he U.S. government on Friday released a once-classified chapter from a congressional report on the 9/11 attacks that addresses Saudi connections to some of the hijackers.
Under wraps for 13 years, the report contains numerous redactions but states some hijackers “were in contact with, and received support or assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi Government.”
The documents were posted Friday by the House intelligence committee.
The report questioned whether Saudis who were in contact with the hijackers after they arrived in the U.S. knew what they were planning.
The document names people the hijackers associated with before they carried out the attacks. It identifies individuals who helped the hijackers get apartments, open bank accounts, attend local mosques and get flight lessons.
Later investigations found no evidence that the Saudi government or senior Saudi officials knowingly supported those who orchestrated the attacks. But lawmakers and relatives of victims, who don’t think all Saudi links to the attackers were thoroughly investigated, campaigned for more than 13 years to get the final chapter of the 2002 congressional inquiry released.
Former President George W. Bush originally classified the chapter to protect intelligence sources and methods and perhaps to avoid upsetting Saudi Arabia, a close U.S. ally.
President Obama later ordered a declassification review of the chapter, which Congress released on Friday.
The congressional panel that compiled the report was made up of bipartisan members of the Senate and House intelligence committees. The separate 9/11 commission released the findings of its investigation two years later.
Until now, the classified documents have remained in a secure basement room at the Capitol for the last 14 years – and the subject of intense debate.
Those who argued for their release believed the pages would shed light on the dark relationship between Saudi Arabia and terrorism.
Of the 19 who carried out the 9/11 attacks, 15 were Saudi citizens; the government has long had a complicated relationship with terrorists and terror organizations.
Saying it has been “wrongfully and morbidly accused of complicity” in the attacks, the government of Saudi Arabia supported calls for the release of the secret pages.
“We’ve been saying since 2003 that the pages should be released,” Nail Al-Jubeir, director of communications for the Saudi embassy, told CNN. “They will show everyone that there is no there there.”
In June 2015, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky joined with Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden to introduce a bill requiring President Obama to declassify and make available to the public the redacted 28 pages.
Former Florida Sen. Bob Graham, the former chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and co-chair of the bipartisan joint congressional inquiry, recently told “60 Minutes” he believed the hijackers had connections and support from the Saudi government, as well as wealthy individuals and charities.
This past June, the CIA’s Office of the Inspector General released a report on its own internal investigation. 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.
Under increasing pressure from the victims’ families and lawmakers, President Barack Obama said in April his administration would declassify the pages.