Twenty-eight newly declassified pages from a congressional investigation into the 9/11 attacks paint Saudi Arabia as an extremely uncooperative “ally” in U.S. anti-terrorism efforts, whose intransigence may have been responsible for the successful execution of the 9/11 attacks.
A substantial portion of the 28 pages is spent describing Saudi Arabia as an exceptionally unhelpful partner that routinely hindered U.S. terrorism investigations both before and after the 9/11 attacks.
One unnamed New York FBI agent is said to have characterized the Saudis as “useless and obstructionist,” and only willing to assist the U.S. when it aligned with its narrow self-interest.
If Saudi Arabia had been more cooperative, the pages say, it wouldn’t just have made things easier for U.S. intelligence — it could conceivably have halted the 9/11 attacks.
“When a high-level [redacted] officer was asked how the September 11 attacks might have been prevented, he cited greater Saudi cooperation, pointing to an example from the summer of 2001, when the U.S. requested Saudi assistance, with no success,” the pages say. “In May 2001, the U.S. government became aware thht an individual in Saudi Arabai was in contact with Abu Zubaida and was most likely aware of an upcoming al-Qa’ida operation. The U.S. Government pressured the Saudi Government to locate him … but the Saudis would not cooperate.”
The report suggests Saudi Arabia routinely lied to U.S. intelligence for its own purposes. For example, one FBI agent said he provided the Saudis with copies of Saudi citizens’ passports, and the government replied by claiming it had no record of those passports. (RELATED: Bob Graham Certain Top Saudis Tied To 9/11)
Despite the lack of cooperation, Saudi Arabia’s official status as a U.S. ally also served by itself to hinder U.S. intelligence, the report says.
“Prior to September 11th, the FBI apparently did not focus investigative resources on [redacted] Saudi nationals in the United States due to Saudi Arabia’s status as an American ‘ally.'”
If the U.S. was shying away from Saudi nationals because they were from an ally, this was a terrible mistake: Of the 19 9/11 hijackers, 15 hailed from Saudi Arabia.
The 28 pages also describe Saudi Arabia as totally unwilling to cooperate on matters related to 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.
“There is a May 1996 memo from the DCI’s Counterterrorist Center [redacted] stating that the Saudis had stopped providing background information or other assistance on Bin Ladin because Bin Ladin had ‘too much information about official Saudi dealins with Islamic extremists in the 1980s for Riyadh to deliver him into U.S. hands,” they say.
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