Reuters is reporting that following President Joe Biden’s executive order, the FBI released a newly declassified document related to its investigation of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and allegations of Saudi government support for the hijackers on Saturday.
The FBI’s partially redacted 16-page report, released on the 20th anniversary of the attacks, detailed contacts between the hijackers and several Saudi officials, but it did not conclude whether the Riyadh government was complicit in the attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people.
Biden directed the Department of Justice earlier this month to review documents from the FBI’s investigation into the attacks for declassification and release.
For years, relatives of the victims have pushed for more information about what the FBI discovered during its investigation, claiming that the documents would show Saudi Arabian authorities supported the plot.
Saudi Arabia was home to 15 of the 19 hijackers.
The Kingdom has long maintained that it had no involvement in the attacks. The Saudi embassy in Washington did not respond to an out-of-hours request for comment late Saturday.
In 2004, a US government commission found no evidence that Saudi Arabia directly funded al Qaeda, the group given safe haven in Afghanistan by the Taliban at the time. It was unclear whether individual Saudi officials had done so.
The families of approximately 2,500 of those killed in the attacks, as well as more than 20,000 people injured in the attacks, as well as businesses and various insurers, have filed billion-dollar lawsuits against Saudi Arabia.
In a statement issued on September 8, the embassy stated that Saudi Arabia has always advocated for transparency surrounding the events of September 11, 2001, and that it welcomes the release of classified documents relating to the attacks by the United States.
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“As past investigations have revealed, including the 9/11 Commission and the release of the so-called ’28 Pages,’ no evidence has ever emerged to indicate that the Saudi government or its officials had previous knowledge of the terrorist attack or were in any way involved,” the embassy’s statement said.
Terry Strada, whose husband Tom was killed on Sept. 11, said in a statement on behalf of the organization 9/11 Families United that the document released by the FBI on Saturday put to rest any doubts about Saudi complicity in the attacks.
“Now the Saudis’ secrets are exposed and it is well past time for the Kingdom to own up to its officials’ roles in murdering thousands on American soil,” the statement said.
Biden has taken a tougher stance toward Saudi Arabia than his predecessor, Donald Trump, criticizing the Kingdom for its human rights record while releasing a US intelligence report that implicates the Kingdom’s de-facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, in the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. The prince denies any wrongdoing.
The Washington Post is reporting that commemorations and memorials were held across the country Saturday to remember the victims and first responders of the Sept. 11 attacks, which shattered and changed American life.
The ceremony at Ground Zero in New York began with the first moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the time Flight 11 hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The last moment of silence occurred at 10:28 a.m., in commemoration of the North Tower’s fall. The annual tradition of reading the names of the victims ended around 1 p.m.
After paying tribute to 9/11 victims, President Biden visited the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department in Pennsylvania.
In Shanksville, Vice President Harris stated that the dozens of passengers on Flight 93 responded in unison in “the most dire of circumstances.”
Former President George W. Bush, who said 9/11 victims “must always have an honored place,” warned that domestic terrorism could be just as dangerous as international terrorism.
The young niece of Christopher M. Mozzillo, a New York firefighter who died in the line of duty during the terrorist attacks, said she misses the uncle she never met. “Even though I never met you in person, I still miss you a lot” she said.