Call for US to declassify 9/11 documents

By Tom Ravlic

September 13, 2021

Former FBI agent Ali Soufan insists the US government declassify documents that look at if Saudi Arabia helped plan the September 11 attacks
Former FBI agent Ali Soufan insists the US government declassify documents that look at if Saudi Arabia helped plan the September 11 attacks. (The Soufan Center)

The US government must declassify documents that offer an explanation as to what, if any, involvement the government of Saudi Arabia may have had in the planning of the September 11 attacks, insists former FBI agent Ali Soufan.

Soufan, who js the founder of the Soufan Center, was involved in investigating a series of high-profile cases resulting from terrorist activity including the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 and the multiple attacks that felled the twin towers on September 11 two decades ago.

Mystery still surrounds the links that certain hijackers may have had with representatives of the Saudi Arabian government, and Soufan argues that transparency is critical so that those victims and analysts searching for answers get closure.

“In a class action lawsuit currently pending against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, survivors of 9/11 and the families of many of those who were murdered that day allege that some of those who helped Hazmi and Midhar were, in fact, active agents of the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, acting under orders from Riyadh,” Soufan said.

“An investigation by ProPublica and the New York Times found indirect evidence of such a connection. We must take these allegations seriously, not least because they are backed by sworn affidavits from former FBI agents who have investigated the matter.

“The best way to deal with the matter, of course, would be for the U.S. government to declassify documents relating to these contacts and allow the public to see for themselves.”

Soufan has written in a special edition of the Soufan Center’s Issue Brief that al Qaeda’s strategy is to use conflict and chaos, and that governments across the world should use all of the levers of government to minimise the growth of groups such as al Qaeda.

He said that governments could use developmental assistance, cultural and educational assistance, and diplomatic and policy tools to “address the condition in which terrorism thrives and terrorists find their recruits”.

“The United States should not diminish attention to counterterrorism and Afghanistan to pursue ‘great power competition’,” Soufan said. “The two are not mutually exclusive and state and non-state adversaries are likely to benefit from American inattention.”

Intelligence about the activities of terrorist groups gathered from the frontlines in various countries such as Afghanistan is critical and Soufan said that governments and international organisations need to improve the capacities of people working at borders, travel and financial institutions to be able to identify the activity of terror networks.


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