Money talks – we know that. But when it comes to terrorism, money can speak in very strange language, with mixed messages that make you scratch your head.
These are the roots of a story that could explode next month in New Jersey.
This story involves a famous golf course in the town of Bedminster, central New Jersey, and one of that community’s most famous part-time residents who happens to be a former president.
Yes, dear readers, once again we are trying to unravel a mystery involving Donald Trump.
This story begins far away, in the sands of Saudi Arabia.
It appears some wealthy Saudis have discovered they love golf – so much so that the oil-producing nation’s cash-rich public investment fund, which is controlled by the Saudi royal family, decided to fund a new professional golf league, with tournaments that offer lucrative prizes.
When it comes to golf, however, Saudi Arabia isn’t exactly Scotland, or even New Jersey. The Saudi Arabian desert is full of sand – for golf sand traps. But grass is as rare as rain.
Here in the good old United States, these Saudi golf fans have found a welcome group of friends.
If you’ve been following this story as it unfolded over the past few weeks, you know that several well-known professional golfers, including Phil Mickelson and Greg Norman, have become supporters of a new Saudi-funded golf tour.
But golf tours need golf courses.
Trump, golf and the politics of terror
Which brings us to Donald Trump and Bedminster – and the politics of terrorism.
Trump just happens to own the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster. From July 29-31, the Saudi-funded LIV Golf Tour is set to stop at Trump’s course.
Now, maybe none of this sounds strange. Trump isn’t shy about talking about his love of golf. Before entering politics and winning the presidency in 2016, Trump, as a private business magnate, developed a series of renowned golf courses around the world. Now, back in private life, why wouldn’t Trump sponsor a tournament at one of his golf courses?
But as president, Trump faced a much different conundrum that is far more difficult than sinking a two-foot putt. While occupying the White House, Trump knew firsthand that the FBI and other US counterterrorism investigators had uncovered credible evidence that Saudi government officials helped carry out the deadliest terrorist attack in history. on September 11, 2001, which killed nearly 3,000 people. . Trump has even expressed a desire to release these FBI files, although his administration never followed.
Fast forward to now.
Is it fair that a former US president, who claims to want to run for the White House again, is embroiled in a cozy business deal with alleged co-conspirators in the 9/11 attacks?
Trump isn’t answering that question — not yet.
Two decades have passed since 19 Islamist supporters of Osama bin Laden crashed four commercial airliners which they hijacked into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan, the Pentagon in Northern Virginia and an agricultural field in Pennsylvania. But far too many mysteries remain.
One of those mysteries concerns Saudi Arabia and the growing pile of credible evidence that Saudi officials provided financial and logistical support to the 9/11 hijackers here in America in the months leading up to the attacks. September 11th.
This support was not without consequences. It involved four distinct corners of America – northern New Jersey, central Florida, southern California, and northern Virginia.
Recently declassified FBI reports indicate that Saudi officials – including possibly the Saudi ambassador to the United States, who was a member of the royal family – oversaw a widespread plan to help the hijackers as they were assimilating into American life in the months leading up to it. to the attacks. This included opening bank accounts and post office boxes, taking flying lessons and renting apartments.
Alleged Saudi ties to the 9/11 attacks are now at the center of a massive, slow-moving federal lawsuit – believed to be the most expansive civil lawsuit in US history. Some 10,000 people close to the 9/11 attacks claim in court documents that Saudi government officials – including members of the royal family – knew about the attacks and helped support them. At stake are billions of dollars in potential payouts by the Saudi government to 9/11 victims and their loved ones if a U.S. judge finds that Saudi officials helped the 9/11 hijackers.
Khashoggi’s worries are renewed
Adding to concerns about Saudi ties to 9/11 is overwhelming evidence that Saudi intelligence officials brutally murdered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018.
Before he was killed, Khashoggi, who lived in northern Virginia, served in the Saudi government and had ties to Saudi intelligence officials. But in the years before his death, Khashoggi had become increasingly critical of Saudi Arabia’s new and powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. As this columnist reported, a year before his death, Khashoggi secretly met with a retired FBI agent who was helping attorneys representing 9/11 victims gather evidence in the federal trial alleging a Saudi government connection to the 9/11 attacks.
US officials now believe Salman ordered the killing and dismemberment of Khashoggi when Khashoggi surrendered at a Saudi consulate office in Istanbul, Turkey. It has never been established whether Khashoggi’s meeting with the retired FBI agent to discuss what he may have known of Saudi ties to the 9/11 attacks was a factor in his death. But the timing of Khashoggi’s death should certainly raise questions.
And now this tainted tale is even stranger. Crown Prince Salman also happens to be the head of the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which funds the new professional golf league which is due to hold a tournament at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster. If nothing else, it’s a strange coincidence.
What some critics fear is that Saudi Arabia is trying to shirk its responsibility for the 9/11 attacks – and the murder of Khashoggi – by sprinkling money across America.
Even Phil Mickelson, who greedily welcomes Saudi money, admits it may be a possibility. In a disarming interview for a biography, published last month, Mickelson called Saudi financial support of American professional golf a “sports wash” – meaning Saudi Arabia was trying to use its funding of a popular sport like golf to iron out some of his difficulties. edges on human rights.
In the biography, written by golf journalist Alan Shipnuck, Mickelson went on to call the Saudis “scary” and added: “We know they killed Khashoggi and they have a horrible human rights record. They execute people there because that they are gay. Knowing all this, why would I even consider “supporting the Saudi-backed golf league?”
The answer to that question, Mickelson said, comes down to money. The Saudi league will lobby, Mickelson said, the long-established, US-based Professional Golf Association to increase prize money for golfers like him at all kinds of tournaments such as the US Open.
In other words, money talks.
But what about the alleged link between Saudi Arabia and the September 11 attacks? What about Khashoggi’s murder?
These questions are at the heart of a letter signed this week by nearly 2,500 survivors of the 9/11 attacks and victims that draws attention to Saudi Arabia’s controversial support for a new golf league – and the lack of indignation of America.
“For more than 20 years, the 9/11 community has demanded accountability and justice from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its role in supporting the hijackers and this attack on our nation,” said Brett Eagleson, of Middletown, Connecticut, who came across as a badass. criticism of Saudi Arabia after the death of his father, Bruce, in the Trade Center collapse. “The Saudis have blood on their hands, and no amount of sports washing should ever clean that up for them.”
Donald Trump now has a chance to step into this controversy and perhaps clean it up.
Trump now spends much of his time raising money for his upcoming presidential campaign while trying to explain accusations that he helped launch the assault on the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021. Possibly that Trump is expected to first watch this is to take place at his Bedminster golf club next month.
Trump’s golf course in Bedminster doesn’t need a sports wash. But it must be clean.
Mike Kelly is an award-winning columnist for NorthJersey.com as well as the author of three critically acclaimed non-fiction books and a producer of podcasts and documentary films. To get unlimited access to his insightful thoughts on how we live life in New Jersey, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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