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Just-released documents 'point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia,' but White House says its assessment has not changed
By Nadia Prupis, staff writer
The report will raise new concern that US officials attempted to cover up evidence that might have implicated the Saudis.
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The just-released 28 pages of a 2002 congressional report into Saudi Arabia's possible ties to the 9/11 hijackers have stirred speculation about the U.S. government's continued relationship with the Gulf kingdom.
Amnesty International criticized the White House's statement that the pages, hidden from public view for 13 years, have not changed the government's assessment that "there's no evidence that the Saudi government or senior Saudi individuals funded al-Qaeda."
"We stand with survivors of this crime against humanity: They deserve justice and the whole truth," the human rights group tweeted.
As Murtaza Hussein wrote for The Intercept, the 28 pages "redacted in parts, detail circumstantial evidence of ties among Saudi government officials, intelligence agents, and several of the hijackers," including by providing financial and housing assistance to those living in the U.S.
The report also offers new information about the connections between alleged 9/11 masterminds and members of the Saudi royal family, including Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a former ambassador to the U.S. and close friend of the Bush family. The report details money transfers of at least $15,000 from Bandar's bank account in Washington to a suspected Saudi government spy, as well as phone logs between Bandar and suspected al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah.
Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), who led the charge to publish the documents, said the findings "point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia," and Congressman Rick Nolan, who also pushed for the pages to be released, said they "confirm that much of the rhetoric preceding the U.S. attack on Iraq was terribly wrong."
Among the new revelations is the fact that Saudi officials apparently refused to cooperate with U.S. investigators seeking information about the attack.
"As the report notes, 'In testimony and interviews, a number of FBI agents and CIA officers complained to the [inquiry] about a lack of Saudi cooperation in terrorism investigations both before and after the September 11th attacks.'
"Referencing a May 1996 Director of Central Intelligence memo, the report cited agency beliefs that 'the Saudis had stopped providing background information or other assistance on Bin Ladin because Bin Ladin had 'too much information about official Saudi dealings with Islamic extremists in the 1980s for Riyadh to deliver him into U.S. hands.'"