September 17, 2021

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FBI releases declassified document into Saudi 9/11 links after Biden order – NBC News

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The FBI released a newly declassified document on the 9/11 attacks Saturday, revealing details on the logistical support given to two of the Saudi hijackers in the lead-up to the terrorist attacks, as the world marked the 20th anniversary of one of America’s darkest days.

The 16-page document is the first investigative record to be shared since President Joe Biden ordered a declassification review of files on 9/11 last week.

Although it is heavily redacted, the document provides a summary of an FBI interview carried out in 2015 with a man who had regular contact with Saudi nationals in the U.S., who aided Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, the first hijackers to arrive in America, once they arrived in the country.

It details contacts that the hijackers had with Saudi associates in the U.S., but it does not provide evidence that senior Saudi government officials were complicit in the attacks.

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The document was released hours after Biden marked the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, with former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush joining him in a show of unity.

Victims’ families issued a statement last month saying Biden would not be welcome at any memorial events as long as the documents remained classified.

Some of them also welcomed the Saturday release. Brett Eagleson, whose father, Bruce, was killed in the World Trade Center attack, said in a statement shared through his lawyer that the new information “accelerates our pursuit of truth and justice.”

Jim Kreindler, a lawyer for victims’ relatives, said in a statement that he believed “the findings and conclusions in this FBI investigation validate the arguments we have made in the litigation regarding the Saudi government’s responsibility for the 9/11 attacks.”

He added that included Saudi officials exchanging phone calls among themselves and Al Qaeda operatives and then having “accidental meetings” with the hijackers while providing them with assistance to get settled and find flight schools.

“This document, together with the public evidence gathered to date, provides a blueprint for how Al Qaeda operated inside the US with the active, knowing support of the Saudi government,” he said.

The Saudi Arabian government, which has long denied having any role in the attacks, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.

Prior to the document’s release, the Saudi Embassy in Washington said in a statement on Thursday that it welcomed the full declassification of records to “end the baseless allegations against the Kingdom once and for all.”

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It added that any suggestion that Saudi Arabia was complicit in the attacks was “categorically false.”

The 9/11 Commission report did not find evidence of Saudi leaders being complicit in the attacks, but did say Saudi nationals played a key role in funding Al Qaeda.

More information on the attacks could soon come to light as Biden has ordered the Justice Department and other agencies to review which documents can be declassified over the next six months.

“We look forward to more transparency and releases of information from the administration that finally provide the American people the truth they have long deserved,” Kreindler said.

The Associated Press contributed.

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