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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 15, 2003


After meeting Saudi opposition when they tried to interview families of the 9/11 hijackers, the FBI simply gave up in frustration

Schumer urges Attorney General Ashcroft to have US officials to renew efforts to interview the families and associates of the 9/11 hijackers despite

US Senator Charles Schumer today took the Justice Department to task for giving up on interviewing key people who may have information regarding the September 11th attacks because of stonewalling by Saudi officials. Schumer urged US investigators to continue to try to interview the families of the 9-11 hijackers in Saudi Arabia as well as others who may have knowledge of the attacks and reside in the Saudi kingdom.

"As you are aware, standard operating procedure in criminal investigations requires that investigators talk to friends and families of the accused – especially if the accused is no longer living – as a way to discern a suspect’s motive and to determine if there were others who aided or abetted the criminal action. I am dumbfounded that American agents working on the largest criminal investigation in American history would abandon standard procedure because of resistance by Saudi officials," Schumer wrote in a letter being sent to Attorney General John Ashcroft today.

Schumer said that the sophisticated planning required for the 9/11 hijacking plot meant that the hijackers surely had help from accomplices who by all accounts remain at large and are free to organize more plots against Americans. The Saudi government, however, has apparently refused to allow US officials to question the families of the hijackers and others who might be able to provide the investigation with insights into how they were able to carry out the attacks.

"The Saudis want to have it both ways. They say they're our partners in the war on terror but at the same time they keep us from pursuing the kinds of leads that can help us defeat terrorism," Schumer said. "The worst thing about all of this is that we let them erect these roadblocks. It's time to take a firm stand and demand total cooperation from the Saudis once and for all."

Saudi Arabian officials, including Crown Prince Abdullah and Ambassador Bandar, have repeatedly proclaimed Saudi Arabia's commitment to the US effort against terrorism. Just yesterday, Adel al–Jubeir, the foreign affairs advisor, claimed that anti-terror cooperation between the US and Saudi Arabia is “unprecedented.”

For a copy of Schumer's letter to Ashcroft click here.


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