Families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks that the Saudi government is suing in a U.S. federal court in New York expect the U.S. government to release an important FBI report immediately.
The 16-page report is a summary and analysis by the FBI of the agency’s lengthy investigation into the activities of two of the 11 hijackers, Saudi nationals, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi.
In January 2000, the two al-Qaeda agents arrived in California where they were assisted by other Saudis. The FBI report, which could possibly be recovered with its public disclosure, is expected to provide details of the FBI’s investigation into who al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi helped, according to a September 11 family lawyer.
“It is unclear what other parts of the government may have known what was going on, but clearly reasonable high- and middle-level Saudi officials working for the government were part of this conspiracy,” Andrew ‘Duke’ Maloney said. a lawyer, said. with the law firm Kreindler LLP representing the families of September 11 in the litigation against Saudi Arabia.
Now, twenty years after the 2001 attacks that led to the deaths of nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington, DC and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the lawsuit of the families accusing the Saudi government of complicity is approaching a turning point. Either sufficient evidence to support the lawsuit will be presented to the court, or it will not proceed.
The pending FBI report is an analysis of agents investigating how al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi, who could speak little English and had no independent resources when they arrived in the US, found a foothold in Los Angeles and thereafter in San Diego.
Lawyers for the 9/11 families believe they can prove that there was a ‘cabal’ of Saudi government officials ‘who conspired with al-Qaeda agents’, Maloney told Al Jazeera. The purpose of the lawsuit is to win a financial settlement for the families of the victims of the attack.
The factual basis of the case may soon be made public under an executive order of President Joe Biden, especially in private, behind closed doors and in secret annexures.
After family members told Biden on September 11, he would not be welcome at commemorative events usually attended by the president, Biden led the Department of Justice and other agencies to still review and release secret FBI documents and evidence.
Biden’s order specifically directs the release of the 16-page report against the September 11, 2021 anniversary.
The report is likely to shed new light on what the FBI knows about several men linked to the hijackers, including Saudi nationals, Muslim leader Fahad al-Thumairy and suspected Saudi spy Omar al-Bayoumi, Maloney said.
According to a family lawyer, a Saudi embassy official, Mussaed Ahmed al-Jarrah, whose name previously appeared as part of the lawsuit, would have assisted the future hijackers.
The Saudi embassy said the kingdom would welcome the release of the FBI’s investigative documents and that “there was never any evidence that the Saudi government or its officials had prior knowledge of the terrorist attack or were in any way involved in the the planning or execution thereof ”.
“Any allegation that Saudi Arabia is complicit in the 9/11 attacks is absolutely untrue,” the Saudi embassy in Washington said in a statement on September 8.
Of the 19 al-Qaeda hijackers, 15 were Saudis and since the start of several U.S. investigations into the 9/11 attacks, questions have been raised about the Saudi role.
The leader of Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, was the rich son of the founder of the Saudi construction company, Saudi Binladen Group. Bin Laden broke with the Saudi royal family in 1991 over the deployment of US troops to the kingdom.
But bin Laden’s organization has received financial support from wealthy Saudis, including members of the royal family’s charities, according to U.S. government documents.
The US is independent September 11 commission concluded in its 2004 report that the Saudi government was unaware of the pending attacks. The commission found “no evidence” that Saudi officials were playing a role.
But the report was incomplete and commission investigators did not have the information that the FBI dished out years later, Maloney told Al Jazeera.
In a 2002 U.S. congressional inquiry led by former Senator Bob Graham, information was revealed indicating Saudi connections following the 9/11 attacks. Graham told the United States in 2015 to Al Jazeera the public would be “furious” if they know the truth about the Saudi role.
The report included 28 pages of material on Saudi Arabia that was kept secret by the Bush administration and later declassified and released in 2016. The 28 pages were unclear, but showed that some of the hijackers were in contact and received support from individuals associated with the Saudi government.