'N.Y. Times' Gets Documents on Post-9/11 Saudi Flights from U.S.

By: E&P Staff It appears that filmmaker Michaeol Moore was on to something after all. Newly released government records reveal previously undisclosed flights and a very active role by the FBI in helping Saudis to leave the United States immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"The F.B.I. gave personal airport escorts to two prominent Saudi families who fled the United States, and several other Saudis were allowed to leave the country without first being interviewed," The New York Times reported on Sunday.

The documents were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act suit against the Justice Department by Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group. It provided copies to the Times.

The Times reports: "The Saudi families, in Los Angeles and Orlando, requested the F.B.I. escorts because they said they were concerned for their safety in the wake of the attacks, and the F.B.I. -- which was then beginning the biggest criminal investigation in its history -- arranged to have agents escort them to their local airports, the documents show.

"But F.B.I. officials reacted angrily, both internally and publicly, to the suggestion that any Saudis had received preferential treatment in leaving the country. ...

"The material sheds new light on the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, and it provides details about the F.B.I.'s interaction with at least 160 Saudis who were living in or visiting the United States and were allowed to leave the country. Some of the departing Saudis were related to Osama bin Laden."

The chartered flights were arranged when many flights in the United States were still grounded, and were featured in Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11." White House officials have strongly denied any special treatment for the Saudis, calling such charges irresponsible and politically motivated.

The documents obtained by Judicial Watch have major passages deleted. But the records show that prominent Saudi citizens left the United States on several flights that had not been previously disclosed.


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