The allegations of Saudi government complicity with the attacks on September 11,
2001, have long been the subject of dispute in Washington. Fifteen of the 19 al Qaeda
terrorists who hijacked four planes were Saudi nationals, but the Saudi government
has denied any involvement in the attacks. The 9/11 Commission established by
Congress said in 2004 that it had found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an
institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded” al Qaeda.
Still, the victims’ families have pushed for further disclosures, and last year the FBI
released a document that details the FBI’s work to investigate the alleged logistical
support that a Saudi consular official and a suspected Saudi intelligence agent in Los
Angeles provided to at least two hijackers.
Fronted by former world No. 1 Greg Norman, the team-based LIV series is backed by
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) — a sovereign wealth fund chaired by
Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
— and has pledged to award $250 million in total prize money. Tournaments are held
over 54 holes, rather
than the PGA Tour’s 72 holes, and there are no players cut during tournament play.
The huge sums of money up for grabs and less demanding requirements spurred a
number of golfers — many in the twilight of their careers — to break away from the
PGA Tour and join LIV, including six-time major winner Phil Mickelson, four-time
major champion Brooks Koepka and former world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.
LIV is expected to hold six further events across the world in the coming months,
including at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, as well as in
Boston, Chicago and Miami.
A coalition of families and survivors of 9/11 on June 10 sent an open letter to several
players competing in the LIV Golf series, calling on them to reconsider their
Brett Eagleson, whose father died on 9/11, said at Thursday’s news conference he
plans to be at Bedminster next month to protest.
“One important message to these LIV golfers and the Kingdom is that we’re not going
anywhere. Every tournament you’re going to have to deal with us in bigger numbers,
more stories, from the families,” Eagleson said. “We’re going to be in your face for
every tournament that is on US soil.”
A spokesperson for LIV Golf said in a statement, “We have tremendous respect and
sympathy for the families of anyone whose loved one was killed on September 11,
2001. Al Qaeda’s attack on the United States was a national tragedy. We continue to
believe that sports, including golf, are an important way to bring change to the world.
… Golf is a force for good that entertains and teaches the values of fair play,
competition, and excellence through hard work.”