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FBI releases newly declassified record on Sept. 11 attacks

WASHINGTON – The FBI late Saturday released a newly declassified 16-page document regarding logistical support provided to two of the Saudi hijackers during the protracted terrorist attack. to September 11, 2001. The document describes contacts the hijackers had with Saudi associates in the United States but provides no evidence that the Saudi government was complicit in the sound. this plot.

The document, released on the 20th anniversary of the attack, is the first investigative record released since President Joe Biden ordered a review of the declassified documents that had remained undisclosed for years. they see. Biden has come under pressure in recent weeks from the victim’s family, who have long sought records as they pursue a lawsuit in New York alleging that senior Saudi officials had complicity in the attacks.

The Saudi government has long denied any involvement. The Saudi Embassy in Washington on Wednesday said it supported the full declassification of all records as a way to “put an end to the baseless allegations against the UK once and for all.” .” The embassy said that any allegation that Saudi Arabia was complicit was “totally untrue.”

Last week, Biden ordered the Justice Department and other agencies to conduct a review of declassified investigative documents and release what they can within the next six months. The 16 pages were released Saturday night, hours after Biden attended 9/11 memorial events in New York, Pennsylvania and northern Virginia. Relatives of the victim had previously objected to Biden’s presence at ceremonial events as long as the documents remained classified.

The severely redacted dossier released on Saturday describes a 2015 interview with a person who was applying for US citizenship and had multiple years prior contact with Saudi nationals, who investigators said provided “substantial logistical support” to some of the hijackers.

The documents are being released at a politically delicate time for the US and Saudi Arabia, two nations that have formed a strategic – if difficult – alliance, especially on anti-government issues terrorism. The Biden administration in February released an intelligence assessment involving Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the US but drew criticism from Democrats for dodging. avoid a direct punishment against the crown prince himself.

With regard to September 11, there has been speculation of official involvement since the attack shortly after the attacks were revealed that 15 of the 19 attackers were Saudi. Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaida at the time, came from a prominent family in the kingdom.

The United States has investigated several Saudi diplomats and others with ties to the Saudi government, who knew the hijackers after they arrived in the United States, according to declassified documents.

However, the 9/11 Commission report found that “there is no evidence that the Saudi government as an organization or senior Saudi officials privately financed” the attacks. which al-Qaida instigated. But the committee also noted the “possibility” that charities funded by the Saudi government did.

Special surveillance has focused on the first two hijackers to arrive in the US, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar. In February 2000, shortly after arriving in southern California, they met at a halal restaurant a Saudi citizen named Omar al-Bayoumi, who helped them find and rent an apartment in San Diego, has ties to the Saudi government and has previously attracted FBI surveillance. .

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