President Joe Biden ordered a review of the declassification of materials that for years have remained out of the public eye.
The FBI released a recently declassified 16-page document on Saturday night relating to the logistical support provided by two of the Saudi hijackers on the eve of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The document describes the kidnappers' contacts with Saudi associates in the United States but offers no evidence that the Saudi government was complicit in the plot.
The document, released on the 20th anniversary of the attacks, is the first investigative record to be released since President Joe Biden
ordered a review of the declassification of materials that for years have remained out of the public eye. In recent weeks, the US president had come under pressure from relatives of the victims, who had long wanted the records, as they attempted to file a lawsuit in New York alleging that high-ranking Saudi officials were complicit in the attacks.
Riyadh has long denied any involvement. The Saudi embassy in Washington said Wednesday that it supported the complete declassification of all records as a way to "end all baseless accusations against the kingdom once and for all." The embassy noted that any accusation that Saudi Arabia was an accessory was "categorically false."
Last week Biden ordered the Justice Department and other agencies to conduct a review of the declassification of investigative documents and release what they could in the next six months. The 16 pages were published Saturday night, hours after Biden attended events to commemorate 20 years since the attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Family members of the victims had objected to Biden's presence at the events as long as the documents remained classified.
The document released Saturday describes a 2015 interview with a person who applied for US citizenship and who years earlier had repeated contacts with Saudis, who, according to investigators, provided "significant logistical support" to several of the hijackers.
The man's identity is hidden throughout the document, but it is described that he worked at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles.
Also referenced in the document is Fahad al-Thumairy, at the time a diplomat accredited to the Saudi Arabian consulate in Los Angeles who investigators said was heading an extremist faction at his mosque. The document says the communications analysis identified a seven-minute phone call in 1999 from Thumairy's phone to the home phone of the Saudi Arabian family of two brothers who were later detained in the Guantanamo Bay prison, Cuba.
SOURCE: Associated Press