Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)

The grim memories of the 9/11 attacks continue to cause immense emotional pain to not only the bereaved families of the victims but also to all the peace-loving people around the world. Writing about 9/11 is always a painful experience.

The ghastly attacks were not only aimed at the United States but the entire humanity was the target. The perpetrator of the crime was Al-Qaeda and the Saudi stance against the terror outfit is no secret. As a matter of fact, Saudi Arabia had waged a war against this group headed by Osama Bin Laden. The Kingdom continues to fight terrorists and terrorism to this day — first it was Al-Qaeda and now the threat has morphed into Daesh.

People should know that Osama Bin Laden was stripped of the Saudi nationality many years before the 9/11 attacks due to this extremist views and attempts to destabilize Saudi Arabia. It is believed that the 9/11 attacks were part of his conspiracy against Saudi Arabia, after his continued failure to penetrate the Kingdom in the 1990s.

He thought it would be easier for Al-Qaeda to put Saudi Arabia in the eye of the storm through the unprecedented terrorist attacks on American landmarks on American soil using young Saudis to execute the attack. It was aimed at pushing Saudi Arabia and the United States on a collision course.

During the past few years, I wrote two articles in this newspaper on this issue. The first one was published on Sept. 11, 2011 titled, “September 11 and the Longest Ten Years.” The second one was published on Sept. 11, 2012 titled, “9/11 and tale of two arches.”

Since then, I have not written any article about the terrorist attack that changed the face of the world. On 9/11 more than 3,000 innocent lives were lost but the number of lives that have been lost in the wake of US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan has reached hundreds of thousands and still counting.

But, at the end of the day, the destruction of Afghanistan and Iraq didn’t accomplish the intended goal to eradicate terrorism. As a matter of fact, it created more dangerous and more brutal terrorists. This is why, I stopped writing about the 9/11 attacks. I thought that it was something that the world should better forget. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean forgetting what happened on that day in ignorance, but I am talking about searching for ways to speed up the healing process. I was emotionally touched and deeply saddened and devastated by this terrorist attack because I heard about the young Saudis whose names were mentioned days after the attack and I lost two schoolmates who attended the same school I did in New York. In addition I was touched after I learned that many of my schoolmates took part in the rescue and helped many on that day. I still have and will continue to have the deepest sympathy for the families and friends of the victims of 9/11 attacks and the ones who lost their lives in the aftermath. It wasn’t America alone that was hurt, it was the whole world.

A few days ago, the 9/ 11 terrorist attacks came to the surface again after many articles and writings in many American papers about Saudi-US relation. Those articles came to me as a surprise. I was amazed that such respected US newspapers would talk about a so-called threat by Saudi Arabia regarding Saudi intention to sell hundreds of billions worth of American assets held by Saudi Arabia if a bill is introduced regarding 9/11 attacks. As a matter of fact, the assets value that is mentioned by some members of the US Congress is a solid proof of the strength and depth of the Saudi-US ties. Let us be frank, why would anyone in his or her right mind even think or imagine seeing one single Saudi official being involved in such an attack at a time when all people in both countries knew the depth and strategic relation between the two countries. And why would Saudi Arabia invest hundreds of billions of dollars in the US if the relations were not good.

Just days after the 9/11 attacks until today, many people around the world have heard all kinds of stories and conspiracy theories but one very simple question has to be addressed. What was the intended target on 9/11?

Yes, it is true that the attacks took place on the American soil but the main target was Saudi Arabia. Surprised? Well, I think you shouldn’t be. This was Osama Bin Laden’s intention. Fortunately, those attacks did not affect the bilateral ties. And there is no need for Saudi Arabia and the US to be on a collision course. They should be in concurrence to fight and eradicate terrorism.

For many years Al-Qaeda carried out many terrorist attacks on Saudi soil. These terrorist attacks had peaked in 2003 against Saudis Arabia, the Saudis and expatriates living and working in the Kingdom. Osama Bin Laden had said over and over again that he would not spare any means to challenge Saudi Arabia but he failed.

For the information of the readers, I didn’t talk about the life of many of Al-Qaeda operatives in Iran before and after 9/11.

Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. The Main Target of 9/11 reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.