Saturday 24 March 2018

Saudis targeted Air Force One during Clinton years

Zacarias Moussaoui, known as the '20th hijacker'
Zacarias Moussaoui, known as the '20th hijacker'

Lizzie Dearden

A convicted terrorist has claimed Saudi Arabian officials supported al-Qa'ida financially in the years leading up to 9/11 and discussed shooting down Air Force One during Bill Clinton's presidency.

Zacarias Moussaoui made the claims, which Saudi officials deny, in a statement submitted from a maximum security prison in the US, where he is serving a life sentence for conspiring in the 2001 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

His testimony - which was not subject to cross examination - was part of a lawsuit by relatives of the victims against Saudi Arabia.

He claimed prominent members of the Saudi royal family donated significant amounts to al-Qa'ida in the late 1990s, the 'New York Times' reported.

Zacarias Moussaoui (46) is the only person ever to be tried specifically for playing a part in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Moussaoui, who attended London's South Bank University, also claimed that he discussed shooting down the US President's plane with a Stinger missile with a member of staff from the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

In a statement refuting his latest allegations, a spokesperson at the embassy said there was "no evidence" to support Moussaoui's claim.

"The September 11 attack has been the most intensely investigated crime in history and the findings show no involvement by the Saudi government or Saudi officials," he said.


"Moussaoui is a deranged criminal whose own lawyers presented evidence that he was mentally incompetent. His words have no credibility.

"His goal in making these statements only serves to get attention for himself and try to do what he could not do through acts of terrorism - to undermine Saudi-US relations," the spokesman said.

The 9/11 Commission Report found no evidence that any government other than the Taliban supported al-Qa'ida before 9/11.

"Some governments may have contained al-Qa'ida sympathisers who turned a blind eye to al-Qa'ida's fund-raising activities," the embassy spokesman continued.

"Saudi Arabia has long been considered the primary source of al-Qa'ida funding, but we have found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organisation."

Osama bin Laden, the late al-Qa'ida leader and 9/11 mastermind, was born to a wealthy Saudi family and the country's government worked closely with the US to finance Islam militants fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Many of those militants went on to join al-Qa'ida.

More than 100 pages of Moussaoui's testimony, given to lawyers inside the ADX Florence prison in Colorado, in October, were filed in federal court in New York this week, Sky News reported.

The Frenchman is sometimes known as the "20th hijacker" because of his alleged role in the 9/11 plot.

He claims he served as a courier for bin Laden and trained at terror camps in Afghanistan.

A 'New York Times'/CBS poll showed that 84pc of Americans believe 9/11 was an inside job. Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied involvement in the 9/11 attacks. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News