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The CIA finally declassified its report on Saudi links to 9/11. Here's what it says.

1998 CNN still of Osama bin Laden, right, along with Egyptian jihadist Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan
1998 CNN still of Osama bin Laden, right, along with Egyptian jihadist Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan
Photo by CNN via Getty Images

Late on Friday, the CIA's Office of the Inspector General finally released the findings of its internal investigation, concluded in 2005, into intelligence failures leading up to the attacks of September 11, 2001. The few sections left un-redacted in the 500-page report do not appear to offer any major revelations.

But they do touch on a question that has swirled around US inquiries into 9/11 since the first weeks after the attacks: was there any involvement by the government of Saudi Arabia?

The report claims no conclusive answer, but states it found no evidence that "the Saudi government knowingly and willingly supported the al-Qaeda terrorists." However, its sources speculated that rogue Saudi officials may have been involved — a long-running suspicion.

What the report says about Saudi Arabia

The very final section of the OIG report, titled "Issues related to Saudi Arabia," is entirely redacted, save for three brief paragraphs. They say the investigation found no evidence that the Saudi government had supported or played any role in the attacks. However, it says, some members of the CIA's Near East and Counterterrorism divisions speculated that rogue Saudi officials may have aided al-Qaeda's actions.

Here is the entirety of the un-redacted text from the much-anticipated Saudi section:

The findings, though frustratingly inconclusive, are in line with what many analysts and journalists have long suspected: that while the Saudi government was probably not involved, rogue Saudi officials sympathetic to al-Qaeda may have been.

Keep in mind that the CIA officials cited as "speculating" about such a possibility are considered among the agency's best analysts and have access to vast amounts of intelligence.

The little information contained in the un-redacted sections of this report do not fundamentally alter our understanding of the 9/11 attacks or the narrower question of Saudi involvement. But they are an interesting data point nonetheless in favor of the theory, prevalent among close observers of Saudi Arabia, that some number of rogue officials acting on their own may have been involved.