The US Justice Department will reveal the name of an individual believed to be connected to the Saudi government who supposedly aided two 9/11 plane hijackers, according to a court filing cited by CNN.
The person’s identity will first be shared with lawyers representing the families of the victims, and remain a secret for the time being. The prosecutors will then be allowed to file a petition with the US Justice Department to release the name to the general public.
The move comes one day after the 18th anniversary of the deadly terror attacks, which left almost 3,000 people dead.
The name in question comes from a list of a 2012 FBI investigation into three people believed to have provided assistance to the hijackers, finding them accommodation and providing them with piloting and driving lessons.
Two of the names from the list have been released previously, but one remained suspiciously redacted. The two persons - Fahad al-Thumairy and Omar Ahmed al-Bayoumi – earlier had ties to the Saudi government, the CNN report says. The Saudis have repeatedly denied any involvement in the 9/11 attacks, but their claims are still questioned in Washington.
Aside from the names on the list, 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals.
The victims’ attorneys believe the redacted name is a more senior Saudi official, citing the redacted document saying the person “tasked” the other two with “assisting the hijackers".
In a statement, the FBI said it had decided to declassify the name "in light of the extraordinary circumstances of this particular case". The decision, however, required authorisation by Attorney General William Barr himself, the report says.
Families of the victims have been trying to sue Saudi Arabia since 2003. In 2016, the US Congress passed a law that allowed civilians to file lawsuits against foreign countries accused of involvement in the terror attacks. The Saudis filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, but in 2018, Judge George B. Daniels ruled that the lawsuit could proceed.