Secret 28-page chapter could be released within weeks by intelligence chiefs
THE White House is considering releasing a 'secret chapter' from the inquiry into 9/11 that will show Saudi Arabian involvement in the terrorist attacks.
President George W. Bush decided to withhold the 28-page section of the report in what was believed to be an effort to soothe strained tensions between the US and its oil-state ally.
But outgoing president Barack Obama is understood to be likely to publish the potentially damaging document, which is under lock and key in the basement of the Capitol building in Washington DC.
It is known that the extract contains information about "specific sources of foreign support for some of the September 11 hijackers while they were in the United States".
And the man who conducted the 832-report, Senator Bob Graham, confirmed he has been told American intelligence services will make a decision on its release within weeks.
The former Democratic senator from Florida said: "I hope that decision is to honour the American people and make it available.
"The most important unanswered question of 9/11 is, did these 19 people conduct this very sophisticated plot alone, or were they supported?"
Another high-ranking US politician who worked on the inquiry and has read the secret chapter three times is Tim Roemer, an ex-Democratic congressman.
He said: “There were clues. There were allegations. There were witness reports. There was evidence about the hijackers, about people they met with - all kinds of different things that the 9/11 Commission was then tasked with reviewing and investigating.”
The 2001 attacks killed almost 3,000 civilians when three hijacked American Airlines planes crashed into high-profile buildings, while another was ditched into the ground when passengers fought back against the hijackers.
Al-Qaeda, an Islamic terrorist group led by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden claimed responsibility for the atrocities.
Two of the planes slammed into New York’s iconic World Trade Center skyscrapers.
Both buildings collapsed leaving thousands dead as a cloud of toxic dust engulfed the city.
Another plane left more than a hundred dead when it hit the Pentagon in Washington.
The fourth aircraft, believed to be heading for either the White House or the Capitol building, crashed in a field near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The 2002 report into the attacks found no evidence of a Saudi government conspiracy.
However, of the 19 hijackers, 15 hailed from the Middle Eastern power player.
And while the report did not accuse the oil-state of sponsoring the attack, it did not absolve it of all responsibility.
Roemer added: “We did not discover Saudi government involvement at the highest level of the 9/11 attacks.
“But we certainly did not exonerate the Saudis. Saudi was a fertile ground for fundraising for al-Qaeda.
“Some of these issues continue to be problems today. That's why we need to continue to get to the bottom of this.”
BY EMMA ASHFORD 
WHAT PART DID THE SAUDIS PLAY IN THE 9/11 ATTACKS?

Yet these developments—a congressional bill that allows Americans to sue foreign governments for supporting terrorist groups, and growing calls to declassify the remaining 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission’s report—are unlikely to substantially impact the U.S.-Saudi relationship, which is already on a downward trend due to other, more substantive factors.
Certainly, the bill would have major legal implications for relatives of victims of the 9/11 attacks, who have previously tried to sue the Saudi government for their possible involvement. However, their hope that the declassified report would yield a better understanding of the scope of that involvement is unlikely to yield any smoking gun revelations.
Some of the purported revelations are, in fact, already known. It has been long known that Saudi Arabia has had a hand in the spread, through schools and philanthropic endeavors, of a certain kind of extremist Islamic philosophy often described as Wahhabism. That this philosophy is shared by various radical groups including ISIS and Al-Qaeda is likewise well known, but there is no evidence that the Saudi government ever provided material support to either group.
Though lesser-known, it is also the case that many private Saudi citizens haveprovided funding to extremist groups over the years. And while it did not come from the government, as Ben Rhodes, the president’s Deputy National Security Advisor noted this week, the Saudi government often paid “insufficient attention” to such funding, particularly prior to 2001.
The 9/11 Commission report, though likely to be less detailed than many of the studies of this phenomenon conducted over the last decade, may well include data on the extent to which the Saudi government turned a blind eye to terrorist funding.
Comments from those who have read the reports, and previously declassified information, also suggests that junior Saudi officials may even have played some role in the 9/11 attacks themselves. Indeed, perhaps the best known line in the 9/11 report itself is the assertion that the Commission found “No evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization,” an obvious loophole that leaves little to the imagination.
Yet it is worth noting that any such revelations contained in the report would be at best preliminary, based on unvetted and unverified intelligence.
In fact, while the Saudi government has not objected to declassification of the report, it clearly perceives the congressional bill as a larger concern, threatening economic reprisals. The threat to sell-off American assets if the bill passes is likely an empty one, but it certainly underscores the concern Saudi leaders feel about the potential for such lawsuits.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this whole episode is that it is happening at all, a development at least partially driven by the deteriorating U.S.-Saudi relationship. President Obama’s trip to Riyadh will not be an entirely pleasant one, given all the tensions in the U.S.-Saudi relationship. Indeed, only a few weeks ago, Obama himself publicly questioned the Saudi alliance in an interview with the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg.

Ultimately, the Saudi alliance is changing. Once thought unshakeable, common U.S.-Saudi interests such as energy security and anti-communism have diverged or disappeared entirely. Meanwhile, disagreements on regional stability, Saudi involvement in conflicts like Syria and Yemen and their support for various extreme groups have helped to sour the relationship.
Whether or not the 9/11 Commission report is declassified, it is these larger tensions that present the major obstacle to smooth U.S.-Saudi relations in the future.
What Led to Failure at Doha and How Will It Affect Oil
Oil tumbled to two-month lows on Sunday after the world’s biggest producers failed to agree on freezing oil production. This lack of unanimity threatens to trigger a harsh drop in prices and may lead to the demise of OPEC in its present form.
Oil ministers of Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Algeria and eleven other nations gathered in the Qatari capital at the weekend in a bid to stabilize the global market.
However, the attempt, which stretched a good ten hours beyond its initially scheduled conclusion, failed after Saudi Arabia and several other Gulf nations refused to sign a deal unless all OPEC members joined including Iran, which wasn’t present at the meeting.
Delegates said Saudi Arabia had in effect torn up an earlier draft of the deal after Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the kingdom wouldn’t restrain its production without commitments from other all other major producers including Iran, which has ruled out freezing for now.
Earlier in April, the Saudi Prince also predicted the looming twilight of the oil age and shared the country’s plans to transform the oil state into a country which will not depend on the black gold.
Tehran had refused to join the freeze, stressing that the sanctions had been lifted recently and Iran wanted to rebuild its oil exports to pre-sanctions levels.
The next oil meeting would be held in June after the cartel members agreed concerted position on the proposed freeze, according to Nigerian Oil Minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu.
Failed talks in Doha led to a noticeable drop in oil prices with crude losing more than 5 percent on Monday morning in Asia.
Brent, the international benchmark, was down 5.2 percent at $40.87 a barrel while West Texas Intermediate, the US marker, shed 5.7 percent to $38.07 a barrel.
Oil prices may go down to 30 dollars a barrel. If the oil producing nations agreed to freeze their output – something they pledged to do back in February – the prices would go up to $45 per barrel and could even spike to $50 if Iran joins in.
BY LUCY CLARKE-BILLINGS 
PAKISTAN APPROVES CONTROVERSIAL CYBER CRIME BILL
The controversial Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill 2015 has been approved by Pakistan's National Assembly (NA).
The restrictive bill—which has been criticised by the information technology (IT) industry as well as civil society for curbing human rights—was submitted to the NA for voting in January 2015 by the Minister of State for Information Technology and Tele­com­munication, Anusha Rahman Khan.
A draft of the cybercrime bill was then cleared by the standing committee in September before being forwarded to the assembly for final approval.
According to critics, the proposed bill criminalises activities such as sending text messages without the receiver's consent or criticising government actions on social media. 

Those who do would be punished with fines and long-term imprisonment. Industry representatives have argued that the bill would harm business as well.
Online criticism of religion, the country, its courts, and the armed forces are among subjects which could invoke official intervention under the bill.
The bill approved on Wednesday, must also be approved by Senate before it can be signed into law.
Features of the Bill include -
• Up to five-year imprisonment, Rs (Pakistani Rupees) 10 million ($95,000) fine or both for hate speech, or trying to create disputes and spread hatred on the basis of religion or sectarianism.
• Up to five-year imprisonment, Rs5m ($47,700) fine or both for transferring or copying sensitive basic information.
• Up to Rs50,000 ($477) fine for sending messages irritating to others or for marketing purposes.
• Up to three-year imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs500,000 ($4,777) for creating a website for negative purposes.
• Up to one-year imprisonment or a fine of up to Rs1m ($9,500) for forcing an individual into immoral activity, or publishing an individual’s picture without consent, sending obscene messages or unnecessary cyber interference.
• Up to seven-year imprisonment, a fine of Rs10m or both for interfering in sensitive data information systems.
Saudi-Egypt agreement threatens long-term Israeli interests
The agreement, which was signed during a visit by Saudi King Salman in Cairo, would also allow for a bridge connection between the two countries.
Recently signed agreements between Saudi Arabia and Egypt that transfer sovereignty over two small islands
in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia could create longterm problems for Israel, an Israeli expert and former IDF officer told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
The agreement, which was signed during a visit by Saudi King Salman in Cairo, would also allow for a bridge connection between the two countries.
There are two main issues in the agreements that affect Israel, said Col. (res.) Dr. Shaul Shay, director of research at the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.
The first, he said, is related to the relatively successful Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen against the Iranian-backed Houthis and what has turned out to be practical control over the Mandeb Strait, which separates Djibouti and Yemen between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
The Saudis have been relatively successful in blockading Yemen’s ports from Iranian shipments.
In addition, the Saudis were able to pry the Red Sea coastal countries of Sudan, Eritrea, and Djibouti from Iran’s orbit, noted Shay.
Therefore, today, “the Saudi-led coalition, that includes Egypt, has almost full control of the Red Sea, from its entrance at the Mandeb Strait to the Suez Canal.
“I don’t think Saudi Arabia is going to close the Red Sea to Israel,” asserted Shay, but in the long term, with new unpredictable geopolitical conditions, Israel needs to “reassess its security and political strategy in this region.”
Both Israel and the Arab coalition led by the Saudis are working to counter Iran’s ambitions in the region.
“As long as the Saudis are OK with Israel and the Arabs are focused on efforts against Iran, Saudi-Egypt control of the Red Sea is not a problem,” he said.
Also included in the Saudi-Egyptian agreements was the transfer of sovereignty to Saudi Arabia of two small Red Sea islands, Sanafir and Tiran.
These islands, which had previously been under Saudi control, and then passed to Egypt during wars with Israel, and briefly under Israeli control in 1967, were returned to Egypt as part of the 1979 peace agreement.

Prior to 1967, Shay notes, Egypt used the islands to blockade the southern Israeli port of Eilat.
Another issue the transfer of the islands raises, he points out, is that Israeli airplanes using the airspace over them in transit would technically be flying in Saudi airspace.
As long as the Saudi permit this, there would not be a problem.
“This waterway is very sensitive for Israel as it is the only passage from Israel to Asia,” said Shay, adding that Egypt is forbidden by the peace treaty to place military forces on the islands or along Sinai’s seashore area bordering the Red Sea.
The Israeli expert also mentioned the agreement to build a bridge connecting Egypt and Saudi Arabia across the Red Sea and how this could facilitate huge amounts of new commerce between Africa and Saudi Arabia.
This would also include new routes for Muslim pilgrims making the haj to Mecca as well as other possible energy transfer.
“Planners believe that tolls paid by millions of Muslim pilgrims on their way to holy sites in Saudi Arabia could make up for the expected cost of the bridge within seven-10 years,” noted Shay in a recent report published for the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the IDC.
“The Egyptian-Saudi agreement regarding the marine borders and construction of a bridge connecting Egypt with Saudi Arabia has to take in consideration the Israeli interests – an outlet to the Red Sea for its shipping and the Camp David accord,” he wrote.
HUNDREDS OF WEALTHY CLIENTS PROBED FOR TAX EVASION
The Australian Tax Office (ATO) said on Monday it is investigating more than 800 wealthy clients of a Panama law firm for possible tax evasion.
The probe follows the reported leak of more than 11.5 million documents from the files of law firm Mossack Fonseca, based in the tax haven of Panama, revealing details of hundreds of thousands of clients.
The documents are at the center of an investigation published on Sunday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other news organizations around the globe. ICIJ is the international arm of the Center for Public Integrity.
The leaked "Panama Papers" cover a period over almost 40 years, from 1977 until as recently as last December, and allegedly show that some companies domiciled in tax havens were being used for suspected money laundering, arms and drug deals, and tax avoidance.
"Currently we have identified over 800 individual taxpayers and we have now linked over 120 of them to an associate offshore service provider located in Hong Kong," the Australian tax office said in a statement emailed to Reuters. It did not name the Hong Kong company.
ATO Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston said his office was working with the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Crime Commission and anti-money laundering regulator AUSTRAC to further cross-check the data.
"Some cases may be referred to the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce," Cranston said in the statement. "The message is clear - taxpayers can't rely on these secret arrangements being kept secret and we will act on any information that is provided to us."
The 800 individuals under investigation include some taxpayers who had previously been investigated and others who had reported themselves to the tax office under its so-called Project DO IT - Disclose Offshore Income Today. The voluntary disclosure initiative, which closed at the end of 2014, allowed people to come forward and avoid steep penalties and criminal charges.
However, the tax office said the individuals under investigation also include "a large number of taxpayers who haven't previously come forward."

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