RIYADH (Dispatches) – Family members of the victims of the September 11 attacks are opposing U.S. President Joe Biden’s participation in memorial events unless he declassifies government documents that they contend will show Saudi Arabian leaders supported the attacks.
The victims’ family members, joined by first responders and survivors of the attack, released a letter on Friday as the attack’s 20th anniversary nears calling on Biden to skip this year’s memorial events unless he releases the documents.
“Twenty years later, there is simply no reason – unmerited claims of ‘national security’ or otherwise – to keep this information secret,” the letter stated.
“But if President Biden reneges on his commitment and sides with the Saudi government, we would be compelled to publicly stand in objection to any participation by his administration in any memorial ceremony of 9/11.”
In total, about 1,700 people directly affected by the September 11 attacks signed the letter. The Saudi embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request by the Reuters news agency for comment.
Family members of the September 11 victims have long sought U.S. government documents related to whether Saudi Arabia aided or financed any of the 19 people associated with Al-Qaeda who carried out the devastating attack.
Al-Qaeda operatives crashed three commercial jet planes into the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon outside Washington, DC. A fourth hijacked place believed to be targeting the U.S. Capitol building crashed in a Pennsylvania field. Nearly 3,000 people died.
Several U.S. senators have also called on the Biden administration to declassify and make available key documents related to Saudi Arabia’s role in the 9/11 attacks.
In bipartisan legislation introduced on Thursday, Democrat Senators Bob Menendez, Richard Blumenthal, Chris Murphy, and Republican John Cornyn said the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) must oversee a full declassification review of the government’s investigation of the attacks.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was also a cosponsor of the legislation.
In 2016, 28 pages from a top-secret 2002 congressional report into U.S. espionage activities before and after 9/11 were declassified, revealing the identities of individuals who knew some of the 19 hijackers after they arrived in the United States and helped them stay in the country.
Lawmakers also found that some hijackers were linked to, and received support from, people associated with the Saudi government, including two Saudi spy agency officers.
In sworn testimony in 2017, former FBI Special Agent Stephen Moore, who led the Los Angeles Task Force Team for PENTTBOM --the bureau’s investigation of the 9/11 attacks-- said there was evidence of the Saudi involvement.
“Based on evidence we gathered during the course of our investigation, I concluded that diplomatic and intelligence personnel of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia knowingly provided material support to the two 9/11 hijackers and facilitated the 9/11 plot. My colleagues in our investigation shared that conclusion,” Moore said in his affidavit.