Sunday, June 26, 2022

Families of 9/11 victims press Biden over Saudi meeting

A group representing the families and loved ones of the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks wrote an open letter to President Joe Biden over his reported upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia.

The 9/11 Families United chair Terry Strada urged Biden to “prioritize accountability for 9/11” in any conversations he or his administration have with Saudi officials or with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman when he visits the Middle Eastern country.

The letter highlighted Biden’s executive order to declassify 3,000 pages of documents related to the attack. The president said this action “confirms our long-held beliefs regarding Saudi Arabia’s deep involvement in the murders of our loved ones.”

The documents released last year showed that the FBI extensively investigated the level of support given to three Saudi nationals — including from a Saudi Embassy official in Washington, D.C., — once they landed in the US, including “procuring living quarters and assistance with assimilating” in the country.

They added that the “evidence” uncovered in the declassified documents “underscores the importance that you do not reward the Kingdom and Crown Prince with a presidential visit that allows it to continue escaping responsibility for its role in the most horrific attack in our nation’s history.”

Strada wrote that “accountability should be the cornerstone of any engagement.”

The letter also implored Biden not to omit the 9/11 attacks from his discussions and said if he did then “it would signal to the world that you are willing to indulge years more of Saudi obfuscation and obstruction, and that America prioritizes the interests of foreign powers and economics more than the lives of its citizenry.”

The group, which represents 3,000 people who lost their friends and family members in the attack, added that “we have watched presidents avoid the hard conversations required with the Kingdom for more than 20 years, and we continue to hope that you will be different.”

The White House did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

The letter comes as reports suggest that Biden and his administration are preparing for a possible visit to Saudi Arabia as gas prices in the US continue to hover at an all-time high. The potential visit could be a bid to convince the Middle East country to pump more oil.

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