By Kate Sullivan, CNN
The Saudi embassy in Washington, DC, said Wednesday it “welcomes the release of” classified documents related to the September 11 terrorist attacks as pressure ramps up on the Biden administration to disclose additional information the government has previously blocked.
“Since that horrific day 20 years ago, the leadership of Saudi Arabia has consistently called for the release of all materials related to the United States’ investigation of the attacks. The Kingdom has always advocated for transparency surrounding the September 11 tragedy,” the statement reads.
It reads: “Any allegation that Saudi Arabia is complicit in the September 11 attacks is categorically false.”
Last week, Biden signed an executive order directing the Department of Justice and other federal agencies to conduct a declassification review of documents related to the FBI’s investigation of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The review could result in the release of new documents if the agencies determine some can be declassified.
The move came a month after more than 1,600 people affected by the September 11 attacks asked Biden to refrain from going to Ground Zero in New York City to mark the 20th anniversary of the attacks unless he released the information.
In a letter, the group also called on the President to implement a policy toward Saudi Arabia “that makes clear it must acknowledge its role in terrorist attacks against our citizens and residents, which in the last 20 years include not just 9/11 but the horrific murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and the murder of U.S. service members in Pensacola, Florida; and, accordingly, immediately cease the Kingdom’s support for acts of terrorism.”
After the Saudi embassy released their statement on Wednesday, 9/11 Families United called their words an “effort to mislead the American people” and said the Kingdom’s message was “offensive and outrageous.”
“The Kingdom’s claims of support for a ‘full declassification of any documents and materials’ relating to the 9/11 terrorist attacks is as absurd as it is audacious — the culmination of 20 years of lies. We have watched year after year as the Saudis have thrown sand into the eyes of the 9/11 families and survivors and fought truth and transparency with the priciest lawyers, lobbyists and public relations firms that their oil money can buy,” the statement read.
The statement added: “No one should forget that this is the same ruling elite that nurtured al-Qaeda and funded the Islamic schools that served as incubators for Taliban leaders. To this day, Saudi Arabia continues to support extremists and commit grotesque atrocities, as evidenced by the terrorist attack in Pensacola, Florida and the 2018 murder of an American journalist.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said the President remains committed to his campaign pledge to work to release the 9/11 records.
The Saudi embassy said in its statement on Wednesday: “As the administrations of the past four U.S. presidents have attested, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has unwaveringly condemned and denounced the deplorable crimes that took place against the United States, its close ally and partner.”
“Saudi Arabia knows all too well the evil that al-Qaeda through its ideology and actions represents,” the statement reads.
Biden and first lady Jill Biden will travel to all three sites of the 9/11 terrorist attacks — New York City, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia — on Saturday to mark the 20th anniversary of the deadly attack.
Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff will travel to Shanksville for a separate event before joining the President and first lady at the Pentagon.
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