WASHINGTON - A new list of names that possibly links Saudi Arabia to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington has come to light, even as President Barack Obama weighs whether to release a still-secret 28-page report about Riyadh's alleged connection to the funding of the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
The document, known as File 17, lists more than 30 names of people, most of them Saudis, who met with or talked with at least some of the hijackers who commandeered commercial jetliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudis.
A former U.S. senator, Bob Graham of Florida, who was co-chairman of the U.S. congressional inquiry into the 9/11 attacks, told the Associated Press that "much of the information" in File 17 was based on the 28-page report Obama is considering declassifying.
Graham believes the hijackers had an extensive Saudi support system in the United States before launching the attacks, saying that the secret 28-page segment of the massive official report on the attacks points "a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier."
"File 17 said, ‘Here are some additional unanswered questions and here is how we think the 9/11 Commission, the FBI and the CIA should go about finding the answers,'" Graham said.
File 17, first disclosed by 28pages.org., an advocacy group calling for the release of the secret document, lists the contacts that the Saudis had with the hijackers, many of them in the western U.S. state of California. Much of the information has been generally known for years, but the mystery of possible Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks remains of key interest in the United States.
The Saudi government has said repeatedly there is no truth to the allegations. Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters in Washington there is "no there there."
The 9/11 commission's final report concluded that there is "no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded" the al-Qaida terrorist network in carrying out the 9/11 attacks.
But the report added, "This conclusion does not exclude the likelihood that charities with significant Saudi government sponsorship diverted funds to al-Qaida."