Boston-bin Laden ties scrutinized
BY DENISE LAVOIE Associated Press
Sep 13, 2001
Police officers stand guard near the Westin Hotel in Boston's Back Bay district on
Wednesday while a heavily armed FBI team stormed the hotel in search of suspects in Tuesday's
attacks in New York and near Washington. The Boston Globe said three people were taken into
custody, but the FBI said no arrests were made.
STEVEN SENNE / Associated Press
Osama bin Laden
Below: The rich Saudi exile who is believed to be living in Afghanistan has had family members living in the Boston area for the past decade. His ties to Boston are now being reviewed closely as authorities focus their investigation on terrorist cells with possible ties to him.
BOSTON -- Terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden has strong family ties and a group of
supporters in Boston, where the two hijacked airliners that demolished the World Trade Center
One of bin Laden's brothers set up scholarship funds at Harvard, while another relative owns
six condominiums in an expensive complex in Charlestown, just outside Boston. Two bin Laden
associates once worked as Boston cab drivers, including one who was jailed in Jordan on charges
of plotting to blow up a hotel full of Americans and Israelis.
Bin Laden's ties to Boston are being scrutinized closely as authorities focus their
investigation on terrorist cells with likely ties to him, said Robert Fitzpatrick, the former
second in command at the FBI's Boston office.
"The activity of this group here is obviously significant," he said.
Investigators are interviewing drivers from Boston Cab Co., where two
known associates of bin Laden once worked, to see if they had ties to baggage handlers who, in
turn, may have supplied weapons to the hijackers, Fitzpatrick said.
"They are going to look at the cab drivers again -- since they are predominantly Middle
Eastern -- and they are going to look at a possible link between them and the baggage
handlers," he said, based on information from law enforcement officers. "They could thwart the
security by having a baggage handler put the material aboard the plane. That link is being
Bin Laden, a rich Saudi exile who is believed to be living in Afghanistan, also has had
family members living in the Boston area for the past decade.
In 1994, one of his brothers, Sheik Bakr Mohammed bin Laden, made a large donation to
Harvard Law School to fund visiting scholars to do research in Islamic legal studies.
Harvard Law spokesman Michael Armini would not disclose the gift amount, but typically it
takes about $1 million to establish a research fellow
ship. The sheik established a second scholarship at the Harvard School of Design.
Harvard officials were quick to distance the school from Osama bin Laden, emphasizing that
he has no role in the scholarship programs.
Stephen Walt, a professor of international politics at the JFK School of Government at
Harvard, likened the relationship of the bin Laden brothers to that of University of
Massachusetts President William Bulger and his brother, reputed mobster James "Whitey" Bulger,
who is among the FBI's 10 Most Wanted.
Juliette Kayyem, a former member of the National Commission on Terrorism, theorized about
why Boston might have attracted bin Laden's supporters.
"Our proximity to the Canadian border and Boston being a big city where people can hide is
likely why Boston became the center," she said. "Also being on the Eastern Seaboard, we have
wide-bodied jets with large fuel tanks. When you don't have other weapons, that's your weapon."