A September 3 Edinburgh Evening News report confirmed long-standing speculation that members of the Bin Laden family were flown out of the United States just days after the attack on the World Trade Center. According to reporter Bill Andrews, former White House counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke admitted to assisting the Bush administration in 'the [sanctioned] repatriation of about 140 high-ranking Saudi Arabians, including relatives of the al-Qaida chief.' After receiving a request for the plane's departure, Clarke contacted the FBI, who gave the go-ahead.
Upon special approval, the plane picked up passengers in as many as 10 cities, including Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Houston, and Boston, Andrews writes. Tom Kinton, director of aviation at Boston's Logan Airport, observed that the flight was clearly sanctioned by federal authorities, adding, 'We were in the midst of the worst terrorist act in history and here we were seeing an evacuation of the Bin Ladens.'
Saudi ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who met with President Bush on September 13, 2001, is said to have coordinated the exodus. 'The White House has declined to comment on the claims, but sources said the Bush administration is confident no secret flights took place,' Andrews noted.
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