Nationality: Mecca, Saudi (self reported)
Residency: USA; California, Virginia.
He was a friend of Omar Al-Boyumi. He is notable for the fact that he had been sent money from Saudi Embassy Riggs accounts that seems to have ended up in the hands of 9/11 hijackers in California.
In April 1998 Osama Basnan wrote to Princess Haifa bint Faisal requesting money for thyroid surgery for his wife, a woman supposedly named Majeda Dweikat.
Majeda was a friend of 'Manal Bajadr, the wife of Omar al-Bayoumi.'
Majeda Dweikat and Osama Yousef Basnan admitted during separate hearings held October 2002 that they used false immigration documents to stay in the U.S., The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. "I just made a mistake," Basnan told U.S. District Judge Irma Gonzalez. "I love this country." Dweikat was arrested with al-Bayoumi's wife, Manal Ahmed Bagader, for shoplifting at the J.C. Penney store in Fashion Valley in April 2001, according to court records. They pleaded guilty and paid fines, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
There is evidence for Basnan residing in California since the early 1980s.
Saudi sources acknowledged that the embassy; the ambassador, Prince Bandar bin Sultan; and his wife, Princess Haifa al-Faisal, together provided about $130,000 in what they called charitable donations over a four-year period to Majida Ibrahim Ahmad al-Dweikat, who needed medical treatment.
During part of the four-year period, the money trail passed through an address in the 2200 block of Kentucky Ave. in Baltimore, where a friend of Majida Ibrahim Ahmad's, Vuthaina Chakrouf, forwarded the Saudi checks to San Diego.
At least one of the Saudi checks was signed over to the wife of Omar al-Bayoumi, a Saudi man then living in California who is suspected of welcoming and helping two men who later participated in the Sept. 11 hijackings.
Princess Haifa first received a letter in April 1998 from Majida Ibrahim Ahmad's husband, Osama Basnan, a Saudi, who said his family sorely needed help to pay for medical treatment of his wife's thyroid condition. Basnan also befriended the two hijackers and was known as a vocal al-Qaida sympathizer, Newsweek reported.
A $15,000 check from Prince Bandar was sent to the family, embassy officials said. Toward the end of 1998, Majida Ibrahim Ahmad, who is a Jordanian, wrote to Princess Haifa seeking help. In response, the embassy officials said, the ambassador's wife instructed Riggs Bank in Washington to send monthly cashier's checks worth $2,000 to the woman. Officials told the Los Angeles Times that the princess maintains an account at the bank.
In 2000, the embassy paid $20,000 to cover the costs of a thyroid operation for Majida Ibrahim Ahmad performed at a University of California hospital in San Diego, the officials said.
When the payments started, Majida Ibrahim Ahmad and her family were living in Virginia; they later moved to California.
This is where Vuthaina Chakrouf of Baltimore entered the picture. When Majida Ibrahim Ahmad left Virginia, she notified the Saudi Embassy to start sending the checks to the Kentucky Avenue address.
Chakrouf, an American citizen who became friends with Majida Ibrahim Ahmad while a nursing student in their native Jordan, agreed to forward the checks to San Diego. She said she never opened the envelopes but put them into new envelopes addressed to her friend in California.
"She asked me if she could use my address. She needed someone to send the money there," Chakrouf recounted in a telephone interview yesterday. She said Majida Ibrahim Ahmad expressed fear that the Saudi government would stop the payments if officials knew she had moved to California. But Chakrouf didn't say why Majida Ibrahim Ahmad thought that.
From Chakrouf's account, her friend truly was in need of financial help. "She had no insurance. She had a problem with her neck, which was very, very swollen, and she had six kids to take care of.
She's really poor. She doesn't have income. She was using government medical assistance and food stamps," Chakrouf said, describing Majida Ibrahim Ahmad as "a very good person. She had no intention [of causing] any kind of problems with anything."
Chakrouf expressed devotion to the United States. The attacks, she said, were committed by people who were "not human beings," she said. "I love America. I do not want any connection with anyone who would do something wrong."
Embassy sources said the payments stopped in May, although they said it was unclear why. They said about half the checks reviewed by Princess Haifa's bank over the weekend appeared to have been signed over to other people after Majida Ibrahim Ahmad got them, including her husband, Basnan; Janet Basnan, who may be a daughter, The Los Angeles Times reported; and al-Bayoumi's wife, who received at least one.
Majida Ibrahim Ahmad was deported two weeks before Basnan, after being detained for failure to have a visa, Saudi officials said.
by Mark Matthews, November 25, 2002
911 Commission Interview
Born in Mecca, Basnan worked for several years at a Saudi Arabian airline,
In 1981, he went to the US to pursue further education, attending Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, CT; Consegment (ph) College in Worcester, MA; Sacramento City College and California State University in Los Angeles. His studies included art, graphic design, and computer science.
In the 1980s, he resided in the Falls Church/Alexandria VA area and established his own used car business, which consisted of buying cars at auction and shipping them to Saudi Arabia for re-sale at a handsome profit.
He returned to Saudi Arabia after Saddam invaded Kuwait and remained there for the duration of the Gulf War. When Basnan returned to Virginia following the war, he married Majeda Dweikat, his third marriage. His second marriage was to a US citizen, with whom he had a son.
When asked about his ties to the contents of a car found in 1992 by the Fairfax County Sheriff's office, Basnan claimed that the car was part of the inventory of his used car business and that he was not responsible for the materials it contained. He denies familiarity with any of the jihadist literature found in the car.
With respect to othe reporting of Basnan's having hosted a party in Washington, DC in 1992 for blind sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, Basnan maintained it could not have been Rahman as this sheikh, who performed a ceremony over his sons birth, could see.
Basnan moved to San Diego so his wife could see a Dr Bolvet at UCSD. Basnan said he was not involved with the Islamic Centre of San Diego. Basnan claimed not to have any friends at all in San Diego and insisted that he devoted himself to caring for his wife and extended family when not spending time smoking a hukka pipe at a shop called Furnari. Basnan at denied knowing Mohdar Abdullah at all and likewise claimed not to be familiar with Orner Bakarbashat, while conceding to know who he is.
When asked about Omar AI-Bayoumi, Basnan volunteered that their only link was through telephone records documenting frequent contact between their wives. Claiming not to know Al-Bayoumi at all, he then blamed him for failing to uphold the Arab tradition of staging a welcome feast to celebrate Basnan's arrival to San Diego.
This wife "ailment" theme eventually carried over to Basnan himself as he complained about nerve problems.
911 Joint Inquiry
In May 1992, the State Department provided the FBI with a box of documents recovered from an abandoned car. The documents were in Arabic, and one, a newsletter to supporters of the Eritrean Islamic Jihad (EIJ) Movement, provided updates on the EIJ’s council and was marked “confidential.” The box contained letters addressed to Bassnan that discussed plans to import used cars to the United States.
In early December 2002, the FBI orally advised the Joint Inquiry that it would be amending its written response.. According to the FBI, the amended response will note that there is some evidence that Bassnan had contact with the hijackers, but the FBI does not believe this evidence to be credible and has not been able to corroborate this reporting through subsequent investigation.
28 Pages say:
Basnans wife received money directly from Princess Haifa, Prince Bandars wife. Around$60000 - $70000. (9/11 Commission staff terrorism financing monograph denies this)
Basnan was in telephone contact with al-bayoumi several times a day while they were both in San Diego. Basnan was also close other 911 hijacker associates, such as Omar Bakarbashat who the FBI called his brother in law.
Basnan told an FBI asset he met two of the 911 hijackers through Bayoumi. However Basnan also commented that he did more for them than Bayoumi.
The hijackers met a friend of Basnan, Khaled al-Kayed. he was a commercial airline pilot. They asked him about learning to fly in May 2000.
In 1992, whilst living in Washington, Basnan listed his employment as the Saudi Arabian Education Mission.
May 14 1998, Basnan received a $15000 check directly from Prince Bandar.
In October 1993, Basnan hosted a party for Blink Sheikh Rahman at his Washington DC house.
According to an FBI asset, Basnan spoke of Osama bin Laden as if he were a god. He desired that the US become Islamic. Basnan was also in telephone contact with bin Laden family members in the US and knew Bin Laden family members in Saudi Arabia.
FBI documents suggest that Osama Basnan's wife was in phone and e-mail contact with Ramzi Binalshibh in September 2000. Yemeni Binalshibh was one of the financiers and organisers of the attacks.
The story Basnan gave to this newspaper, November 2002, is as follows:
Question: "When did you enter the U.S. and why?"
Basnan: "A few years ago, in search of medical treatment for my wife, who suffers from an inflamed thyroid. Considering the delicate surgery she has undergone, it was necessary to examine the history of the physician who would perform the surgery professionally to prevent her losing [her] vocal cords. Since my wife is a nurse, and I also have a complete understanding of medical issues, we searched for the right physician. During that time, my wife took an exam for an American nursing fellowship to help us increase our income when we returned to Saudi Arabia… In the meantime my wife became pregnant, requiring daily medical monitoring, which distracted me from taking care of my visa."
Question: "Did you enter the U.S. before September 11?"
Question: "What was the duration of your visa?"
Basnan: "Six months."
Question: "After the visa expired, didn't you contact the relevant offices to renew it?"
Basnan: "Of course. My papers went through an immigration lawyer. An official (and that was before the [September 11] events) said that Saudis do not need an extension of their papers because they benefit the American economy, whether as businessmen, students, or seekers of medical care. On the day of my arrest, I was returning from the Saudi consulate in connection with updating my resident status."
Question: "Isn't it strange that you would stay that long without work or regular income?"
Basnan: "First, I was getting help from my father in Saudi Arabia, in addition to a guarantee by the Saudi embassy in Washington to pay for the cost of the surgery and to [provide] financial support from time to time. This helped cover living expenses for my wife and six children… In addition, I occasionally traded in used American cars, which I shipped to the Saudi market. You can check with the purchasers to confirm this."
Question: "Wouldn't you agree that this was indirect immigration to the U.S.?"
Basnan: "No. On the contrary. I was hoping every day to terminate my relations with the U.S. and return to my country. For your information, I separated from my American wife in the early 1990s. I could have obtained a green card and stayed in the U.S."
Al-Bayyumi and Two of the Saudi Hijackers
Question: "Reports refer to your relationship with the Saudi Omar Al-Bayyumi, who paid for Khaled Al-Mihdhar and Nawaf Al-Hazimi's expenses for staying in the U.S.
Basnan: "First, I do not deny that I met Omar Al-Bayyumi in the U.S., in the neighborhood mosque in Clairmont Mesa in San Diego… If the Americans are going to hold every Muslim accountable for someone he prayed with - not a single one will remain uncharged."
Question: "Was this the main subject during the interrogation?"
Basnan: "Yes, They tried to convince me that my acquaintance with anyone would not hurt me."
Question: "Have you met Al-Mihdhar or Al-Hazimi, who were implicated in the 9/11 events?"
Basnan: "I have never seen them."
Question: "How were you arrested?"
Basnan: "I was returning from the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles where I sought to regulate my status, and was arrested the same day at a gas station near my home. Twenty-five policemen gathered in movie fashion, despite the fact that my residence is known and registered. My wife was arrested at home in front of our children, and was dragged off to prison."
Assistance from the Saudi Prince and Princess
Question: "What is the truth about the private assistance from Prince Bandar bin Sultan or his wife?"
Basnan: "When I needed the cost of medical treatment, I sent a letter to Prince Bandar, followed by a phone call from my wife to the office of the Princess [Bandar's wife]. It was accepted that she would provide us with monthly assistance by check."
Question: "What is the amount of the check?"
Basnan: "This is a private matter between me and my family."
Question: "Who is Majda Ibrahim Ahmad, whose name appeared in media reports?"
Basnan: "My wife."
Question: "Did your wife draw a check for Omar Al-Bayyumi or anyone else?"
Basnan: "She has never given Al-Bayyumi or anyone else any money from these sums. Our debt is higher than [the funds] we received from Princess Hayfa. Imagine how difficult it is for a family of eight to live in the U.S."
Question: "Did the U.S. authorities ask you about this financial assistance?"
Basnan: "The first assistance, which was dedicated to the medical expenses, came irregularly from the embassy. The family assistance [given the big family] came one at a time so I can return my debts."
Question: "News reports speak of financial support from you and Al-Bayyumi to two of the 9/11 perpetrators. Did you follow these reports?"
Basnan: "What was reported in the press is false and unfounded. It is a distortion of facts. It is regrettable that such false accusations are published to add to the mental and psychological torture that I and my family were subjected to for 12 weeks in prison. I should point out that the immigration and security authorities would not have released me if there were any doubt about my wife's and my relations with the accusations that followed. I consider the accusations and the articles to be part of the continuing campaign of distortions by American groups who oppose Muslims and Arabs in general, and Saudi Arabia as an idea, [its] culture, and religion, in particular."