Tim Forlich (C), who was in the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, was among the 9/11 Justice group members who spoke in opposition to the LIV Golf Series on Thursday at the Four Points by Sheraton Miami Airport in Miami. Photo by Alex Butler/UPI
MIAMI, Oct. 27 (UPI) — A group of survivors and family members of those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have traveled to Miami to again oppose Saudi-backed LIV Golf, which will hold a tournament this weekend at former President Donald Trump’s National Doral Golf Club.
The group said in a news conference Thursday at a Sheraton hotel that it wants to engage in a dialogue with golfers in the controversial league.
The PGA Tour rival and breakaway golf series, which launched in June, is set to complete its inaugural season this weekend at Doral.
Less than two miles away, members of the 9/11 Justice group spoke about those they lost and their opposition to LIV Golf — because of Saudi Arabia’s links to the 9/11 hijackers and other human rights violations.
Several speakers cried or back tears as they remembered their loved ones as they requested meetings with the LIV Golf players, organizers and Trump.
“Please, meet with us, just give us 20 minutes to hear our stories and educate you on the government that is paying you obscene amounts of money to play golf,” said Dennis McGinley, whose brother Daniel died in the World Trade Center.
The golfers who chose to join the rival competition have championed a more flexible schedule and more lucrative prize purses as the reasons they fled from the PGA Tour, despite suspensions from the U.S.-based league.
The list of elite participants started small, but now contains several major-championship winners and dozens of the world’s top players, including Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka.
LIV Golf released a statement in July saying that those impacted by 9/11 have its “deepest sympathy.” Mickelson and other participants of the series also have said they have “sympathy and empathy” for 9/11 victims.
“While some may not agree, we believe golf is a force for good around the world,” LIV Golf said.
Several golfers received more than $100 million for joining LIV Golf, while others chose to remain with the PGA Tour.
“We aren’t telling them to cancel contracts or quit. We just wish they would help us,” said Brett Eagleson, whose dad, John, died in the World Trade Center collapse. “Use it as a force for accountability and justice.”
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers involved in 9/11 were of Saudi origin, as was Osama bin Laden. In September 2021, President Joe Biden declassified a 16-page FBI report, which tied Saudi nationals to the 9/11 hijackers.
In 2016, Trump — a presidential candidate at the time — told Fox News that the Saudis “blew up the World Trade Center.” He told ESPN in July at LIV Golf Bedminster that “nobody has gotten to the bottom of 9/11.”
“I’ve known these people for a long time in Saudi Arabia,” Trump told ESPN. “They’ve been friends of mine for a long time. They’ve invested in many American companies. They own big percentages of many American companies. Frankly, what they’re going for golf is so great.”
The Saudi Embassy said in 2021 that “no evidence has ever emerged to indicate” its government or officials had “previous knowledge of the terrorist attack or were in any way involved in its planning or execution.”
“Even though they’ve gotten the 19 terrorists, Osama bin Laden and others have been killed or captured, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has never been brought to justice,” Tim Frolich, who was in the trade center’s South Tower during the attacks, said at Thursday’s news conference.
“They’ve never admitted their guilt. They certainly have not come to accountability.”
Trump teed off Thursday morning as part of the pro-am tournament at LIV Golf Miami.
Members from the group said they will attempt to gain entry to LIV Golf Miami, which started Thursday and runs through Sunday. They plan to wear their 9/11 justice hats, and again try to speak to golfers who are competing for the $50 million prize purse.
Families of victims and survivors from the 9/11 attacks previously met in protest at another LIV Golf tournament held earlier this year at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in Bedminster, N.J.
They said they plan to continue their protests next year, when LIV Golf plans to expand from eight to 14 tournaments and push its prize pool to more than $400 million.
Eagleson, the president of 9/11 Justice, said news of the expansion was “music to his ears,” as it gives the group a chance for more exposure. He also said legal battles between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf further allow advocacy groups to “insert themselves” into the controversy.
“We have made commitments to go to every LIV tournament possible,” Eagleson said. “We will continue to fight. We will continue to speak out because that’s the only thing we can do.
“In the memory of our loved ones, we will show up.”