Bin Laden Charter
While Thousands Were Stranded, bin Ladens Flew
Members of bin Laden's family and other important Saudis were "driven or flown under FBI supervision to a secret assembly point in Texas and then to Washington from where they left the country on a private charter plane when airports reopened three days after the attacks." The flights to Texas and Washington occurred before the national air ban was lifted. 1 On September 13th a Lear Jet flew a Saudi Arabian prince, the son of the Saudi defense minister Prince Sultan and a Saudi army commander from Tampa, FL to Lexington, KY. Then the two flew on a private 747 out of the country. 2
The 9/11 Commission attempted to deflect the charge that Saudi nationals were afforded special treatment by deceptively implying that all flights were allowed to resume on September 13th, when in fact private aircraft remained grounded until the 14th.
In March of 2005 more details about the Saudi flights surfaced as a result of a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Justice Department. Although the heavily redacted FBI documents apparently do not directly contradict the carefully worded denials of the Commission Report, they reveal the existence of previously undisclosed flights, and that the FBI provided escorts for some of the departing Saudis. The documents show:
- Two Saudi families, in Los Angeles and Orlando, requested and received FBI escorts to local airports.
- Several prominent Saudis departed from the country on Sept. 14, 2001, on a chartered flight from Providence, RI.
- Prominent Saudis, including royal family members, departed between Sept. 19 and 24 on chartered flights from Las Vegas.
2. Phantom Flight From Florida, The Tampa Tribune, 10/5/01 [cached]
3. New Details on F.B.I. Aid for Saudis After 9/11, 3/27/05 [cached]