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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 August, 2003, 21:23 GMT 22:23 UK
Saudi man denies 9/11 link
Wreckage of the World Trade Center, September 2001
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals
A Saudi man has denied links to the 11 September hijackers and said he was ready to be re-examined by US investigators, if they travelled to Saudi Arabia.

The man, Omar al-Bayoumi, said he was ready to talk, but only in Saudi Arabia and in the presence of Saudi investigators.

A congressional report has said Mr Bayoumi gave "considerable assistance" to two of the 11 September attackers, but that there could be an innocent explanation.

The Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal said last week after talks with US President George Bush that American agents would be given access to Mr Bayoumi.

In his first interview since his name was mentioned in the report, Mr Bayoumi told Dubai-based al-Arabiya television that the claims against him were "pure fabrication".

"I am ready to sit with American investigators, whether from the FBI or CIA, in the presence of Saudi investigators and on Saudi land," he said on Sunday.

The Saudi Government has already ruled out any possibility of extraditing Mr Bayoumi.

Angry denial

The congressional inquiry - 28 pages of which remain classified - said Mr Bayoumi, a former civil aviation official, helped two of the hijackers settle in San Diego and paid part of their rent with money from a wealthy Saudi source.

They [the investigators] told me I was innocent of any link whatsoever
Omar al-Bayoumi
Public sections of the report say Mr Bayoumi "had access to seemingly unlimited funding from Saudi Arabia".

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers who used planes to attack New York and Washington were Saudi nationals, but the Saudi Government has angrily denied any involvement in the plot.

It has urged President Bush to publish the report in full so that it can respond to specific allegations.

Mr Bayoumi said he had written to the Saudi Interior Minister, Prince Nayef, to declare his innocence.

He said that after the 2001 attacks he was questioned in the UK for seven days and that US officials were present.

"They told me I was innocent of any link whatsoever," he said in his TV interview.

He said that during the interrogation he was shown photographs of two of the hijackers - Khalid al-Mihdar and Nawaf al-Hamzi - whom he said he had met while he was living in the US.

"I was on my way to Los Angeles with a friend to renew my passport... on our way back we stopped at a restaurant and heard two men talking," Mr Bayoumi said.

"I thought they were from a Gulf country and they told me they were from Saudi Arabia.

"They lived near my house [in the United States] for two or three weeks, then later they moved to another place."

On American television, the US Attorney General, John Ashcroft, said that sometimes it was necessary to question a person again because of new information. He did not elaborate.




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