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9/11 families sue FBI for names of Americans who supported al Qaeda hijackers

9/11 Memorial (Dave Z/Flickr)
May 17, 2019

The families of 9/11 victims are fighting to have the FBI release the names of Americans who supported Al Qaeda.

The Department of Justice has refused to allow the release of FBI transcripts that include redactions in order to protect a Saudi government official, while citing national security concerns, Fox News reported Monday.

The refusal has left families wondering why the U.S. is protecting a Saudi Arabian figure and their involvement in the 9/11 attacks, especially after 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals.

“It’s been 18 years on. Give the American people justice,” said Brett Eagleson, who lost his father in the south tower.

South tower survivor Tim Frolich said “they’re covering it up,” adding that it’s been more than 17 years and there “has never been an indictment or an arrest for the crime of murder.”

Last April, Andrew Maloney, an attorney for the 9/11 families issued a subpoena to the FBI for documents relating to Omar al-Bayoumi, an alleged Saudi spy who was in the U.S. and contacting the hijackers, as well as Fahadal-Thumairy, former Los Angeles consular official and Imam at the mosque the hijackers attended, Newsweek reported last year.

“There was clearly evidence that Thumairy provided assistance to [hijackers] Hazmi and Mihdhar,” Moore wrote. And “based on the proof in our investigation,” he added, “Bayoumi himself was a clandestine agent and associated with radical extremists, including Thumairy.”

Although a 2004 9/11 Commission report found no evidence that the Saudi government or its officials funded Al Qaeda, a 2005 CIA inspector general’s report offered speculation that “dissident sympathizers within the government” may have lent support to terror mastermind Osama bin Laden.

Other investigations found that officials from the Saudi government’s Islamic affairs were involved in helping place the hijackers in California.

“Saudi intelligence has admitted that they knew who these two guys [Hazmi and Mihdhar] were,” Andrew Maloney told Newsweek last year. “They knew they were Al-Qaeda the day they arrived in Los Angeles. So any notion from the Saudi government saying, ‘Oh, we just help out all Saudis here’ is false. They knew. And the CIA knew.”

The families have been suing the Saudi government since 2003, alleging that Saudi government workers supported the 9/11 hijackers, as well as contributed funding to Al Qaeda. The Saudi government has always denied involvement in the terror attacks.

Last year, a federal judge denied the Saudi government’s motion to throw out the lawsuit. Because of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act – passed by Congress in 2016 despite former President Barack Obama’s veto – the families were able to continue their legal fight against the Saudi government after the rejection, the Associated Press reported.

Despite the involvement of the Saudi government in the attacks, the 9/11 families feel that the U.S. government continues to take the side of the Saudis.

“They’ve all handled it the same,” Terry Strada, the national chairwoman of 9/11 Families and Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism, told The Hill in March. “They have sided with the Saudis more than they have sided with the 9/11 families.”