As America mourned on Saturday the 2,977 victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks 20 years later, the question continues to loom large about the involvement of the government of Saudi Arabia, a US ally at least on the surface but also a radical Islamist monarchy.
On Saturday evening, the FBI published its first declassified documents about the investigation into the September 11, 2001 attacks, a week after Democrat President Joe Biden issued an executive order telling the agency for the first time ever to make them available to the public.
Biden signed the order after tremendous pressure on part of the families of the 9/11 victims who think there are strong reasons to believe that the Saudi government may have been linked to the most vicious terrorist attack in world history.
The suspicions in that regard haven’t been unfounded considering the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers originated in Saudi Arabia if nothing else.
Saudi consulate employee implicated
The released FBI file, even though it is heavily redacted, does contain information implicating a Saudi state employee in aiding the 9/11 terrorists – although it doesn’t seem to prove whether the government of Saudi Arabia was involved, as he might have acted in his “private” capacity.
The declassified information in question is an interview the FBI conducted with a former official of the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles.
The official, whose name is not revealed, confessed to letting two of the 19 hijackers use his apartment and to aid them in traveling around Los Angeles.
The FBI established that the man in question was a “facilitator” for al-Qaeda, and the file also reveals that the Saudi Consul General in LA wanted to fire him over the spreading of extremist Islamist literature.
According to the FBI, the unnamed Saudi Consulate employee also was a close associate of Fahad al-Thumairy and Omar al-Bayoumi, also Saudis, who are known to have helped the terrorists.
The file discloses that al-Bayoumi, who was a “ghost employee” of a Saudi aviation company in the US, has confessed to befriending the terrorists, while al-Thumairy helped them with money, travel, and accommodation.
The newly released declassified FBI files mention the problematic official of the Saudi Consulate in LA only as “PII.”
According to media reports, however, the person behind that codename may be Mussaed Ahmed al-Jarrah, who in 2015 even applied for American citizenship, and has also worked for the Saudi Consulate in Washington, DC.
The name “Ahmed al-Jarrah” became known when it remained unredacted by mistake in court documents for a separate case authored by an FBI official.
Al-Jarrah, however, has adamantly denied involvement or knowing any of the 9/11 terrorists.
The government of Saudi Arabia last week issued a statement once again claiming innocence and declaring it to be “lamentable” that “false and malicious claims persist” about its potential involvement in the 9/11 attack.
The two hijackers whom PII is revealed to have helped are Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi.
They were the first two to arrive in the United States for the planned attack, in 2000.
Both of them were onboard American Airlines Flight 77 which was crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11.
Both were seasoned jihadists and long-time operatives of al-Qaeda and were chosen personally for the suicide mission by Osama bin Laden, partly because of their good knowledge of Western culture and their language skills.
Saudis’ secrets exposed
According to the newly released FBI file, PII showed the two terrorists the location of a Mediterranean cuisine restaurant in LA, which was also visited by other suspects who may have given them logistical support.
PII denied accusations that he was “tasked” to do that, and argued that he helped the hijackers out of being a “good Muslim.”
PII is revealed to have been affiliated with two radical Muslim groups which then transformed into “al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb”, and that he was “very, very vocal” against the enemies of Islam, Jews, and Christians.
The released FBI classified document doesn’t make it clear whether PII received US citizenship after his interview in 2015, or if he remains affiliated with the Saudi Consulate in the US.
More than 20,000 people who are part of the families of about 2,500 of the 9/11 victims have sued Saudi Arabia for billions of dollars over its alleged involvement in the attacks.
Their 9/11 Families United organization issued a statement in which Terry Strada, who lost her husband Tom 20 years ago, said on their behalf that the declassified FBI file removes any doubts about the Saudi complicity.
“The Saudis’ secrets are exposed,” Strada said, adding that the Saudi Kingdom must own up to the roles of its officials “in murdering thousands on American soil.”