Sunday, June 26

FBI Document Contains No Evidence That The Saudi Government Was Involved In 9/11 | FBI


The FBI has released a recently declassified 16-page document relating to logistical support provided to two of the Saudi hijackers in the run-up to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The document describes the contacts the hijackers had with Saudi partners in the United States, but offers no evidence that the Saudi government was complicit in the plot.

The document, released on the 20th anniversary of the attacks, is the first investigative record to be released since President Joe Biden ordered a declassification review of materials that for years have remained out of the public eye.

Biden had faced pressure in recent weeks from the victims’ families, who have long searched the records while filing a lawsuit in New York alleging that senior Saudi officials were complicit.

The Saudi government has always denied any involvement. The Saudi embassy in Washington said on Wednesday it supported the complete declassification of all records as a way to “end the baseless allegations against the kingdom once and for all.” The embassy said that any allegation of an accomplice by Saudi Arabia was “categorically false.”

Biden last week ordered the Justice Department and other agencies to conduct a declassification review of the investigative documents and release what they can over the next six months.

The 16 pages were published Saturday night, hours after Biden attended the September 11 commemorative events in New York, Pennsylvania and Northern Virginia. Relatives of the victims had previously objected to Biden’s presence at ceremonial events as long as the documents remained classified.

The highly redacted log released Saturday describes a 2015 interview with a person who was applying for US citizenship and years earlier had had repeated contacts with Saudi nationals who investigators said provided “significant logistical support” to several of the hijackers.

The documents come at a politically sensitive time for the United States and Saudi Arabia, two nations that have forged a strategic, albeit difficult, alliance, particularly in the fight against terrorism.

The Biden administration released an intelligence assessment in February implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the 2018 assassination of American journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, but drew criticism from Democrats for avoiding direct punishment from the Crown Prince himself.

Regarding 9/11, there has been speculation about official involvement since shortly after the attacks, when it was revealed that 15 of the 19 attackers were Saudis. Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader at the time, was from a prominent family in the kingdom.

The United States investigated some Saudi diplomats and others with ties to the Saudi government who knew the hijackers after they arrived in the United States, according to documents that have already been declassified.

However, the 9/11 commission report found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded” the attacks that Al Qaeda planned. But the commission also noted “the likelihood” that Saudi government-sponsored charities would.

Particular scrutiny has focused on the first two hijackers to reach the United States, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar. In February 2000, shortly after their arrival in Southern California, they ran into a Saudi national named Omar al-Bayoumi at a halal restaurant who helped them find and rent an apartment in San Diego, had ties to the Saudi government, and he had previously attracted the FBI. scrutiny.


www.theguardian.com

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