The FBI has released its first declassified 9/11 document exactly 20 years after the deadly terror attack which claimed the lives of 2,996 people.
The document was published Saturday evening, a week after President Biden signed an executive order directing the agency to make the secret files available to the public for the first time.
The order came amid significant pressure from the families of 9/11 victims, who are eager to probe potential Saudi government links to the attack.
Of the 19 hijackers on board the four doomed 9/11 planes, 15 were Saudi nationals.
Last Wednesday, Saudi Arabia released a statement maintaining their innocence, saying ‘it is lamentable that such false and malicious claims persist’.
The newly-released document details a 2015 interview with a Saudi embassy staffer who was suspected of providing some logistical support to two 9/11 hijackers when they arrived in Los Angeles prior to the attacks.
The document is still significantly redacted and the embassy staffer – who was applying for US citizenship at the time of his 2015 interview with the FBI – is not named. He is referred to as PII.
According to the document, ‘PII was forthcoming with numerous specific details regarding his … employment with the Consulate of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Los Angeles, [and] anecdotes of personal interactions with Consular leadership.’
During his FBI interview, PII described his duties at the Consulate ‘providing assistance to Saudi college students studying in the US, providing translation assistance, executing administrative tasks, and distributing literature on Islam’.
Interestingly, the FBI notes in the newly-released document that the two hijackers PII is suspected of helping originally traveled to the US as college students.
The hijackers are identified in the document as Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar. Both of the men were on board American Airlines Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon on September 11.
The FBI has released its first declassified 9/11 document exactly 20 years after the deadly terror attack. The document was published Saturday evening, a week after President Biden signed an executive order directing the agency to make the secret files available to the public
PII was suspected of helping hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi (left) and Khalid al-Mihdhar (right). Both of the men were on board American Airlines Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon on September 11
55 military personnel and 70 civilians were killed when Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon
The pair were reportedly already long-time affiliates of al-Qaeda with extensive fighting experience, and were chosen by Osama bin Laden to be a part of the ambitious 9/11 terror plot.
The FBI document states that PII admitted showing al-Hazimi and al-Mihdhar the location of a Mediterranean restaurant in Los Angeles that was frequented by others suspected of providing logistical support to the terrorists.
PII ‘denied being tasked to do so’ and stated that he simply ‘assisted al-Hazimi and al-Mihdar because he is a good Muslim and helping two new students in town is the Muslim way’.
The document appears to imply that PII even had his own sister move out and stay with another sister for a couple of weeks ‘because he was having al-Hazimi and al-Mihdhar stay with him’.
Meanwhile, the newly-released document – which is heavily redacted in one part – also appears to state that PII may also have ‘worked as a facilitator for the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and was associated with members of the Salafist Group For Preaching and Combat.’
The document notes that GIA and the GSPC ‘have evolved into al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’.
Additionally, sources allegedly told the FBI that PII was ‘very very vocal against Christians, Jews and enemies of Islam.’
Another stated that ‘the Saudi Consul General in LA wanted to fire PII for storage and and distribution of extremist Muslim literature at the consulate’.
It is unclear whether PII was ever granted US citizenship following his 2015 interview with the FBI, or whether he is still connected to the Saudi Consulate.
New document also reveals PII’s links to ‘suspected Saudi intelligence agent’ Omar al-Bayoumi
The newly-released document also states that PII was an associate of Saudi man Omar al-Bayoumi.
Al-Bayoumi has previously admitted to befriending al-Hazimi and al-Mihdhar, but denied ever working officially with them as part of a terrorist plot.
Documents declassified in 2016 reveal that the FBI believed back in 2003 that it was ‘possible that al-Bayoumi was an agent of the Saudi Government and that he may have been reporting on the local community to Saudi Government officials’.
He has also been described as a ‘suspected Saudi intelligence agent’.
Al-Bayoumi was arrested in London the week after the September 11 attacks and his phone calls and bank accounts were researched before he was released without charge.
The final 9/11 Commission report, published in 2004, concluded that there ‘was no credible evidence that al-Bayoumi believed in violent extremism or knowingly aided extremist groups.’
However, the newly-released document appears to say otherwise, and reveals that he had odd ties to the two terrorists.
It states: ‘al-Bayoumi’s logistic support to al-Hazimi and al-Mihdhar included translation, travel assistance, lodging and financing. Anomalous money transfers within al-Bayoumi’s bank accounts coincide with transactions wherein al-Bayoumi provides assistance to al-Hazimi and al-Mihdhar
Interestingly, in his 2015 interview, PII recalled al-Bayoumi receiving special treatment at the Saudi Consulate in LA prior to the 9/11 attack.
According to the newly-released FBI document: ‘PIl described al-Bayoumi as a Saudi citizen treated with great respect inside the Saudi Consulate, well regarded by Consulate personnel who held a ‘very high status’ when he entered the building.
He alleged that stated al-Bayoumi’s status was even higher than many of the Saudi persons who were in charge of the Consulate.
The reason for his high status among Saudi officials remains unclear.
al-Bayoumi told investigators in 2003 that ‘he came to the US to study work for a Saudi aviation company named Dallah AVCO. Regarding his employment, however, witnesses at AVCO described him as a ‘ghost employee’ who was ‘one of approximately 50 individuals paid at the company who did not show up for work’.
It is reported that al-Bayoumi now lives back in Saudi Arabia.