Atlanta Press Conference Remarks
Terry Strada Remarks
Good morning. My name is Terry Strada and I am the National Chair of 9/11 Families United. I am proud to be joined today by Matthew Bocchi who will also make remarks.
On September 11, 2001, the United States suffered the worst terrorist attack in our nation’s history when 19 mostly Saudi terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners and murdered 2,977 innocent people.
Thousands more were injured and over two thousand rescue workers have lost their lives in the months and years after from exposure to toxic air among the ruins of the World Trade Center.
My husband Tom was among those murdered that day. He was 41 years old. He left behind our three children, who were seven, four and four days old. Terrorism frightened all of us to our core and created challenges in our lives we work to overcome; fear, anxiety, depression, loneliness and profound sadness.
Since 2002, along with the other 9/11 family members and survivors, I have committed my time and effort to bringing to justice any nation, individual, and institution responsible for the murder of my husband, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
In the weeks, months, and years after September 11th, as difficult as they have been, I drew some comfort knowing that even though division existed in our country on many issues, when it came to 9/11, there was uniform agreement on two words – “Never Forget.”
Sadly, 21 years later, some of our top American golfers have forgotten the pain and suffering perpetrated on the 9/11 community and have chosen to ignore that simple but powerful phrase as they were enticed by the riches being offered by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Since the Saudi-funded LIV Golf Tour began last year, the 9/11 community has been outspoken in its conviction that LIV is nothing more than a PR stunt by the Kingdom designed to take the long, time-honored sport of golf and create a sportswashing entity aimed at diverting attention away from the Kingdom’s support for terrorism, offensive human rights record and murders by offering a platform to legitimize Saudi Arabia as a respectable regime on the world stage.
These LIV golfers made a choice to turn their backs on their country, and the 9/11 community by partnering with the Kingdom and agreeing to use golf to try to improve Saudi Arabia’s tainted image.
Worse, they knew exactly who they were getting in bed with, yet they simply did not care. Let me remind you what Phil Mickelson told one writer about the Saudis when he thought he was speaking privately – “They’re scary motherf—ers to get involved with. We know they killed Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay.”
Yet just days later, Phil partnered with the Kingdom for a reported $200 million dollar contract.
By allowing Phil and numerous fellow Saudi-backed LIV golfers to play in The Masters this week and giving them an opportunity to possibly don the coveted green jacket, Augusta National is giving Saudi Arabia exactly what they want, and we do not, an international platform to perpetuate this malicious PR stunt. It is a decision that should be roundly condemned.
In addition to former President Trump, who has also turned his back on the families by hosting LIV Golf events for another big paycheck, Augusta is now another heartfelt disappointment to the thousands of family members and survivors of 9/11.
As disappointing, frustrating, and angering as these callous decisions to benefit the Saudis are, I am proud to say that over the last 21 years, we have made great strides in our pursuit of justice.
With tens of thousands of pages of U.S. Intelligence Agency reports finally declassified by President Biden beginning in 2021, we now know the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in addition to funding al Qaeda, had government agents on its payroll who played a direct role in these attacks.
If you were previously unfamiliar with these declassified government documents, we are providing copies today. They are also available on our website – 911familiesunited.org
I hope you will read through them, and we hope you will ask the LIV golf players about them.
It is well documented that Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens. However, you may not be aware of new information revealed in these reports, which were not available to the 9/11 Commission – that officials in the Saudi government provided material and financial support for a U.S.-based network of assistance that the hijackers relied upon in order to carry out the deadly attacks. From housing, English lessons, flight lessons and bank accounts to car rentals and airline tickets… everything they needed to plot, practice, and ultimately carry out the murder of nearly 3,000 Americans on American soil was provided by a support network created by the Kingdom’s paid government agents working in the Ministry of Islamic affairs located in the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C.
For over 20 years, along with members of the 9/11 community, I have fought to learn these truths and to share them with the world so that the United States can enact policies to better protect its citizens going forward.
That is why no one standing here today can question our moral authority, outrage, and disappointment in Augusta National’s decision to give the Saudi-backed LIV golfers an international platform.
Let me close with an even more personal reflection – my late husband Tom was a scratch golfer, and he loved the game. In fact, Phil Mickelson was one of his favorites.
Tom spent every possible weekend taking our two oldest children Thomas and Kaitlyn to hit balls at Anchor Golf Land in East Hanover, New Jersey. It was a fun outing for the kids to hit balls with their dad and then we would all play a round of Putt-Putt together as a family.
About a month after 9/11, I opened my front door to find a set of children’s golf clubs complete with a snoopy golf bag and a note from the owners of Anchor Golf offering their condolences adding, they wanted baby Justin to have a set of clubs to hit balls with when he got older just like his dad would have wanted.
After 9/11, I tried to keep Tom’s love for the game a part of my children’s upbringing. All the values golf teaches a young person — integrity, dedication, patience, confidence, and focus were important to me as a single parent to instill in my children without a father as best I could.
That is why everything about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s billion-dollar campaign to use golf to distract from its appalling record is deeply offensive to me, my family and the 9/11 community.
Years ago, I asked former Senate Intelligence Chairman, Bob Graham if he thought the work we were doing would have an impact? He replied, “Never give up, the 9/11 families are the only ones’ brave enough to challenge the Kingdom.”
We stand here today, not intimidated by the Kingdom’s bully tactics, hollow proclamations of innocence or billion-dollar sportswashing campaign. We are proud Americans who put country first.
We carry the battle scars of September 11 in our souls and will never stop fighting for the justice we deserve or forget those taken from us way too soon, and we implore Augusta National to rethink their decision to allow these Saudi servants a world stage and not permit them to partake in future Masters tournaments.
Matthew Bocchi Remarks
Good morning, everyone. My name is Matthew Bocchi, and it is an honor to speak in front of you all this morning. I feel compelled to share my story so that the world may forever remember those we lost on September 11th. We vowed never to forget, and sadly, the LIV golfers seem to have forgotten the lives taken and the destruction caused on that horrific September day. I am here today on behalf of myself and my family and out of respect for my father. I have vowed to keep his legacy alive; this is another way I can live up to that promise.
When I was nine, I lost my father, John Bocchi, on September 11th. My dad worked on the 105th floor of the North Tower at Cantor Fitzgerald. When Flight 11 impacted his tower at 8:46 am, he had no way of escaping the building. My dad called my mom at 8:49 am and told her a plane had hit the building, and they were evacuating the tower. The line cut off, and he finally got through to her one last time and said goodbye.
I know in my heart that he understood he would not make it out of the building alive that day and accepted that fate. For years, I suffered because of my father’s death. Being the oldest of four boys, I knew I had to be a role model and a father figure to the best of my ability. I thought that knowing all the answers surrounding his death would bring me closure and peace—something I had been searching for all along. I looked at countless images of people hanging out of the windows of the North Tower, hoping I could locate my father and know his final whereabouts. Instead, all this did was bring me more pain and suffering, which I would continue to endure for years. 9/11 affected my life and who I am in many ways, but today I am using that suffering to help others and to stand up for what I believe is right.
Back in the early summer of last year, 9/11 Families United penned a letter to the first golfers to sign on to the LIV league expressing outrage towards the creation of LIV golf and their participation in this Saudi sportswashing scheme. Later that summer, we held a press conference voicing our anger and disappointment with former President Trump’s decision to host a LIV event at Trump National in Bedminster, NJ which was nearly in our backyard and a stone’s throw from Ground Zero. Since that first tournament, over nine more tournaments have transpired. And with each additional event, The Saudi Kingdom continues its success in diminishing its tarnished image through sports washing.
Today, we are here to express our outrage again, as these money-hungry players get the opportunity to play in one of the most renowned golf tournaments, The Masters. These same players who collected a gargantuan sum of money have a chance to compete with the morally sound PGA players and have an opportunity to put on the green jacket. Allowing LIV players to participate in the Masters only intensifies the deliberate intention of sports-washing by helping the Kingdom accomplish its goal of improving its image on the world stage.
The Saudis have denied any wrongdoing for their role in 9/11, even when our own U.S. intelligence reports say otherwise. Not only did we have to watch our loved one’s final moments on TV, but the rest of the world did too. Now, we must ensure the rest of the world knows the truth about the Kingdom’s role in murdering our loved ones as the world watched in horror.
We will continue pursuing justice as we have for nearly twenty-two years. As 9/11 families, we are all survivors of the trauma we experienced and relentlessly pursue justice. We will not back down until justice is served and those who were responsible for the deaths of our loved ones are finally held accountable.