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Haifa bint Faisal
Princess Haifa bint Faisal (Arabic: هيفاء بنت فيصل, also called Haifa al Faisal) is the wife of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi Arabian ambassador to United States. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, she was investigated for allegedly funding some of the hijackers, but this charge was found to be untrue.
Details of the funding charges
In April of 1998, Osama Basnan , a Saudi living in California, wrote to Princess Haifa requesting money for his wife's needed thyroid surgery. Haifa sent Basnan $15,000, although his wife, Majeda Dweikat, wasn't actually treated for another two years. Then on December 4, 1999, Princess Haifa began sending monthly cashiers checks to Dweikat of either $2,000 or $3,500, transporting them through Riggs Bank. Dweikat signed some of these checks over to her friend Manal Bajadr, wife of Omar al-Bayoumi. The payments eventually totalled between $50,000 and $75,000. (This sort of charitable donation from members of the House of Saud to Saudi nationals living abroad is not particularly unusual.)
Osama Basnan had been under suspicion for many years. In 1992, the FBI had received information suggesting a connection between him and a terror group later associated with Osama bin Laden. In 1993, there were reports that Basnan hosted a party for terrorist leader Shaikh Omar Abdul-Rahman. According an anonymous U.S. official, Basnan "celebrated the heroes of September 11" shortly after the attacks, and talked about "what a wonderful, glorious day it had been." In interviews and investigations after the attack, Basnan has given sharply contradictory testimony about moneys received and his relationship with Bajadr and al-Bayoumi. Basnan was deported on November 17, 2002.
Omar al-Bayoumi was the husband of Manal Bajadr, who received some of the moneys from Dweikat. Al-Bayoumi had several intriguing connections to two of the hijackers: Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. He met them in a restaurant soon after the two had first arrived in Los Angeles, and convinced them to move to San Diego. He picked out an apartment for them, co-signed the lease, and loaned them $1,500 to pay their rent. Al-Bayoumi then moved in across the street from them and assisted them in other minor ways. There are persistent rumors that al-Bayoumi was a Saudi agent.
Once this story became known, it was thoroughly investigated. (Some of these investigations led to the Riggs Bank scandals of 2003 and 2004.) Although there are still many questions about al-Bayoumi and Basnan, it has been determined that the hijackers al-Midhar and al-Hazmi did not receive any funding from them. The 9/11 Commission Report notes: "We have found no evidence that Saudi Princess Haifa al Faisal provided any funds to the conspiracy, either directly or indirectly."
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