Tags: terror attack | september eleventh | saudi arabia | qatar

Col. Hugya: Saudi PR Attacks on Qatar Insult 9/11 Families

Col. Hugya: Saudi PR Attacks on Qatar Insult 9/11 Families
A wreath at the Flight 93 National Memorial on the 16th Anniversary ceremony of the September 11th terrorist attacks, September 11, 2017 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field outside Shanksville with 40 passengers and 4 hijackers aboard on September 11, 2001. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 17 November 2017 02:03 PM

We recently marked sixteen years since the September 11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people and changed the course of American foreign policy.

We were at war with an unknown entity. Locally on 9/11, we were unaware of the horror and the heroes of Flight 93. Three of us local police officers were on site of the crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, within minutes to secure the access roads and perimeter, while the firefighters put out the tree and grass fires from the fuel. All I observed at the crash site on 9/11 was the gaping deep and dark hole in the Pennsylvania field. The Pennsylvania State Police and the FBI later arrived and took over.

Since then, I have come to know many of the victims’ families of Flight 93. I have spoken to many groups including the retirees of United Airlines in Philadelphia. I have seen how they have suffered and I hope that I have done my part to support their ongoing fight for justice.

In March, the families of 850 of the victims, and 1,500 of those injured in the attacks, filed a lawsuit in federal court under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its role in funding and supporting the attackers. In July, the families also considered suing the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for its role in laundering money to the operation. All of the hijackers were from two nations; two of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks were from the UAE, while fifteen were from Saudi Arabia. In the 9/11 Commission Report, the UAE and Saudi Arabia are singled out over 70 times each in relation to terrorist financing. Saudi Arabia is further implicated in the infamous “28 pages” originally redacted from the 2002 Congressional Joint Inquiry into the September 11 attacks.

The JASTA lawsuit has gained increased attention in the last few weeks in light of the recent blockade by Saudi Arabia and the UAE against the tiny nation of Qatar. Though none of the terrorists involved in the attacks were of Qatari decent, lobbyists and PR agents working for Saudi Arabia and the UAE have recently launched a public relations assault on the small country claiming it should be implicated in support for terrorism alongside its Gulf neighbors.

As a veteran with 40 years of service and the former Chief of Staff to Congressman John P. Murtha (PA-12), Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Committee in the House, I have traveled throughout the world.

While in the Gulf, Mr. Murtha knew that if they needed assistance, or a safe place to land, Qatar was the only reliable ally to the United States in the region.

The attempts by the UAE and Saudi Arabia to divert attention from their own culpability for 9/11 ring hollow. They have even gone as far to recruit U.S. veterans to lobby for them, with many of these veterans unaware that Saudi Arabia was behind this underhand effort.

At a recent Senate hearing investigation foreign agents working for Saudi Arabia in the United States, Texas Senator John Cornyn observed;

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia…paid (lobbyists) $1.3 million each month to fight against the right of American victims of terrorism to sue terror-financing nations. But the worst part of this campaign was the use of veterans to persuade Members of Congress. According to press reports, agents of the Saudi government recruited American veterans, flew them to Washington, wined and dined them, and put them up in fancy hotels and provided them with false information to provide to Members of Congress. This kind of conduct should gall every member of the Senate."

The implication that Qatar is not doing what it can to keep the region and the United States safe is nothing short of absurd. Qatar is the only country among the Gulf States to have signed a bilateral agreement with the U.S. to combat terror financing. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has applauded the country for “being the first to respond to President Trump’s challenge at the Riyadh Summit to stop the funding of terrorism” and has voiced his approval on multiple occasions for Qatar’s continued cooperation and collaboration with the United States.

The victims’ families and the health-impaired First Responders and those of us who were there on the ground on that fateful day, our lives changed forever that morning. They have been suffering, healing and fighting for a long time. They are not about to be coerced by feeble attempts to divert blame. All they want is justice for the victims and the families they left behind. There are still strong feelings in this nation because of this violent attack on America and the responsibility must be shouldered by the countries responsible.

John A. Hugya is a former Congressional candidate, a retired Marine Colonel, and retired Chief of Police who served as Chief of Staff to former Congressman John P. Murtha (D-PA-12).

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We recently marked sixteen years since the September 11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people and changed the course of American foreign policy.
terror attack, september eleventh, saudi arabia, qatar
Friday, 17 November 2017 02:03 PM
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