Our brother, Daniel — a devoted father, husband and coach — was in the south tower of the World Trade Center, working as a trader for Keefe, Bruyette & Woods on the 89th floor, when it collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001. Although the tragic events of that day are deeply etched in Americans’ minds, the truth about who was responsible for it is still unknown. Two wars have been fought across two decades, but the details of what led to the murder of nearly 3,000 Americans remain shrouded in secrecy.
While some of the links between Saudi Arabia and 9/11 are well known, like the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi Arabian, other ties are less known or hidden entirely.
Ever since Daniel’s passing, we have been searching for answers. A few years ago, our family decided to join thousands of other members of the 9/11 community in seeking justice. Although the hijackers were all killed in the attacks many of the entities that supported them never have been held accountable. The lawsuit by 9/11 families against the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an effort to reveal the extent of the role we believe that country played, and we hope it will bring us some measure of closure along with a full understanding of who was responsible for Daniel’s death.
As part of this lawsuit, many in the 9/11 community have called for the release of various classified materials, including the unredacted report of the FBI’s yearslong investigation into the Saudi role, commonly referred to as Operation Encore, as well as phone records, deposition transcripts and other information the FBI and the kingdom are withholding. These documents could provide evidence that Saudi Arabia was involved in the attacks.
Until now, successive White Houses have denied requests from our community. Although it is not clear why, the close relationship and dependence of the United States on Saudi Arabia for oil as well as diplomatic support in the Middle East are undeniably a factor. However, after we urged President Joe Biden to stay away from events commemorating 9/11 unless he took action, he signed an executive order requiring the review, potential declassification and release of classified government documents related to the terrorist attacks. We hope that this will finally bring the truth out. While some of the links between Saudi Arabia and 9/11 are well known, like the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi Arabian, other ties are less known or hidden entirely. Few are aware, for instance, that a former Saudi government employee helped two of the hijackers with finances, housing and more when they arrived in the United States. Saudi Arabia denies involvement in the attacks. )
In fact, a sworn declaration from a U.S. Navy veteran and commercial pilot recently came to light as part of our ongoing litigation. The new details seem to tie the Saudi national to the terrorist attacks. In the declaration, the pilot described how, after the attacks, the FBI showed him a notebook that was found in the Saudi man’s apartment that included a drawing of a plane and calculations for rate of descent that he felt indicated a “reasonable basis” for concluding they “were used as part of the preparations of the al Qaeda terrorists.”
Former FBI Special Agent Stephen Moore summarized the Saudi link well when he stated under oath his assessment that without the Saudi support network, the hijackers never would have made it out of an American airport, let alone have overtaken and flown commercial jets with catastrophic precision. But the White House has never acknowledged a conclusive link to the Saudi government. Instead of seeking more information as time passes, our leaders have turned their backs on them and refused to help. Equally frustrating is that the FBI has said it cannot find key evidence from a nearly 20-year investigation into the attack. Earlier this month, we signed onto a letter requesting the inspector general of the Department of Justice to investigate the FBI’s apparent mishandling of evidence.
Evidence the FBI told us in a legal filing that it cannot locate includes videos and photos of the Saudi government employee with the hijackers, an unredacted joint FBI-CIA intelligence report on the kingdom’s involvement, phone calls between co-conspirators and interview records with key witnesses. It’s unfathomable that the country’s most respected agency can’t find items in this, arguably, its most important investigation. As a nation and community, we deserve better. We hope for change ahead of this anniversary. Our family and all members of the 9/11 community need to see proof of this administration’s commitment to transparency before another president commemorates our loss while blocking our access to the truth.
Biden’s executive order was a significant step in the right direction. We commend him for acting on our behalf. However, we know the documents in question have been examined and shelved before, and we know a declassification review does not mean a declassification actually happens. This information has been promised to us and then concealed from us by the institutions in which we place our trust. We will only see the commitment of this administration to justice once the anniversary is over and the public pressure has eased. It would be a disservice to our brother and all those who were injured or lost to stop fighting for justice. The murder of nearly 3,000 Americans will never be rectified, but some measure of closure on behalf of the families, first responders and survivors can be achieved. We hope that the documents will be made public in the next months. Each piece of truth is one step closer to justice.
Marty and Dennis McGinley
Marty and Dennis McGinley lost their brother, Daniel, in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and are advocates for the 9/11 community in its fight for transparency.