NEW YORK –- Fresh evidence from the lawyers of the victims of the September 11 attacks could corroborate information redacted in the near-mythical 28 pages of the official 9/11 report that remain classified. The redacted pages reportedly detail links between the 9/11 hijackers and the Saudi Arabian regime.
On Wednesday, lawyers working for the victims said they had new evidence proving agents of the Saudi state "directly and knowingly" aided the hijackers, proof obtained from Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker, as well as new information from domestic and foreign intelligence reports.
The Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington reiterated on Wednesday that it had no connection to the 9/11 attacks, calling Moussaoui’s accusations the claims of a “deranged criminal”.
However, lawyers filed documents in Manhattan federal court to buttress claims Saudi Arabia supported al-Qaida and its leader at the time, Osama bin Laden, prior to the attacks. They have always said "the Saudi government directly and knowingly assisted the 9/11 hijackers," but now say facts and evidence supporting the assertion "are compelling."
They said an "expansive volume" of new evidence — including US and foreign intelligence reports, government reports and testimony from al-Qaida members — support lawsuits seeking billions of dollars from countries, companies and organisations that aided al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.
They said evidence likely to be released soon includes a congressional report detailing evidence of Saudi 9/11 involvement and nearly 80,000 pages of material relating to an FBI probe of Saudis who supported 9/11 hijackers in Florida. They also cited their own research, including last year's Moussaoui interview at the maximum-security prison in Florence, Colorado.
Moussaoui repeated some assertions made previously, including that a 1990s plot by al-Qaida to shoot down Air Force One and assassinate President Bill Clinton was assisted by a top Saudi Embassy employee, along with claims there were direct dealings between senior Saudi officials and bin Laden.
The lawyers also said their case is boosted by sworn statements by 9/11 Commissioners John Lehman and Bob Kerrey, as well as Bob Graham, co-chairman of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11. Last month, Graham, who penned the official report into the attacks in 2001, joined a growing chorus demanding the redacted pages, detailing links between the terrorists and the Saudi government, be made public.
Entitled the Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 2001, the original report was published in December 2002, however President Bush demanded that 28 pages of the 828-page dossier were blacked out in an effort to protect America’s relationship with the Saudis.
Speaking to ABC News in January, Graham said: "The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11 and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier. The position of the United States government has been to protect Saudi Arabia.
"At virtually every step of the judicial process, when the United States government was called upon to take a position, it has been a position adverse to the interests of United States citizens seeking justice and protective of the government which, in my judgment, was the most responsible for that network of support."
Wednesday’s court filing, coming less than two weeks after the death of Saudi King Abdullah, was made to meet a deadline set by Judge George B. Daniels.
In a website statement, the Saudi embassy noted the Sept. 11 attack had been the "most intensely investigated crime in history and the findings show no involvement by the Saudi government or Saudi officials." As for Moussaoui, the statement said: "His words have no credibility. His goal in making these statements only serves to get attention for himself and try to do what he could not do through acts of terrorism — to undermine Saudi-US relations."
Moussaoui was arrested on immigration charges in August 2001 after employees of a Minnesota flight school became alarmed he wanted to learn to fly a Boeing 747 with no pilot's license. He was in custody on Sept. 11 and pleaded guilty in April 2005 to conspiring with the hijackers to kill Americans.
A psychologist testified for the defense at death penalty proceedings that he had paranoid schizophrenia. Jurors spared his life.