Survivors of the 9/11 terror attack and families of victims have claimed “victory” after their lawyers were granted access to a key piece of new information they believe will uncover the truth about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the plot that killed nearly 3,000 people.
The name of a Saudi official, which the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has long sought to shield from public view, was handed over to lawyers according to yesterday’s court filings. The families are said to have celebrated the decision. “This was a key document, but by no means the only evidence we have been pursuing and securing from the FBI,” the families are reported saying by the Wall Street Journal, in a statement in which they described access to the new information as a “big victory and good result.”
Victims of 9/11 have faced an uphill battle to get to the truth about the terrorist plot. They have been locked in battle with the US government and intelligence agencies to gain access to an unredacted copy of the report and other pieces of information they believe will complete the puzzle.
Further information is still being withheld by the FBI. Citing the “exceptional nature of the case” the bureau is reported saying that it would only provide the name of the one Saudi official that the families had wanted most to obtain, but no other information. The name of the official is expected to remain a secret to the public as it would be given privately to lawyers for the victims’ families, according to the filing.
One of the attorneys for the families said that the name revealed by the FBI wasn’t a surprise though he declined to characterize the person further. Further motions are expected to be filed in an attempt to lift the protective order.
An FBI official, however, is reported playing down the significance of the information, saying that the document’s reference to the Saudi official at issue referred to an “investigative theory being pursued by the FBI at that time” and “does not represent an objective statement of fact.”
“Ongoing investigations” and protection of source and methods was cited by the FBI officer for their refusal to release additional information.
The new material was made available days after the revelation of sensational details about a “cover up” that goes right to the top of the FBI hierarchy. Earlier this week Counsel Robert Mueller, then director of the bureau, was accused by former staff members of helping the Saudis cover up their role in the 9/11 attack.
Further trouble may lie ahead for the Saudis who have strongly rejected the claim that they were involved with the 9/11 attack. The alleged mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, expressed a desire to strike a bargain in July. He is reported saying that he would help victims of the attacks in their lawsuit against Saudi Arabia if the US government spares him the death penalty at Guantanamo Bay.