President Joe Biden has signed an executive order directing the FBI to release long-awaited classified documents regarding Saudi Arabia’s connection to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, a source close to the Biden administration told Newsmax on Friday.
Biden’s decision to move on the executive order this week comes after 9/11 victims’ families on Thursday asked an inspector general in the Department of Justice to investigate their claims.
The families allege that the FBI lied about or destroyed evidence tying Saudi Arabian officials to the team of al-Qaida hijackers.
In the letter to Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, the families allege that "circumstances make it likely that one or more FBI officials committed willful misconduct with intent to destroy or secrete evidence to avoid its disclosure."
The FBI declined to comment about the letter, which had nearly 3,500 signatures, including family members of 9/11 victims, first responders, and survivors of the attacks.
For the past 20 years, a group of 9/11 victims’ families have fought a tireless but fruitless battle for additional U.S. government information about the terrorist attacks two decades ago that killed almost 3,000 people and wounded countless others.
The families have been trying to uncover secret law enforcement and intelligence reports that could reveal whether Saudi Arabian officials provided financial assistance or other aid to any of the 19 al-Qaida hijackers, 15 of whom were from Saudi Arabia.
Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the attacks, was also a Saudi national.
The most recent request sought evidence that included phone records and a videotape of a party in California that two of the hijackers attended more than a year before the attacks.
"Given the importance of the missing evidence at issue to the 9/11 investigation, as well as the repeated mishandling by the FBI of that evidence, an innocent explanation is not believable," the letter states.
The signatories asked Horowitz to look into FBI statements made in response to a subpoena from the families that the agency "lost or is simply no longer able to find key evidence about the individuals who provided substantial support inside the U.S. to the 9/11 hijackers."
For years, Saudi Arabia has denied playing any role in the attacks.
The bipartisan 9/11 Commission final report found no evidence that Saudi Arabia directly funded al-Qaida but did not determine whether individual Saudi officials may have had a hand in helping the Islamist terrorists.
The Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia did not reply to Newsmax’s request for comment at time of publication.
Separately, the FBI conducted Operation Encore, which probed links between the hijackers and Saudi Arabia.
The FBI reportedly found no evidence of direct links. But a former FBI agent, Stephen Moore, claimed in a 2017 sworn statement that he believed Saudi officials had provided support to at least two of the hijackers.
Biden’s decision to order the release of the information comes amid immense mounting pressure from the victims’ families who sued Saudi Arabia.
In 2016, Congress passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, a law that waived sovereign immunity for Saudi Arabia, opening the door for 9/11 families, insurance companies, and others to sue the oil-rich kingdom in U.S. federal court.
Several of those suits remain in process and the release of additional FBI documents could support their claims.
Some of those families demanded Biden skip attending any 20-year memorial events surrounding the attacks unless he declassified the documents.
Last month, the Justice Department said in a court filing that it had decided to review earlier claims of privilege it had made about why it could not release some information requested by families.
"My administration is committed to ensuring the maximum degree of transparency under the law," Biden said in an Aug. 9 statement about the DOJ’s decision.
Brett Eagleson, son of 9/11 victim Bruce Eagleson, called Biden's executive order a "critical step forward for the 9/11 community and the American people" who deserve a full accounting of the events surrounding the attacks.
"President Biden is asking us to trust that the administration will bring justice to the 9/11 community, and we certainly hope this is a genuine step forward," he said. "We will closely watch this process to ensure the Justice Department and FBI follow through, act in good faith, and help our families uncover the truth in our pursuit of justice against the Saudi government."
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