9/11 Panel Member: Saudi Officials Were 'Supporting' Hijackers

Urges release of congressional report
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2016 10:51 AM CDT
9/11 Panel Member: Saudi Officials Were 'Supporting' Hijackers
In this Sept. 11, 2001, photo, smoke rises from the burning twin towers of the World Trade Center.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

A member of the official commission that investigated the 9/11 attacks is ratcheting up pressure on the White House to make public 28 pages of a congressional report dealing with suspected Saudi involvement. In an interview with the Guardian, former Navy secretary John Lehman lays it out in blunt terms: “There was an awful lot of participation by Saudi individuals in supporting the hijackers, and some of those people worked in the Saudi government,” he says. “Our report should never have been read as an exoneration of Saudi Arabia.” Lehman adds that he's not implicating members of the Saudi royal family or top civilian officials, but rather lower-echelon employees, perhaps in the Saudi ministry of Islamic affairs.

Last month, the leaders of the commission—former GOP Gov. Tom Kean of New Jersey and former Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton of Indiana—cautioned against releasing the 28 pages and noted that just one Saudi official had been implicated in the plot. (That was diplomat Fahad al-Thumairy, who was deported and remains a "person of interest," notes the New York Times.) But Lehman says he knows of at least five other Saudi employees who were under suspicion. “They may not have been indicted, but they were certainly implicated,” he says. “There was an awful lot of circumstantial evidence.” (More 9/11 commission stories.)

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