The Justice Department on Monday promised to re-examine the files relating to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks for possible disclosure after years of pressure from victims’ families to divulge information about the alleged role of Saudi government officials.
The Justice Department did not provide any information about what documents or information could be released after the review was completed.
The decision comes just days after nearly 1,800 9/11 survivors, first responders and family members of the victims told President Joe Biden to skip commemorations this year unless he released FBI documents identifying the alleged role Saudi government officials are detailed in the deadly attacks.
FDNY firefighters carry another firefighter, Al Fuentes, who was injured in the World Trade Center collapse on September 11, 2001.
Matt Moyer | Corbis News | Getty Images
It also comes a month before the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania.
Biden welcomed the Justice Department’s decision.
“As I promised during my campaign, my administration is committed to ensuring the greatest possible degree of legal transparency and adhering to the strict guidelines of the Obama-Biden administration on the use of state secrecy,” Biden said in a statement. “With that in mind, I welcome today’s Justice Department filing.”
The Justice Department’s decision follows a federal lawsuit in the southern district of New York by families of 9/11 victims against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Justice Department found in a judicial file on Monday that the FBI recently closed an investigation into individuals who may have provided significant assistance to the September 11, 2001 kidnappers.
The FBI will review its previous decisions to withhold information and identify additional information that is appropriate for disclosure according to the filing.
“The FBI will continue to disclose such information as soon as possible,” Justice Department officials said on the file.
Organizations representing the families of 9/11 victims, including Peaceful Tomorrows and the 9/11 Families’ Association, did not immediately respond to comment.
Biden campaigned for a promise to give survivors of September 11, 2001 and family members more transparency about unpublished documents held by the government about the attacks.
Survivors, first responders and families of the victims argued on Friday that Biden did not live up to his words. They also previously alleged that up to 25,000 pages of 9/11-related documents were withheld from them.
“We cannot greet the president in good faith and with reverence for the lost, sick and injured in our sacred grounds until he fulfills his obligation,” they wrote in a statement on Friday.
Brett Eagleson, whose father was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center, told CNN on Friday that the group specifically wanted documents revealing information about the alleged role of the Saudi Arabian government.
“The government continues to stab us in the back behind a cloak of secrecy,” said Eagleson.
The 9/11 Commission’s investigation, which closed in 2004, found that charities funded by the Saudi government supported the terrorist attacks but provided no evidence of direct government funding.
The group of survivors and family members claim that recent FBI documents, such as a 2016 investigation into Saudi Arabia, reveal whether people linked to al-Qaeda, the group that carried out the terrorist attacks, were in Associate, have received support or funding from Saudi Arabia government.
Fifteen of the 19 attackers in the 9/11 attacks were Saudi nationals, and mastermind Osama bin Laden was born in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government denies allegations that it was involved.
Several presidential administrations withheld documents related to the attacks, citing security concerns. Most recently, in 2019, the Trump administration invoked the privilege of state secrecy to justify keeping documents secret.