The death of Hilda Marcin aboard United Flight 93 may still one day be vindicated.
Mrs. Marcin of Budd Lake died on Sept. 11, 2011, when terrorists hijacked the airliner which was en route to California. The crew and passengers forced the plane to crash in Pennsylvania rather than let the terrorists commandeer it to their destination, the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
A previously secret 28-page chapter of the government’s investigation into the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that was released last week after 13 years, shows that the Saudis “definitely financed 9/11,” said Terry Strada of Harding Township and one of thousands of plaintiffs in a suit demanding that Saudi Arabia pay trillions of dollars in compensation for the attacks.
“It’s right there in black and white,” said Strada, chairwoman of “9/11 Families United For Justice Against Terrorism. “The Saudis made money transfers to the terrorists using go-between. You can’t deny it.”
Strada and another former Harding couple, Matthew and Loretta Sellito, have been among the many relatives of victims of the attacks and legislators who have long pressed Congress to release the 28 pages, believing they would show Saudi complicity in the attacks.
“These 28 pages are just the beginning,” Strada said.”They may answer 100 questions but raise thousands more.”
The Sellittos’ son, Matthew Jr., was 23, when he died in the World Trade Center attack while Strada’s husband, Thomas, also perished in the attacks. Both were in the north tower when it was destroyed.
The document that was formerly top secret identifies people who knew the hijackers after they arrived in the United States and helped them get apartments, open bank accounts, and connect with local mosques. The 28 pages are included in Senate Joint Intelligence Committee’s 2002 report on sources of foreign support for the Sept. 11 hijackers. The pages were initially censored on orders from then-President George W. Bush and later again by President Barack Obama soon after he took office in 2009.
The 9/11 Commission determined in 2004 that it found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded” Al Qaeda. “This conclusion does not exclude the likelihood that charities with significant Saudi government sponsorship diverted funds to Al Qaeda,” the report said.
The Saudis have consistently denied helping the hijackers. The Saudi foreign minister was quoted by the Associated Press as saying there was no new information and that “the matter is now finished.” Legislators including Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Vice Chair Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the released report puts conspiracy theories to rest.
Former Sen. Bob Graham, R-Fla., remains convinced that the Saudis had strong links with the hijackers. Graham is the co-chairman of the congressional inquiry who pressed for release of the pages.
Strada said she was pleased the secret papers were released but remained concerned with the number of redactions.
“What are they still hiding?” said Strada.
Strada said tens of thousands of pages of the investigation remain unreleased and may further link the Saudis to the 9/11 terrorists.
“We’re pushing very hard for rlease of the rest of the classified documents involving the Saudis,” Strada said.
A federal judge has excluded the Saudis from the lawsuit, saying that foreign governments are immune from prosecution. “9/11 Families United For Justice Against Terrorism” has appealed the ruling.
Strada said the next step will be to press Congress to approve legislation that would allow victims of terrorism to sue foreign countries that sponsor terrorists. The bill is known as the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act or JASTA.
The bill was defeated in Congress in 2013 but has been reintroduced in the House.