After the 9/11 attacks, the United States investigated possible links between Saudi Arabia and the terrorists, but the suspicions were never confirmed by solid evidence. In 2016, the Obama administration authorized the publication of pages of a 2002 congressional report to cut short rumors of Riyadh’s involvement in the attacks. Twenty years after the attacks, President Joe Biden promised in early September the declassification of new documents from the FBI’s investigation into the attacks.
On Saturday September 11, an FBI note was declassified. It reinforces the suspicions of Riyadh’s involvement in the September 11, 2001 attacks committed by Al-Qaida, without however providing the evidence hoped for by the families of the victims pursuing Saudi Arabia to justice. Of the 19 hijackers who hijacked four airliners, two of which were thrown into the World Trade Center twin towers killing 2,977, 15 were Saudi nationals.
The note which has just been declassified is dated April 4, 2016. It insists on the links between Omar Al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi agent installed in California, and Nawaf Al-Hazmi and Khalid Al-Mihdhar, two men who will be part hijackers, to whom it was suspected of providing logistical assistance.
The document, which is based on interviews conducted in 2009 and 2015 with a source whose identity is on file, details Omar Al-Bayoumi’s contacts and meetings with Nawaf Al-Hazmi and Khalid Al-Mihdhar, both arrived in California in 2000 before the attacks.
It also shows even stronger ties than those already known between these two men and Fahad Al-Thumairy, conservative imam of a Los Angeles mosque and diplomat accredited to the Saudi consulate in the late 1990s.
According to the document, phone numbers associated with the source show contact with a number of people who assisted Nawaf Al-Hazmi and Khalid Al-Mihdhar, including Omar Al-Bayoumi and Fahad Al-Thumairy and including the source she -same.
The source explained to the FBI that Al-Bayoumi, beyond his official student status, occupied “A very high rank” at the Saudi consulate. “Bayoumi’s aid to Hamzi and Midhar included translations, travel, accommodation and funding”, according to the note.
The source’s wife said that Al-Bayoumi often spoke of “Jihad”, continues the document.
The note also establishes other links, via meetings, telephone conversations or other communications, between Al-Bayoumi and Thumairy with the American-Yemeni Anouar Al-Aulaqi, propagandist of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQPA) killed. by US drones in Yemen in September 2011.
Publication under pressure from families
However, the published document has been copiously redacted and does not offer a direct link between the Saudi government and the hijackers.
It was declassified after pressure exerted on the President of the United States, Joe Biden, by families of victims who are suing Saudi Arabia for complicity in the organization of the attacks.
Three successive administrations have refused to declassify and publish documents on the attacks and have been accused of wanting to protect the historic alliance between Washington and Riyadh.
The Sunni oil monarchy has always denied any involvement in the September 11, 2001 attacks and was cleared of all suspicion by an American commission of inquiry in 2004.
Jim Kreindler, one of the main lawyers involved in the lawsuits of victims’ families against Saudi Arabia, said the declassified memo validated the key point about the Saudi government’s support for hijackers. “With this first declassification of documents, twenty years that Saudi Arabia has relied on the US government to cover its role in 9/11 are coming to an end”Kreindler said in a statement.
Families are awaiting stronger evidence with the release of further declassified documents expected in the next six months under the executive order Joe Biden made.