Washington (US) | Jagran News Desk: The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Saturday released the first set of documents over its investigation on the 9/11 attacks in the United States (US) that claimed that the lives of nearly 3,000 people, following an executive order by president Joe Biden. In its 16-page report, the FBI claimed that the hijackers had contacts with Saudi associates in the US, but offered no evidence that the government in Riyadh was complicit in the attacks.

The report claimed that the couple of hijackers, Nawaf al Hazmi and Khalid al Midhar, had links with Omar Bayoumi, who was a student in the US but was suspected to be a Saudi intelligence operative. It said that Bayoumi had a "very high status" in the Saudi consulate. "Bayoumi's assistance to Hamzi and Midha included translation, travel, lodging and financing," the FBI stated while adding that Bayoumi often talked about "jihad".

The FBI report also alleged that there were links beween al Hazmi and al Midhar with Fahad al Thumairy, a conservative imam at the King Faad mosque in Los Angeles and an official at the Saudi consulate there. It also said that Bayoumi and Thumairy had links with Anwar al Alaki, a US-born cleric who joined the Al-Qaeda later but killed in a drone strike in Yemen in 2011.

Why the report was declassified 20 years after the 9/11 attacks?

Three successive US administrations had refused to declassify the documents as it could have damaged the relationship between Washington and Riyadh. However, they were released on Saturday after Biden was pressured by family members of those killed on 9/11 who have sued Saudi Arabia for complicity.

Following the release of the documents, Jim Kreindler, one of the leaders of the lawsuit, said that these papers validate their contention that Saudi Arabia helped the hijackers. "With this first release of documents, 20 years of Saudi Arabia counting on the US government to cover up its role in 9/11 comes to an end," he said, as reported by AFP.

Meanwhile, Terry Strada, whose husband Tom was killed in the attack, also said that the documents put to bed any doubts about Saudi complicity in the attacks. "Now the Saudis' secrets are exposed and it is well past time for the Kingdom to own up to its officials' roles in murdering thousands on American soil," Strada said, as reported by Reuters.

What Saudi Arabia has to say?

Saudi Arabia has not issued a statement over the declassified documents yet. However, it has maintained that it was not involved in the attacks. On September 8, it has said that Riyadh advocates for transparency around the events of the September 11 attacks and welcomes the release of the classified documents.

"As past investigations have revealed, including the 9/11 Commission and the release of the so-called '28 Pages,' no evidence has ever emerged to indicate that the Saudi government or its officials had previous knowledge of the terrorist attack or were in any way involved," it said, as reported by Reuters.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma