September 11 Attacks: Declassified FBI note points a finger at Saudi Arabia
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September 11 Attacks: Declassified FBI note points a finger at Saudi Arabia

The U.S. Government on Saturday declassified an FBI note that reinforces suspicions of Riyadh’s involvement in the attacks perpetrated on the 11th of September 2001 by Al-Qaïda but does not provide the evidence victims’ families that have sued Saudi Arabia had hoped for.

Fifteen of the 19 terrorists who hijacked four airliners, two of which were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York on that day, killing close to 3,000 people, were from Saudi Arabia.

The FBI note, declassified on the 20th anniversary of September 11, is dated 4 April 2016. It insists on the links between Omar al-Bayoumi, a presumed Saudi agent who was living in California, and two of the hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, to whom he was suspected of giving logistical assistance.

The document, which is based on conversations between 2009 and 2015 with a source whose identity is classified, details the contacts and meetings between al-Bayoumi and the two future hijackers, al-Hazmi and al-Mindhar, who arrived in California in 2000, ahead of the attacks.

It also shows even stronger ties than those that had already been known between the two men and Fahad al-Thumairy, the conservative imam of a Los Angeles mosque and a diplomat accredited to the Saudi Consulate in the late 1990s.

According to the note, the telephone numbers associated with the source show contacts between a number of persons who helped Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mindhar, including Omar al-Bayoumi, Fahad al-Thumairy and the source himself.

The source told the FBI that, in addition to his “student” status, al-Bayoumi had a “very high rank” at the Saudi Consulate. His assistance to al-Hamzi and al-Midha included translations, trips, lodging and funding, according to the note. The source’s wife stated that al-Bayoumi often spoke of “jihad,” the document added.

Al-Bayoumi and Thumairy also had meetings, telephone conversations and other communications with U.S.-Yemeni national Anwar al-Aulaqi, a propagandist for Al-Qaïda in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqpa) killed in U.S. drone strikes in Yemen in September 2011, according to the note.

However, the published document was heavily redacted and does not provide evidence of a direct link between the Saudi Government and the hijackers.

It was declassified following pressure on U.S. President Joe Biden from victims’ families, who are suing Saudi Arabia for complicity in the organization of the attacks. Previously, three successive administrations had refused to declassify and publish documents on the attacks, amid accusations that they wanted to protect the historic alliance between Washington and Riyadh.

The Sunni oil monarchy has always denied any involvement in the September 11 attacks. It was cleared of all suspicion by a U.S commission of inquiry in 2004.

The Brussels Times