Saudi role in the September 11 attacks gained new attention after two former U.S. senators, co-chairmen of the Congressional Inquiry into the attacks, told CBS in April 2016 that the redacted 28 pages of the Congressional Inquiry's report refer to evidence of Saudi Arabia's substantial involvement in the execution of the attacks, and calls renewed to have the redacted pages released. 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens.
|United Arab Emirates|
The panel's findings 'did not discover' any role by 'senior, high-level' Saudi government officials, said officials familiar with the report, but the "commission’s narrow wording", according to critics, suggests the possibility that "less senior officials or parts of the Saudi government could have played a role". Florida Democratic Senator Bob Graham, who chaired the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at the time the report said in his sworn statements that "there was evidence of support from the Saudi government for the terrorists."
A 2016 article by Paul Sperry in the New York Post stated: Fresh evidence submitted in a lawsuit against the Saudi Arabian government reveals that it had funded flights to research security weaknesses.
In July 2016, the U.S. government released a document, compiled by Dana Lesemann and Michael Jacobson, known as "File 17", which contains a list naming three dozen people, including Fahad al-Thumairy, Omar al-Bayoumi, Osama Bassnan, and Mohdhar Abdullah, which connects Saudi Arabia to the hijackers. According to the former Democratic US Senator Bob Graham, “Much of the information upon which File 17 was written was based on what’s in the 28 pages.”
The Saudi government has long denied any connection. Relatives of victims have tried to use the courts to hold Saudi royals, banks, or charities responsible, but these efforts have been thwarted partly by a 1976 law giving foreign governments immunity. According to Gawdat Bahgat, a professor of political science, following the 11 September attacks the so-called "Saudi policy of promoting terrorism and funding hatred" faced strong criticism by several "influential policy-makers and think-tanks in Washington".
The US government has actively collaborated with the Saudis in suppressing the revelation of evidence of the Saudi government's responsibility for the attacks, denying FOIA requests and supplying inside information to the lawyers representing the Saudis involved. Graham characterises the strategy as not a 'cover up' but "aggressive deception".
According to the New York Post in 2017, the Saudi government was accused of performing a "dry run" by paying two Saudi nationals, al-Qudhaeein and Hamdan al-Shalawi, "living undercover in the US as students, to fly from Phoenix to Washington," two years before the attacks. Based on the FBI documents, Qudhaeein and Shalawi were in fact members of "the Kingdom's network of agents" in the United States. The documents also claimed that they were "trained in Afghanistan with a number of other al-Qaeda operatives that participated in the attacks." In November 1999, they boarded an America West flight to Washington, reportedly paid for by the Saudi Embassy. During the flights they tried to access the cockpit several times, in order to "test out flight deck security before 9/11." The pilots made an emergency landing in Ohio since they were "so spooked by the Saudi passengers and their aggressive behavior."
In March 2016, Saudi Arabia threatened the Obama administration to sell US$750 billion worth of American assets owned by Saudi Arabia if the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) designed to create an exception to the 1976 Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act was enacted, which caused fears of destabilizing the US dollar. U.S. president Barack Obama also warned against "unintended consequences", while other economic analysts believed that this action would damage the Saudi government.
The JASTA was enacted, after Barack Obama's veto was overridden by Congress, on 28 September 2016. Although Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton publicly supported the proposed legislation, Sanders and Tim Kaine, Clinton's running mate, were the only two senators that refrained from voting to override Obama's veto. Senator Harry Reid was the sole "No" vote.
In March 2018, a US judge allowed a suit to move forward against Saudi Arabia brought by 9/11 survivors and victim's families.