for 13 years, the U.S. on Friday released once-top secret pages from a
congressional report into 9/11 that questioned whether Saudis who were in
contact with the hijackers after they arrived in the U.S. knew what they were
FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2001 file photo the twin
towers of the World Trade Centre burn behind the Empire State Building in New
York after terrorists crashed two planes into the towers causing both to collapse.
declassified document, with light redactions, names people the hijackers
associated with before they carried out the attacks, killing nearly 3,000
people in New York, Washington and on a plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. It
identifies individuals who helped the hijackers get apartments, open bank
accounts, attend local mosques and get flight lessons. Fifteen of the 19
hijackers were Saudi nationals and several were not fluent in English and had
little experience living in the West.
investigations found no evidence that the Saudi government or senior Saudi
officials knowingly supported those who orchestrated the attacks. But lawmakers
and relatives of victims, who don’t think all Saudi links to the attackers were
thoroughly investigated, campaigned for more than 13 years to get the final
chapter of the 2002 congressional inquiry released.
Arabia has called for the release of the chapter since 2002 so the kingdom
could respond to any allegations and punish any Saudis who may have been
involved in the attacks.
2002, the 9/11 Commission and several government agencies, including the CIA
and the FBI, have investigated the contents of the ‘28 Pages’ and have
confirmed that neither the Saudi government, nor senior Saudi officials, nor
any person acting on behalf of the Saudi government provided any support or
encouragement for these attacks,” Abdullah Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador
to the United States, said in a statement Friday.
the release of these pages will clear up, once and for all, any lingering
questions or suspicions about Saudi Arabia’s actions, intentions, or long-term
friendship with the United States,” he said. “Saudi Arabia is working closely
with the United States and other allies to eradicate terrorism and destroy
House intelligence committee Chairman Devin
Nunes said that while he supported the release, “it’s important to note that
this section does not put forward vetted conclusions, but rather unverified
leads that were later fully investigated by the intelligence community.”
others — including Former Florida Sen. Bob Graham, the co-chairman of the
congressional inquiry — believe the hijackers had an extensive Saudi support
system while they were in the United States. Graham has said that the pages
“point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principle financier.”
President George W. Bush classified the chapter to protect intelligence sources
and methods, although he also probably did not want to upset U.S. relations
with Saudi Arabia, a close U.S. ally. Two years ago, under pressure from the
families of those killed or injured on Sept. 11, and others, President Barack
Obama ordered a declassification review of the chapter. Director of National
Intelligence James Clapper conducted that declassification review and
transmitted the document to Congress, which released the pages online a day after
Congress recessed ahead of the national political conventions.
investigations into 9/11 followed the congressional inquiry, which released its
report — minus the secret chapter — in December 2002. The most well-known
investigation was done by the 9/11 Commission, led by former Gov. Tom Kean,
R-N.J., and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind.
Hamilton said the 28 pages were based almost entirely on raw, unvetted material
that came to the FBI. They said the material was then written up in FBI files
as possible leads for further investigation.
the commission and its staff spent 18 months investigating “all the leads
contained in the 28 pages, and many more.” The commission’s 567-page report,
released in July 2004, stated that it found “no evidence that the Saudi
government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded”
al-Qaida. “This conclusion does not exclude the likelihood that charities with
significant Saudi government sponsorship diverted funds to al-Qaida.”
of the commission’s work say the commission failed to run down every Saudi lead
and say various agencies obstructed its work. Kean and Hamilton also complained
that various government agencies withheld relevant information.
Stephen F. Lynch, D-Mass., a long-time advocate of the declassification, said
the release allows for greater transparency about the investigation into 9/11.
“Releasing the contents of the 28 pages will answer some of the many questions
that remain,” Lynch said. “It may help us at last hold those who are
Associated Press writer Erica Werner contributed
to this report.