A prisoner at the United States’ Guantanamo Bay says he had been offered — via a “religious figure” — by a member of the Saudi royal family to be part of violent extremist acts in the US, which included learning to fly a plane, before the September 11 attacks occurred in 2001.
In redacted transcripts newly released by the Pentagon Periodic Review Board, Ghassan Abdallah al-Sharbi is quoted as saying that the figure used the term “your highness” during a telephone conversation just before offering to recruit him.
Who is al-Sharbi and what did he say?
The “religious figure” spoke to the supposedly royal family member, discussing whether al-Sharbi was qualified for “jihad,” said the prisoner, adding, “I remember, ‘yes, your highness, yes your highness,’ and he was talking to him about me.”
The meeting was held in early 2001, after al-Sharbi had returned from Phoenix, Arizona, where he had taken flight school courses along with two other men, who later took part in the 9/11 attacks.
The Saudi, who attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, from 1999-2000, agreed to return to the US but apparently never did for reasons untold.
He had been selected thanks to his practice on a flight simulator, which enabled him to learn to fly more easily than others.
Al-Sharbi was captured along with al-Qaeda facilitator Abu Zubaydah in a house in Pakistan, where he learned and later started teaching others how to make remote-controlled explosives.
Before that, he went to Afghanistan in the summer of 2001 where he trained with al-Qaeda.
According to a document known as File 17, declassified earlier this year, an envelope from the Saudi Embassy in Washington was found near where he was arrested that contained his flight certificate.
File 17 refers to the connection between diplomats from the Saudi kingdom and the hijackers, 17 of whom were Saudi nationals.