US President Joe Biden on September 4 signed an executive order directing the Justice Department and other agencies to begin a six-month process of declassifying documents related to the FBI’s investigation into the September 11, 2001 attacks. The move comes days before the 20th anniversary of the al-Qaeda attacks and a month after 9/11 survivors, first responders and family members of the nearly 3,000 victims wrote a sternly worded letter to the president. They accused the United States of deliberately keeping the documents, which they say prove that Saudi government officials aided the al-Qaeda attackers, under wraps.
According to a statement released by White House Biden said, “When I ran for president, I made a commitment to ensuring transparency regarding the declassification of documents on the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America”.
It added, “As we approach the 20th anniversary of that tragic day, I am honoring that commitment. Today, I signed an executive order directing the Department of Justice and other relevant agencies to oversee a declassification review of documents related to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's September 11th investigations. The executive order requires the Attorney General to release the declassified documents publicly over the next six months”.
The US President said that the nation must never forget the “enduring pain” of the families and loved ones of the 2,977 innocent people who were killed during the worst terrorists attack on America in its history. He added that for 20 years, children have grown up without parents and parents have suffered without children, and husbands and wives have had to find a way forward without their partners. Biden said that his heart continues to be with 9/11 families who are suffering.
“My administration will continue to engage respectfully with members of this community. I welcome their voices and insight as we chart a way forward," the statement said.
Meanwhile, it is worth noting that family members of the 9/11 victims have long sought US government documents related to whether Saudi Arabia aided or financed any of the 19 people associated with al-Qaeda. The terrorist group had crashed three commercial jet planes into the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Centre and the Pentagon outside Washington DC. A fourth hijacked plane believed to be targetting the US Capitol building, however, had crashed in a Pennsylvania field.
According to Al Jazeera, fifteen of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. Previously, the US government had found no evidence that Saudi Arabia directly funded al-Qaeda. However, families of roughly 2,500 of those killed and over 20,000 people who suffered injuries are suing Saudi Arabia for billions of dollars.