9/11 plotter says Saudi royals backed Al-Qaeda

The only Al-Qaeda plotter convicted over the 9/11 attacks, Zacarias Moussaoui (above), has told American lawyers that members of the Saudi royal family donated millions to the terror group in the 1990s. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The only Al-Qaeda plotter convicted over the 9/11 attacks, Zacarias Moussaoui (above), has told American lawyers that members of the Saudi royal family donated millions to the terror group in the 1990s. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - The only Al-Qaeda plotter convicted over the 9/11 attacks has told American lawyers that members of the Saudi royal family donated millions to the terror group in the 1990s.

French citizen Zacarias Moussaoui, dubbed the "20th hijacker," made the revelations in court papers filed in a New York federal court by lawyers for victims of the attacks who accuse Saudi Arabia of supporting Al-Qaeda.

He said he created a digital database of Al-Qaeda donors, including members of the royal family such as former intelligence chief Prince Turki al Faisal and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who was Saudi ambassador to United States for 22 years until 2005.

Moussaoui said he met in Afghanistan an official from the Saudi embassy in Washington DC to discuss Al-Qaeda's plots to attack the United States, and that he was supposed to meet the same man again in Washington for help on a plot to shoot down Air Force One.

He also claimed there were direct dealings between senior Saudi officials and Osama bin Laden, saying he travelled to Saudi Arabia twice to deliver handwritten letters between the Al-Qaeda mastermind and senior Saudis, including Prince Turki.

The Saudi embassy in Washington DC denied the allegations.

"The September 11 attack has been the most intensely investigated crime in history and the findings show no involvement by the Saudi government or Saudi officials," it said in a statement.

The embassy called Moussaoui "a deranged criminal whose own lawyers presented evidence that he was mentally incompetent," and said his words had no credibility.

Moussaoui, who was found criminally responsible at his trial in 2006, pled guilty to plotting the deadliest terror attacks in US history and is incarcerated at a supermax prison in Colorado.

A defence psychologist testified at Moussaoui’s trial to say he exhibited classic symptoms of schizophrenia.

Across 127 pages of transcript, Moussaoui said the money from wealthy Saudi donors was "crucial" to Al-Qaeda in the late 1990s.

He talked about donations of two to three million dollars and said top-ranking officials were close to bin Laden through social connections.