This weekend the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a previously classified document regarding investigations of the Sept. 11 attacks.
This was the first declassification to be made after President Joe Biden’s executive order on Sept. 3. The order directs Attorney General Merrick Garland to publicly release all the recently declassified documents within six months, meaning there are more documents tied to the 9/11 investigation to come.
According to CNN, the order was issued after more than 1,600 people that were affected by the attacks sent Biden a letter asking him not to visit Ground Zero in New York on the 20th anniversary of the attacks unless he released the information as promised by him during his campaign.
“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 a statement released right before the anniversary.
“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.”
The document released comes from the previously secret FBI investigation called “Operation Encore.” Operation Encore focused on investigating the lives of the two hijackers that lived in San Diego and figuring out who might have helped them apart from the other 15 hijackers that took part in the attack.
Specifically, the 16-page document is a summary of an interview done in 2015 with a man who had frequent contact with Saudi Arabia nationals living in the United States and supported the first hijackers when they arrived in the America.
This release comes with nearly perfect timing as it was a couple of days after Danny Gonzales, a former FBI agent who worked on the operation, hinted to CBS that the FBI believed that there was a big network of domestic support helping the hijackers.
"Obviously I can't comment on it, but you don't have to be an FBI agent with 26 years of experience to figure that out,” Gonzales responded after being asked by a reporter whether he believed the attackers had domestic support.
The documents explicitly exposed that the hijackers were aided by Saudi nationals that were already U.S. residents. The document has also shown that the FBI believed the hijackers had support coming directly from the Saudi government.
There has been lots of long-time speculation regarding the possibility of any Saudi involvement in the attack. Such speculation increased over time because of the government’s refusal to declassify 28 pages of a 2002 congressional inquiry into the Sept. 11 attacks that specifically addressed possible connections between the kingdom and the terrorist plot.
The Saudi government has long denied any involvement in the attacks. Last week, the Saudi embassy in Washington D.C. issued a statement affirming that “any allegation that Saudi Arabia is complicit in the Sept. 11 attacks is categorically false.” This statement is backed by a report released in 2004 in which the congressional Sept. 11 committee said it had found no evidence that the “Saudi government as an institution, or senior Saudi officials individually funded” the terrorist group responsible for the attacks, al-Qaida.
Although the document issued this weekend contained no conclusive evidence about whether Saudi Arabia played a role in the attacks, it is still too soon to reach a firm conclusion as the document is only the first of many to come.