By ERIC TUCKER, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI late Saturday launched a newly declassified 16-page doc associated to logistical assist offered to 2 of the Saudi hijackers within the run-up to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist assaults. The doc describes contacts the hijackers had with Saudi associates within the U.S. however provides no proof the Saudi authorities was complicit within the plot.
The doc, launched on the twentieth anniversary of the assaults, is the primary investigative document to be disclosed since President Joe Biden ordered a declassification evaluation of supplies that for years have remained out of public view. Biden had encountered strain in latest weeks from victims’ households, who’ve lengthy sought the data as they pursue a lawsuit in New York alleging that senior Saudi officers had been complicit within the assaults.
The Saudi authorities has lengthy denied any involvement. The Saudi Embassy in Washington mentioned Wednesday that it supported the total declassification of all data as a strategy to “finish the baseless allegations in opposition to the Kingdom as soon as and for all.” The embassy mentioned that any allegation that Saudi Arabia was complicit was “categorically false.”
Biden final week ordered the Justice Department and different companies to conduct a declassification evaluation of investigative paperwork and launch what they’ll over the following six months. The 16 pages had been launched on Saturday night time, hours after Biden attended Sept. 11 memorial occasions in New York, Pennsylvania and northern Virginia. Victims’ kin had earlier objected to Biden’s presence at ceremonial occasions so long as the paperwork remained categorized.
The closely redacted document launched Saturday describes a 2015 interview with an individual who was making use of for U.S. citizenship and years earlier had repeated contacts with Saudi nationals who investigators mentioned offered “important logistical assist” to a number of of the hijackers.
The paperwork are being launched at a politically delicate time for the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, two nations which have cast a strategic — if tough — alliance, significantly on counterterrorism issues. The Biden administration in February launched an intelligence evaluation implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman within the 2018 killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi however drew criticism from Democrats for avoiding a direct punishment of the crown prince himself.
Regarding Sept. 11, there was hypothesis of official involvement since shortly after the assaults, when it was revealed that 15 of the 19 attackers had been Saudis. Osama bin Laden, the chief of al-Qaida on the time, was from a distinguished household within the kingdom.
The U.S. investigated some Saudi diplomats and others with Saudi authorities ties who knew hijackers after they arrived within the U.S., in keeping with paperwork which have already been declassified.
Still, the 9/11 Commission report discovered “no proof that the Saudi authorities as an establishment or senior Saudi officers individually funded” the assaults that al-Qaida masterminded. But the fee additionally famous “the chance” that Saudi government-sponsored charities did.
Particular scrutiny has centered on the primary two hijackers to reach within the U.S., Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar. In February 2000, shortly after their arrival in southern California, they encountered at a halal restaurant a Saudi nationwide named Omar al-Bayoumi who helped them discover and lease an condominium in San Diego, had ties to the Saudi authorities and had earlier attracted FBI scrutiny.
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