- BBC News World
On the 20th anniversary of the deadliest attack on US soil, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a document analyzing possible connections between several Saudi citizens in the United States and two of the attackers on September 11, 2001.
Relatives of the victims of the Twin Towers attacks had been requesting the release of these classified files for years, arguing that Saudi officials had prior knowledge of the attack but did not attempt to stop it.
15 of the 19 hijackers of the planes were citizens Saudis.
However, the document – the first of several expected to be made public – no proportional none evidence that the Saudi government had been linked or had knowledge of the plot against the Twin Towers.
Before the declassification, the Saudi embassy in Washington was in favor of the files being brought to light, once again denying any link between their country and the hijackers, noting that such claims are “false and malicious”.
What does the document say?
The 16-page FBI document is based on interviews with a source whose identity is classified (named as PII) and describes the contacts between several Saudi nationals and two of the kidnappers, Nawaf al-Hazmi y Khalid al-Midhar.
Both posed as students to enter the United States in 2000.
The FBI memo says they then received significant logistical support from Omar al-Bayoumi, who, according to witnesses, was a frequent visitor to the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles despite his official status at the time being that of a student.
According to the FBI source, Bayoumi had “a very high status” at the consulate.
“Bayoumi’s assistance to Hamzi and Midhar included translation, travel, accommodation and financing,” the document says.
On the other hand, the FBI file also assures that there were links between the two kidnappers and Fahad al-Thumairy, an imam (Muslim leader) from the King Fahad Mosque in Los Angeles, whom the cited sources describe as “of extremist beliefs.”
Both Bayoumi and Thumairy left the United States weeks before the September 11 attacks, according to the AP news agency.
The agency also cited Jim Kreindler, a lawyer for the relatives of the victims of September 11, saying that the published document “validates the arguments presented in the litigation regarding the responsibility of the Saudi government in the attacks of September 11”.
Last month, a lawsuit started by family members led to several senior former Saudi officials being interrogated under oath.
The preceding administrations, those of George W. Bush, Barack Obama y Donald Trump,they refused to declassify the documents, citing national security as an argument.
But incumbent President Joe Biden last week ordered a review of the documents and asked officials to release what they could over the next six months.
There has long been speculation about official Saudi ties to the bombing, given the number of Saudi citizens involved and the al Qaeda leader’s background, Osama bin store.
The United States and Saudi Arabia have long been allies, although at times the relationship has been complex.
The former US president, Donald Trump, strengthened the ties between his country and the absolute monarchy.
But Biden called Saudi Arabia a “pariah” after a US intelligence report in February this year implicates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Bin Salman denies ordering the murder, which took place at the consulate saudi in Istanbul.
BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says that Biden has since softened his stance towards the most powerful man in Saudi Arabia, reflecting the importance of the alliance between the two countries.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.