The FBI over the weekend released the first previously declassified document about the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack hijackers, responding to an order handed down by President Joe Biden days earlier.
On Saturday night, a 16-page heavily redacted document (pdf) that was written in 2016 sheds light on the logistical support that was given to some of the Saudi Sept. 11 hijackers. Families of victims who died during the 2001 attacks have long sought the declassification of the report, as well as other documents related to the incident.
According to the document, the FBI did not find evidence that linked the Saudi government to the terror attacks, although 15 of the hijackers were Saudi nationals. Previously, a U.S. commission said it had no evidence Saudi Arabia directly funded al-Qaeda, the terrorist group that was long suspected of directing the terrorist attacks.
The families of about 2,000 people who died in the attacks as well as thousands more who were injured or suffered financial losses have filed lawsuits against Saudi Arabia seeking billions of dollars.
The newly declassified document reveals the FBI’s work to investigate the logistical support that a Saudi consular official and a suspected Saudi intelligence agent in Los Angeles had provided to two of the terrorists who hijacked planes. It details several connections and witnesses’ testimonies that prompted the FBI to investigate Omar al-Bayoumi, who was suspected of being an intelligence agent and allegedly provided “travel assistance, lodging, and financing” to help the two hijackers.
Hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar were assisted by al-Bayoumi when the pair first arrived in the United States in 2000. They met via a “chance encounter” at a restaurant before he helped them.
Family members of the Sept. 11 attack victims released a statement saying that the Saudi government was most likely complicit.
“Even with the unfortunate number of redactions, the report contains a host of bombshell new revelations, implicating numerous Saudi government officials, in a coordinated effort to mobilize an essential support network for the first arriving 9/11 hijackers, Nawaf al Hazmi and Khalid al Mihdhar,” 9/11 Families United said in a statement over the weekend. “The range of contacts at critical moments among these Saudi government officials, al-Qaeda, and the hijackers is stunning.”