Relatives of victims killed in the Sept. 11 terror attacks on Friday blasted professional golfers for joining a new tour bankrolled by Saudia Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, as well as former President Donald Trump for hosting its tournament this weekend in New Jersey.
What You Need To Know
- Relatives of victims killed in the Sept. 11 terror attacks on Friday blasted professional golfers for joining a new tour bankrolled by Saudia Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, as well as former President Donald Trump for hosting its tournament this weekend in New Jersey
- LIV Golf has lured some of golf’s biggest stars — including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, and Brooks Koepka — away from the PGA with paydays reportedly between $90 million and $200 million
- Sept. 11 families have long suspected a link between Saudi Arabian officials and the hijackers that killed nearly 3,000 people in 2001 and have cited newly declassified FBI documents detailing contacts between two 9/11 hijackers and Saudi nationals in the U.S.
- Trump defended his decision to host the tournament Thursday, adding "Nobody's gotten to the bottom of 9/11, unfortunately"
LIV Golf has lured some of golf’s biggest stars — including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, and Brooks Koepka — away from the PGA with paydays reportedly between $90 million and $200 million.
The group 9/11 Justice, comprised of more than 3,000 family members of victims and survivors of the attacks, has criticized the golfers for joining the tour. Sept. 11 families have long suspected a link between Saudi Arabian officials and the hijackers that killed nearly 3,000 people in 2001.
FBI documents declassified by President Joe Biden last year said two Saudi hijackers received "significant logistic support" and were in contact with Saudi nationals inside the United States before 9/11.
Saudi Arabia has insisted it had no role in the attacks, and the FBI documents do not prove that senior kingdom officials were involved in the plot, which was coordinated by Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida.
“I'm here today to express my outrage, my hurt and my confusion about this LIV golf tournament,” Tim Frolich, who was injured while fleeing the World Trade Center on 9/11, said during a protest a few miles from Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, the site of this weekend’s tournament. “These PGA professional athletes have made a clear decision to personally be bought off and do business with the government of Saudi Arabia.”
The protesters also called out Trump for hosting the event, which is taking place about 50 miles from where hijackers crashed two commercial airplanes in the World Trade Center’s twin towers.
“If you partner with a country that committed one of the worst terrorist attacks in world history … when you partner with a country that stands in stark opposition to American ideals and often ranks amongst one of the worst human rights abusers in the world, you aren't just playing golf; you're taking a political stance,” said Juliette Scauso, whose father, Dennis, a firefighter, died on 9/11. “You're taking a stand that you agree with the actions of Saudi Arabia or, just as bad, that you're so incredibly greedy and callous that you really don't care about these atrocities.”
“I’m never going to forget, never going to forgive the golfers for taking this blood money,” one 9/11 relative says in the ad.
In an interview with ESPN on Thursday, Trump defended his decision to host the tournament.
“I've known these people for a long time in Saudi Arabia and they've been friends of mine for a long time," Trump said. "What they're doing for golf is so great."
The former president added: "Nobody's gotten to the bottom of 9/11, unfortunately, and they should have, as to the maniacs that did that horrible thing.”
But Trump’s comments Thursday stand in stark contrast to remarks he made while running for president in September 2016.
“Who blew up the World Trade Center? It wasn’t the Iraqis; it was Saudi,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News then. “Take a look at Saudi Arabia. Open the documents. We ought to get Bush or somebody to have the documents opened because frankly if you open the documents, I think you are going to see it was Saudi Arabia.”
Some family members Friday said Trump promised them during a 2019 White House meeting that he would declassify the FBI documents, but then-Attorney General Bill Barr refused to do, claiming the information was a state secret.
“Simply, you lied to our face,” said Frolich, who was among the group that met with Trump at the White House.
Under pressure just before the 20th anniversary of the attacks last year, Biden signed an executive order to begin the process of declassifying documents related to 9/11.
Brett Eagleson, 9/11 Justice’s president and co-founder, said he and others believe they have a responsibility to “get the narrative right” about Saudi Arabia’s alleged involvement in the attacks.
“We have to educate America, and we have to educate the public,” said Eagleson, whose father, Bruce, died at the World Trade Center. “And if we do that, we may appeal to some of the conscience of these golfers, to the vendors, to anyone doing business with the Saudi golf league. We need to tell them what we know about the kingdom and what the kingdom did to our loved ones.”
In a statement emailed to Spectrum News, an LIV Golf spokesperson said: “These families have our deepest sympathy. While some may not agree, we believe golf is a force for good around the world.”