Pages of US 9/11 report detailing possible Saudi ties made public

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'28 Pages' Of 9/11 Report Released

WASHINGTON, July 15 (Reuters) - The U.S. Congress on Friday released a long-classified section of the official report on the Sept. 11 attacks describing an array of potential links between some of the hijackers and officials in Saudi Arabia.

SEE ALSO: An in-depth look at the 9/11 memorial and museum

The 28 pages of the report on the 2002 investigation focus on potential Saudi government ties to the 2001 aircraft attacks on the United States, in which nearly 3,000 people died.

The report said the alleged links had not been independently verified.

The pages were released by the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee after years of wrangling in Washington between Congress and different administrations, Republicans and Democrats, and urging by families of those killed.

RELATED: See images of Pope Francis at 9/11 memorial

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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Pope Francis visits the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City and prays at 'Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning' by Spencer Finch on September 25, 2015 in New York City. Reposed behind this blue wall are the remains of many who perished at the World Trade Center site on September 11, 2001. The Pope is on a six-day visit to the U.S., with stops in Washington, New York City and Philadelphia. (Photo by Susan Watts - Pool/Getty Images)
Pope Francis prays at the edge of the South Pool at the World Trade Center in New York, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. Pope Francis is on a five-day trip to the United States. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, Pool)
Pope Francis places a white rose at the South Pool of the 9/11 Memorial in downtown Manhattan, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Pope Francis and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, left, pray at the South Pool of the 9/11 Memorial in downtown Manhattan, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Pope Francis waves as he arrives at the South Pool of the 9/11 Memorial in downtown Manhattan, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 25: The Last Column (L), which was recovered from Ground Zero, is seen as Pope Francis attends a multi-religious service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum on September 25, 2015 in New York City. Pope Francis is on a six-day trip to the United States, which includes stops in Washington DC, New York and Philadelphia. (Photo by Monika Graff-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 25: Pope Francis attends a multi-religious service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum on September 25, 2015 in New York City. Pope Francis is on a six-day trip to the United States, which includes stops in Washington DC, New York and Philadelphia. (Photo by Monika Graff-Pool/Getty Images)
A Vatican flag is placed at the 9/11 memorial where Pope Francis attends a multi-faith prayer service in New York on September 25, 2015. Pope Francis, who has built a wide global following for his reform-minded views, is on a five-day official visit to the US. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 25: Pope Francis speaks to attendees inside of the 9/11 Memorial Museum September 25, 2015 in New York City. Pope Francis is on a six-day trip to the United States, which includes stops in Washington DC, New York and Philadelphia. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz-Pool/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Two roses left by Pope Francis and Cardinal Timothy Dolan are viewed at a reflecting pool during their visit to the 9/11 memorial pools on September 25, 2015 in New York City. Pope Francis visited Ground Zero following his address at the United Nations. The interfaith prayer service will include Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs and Hindus. The Pope will also meet with family members of victims who were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Pope Francis, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, look upon a broken piece of steel from the World Trade Center as they tour the 9/11 memorial and museum on September 25, 2015 in New York City. The Pope is on a six-day visit to the U.S., with stops in Washington, New York City and Philadelphia. (Photo by Thomas A. Ferrara - Pool/Getty Images)
Pope Francis takes part in a multi-religious service for the victims of 9/11 at the memorial in New York on September 25, 2015. Pope Francis, who has built a wide global following for his reform-minded views, is on a five-day official visit to the US. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Port Authority Police Sgt. Robert Coccodrilli tries to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis through the windows of the 9/11 memorial and Museum in New York while the Pope was visiting on September 25, 2015 in New York City. The Pope is on a six-day visit to the U.S., with stops in Washington, New York City and Philadelphia. (Photo by Thomas A. Ferrara - Pool/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: A woman looks on as Pope Francis prays the South Pool at the World Trade Center on September 25, 2015 in New York City. The Pope is on a six-day visit to the U.S., with stops in Washington, New York City and Philadelphia. (Photo by Julio Cortez-Pool/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Ken George, of North Babylon, N.Y., pauses to think about his coworkers he lost during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists attacks as Pope Francis visits the South Pool at the World Trade Center on September 25, 2015 in New York City. The Pope is on a six-day visit to the U.S., with stops in Washington, New York City and Philadelphia. (Photo by Julio Cortez-Pool/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Sunlight peaking through buildings lights up the spot where Pope Francis, bottom left, paused to pray at the South Pool at the World Trade Center during a visit to the 9/11 Memorial on September 25, 2015 in New York City. The Pope is on a six-day visit to the U.S., with stops in Washington, New York City and Philadelphia. (Photo by Julio Cortez-Pool/Getty Images)
Pope Francis leaves after praying with members of different religions during an interfaith service at the Sept. 11 Memorial Museum at ground zero in New York, Friday Sept. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis, second left, reads a passage during a multi-religious service at the 9/11 Museum, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 in New York City. The Pope is on a two-day visit to New York which includes addressing the United Nations and holding mass at Madison Square Garden before heading to Philadelphia. (Monica Graff/Pool via AP)
Pope Francis passes members of the Young People's Chorus of New York City as he leaves a multi-religious gathering at the National September 11 Memorial Museum, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 in New York. (Ray Stubblebine/Pool Photo via AP)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Police prepare for the arrival of Pope Francis at 'Ground Zero' on September 25, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 25: Pope Francis speaks during a ceremony inside the 9/11 Memorial and Museum on September 25, 2015 in New York City. Pope Francis is on a six-day trip to the United States, which includes stops in Washington DC, New York and Philadelphia. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 25: Pope Francis prepares to speak during a ceremony inside the 9/11 Memorial and Museum on September 25, 2015 in New York City. Pope Francis is on a six-day trip to the United States, which includes stops in Washington DC, New York and Philadelphia. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz-Pool/Getty Images)
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"The matter is now finished," Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told a news conference in Washington. Asked whether the report exonerated the kingdom, he replied: "Absolutely."

The release of the previously classified pages is unlikely to end the controversy over the role of Saudi Arabia, an important U.S. partner in the Middle East. Many U.S. officials who opposed their release had worried they would damage diplomatic relations.

Fifteen of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudi citizens.

"According to various FBI documents and CIA memorandum, some of the September 11 hijackers, while in the United States, apparently had contacts with individuals who may be connected to the Saudi Government," the report said, giving a catalog of alleged links.

They included reported contacts between Saudis in California, money possibly sent from the Saudi royal family to the hijackers and even a statement that a reported Saudi Interior Ministry official stayed at the same Virginia hotel as one hijacker in September 2001.

One section said Omar al-Bayoumi, said to be a Saudi intelligence officer, met with two hijackers at a public place after they arrived in San Diego. Citing Federal Bureau of Investigation files, it said his salary rose to $3,700 a month from $465 two months after two of the hijackers arrived in California.

Another described how two of the hijackers asked flight attendants technical questions during a trip in 1999 from Phoenix to Washington to attend a party at the Saudi embassy. One tried twice to enter the cockpit. The plane made an emergency landing and the FBI investigated, but did not prosecute.

The newly declassified pages also say a telephone number found in a telephone book of Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi-born al Qaeda operative captured in Pakistan, was for a Colorado corporation that managed the affairs of the residence of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi ambassador to Washington.

LAWSUITS AHEAD?

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said its agreement to the release is not an indication that the intelligence community agrees with the pages' accuracy or concurs with the information it contains.

The office also on Friday released a declassified summary of an assessment of whether Riyadh may have supported al Qaeda before and after the attacks, saying the Saudi government and many of its agencies had been infiltrated and exploited by individuals associated with or sympathetic to Osama bin Laden's militant network.

Several members of Congress said they were pleased the pages had finally been released. Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the intelligence panel, said he hoped the release would quiet rumors.

"The Intelligence Community and the 9/11 Commission, which followed the Joint Inquiry that produced these so-called 28 pages, investigated the questions they raised and was never able to find sufficient evidence to support them," he said.

Legislation that would allow families of Sept. 11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia, was passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate and is making its way through the House, despite President Barack Obama's veto threat.

"While the pages do not reach a conclusion regarding Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks, they provide more than enough evidence to raise serious concerns," said Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. His state was home to many people killed when planes hit the World Trade Center in neighboring New York.

Sept. 11 families made clear the pages' release would not stop their push for the legislation. "Congress has to stand up for the interests of the thousands of innocent Americans who lost loved ones on 9/11," one group said in a statement.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters before the pages were released that they would show no evidence of Saudi complicity.

The Obama administration sent a declassified version of the 28 pages, with many lines and sentences blacked out to protect intelligence sources and methods, to Congress on Friday morning. The House intelligence panel released it a few hours later. (Additional reporting by Yara Bayoumy, Mark Hosenball, Roberta Rampton, Amanda Becker; Editing by James Dalgleish and Tom Brown)

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