WASHINGTON: Newly declassified pages from a US congressional report into 9/11 should finally put to rest questions about Saudi Arabia’s suspected role in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubier said on Friday.
Saudi Arabia itself has urged the release of the chapter since 2002 so the kingdom could respond to any allegations that some of the hijackers had links to Saudis, including government officials — allegations that were never substantiated by later US investigations into the terrorist attacks.
“That matter is now finished,” Al-Jubier said. “The surprise in the 28 pages is that there is no surprise,” Al-Jubier said.
Before the release of the document, White House spokesman Josh Earnest also said the 28 pages contain no new evidence of Saudi complicity.
“It will confirm what we have been saying for quite some time,” Earnest told reporters during a daily White House briefing.
Saudi Ambassador to the US Prince Abdullah Al-Saud said it had “confirmed that neither the Saudi government, nor senior Saudi officials, nor any person acting on behalf of the Saudi government provided any support or encouragement for these attacks.”
He said: “We hope the release of these pages will clear up, once and for all, any lingering questions or suspicions about Saudi Arabia’s actions, intentions, or long-term friendship with the US.”
He pointed out that “Saudi Arabia is working closely with the US and other allies to eradicate terrorism and destroy terrorist organizations.”
The prince said: “Since 2002, the 9/11 Commission and several government agencies, have investigated the contents of the ‘28 Pages’ and have confirmed that neither the Saudi government, nor senior Saudi officials, nor any person acting on behalf of the Saudi government provided any support or encouragement for these attacks.”
Congress released the last chapter of the congressional inquiry that has been kept under wraps for more than 13 years, stored in a secure room in the basement of the Capitol. Lawmakers and relatives of victims of the attacks, who believe that Saudi links to the attackers were not thoroughly investigated, campaigned for years to get the pages released.
The lightly redacted document names individuals who helped the hijackers get apartments, open bank accounts and connect with local mosques. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals and several were not fluent in English and had little experience living in the West.
Former Florida Sen. Bob Graham, the co-chairman of the congressional inquiry, who pushed hard for the last chapter of the inquiry’s report to be released, believes the hijackers had an extensive Saudi support system while they were in the United States.
Two years ago, under pressure from the families of those killed or injured on Sept. 11, and others, President Barack Obama ordered a declassification review of the chapter. National Intelligence Director James Clapper conducted that declassification review and transmitted the document to Congress, which released the pages online on Friday.
Debunking conspiracy theories</b>
Several investigations into 9/11 followed the congressional inquiry, which released its report — minus the secret chapter — in December 2002. The most well-known investigation was done by the 9/11 Commission, led by New Jersey Rep. Tom Kean and former Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana
Kean and Hamilton said the 28 pages were based almost entirely on raw, unvetted material that came to the FBI. “The leads developed in 2002 and 2003 were checked out as thoroughly as possible,” they said in a statement Friday.
The commission’s 567-page report, released in July 2004, stated that it found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded” Al-Qaeda.
Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, and vice chairman, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., urged the public to read the results of other investigations by the CIA and FBI that “debunk” many of the allegations, and put conspiracy theories to rest.