The US Justice Department has agreed to declassify the name of a Saudi official who allegedly helped mastermind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but refuses to release it to the public or reveal any other information sought by victims.
The Trump administration has finally opted to declassify the name of an individual – believed to be a Saudi official – who allegedly directed two men with links to the Saudi government in assisting the September 11, 2001 hijackers, announcing on Thursday they’d release the name to the families after a lengthy court battle.
The name won’t be available publicly, however, and the administration refuses to declassify any of the other documents the families are seeking, citing the “exceptional nature of the case.”
Terry Strada, chair of 9/11 Families and Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism, called it “a good result,” while the FBI pointed out that the name was “the primary piece of information that the plaintiffs in the 9/11 litigation have been seeking.” However, the 9/11 victims resented having to jump through legal hoops in return for crumbs.
“We shouldn’t have to beg for this sort of basic information, or be kept in the dark, about the Saudi role in the attacks,” Strada said following the decision. The families are suing the Saudi government, claiming it helped coordinate the attacks.
The individual’s name was redacted in a 2012 summary of the FBI’s inquiry into the intelligence community’s activities before and after the attacks, which the families have tried to have unredacted. The two men he directed, both of whom have ties to the Saudi government, are described as providing support to two of the hijackers in a “highly coordinated, state-run-and-initiated covert operation,” helping them find housing, get drivers’ licenses, and otherwise settle in. Fifteen of the 19 alleged hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, though its government denies involvement in the attacks, which were blamed on Al-Qaeda.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the attacks, volunteered in July to help the 9/11 families with their lawsuit by testifying against the Saudi government if he is spared the death penalty. He has been imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay for 11 years, awaiting trial.