RNA - The September 11 attacks story surfaced the media once again after former US Senator Bob Graham disclosed that 28 redacted pages from the 9/11 Report show that high-ranking members of the House of Saud provided financial assistance and direct support to the terrorist hijackers.
Saudi Arabia informed the US administration and members of Congress that Riyadh will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the September 11 attacks in 2001.
The Saudi threat has hurt the sentiments of thousands of Americans who have lost the loved ones in the attacks so deeply that it has gone under the spotlight in the US media.
The New York's Daily News has dealt with the issue in April 2017 in its front cover photo, depicting Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud standing in front of the World Trade Center on 9-11 with a sly smile, calling it "Royal Scum".
According to several US media, families who lost loved ones in the terror attacks accused Saudi officials of "blackmailing the US to hide their alleged role as financiers of the World Trade Center terrorists".
"I’m furious. This is a slap in the face to the 9/11 families," Jim Riches, the retired FDNY deputy chief whose firefighter son Jimmy died in the Trade Center rubble, said, adding that "let them keep their money. We don’t want their money. It’s not worth 3,000 American lives. Call their bluff".
Terry Strada, whose husband Thomas was a Cantor Fitzgerald bond broker on the 104th floor, echoed other family voices by urging the Obama administration to stand its ground against the Saudi financial threat.
"Why do they cave in to the Saudi Arabian government instead of protecting the American people," she asked, adding that "they’re just trying to keep the Saudis’ dirty little secret. We’ve never held them accountable".
Graham told the US media that the White House called him to inform him that 28 redacted pages from the 9/11 Report were going to be declassified and made public.
The announcement came after the former elected official fought for years to gain public release of the documents, on the grounds that the American people deserve to know about the House of Saud’s involvement in the most deadly attack ever perpetrated on US soil.
Graham told reporters that Brett Holmgren, a senior policy adviser to the assistant to the President for Homeland Security, had stated that a declassification review of the secret documents, withheld from the report issued by the 9/11 Commission in 2003, would soon be completed.
Graham was the co-chairman of the joint congressional committee, dubbed the 9/11 Commission, that investigated the attacks.
Knowing the contents of the documents, Graham has long agitated for their public release. The former Senator’s efforts nonetheless faced repeated stonewalling, until recently.
Two years ago, Graham implored President Obama to declassify the records, asking how long it would take before a decision would be made. Graham stated at the time that President Obama had told him "one or two months".
Graham made substantial steps to expedite the process by speaking on 60 Minutes and Fox News on Sunday, claiming that the documents contained evidence that high-ranking members of the House of Saud were directly involved in the 9/11 attacks – more or less telling the public on live television what to expect from the reports.
"The decision makers at the White House have realized the public cares about this and there is an urgency to come to do something about it," Graham said.
In reaction, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister purportedly informed the lawmakers during a trip to Washington that the country would be forced to sell a huge chunk of American financial assets on the world market, fearing the legislation could become law and US courts would then freeze the assets.
The warning was delivered by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir last month during a visit to Washington, as he said the country would sell up to $750 billion in US treasury securities and other assets before the bill puts them in jeopardy.
However US media questioned the Riyadh's resolve to actually deliver on the threat, since selling off those assets would be technically challenging and would damage the dollar, against which the Saudi national currency is pegged.
Under the current US law, foreign nations have a degree of immunity from being sued in American courts. The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 is one of the reasons why families of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks largely failed to bring to court the Saudi royal family and charities over suspicion of financially supporting the attacks.
The bill introduced in the Senate would waiver the immunity for cases involving terrorist attacks that kill US citizens on US soil. Introduced by Republican Senator John Cornyn and Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer, it managed to overcome partisan divisions in the US legislation and passed without dissent through the Judiciary Committee in January.
Frontline Desk website said that the threat by Saudis has surfaced as the Saudi military is flying jets and dropping bombs it bought from the United States as part of the billions of dollars in arms deals that have been negotiated with Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf nations during the Obama administration.
The Obama administration has, in turn, applied heavy pressure on Congress to block the bill.
According to Fars News Agency,a spokesman for the Saudi embassy did not return a message seeking comment.
In September a USA judge dismissed claims against Saudi Arabia by families of victims of the attacks, saying that the kingdom had sovereign immunity from damage claims by the families and from insurers that covered losses suffered by building owners and businesses. But even without the classified documents, the role of Saudi Arabia in the attacks is clear.
Additionally, the 9/11 Commission found "no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization". Twenty-eight unpublished pages from the Commission report, however, are suspected to contain evidence implicating Saudi Arabia and more details on their involvement. President Barack Obama could still release those documents.
The Obama administration, warning it could lead to legal retaliations by other countries, has been trying to stop Congress from passing the bill.
Apart from the hijackers, Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a US raid on his lair in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011, was also of Saudi origin.