9/11 families demand release of FBI documents detailing Saudi role in terrorist attack
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A group of 9/11 survivors and family members of victims called Wednesday for Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to declassify FBI documents detailing the role the Saudi government allegedly played in the terrorist attack.
In a letter to Haines, the families said they were “still seeking basic justice, transparency and accountability for what happened that tragic day.” They called for the release of a 16-page FBI report that purportedly summarizes “Operation Encore,” the FBI’s investigation into whether Saudi government officials provided assistance to 9/11 hijackers.
“Even as we approach the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we face the painful and heartbreaking reality that our own government still has not provided us basic information and documents concerning the involvement of Saudi government agents in supporting the attacks,” the families said in the letter.
“The same is true for U.S. intelligence on how Saudi Arabia fueled the rise of al Qaeda through its pre-9/11 campaign to promote a radical, pro-jihadist, and anti-American variant of Islam globally.”
The letter was sent on the same day that President Biden announced that his administration would withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by September 11. That date would mark the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The families noted that Biden said last year that the federal government had a “moral obligation” to “deliver justice and accountability for all 9/11 families.”
The letter also cited remarks that Haines made during her Senate confirmation hearing in January. At the time, Haines said the DNI “must prioritize transparency” and “accountability” as “strategic imperatives.”
“A cloak of secrecy surrounding Saudi involvement in the events of 9/11 is contrary to our Nation’s most basic values — and a source of constant pain for our community that dishonors the memories of our murdered loved ones,” the letter added.
Former Attorney General William Barr and former acting DNI Richard Grenell rejected a similar request from 9/11 families in April 2020, citing concerns that releasing the documents could jeopardize national security.
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Nearly 3,000 people were killed on 9/11 in the deadliest terrorist attack in US history. A group of 19 militants hijacked four planes and carried out suicide attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. One of the planes crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania after passengers attempted to retake control from the hijackers. The Saudi government has long denied involvement in the attacks.
The letters’ signers are part of a group of plaintiffs who have sued Saudi Arabia for billions of dollars in damages. The families allege that Saudi government agents were involved in the attacks.
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