Dozens of 9/11 families protested “painful” Saudi golf event hosted by Trump

BEDMINISTER, NJ (AFP) – For Brett Eggelson, this week’s Saudi-backed golf event at the Trump National is an insult: It takes place only miles from where kidnappers killed his father on 9/11.

“It’s very disrespectful, it hurts, it hurts,” Eggelson, who was 15 when his father died in the rubble of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, told AFP.

The 36-year-old heads the 9/11 Justice, a group that accuses Saudi Arabia of complicity in the atrocity – allegations the Saudi government has denied.

Former US President Donald Trump’s course in Bedminster, New Jersey, less than 50 miles (80 kilometers) from Ground Zero, is hosting its third LIV Golf event this weekend.

Eagleson was among a few dozen relatives of victims and survivors of the al-Qaeda attacks, which killed 3,000 people, gathered near the course on Friday ahead of the three-day tournament.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers involved in the coordinated attacks on New York and Washington were Saudi citizens. An FBI memo issued last year indicated official Saudi involvement.

Former US President Donald Trump plays during the pro round of the Bedminster Invitational LIV Golf Championship in Bedminster, New Jersey, Thursday, July 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Trump himself claimed in 2016 while running for president that Saudi Arabia was responsible, without providing any evidence.

“[Now] Referring to the number of New Jersey residents killed on 9/11, Eggelson said he chose to host the kingdom at his backyard turn where 750 people were killed.

“It’s incredibly infuriating,” he said.

Funded by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, LIV has sought to attract top golfers from PGA and DP World with contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Human rights groups say the project is a “sports washing” exercise used to boost Saudi Arabia’s international reputation. The organizers insist that their goal is to promote the popularity of golf around the world.

An avid golfer, Trump has emerged as an outspoken defender of the LIV, urging players to “take the money” and sign with the ring.

A group of 9/11 family members and 9/11 justice survivors hold a press conference in Bedminster, New Jersey, on July 29, 2022 (Timothy A. Clary/AFP)

Trump played on the pro Thursday in Bedminster, alongside two of the LIV’s top recruits – headliners Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson.

He shrugged off criticism from the 9/11 families in an interview with the Wall Street Journal last week.

Money is above morals

But Eggelson says Trump’s involvement will hurt him politically as he considers whether he will run for the White House again in 2024.

“Some of the biggest defenders of 9/11 are members of the FDNY family and the NYPD. Those were big Trump supporters. Well, not anymore.

LIV organizers previously said the 9/11 families “have our deepest sympathies,” but that “we believe golf is a force for good around the world.”

For Tim Frolich, who was injured on 9/11, the tournament reopened old wounds.

“I had a hard time sleeping last night, just rage,” the 58-year-old told AFP, while their relatives carried pictures of their departed loved ones and wore T-shirts that said “Never Forget”.

A group of 9/11 family members and 9/11 justice survivors hold a press conference in Bedminster, New Jersey, on July 29, 2022 (Timothy A. Clary/AFP)

Eagleson’s father, Bruce Eagleson, was at a meeting on the 17th floor of the South Tower when hijackers rammed United Airlines Flight 175 into the skyscraper. He was 53 years old.

Eagleson says his father was a big fan of golf, and his favorite player was Phil Mickelson, one of the first players to defect to Lev.

“I don’t know how he lives with himself,” Eagleson said of Mickelson. “He literally chooses to take the money over any moral sense.”

More protests are planned for upcoming LIV events in Boston, Chicago and Miami, and the latest tournament is being held in another Trump tournament.

“We’re not going away anytime soon,” said Eggelson.

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