A former FBI agent involved in an investigation into the September 11, 2001 attacks says two of the hijackers received help from a US-based network of Saudis, including Omar al-Bayoumi who had ties to the Saudi government.
Danny Gonzalez, who worked on the still-classified FBI investigation ‘Operation Encore’ which focused on Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar who along with three other hijackers flew planes into the Pentagon, said he believes the pair were helped by a number of Saudi citizens including Bayoumi after they moved to San Diego in January 2001.
“19 hijackers cannot commit 3,000 mass murders by themselves,” Gonzalez told CBS News.
Bayoumi, who was working for the Riyadh government, helped al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar move to San Diego and assisted them in finding an apartment and opening a bank account, Gonzalez said.
The 9/11 Commission report released in 2004 found that Bayoumi was an “unlikely candidate for clandestine involvement” with extremists. It said there was “no credible evidence that he believed in violent extremism or knowingly aided extremist groups”.
But Gonzalez said the public would learn “a lot” if documents from ‘Operation Encore’, which began two years after the Commission’s report, were released, adding that the records would change the public’s understanding of the attacks.
Gonzalez said he can’t reveal certain classified information about the investigation per orders from the FBI.
His statements came as US President Joe Biden on Friday directed the Department of Justice to declassify some documents related to the attacks and release them over the next six months amid pressure from families and survivors who are suing the kingdom for its alleged complicity in the attacks.
Some of the documents which are set to be released pertain to “Encore”.
Commenting on Biden’s order, Brett Eagleson who lost his father Bruce in the Twin Towers attacks and has been an advocate for the victims’ families, said they would stay skeptical until the documents were released.
“We are cautiously optimistic that we will get the documents we need, however our guard is still up,” Eagleson told DailyMail.com.
Some 3,000 people were allegedly killed in the attacks that targeted several locations across the US.
Saudi Arabia’s name came to the fore in discussions concerning the attacks after their occurrence, with investigators quickly concluding that 15 of the 19 hijackers involved in the raids were of Saudi origin.
However, Riyadh has managed to avoid any liability amid what the families of the victims, survivors and their lawyers denounce as Washington’s attempts to shield the kingdom from any comeuppance.