Amid new allegations that about a dozen prominent Saudi businessmen were financing al Qaeda through international accounts, U.S. lawmakers called for the Bush administration to investigate whether Saudi money made it into the hands of two of the Sept. 11 hijackers.
ABCNEWS has learned that at least 12 Saudi businessmen were financing al Qaeda through accounts in Cyprus, Switzerland and Malaysia, among other countries. U.S. officials told ABCNEWS that a full investigation into the allegations was under way and that there may be criminal charges filed before the end of the year.
The latest revelations followed weekend reports that money from the Saudi royal family was indirectly funneled to the 9/11 hijackers.
In a report published in Newsweek, the magazine alleged that money from an account in the name of Princess Haifa al-Faisal, wife of the Saudi ambassador to Washington, reached the hijackers.
Following the report, U.S. lawmakers have been calling for investigations into the alleged money trail from Saudi bank accounts.
Speaking on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America today, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., promised to "look under every rock" to pursue the allegations "because we believe there's a lot of information there."
Shelby also hinted that U.S.-Saudi relations were especially strained due to the new allegations. "We have, at best, not a great relationship with the Saudis," he said. "It's transactional and we should keep that in mind."
But Saudi officials have denied allegations that the royal family had any connections to the hijackers, dismissing the allegations as "crazy."
Speaking on Good Morning America today, Saudi Foreign Policy Adviser Adel al-Jubeir said his country was cooperating with the United States in the war on terror "like no other country in the world."
"It is unfortunate that some people who should know better are trying to make political hay out of something that is fiction," he said.
Studying Account Reports
Over the weekend, Saudi officials were studying account records for the princess to determine whether thousands of dollars were channeled to the 9/11 hijackers.
Of the 19 hijackers, 15 came from Saudi Arabia.
Officials said that Princess al-Faisal — wife of Saudi Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and daughter of the late King Faisal — sent checks for tens of thousands of dollars to the wife of a man named Osama Basnan.
But Saudi officials say the money was transferred to help Basnan's wife with her medical expenses.
Basnan's wife however endorsed some checks over to Omar al-Bayoumi, who Newsweek reports may have given money to Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, two of the hijackers that crashed into the Pentagon.
Saudis Say 2 Men Were Released
Officials said that the princess did give money to the wife of a Saudi man in San Diego. But the Saudis said there was no evidence that money made its way into the hands of Almidhar and Alhazmi.
"To think that Princess Haifa, whose father was murdered by a terrorist in 1995, who's a mother, who is a grandmother, would write checks to people who give it to terrorists is crazy," al-Jubeir told ABCNEWS' This Week on Sunday.
Al-Jubeir also denied allegations that Basnan and al-Bayoumi had fled to Saudi Arabia.
Speaking on Good Morning America today, the Saudi foreign policy advisor said al-Bayoumi was detained in Britain, but the British authorities and the FBI "let him go."