Families of the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks do not want President Joe Biden to use this year’s events as a photo op unless he keeps his promise to pull back the curtain hiding Saudi Arabia’s possible role in the tragedy.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon, as well as the downing of United Airlines Flight 93, which was en route to add to the devastation. A memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, commemorates the passengers who battled hijackers aboard the plane, which crashed, killing all aboard.
The group that includes about 1,800 people — including first responders, survivors and family members of victims — says Biden is not welcome at this year’s remembrance ceremonies unless he finally declassifies government files they think could show the extent to which Saudi Arabian leaders either knew of or countenanced the attacks.
When seeking support for his presidential bid, Biden indicated he would help them get the information they have been seeking, but has turned a deaf ear to them after gaining the White House, the group said.
“I intend to be a President for all Americans, and will hear all of their voices,” read an October 2020 letter from the then-presidential candidate. “The 9/11 Families are right to seek full truth and accountability. … I will direct my Attorney General to personally examine the merits of all cases where the invocation of privilege is recommended, and to err on the side of disclosure in cases where, as here, the events in question occurred two decades or longer ago.”
But he has not come through, the group says.
“We cannot in good faith, and with veneration to those lost, sick, and injured, welcome the president to our hallowed grounds until he fulfills his commitment,” the family members, first responders and survivors said in a statement, according to NBC News.
“Since the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission in 2004 much investigative evidence has been uncovered implicating Saudi government officials in supporting the attacks,” they added.
“Through multiple administrations, the Department of Justice and the FBI have actively sought to keep this information secret and prevent the American people from learning the full truth about the 9/11 attacks,” the statement said, noting that the FBI investigated the Saudi links in a report completed in 2016 that it wants to be made public.
“Twenty years later, there is simply no reason — unmerited claims of ‘national security’ or otherwise — to keep this information secret,” the group wrote in its statement.
“But if President Biden reneges on his commitment and sides with the Saudi government, we would be compelled to publicly stand in objection to any participation by his administration in any memorial ceremony of 9/11.”
Brett Eagleson, whose father, Bruce, died at the Twin Towers, said those wanting the truth are “collectively are at our wits’ end with our own government.”
“We are frustrated, tired and saddened with the fact that the U.S. government for 20 years has chosen to keep information about the death of our loved ones behind lock and key,” said Eagleson, the national co-chair for the group 9/11 Community United.
“We had great hope that President Biden, who campaigned on bringing truth and trust back to the Oval Office, would value the lives and sacrifices of America’s citizens over diplomatic relations with a country accused of mass murder.”
“They stand up and utter words, ‘never forget,’ but the administration, behind a cloak of secrecy, continues to stab us in the back,” Eagleson said, according to The Hill.
“It’s a sad truth to know that the United States government values foreign interests more than its own citizens,” he added.
The 9/11 Commission report said the Saudis were not part of the planning for the attack, but that Saudi money supported those who launched it.
Eagleson said the group finds it hard to believe the Saudis were totally in the dark about what was being planed.
He has pointed to the 2017 sworn testimony of former FBI Special Agent Stephen Moore, who was involved in the FBI’s investigation of the 9/11 tragedy.
“Based on evidence we gathered during the course of our investigation, I concluded that diplomatic and intelligence personnel of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia knowingly provided material support to the two 9/11 hijackers and facilitated the 9/11 plot. My colleagues in our investigation shared that conclusion,” Moore said in an affidavit.
“The declassification of our own government’s investigation into the murderous 9/11 attacks is long overdue. For 20 years, the 9/11 community has demanded answers from the federal government, but our demands have largely fallen on deaf ears,” said Terry Strada, whose husband died in the terror attacks, according to the Boston Herald.