For years in the wake of the September 11 attacks, 28 classified pages from a US government inquiry have proven to be a bone of contention.
Many claimed that the unreleased documents contained links between Saudi officials and hijackers colluding to hatch the terror plot, which left over 3,000 people killed. Others believed that the kingdom did not want the documents to see the light of day.
On Friday, the US congress released the 28 pages, after years of wrangling in Washington between Congress and different administrations, Republicans and Democrats, and urging by families of the victims.
After reviewing the 28 pages, US intelligence officials say the documents show no evidence of Saudi complicity, the White House confirmed on the same day.
But for Riyadh, the lack of any evidence linking Saudi officials to the attacks is hardly breaking news.
Back in 2003, a year after the 911 Commission Report was completed, the-then Saudi foreign minister, Saud bin Faisal, called in a televised statement for the US government to release the classified 28 pages.
“We believe that releasing the missing 28 pages will allow us to respond to any allegations in a clear and credible manner,” said Prince Saud, fresh from a White House meeting with the then-President George W. Bush.
‘Indicted by insinuation’
The veteran diplomat added that he had conveyed his views to Bush, who “indicated that [the] release of missing pages, at this time, would compromise operations and undermine ongoing investigations.”
He added: “Anyone who believes that this president will cover up for anyone culpable in the events of 911 must be out of touch with reality, or driven by ulterior motives.”
Prince Saud said that the 28 pages remaining classified had resulting in his country being “indicted by insinuation.”
“It is an outrage to any sense of fairness that 28 blank pages are now considered substantial evidence to proclaim the guilt of a country that has been a true friend and partner to the United States for over 60 years,” he added.
Prince Saud, the second son of Saudi’s King Faisal, had served in his official post from 1975 to 2015- making him the world's longest-serving foreign minister. Long plagued with numerous health problems, he passed away later that year.
As the 28 pages finally came to light this Friday, Adel Jubeir, Saudi’s foreign minister and Prince Saud’s successor to the post, said he welcomed their release.
“The matter is now finished,” Jubeir told a news conference in Washington.