Unveiling the Departure of Saudi Nationals Post 9/11: A Puzzling Chapter

In the aftermath of the devastating terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, a perplexing episode unfolded as numerous Saudi Arabian nationals, including members of the elite, were allowed to leave the United States on flights despite a nationwide grounding of air traffic. This enigmatic episode has sparked curiosity and debate over the years.

According to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), several flights chartered by the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., facilitated the expedited departure of various Saudi students and elites from the U.S. The most notable among these was Ryan International Airlines flight 441, which made multiple stops across the country to pick up passengers before leaving for Geneva, Switzerland, on September 20, 2001.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted extensive investigations, including interviews and security checks, to ensure that none of the passengers aboard these flights posed a threat to national security. Records indicate that the passengers included members of the Saudi royal family and individuals affiliated with prominent Saudi families. Despite the thorough scrutiny, none of the passengers were found to have connections to the 9/11 hijackers or to be of investigative interest in relation to the attacks.

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The story of the Saudi nationals’ departure is significant yet bizarre for several reasons. It highlights the complex diplomatic ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia, raising questions about the extent of privilege and access granted to foreign elites. Additionally, the episode underscores the challenges faced by law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the immediate aftermath of a national crisis, balancing security concerns with diplomatic sensitivities.

The departure of the Saudi nationals remains a puzzling chapter in the aftermath of 9/11, emblematic of the intricate web of international relations and the ongoing quest for transparency and accountability in the face of unprecedented tragedy.

Document Archive

 FBI documents were obtained from the FBI after their Investigation called “VANITYBOM” [138 Pages, 46.34MB]

 FBI Response To October 2003 Vanity Fair Article (Re: ______ Family Departures After 9/11/2001) [ 40 Pages, 0.95MB ] – This document was obtained by Judicial Watch in 2005. I have requested a Mandatory Declassification Review (MDR) of this document, in hopes to get more released.

 FBI documents released to researcher Russ Kick, regarding “Saudi Arabian Elites” and the flights they took to get out of the United States shortly after 9/11 [215 Pages, 52.9MB] – These records were provided by the family of anthologist and transparency activist Russ Kick, from his papers, facilitated by the generous assistance of Dr. Susan Maret.  

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This post was published on March 15, 2024 5:00 am

John Greenewald

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