The FBI released a recently declassified document detailing support for Saudi hijackers in the run-up to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Released on 20th anniversary of the attacks, it details the contacts the hackers had with Saudi associates in the United States, but does not provide evidence that senior Saudi government officials were complicit in the plot.
The 16-page document is the first to be leaked since President Joe Biden ordered a declassification review of materials.
Families have long sought information in the hope of involving the Saudi government, many have spoken out against Biden’s involvement in September 11th commemorative events if the documents remained classified.
A long-running trial in New York federal court aims to hold the Saudi government to account and alleges Saudi officials provided significant support to some of the hijackers before the attacks.
The file is a summary of a 2015 FBI interview with a man who had frequent contact with Saudi nationals in the United States who supported the first hijackers to arrive in the country before the attacks.
The man had applied for US citizenship and had had repeated contact with those investigators said provided “significant logistical support” to several of the hijackers.
The man’s identity is redacted but he worked at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles.
The document was released just hours after President Biden attended commemorative events in New York City, Pennsylvania and northern Virginia.
“The findings and conclusions of this FBI investigation validate our arguments in the dispute over the Saudi government’s responsibility for the September 11 attacks,” Jim Kreindler, an attorney for relatives of the victims, said in a statement. .
“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.”
This included, he said, Saudi officials exchanging phone calls with Al Qaeda operatives and having “accidental” meetings with hijackers.
However, the Saudi government has long denied any involvement in the attacks.
The Saudi embassy in Washington said any allegation that the country was complicit was “categorically false.”
The embassy has supported the complete declassification of all records as a way to “put an end once and for all to the baseless allegations against the Kingdom.”
There has long been speculation about Saudi Arabia’s involvement following its revelation 15 of the 19 attackers were Saudis.
Osama bin Laden, the leader of the terrorist group at the time, came from a prominent family in the kingdom.
Yet the Commission’s report on September 11 in 2004 found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded” the attacks orchestrated by al-Qaeda, although it noted that charities linked to Saudi Arabia could have diverted money to the group.
It comes at a difficult time for the two countries, which have formed a strategic alliance, particularly in the fight against terrorism.
In February, the Biden administration released a report implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the 2018 murder of American journalist Jamal Khashoggi.