Two bipartisan senators are urging the Biden administration to declassify any documents related to Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the 9/11 attacks.
The senators said the FBI and Justice Department obstructed their efforts to shed light on Riyadh’s involvement in the attacks 22 years ago.
Senators Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, and Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, wrote in July to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray to demand “that the U.S. government finally demonstrate full transparency on this that he knows about the attacks,” particularly regarding Saudi Arabia’s involvement.
Senators Blumenthal and Johnson wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray in July demanding “that the U.S. government finally demonstrate full transparency about what it knows about the attacks, particularly regarding concerns the involvement of Saudi Arabia.
They requested that full, unredacted documents on Saudi involvement be turned over as well as an explanation of any classified portions of the documents. More than a month later, senators said they had not received any documents from the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“Your lack of response to our letter only adds to our concerns about the U.S. government’s long-standing refusal to provide full transparency to the American public, and particularly to the families of the victims of 9/11, about the role of the “Saudi Arabia in the September 11 attacks,” the letter read.
The two senators, who head the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, have threatened to hit the DOJ and FBI with subpoenas if their demands are not met.
Lawmakers, activists and survivors have for decades urged agencies to be transparent about the ties they uncovered between the Saudi government and the 9/11 hijackers.
In 2021, President Biden issued an executive order requiring government agencies – the CIA, FBI and Department of Justice – to make public a trove of documents that would shed light on how the attack occurred.
The move declassified more than 900 pages of documents, reversing a decision by Trump-era Attorney General Bill Barr to invoke state secrets privilege and suppress information that might have indicated involvement. of Saudi Arabia in the attack.
However, the government refused to comply with Biden’s order and released only a few sanitized summaries of the information, 9/11 families say.
The reason they won’t release the documents is the same reason they don’t want a trial, according to family members.
“They are terrified of what KSM and these other detainees will say not only about the Saudi role in 9/11, but also what U.S. intelligence agencies knew. And they don’t want the information to see the light of day,” said Brett Eagleson, founder of 9/11 Justice.
To complicate matters further, President Biden is reportedly considering meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman next month at the G20 conference.
To complicate matters further, President Biden is reportedly considering meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman next month at the G20 conference in India. The two could discuss a deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel to normalize relations – which would be a huge win for the US president.
“A long time ago, the United States made a political decision not to embarrass the Saudis,” Eagleson said. “But we demand that the families of the victims of 9/11 be included in any agreement: we want an apology, we want an admission of guilt, we want closure.”
The Saudi government has consistently denied any involvement in the attacks and has sought to move beyond the matter as bin Salman attempts to modernize and deepen his ties with the West.
In 2000, Omar al-Bayoumi, then a Saudi graduate student, aged 42 at the time, claimed to have encountered the first two 9/11 hijackers by chance in a restaurant and decided to be hospitable and take them under his wing.
He drove them to their flying lessons, secured them bank accounts and a lease on property.
The FBI and the 9/11 Commission initially confirmed al-Bayoumi’s account that he was unaware of their intention to kill people in their country after meeting with them.
But last year, the FBI released new documents claiming that a-Bayoumi was a Saudi intelligence agent who worked with Saudi religious leaders and even reported to the Saudi ambassador in Washington.
New York City authorities have identified the remains of two more victims who died in the September 11 attacks, 22 years after the tragedy.
The “Tribute in Light” ceremony is being tested today in New York before the anniversary
The two hijackers, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, were known to Saudi intelligence and the CIA as members of Al-Qaeda. The CIA had tracked them to a meeting in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, but the agency said it lost track of them as they flew from Bangkok and then Los Angeles in 2000.
The CIA did not alert the FBI to the entry of two terrorists into the country for more than a year – in August 2001 – just one month before the fateful attack.
Families of 9/11 victims say there are a wealth of documents that could be released to establish an even stronger link between the Saudi kingdom and the 9/11 attackers.
“By refusing to provide us with the documents, we are accomplishing two things. They are there, they protect the kingdom from embarrassment, but they also protect our own intelligence failures,” Eagleson said.
“They are buying billions of dollars of US-made weapons and stabilizing global oil markets. So there’s not a lot of people or there’s not a lot of willingness to try to hustle them.