WASHINGTON – The Biden administration released a recently declassified document on Saturday night outlining the links the FBI examined between the hijackers and the Saudi government in the years following the September 11, 2001 attacks, although it contains no conclusive evidence as to whether the kingdom played a role in the attacks.
The 16-page report, which was released hours after President Biden arrived at the World Trade Center memorial in Lower Manhattan, is the first document to be released since the president decided last week to declassify documents remained secret for years.
The families of the 9/11 victims have long called for a deeper investigation into any possible role for the Saudi government in the attacks. In recent days, Mr Biden has called on the Justice Department and federal agencies to release declassified documents over the next six months after a group of hundreds of people affected – including survivors, medical workers from emergency and relatives of the victims – told him to skip the memorial event to zero this year if he has not moved to disclose some of these documents.
The document, which was heavily drafted, describes an interview conducted in November 2015 with a Saudi, identified only as PII, who applied for US citizenship. He detailed his work at the country’s consulate in Los Angeles and shared anecdotes about his personal interactions with embassy management. Years earlier, this person appeared to have been in contact with people who, according to investigators, had provided “significant logistical support” to two of the hijackers.
Some members of the commission that investigated the 2001 attacks believed that while the Saudi government had played a role in the plot, it was likely that it involved consular officials.
But the document released on Saturday did not provide any new conclusive evidence on the role of the Saudi government.
Speculation about Saudi Arabia’s possible role has grown over the years due to the government’s refusal to declassify 28 pages of a 2002 Congressional inquiry into the 9/11 attacks that specifically addressed possible links between the kingdom and the terrorist plot.
The document was finally released in 2016, and it detailed numerous suspicious meetings between Saudi officials and the 9/11 hijackers, as well as checks by the Saudi royal family on agents in contact with the hijackers. ‘air. It was also an unflattering picture of the kingdom’s efforts to thwart US operations against al Qaeda in the years leading up to the attacks.
The question of whether Saudi officials played a role in the 9/11 plot has escalated for two decades despite numerous investigations into the attacks.
The Saudi government has long denied any involvement. Its embassy in Washington issued a statement this week saying that “any allegation that Saudi Arabia is complicit in the September 11 attacks is categorically false.”
In its 2004 final report, the 9/11 Commission said it had found no evidence that “the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials are individually funding” Al Qaeda. But some former commission staff stressed that the report’s cautious wording did not rule out the possibility that lower-ranking Saudi officials aided the hijackers. They also said the commission, operating under extreme weather pressure, could not execute every runway on the ground.