As the 2023 Masters approaches, the national chairman of 9/11 Families United has sent a letter to Augusta National Golf Club chairman Fred Ridley asking to speak to him about the club’s decision of Saudi Arabia to allow LIV golfers to participate in next week’s tournament.
“Countless Americans have said they will ‘never forget’ what happened on 9/11, but those words mean nothing without action,” wrote Terry Strada, whose husband Tom was killed at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, to Ridley in the letter, which was emailed Monday and obtained by USA TODAY Sports. “You have the power to stand with the 9/11 community and show that you have not forgotten your fellow Americans.
“That is your decision. I hope you will consider my request to speak to you before the tournament so that I can enlighten you on the possible damage caused by the normalization of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the recognition of its servants – no matter how financially advantageous it may be for your club.”
An email seeking comment from a spokesman for Augusta National was not answered Thursday night.
Strada said she and other 9/11 family members will be at The Commerce Club in Atlanta next Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. for a press conference to discuss Augusta National’s decision, announced last December, to include LIV golfers like Phil Mickelson , Dustin Johnson and Bubba Allowed Watson and Sergio Garcia to compete in the upcoming Masters.
No protest is planned at the Masters showgrounds in Augusta, Georgia, during Masters week due to local regulations, she said.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Strada and her fellow survivors will “share our stories and our outrage at the Augusta National Golf Club’s decision to give golfers who have left the PGA (Tour) an international platform to become servants of the Kingdom.” and LIV to help Gulf with Saudi Arabia’s ‘sports wash’ of the Kingdom’s appalling human rights record,” she wrote in her letter to Ridley.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has never been held accountable for its role in the 9/11 attacks,” she said. “It is well documented that Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals. However, you may not be aware of new information uncovered after the Biden administration declassified thousands of U.S. intelligence documents related to the Kingdom’s role in 9/11 prior to the formation of LIV Golf.
“The President’s declassification order uncovered new evidence — unavailable to the 9/11 Commission — that Saudi government officials were providing material and financial support to a US-based assistance network relied on by the hijackers to carry out the attack supported assassination of nearly 3,000 Americans on US soil.”
Saudi money ‘stained with 9/11 blood’
Strada has spent months speaking out against LIV Golf and the golfers who chose to participate in the exhibition-style no-cut golf league funded by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. According to the United Nations and intelligence agencies, bin Salman was the mastermind behind the 2018 assassination and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is now funding LIV Golf and other high-priced sports companies in a transparent attempt to distract the world from its human rights record and the role of its government agents in supporting the hijackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks,” Strada wrote Ridley. “The league’s own advisors have confirmed that one of the league’s main objectives is to improve the Saudis’ standing in the world. Recent court filings also show that the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia spent almost $1 billion on LIV last year and made virtually no profit.
“All Saudi money is stained with 9/11 blood,” Strada continued. “In your role as Chairman of the Augusta (National) Golf Club, it is deeply disappointing that your organization is providing these Saudi-funded golfers with a platform to advance the next chapter of the Saudi sportswear discussions.”
A punch in the face”
For Strada, Augusta National’s decision is “personal” and “a slap in the face,” she said in a recent phone interview.
“Golf is such a big part of our lives,” she said. “Tom and I met at a golf club – Meadow Brook on Long Island – where I worked as a waitress and he was an assistant golfer. I was 19 and he was 21. He was a scratch golfer and dreamed of being a tour player, but after playing in a few amateur tournaments he ended up working on Wall Street instead.”
Terry Strada said her husband would often take their young son and daughter, Thomas and Kaitlyn, to hit balls at Anchor Golf Land near their New Jersey home. Tom admired many top pros back then, but his favorite was Mickelson, a left-hander like Tom.
“We were big Phil Mickelson fans,” she said. “Now he’s the biggest disappointment of all.”
Terry gave birth to the couple’s third child, Justin, on September 7, 2001. She was at home with her children and her mother, who had come to help her with the children, when she saw the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapse. She knew her husband was in his office with Cantor Fitzgerald on the 104th floor.
“Over 3,000 children were left without parents that day,” she said. “My children are three of those thousands. On September 11th they were seven, four and four days old. In honor of Tom, and in honor of all my dear friends who died that day, I have dedicated the last two decades of my life to working to hold those, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, accountable for his murder.”
Now this week, that work includes her public critique of Augusta National, “the only place I would have hoped would have stood up and taken a stand,” she said. Instead, there will be a total of 18 LIV golfers in the field with 89 players.
As she shared with Ridley in her letter, shortly after 9/11, a treasured gift arrived for her golf-loving family:
“Tom, my late husband, loved golf. Our children grow up with joy and respect for sport. In fact, I have a The Masters flag hanging on a wall in my house, given to me by a friend of Tom’s after his death, with a plaque that reads: In memory of Thomas Strada, a ‘master’ of the game.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: The Masters: 9/11 families are planning an event to share the “outrage” about LIV Golf
Source : sports.yahoo.com