News ID: 316015
Published: 0219 GMT September 04, 2021

Biden orders declassification review of 9/11 records amid pressure from victims’ families

Biden orders declassification review of 9/11 records amid pressure from victims’ families
ROBERT CLARK/AP

An explosion rips through the south tower of the World Trade Center in New York City as smoke billows from the north tower following a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.

US President Joe Biden signed an executive order directing the Justice Department and other agencies to conduct a declassification review of documents related to the FBI’s investigation of 9/11 terrorist attack amid mounting pressure from victims’ families.

The order requires that Attorney General Merrick Garland release the declassified documents to the public over the next six months, Yahoo News reported.

Biden’s executive order comes amid mounting pressure from families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks to release documents from the government’s investigation, which they believe may contain evidence of a link between Saudi leaders and the Al-Qaeda terrorists.

Last month nearly 1,800 Americans who were directly affected by 9/11 issued a statement, urging Biden to abstain from participating in any memorial events for the upcoming 20th anniversary of the attacks unless he follows through on his campaign pledge to declassify the documents.

“We cannot in good faith, and with veneration to those lost, sick, and injured, welcome the president to our hallowed grounds until he fulfills his commitment,” the statement said.

On Thursday, relatives of the 9/11 victims filed a complaint with the Justice Department’s inspector general calling for an investigation into whether FBI officials may have deliberately lost or destroyed evidence that could potentially prove that Saudi officials were complicit in the attacks.

In a statement released by the White House on Friday, Biden appeared to acknowledge the frustration expressed by the victims’ families, and sought to reaffirm his commitment to the transparency he promised on the campaign trail.

“When I ran for president, I made a commitment to ensuring transparency regarding the declassification of documents on the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America,” Biden said in the statement announcing the order. “As we approach the 20th anniversary of that tragic day, I am honoring that commitment.”

“We must never forget the enduring pain of the families and loved ones of the 2,977 innocent people who were killed during the worst terrorist attack on America in our history,” he said. “My heart continues to be with the 9/11 families who are suffering, and my administration will continue to engage respectfully with members of this community. I welcome their voices and insight as we chart a way forward.”

Families of the victims have long sought US government documents related to whether Saudi Arabia aided or financed any of the 19 people associated with Al-Qaeda who crashed hijacked passenger jets into New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon outside Washington and a Pennsylvania field. Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. A US government commission found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded” the Al-Qaeda terrorist group. But the commission’s phrasing left some to speculate that there might be evidence of involvement by other, lower-ranking officials.

An investigation last year by The New York Times Magazine and ProPublica found that FBI agents, who secretly investigated Saudi connections to the attacks for more than a decade, had discovered circumstantial evidence of such support.

 

 

 

 

   
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