Saudi FM claims unpublished 9/11 files would demonstrate Riyadh played no part

Saudi FM claims unpublished 9/11 files would demonstrate Riyadh played no part
Prince Faisal bin Farhan's comments came on Sunday, the day after the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 when the FBI released a newly declassified document on the terrorist atrocity.
3 min read
13 September, 2021
Prince Faisal bin Farhan made his comments while briefing the media on Sunday [AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty]

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister on Sunday claimed classified files on the 9/11 atrocities would demonstrate Riyadh had no part to play whatsoever in what happened.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan said his country has long encouraged that files be published while briefing the media alongside Alexander Schallenberg, Austria's FM, in the Gulf nation's capital, the Saudi Gazette reported.

"We have, for over a decade, advocated the release of any documents related to that tragic day, in the full confidence that the revelation of any data in those documents would completely show that there was no involvement of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in any way."

The royal indicated Riyadh is in favour of other 11 September files being published, saying the Gulf nation is and has "been, for decades, a key partner in the global fight against terrorism".

This comes after the FBI on Saturday released a newly declassified document related to its investigation of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States and allegations of Saudi government support for the hijackers, following an executive order by President Joe Biden.

The partially redacted 16-page document released by the FBI on the twentieth anniversary of the attacks detailed contacts between the hijackers and several Saudi officials, but it did not draw a definitive conclusion whether the government in Riyadh was complicit in the attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

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Earlier this month, Biden ordered the Department of Justice to review documents from the FBI's probe into the attacks for declassification and release.

Relatives of the victims have been pushing for years for more information about what the FBI discovered in its probe and have contended that the documents would show Saudi Arabian authorities supported the plot.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia.

The Kingdom has long said it had no role in the attacks. The Saudi embassy in Washington did not respond to a Reuters request for comment sent out of hours late on Saturday.

A US government commission in 2004 found no evidence that Saudi Arabia directly funded Al-Qaeda, the group given safe haven by the Taliban in Afghanistan at the time. It left open whether individual Saudi officials might have.

The families of roughly 2,500 of those killed in the attacks, and more than 20,000 people who suffered injuries, businesses and various insurers, have sued Saudi Arabia seeking billions of dollars.

In a statement issued last Wednesday, the embassy said Saudi Arabia has always advocated for transparency around the events of 11 September 2001, and welcomes the release by the United States of classified documents relating to the attacks.

"As past investigations have revealed, including the 9/11 Commission and the release of the so-called '28 Pages,' no evidence has ever emerged to indicate that the Saudi government or its officials had previous knowledge of the terrorist attack or were in any way involved," the embassy's statement said.

In a statement on behalf of the organisation 9/11 Families United, Terry Strada, whose husband Tom was killed on 11 September, said the document released by the FBI on Saturday put to bed any doubts about Saudi complicity in the attacks.

"Now the Saudis' secrets are exposed and it is well past time for the Kingdom to own up to its officials' roles in murdering thousands on American soil," the statement said.

Biden has taken a tougher stance with Saudi Arabia than his predecessor Donald Trump, criticising the Kingdom over its human rights record while releasing a US intelligence report implicating the Kingdom's de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in the 2018 killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The prince denies any involvement.

(The New Arab, Reuters)