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FBI releases document declassified in Saudi 9/11 ties after Biden order

The FBI released a recently declassified document on the 9/11 attacks on Saturday, revealing details of logistical support to two of the Saudi hijackers ahead of the terrorist attacks, as the world marked the 20th anniversary of one of America’s darkest. days.

The 16-page document is the first investigative file to be shared since President Joe Biden ordered a declassification review of the files on September 11 last week.

Although heavily drafted, the document provides a summary of a 2015 FBI interview with a man who had regular contact with Saudi nationals in the United States, who assisted Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al- Mihdhar, the first hijackers to arrive. in America, once they arrived in the country.

It details the contacts the hijackers had with Saudi associates in the United States, but it does not provide evidence that senior Saudi government officials were complicit in the attacks.

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The document was released hours after Biden marked the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, with former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush joining him in a show of unity.

The families of the victims released a statement last month saying Biden would not be welcome at any memorial events as long as the documents remained classified.

Some of them also praised Saturday’s release. Brett Eagleson, whose father, Bruce, was killed in the World Trade Center attack, said in a statement shared through his lawyer that the new information “is accelerating our search for truth and justice.” .

Jim Kreindler, an attorney for relatives of the victims, said in a statement that he believed “the findings and conclusions of this FBI investigation validate the arguments we have made in the dispute over the Saudi government’s responsibility for the attacks. of September 11 “.

He added that Saudi officials exchanged phone calls between themselves and Al Qaeda operatives, then had “accidental encounters” with the hijackers while providing them with assistance in settling down and finding schools. piloting.

“This document, along with the public evidence gathered to date, provides a diagram of how Al Qaeda has operated inside the United States with the active and conscious support of the Saudi government,” he said. declared.

The Saudi government, which has long denied playing a role in the attacks, did not immediately respond to an NBC News request for comment.

Ahead of the release of the document, the Saudi embassy in Washington said in a statement Thursday that it welcomed the full declassification of the files to “put an end once and for all to the baseless allegations against the Kingdom.”

He added that any suggestion that Saudi Arabia was complicit in the attacks was “categorically false”.

The 9/11 Commission report found no evidence of Saudi leaders’ complicity in the attacks, but said Saudi nationals played a key role in funding al Qaeda.

More information about the attacks may come to light soon, as Biden has ordered the Justice Department and other agencies to review what documents can be declassified over the next six months.

“We look forward to more transparency and disclosure of information from the administration that will finally provide the American people with the truth they have long deserved,” Kreindler said.

The Associated Press contributed.

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