Families of 9/11 victims are asking New York City Mayor Eric Adams to rescind approval of a Saudi-funded golf tournament scheduled to reportedly take place at a Donald Trump-owned golf course in New York in October.
The Aramco Team Series women’s golf tournament in question is scheduled to take place in New York October 13-15, according to the tournament’s official website. The website does not indicate where in New York the tournament will take place, but The Washington Post and The New York Times, citing city officials, have reported it will be held at Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in the Bronx.
“9/11 Justice is calling for New York City Mayor Adams, to stay away from Ground Zero and any and all other 9/11 memorials and events unless his office rescinds its approval of the Saudi funded Aramco Golf Series coming to New York City in October at the Trump Links (Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point) course,” 9/11 families advocate Brett Eagleson said in a statement on Friday.
CNN has reached out to the Trump Organization and the Aramco Team Series for comment.
The request follows outcry from advocacy groups and media outlets who have called for support of LIV Golf tournaments to be rescinded over Saudi Arabia’s alleged human rights violations and the 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. It also comes weeks before the 21st anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, in which allegations of Saudi government complicity have long been the subject of dispute in Washington.
The Aramco Team Series is a golf series financed by Saudi Arabia’s state oil company Aramco, the same organization that sponsors the LIV Golf tournament.
“The fact that this news is breaking less than two weeks before 9/11 on the heels of the LIV tournament in Bedminster, I just think that the entire 9/11 community has had it,” Eagleson, whose father Bruce was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center, told CNN on Saturday. “It’s egregious, it’s in your face and its tone-deaf.”
Trump, who has brushed aside criticism of LIV Golf, has benefited from his professional relationship with the golf tour, especially after officials at PGA of America pulled the 2022 PGA Championship from Trump’s Bedminster course following the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol. During an interview with The Wall Street Journal last month, he spoke approvingly about how the golf tour has improved the kingdom’s reputation and called it “a great thing for Saudi Arabia.”
City says it can’t break deal
Adams’ press secretary Fabien Levy told CNN, “While we disagree with the values of the Trump Organization, we cannot legally block their application.” New York City officials also said that the tournament was agreed upon during former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration and that the current administration cannot break the agreement.
“As the decision in the previous administration’s court case displayed, contractually, the city is obligated to follow the terms of the Trump Ferry license agreement and cannot unreasonably withhold approval of this tournament,” NYC Law Department’s Nick Paolucci told CNN Friday.
Michael Cardozo, former New York City Corporation Counsel and current partner at Proskauer, said the city is “obligated to comply with the express terms of the contract it has entered into” and although it does not want the golf tournament to be held, it does not give it “the right to prohibit the Trump Organization from allowing the tournament to be held.”
Eagleson, who urged officials to cancel the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series tournament held at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, last month, said he’s not suggesting that the city break any legal contracts but that the city take a stronger position.
“I think that the mayor should consider meeting with some members of the 9/11 community,” Eagleson said, adding that a meeting with the community would show that he’s willing to work with them to come up with a solution.
The allegations of Saudi government complicity with the attacks on September 11, 2001, have long been the subject of dispute in Washington. Fifteen of the 19 al Qaeda terrorists who hijacked four planes were Saudi nationals, but the Saudi government has denied any involvement in the attacks.
The 9/11 Commission established by Congress said in 2004 that it had found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded” al Qaeda.
Still, the victims’ families have pushed for further disclosures, and last year, the FBI released a document that details its work to investigate the alleged logistical support that a Saudi consular official and a suspected Saudi intelligence agent in Los Angeles provided to at least two hijackers.
Golf Saudi, owner of the Aramco Team Series, sponsors a monthly 30-minute golf show on CNN International.
CORRECTION: The headline and story have been updated to accurately characterize the role the New York City mayor’s office had in approving the tournament application.
CNN’s Chandelis Duster, Liam Reilly and Michael Warren contributed to this report.