The Saudi royal family paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to al-Qaeda and the Taliban in exchange for an agreement that they wouldn’t attack targets in Saudi Arabia. This was clearly a waste of money. The tragedy is not only that al-Qaeda didn’t keep their part of the bargain?they used that money to finance training camps in Afghanistan that were attended by 911 hijackers. Without the Saudi payoff, 911 might not have happened.

A recent lawsuit filed by victims of the Sept. 11 attacks has revealed the payoff. The Saudis were worried that they’d be attacked by al-Qaeda for allowing U.S. troops to operate in their country. They first met with bin-Laden in Paris in 1996. The Istakhbarat, Saudi Arabia?s intelligence agency, had already decided to finance the Taliban, which was then based in Pakistan. The lawsuit also accuses the Saudi royal family of supporting charities with close ties to bin-Laden.

The CIA and the Pentagon think al-Qaeda has infiltrated Saudi military and intelligence. “The only area where there is no evidence of a significant al-Qaeda presence is the Saudi Royal Air Force,” says a U.S. official. “The police, army, navy, National Guard and all the rest have been infiltrated by al-Qaeda.”

The suicide attacks on Tuesday could not have been carried out so efficiently without insider knowledge. A senior State Department official says they knew all the security arrangements at the housing complex for the Vinnel Corp., which trains the Saudi National Guard. “It took them 30 seconds to a minute (to set off the bomb),” a senior State Department official says. “They had to know where the switches were.”

What really happened on 911??it may be different than you think.

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