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FBI mistakenly reveals name of Saudi official suspected of directing 'crucial support' to 9/11 attackers

The diplomat worked at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Federal Bureau of Investigation accidentally revealed the name of a Saudi official suspected of directing "crucial support" to two al-Qaeda hijackers involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, according to a report from Yahoo News.

The name of the mid-level Saudi foreign ministry official was mistakenly released last week in a declaration by an FBI official in response to a lawsuit by families of 9/11 victims who accuse Saudi Arabia's government of involvement in the terrorist attacks.

Mussaed Ahmed al-Jarrah was accidentally named in the declaration, which was incorrectly filed to a public docket. Al-Jarrah was a diplomat assigned to the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., between 1999 and 2000.

"His duties apparently included overseeing the activities of Ministry of Islamic Affairs employees at Saudi-funded mosques and Islamic centers within the United States," the report said.

The FBI didn't redact al-Jarrah's name in a document. The Department of Justice removed the document that was previously made public on accident. Michael Isikoff, the chief investigative journalist at Yahoo News who noticed the error, said a senior U.S. government official confirmed the mistake.

The 9/11 families have been fighting for the identification of the Saudi official who allegedly had involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks at the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, as well as in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon.

For years, the families have been asking for the identity of the Saudi diplomat who reportedly worked with two other Saudi nationals to assist and direct the hijackers.

Last September, on the anniversary of the terror attack, the Trump administration agreed to declassify the name of the diplomat, but did not release it publicly. The lawyers could be told the name under protective seal, but they could not discuss it publicly, according to NBC News.

Evidence that the FBI gathered about al-Jarrah and his communications about the two attackers remain under seal.

Two sources close to the case told NBC News that the "FBI and the Justice Department are asserting that since it was an erroneous disclosure, the name is still subject to a protective order and neither side is allowed to discuss it publicly."

The families of the victims are suing Saudi Arabia for the deaths and damages from the 9/11 terror attacks. Of the 19 hijackers, 15 were Saudi citizens, as was 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. Two of the hijackers may have obtained their passports "legitimately or illegitimately" with the help of a family member who worked in a Saudi passport office.

The Saudi government has denied any involvement in the attacks. The 9/11 Commission "found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization."

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