A coalition of families and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks said they would protest outside the “front door” of Augusta National Golf Club if the institution did not reconsider its decision to invite golfers who have played in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf. series at the Masters in April.
A number of golfers who have been on the LIV Golf tour have been invited, including world No. 3 Cam Smith, Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson, one of six former Masters champions to have been on the controversial tour.
“In the aftermath of 9/11, our country agreed that we would never forget that horrible day,” 9/11 Families United said in a news release Tuesday.
“The only reason the Saudis started LIV was to try to make the world forget who they are and what they did, including their role in 9/11. Anyone who truly swore to ‘never forget’ should be appalled at the decision of these golfers to put money before their own country.
“On behalf of 9/11 Families United, we are calling on Augusta National to reconsider its open door policy for LIV golfers. If they are welcomed with open arms, we will be on their doorstep protesting in April.
The Augusta National spokeswoman did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Fifteen of the 19 al-Qaeda terrorists who hijacked four planes on September 11, 2001 were Saudi nationals, but the Saudi government has long denied any involvement in the attacks.
In 2004, the 9/11 Commission established by Congress said it had found “no evidence that the Saudi government, either as an institution or senior Saudi officials, individually funded” al-Qaeda.
Still, families of the victims have pushed for new revelations, and last year the FBI released a document that details the agency’s work to investigate alleged logistical support that a Saudi consular official and a security agent suspected Saudi intelligence in Los Angeles provided at least two hijackers.
Ahead of LIV Golf’s first event in London in June, Terry Strada, the national chairman of 9/11 Families United, called on Mickelson, DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Kevin Na to drop out of the event. The six golfers are invited to the Masters in April.
In June, Mickelson said he had “deep empathy” for the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
“I would say to the Strada family, I would say to anyone who lost loved ones, lost friends on 9/11, that I have deep, deep empathy for them. I can’t stress that enough,” he said. declared the big winner six times when questioned by journalists during a press conference.
“I have the deepest sympathy and empathy for them.”
At the time, Strada, whose husband Tom died in the World Trade Center’s North Tower collapse, said Mickelson “knows exactly what he’s doing.”
“He and his fellow LIV golfers should be ashamed of themselves.”
The LIV Golf Series is backed by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia, a sovereign wealth fund chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.