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Saudi "graduate student" who aided 9/11 terrorists worked for the kingdom's intelligence service according to declassified FBI documents

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Twenty years after the Sept. 11 attacks, declassified FBI documents have changed a big piece of the story about possible Saudi government help to the hijackers. Families of the victims want more information.




From the first weeks after the 9/11 attacks, suspicions about a possible Saudi government role in the plot have focused on a mysterious, 42-year-old graduate student who welcomed the first two Qaida hijackers after they landed in Los Angeles in January 2000.


The Saudi student, Omar al-Bayoumi, claimed to have met the two terrorists entirely by chance; he said he was just being hospitable when he helped them settle in San Diego. Both the FBI and the 9/11 Commission supported Bayoumi’s account, dismissing the suspicions of agents who thought he might be a Saudi spy.


After nearly 20 years, however, the FBI has changed its story. In documents declassified last year, the bureau affirmed that Bayoumi was in fact an agent of the Saudi intelligence service who worked with Saudi religious officials and reported to the kingdom’s powerful ambassador in Washington.


Those revelations have now become a central point of contention in a long-running federal lawsuit in New York, where 9/11 survivors and relatives of the 2,977 people who were killed are seeking to hold the Saudi government responsible for the attacks.



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"We could see from a block away that Bayoumi was an intelligence guy," the lead agent on the Encore team, Daniel Gonzalez, said in an interview. "It's evident now that he was tasked with helping the hijackers — that he was running a clandestine operation. So, who was running it?"



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