Harris' May11 The
Daily Beast article about the Saudi al-Hiijjii
(seriously) family who fled the US shortly before 9/11 is exceptionally
well written and worth the read. But there are some gaps in the story that
should have been at least mentioned, if not filled in. I just want to
focus on a few of those gaps.
The al-Hiijjii family lived at 4224 Escondito Circle in
Sarasota, just 8 miles from Emma E Booker Elementary School where
George Bush famously read "My Pet Goat" on the morning of 9/11.
The precise location of the house is 27°15'12.88" N
82°29'01.86" W . It’s across the street from to a mosquito
pond in an "exclusive" community.
In addition to being Arabs, the al-Hiijjiis were weird
enough that when the Towers came down, the neighbors called the cops to
report suspicious Muslims, which is what just about every non-Muslim in
the States was doing right after 9/11. But by 9/11 the mail had been
piling up, the three cars had not been moved, and the family hadn’t been
seen for two weeks. According to the Daily
Mail, the family blew out of town in a white van on Aug20|2001.
The FBI investigated the neighbors' suspicions and
originally said they found "numerous connections" between the
al-Hiijjiis and the hijackers. But the FBI the scrubbed all that and
said there’s nothing to see here, keep moving. The husband, Abdulazzi
al-Hiijjii , told the FBI he was a "student" and they left
Sarasota because he had graduated and gotten a job in Saudi Arabia.
The FBI was good with that. Case closed. (The questions below should be
filed under "FBI idiots.")
Now the FBI is in court trying to prevent the release of
80,000 pages of PENTTBOM (FBI for Pentagon/Twin Towers Bombing --
bombing?) documents from the local FBI shop in Tampa -- the 80,000 pages
is what Harris’ article is about. For the last two years a very
patient, intrepid federal judge, William Zloch, has been reviewing all
80,000 pages to determine which ones can be made public.
But there are a few questions Harris’ story raises if
you read between the lines. For instance . . .
1. Did Harris or any of the private investigators he
writes about check to see if Abdulazzi was, in fact, a student, and if so,
where, and did he, in fact, graduate, and if so, when? Seems like a bunch
of pretty basic questions that could easily be sorted out with minimal
2. Harris reports that it looked like the family left in
a hurry: food left on the counter, refrigerator stocked, toys floating in
the swimming pool, dirty diapers in the bathroom, empty safe wide open,
three cars left parked in the garage and driveway. Did the FBI resolve
this obvious inconsistency in Abdulazzi’s story? Surely, he would have
known far in advance the date he was going to graduate, so there would be
no need to rush out of town afterwards. And it would be inconceivable that
any job would require the family to rush off leaving peanut butter
sandwiches, or whatever, on the counter and dirty diapers stinking up the
3. This was a Saudi family. The wife, Anoud, was very
religious and prayed "every two hours." Consequently, it’s not
likely that she drove a car. The two children were young, and we know at
least one was in diapers. So, basically, you’ve got one member of the
family, the student-husband, who drove. Why three cars?
4. What happened to the house and the three cars after
9/11? The house was owned by the wife’s father. Did he sell? Did he also
own the three cars? Were they sold, or did the cops come and get them?
There should be easily identified records of any such sales, and the
neighbors would have known when the cars were moved. If there was a real
estate transaction and vehicle transactions, they may represent very
helpful additions to the al-Hiijjii timeline, particularly if they were
initiated before the attack. Also, there could be incriminating DNA
evidence in the cars if any of the hijackers rode in or drove them.
5. The fact that these people suddenly disappeared is
what made the neighbors suspicious. If we assume the al-Hiijjiis were
somehow connected to 9/11 and played some role, and if they knew the
attack was coming, why would they just disappear in such a suspicious way
and provoke the attention of everybody in the neighborhood? Why didn’t
they just close down the house, say goodbye to the neighbors, get on their
camels and shuffle off back to Saudi?
6. Three of the hijackers, Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi,
Jarrah, trained at Venice Municipal
Airport, which is, coincidentally (or not), just 15 miles south of the
al-Hiijjii house. Evidence that was unearthed by private investigators
includes a visitor’s log for the al-Hiijjii’s gated community, which
indicates that Atta and Jarrah visited the al-Hiijjis. Why not al-Shehhi?
Seeing as how these three principals of the 9/11 attack were all living in
the same area as the al-Hijjiis, it would seem that all three of them
would have visited the house. I mean, assuming the al-Hiiggiis were part
of the sinister plot, they clearly all had a lot to talk about. So why is
there no record of al-Shehhi visiting the house, after all, he was closest
to Atta? It has been reported that Atta and al-Shehhi arrived in the US
together and initially moved in with an employee of the flight school they
attended, Huffman Aviation, but they were soon kicked out for
insulting the employee’s wife. Jarrah arrived separately and trained at
a separate school operating out of the same airport.
The way sleepy Sarasota figures into the 9/11 case in so
many ways is surreal: Bush being there on 9/11, the al-Hiijjii connection,
three of the hijackers taking flight training there. It is not surprising
that the local FBI shop had 80,000 pages – there must have been a hell
of a lot of investigating going on.