The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has declassified the first document related to the investigation of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and suspected Saudi government support for the hijackers.
“This material is being released in response to the executive order, signed September 3, 2021, [by US President Joe Biden] on the declassification review of certain documents concerning the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,” the FBI said on Saturday.
The FBI electronic communication document, dated April 4, 2016, consists of over a dozen pages of heavily redacted witness testimony collected mainly during a November 2015 interview, regarding “significant logistic support” provided to two 9/11 hijackers, identified as Nawaf Al-Hazmi and Khalid Al-Midhar. The man who was interviewed had frequent contacts with Saudi nationals in the US and had links to the Saudi Arabian consulate in Los Angeles.
According to the document, the people who provided support to the first hijackers to arrive in the US before the 9/11 attacks include Omar Al Bayoumi and Fahad Al Thumairy. Bayoumi appears to have been more involved in providing “logistic support to Hazmi and Midhar includ[ing] translation, travel assistance, lodging and financing.”
The hijackers are said to have encountered Bayoumi, who was thought to be a Saudi student, at a halal restaurant in southern California in 2000 and he helped them find an apartment in San Diego. Bayoumi is also said to have had contacts with Osama Bassnan, a man who allegedly knew the Bin Laden family and maintained communication with them.
The FBI document says that on October 17, 1992, Bassnan hosted a party in Washington D.C. for the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman, the convicted mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Towers bombing.
Thumairy is said to have served as an administrative officer at the Saudi Consulate. According to FBI sources, he had extremist beliefs. He appears to have helped arrange meetings between Bayoumi and the two 9/11 hijackers. According to a 2017 court record by a former FBI official in Los Angeles, there was evidence of Bayoumi being an undercover intelligence operative.
The families of the 9/11 victims have long pushed the US government to declassify information related to the links Saudi Arabia may have had to the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks. Biden’s executive order requires the Attorney General to release the declassified 9/11 documents publicly over the next six months.
The Saudi embassy in the US said on Wednesday that Saudi Arabia supports the declassification of documents related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The embassy emphasized that all allegations that Saudi Arabia is complicit in the September 11 attacks are false and said that over the course of the twenty years since the tragedy, no evidence has emerged to indicate that the kingdom’s government had any information about the planned attack or was in any way involved in its execution.
The kingdom hopes that the full declassification of documents will put an end to any persisting allegations against Saudi Arabia as to its role in the attacks, the embassy stressed.
On September 11, 2001, members of Al Qaeda (a terrorist organization, banned in Russia) crashed two hijacked commercial planes into the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York, while another plane hit the Pentagon near Washington, DC. The fourth hijacked aircraft fell down in the state of Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.