08-04-2003, 05:06 AM
Join Date: Sep 2002
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Local Time: 01:13 AM
Saudi denies involvement in 9/11 attacks
Al-Bayoumi says he would meet with U.S. investigators
Sunday, August 3, 2003 Posted: 2149 GMT ( 5:49 AM HKT)
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (CNN) -- A Saudi Arabian man denied involvement in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, on Sunday, despite allegations that he has ties to two of the hijackers.
Omar al-Bayoumi, in a satellite interview with Dubai-based Arabic-language network Al Arabiya, said he will continue to work with United States investigators under certain conditions.
"I sent a letter to Prince Nayef, the [Saudi] interior minister, saying I was innocent of these charges. I am ready to answer any question in this regard with the presence of CIA or FBI investigators and Saudi investigators on Saudi land," al-Bayoumi told Al Arabiya.
"I have nothing to hide," he added.
Al-Bayoumi, an employee of the Saudi Civil Aviation Authority, has been questioned by U.S., British, and Saudi officials and has not been charged with a crime.
Interrogators "took my personal computer, my home computer and many books. They also took my little daughter's school bag," said al-Bayoumi, who is married and has four children. "They questioned many people. This lasted for over seven months, and they said I am innocent. They even returned my passport."
He was interviewed from Jidda, where he lives.
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft indicated Sunday that U.S. officials might interview al-Bayoumi again.
"Well, we're going to interview everyone we can that we think can shed new light on the investigation whenever we can," he said on ABC's "This Week."
Asked whether that meant the United States would interview al-Bayoumi again, he replied, "More or less."
Al-Bayoumi is named in the congressional report on U.S. intelligence leading up to the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. A redacted version of the report was released last week amid a dispute over the information that hasn't been disclosed.
Congressional officials highlight the case of al-Bayoumi as a possible example of Saudi help to the hijackers.
Investigators believe al-Bayoumi helped two of the hijackers -- Nawaf Alhamzi and Khalid Almihdhar -- settle in San Diego, California, in January 2000 and provided them with financial assistance. Officials disagree on the extent of that aid.
Al-Bayoumi spent several years in the United States as a student.
He told Al Arabiya that he met the two men and spent time with them for a couple of weeks, but he denied helping them settle in California or giving them money.
The congressional report also said al-Bayoumi received money from Princess Haifa al-Faisal, wife of the Saudi ambassador to the United States -- which al-Bayoumi also denied.
Al-Bayoumi said such a contribution would be documented, and there is no record of it. He said he received a contribution from one Saudi who wanted to help fund the construction of a mosque, and that contribution is documented.
Families representing victims of the attacks have questioned whether he was working as a Saudi agent when he is alleged to have helped the two men who later became hijackers.
A U.S. government source who has read the recent report -- including the redacted sections that contain information involving Saudi Arabia -- said al-Bayoumi is probably an unofficial Saudi intelligence agent.
Al-Bayoumi and the Saudi ambassador to the United States deny he is an agent.
The claims against him, al-Bayoumi said, come from "people who have interests who want to harm the Saudi interests."
CNN producer Caroline Faraj contributed to this report