CIA: ‘No proof of Saudi involvement in Sept. 11’

Director of the CIA John Brennan also said ‘over the last 15 years, the Saudis have become among our best counterterrorism partners’

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CIA director John Brennan told Al Arabiya News Channel's Washington Bureau Chief Nadia Bilbassy-Charters in an exclusive interview on Saturday that “there was no evidence” of a Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks.

His remarks came after a 28-page congressional investigatory report claimed that there were proofs Saudi officials had supported al-Qaeda in the run-up to the attacks.

In May, John Lehman, a member of the Sept. 11 commission, told CNN that the classified contained evidence that as many as six Saudi officials supported Al-Qaeda.

But Brennan, in his first interview with an Arab media outlet, dismissed the claim.

“The Sep. 11 commission looked very thoroughly at these allegations of Saudi involvement, Saudi government involvement and their findings, their conclusion was that there was no evidence to indicate that the Saudi government as an institution or Saudi senior officials individually had supported the Sep. 11 attacks,” he said.

The director said “it is good” that this 28-page report will “come out.”

“The assessments that have been done show it was very unfortunate that these attacks took place but this was the work of al-Qaeda, [al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman] al-Zawahri, and others of that ilk,” he added.

He also said “over the last 15 years, the Saudis have become among our best counterterrorism partners.”

Brennan described both Saudi King Salman and his deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as “strong partners in this fight against terrorism.”

Asked if he had contacts with Riyadh’s nemesis Tehran, Brennan said “zero.”

“I continue to be very concerned about Iran’s support for terrorist activities and terrorist groups, especially the Quds force and their activities inside Iraq, Syria, and other countries throughout the region,” he added.

Saudi has long expressed its concern over Iran’s involvement in both Syria and Iraq. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, chief of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was already seen rubbing shoulders with a Shiite paramilitary group during Iraq’s recent operation against ISIS to liberate the militant group’s stronghold in Fallujah.

Saudi has also criticized Iran’s support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“Iran still has a long way to go before I’m going to be convinced that they are interested in countering and destroying terrorism,” he said.

However, he criticized ISIS’s “anti-Shiite dimension,” which is “very, very unfortunate.”

“We have to be able to destroy that organization [ISIS] and destroy that anti-Shiite dimension,” he said.

But he also said “unfortunately, there are a number of individuals on the Shiite side of the equation also who have a very strong anti-Sunni engine to them as well.”

Brennan said he is not “convinced at all he [Gen. Soleimani] is trying to take those sectarian tensions down” as he “has been taking a leading role for Iran and Quds force inside of Iraq and Syria and other areas.”

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