London: United States special agents were told to
back off the bin Laden family and the Saudi royals soon after George
Bush became president, although that has all changed since September
11, a BBC television program has claimed
BBC2's Newsnight also said on Tuesday night that it had
secret documents from the FBI investigation into the terrorist
attacks which showed that despite claims that Osama bin Laden is the
black sheep of the family, at least two other US-based members are
suspected of links with a possible terrorist organisation.
The program said it had obtained evidence that the FBI was on the
trail of bin Laden family members living in the US before September
11. A document showed that special agents from the Washington field
office were investigating Abdullah, a close relative of Osama,
because of his relationship with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth
(WAMY), a suspected terrorist organisation, it said.
The US Treasury has not frozen WAMY's assets, and insists it is a
charity, the program said, yet Pakistan had expelled WAMY
"operatives" and India claimed WAMY was funding an organisation
linked to bombings in Kashmir. The FBI did look into WAMY but for
some reason agents were pulled off the trail, it said.
The former head of the American visa bureau in Jeddah from 1987
to 1989, Michael Springman, told the program: "In Saudi Arabia I was
repeatedly ordered by high-level State Department officials to issue
visas to unqualified applicants - people who had no ties either to
Saudi Arabia or to their own country. I complained there. I
complained here in Washington ... and I was ignored." He added:
"What I was doing was giving visas to terrorists, recruited by the
CIA and Osama bin Laden to come back to the United States for
training to be used in the war in Afghanistan against the then
The program said it had been told by a highly placed source in a
US intelligence agency there had always been "constraints" on
investigating Saudis, but under President George Bush it had become
After the elections, the intelligence agencies were told to "back
off" from investigating the bin Laden family and the Saudi royals.
The policy was reversed after September 11, it reported.