A group of investigators have discovered that missing pages from a heavily censored FBI report on 9/11 contains explosive information about Saudi Arabia’s role in the attacks.
The declassified version of a slide show titled “Overview of the 9/11 Investigation” was made public by Florida Bulldog after they successfully sued the FBI for 9/11 records in 2015.
News.com.au reports: The FBI made the presentation to the 9/11 Review Commission in secret on April 25, 2014.
But the agency redacted 13 pages and completely deleted an additional nine pages from the report, which was believed to have originally contained around 60 pages, before releasing it in March.
The document, released under America’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was also obtained by public records database Government Attic, which posted it online yesterday.
According to Florida Bulldog, which has conducted a long-running investigation into Saudi Arabia’s possible link to the West’s most notorious terrorist attack, the censored pages detail “the transfer of money prior to and funding of the attacks”.
Some of the slides released are blank except for their tantalising titles which include “Funding of the 9/11 Attacks”; “Early to Mid-2001: Additional Funding”; “August 2011: Reserving 9/11 Tickets”; and “KSM (Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) Non-Immigrant Visa Application”.
Of the 19 hijackers who crashed planes into New York’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon in Virginia, 15 were Saudi Arabian.
In documents tendered to court earlier this year, Florida Bulldog alleged the FBI improperly redacted key intelligence related to the funding of the 9/11 attacks.
In May, Miami judge Cecilia Altonaga ruled the document should be largely opened for public inspection, after the FBI failed to establish Freedom of Information Act Exemption 7(E) applied. The exemption applies when the information would “disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions”.
But the FBI asked her to reconsider, arguing that while the document doesn’t discuss techniques, it could still reveal some techniques used. As an example it cited a photograph taken from a security camera which could reveal the camera’s location unless redacted.
On July 6, Judge Altonaga had a change of heart, siding with the FBI and reversing her May decision, dismissing Florida Bulldog’s application for a Freedom of Information Act trial.
“The court sees no need for further facts to be elicited at trial,” she said.
The pages exempt from disclosure include two slides titled “Funding of the 9/11 Attacks” and “Early to Mid-2001 Additional Funding” and others that currently appear blank under the headings: “Early to Mid-2000: Pilots/Intended Pilots Arrive U.S.”; “Investigative Findings regarding hijacker Identification”, “Financial”, “Early to Mid-2001: Non-pilots arrive U.S.”,‘July-August 2001: Knife Purchases” and “August 2001: Reserving 9/11 Tickets” as well as four pages titled, “Ongoing Investigation”.
Lawyers for Florida Bulldog have indicated they may challenge the ruling in the Supreme Court.
Florida Bulldog co-founder and editor Dan Christensen says the FBI’s grounds for continuing to withhold information on the 9/11 attacks are weak and make no sense. He addressed the agency’s concerns, including the mysterious redacted photograph, in an article posted on his website last month.
But he believes the real reason for the FBI’s secrecy relates to questions about who financed the 9/11 attacks.
Survivors and relatives of the almost 3000 victims are currently engaged in a fraught civil litigation with Saudi Arabia amid accusations that the kingdom and its official charities were among those who supplied funds. The country has denied any wrongdoing.
“Another page the FBI wants to remain hidden ‘contains specific factors deemed pertinent in the analysis of the actions of the hijackers’ concerning financial transactions before September 11, 2001,” Christensen said.
“(According to the FBI) disclosure of this information would reveal what the FBI already knows about the hijackers’ financial actions and how they were able to stay ‘under the radar’.”
FBI record chief David M Hardy expanded on this in his submission to keep the reacted and missing pages secret.
“The release of this information would reveal sensitive details about how much money was being moved around, when it was being moved, how it was being moved, the mode of transfer and locations the FBI had detected movements in,” Mr Hardy told the court in his sixth court declaration in June.
“Disclosure of this information would provide a playbook to future subjects on how much money one can move around in certain forms without attracting attention.”
Christensen claims the FBI has also redacted details relating to:
*The types of weapons and identification the conspirators carried;
*The timing of the arrival of the pilots, intended pilots and conspirators in the US;
*Information about when the conspirators moved to their respective departure cities and the timing of their plane ticket purchases;
* A timeline of telephone records and money transfers between conspirators; and
*Information about previous flights the conspirators took before the attacks to include the collection and timing and locations of flights.
“One page, withheld in full, ‘is a photo taken by a security camera’. The FBI does not identify the photo’s subject, the date it was taken or its general location,” Christensen said.
“This was withheld because the release of this picture would disclose the location of the security camera at the site where the photo was taken. The disclosure would allow future subjects to know where to find the security camera so as to avoid the area in which the camera points, thereby circumventing detection or the ability for the FBI and law enforcement to try to obtain an image of the subject.
“Two more pages from the overview section about the FBI’s ‘ongoing investigation,’ also completely withheld, contain “information about a conspirator and his actions taken in preparation for the attacks. This is sensitive information, which if revealed, would put at risk the collection techniques used to obtain such information. It also reveals sensitivities that future subjects could exploit in the future while planning and performing an attack.”