The Justice Department said in a court filing Tuesday that it will reveal the name of a Saudi government official who is believed to have helped two of the 9/11 hijackers, CNN reports.
The official’s identity will first be shared with lawyers for the families of victims of the attack, who have accused the Saudi government of coordinating with the terrorists in a lawsuit. Their lawyers can then petition the DOJ to release the name publicly.
The name of the official is included in a four-page summary of an FBI investigation in 2012 into three individuals who are believed to have provided living arrangements, financial assistance, and aid obtaining driver’s licenses and flight lessons in California ahead of the attack.
The other two names -- Fahad al-Thumairy and Omar Ahmed al-Bayoumi -- were previously released. Both men have been connected to the Saudi government in US government reports.
Attorneys for the victims’ families who brought the suit have argued that the unnamed person is likely a more senior Saudi official. The attorneys cited a document that says the person whose name is redacted “tasked” the two others with “assisting the hijackers.”
The FBI said in a statement that it will declassify the document “in light of the extraordinary circumstances of this particular case."
15 of 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals:
Saudi Arabian officials’ role in the attacks has long been a topic of speculation, given that 15 of the 19 September 11 attackers were Saudi nationals, as was al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The 9/11 Commission said in a 2004 report that it found "no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded" al Qaeda.
Since the report’s release, “a number of commission members have since said, including in declarations that were submitted as part of the lawsuit, that the review did not include an exhaustive investigation of evidence of possible Saudi government involvement,” CNN reported.
Lawsuit moves forward:
September 11 victims’ families have been attempting to sue Saudi Arabia since 2003. In 2018, they were finally allowed to proceed with their lawsuit after Congress passed a law expanding the ability to bring civil lawsuits against foreign countries involving in terror attacks.
Former President Obama vetoed the law at the time, arguing it could expose American government officials and troops to litigation in other countries but Congress overrode his veto.
“Attorneys representing family members of almost all of the 9/11 victims, as well as thousands of survivors, last year sent subpoenas to Saudi Arabia, as well as the FBI, CIA and State Department, and have been receiving hundreds of pages of documents on a rolling basis,” CNN reported.