Obama considers release of secret sections of report on Saudi Arabia ties to al Qaeda

Saudi officials have denied fresh allegations that senior figures supported Bin Laden's al Qaeda

The White House may declassify still-secret sections of an official inquiry into the 9/11 terrorist attacks which refer to possible Saudi Arabian support.

Questions over the 28-page section of the congressional report have been raised this week following the deposition of imprisoned former al-Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaoui in which he claimed major Saudi figures were donors to his group in late 1990s.

Saudi officials have denied this.

 

According to White House spokesman Josh Earnest, US intelligence last year began reevaluating the decision to classify the section following a request from congress, though no timescale for the decision was given.

Earnest said: "The United States and Saudi Arabia maintain a strong counterterrorism relationship as a key element of our broad and strategic partnership."

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Zacarias Moussaoui, the '20th 9/11 bomber'

Moussaoui said a list of al-Qaeda donors that he drafted during Osama bin Laden's time at the helm included "extremely famous" Saudi officials such as Prince Turki al-Faisal Al Saud, a former Saudi intelligence chief.

US officials familiar with the classified section of the report, in which the involvement of Saudi families in financing terrorism is examined, are torn as to whether it should be made public.

Some have argued that it should remain secret because it includes material that had not been investigated enough, but others, speaking to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, have said there was no good reason not to have it released.

People familiar with the report said most of the material that remained classified originated with the FBI.

Philip Zelikow, former executive director of the 9/11 Commission, a separate U.S. government inquiry into the attacks, said it was appropriate that the material was classified and there may still be reason to withhold it.

"None of the people involved had been interviewed and many relevant documents had not yet been reviewed," Zelikow said.