Editorial: Seeking answers, 20 years later


The ISD Editorial Board examines the report released by the Department of Justice concerning Saudi Arabia’s role in the Sept. 11 attacks. 

Editorial Board

Editor’s Note: Editorials are representative of the views of all Editorial Board members. One or two members will compile these views and write an editorial.

Truth may be absolute, but the narrative that is spun around a particular set of facts will always distort our perception of what really happened. Presumption and bias, founded or not, play on our emotions and craft truth where it isn’t. Or, they uncover secrets and conspiracies that rock our understanding of the world we live in.

Did the Saudi Arabian government help terrorists hijack four airplanes and attack the United States on 9/11? At the very least, did they financially support Al-Qaeda and its members as they plotted and carried out the deadliest attack on American soil?

These are the questions the families of victims of 9/11 want answers to, answers they believe the government has and has chosen to withhold for political reasons. Answers they believe have been given after President Biden ordered the FBI to release documents detailing its investigation into possible connections between Saudi Arabia and the 9/11 hijackers.

Biden only made the report public after being pushed by the families of survivors. His attendance at Ground Zero on the anniversary of the attacks would be contingent on the release of information connecting Saudi Arabia to the attacks.

“Pushed” is not to insult the families of victims. They certainly deserve answers as to what happened that day and who helped or allowed such a tragedy to happen. They simply leveraged the power they had to get what they believed they wanted. 

It’s not used to insult Biden either. He campaigned on releasing more information surrounding the Sept. 11 attacks and came through on that promise, if only in a begrudgingly sort of way.

Here’s the problem with the FBI’s report that the Department of Justice released: it isn’t damning. It draws a lot of loose connections between a few of the 9/11 terrorists and Saudi Arabian nationals in the United States. It does not make direct connections between the Saudi Arabian government and the hijackers.

 All it really does is feed into narratives on either side of the argument and raise a lot more questions than it answers.

The Saudi Arabian Embassy has advocated for the release of these types of documents for over a decade and believes that this new report completely exonerates the Saudis from any involvement in or responsibility for the 9/11 attacks.

Meanwhile, the families of the victims believe this report directly implicates the Saudi Arabian government and confirms their suspicions that the 9/11 hijackers were directly supported by Saudi government officials, including the establishment of a network and financial support.

So what really happened on September 11, 2001? Will we ever know the full truth?

No. Sure as death and taxes, the American public will never be privy to the full truth of how involved one our closest allies in the Middle East was in one of our darkest days.

The families of victims of 9/11 deserve better than they have been given. Being kept in the dark has done nothing to bring closure to such a horrific event in their lives. Osama bin Laden was a Saudi crown prince. Fifteen of the 19 terrorists who executed the attacks were Saudi Arabian nationals. Of course they have questions and suspicions, and rightfully so.

But the truth remains elusive. We will continue to take the same facts we have all been provided and create a truth that fits. Sometimes we will be right. Other times we will be wrong. We don’t operate in a world of absolutes. 

As sad as it is, there really isn’t a full truth to what occurred on 9/11; at least, not one that can be captured in a report. We’ve been asked to move forward from that fateful day and at times, to move past it. That’s easier said than done, especially for those who lost a loved one.

Answers and closure won’t change what happened to our country and the victims. We know what happened, and no report or confession is going to change that. 9/11 was a turning point in our country’s history. Let us remember that day for what it was: a national tragedy and a point of resolve for how we want to lead the world.