The document details the contacts several of the 9/11 hijackers had with Saudi associates in the United States. Yet the information did not appear to provide conclusive evidence that senior Saudi government officials themselves were complicit in the plot.
Saudi Arabia has consistently denied that its government or officials played any role in the attacks, even though 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens.
A week after Joe Biden signed an executive order pledging to release any information the government had on Al Qaeda’s attacks on New York and Washington DC that killed 3,000 people, the Justice Department released the first installment of this information – a heavily-edited 16-page summary of the FBI’s own investigation into possible links between the hijackers and Saudi officials. The investigation was called “Operation Encore”.
Educating the next generation on September 11
While the document may not be the smoking gun some had hoped for given so many names were covered up, lawyers representing survivors and relatives have claimed it was exactly that.
“With this first release of documents, 20 years of Saudi Arabia relying on the US government to cover up its role in 9/11 comes to an end,” New York lawyer James Kreindler said in a statement, first reported. by the Florida Bulldog, a monitoring site.
“The findings and conclusions of this FBI investigation validate the arguments we have advanced in the dispute over the Saudi government’s responsibility for the September 11 attacks. This document, along with the public evidence gathered to date, provides a diagram of how Al Qaeda operated inside the United States with the active and conscious support of the Saudi government.
Meanwhile, Brett Eagleson, whose father died at the Word Trade Center, said the release of the FBI material “accelerates our quest for truth and justice.”
Mr. Biden had promised that an electronic communication from the FBI dated April 4, 2016 would be made public by September 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of the attacks.
Survivors of the attacks, as well as relatives of those who died, had long expected the document to relate to Operation Encore, an investigation the FBI continued, long after the 9/11 Commission published its report in 2004, and which suggested the United States’ biggest mistake. not preventing the attacks had been a “lack of imagination”.
As it stands, the previously classified document was slipped with fanfare by the Justice Department shortly before midnight on Saturday, and in doing so, only fulfilled Mr. Biden’s promise. It was located on a part of the DoJ website called “The Vault”.
Particular review focused on the first two hijackers to arrive in the United States, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, and the support they received.
In February 2000, shortly after arriving in Southern California, they met at a halal restaurant a Saudi national named Omar al-Bayoumi who helped them find and rent an apartment in San Diego, had ties to the Saudi government and had previously attracted the attention of the FBI. .
Among Mr. Bayoumi’s contacts was Fahad al-Thumairy, at the time a diplomat accredited to the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles who, according to investigators, led an extremist faction in his mosque. Both men left the United States weeks before the attacks and have always denied any wrongdoing.
The document details interviews conducted in 2015 by the FBI with a person who had contact with Mr. Bayoumi. The person’s name was redacted from the report and referred to as “PII”.
The New York Times said PII is applying for U.S. citizenship and has detailed his work at the country’s consulate in Los Angeles and shared anecdotes about his personal interactions with embassy management. The document also summarized his contacts with people who, according to investigators, had provided “significant logistical support” to two of the hijackers.
The document also states that the communications analysis identified a seven-minute phone call in 1999 from Mr. Thumairy’s phone to the Saudi family of two brothers who became future detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. .
Saudi Arabia also insisted it had no role in planning or funding the attacks, whose 20th anniversary was marked by services and ceremonies across the United States.
Last week, the Saudi embassy in Washington DC reiterated the kingdom’s previous denial of any complicity.
“The previous declassification of documents relating to the 9/11 attacks, such as the ’28 pages’, only confirmed the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission that Saudi Arabia had nothing to do with it. terrible crime, ”he said.
“It is lamentable that such false and malicious claims persist. “
In a statement on behalf of the 9/11 Families United organization, Terry Strada, whose husband Tom was killed on September 11, said the document released by the FBI on Saturday dispelled any doubts about Saudi complicity in the attacks .
“Now the secrets of the Saudis are exposed and it is high time for the Kingdom to recognize the role of its officials in the murder of thousands of people on American soil,” the statement said.
Additional reports by agencies