FBI Documents Link 9/11 to Florida Businessman
Esam Ghazzawi and his family 'fled' just before the attacks
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2014 4:30 PM CDT
This Sept. 11, 2001 file photo shows smoke rising from the burning twin towers of the World Trade Center after hijacked planes crashed into the towers, in New York City.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

(Newser) – Looks like a wealthy Florida family had direct connections to the 9/11 hijackers and fled the US just days before the Twin Towers fell, the Miami Herald reports. According to highly redacted FBI documents released yesterday by the Justice Department, the family of "an allegedly wealthy international businessman" connected with the Saudi royal family abandoned their house in Sarasota, Fla., on or around August 27, 2001. They left behind valuable items—including furniture, clothes, and three cars, Broward Bulldog notes—so it seems they left without much preparation.

The businessman's name is blanked out, but a separate FBI form names Esam Ghazzawi, adviser to a top Saudi prince and owner of the Sarasota house, where he lived with his daughter and her husband. Law enforcement sources have already pointed to evidence that hijack pilot Mohamed Atta, former al-Qaeda leader Adnan Shukrijumah, and other suspected terrorists had visited the house, but the FBI never revealed Ghazzawi's name to congressional investigators or the 9/11 commission. Ghazzawi's son-in-law, Abdulaziz al-Hijji, said last year they only moved so al-Hijji could work at the Saudi oil company Aramco in England. He called the 9/11 attacks "a crime against the USA and all humankind." (Freedom of Information litigation filed by Broward Bulldog got the latest documents released, and up to 80,266 more FBI pages could be made public at the discretion of a US district judge in Florida.)