A NEWLY declassified FBI document has revealed how a Saudi embassy official was a "facilitator" for the al-Qaeda hijackers in the 9/11 attacks.
The memo was published late on Saturday evening – a week after President Joe Biden signed an executive order directing the FBI to make the top secret files on the terror attacks available to the public for the first time.
The declassified document from April 4, 2016 details a 2015 interview with an official who worked at the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles.
He was found to be an al-Qaeda "facilitator" by the FBI after admitting he allowed two of the hijackers to use his apartment and help them travel around LA.
Investigators believe the Saudi official provided "significant logistic support" to Nawaf al Hazmi and Khalid al Midhar, who took part in the plot to hijack and crash four planes in New York and Washington.
The two men were on board American Airlines Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
The document also revealed links between Omar Bayoumi, a student suspected to have been a Saudi intelligence operative, and Hazmi and Midhar.
Based on interviews in 2009 and 2015 with a source whose identity is classified, the FBI file details meetings between Bayoumi and the hijackers after the pair arrived in Southern California in 2000 ahead of the attacks.
The heavily redacted 16-page file also strengthens already-reported links between the two men and Fahad al Thumairy – a conservative imam at the King Faad mosque in Los Angeles and an official at the Saudi consulate.
The source told the FBI that Bayoumi, beyond his official identity as a student, had "very high status" in the Saudi consulate, according to the document.
"Bayoumi's assistance to Hamzi and Midha included translation, travel, lodging and financing," the memo said.
The memo also said the FBI source's wife told them Bayoumi often talked about "jihad".
And the document also connects Bayoumi and Thumairy with Anwar al Alaki, the US-born cleric who became an important al-Qaeda figure before he was killed in a drone strike in Yemen in 2011.
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia.
Now the Saudis' secrets are exposed and it is well past time for the Kingdom to own up to its officials' roles in murdering thousands on American soil.
The newly-released memo was still significantly redacted and did not offer a clear direct link between the Saudi government and the hijackers.
Saudi Arabia has long said it had no role in the attacks.
Saturday's FBI document was released after Biden was pressured by thousands of family members of those killed on 9/11 who have sued Saudi Arabia for complicity.
Three US administrations have refused to declassify and release documents related to the case – apparently because they don't want to damage the US-Saudi relationship.
A statement from 9/11 Families United said the document released by the FBI "put to bed any doubts about Saudi complicity in the attacks".
The group said the memo impliciated "numerous Saudi government officials, in a coordinated effort to mobilize an essential support network for the first arriving 9/11 hijackers, Nawaf al Hazmi and Khalid al Mihdhar".
Terry Strada, whose husband Tom was killed on September 11, said: "Now the Saudis' secrets are exposed and it is well past time for the Kingdom to own up to its officials' roles in murdering thousands on American soil."
With this first release of documents, 20 years of Saudi Arabia counting on the US government to cover up its role in 9/11 comes to an end.
Jim Kreindler, one of the leaders of the Saudi lawsuit, said the document validates the lawsuit's key contention that the Saudi government helped the hijackers.
"With this first release of documents, 20 years of Saudi Arabia counting on the US government to cover up its role in 9/11 comes to an end," Kreindler said in a statement.
But the families are still hoping for stronger evidence when more classified material is released inside the next six months, based on a Biden order.
In a statement last week, the Saudi embassy in Washington said Saudi Arabia has always called for transparency around the events of 9/11, and welcomes the release of classified documents relating to the attacks.
"As past investigations have revealed, including the 9/11 Commission and the release of the so-called '28 Pages,' no evidence has ever emerged to indicate that the Saudi government or its officials had previous knowledge of the terrorist attack or were in any way involved," the embassy's statement said.
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