Trump Hosts New Jersey-Saudi-backed Golf Event--He’s Still Questioning Saudi Involvement in 9/11 Attacks
By: John Mason / Arab America Contributing Writer
In sponsoring the Saudi-funded tournament at his Bedminster, N.J. golf course, Trump said there was no link between Saudi Arabia and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But the families of 9/11 were dumbfounded by Trump’s support of the sponsor. Trump’s event took place within the shadow of ground zero. Meanwhile, 9/11 victims’ families still await some sense of accountability. That they believe they will get it from either Trump or MBS is unfortunate.
Trump defends Saudi-backed golf event
In sponsoring the Saudi-funded tournament at his Bedminster, N.J. golf course, Trump demurred. He suggested there was no link between Saudi Arabia and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Families of victims have urged fellow Americans to protest the event. According to MSNBC, Trump suggested, that “there was still uncertainty surrounding the attacks.” Some 15 years later, during his first presidential campaign in 2016, he had clearly blamed the Saudis for the attacks.
Since 9/11, Trump has created a bizarre record of his pronouncements about that horrific event. He even said he’d personally tried to help at Ground Zero in New York. There is no such record of this. He was mostly concerned that the felling of the Twin Towers allowed him to boast of the height of one of his nearby properties. By 2019, Trump said he’d predicted the rise of Osama bin Laden, the Saudi mastermind behind 9/11.
As background, the Bedminster golf event was set up in opposition to the Professional Golf Association. It is sponsored by the Saudi Public Investment Fund. Some prominent PGA players bolted to play with the Saudi group. Even superstar golfer Phil Mickelson agreed to play in the Saudi tournament. The PGA has suspended Mickelson and 16 other players for playing in that tournament.
9/11 victims’ families protest Trump’s Bedminster event
The families of those killed on 9/11 were very displeased by the event unfolding at Bedminster. They were dumbfounded by Trump’s support of the sponsor, Saudi Arabia. The event took place in New Jersey, within the shadow of ground zero. Over 700 residents of their state had perished in the attacks. Trump’s response was that nobody had yet gotten to the bottom of 9/11.
Recall that Trump’s first overseas trip as President was to Riyadh. There, he threw his full support behind the Kingdom, especially to crown prince Mohamed bin Salman (MBS). Trump had already bragged to author Bob Woodward about his help for MBS. He claimed he’d saved MBS from U.S. congressional scrutiny after Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. Most reporters believed MBS ordered the journalist’s murder.
One protester exclaimed in an ad, according to a Yahoo report, “This golf tournament is taking place 50 miles from Ground Zero.” Trump, meanwhile, averred, “Nobody’s gotten to the bottom of 9/11, unfortunately.” The protester’s ad continues, accusing golfers who bolted the PGA of “taking blood money.” He urged viewers to call Bedminster to tell them it was wrong to host the Saudi event. The ‘blood money’ includes $250 million in prize money from the Saudi fund.
Protesters had a strong vested interest. They were acting on the knowledge that 15 of the 19 hijackers who perpetrated 9/11 were Saudis. The hijackers had commandeered four U.S. passenger flights to take down the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and another government building in Washington D.C. The fourth airplane was crashed to the ground by brave passengers in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It never made it to its target in D.C.
Like ‘Stop the Steal,’ Trump still defends his support of MBS
So, on denying the established findings of the 9/11 commission, Trump continued to rail against the supposed perpetrators. According to the N.Y. Post, he repeated a previous diatribe, saying, “the maniacs that did this horrible thing to our city, to our country, to our world” need to be brought to justice. Trump knows full well who the perpetrators were—that was settled long ago.
In a letter from the victims’ families to Trump, they pointed out the irony of his recent confusion on 9/11. The letter reminded him that “even Trump himself had once accused the kingdom of being behind the atrocity.” The Post quoted from a Fox News 2016 interview with Trump—“Who blew up the World Trade Center? It wasn’t the Iraqis — it was Saudi. Take a look at Saudi Arabia. Open the documents.”
Instead, Trump shifted the topic to the golf event, saying, “there are a lot of really great people that are out here today, and we’re gonna have a lot of fun. We’re going to celebrate and money’s going to charity,” Trump continued. Of course, we know what happened to many of the charitable donations Trump had made in the past. In those cases, the charity ended up on its own doorstep.
Of course, with Trump, it’s always about money. Rolling Stone characterized the golf event as, “Yet again, the only thing standing between former President Trump and a public stance is a signature on a check.” That magazine described the Saudi-backed tour as an effort by the Kingdom to use the event as a “’sports-washing’ to rehabilitate its public image.”
Meanwhile, 9/11 victims’ families still await some sense of accountability. That they believe they will get it from either Trump or MBS is unfortunate. These two are individuals cut from the very same cloth. Truth is not part of their warp or woof.
“Trump defends hosting Saudi-backed golf event,” MSNBC, 7/29/2022
“Trump’s Saudi-Backed Golf Tournament Begins in N.J. amid Protests from Families of 9/11 Victims,” Yahoo, 7/29/2002
“Donald Trump says ‘nobody’s gotten to the bottom of 9/11’ at Saudi-backed tournament,” New York Post, 7/28/2022
“Hosting Saudi Golf Tourney, Trump Has Forgotten He Used to Blame Kingdom for 9/11,” Rolling Stone, 7/28/2022
John Mason, PhD., who focuses on Arab culture, society, and history, is the author of LEFT-HANDED IN AN ISLAMIC WORLD: An Anthropologist’s Journey into the Middle East, New Academia Publishing, 2017. He has taught at the University of Libya, Benghazi, Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, and the American University in Cairo; John served with the United Nations in Tripoli, Libya, and consulted extensively on socioeconomic and political development for USAID and the World Bank in 65 countries.
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