By ERIC TUCKER, NOMAAN MERCHANT and BEN FOX, Related Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI launched a whole lot of pages of newly declassified paperwork Wednesday about its lengthy effort to discover connections between the Saudi authorities and the Sept. 11 assaults, revealing the scope of a strenuous however in the end fruitless investigation whose end result many query to this present day.
Brokers for years investigated help given to a number of of the hijackers upon their arrival within the U.S., focusing specifically on whether or not three Saudi nationals — together with a Saudi Embassy official in Washington — had advance data of the assaults.
In the end, investigators discovered inadequate proof to cost any of the three with illegally supporting the hijackers, in accordance with an FBI memo from Might that closed out the probe and was among the many greater than 700 pages launched Wednesday. The FBI famous within the memo that al-Qaida compartmentalized the roles inside its main assaults and “didn’t make the assault plans recognized prematurely to others” for concern of phrase getting out.
“Particularly, in relation to the 9/11 assaults, the hijackers knew there was a martyrdom operation, however didn’t know in regards to the nature of the operation till shortly earlier than the assault for operational safety causes,” the FBI memo states.
The paperwork had been the most recent supplies to be launched beneath an government order from President Joe Biden geared toward making public long-classified investigative studies associated to the assaults. A separate investigative doc was launched on the twentieth anniversary of the assaults in September. The information have lengthy been sought by victims’ relations as they sue in federal courtroom in New York to attempt to show that the Saudi authorities was complicit, one thing Riyadh officers have vigorously denied.
The Saudi Embassy in Washington didn’t reply to a request for touch upon Wednesday, however had issued an announcement in September calling any allegations of complicity malicious and categorically false.
U.S. authorities investigations over the previous twenty years have documented help given by Saudi authorities officers to a number of of the hijackers upon their arrival within the U.S., however haven’t produced clear proof that senior authorities leaders helped plot the assaults. The FBI memo closing out the investigation says the bureau “has not recognized extra teams or people accountable for the assault aside from these at the moment charged.”
Even so, the paperwork reveal new particulars in regards to the years-long efforts by the FBI to hunt for potential involvement by the Saudi authorities and to scrutinize help given by Saudi nationals within the U.S. to the primary two hijackers to reach within the U.S., Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar.
Andrew Maloney, a lead lawyer for the victims’ households, stated the FBI has “now launched a considerable quantity of very incriminating paperwork concerning the Saudi authorities’s position in serving to al-Qaida and these two hijackers specifically.”
Brett Eagleson, whose father, Bruce, died within the World Commerce Heart assault, stated in an announcement that the small print within the paperwork “assist bolster the arguments that high-level Saudi officers aided and supported the 9/11 hijackers.”
Among the many episodes scrutinized by the FBI and recounted within the information is a February 2000 encounter at a Southern California halal restaurant between al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar and a Saudi nationwide named Omar al-Bayoumi, who subsequently helped them lease an condominium in San Diego. He had beforehand drawn FBI scrutiny however was by no means charged over his connections with the long run hijackers.
In keeping with the information launched Wednesday, the FBI additionally investigated ties between al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar and folks linked to the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, which funds mosques and efforts to advertise Islam world wide.
In keeping with one of many paperwork, the FBI studied whether or not al-Qaida operatives had “infiltrated” the ministry unbeknownst to the Saudi authorities or whether or not there was a “collaboration of AQ operatives and sure radical components inside the Ministry of Islamic Affairs for mutually useful objectives.”
The FBI examined whether or not Saudis who had given monetary help to al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar had ties to the plotters of the assault.
In keeping with the paperwork, al-Bayoumi was involved with Musaid al-Jarrah, who served as director of Islamic affairs on the Saudi Embassy in Washington and who the FBI suspected “could have been attempting” to convey extremists into the U.S. utilizing his embassy place. In its closing abstract of the investigation, the FBI described al-Jarrah as a “controlling, guiding, and directing affect on all points of Sunni extremist exercise in Southern California.”
Maloney, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, stated these allegations are vital.
“Right here we now have for the primary time the FBI telling the world that Jarrah was an extremist, and he was bringing in Sunni extremist imams into the USA after which supervising them,” he stated.
However authorities had inadequate proof that al-Jarrah, al-Bayoumi and a 3rd man — Fahad al-Thumairy, who was an accredited diplomat on the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles and who investigators say led an extremist faction at his mosque — had conspired wittingly to help the hijackers.
Not one of the three was charged, and all have since left the nation.
The Trump administration fought to maintain al-Jarrah’s id non-public earlier than the Justice Division unintentionally launched it final 12 months in a courtroom submitting.
In a Sept. 8, 2021, memo, the FBI corrected a earlier assertion it made and stated there was no proof to show that al-Jarrah had any private contact straight with the 2 hijackers who had been the main target of the investigation.
The paperwork additionally present that investigators repeatedly re-interviewed Mohdar Abdullah, a Yemeni pupil who befriended hijackers al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar after they settled in San Diego. He was arrested after the assaults as a suspected materials witness, an allegation he has denied. After practically three years in custody, he was deported to Yemen in 2004.
Abdullah has informed investigators that he believed Saudi officers could have been complicit within the Sept. 11 plot by serving to the hijackers settle in Southern California. However he couldn’t present brokers with proof.
“When questioned why he believes that, Abdullah said that’s his opinion and he doesn’t know something greater than what he offered to the FBI up to now,” the paperwork say.
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