Former US President Donald Trump on Thursday defended his decision to host a controversial Saudi Arabia-funded golfing event, ignoring the outrage from the families of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC.
He made the remarks at a pro-am game held on the eve of the third LIV Golf tournament, which will take place between July 29-31 at the Trump National Golf Bedminster course in New Jersey, located around 80 kilometers (50 miles) from where the Twin Towers once stood.
“Nobody has gotten to the bottom of 9/11 unfortunately, and they should have,” Trump told the ESPN sports channel, adding that those responsible for the attack were “maniacs that did that horrible thing to our city, to our country, to the world.”
Family members of the victims have condemned Trump’s decision and have asked him to cancel the tournament, which will include golf stars like Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson.
Terry Strada, chair of 9/11 Families United, a coalition of families and survivors of the 2001 attacks, said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is using professional golfers to change the image of the Saudi government.
“The Crown Prince…is exploiting them to improve the Saudi Kingdom’s image in the US by associating the Kingdom with a respected and time-honored sport to distract attention from its role in unleashing extremisms on the world, terrorizing our children, murdering our loved ones and injuring thousands of survivors,”
Family members allege that the Saudi government’s involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks is undeniable. Fifteen of the 19 al-Qaeda terrorists who hijacked four planes were Saudi nationals.
Trump has said that the event will take place.
“I can tell you that there are a lot of really great people that are out here today, and we’re gonna have a lot of fun, and we’re going to celebrate,” he said.