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WASHINGTON—The Trump administration turned over a key piece of new information to lawyers for 9/11 victims’ families, a move that could cast light on long-disputed reports of Saudi government involvement in the terrorist attacks.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation provided the name of a Saudi official contained in a 2012 report that the bureau has long sought to shield from full public view. It declined to release any other information the families had sought, which could have further complicated already-tense relations between Washington and Riyadh.
The decision, revealed in a Thursday court filing, marks the latest turn in a long battle between the families and the FBI to get access to an unredacted copy of the report and other information. The families sought the document as part of a lawsuit against Saudi Arabia that accuses its government of helping coordinate the 2001 attacks.
Victims’ families had for months urged the government to provide the full report, telling President Trump in a letter recently that it would help them “finally learn the full truth and obtain justice from Saudi Arabia.”
The FBI, citing the “exceptional nature of the case” said it would provide only the name of the one Saudi official that the families had wanted most to obtain, but no other information. The name of the official won’t be made public, but would be given privately to lawyers for the victims’ families, according to the filing.
James Kreindler, an attorney for the families, said they intend to file a motion to lift the protective order, and would continue to fight for more information. He said the name that was revealed wasn’t a surprise but declined to characterize the person further.
The families celebrated the decision. “This was a key document, but by no means the only evidence we have been pursuing and securing from the FBI,” the families said in a statement, describing it as a “big victory and good result.”
An FBI official played down the significance of the information, saying that the document’s reference to the Saudi official at issue referred to an “investigative theory being pursued by the FBI at that time” and “does not represent an objective statement of fact.”
The official said the FBI was shielding additional information to protect classified information related to “ongoing investigations” and to protect its source and methods. Attorney General William Barr asserted the state secrets privilege to keep the other information secret, saying there was a “reasonable danger” that releasing it would “risk significant harm to national security.”
Nearly 3,000 people were killed when terrorists crashed hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and, after passengers resisted, a field in Pennsylvania.
Saudi Arabia has denied official complicity in the attacks. While 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, official U.S. government reviews haven't made public any concrete evidence of Riyadh’s involvement.
The Saudi Embassy didn’t respond to a request to comment.
U.S. declassifies key name in Saudi-9/11 suit, but won't release it publicly
The long-awaited decision involved whether to disclose the name of a person who allegedly directed two men in California who assisted hijackers in the 9/11 attacks.
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration decided Thursday to declassify a key name long sought by relatives of 9/11 victims who are suing Saudi Arabia over allegations of that country's involvement, but declined to release the name publicly.
The name of the individual, which the 9/11 families believe may support their allegation of Saudi involvement in the terror attacks, will be disclosed to the plaintiff's lawyers under a protective order. The order makes it illegal for those attorneys to release the name to the public, meaning the identity of the individual will remain a secret — at least for now.
The decision by the FBI and the Justice Department was a partial victory for the 9/11 families, who have been fighting in court to compel the Trump administration to hand over the name. Terry Strada, who chairs the group 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism, called it "a good result."
CHECK THIS OUT! Wow!
New York Area Fire Commissioners Demand New 9/11 Investigation
On July 24, the Franklin Square and Munson Fire Districts voted unanimously for a new investigation, citing “overwhelming evidence” that “pre-planted explosives . . . caused the destruction of the three World Trade Center buildings.”
The resolution was written by Commissioner Christopher Gioia, and received overwhelming support from Commissioner Dennis Lyons.
DOCS INDICATE Mueller's FBI KNEW TERRORIST ANWAR AL-AULAQI PURCHASED AIRLINE TICKETS FOR 9/11 HIJACKERS
DOCS INDICATE FBI KNEW TERRORIST ANWAR AL-AULAQI PURCHASED AIRLINE TICKETS FOR 9/11 HIJACKERS
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it has received documents from the U.S. State Department indicating that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was aware on September 27, 2001, that Anwar al-Aulaqi, the U.S. born terrorist assassinated by a U.S. drone in Yemen on September 30, 2011, had purchased airplane tickets for three of the 9/11 terrorist hijackers, including mastermind Mohammed Atta. Subsequent to the FBI’s discovery, al-Aulaqi was detained and released by authorities at least twice and had been invited to dine at the Pentagon.
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According to a September 27, 2001, FBI transcription, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State and Federal Bureau of Investigations (No. 1:12-cv-00893)), al-Aulaqi purchased airline tickets for the following 9/11 hijackers:
Mohammed Atta, America West Airlines, 08/13/2001, for a flight from Washington, DC, to Las Vegas, Nevada, to Miami, Florida.
S. Suqami, Southwest Airlines, 07/10/2001, for a flight from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Orlando, Florida.
Al-Sheri, National Airlines, 08/01/2001, for a flight from San Francisco, California, to Las Vegas, Nevada, to Miami, Florida.
The documents also include material showing that al-Aulaqi was uncooperative with FBI agents investigating the 9/11 attacks and was seemingly a central focus of the FBI investigation and monitoring related to 9/11.