At least two of the 9-11 hijackers probably had a U.S.-based support network, according to a former FBI agent.
Danny Gonzalez worked on “Operation Encore,” the still-secret investigation into the two Saudi hijackers who were based in San Diego. Gonzalez told CBS News he’s confident the records of that operation will show the hijackers had help.
“19 hijackers cannot commit 3,000 mass murders by themselves,” Gonzalez told the network.
President Biden signed an executive order Friday directing the Department of Justice to oversee a declassification review of some documents related to the 9/11 attacks, after pressure from families of victims who are demanding to know if Saudi Arabia helped the hijackers. The DOJ must release any declassified documents in the next six months.
Some records pertain to “Operation Encore,” which began two years after the commission’s report.
Gonzalez said the public would learn “a lot” if records from Operation Encore were released, and that it would change the public’s understanding of 9/11.
Gonzalez said the two hijackers — Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar — were helped by a number of Saudis, including Omar al-Bayoumi.
Bayoumi, who was working for the Saudi government, has said he randomly met the two hijackers at a restaurant in LA and encouraged them to move to San Diego. He helped them find apartments and open bank accounts. The two hijackers even started flight school nearby.
Gonzalez said he can’t reveal certain classified information about Operation Encore, per FBI orders. Nor can another former agent, Ken Williams, who wrote a memo before 9/11 that warned potential terrorists were taking flight lessons in Arizona.
“The evidence is there. I’ve seen it. But I can’t get into specifics because of the protective order,” Williams said. Both former agents are now working for the families as investigators.
“I can’t sit on the sidelines when I know the truth,” Gonzalez said.
The 9/11 families are suing Saudi Arabia, though the Saudis deny official involvement, and the 9/11 Commission report found no connection. The commission report also found that Bayoumi was an “unlikely candidate for clandestine involvement with Islamist extremists,” and said there was “no credible evidence that he believed in violent extremism or knowingly aided extremist groups.”