Saudi Arabia issues declaration of innocence – and outrage – ahead of release of September 11 documents | Global report
Saudi Arabia on Wednesday issued a declaration of preventive innocence ahead of the expected release this week of previously declassified documents related to the US government’s investigation into the 9/11 attacks and expressed outrage at the continuing accusations by its link with the hijackers.
“The previous declassification of documents relating to the 9/11 attacks (…) only confirmed the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission that Saudi Arabia had nothing to do with this terrible crime,” the Saudi embassy in the United States said in a written statement Wednesday afternoon. “It is lamentable that such false and malicious claims persist.”
The statement follows President Joe Biden’s decision on Friday, a week before the United States marks the 20th anniversary of the attacks, to release documents related to FBI investigations that victims’ families say may reveal more. about the hijackers, including who allegedly helped them.
The embassy remarks referred to what has come to be known as “28 pages” – a finding of a 2002 congressional investigation that was declassified in 2016, indicating a link between the hijackers 9/11 and Saudi agents, but ultimately establishing no clear line between Riyadh and attacking it itself. Of the 19 hijackers, 15 were Saudi citizens.
Photos: Afghanistan in crisis
The Commission’s report on 9/11, released in 2004, was also clear, finding “no credible evidence that anyone in the United States provided substantial financial assistance to the hijackers” or any clear connection to it. a foreign government.
Questions about Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks have bogged down as the kingdom becomes a key player in the US-led global war on terror. But those concerns have gained new momentum amid an authoritarian shift in Saudi leadership, including the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has alienated his American allies. Relatives of the victims have publicly called on Biden not to attend any commemorations for the attack if he had not first disclosed the documents – as he had pledged to do during the campaign.
Indeed, many believe the FBI documents commissioned by Biden will provide new information on what they see as Saudi Arabia’s obvious complicity.
“It has yet to be determined what the Saudis actually did,” said Brett Eagleson, whose father was at the World Trade Center on September 11 and died in the attack. NPR in a segment aired this week. “All of our lives changed on September 12. The world changed on September 12. And Americans deserve a reason, the full story and the full explanation.”
The NPR article, citing that commission staff and other officials who followed al-Qaida’s movements, highlighted other notable details of the hijacker’s movements prior to the attack, including a seemingly fortuitous meeting in a delicatessen between the two of them and a Saudi government employee, and a Saudi diplomat in Los Angeles who had previously helped the two find accommodation. He also says another Saudi diplomat in Washington made an unusual number of phone calls to contacts close to the hijackers at “critical times”.
Despite these suspicions, the Saudi government has categorically and systematically denied any connection to the terrorists. In his latest statement, although he said he “welcomed the release” of the new documents, he also expressed outrage at the lingering suspicions.
“Saudi Arabia knows all too well the evil that Al Qaeda represents through its ideology and actions. Along with the United States, we have been the main target of Al Qaeda, even before the terrorist attacks. September 11, “according to the statement, which uses an alternate spelling. for the terrorist group. “Saudi Arabia takes great pride in its counterterrorism record, including its efforts to thwart terrorist financing, its comprehensive strategies to counter extremist ideology in the public domain and online, as well as the degradation and degradation of terrorism. defeat of terrorist organizations in our region.
And he bluntly reminded the United States, after years of constant withdrawals from its presence in the Middle East and Central Asia – including its murderous withdrawal from Afghanistan – that it depends heavily on the conservative Islamic kingdom to help make it happen. advance their interests there.
“The Kingdom is an essential counterterrorism partner of the United States,” he said. “Together, our two countries have thwarted ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and inflicted serious setbacks on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS in Yemen, among other successes. The coordinated work of Saudi Arabia and the United States to disrupt and intercept terrorist plots over the past 20 years has undoubtedly saved the lives of thousands of Saudis and Americans, and made the world a safer place. ”
Saudi Arabia has been the subject of much international criticism for its participation in many of these operations. He appeared to use particular brutality in what some see as a campaign of indiscriminate bombing in Yemen, ostensibly to target ISIS terrorists and Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who also made high numbers of civilian casualties. The United States withdrew some elements of its military support for the Saudi air campaign in the final months of the Obama administration.
“We must never forget the lingering pain of the families and loved ones of the 2,977 innocent people who were killed in the worst terrorist attack on America in our history,” Biden said in a statement announcing his executive order to lead the Department of Justice and other agencies to review documents for potential declassification. “For them, it was not just a national and international tragedy. It was a personal devastation.”