Trump Hosts LIV Saudi Golf Tour at New Jersey Course, Outrages 9/11 Families | National

NEW YORK — News has hit 9/11 families as hard as a fairway wood and far too close to home: Ex-President Donald Trump’s hosting of the Saudi-funded LIV golf tour Arabia, coming on its course from New Jersey just 42 miles from Ground Zero.

The controversial new operation arrives July 29 for three days at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, in a state where 750 residents have died inside the World Trade Center and injuries remain raw. Local residents who lost loved ones in the attack are infuriated by Trump’s endorsement of LIV given Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and alleged links to the terror attack.

“For members of the 9/11 family, it’s another kick in the gut after 21 years,” said Dennis McGinley, whose brother Danny perished on the 89th floor when the 110-story twin towers collapsed. collapsed. “It’s incomprehensible, the fact that a former president welcomes the Saudis. Helping them start their new golf league? It’s absurd.”

Dozens of 9/11 family members are planning a protest at the Garden State course, much like a group did when the tour made its US debut last month in Portland, Oregon. The arrival of Trump, who was in Manhattan when the skyscrapers collapsed one September morning, has only deepened their ranks.

“It’s hard for me to be even angrier after the things I’ve seen Trump do,” said Terrease Aiken, 29, who lost his father Terrance a week after starting work on the 97th floor of the WTC. “So I’m not surprised that it was him who supported this. It’s hurtful of course.

“Honestly, it’s disgusting if you ask me,” she continued. “But surprising? Nope.”

Trump will roll out the welcome mat just six weeks before the anniversary of the attacks that killed 2,763 people in lower Manhattan. And he’s also hosting the final event of the LIV season in Miami on his Trump National Doral course at the end of October, with stars like Phil Mickelson (who reportedly won $200m from the Saudis) and Bryson DeChambeau ($125m) likely to take part. appear at events. .

“To me, that’s wrong,” said attorney Jim Kreindler, co-chairman of the plaintiffs’ panel representing families in litigation seeking to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for its alleged role in the attacks.

“Every president should stand with families until the day Saudi Arabia is held accountable. Until then, it won’t be love, kisses and business as usual.

An email to a Trump spokeswoman commenting on the event was not returned, and it is unclear whether Trump would attend.

The LIV, funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, was quickly denounced by critics as “sportswashing” – using its golf tour to distract from allegations of its human rights record.

Harsh critics have denounced LIV golfers for fattening their bank accounts with a fortune in Saudi “blood money”.

“I don’t know what makes taking millions and millions of dollars from a government that has consistently devalued human life good,” Aiken said. “I don’t know what this can be used for, unless you make a donation to the families of the victims injured by this government.”

Furious family members note that 15 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi citizens, while recently declassified US intelligence reports linked some of the terrorists to Saudi nationals.

And US intelligence found that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman backed the 2018 beheading of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Embassy in Turkey, while Amnesty International recently cited 92 Saudi executions in during the first three months of 2022.

The Saudis have denied any role in 9/11 or the killing of Khashoggi.

Trump’s alliance with the fledgling Saudi Tour was forged out of spite, a year after the PGA of America severed ties with the incumbent president following the Jan. 6, 2021 riot where his violent supporters took to the streets. storming the US Capitol.

And the Trump-LIV couple contradicts his earlier suggestion that the Saudis were linked to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack.

“Who blew up the World Trade Center? Trump asked during a Feb. 17, 2016, appearance on Fox News. “It wasn’t the Iraqis, it was the Saudis – look at Saudi Arabia, open the documents.”

More recently, news emerged that his son-in-law Jared Kushner had received a $2 billion investment from the Saudi government in a venture launched last year by the former White House adviser.

For McGinley, 56, now in a third decade without his brother, Trump’s Saudi partnership remains a crushing slap in the face to the 9/11 community.

“It’s beyond tone deaf,” he said. “Almost like a big ‘F-you, I’m paid.’ He’s as insensitive as golfers – worse. He was the president.”

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Denise W. Whigham