Lennart Hultman-Boye, a reporter with Sweden’s largest nightly news show at TV4, contacted me about a post I’d written years ago about the strange case of Mohdar Abdullah.
Abdullah, the former San Diego man who befriended two 9/11 hijackers, now lives in Sweden. He was called as a witness there in an ongoing lawsuit filed by families of 9/11 victims against Saudi Arabia.
Abdullah has so far avoided Swedish police trying to serve him with a legal demand to testify. He did not show up for a hearing two weeks ago.
You see Hultman-Boye’s report here (in Swedish).
Abdullah has admitted helping Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhar — two al-Qaida operatives who lived in San Diego in 2000. Abdullah helped the two Saudis obtain state identification, contacting flight schools on their behalf and translating for them. Abdullah knew the pair had extremist leanings and sympathized with them, according to the 9/11 Commission’s final report. After Hazmi left San Diego, Abdullah remained in contact with him.
The question that has frustrated investigators is whether Abdullah knew in advance of the 9/11 attacks.
On the morning of Sept. 10 at the Texaco station where Abdullah worked, an FBI source reporting hearing Abdullah saying something like, “It’s finally going to happen.” That night, Abdullah married a young woman he had met a few months earlier, according to FBI Special Agent Daniel Gonzales.
Ten days after the 9/11 attacks, Abdullah was arrested as a material witness. Prosecutors considered charging him along with Zacarias Moussaoui, who is serving life in prison for conspiring to kill Americans in the 9/11 attacks, but ultimately decided not to.
While he was being held in jail, Abdullah allegedly bragged to fellow inmates that he had advance knowledge of the attacks, but authorities couldn’t substantiate the reports.
Abdullah was subsequently convicted of visa fraud and deported to his native Yemen.
He denied knowing about the attacks in advance.
Also of interest was how Abdullah crossed paths with two men with close ties to the Saudi government who lawyers for the 9/11 families want to talk to. Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied any connection to the 9/11 hijackers.
The person who gave Abdullah the job of taking care of Hazmi and Midhar in San Diego was a mysterious Saudi-linked figure named Omar al-Baymoumi. Al-Bayoumi helped the al-Qaida operatives find an apartment in San Diego and co-signed the lease. He may even have paid their first month’s rent and security deposit. After the two future hijackers moved in, al-Bayoumi threw a party to welcome them to San Diego.
A 28-page section of the 9/11 Commission’s report that was declassified in 2016 quotes testimony from a former San Diego FBI agent. According to the agent, al-Bayoumi “acted like a Saudi intelligence officer, in my opinion. And if he was involved with the hijackers, which it looks like he was, if he signed leases, if he provided some sort of financing or payment of some sort, then I would say that there’s a clear possibility that there might be a connection between Saudi intelligence and UBL [Osama bin Laden].”
Last year, ProPublica and The New York Times reported that Gonzales had reinterviewed Abdullah in October 2006.
Abdullah told agents about a car trip he took to Los Angeles in June 2000 to drop Mihdhar at the airport before he flew back to Yemen to see his wife and daughter.
They went to the King Fahad Mosque in Culver City, California for the evening prayer and met an imam — Fahad al-Thumairy — who also met privately that evening with the hijackers.
Thumairy reportedly led an extremist faction at the mosque, which had been built with funding providing provided by the former Saudi Crown Prince, Abdulaziz, according to the 9/11 Report.
“Thumairy was the primary point of contact for Hazmi and Mihdhar in Los Angeles,” Steven Moore, a former assistant special agent in charge in Los Angeles in a statement given in support of the 9/11 families in their lawsuit. “Thumairy was aware in advance of their arrival and, through the King Fahad Mosque, had already provided a place for them to stay in Los Angeles.”
In a 2012 FBI report, agents noted that there was evidence that Thumairy and al-Baymoumi had been tasked with helping the hijackers by a third man — Mussaed Ahmed al-Jarrah, a mid-level Saudi Foreign Ministry official who was assigned to the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., in 1999 and 2000. Yahoo News reported that FBI agents were unable to provde at al-Jarrah knew Hazmi and Midhar were members of al-Qaida.