WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is deciding whether to disclose a name sought by the plaintiffs in a long-running lawsuit that seeks to link the government of Saudi Arabia to the 9/11 attacks.
Attorney General William Barr faced a Friday deadline to withhold or release the name referenced in a 2012 FBI document that was released three years ago. Barr may invoke a rarely used national security provision to keep it hidden.
Lawyers in the 9/11 lawsuit believe the name may be a Saudi official who oversaw two other men who provided assistance to two of the hijackers in Southern California.
The suit filed by injured victims, families of victims and others alleges Saudi government employees knowingly assisted the hijacking plot.
There has been speculation of official Saudi involvement since shortly after the attacks when it was revealed that 15 of the 19 attackers were Saudis and Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaida at the time, was from a prominent wealthy family.
The U.S. investigated some Saudi diplomats and others with Saudi government ties who knew hijackers after they arrived in the U.S., according to documents that have been declassified.
The Saudi government has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attacks. The 9/11 Commission report found "no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded" the attacks that al-Qaida masterminded, but the commission also noted "the likelihood" that Saudi government-sponsored charities did.
The coordinated attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 killed nearly 3,000 people when hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Virginia and a field in Pennsylvania.