Saudi-backed golf event for 9/11 families is ‘another atrocity’

BEDMINSTER, NJ – A sad and tearful group of protesters stood between two American flags behind the public library, a stark contrast to the celebration at a golf tournament three miles down the road. They made their announcements and publicized their cause, but refused to march to the gates of Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster.

“We’re glad people are paying attention to this issue,” said Jay Winuk, one of the organizers of the protest. “There is no reason to go to the scene of another atrocity.”

The group, a group of family members of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, strongly opposed a Saudi-backed golf tournament being held this weekend at a club owned by former President Donald Trump.

The group, 9/11 Justice, is seeking to prosecute Saudi government officials they allege supported terrorists. They are angry that Trump once agreed that the Saudi government was responsible, but changed his mind to cash in on Saudi Arabia’s efforts to clean up the country’s global image through sports.

“How much money does it take to turn your back on your country, the American people?” said Juliet Scauso, who was 4 years old when her father, firefighter Dennis Scauso, was killed in the attacks.

For days, LIV golfers and Trump have defended their decisions to join the separatist tour and receive millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, which is overseen by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Critics of the tour say it is yet another example of Saudi citizens “sportswashing” the atrocities attributed to them – supporting the 9/11 terrorists, the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the oppression of women and members of the LGBTQ community.

Trump, who blamed Saudi Arabia for the 9/11 attacks as a presidential candidate in 2016, said Thursday that “sadly, nobody got to the bottom of 9/11.”

Protesters had a chance to fire back at both Trump and the golfers on Friday. Many have accused the golfers of cowardice for expressing sympathy for their cause while still accepting money from LIV Golf.

“You take the position that you condone the actions of Saudi Arabia, or, just as bad, that you’re so incredibly greedy and arrogant that you don’t really care about these atrocities,” Scauso said.

Organizers came to the rally armed with copies of declassified FBI documents that they say show a clear link between 12 Saudi government officials and the terrorists in the months leading up to the attacks.

“It’s simple,” said Tim Frohlich, who was in the South Tower on 9/11. “The Saudis did it. They conspired, financed, and are now trying to distract each of them with a golf tournament 50 miles from ground zero. It’s unfortunate.”

The group called on golf fans to boycott LIV Golf and golfers and asked anyone doing business with the Saudis, including broadcasters, to reconsider. On Friday morning at the nearby Marriott, which serves as the tour’s headquarters for its Bedminster stop, members of the group approached David Feherty, the former golf analyst for CBS and NBC who has run to join the tour despite not having a US television contract. . yet.

Brett Eagleson, president of 9/11 Justice, asked Feherty if he would listen to golfers about the choices they made.

“He was actually really receptive,” Eagleson said. “He was really open to working with us and partnering with us rather than being combative. I hope.”

But Eagleson was far less conciliatory toward Trump, who he said was more to blame than the golfers because, as a former commander-in-chief, he should have known better. Eagleson was part of a group that met with Trump at the White House on September 11, 2019. They said Trump urged them to keep working, which they did vigorously on Friday.

Eagleson said Trump’s statement that “nobody got to the bottom of 9/11” infuriated victims’ families beyond their already simmering anger.

“Our loved ones are heroes,” he said, “the goalies and the former president are cowards.”

As the protesters spoke, several passing cars honked their horns in support, but several drivers shouted in support of Trump, and one yelled at family members to go home.

Winuck, whose brother, Glenn Winuck, a volunteer firefighter, was killed in the attacks, called the Saudi funds “blood money” and warned that whoever received it would carry its “stink” forever.

“LIV Golf?” she said. “For me and a lot of us, it’s more like the golf of death.”

Several members of the group, including former Trump supporters, took turns walking up to the podium and berating the Saudis, the golfers and the former president. When asked what else he had planned for the group, Eagleson broke down as he explained the exhaustion he and others in the organization were feeling.

“I’m tired of fighting,” she said through tears.

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