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The Secret Saudi Flight on 9-13 Could be the Key to the Bush-Saudi-Al Qaeda Connection

By Catherine Arnie

About a month after the September 11th attacks, I read an article in the Tampa Tribune by Kathy Steele entitled "Phantom Flight From Florida." The intriguing report told the tale of a flight out of Florida that allegedly took place on September 13 - a day when ALL civilian air traffic in the United States was grounded.

"This was out of a Tom Clancy movie," according to a retired homicide detective who was hired for the flight. Its mission was to spirit the son of a Saudi prince, the son of a Saudi army commander, and another unidentified Saudi from Florida to Kentucky, because "there was a perceived threat, and the family of the person wanted him home right away."

The "person" in danger was the son of Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, who is no minor figure in the Saudi Royal family. Rather, Prince Sultan is the kingdom's minister of defense, the third-ranking position in the Saudi Government, whose powers exceed those of even America's super-powerful Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Dan Grossi and Manuel Perez were the two Floridians who were hired to serve as private bodyguards on the flight.

According to the article in the Tampa Tribune, Dan Grossi is a retired Tampa cop who worked in internal affairs and homicide. Perez is a retired FBI man whose experience was in counter-terrorism and bomb-making. Perez now runs a detective agency and the two men provided security for the National Football League at Raymond James Stadium in September of 2001.

The article reported that shortly after the September 11 attack, Lexington police Lt. Mark Barnard received a request from a prominent Saudi Kingdom official for the protection of three young Saudi men in Florida, at least one of whom - Prince Sultan's son - had been studying English at the University of Tampa for three weeks. (Tampa police records listed Sultan Bin Fahad as the individual who specifically requested protection for the three men. That is probably Prince Sultan Bin Fahad, head of the Saudi General Presidency of Youth Welfare. In family-run Saudi Arabia, there is apparently a whole Ministry devoted to keeping Royal youth out of trouble - something the Bush family elders no doubt dream of copying.)

Apparently Barnard then contacted the Tampa police department and two "off-duty" Tampa intelligence detectives were assigned to watch the three Saudis for their protection. At around 11:00 AM on September 13, Dan Grossi received a phone call from the Tampa police detectives who needed help with a problem: escorting the Saudi men they were protecting on a flight to Kentucky.

Grossi and Perez evidently felt they were up to the task, and at 2:30 PM Grossi was contacted by the Tampa Police Department with specific instructions. And by 4:35 PM a plane carrying Grossi, Perez, Prince Sultan's son, the son of an unidentified Saudi military commander, and third unidentified Saudi, was in the air and en route to Kentucky. The private Lear jet flew from Ft. Lauderdale to Tampa, where it parked at Raytheon Airport Services, which owns a private hangar on the outskirts of the Tampa International airport.

(Tampa, of course, is home to General Tommy Franks and the Pentagon's Central Command (CentCom), which now rules Afghanistan and Iraq directly, and indirectly rules the entire oil-rich Middle East and Central Asia through its growing network of Halliburton-supplied military bases. Raytheon, of course, is the massive arms manufacturer that supplied many of the high-tech weapons used in Afghanistan and Iraq. Tampa is also near Venice FL, where Mad Cow Morning News has exposed numerous secrets about the training of 9-11 pilots Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi at shadowy local flight schools. And Tampa is in Florida, where Gov. Jeb Bush stole the 2000 election for his brother George, and where Jeb issued Executive Order 2001-261 to prepare the FL National Guard for a terrorist attack on 9-7-01.)

Their destination, according to the two bodyguards, was the Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky, where the three Saudis were to link up with relatives who were in Kentucky to purchase race horses.

Grossi and Perez further stated that upon landing they saw several 747's parked on the tarmac with Arabic writing. The article suggests that at least one of these 747's flew back to Saudi Arabia with the boys, although their Floridian chaperones appear to have left the airport before that occurred. If true, the flight of these 747's would validate at least part of the Michael Moore story about powerful Saudis being allowed to fly out of the U.S. on the second day of the prohibition of all civilian flights.

Perez stated that he was unaware of who their charges were until they landed. Both men told of what a strange feeling it was to fly in an almost empty sky, and Perez recalls asking the pilot, "We're not going to get shot down are we?" - a legitimate fear, given the fact that fighter jets were urgently patrolling the skies looking for any more terrorists.

Regarding the curious fact that the flight had taken place when all other air traffic was still grounded, Dan Grossi said "he was told that clearance for the flight had come from the White House after the Prince's family pulled a favor from former President Bush."

If so, this was no ordinary ex-Presidential favor. In debunking a Michael Moore-inspired Internet rumor about a secret flight of relatives of Osama Bin Laden, Snopes.com describes exactly how restricted the skies were that day:

The Federal Aviation Administration ordered all flights in the United States grounded immediately following the terrorist attacks, and that ban stayed in effect until September 13. (Even then, for that first day commercial carriers were either completing the interrupted flights of September 11 or were repositioning empty aircraft in anticipation of the resumption of full service. New passenger flights did not resume until the 14th.) During that two-day period of full lock-down, only the military and specially FAA-authorized flights that delivered life-saving medical necessities were in the air. The enforcement of the empty skies directive was so stringent that even after the United Network for Organ Sharing sought and gained FAA clearance to use charter aircraft on September 12 to effect time-critical deliveries of organs for transplant, one of its flights carrying a human heart was forced to the ground in Bellingham, Washington, 80 miles short of its Seattle destination, by two Navy F/A-18 fighters. (The organ completed its journey after being transferred to a helicopter.)

After reading the Tampa Tribune article, I distinctly remember blinking and checking the URL to see if I had accidentally clicked on a link to one of those "publications" that spots Elvis, or reports that ninety year old women have just given birth to Bigfoot's baby. But no, this was indeed the Tampa Tribune.

I remember wondering how on earth our government could have authorized a flight out of the country before they even knew who the perpetrators of the attacks were?

And further, why did the families of the young men "perceive a threat" when it wasn't yet clear on the 13th of September exactly WHO had attacked America or where they were from?

According to a transcript on the State Departments website of a statement given by a "Senior White House Official" on September 13 at 5:22 PM it had not yet been announced that Bin Laden was behind the attacks when protection was requested for the three young men.

When this "Senior White House official" was asked if Osama Bin Laden had perpetrated the attacks against the US at 5:22 PM on September 13th, to which he replied: "I think that right now what we need to do is -- as I said, again, this happened 60 hours ago. We don't want to be premature, not because we don't want to name or finger someone, but because we want to make sure that we understand all the connections, not just a connection."

Was Prince Sultan a psychic who somehow mysteriously predicted that 15 of the 19 hijackers would turn out to be Saudi nationals? Or did he perhaps know who was behind the attacks since he was funding charities linked to Al Qaeda?

Now fast forward about a year and a half and imagine my surprise last week when I read a "Newsweek web exclusive" that reported that Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz - THE VERY SAME defense minister of Saudi Arabia - is being sued on the behalf of the victims of 9-11 for his alleged role in the financing of groups suspected to have links to the terrorist attacks of 9-11!

"Wow," I thought, "wasn't this the SAME Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz who had the kid on the Phantom flight?"

After further checking, I discovered that - yes, my friends - they are one and the same!

According to the Newsweek article, when three attorneys from the "prestigious Houston firm" that represents Sultan bin Abdul Aziz filed a motion in court in the Prince's defense, they also inadvertently provided evidence in the form of "stacks of affidavits and canceled checks" that indicated that the Prince had personally authorized the funneling of millions of dollars on the behalf of Saudi Arabian government to organizations that the US has identified and raided as terrorist front operations sympathetic to Osama Bin Laden.

But it gets worse...

The name of the "prestigious Houston Law firm" that is representing this suspected supporter of terrorism?

Why that would be none other than Baker Botts of Houston - as in JAMES Baker, as in THE James Baker: George Herbert Walker Bush's former Secretary of State and George W. Bush's counsel during the 2000 election recounts (you know, "Mr. the votes have been counted and recounted and counted again and even though we still lost we're taking the crown"?)

It seems that in spite of the fact that Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz and his government have been accused of funding charities linked to Al Qaeda, James Baker's firm still feels the need to defend the Prince against those "evil" trial lawyers representing the orphaned families of the 9-11 victims.

But perhaps what is just as shocking to me is the allegation that the son of this SAME Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz was reportedly flown out of the United States when all other planes were grounded following the special orders of Bush's own father!

Moreover, the entire 9-13 mission of the Lear jet is shrouded in mystery. That mission began in Ft. Lauderdale, stopped in Tampa and Lexington, and returned to Tampa to bring Grossi and Perez home. But then the jet flew to New Orleans "to pick up someone who needed a ride to New York." So this plane made AT LEAST 5 flights on 9-13, but the FAA told the Tampa Tribune, "it's not in our logs... it didn't occur." The White House, the State Department, and the National Security Council all refused to answer the Tribune's questions.

Now the Bush administration is refusing to make public an 800-page Congressional report on the attacks of 9-11. In fact, this administration is so hell-bent on keeping the report from the public that they are even "re-classifying" information that was already a part of the public record!

According to a new Newsweek bombshell by Michael Isikoff,

Among the portions of the report the administration refuses to declassify, sources say, are chapters dealing with two politically and diplomatically sensitive issues: the details of daily intelligence briefings given to Bush in the summer of 2001 and evidence pointing to Saudi government ties to Al Qaeda. Bush officials have taken such a hard line, sources say, that they are refusing to permit the release of matters already in the public domain -- including the existence of intelligence documents referred to on the CIA Web site.

As average citizens struggle to carry on their daily business and keep their blood pressure in check in the midst of a new "orange alert," Mr. Bush & Co. are still busy protecting their buddies in Saudi Arabia and lying to the American public.

Why can't we know the truth about who our enemies are, Mr. Bush?

One has to wonder when George W. said, "You're either with us or against us" - just exactly who he meant by "us." "Us" is beginning to look like a Bush-Saudi-Al Qaeda conspiracy, especially when one includes the well-known business ties between George H. W. Bush, James Baker, and the Bin Laden family through the infamous Carlyle Group.

In a scandal this potentially huge - one implicating the President's close family and family lawyer - shouldn't a Special Prosecutor be appointed? If the President was Bill Clinton, the family member was Hillary Clinton, and the family lawyer was Webster Hubbell, the media - not to mention the Republican Party - would be demanding a Special Prosecutor at the top of their lungs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Even though the post-Watergate Special Prosecutor law was repealed after Ken Starr's legal lynching of President Clinton, pre-Watergate-style Special Prosecutors can still be appointed by the Attorney General.

Editor's note: the initial version of this article incorrectly identified Bush family consiglieri James A. Baker III of Baker, Botts as the same James A. Baker who serves as Counsel for Intelligence Policy to the Justice Department's Office for Intelligence Policy and Review (OIPR). It is not the same person. For a fuller explanation of this error, click here.