The FBI released a newly declassified document detailing assistance given to two of the Saudi hijackers on Saturday, the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
The late-night revelation revealed the terrorists’ logistical support from fellow countrymen in the United States, but it did not prove Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the act of war.
The 16-page formally classified — and heavily redacted — document was the first to be made public under President Biden’s recent directive.
It is based on a 2015 FBI interview with a man who was in regular contact with Saudi nationals in the United States who assisted hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar in the run-up to the attacks.
Hazmi and Mihdhar arrived in California in February 2000, where they met Omar al-Bayoumi, a well-connected Saudi national who assisted them in securing a San Diego apartment.
Bayoumi described his encounter with the hijackers in a halal restaurant as a “chance encounter.” During the interview, the FBI tried to figure out if that was true or if the sit-down had been planned ahead of time.
After learning that Bayoumi had been in contact with a Saudi consulate employee in Los Angeles who was applying for US citizenship, the bureau interviewed him.
According to investigators, that man, whose identity was not revealed, had previous contacts with Saudi nationals who provided “significant logistical support” to several of the hijackers.
Former diplomat Fahad al-Thumairy is also mentioned in the text, who is accused of leading an extremist faction at his mosque. According to the document, in 1999, Thumairy called the Saudi Arabian home of two brothers who later became detained terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay.
Bayoumi and Thumairy had both left the United States weeks before the attacks.
Last week, Biden directed the Justice Department and other agencies to review a trove of classified documents related to the FBI’s 9/11 investigation and release what they can over the next six months.
Family members of the victims had been pressuring the president to release the records as part of a legal case against Riyadh, alleging that senior Saudi government officials assisted the hijackers. Some of Biden’s relatives objected to him attending the memorial services on Saturday as long as the evidence remained hidden.
The oil-rich monarchy has denied any involvement in the terrorist attacks. Saudi officials hailed the declassification as a way to “finally put an end to the baseless allegations leveled against the Kingdom.” 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi Arabians, and Osama bin Laden, the slain al-Qaida leader, came from a prominent Saudi family.
A lawyer for relatives of the victims said the FBI’s findings “validate the arguments we have made in the litigation regarding the Saudi government’s responsibility for the 9/11 attacks”