The FBI has accidentally revealed the name of a Saudi official believed to have aided two Al-Qaeda hijackers involved in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, after going to absurd lengths to keep it secret for years.
The name was unintentionally left unredacted in a court filing unsealed last week in the ongoing lawsuit by 9/11 victims’ families against the Saudi government, which they accuse of complicity in the terrorist attacks. The ‘error’ was reported by Yahoo News on Tuesday – at which point the Justice Department withdrew the filing, refusing to comment on how the mistake had been made.
But the filing – a declaration by FBI assistant director for counterterrorism Jill Sanborn – had already been seen, and there was no putting the cat back in the bag: the name of Mussaed Ahmed al-Jarrah, a mid-level official in the Saudi Foreign Ministry assigned to the embassy in Washington, DC during 1999 and 2000, is now public knowledge. The catastrophic fallout for national security that the Trump, Obama, and Bush administrations implied would come from releasing Jarrah’s name has not materialized, though a spokesperson for the victims’ families was livid.