To 9/11 Households, Saudi-Backed Golf Event Is ‘Another Atrocity’

BEDMINSTER, N.J. — A somber and tearful group of protesters stood between two American flags behind a public library, in stark distinction to the festivities at a golf event three miles down the highway. They made their statements and promoted their trigger, however declined to take the combat to the gates of Trump National Golf Club Bedminster.

“We are pleased that people are refocusing attention on this issue,” mentioned Jay Winuk, one of many protest’s organizers. “There is no reason to go over to the scene where yet another atrocity is taking place.”

The group, a band of members of the family of victims of the 9/11 terrorist assaults, spoke vehemently towards the Saudi-backed LIV Golf event being held this weekend on the membership owned by a former president, Donald J. Trump.

The group, 9/11 Justice, seeks to deliver Saudi Arabian authorities officers, whom they assert supported the terrorists, to judgment. They are infuriated that Trump as soon as agreed that the Saudi authorities was accountable, however has modified his tune, they mentioned, to money in on Saudi efforts to sanitize the nation’s world picture by way of sports activities.

“How much money does it take to turn your back on your country, on the American people?” mentioned Juliette Scauso, who was 4 years previous when her father, the firefighter Dennis Scauso, perished within the assaults.

For days, the LIV golfers and Trump have defended their choices to align with the breakaway tour and settle for hundreds of thousands of {dollars} from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, which is overseen by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Critics of the tour say it’s one other instance of the Saudis “sportswashing” atrocities attributed to them — supporting the 9/11 terrorists, killing the journalist Jamal Khashoggi and oppressing girls and members of the L.G.B.T.Q. neighborhood.

Trump, who as a presidential candidate in 2016 blamed the Saudis for the 9/11 assaults, mentioned on Thursday that “nobody’s gotten to the bottom of 9/11, unfortunately.”

On Friday, the protesters had their likelihood to reply to each Trump and to the golfers. Many accused the golfers of cowardice for proclaiming sympathy with their trigger whereas nonetheless accepting LIV Golf’s cash.

“You are taking a stand that you agree with the actions of Saudi Arabia or, just as bad, that you are so incredibly greedy and callous that you really don’t care about these atrocities,” Scauso mentioned.

The organizers got here to the protest armed with copies of declassified F.B.I. paperwork, which they are saying set up a transparent connection between 12 Saudi authorities officers and the terrorists within the months main as much as the assaults.

“It’s simple,” mentioned Tim Frolich, who was within the South Tower on 9/11. “The Saudis did it. They plotted it, they funded it, and now they are trying to distract every one of those things with a golf tournament 50 miles away from ground zero. It’s deplorable.”

The group urged golf followers to boycott LIV Golf and requested golfers and anybody doing enterprise with the Saudis, together with broadcasters, to rethink. On Friday morning, at a close-by Marriott serving as headquarters for the tour on its Bedminster cease, members of the group approached David Feherty, the previous CBS and NBC golf analyst who has defected to hitch the tour although it has no American broadcast tv contract but.

Brett Eagleson, the president of 9/11 Justice, requested Feherty if he would pay attention and maybe converse to the golfers concerning the selections they’re making.

“He was actually really receptive,” Eagleson mentioned. “He was really open to working with us and having a partnership with us, as opposed to being combative. I’m hopeful.”

But Eagleson was far much less conciliatory about Trump, who he mentioned was extra culpable than the golfers, as a result of, as the previous commander in chief, he ought to know higher. Eagleson was a part of a gaggle that met with Trump on the White House on Sept. 11, 2019. They say Trump urged them to proceed their work, which they did with vigor on Friday.

Eagleson mentioned Trump’s declare that “nobody’s gotten to the bottom of 9/11” outraged the members of the family of victims past their already simmering anger.

“Our loved ones are the heroes,” he mentioned, “and the golfers and the former president are cowards.”

As the protesters spoke, a number of passing vehicles honked horns in assist, however a number of drivers yelled out in assist of Trump and one yelled on the members of the family to go residence.

Winuk, whose brother, Glenn Winuk, a volunteer firefighter, died within the assaults, known as the Saudi funds “blood money” and warned that anybody taking it could carry the “stench” of it endlessly.

“LIV Golf?” he mentioned. “For me and so many more of us, it’s more like death golf.”

Several members of the group, together with former Trump supporters, took turns on the lectern lambasting the Saudis, the golfers and the previous president. When requested what else the group had deliberate, Eagleson broke down whereas explaining the exhaustion he and others within the group felt.

“I’m tired of fighting,” he mentioned by way of the tears.

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