A 16-page FBI document from 2016 that ties Saudi nationals living in the United States to the hijackers of 9/11 has been declassified by the Biden Administration. The FBI investigation is known as Operation ENCORE.
The report is partially redacted, but shows a closer relationship than was disclosed by the 9/11 Commission Report of 2004 to some of the hijackers and two particular Saudis.
While the Commission was largely unable to tie the Saudi men to the hijackers, the FBI document describes multiple connections and phone calls.
Years ago, the Commission wrote that when it came to the Saudi diplomat Fahad al-Thumairy, “We have not found evidence that Thumairy provided assistance to the two hijackers.” A decade later, it appears FBI agents came to a different conclusion. The report says Thumairy “tasked” an associate to help the hijackers when they arrived in Los Angeles, and told the associate the hijackers were “two very significant people,” more than a year before the attacks.
Another Saudi government employee named Omar al-Bayoumi was previously dismissed by the Commission as “unlikely” to be involved with Islamist extremists. But the FBI report says a Bayoumi meeting with hijackers at a restaurant was pre-planned and not a chance meeting. A witness to the meeting saw Bayoumi waiting by the window for the hijackers to arrive rather than running into them by chance, and engaged in a lengthy conversation with them. The report says a woman told investigators Bayoumi was often saying the Islamic community “needs to take action,” and that the community was “at jihad.”
Both Thumairy and Bayoumi were linked indirectly by phone records to several international terrorists, including the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, bin Laden lieutenants, and a group who were convicted of plotting to bomb the Los Angeles airport in 2000.
While the report does not draw any direct links between hijackers and the Saudi Arabian government as a whole, a representative of the families who are suing Saudi Arabia said the report validates their argument. The Saudi government insists that any connection between the hijackers and Saudi nationals was coincidental.
The ENCORE document is the first of many documents the Biden administration has promised to release in coming months.