Osama bin Laden’s former adviser has claimed he enjoyed outrageous airline perks before the 9/11 attacks.
Abu Hafs al-Mauritani, who was held in custody for nine nine years over terrorism, boasts that Saudi authorities discounted flight tickets that he used to “travel for jihad”.
“The years I spent in jihad were undoubtedly the best years of my life,” the former senior Al-Qaeda leader tells Channel 4 documentary Bin Laden: The Road to 9/11.
“People might not believe that me, Abu Hafs al-Mauritani, used to travel for jihad with a 75 per cent discount on flights offered by the Saudi authorities.”
Alamy Stock Photo)
Get the biggest news delivered to your inbox. Sign up for the Mirror’s free newsletters
Twenty years on from the attacks on New York which claimed nearly 3,000 lives, questions are still being asked over whether Saudi Arabia provided funding and assistance for the atrocity.
Fifteen of the 19 Al-Qaeda terrorists who hijacked four US commercial airliners on September 11, 2001, were citizens of Saudi Arabia – while Bin Laden was a member of one of the country’s richest families.
Abu Hafs al-Mauritani’s claims come amid a mass federal lawsuit brought by families of the victims, who claim that senior Saudi officials were complicit in the attacks.
Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied allegations that its officials had any knowledge of or involvement with the terror plot.
On Saturday, President Biden and ex presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama joined dozens of dignitaries paying their respects during a 20th anniversary service in New York.
In a message to President Biden, Her Majesty said: “As we mark the 20th anniversary of the terrible attacks on September 11 2001, my thoughts and prayers, and those of my family and the entire nation, remain with the victims, survivors and families affected, as well as the first responders and rescue workers called to duty.”
Abu Hafs al-Mauritani, who helped form the modern Al-Qaeda alongside Bin Laden, was released from prison in 2012.
He was freed from jail in Mauritania, North Africa, after renouncing his ties to the terror group and condemning the September 11 attacks.
The documentary, which continues tonight, also hears from former FBI agent Ali Soufan, who explains how Bin Laden plotted the attacks alongside Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – described as the ‘architect of 9/11’.
“Khalid Sheikh Mohammed always had this dream to use planes to attack the World Trade Centre and other facilities,” says Soufan.
“Osama bin Laden listened and then he looked at Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and he said, ‘Why do you want to go to war with an axe when you can go with a bulldozer?’
“He started changing the plan to include hijacking planes that are going to the east coast to the west coast – because they’re going to be full of fuel – and fly them into targeted buildings.”
Bin Laden was killed by US forces in 2011. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is currently being held by the United States at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp under terrorism-related charges.
Bin Laden: The Road to 9/11 continues on Channel 4 tonight at 10pm