The Biden administration declassified an FBI memorandum on Saturday that strengthened suspicions of Saudi Arabia’s official involvement with the hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but failed to meet the tests expected by the families of the victims. They were suing Saudi Arabia.
The April 4, 2016 memorandum, which had been classified until now, showed links between Omar Bayoumi, at the time a student but suspected of having been a Saudi intelligence operative, and two of the Al-Qaeda operatives who participated in the plot. hijack and crash four planes against targets in New York and Washington.
Based on interviews from 2009 and 2015 with a source whose identity is classified, the document details the contacts and meetings between Bayoumi and the two hijackers, Nawaf al Hazmi and Khalid al Midhar, after the two arrived in Southern California in 2000 before of the attacks.
It also reinforces already reported ties between the two and Fahad al Thumairy, a conservative imam at King Faad’s mosque in Los Angeles and an official at the Saudi consulate there.
The document says that phone numbers associated with the source indicated contact with several people who assisted Hamzi and Midhar while they were in California, including Bayoumi and Thumairy, as well as the source itself.
He says the source told the FBI that Bayoumi, beyond his official identity as a student, had “a very high status” at the Saudi consulate.
“Bayoumi’s assistance to Hamzi and Midha included translation, travel, accommodation and financing,” the memo read.
The memo also said that the wife of the FBI source told them that Bayoumi often spoke of “jihad.”
And it also connects Bayoumi and Thumairy with Anwar al Alaki, the US-born cleric who became a prominent Al-Qaeda figure before being killed in a drone strike in Yemen in 2011, through meetings, phone calls and other communications.
The published document was still significantly redacted and did not offer a clear direct link between the Saudi government and the hijackers.
It was released after President Joe Biden was pressured by relatives of those killed on September 11 who sued Saudi Arabia for complicity.
Three successive US administrations have refused to declassify and release documents related to the case, apparently because they do not want to damage the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia.
Jim Kreindler, one of the lawsuit leaders, said the document validates the lawsuit’s key argument that the Saudi government aided the kidnappers.
“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,” Kreindler said in a statement.
Families still await stronger evidence when more classified material is released within the next six months, according to an order from Biden.