A former 9/11 commission member told the Guardian there was evidence that Saudi government employees helped 9/11 hijackers.
For years, Saudi Arabia’s leaders have argued that the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers who carried out the 9/11 terrorist attacks were Saudis is irrelevant. They insist there is no evidence Saudi officials or institutions provided a support network for al-Qaida and its hijackers. For a long time, Americans largely accepted that explanation.
But in recent months, the façade of Saudi Arabia as America’s most important ally in the Arab world and a force for stability in the Middle East has begun to crack. US public anger against Saudi Arabia is rising – over its war in Yemen, its treatment of women and dissidents and the use of its oil wealth to export extremist ideology by building mosques and dispatching preachers throughout the Muslim world. Prodded by some relatives of the 9/11 victims, Americans want a reexamination of whether any Saudi officials played a role in the attacks.
The most important debate today is over a classified 28-page section of a 2002 congressional report on the attacks, which the George W Bush administration ordered kept secret. President Barack Obama has promised a decision on whether to declassify the material by next month. But the release of these so-called “28 pages” is even more urgent after a former member of the 9/11 Commission, an independent bipartisan panel that investigated the attacks in 2004, told the Guardian this week there was clear evidence that Saudi government employees helped some of the 9/11 hijackers.
“There was an awful lot of participation by Saudi individuals in supporting the hijackers, and some of those people worked in the Saudi government,” said John Lehman, a Republican who served as US navy secretary in the Reagan administration and was among 10 commission members. “Our report should never have been read as an exoneration of Saudi Arabia.”
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