed the 14-storey Al-Shorouk Tower, also giving warning it was going to do so.
Most reports have the buildings as evacuated before being levelled. But without these media offices, reporting on Israel’s other war crimes will be left largely to what little media remain and citizen journalists.
The buildings were significant. A statement by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) noted the Al-Jawhara building housed the offices of 13 media institutions and NGOs. And an advisory by the Committee to Protect Journalists noted that the Al-Shorouk building housed at least seven media outlets.
A further statement by the same committee said that the Israeli military had defended its bombing of the building via email, bizarrely claiming it had “acted within international law,” alleging the Al-Jawhara building housed Hamas’ intelligence and military offices, and saying the Al-Shorouk building was a base for Hamas’ military intelligence offices and “infrastructure to communicate tactical-military information.”
Just minutes after the Al-Shorouk building was destroyed, I spoke by phone with Shadi Ali, a producer who had worked there for ten years and was understandably devastated at what had happened. He told me of previous occasions when Israel had bombed the building, in 2009, 2012, and 2014.
“I was there in 2012. My office was on the 14th floor when it was hit at 6am. I was sleeping; I had only slept for one-and-a-half hours when it was hit by two missiles on the top floor,” he told me. “When it was bombed in 2014, we had taken precautions and left it already. They struck the 15th floor, destroying it completely. Our floor became the top floor after that.”
The building was on a main Gaza street, Omar Mukhtar, surrounded by residential apartment buildings. I asked whether he knew if there had been casualties this time. He replied, “We’re waiting, because often they’ll strike again soon after, knowing that people have come to search for casualties.”
I’ve witnessed this tactic with my own eyes. In January 2009, while I was accompanying Palestinian Red Crescent medics, one of the bodies the medics retrieved was that of a Kiffah Lum Towwak, 35, killed by an Israeli missile strike on her backyard in Jabaliya, just minutes after a strike which killed a family member living in the same house.
The same month, I was inside the now-destroyed Al-Shorouk building, having just finished an interview with RT about what I’d seen while riding in ambulances in the extremely dangerous areas of Gaza’s north. Shortly after concluding the interview, Israel shelled the building at least seven times. Thankfully, the tank shelling didn’t destroy the building, and we were able to run down the stairs to “safety” (although in reality nowhere was safe).
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US foreign policy has clearly continued in the same direction, without missing a beat. Unlike in previous transitions in the White House, this time US President Joe Biden has not even really tried to promise even the faintest hope that it wouldn’t.
There were a few glimpses of remote hope – particularly regarding the possibility the US wouldn’t abandon its last arms treaty with Russia, New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) – and Biden’s promise of returning to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal.
However, in Biden’s first speech regarding foreign policy since taking office, now posted on the White House’s official website and titled, “Remarks by President Biden on America’s Place in the World,” reveals that, if anything, US belligerence on the global stage is set to only expand.
“America is back. Diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy.”
Biden’s opening remarks attempt to suggest that America has drifted away under his predecessor US President Donald Trump. But when he says “America is back,” we are left to assume he means “back” to what the US was doing under the administration of US President Barack Obama under which he served as vice president.
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New Zealand to end 20-year military deployment to Afghanistan
New Zealand will end a 20-year military deployment to Afghanistan, withdrawing its remaining forces from the long-running conflict which claimed the lives of 10 Kiwi soldiers.
“After 20 years of a NZDF [Defence Force] presence in Afghanistan, it is now time to conclude our deployment,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement on Wednesday morning.
There were six personnel still in Afghanistan: three deployed to the Afghanistan National Army Officer Academy, and three to a NATO mission headquarters. The deployment will now end by May, Ardern said.
“The deployments to Afghanistan have been one of the longest running in our history, and I wish to acknowledge the 10 New Zealanders who lost their lives in the line of duty, and the more than 3500 NZDF and other agency personnel, whose commitment to replace conflict with peace will always be remembered.”
CBS News has learned of a threat to attack the U.S. Capitol on the same day Congress is set to count Electoral College votes. The threat cited Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by the U.S. last year.
The first draft of this article was written in 2014. It is now ready for publication (including several corrections).
The first overt diplomatic achievement by the United States related to 9/11, was Resolution No. 1368. It was adopted at noontime by the UN Security Council on September 12, 2001. The resolution contained the obligatory statements of condemnation and of solidarity with the 9/11 victims and their families. But this particular resolution manifested three puzzling features whose implications are unsettling.
Resolution 1368 included a one-paragraph preamble in which the Council “recognized the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence in accordance with the Charter.” There was no need to mention this particular principle in the resolution unless it was the intent of the Council to give the United States a wink that it may, if it wishes, use military force against any country it chooses as a response to 9/11.
Note that the Council did not “authorize” the United States to use military force, as it had done in the case of the invasion and occupation of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990, but chose to convey to the United States indirectly the message that the Council would look the other way and ask no questions, if the United States would use military force against foreign states in response to 9/11.
That is precisely what happened: The U.S. bombing campaign against Afghanistan and the subsequent occupation of that country was not condemned by any member of the Security Council, although it was a violation of customary international law – as established on the basis of the so-called Caroline doctrine – and of the U.N. Charter.
According to the Caroline doctrine, the resort to self-defense requires “a necessity of self-defence, instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment of deliberation.” Furthermore, any action taken must be proportional, “since the act justified by the necessity of self-defence, must be limited by that necessity, and kept clearly within it.”
Resolution 1368 also condoned a blatant act of aggression. The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg (1945) called the waging of aggressive war “not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” 
I argue that by including the Charter’s provision on self- defense into Resolution No. 1368, Council members contributed to the violation of customary international law and the commission of the supreme international crime by the U.S. government, namely aggression.
Was 9-11 an International Act?
Furthermore, the Council designated the events of the preceding day as an act of “international” terrorism, and “a threat to international peace and security” without being provided with the slightest evidence in support of both of these assertions. The Council is not known to have at any time requested or obtained such evidence.
Note: it is the formula “threat to international peace” that gives the UNSC the authority to issue resolutions that bind member states. I am referring to Article 39 of the UN Charter:
” The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.”
According to the US’s official account, four airliners in domestic routes were hijacked by 19 passengers on September 11, 2001. Even if that account had been true – which it is not – it would not have amounted to an act of “international” terrorism, but would remain a large-scale act of domestic terrorism by travelers whose real identities remain in question.
A further puzzling feature is the swiftness with which Resolution 1368 was adopted. Had the above two features not been included in the resolution – calling 9/11 international terrorism and designating terrorism as a threat to peace — there would be nothing odd about the fact that it was adopted one day after the attacks.
Numerous governments and inter-governmental organisations adopted resolutions on the very day of the attacks, September 11, 2001, in which they condemned the attacks and expressed solidarity with the victims. They, however, carefully refrained from designating the attacks as containing an international dimension.
The two features discussed above were neither self-evident nor necessary, yet have vast legal and political implications. It is inconceivable that individuals sitting in the Council, representing their governments, would approve the wording of Council resolutions on the base of their personal feelings, no matter how strong.
Drafts of Security Council resolutions, particularly those which contain legal precedents or entail legal consequences, are typically examined – down to their punctuation – by legal experts in the home countries of the Council’s members. It is inconceivable that experts around the world would be able to assess within hours the legal and political ramifications of the features discussed above.
I can conceive of only two explanations for this apparent swiftness: Either the United States (backed by its NATO allies) threatened the governments of the other Security Council members with severe sanctions, should they fail to adopt this resolution, or the draft resolution had been circulated to, and approved by selected members of the Security Council prior to the events of 9/11, in order to ensure its speedy adoption on September 12, 2001. Both explanations give rise to highly disturbing questions.
Now for a comment on the probity of information put before the UNSC. The Security Council does not have to base its decisions on proven facts. It may legally base its operative decisions on hunches, hypotheticals, hearsay and even fantasy. The Security Council would be legally entitled to determine that the earth is flat, if such determination would politically suit its members.
The members of the Security Council are admittedly under the legal obligation to act in good faith, but no international entity has been set up to examine whether they have complied with this principle, and if violated, to invalidate decisions based on the breach of this principle.
The readiness of all members of the Security Council to underwrite American foreign policy aims, as reflected in the provisions of Resolution No. 1368, must be regarded as a historical watershed.
The UN’s Fourth Pillar
For years, I have been a lonely voice pointing out that the UNSC’s Permanent Five (US, UK, France, Russia and China) have committed themselves to define “international terrorism” as a major threat to world peace. This definition is a monumental lie, for terrorism is not even a threat to the sovereignty, national defense, or political order of any country. While terrorism (attacks on civilians for political purposes) is a crime, the number of people killed yearly by terrorist acts in most countries lies between zero and and 10. In Europe, a territory of over 500 million people, about 44 people die on the average yearly in terrorist attacks (compared to over 5,000 yearly homicides).
I have repeatedly warned that the United Nations have adopted the ideology of “counter-terrorism” as one of the pillars for the entire UN system. Now, finally and belatedly, others vindicate my warnings. In June 2020, the UK-based organization Saferworld has lamented the mainstreaming of the counter-terrorism ideology within the United Nations Organization.
“For three-quarters of a century, peace, rights and development have been the three core pillars that define the UN’s unique purpose. However, in the post-9/11 era, governments’ collective determination to define terrorism as the pre-eminent global security challenge has made a deep impression on the UN [sic]. Counter-terrorism has come to the fore through a flood of UN Security Council resolutions, General Assembly strategies, new funding streams, offices, committees, working groups and staff – all dedicated to counter-terrorism.” 
Any Good Guys?
I urge all those who for various reasons believe Russia and China to be “the hope for Mankind” as opposed to Western imperialism, to take a second look at this perception. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council are firmly committed to the fraudulent counter-terrorism ideology, for it provides all governments around the globe with justifications to abolish democracy and institute a digital dictatorship.
The counter-terrorism ideology, now complemented by a global health-scare campaign, is precisely the cement that binds the rulers of the P5, and it bears no relation to Al Qaeda, ISIS or other real or fake terrorist organisations. The P5, serving their ruling classes, have thus declared a war against the world’s peoples. The United Nations, once a hope for the world, have become a tool of oppression. “We the People” can trust no government and no organisation of states to ensure our rights and liberties. We must join hands across borders without state or corporate interference to restore an acceptable world order.
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Elias Davidsson is an Icelandic citizen living in Germany. He is a composer, human rights and peace activist and author of several books on 9/11 and false-flag terrorism.
By Max Parry
Global Research, April 22, 2020
The Unz Review 9 April 2020
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary” — H.L. Mencken
As the global pandemic grips world attention, completely unnoticed by mainstream media was the release of a final report of an academic study pertaining to another previously calamitous event of international significance. On March 25th, the conclusion of a four year investigation by researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks was published which determined that the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 on September 11th, 2001 was not caused by fire.
The peer-reviewed inquiry was funded by Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, a nonprofit organization composed of more than 3,000 building architects and engineers who are a signatory to the group’s formal appeal calling for a new investigation into the three — not two — WTC skyscrapers destroyed on 9/11. The researchers infer that the collapse of Building 7 was actually the result of a controlled demolition:
“The principal conclusion of our study is that fire did not cause the collapse of WTC 7 on 9/11, contrary to the conclusions of NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) and private engineering firms that studied the collapse. The secondary conclusion of our study is that the collapse of WTC 7 was a global failure involving the near-simultaneous failure of every column in the building.”
With or without a pandemic, it is likely corporate media would have ignored the study anyway, just as they have anything that contradicts the official story of 9/11. However, it is notable that many have drawn parallels between the COVID-19 outbreak and the 9/11 attacks based on the widespread changes to daily life as a result of the crisis going forward. Already there is talk of nationwide lockdowns as a “new normal” with many rightly expressing concerns over civil liberties, press freedoms, the surveillance state, and other issues just as there were following 9/11. By the same measure, a false dichotomy is being established by political gatekeepers in order to silence those who dare challenge the official account as to how the coronavirus began. It is a stigmatization that is all too familiar to those who have never believed the conventional narrative that 19 Arab hijackers loyal to Osama bin Laden armed only with box-cutters were solely responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on that fateful day.
There is a common misconception that to believe in so-called “conspiracy theories” is to somehow lose sight of the bigger picture or systemic problems. Behind this phenomenon is a mistakenly presumed conflict between understanding the broader, overarching system versus the sinister motives of those in power who administer it — when they are inextricably linked. Political scientist Michael Parenti, who drew the ire of many of his fellow left-wing colleagues for his work on the Kennedy assassination, refers to it in his lecture “Understanding Deep Politics” as a perceived incompatibility between “the structural and the functional.” The anti-conspiracists wrongly assume that the more impersonal or wider the lens, the more profound an analysis. By this logic, the elite are absolved of conscious intent and deliberate pursuit of nefarious self-interest, as if everything is done by incidental chance or out of incompetence. Not to say efficacy applies without exception, but it has become a required gesture to disassociate oneself from “conspiracies” to maintain credibility — ironically even by those who are often the target of such smears themselves.
This applies not only to mainstream media and academics, but even leading progressive figures who have a mechanical, unthinking resistance to assigning intent or recognizing the existence of hidden agendas. As a result, it disappears the class interests of the ruling elite and ultimately assists them in providing cover for their crimes. With the exception of the Kennedy assassination — coincidentally the subject of a new epic chart-topping song by Bob Dylan — nowhere has there been more hostility to ‘conspiracism’ than regarding the events of 9/11. Just as they assailed Parenti, David Talbot and others for challenging the Warren Commission’s ‘lone gunman’ theory, leading figures on the left such as Noam Chomsky and the late Alexander Cockburn railed against the 9/11 Truth movement and today it is often wrongly equated with right-wing politics, an unlikely trajectory given it occurred under an arch-conservative administration but an inevitable result of the pseudo-left’s aversion to “conspiracies.” If polls are any indication, the average American certainly disagrees with such elitist misleaders as to the believability of the sham 9/11 Commission findings, yet another example of how out-of-touch the faux-left is with ordinary people.
A more recent example was an article by left-wing journalist Ben Norton proclaiming that to call 9/11 a false flag or an “inside job” is “fundamentally a right-wing conspiracy”, in complete disregard of the many dedicated truther activists on the left since its inception. Norton insists the 9/11 attacks were simply “blowback”, or an unintended consequence of previous U.S. foreign policy support for the mujahideen in Afghanistan against the Soviets during the 1980s which later gave birth to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Norton argues “Al-Qaeda’s unofficial strategic alliance with the US eventually broke down” resulting in 9/11 as retaliation, completely overlooking that Washington was still supporting jihadist factions during the 1990s in Bosnia (two of which would be alleged 9/11 hijackers) and Kosovo in the Yugoslav wars against Serbia, even while the U.S. was ostensibly pursuing bin Laden for the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998 and the USS Cole in 2000.
A 1997 Congressional document by the Republican Policy Committee (RPC) throws light on how Washington never discontinued its practice in Afghanistan of using jihadist proxies to achieve its foreign policy goals in the Balkans. Although it was a partisan GOP attack meant to discredit then-U.S. President Bill Clinton, nevertheless the memo accurately presents how the U.S. had “turned Bosnia into a Militant Islamic Base”:
“In short, the Clinton administration’s policy of facilitating the delivery of arms to the Bosnian Muslims made it the de facto partner of an international network of governments and organizations pursuing their own agenda in Bosnia: the promotion of Islamic revolution in Europe. That network not only involves Iran but Brunei, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan (a key ally of Iran), and Turkey, together with front groups supposedly pursuing humanitarian and cultural activities. For example, one such group about which details have come to light is the Third World Relief Agency (TWRA), a Sudan-based, phoney humanitarian organization which has been a major link in the arms pipeline to Bosnia. TWRA is believed to be connected with such fixtures of the Islamic terror network as Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (the convicted mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) and Osama Bin Laden , a wealthy Saudi émigré believed to bankroll numerous militant groups…”
It was also in Bosnia where a raid was conducted in 2002 by local police at the Sarajevo branch of a Saudi-based purported charitable organization, Benevolence International Foundation, which was discovered to be a front for Al-Qaeda. Seized on the premises was a document, dubbed the “Golden Chain”, which listed the major financial sponsors of the terrorist organization to be numerous Saudi business and government figures, including some of Osama bin Laden’s own brothers. By the 9/11 Commission Report’s own admission, this same fake Islamic charity “supported the Bosnian Muslims in their conflict with Serbia” at the same time as the CIA.
It cannot go without mentioning that the common link between Al-Qaeda and subsequent extremist groups like ISIS/Daesh and Boko Haram is the doctrine of Wahhabism, the puritanical sect of Sunni Islam practiced in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and founded in the 18th century by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the religious leader who formed an alliance with the founder of the first Saudi state, Muhammad bin Saud, whose descendants make up the House of Saud royal family. The ultra-orthodox teachings of Wahhabism were initially rejected in the Middle East but reestablished by British colonialism which aligned with the Saud family in order to use their intolerant strain of Islam to undermine the Ottoman empire in a divide-and-conquer strategy. In a speech to the House of Commons in 1921, Winston Churchill admitted the Saudis to be “intolerant, well-armed and bloodthirsty.”
This did not stop the British from supporting the House of Saud so long as it was in the interest of Western imperialism, an unholy alliance which continues to this day. However, U.S.-Saudi relations did come under scrutiny when the infamous 28 redacted pages of the December 2002 report of the “Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001” conducted by the Senate and House Select Committees on Intelligence were finally disclosed in 2016. The section revealed not only the numerous U.S. intelligence failures in the lead-up to the attacks but the long suspected culpability of Saudi Arabia, whose nationals were not the focus of counterterrorism because of Riyadh’s status as a U.S. ally. The declassified pages show that some of the hijackers, 15 of them Saudi citizens, received financial and logistical support from individuals linked to the Saudi government, which FBI sources believed at least two of which to be Saudi intelligence officers. One of those Saudi agents received large payments from Princess Haifa, the wife of Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a stipend from the latter’s bank account which inevitably went from the go-betweens to the sleeper cell.
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Legal team also reveals that murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi was ‘potential witness’ in lawsuit
By MEE staff in Washington
Published date: 5 March 2020 20:39 UTC | Last update: 2 days 1 hour ago
A legal team representing survivors and families of victims of the 9/11 attacks has accused Saudi authorities of trying to silence several witnesses.
An almost two-decades-old lawsuit brought to court by thousands of victims and their families accuses Saudi officials of having ties to the 11 September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. About 3,000 people were killed.
On Wednesday, lawyers representing the families said that four of their witnesses in the case had been threatened or intimidated by alleged Saudi agents.
On those grounds, the plaintiffs’ legal team requested that the identities of the witnesses in the drawn-out legal battle be protected and kept secret.
Lawyers representing the Saudi government denied the allegations of witness tampering, saying the claims were “based on hearsay within hearsay”.
The defense also accused the plaintiffs’ lawyers of trying to gain a “tactical advantage” in legal deposition interviews with witnesses set to be organised later this month.
Jamal Khashoggi: ‘A potential witness’
The lawyers of the 9/11 victims invoked the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi officials in Turkey as evidence of the kingdom’s potential threat against their witnesses.
The 9/11 lawsuit looming over Saudi Arabia’s ambitions
Andrew Maloney, one of several attorneys representing the plaintiffs, also for the first time revealed that Khashoggi, an ardent critic of the Saudi government, had been “a potential witness” before he was murdered.
“He had valuable information,” Maloney told the judge on Wednesday.
Maloney, during the emergency hearing that took place at a federal court in lower Manhattan, did not provide further details regarding what that information might have been.
US Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn said she was “troubled by the allegations” and asked for a submission from the plaintiffs’ lawyers detailing the claims to be turned in by 18 March.
“I take these allegations incredibly seriously,” Netburn said.
In court papers, Maloney described some of the allegations made by the four witnesses who said they feared they were being targeted by Saudi officials.
One witness said his family had been approached and “directly threatened by Saudi government officials” within the past year, Maloney wrote. He said the witness was given to understand that he or his relatives “would be murdered” if he spoke out.
Another potential witness said that relatives in Saudi Arabia “feared for their lives”, Maloney said. A third reported being stalked, and another was reportedly thinking of buying a bulletproof vest.
He added that law enforcement authorities had been notified of the alleged threats.
“We categorically deny these allegations,” said Michael Kellogg, a DC-based lawyer representing Saudi Arabia.
Kellogg accused the plaintiff’s legal team of trying to “pick and choose which witnesses will testify”.
“We should be allowed to know who these witnesses are,” Kellogg told Judge Netburn. “We think these allegations are absolutely false.”
Following Kellogg’s statements, the plaintiffs’ lawyer accused the defense of wanting to know the identities of the witnesses so that Saudi officials could be notified and “dissuade them from testifying”.
“[No] Saudi Arabian government official, employee, agent, or anyone acting on Saudi Arabia’s behalf has attempted to threaten any potential witness or any witness’s family members in this proceeding,” a Saudi government minister said in court papers.
Saudi diplomat linked to 9/11
The US government has never released documentation indicating that the Saudi government was involved in 9/11.
US judge allows 9/11 lawsuits against Saudi Arabia to proceed
Still, last year during a meeting at the White House with victims’ families on the anniversary of the attacks, US President Donald Trump promised the visitors that he would order the attorney general to release the name of a Saudi diplomat who had apparently been linked to 9/11 in an FBI report years earlier.
The next day those hopes were dashed, as Attorney General William Barr said the release of such records would not be possible.
Their disclosure risked “significant harm to the national security,” Barr said at the time.
The Saudi government has long denied involvement in the 9/11 attacks.
In March 2018, a US judge in New York rejected Saudi Arabia’s request to dismiss the lawsuit.