If you follow the money, the men in the middle of the disbursing of funds to the 9/11 hijackers were United Airlines Flight 175 hijacker-pilot Marwan al-Shehhi and a UAE-based computer specialist Ali Abdul Aziz Ali (Ali), who ultimately received the money from his uncle, 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (KSM).
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Al Qaeda was able to raise about $30 million a year, mostly from zakat and sadaqa from wealthy Arab donors and other supportive Muslims around the world. The money was funneled through Islamic charities—often charitable foundations backed directly by the Saudi government—and through hawala, the traditional Islamic system of transferring money without physically having to transfer cash. The same methods continue being used to fund Al Qaeda and its offshoots today.
Of that $30 million, $10-$20 million was estimated by the 9/11 Commission to have been given annually to the Taliban. The remaining money was used for wages, training, planning, and operations like 9/11, which is estimated to have cost $400,000 to half a million dollars to carry out.
KSM gave about $300,000 of that sum to the hijackers for their travel to and inside the U.S., living expenses, and flight lessons. He sometimes handed out cash to operatives during face-to-face meetings but he relied on intermediaries—most significantly Ali—for international transactions once the U.S. sleeper cells had been established. In addition to being KSM’s nephew, Ali is the cousin of 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef, and the husband of terror maven Aafia Siddiqui. He currently resides in Guantanamo Bay.
In what amounted to the largest series of transactions in the entire run-up to 9/11, Ali sent at least $110,000 to al-Shehhi for use by him, Muhammad Atta, and presumably for the expenses of the other Florida-based hijackers—several of whose leaders had been a part of Atta’s prior Al Qaeda cell in Hamburg, Germany. Read the rest of this entry ?