AfFTER more than 13 years of secrecy, United States intelligence officials have released 28 classified pages from the congressional investigation into the September 11 terror attacks that claimed the lives of almost 3,000 people in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania in 2001.
The document shows names of people who helped hijackers get apartments and settle in the West.
Several investigations into the attacks followed the congressional inquiry.
Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said on Friday that the document "does not change the assessment of the us government that there's no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded Al Qaeda", quoting the commission's finding word for word. The inquiry, which concluded in 2005, was said to be inconclusive and found no evidence the Saudi government knowingly and willingly supported Al Qaeda terrorists.
The Saudi ambassador to the United States welcomes release of 28 pages, says hopes will clear up suspicions about Saudi role in 9/11 attacks.
Saudi officials have pointed to statements from U.S. officials supporting their position, including an interview CIA Director John Brennan did with the Saudi-owned Arabic news channel Al Arabiya on June 12 in which he said the 28 pages were part of "a very preliminary review".
"There is no excuse for keeping these 28 pages secret for more than a decade, so this release is welcome and long overdue", Wyden said. According to The New York Times, the White House sent a version of the document to congressional leadership on Friday, and the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee released it shortly thereafter.
But former Florida Sen.
Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, the chairmen of the September 11 commission, said on Friday that they supported the government's view that the Saudi government as an institution was not linked to the plot, but still considered one of the Saudi nationals mentioned in the congressional report, Fahad Al Thumairy, "a person of interest".
President Barack Obama, under pressure from Congress and the public, announced in April that the secret pages, which have been kept secret since 2002, would be declassified soon.
"This is not the end", he said.
The classification of the "28 pages" had sparked speculation that the hijackers had received official support from the Saudi government. A fourth plane, which investigators believe was headed for the U.S. Capitol building, crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pa., after passengers attempted to wrest control from the hijackers. The report's original authors cautioned that some of the information contained in "the 28 pages" was unvetted material complied by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Terry Strada, national chairwoman for 9/11 Families United For Justice Against Terrorism, also said she hoped Friday's release would help get other material disclosed.
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals.
One section said Omar al-Bayoumi, said to be a Saudi intelligence officer, met two hijackers at a public place after they arrived in San Diego.
It adds: "The Joint Inquiry's review confirmed that the Intelligence Community also has information, much of which has yet to be independently verified, indicating that individuals associated with the Saudi Government in the United States may have other ties to al-Qa'ida and other terrorist groups". " ... That company reportedly had ties to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida".