The Trump administration has said that it would reveal the name of a Saudi government official accused of aiding the 9/11 al-Qaeda hijackers, amid mounting pressure from families of victims.
The move is expected to cast light on the dispute over the Saudi government's involvement in the terrorist attacks, which left 3,000 people dead in the United States.
Although the identity of the official will remain a secret, it will be shared with attorneys representing the families of the victims, prosecutors said in a court filing on Thursday.
An FBI statement said that it decided to declassify and provide the attorneys with the name "in light of the extraordinary circumstances of this particular case."
Allegations Of Families
The families of those killed in the attack, who were demanding the law enforcement authorities to disclose the name, alleged that the Kingdom helped to coordinate the terrorists, according to media reports.
Ironically enough, the US Justice Department took a decision to disclose the name after the 18th anniversary of the four coordinated terrorist attacks – the single deadliest terrorist attack in human history.
Of the 19 al-Qaeda terrorists who hijacked four passenger planes on September 11, 2011, 15 were Saudi nationals and the case has long threatened to embarrass the Saudi government. Families of those killed in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania have alleged the involvement of Saudi government officials and sought compensation from the Arab state. However, the Saudi authorities repeatedly denied links to al-Qaeda.
In fact, Thursday's decision to disclose the name of the Saudi official is significant, considering the Trump administration's recent efforts to maintain close relations with the Arab nation. This is evident from the fact that the US administration downplayed the Kingdom's involvement in the recent murder of Washington-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The name that the Justice Department plans to release comes from a four-page summary from 2012 of an FBI investigation into three people who were reportedly said to help find living quarters and provide financial assistance, as well as assistance in obtaining flight lessons and driver's licenses, to two of the hijackers in Southern California.
In 2002, a US report into the attacks said that some of the attackers had received funds from Saudi officials, and at least two of whom were alleged by some to be Saudi intelligence officers. The two - Fahad al-Thumairy and Omar al-Bayoumi - were connected to Saudi Arabia's US embassy in earlier government reports. Attorneys for the families have argued saying that the unnamed individual is likely a more senior Saudi official.