US government officials said the leak of state secrets would constitute a threat to national security.
Rabat – The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) mistakenly revealed the name of a Saudi diplomat suspected of supporting two al-Qaeda hijackers in the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The sensitive information was mistakenly leaked by FBI official Jill Sanborn in a declaration responding to a lawsuit from families of 9/11 victims. The lawsuit accuses the Saudi Arabian government of playing a role in the attacks.
For years, there has been an ongoing debate regarding Saudi Arabia’s involvement in 9/11. Fifteen of the 19 plane hijackers were Saudi citizens. The Saudi government has repeatedly denied involvement in the terror attack that resulted in the deaths of over 3,000 people.
With confirmation that the FBI is keeping records of alleged evidence against the former embassy official under seal, more questions are being raised.
Michael Isikoff, the chief investigative journalist at Yahoo News who discovered the slip-up said: “In fact, both Attorney General William Barr and the Acting Director of the National Intelligence Richard Grennell had filed motions with the court saying that any information relating to the Saudi embassy official and all internal FBI documents about this matter were so sensitive; they were state secrets, that means if revealed they could cause damage to the national security.”
A senior US government official confirmed that the disclosure of information was unintentional.
Partially declassified information regarding the investigation showed that there was evidence a non-disclosed person “tasked” Fahad al-Thumairy and Omar al-Bayoumi with assisting two hijackers.
At the heart of the case, the now revealed Mussaed Ahmed al-Jarrah, was a Saudi official assigned to the embassy in Washington DC in 1999 and 2000. According to the report, al-Jarrah was responsible for supervising employees at Saudi-funded mosques and Islamic centers in the US under the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.
Last year, al-Jarrah’s name was revealed to lawyers under a strict gag order. His name was censored from all reports and lawyers working on the case referred to him as the “third man” involved with al-Thumairy and al-Bayoumi.
Sanborn’s document, that has since been withdrawn, read “I have been advised that with regard to Defendant the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia…Plaintiffs allege that its agents and employees directly and knowingly assisted the hijackers and plotters who carried out the 9/11 attacks.”
Al-Jarrah’s current whereabouts are unknown, as well as exact evidence stacked against him. However, he is believed to have recently served within missions in Malaysia and Morocco.
Brett Eagleson, a spokesman for the families of 9/11 whose father died in the attacks, told Yahoo News that the situation is “a giant screw-up.”
“This shows there is a complete [US] government cover-up of the Saudi involvement.”