Prime Minister Theresa May rejected an appeal by survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to publish a report into the role of Saudi Arabia in funding extremism in Britain.
Earlier this summer, the British government announced it had decided not to publish the information, citing national security reasons and the “vast amount of personal information” it contained, The Independent reported.
Among those calling for May to make public the report, which was commissioned by her predecessor, David Cameron, was a US group of survivors of the 9/11 attacks and relatives of some of the almost 3,000 people who were killed.
“The UK now has the unique historic opportunity to stop the killing spree of Wahhabism-inspired terrorists by releasing the UK government’s report on terrorism financing in the UK which, according to media reports, places Saudi Arabia at its centre of culpability,” the letter said, signed by 15 people.
“The longer Saudi Arabia’s complicity is hidden from sunlight, the longer terrorism will continue,” it added.
But the British government has rejected their request in a letter that the group has described as “shameful”.
“[The] response did not convey that much would change in the future for one simple reason: the US and the UK continue to protect Saudi Arabia, allowing them to operate freely, with impunity, even supplying them with lethal weapons, as they go about their usual business of inspiring intolerance, committing genocide and human rights violations,” Sharon Premoli, who was on the 80th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Centre when the first Al-Qaeda plane hit, said.
Brett Eagleson, whose son John perished on the 17th floor of the South Tower, stressed that the British government was withholding potentially crucial information.
“When the UK government had the opportunity to shed light on the funding of terrorism and had the opportunity to make real inroads on the global fight against terror, they have chosen to take the path of least resistance by putting the cozy relationship with Saudi Arabia before the safety of its owns citizens,” he said, adding that “It’s a shameful day for democracy.”
Ellen Sarancini, the widow of a pilot on United Airlines Flight 175 which was hijacked after taking off from Boston and flown into the South Tower, announced that the UK response was the latest in a series of rejections.
“For 15 years, we have been blocked by our own government who, along with the UK, continue to protect Saudi Arabia at the expense of their citizens,” she said, adding that “the UK report has the potential for ending terrorism by outing those at the centre of its funding but refuses to do so.”
Although 15 of the 19 hijackers who attacked New York and Washington were citizens of Saudi Arabia --- while two of them were from the UAE --- the authorities in Riyadh have long denied having any official role in the attack, asking US judge to dismiss the lawsuits that hold Riyadh responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks and seek damages for the victims.
According to a report, the United Arab Emirates may also be added to lawsuits brought by the families of 9/11 victims against Saudi Arabia for its alleged role in the 2001 attacks, as the families of the victims have been fighting to bring a case against Saudi Arabia for its alleged role in funding and supporting Al-Qaeda.
Earlier this year, a lawsuit was filed in New York on behalf of the families of 850 individuals who were killed and 1,500 who were injured. It claims that Saudi supported Al-Qaeda in four critical ways – supporting government-linked charities that ran training camps, directly funding Osama Bin Laden’s terror group, supporting the hijackers by providing them with passports and, finally, offering on-the-ground support to the hijackers in the 18 months leading up to the attacks.
Britain has previously moved to ensure strategic ties with Saudi Arabia are not damaged by covering up damaging information. In 2006, Tony Blair halted a major criminal investigation into alleged corruption by the arms company BAE Systems and payments to Saudi officials involved in the Al-Yamamah arms deal.
The letter informing the 9/11 survivors that their request was being rejected was sent from the office of Home Office minister Baroness Williams.
It does not mention Saudi Arabia but said the report had concluded there are a “small number of organizations in the UK who receive support, including funding, from overseas”.
It added that “I hope you will appreciate that the review report is classified because of the volume of personal information it contains but also for national security reasons.”
In addition to the 2,605 US citizens who were killed in the attacks, were victims from 61 countries. The second largest number were Britons, who totaled 67.
The US and the UK have been also providing the bulk of the military ordnance used by Saudi Arabia in the war against Yemen. Riyadh deadly campaign has so far killed at least 14,300 civilians, including hundreds of women and children.
The UK has licensed 3.3 billion pounds worth of weapons since the beginning of Saudi Arabia's war on Yemen in March 2015.
The US also sealed a multibillion arms deal with Saudi Arabia when President Donald Trump made his maiden visit abroad in May. The deal, which is worth $350 billion over 10 years and $110 billion that will take effect immediately, was hailed by the White House as a significant expansion of the security relationship between Washington and Riyadh.