Experts discuss 9/11 at NSU panel

CAHSS history professor participated in panel

Ahead of the 15th anniversary of 9/11, experts gathered at Nova Southeastern University for a panel discussion on the legacy of the 2001 terror attacks.

The panel, “15 Years Later: Unanswered Questions of 9/11,” was moderated by Dan Christensen, founder of the nonprofit news website Florida Bulldog and a former reporter at The Miami Herald. The panel’s guests included former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham, CAHSS History and Political Science Professor Charles Zelden, Ph.D., Florida Bulldog attorney Thomas Julin, and attorney Sean Carter, a partner at a Philadelphia law firm representing 9/11 victims.

9/11 panel

Much of the discussion focused on a multi-year effort by the Florida Bulldog to obtain material from the FBI relating to the investigation of a Saudi family that abruptly abandoned their upscale Sarasota home just two weeks prior to the terror attacks. Christensen’s reporting on the issue showed connections between the Sarasota house, Saudi royals, and the 9/11 hijackers, but the FBI’s refusal to release documents led to two lawsuits initiated by Florida Bulldog.

Graham, who co-chaired a congressional inquiry into 9/11, believes that the U.S. government is withholding information that would damage its relationship with Saudi Arabia. Twenty-eight pages redacted from the inquiry’s report were recently de-classified by the White House.

Charles Zelden

Zelden echoed that belief, noting that the kingdom’s leaders maintain political control by supporting Wahhabism, a fundamentalist Islamic movement that is anti-Western.

“Domestically they play to an audience that is anti-Western, but internationally they’re the West’s friend,” Zelden said.

Zelden said the complicated relationship between the two countries is the result of the U.S.’ petrochemical dependence and resulting desire for regional stability.

“We don’t want to lose [Saudi Arabia] as an ally,” he said. “We don’t have good choices on how to act in the Middle East.”

Christensen’s work is not yet over, as the litigation against the FBI revealed the existence of 80,000 pages of documents on the Tampa field office’s investigation into the Sarasota connection. The bureau has declined to release those documents.

The panel concluded with a short question and answer session, followed by a book signing with Graham.