Family members of the 9/11 victims are beginning to worry that President Trump may not keep his campaign promise to pursue justice related to Saudi Arabia and the 9/11 attacks.
On Tuesday, President Trump met with Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a meeting that CNN and The Washington Post called a “reset” of relations between the United States and the Saudi Kingdom. “Ali Shihabi, executive director of the Arabia Foundation, who was part of the Saudi delegation to the White House, said the Saudi leadership and the Trump administration are in ‘perfect alignment’ on the Iran nuclear deal and said Trump understands Saudi Arabia’s conflict with Iran is an ‘existential battle’”, CNN reported.
The Trump Administration also recently has announced that they will approve the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia that were previously frozen in the final months of the Obama administration. These actions have caused concern for some of Trump’s supporters who worry that he is aligning with a nation who has a horrible track record on human rights and is responsible for one of the most extreme interpretations of Islam (Wahhabism).
One group who was optimistic that President Trump might keep the promises made by candidate Trump is the 9/11 Families and Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism. The organization is largely responsible for pushing the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which was passed late in 2016, despite a veto from former President Obama. JASTA has changed the law to allow victims of terrorism and their families to sue nations suspected of financing or otherwise sponsoring terrorism.
Prior to the law this was only legal for countries who are on the U.S. government’s “state sponsors of terror” list, which includes nations like North Korea and Iran. JASTA unanimously passed the Senate in May 2016 and the House in mid-August 2016 after a hard-fought battle by the families of the victims of 9/11. Former President Obama kept his promise to veto legislation, citing threats to U.S. national security. In a stunning rebuke to the president, the veto was overrode by Congress. Following the veto, President Obama said it was “a mistake” and set a “dangerous precedent.”
The Daily Caller reports that the 9/11 Families sent a letter to President Trump asking him to clarify his position on Saudi Arabia and their role in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. “This letter is inspired by news reports that today you met with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al Saud,” reads the letter from Terry Strada, a widow and the national chair for the 9/11 Families & Survivors.
“As you know, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a defendant in our lawsuit because of the involvement of its agents in supporting the 9/11 hijackers, and for support that flowed to al Qaeda through institutions the Kingdom established and funded to spread a radical form of Islam that lies at the root of both al Qaeda and, more recently, ISIS,” the letter states. “Despite mounting evidence, the Saudis have refused to accept accountability for their actions and the injury they have caused across the globe.”
While Trump was running for office he gave interviews calling for the release of the “secret pages,” in reference to the 28 pages of the Senate report on 9/11. Although the final report amounts to over 800 pages, the 28 pages were classified by former President George W. Bush shortly after the report was released in 2002. The 28 pages make up the bulk of a section titled “Part 4: Finding, Discussion and Narrative Regarding Certain Sensitive National Security Matters.” Officials who saw the documents before their release stated that the information related to financing of the suspected terrorists, and points a finger at members of the government of Saudi Arabia. Upon seeing the pages himself, Kentucky Republican Congressman Thomas Massie said there will be “anger, frustration, and embarrassment when these 28 pages finally come out.”
Candidate Trump also gave an interview on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends” stating that the release of the pages would be “very profound,” and relate to Saudi Arabia’s role in the 9/11 attacks. “That’s very serious stuff,” Trump said. “It’s sort of nice to know who your friends are and perhaps who your enemies are. You’re going to see some very revealing things released in those papers.”
Strada also accused the Saudis of engaging in a “$1.3 million-per-month propaganda campaign to manipulate the public and Congress into supporting a gutting of JASTA,” which she says is “backed by more than a dozen lobbying firms and 100 registered foreign agents.” As the Caller notes, “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recently paid at least one large public relations firm — Qorvis MSLGROUP in Washington, D.C. — to recruit American military veterans who would agree to visit Capitol Hill to tell members of Congress that they oppose a new federal law allowing civil lawsuits against state sponsors of terrorism.” The veterans’ all-expenses-paid trips apparently including a free stay at Trump International Hotel.
“This outrageous propaganda campaign — especially the disgusting effort to turn the veterans’ community against the 9/11 families — has been deeply hurtful to our community, and it must stop,” Strada wrote. “We would appreciate it if you and your Administration could make this point clear with the Saudi Kingdom, if you did not already have the opportunity to do so today.”
Deputy Crown Prince Salman called the meeting with Trump a “historic turning point in bilateral relations” between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. This historic turn is also signaled by the recent news that President Trump has approved the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia that were previously frozen in the final months of the Obama administration.
Once again, despite the rhetoric from political candidates, including a supposed “anti-establishment” candidate like Donald Trump, we are seeing no real radical change that benefits the people. Instead, we are seeing the continuation of more of the same war, torture, spying, and partnering with terrorists. Perhaps, the Trump supporters will soon be ready to acknowledge that they were (once again) fooled by the system and the elitists who wield it for their benefit.