Labour Party issues statement echoing victims’ plea; Theresa May confronted on the topic during Prime Minister’s Questions
By Brian P. McGlinchey
A year after the U.S. government declassified 28 pages on Saudi government links to the 9/11 attacks, the British government is now concealing its own damning report on Saudi sponsorship of extremism, and a group of 9/11 survivors and family members has added its voice to those on both sides of the pond calling for its release.
The report is the product of a review of extremist sponsorship authorized in 2015 by then-Prime Minister David Cameron, who agreed to the study as a concession to Liberal Democrats as he sought their support for a vote on military intervention in Syria.
On July 7, the government of his successor, Theresa May, announced that the recently completed report will be kept under wraps, due to claimed national security and personal privacy concerns. Critics, however, charge that the secrecy is aimed at protecting the Saudi monarchy from embarrassment, and preventing the disruption of lucrative arms sales to the kingdom.
“How many more people must die?”
In a letter to May shared with The Independent and 28Pages.org, 9/11 survivor Sharon Premoli and a dozen other survivors and family members implore the prime minister to release the report: “How many more people must die before Government decides to use its power to protect its people? You have the power to alter the course of history, stem the growth of terrorism and ultimately, secure our safety. Please release the report and let truth and justice finally prevail.”
Premoli and the other signatories—who include Ellen Saracini, widow of United Airlines Flight 175 pilot Victor Saracini—tell May the American and British government practice of shielding Saudi Arabia from scrutiny has deadly results.
“Almost 16 years after 9/11, the extreme, virulent, intolerant brand of Islam disseminated by the Saudis continues to be the heart and soul of terrorism, and money is its lifeblood…The longer Saudi Arabia’s complicity is hidden from sunlight, the longer terrorism will continue,” the letter says.
The Labour Party promptly issued a statement today citing the letter and reiterating demands for the report’s release.
“Labour has consistently called for Theresa May to publish the report in full and echoes the demand of these 9/11 survivors,” said Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott.
“Last week, the Government published a summary rather than a full report on the subject. This decision raises serious concerns that the report is being suppressed to protect commercial relations with possible sources of funding, including Saudi Arabia…The public has a right to know how extremism in the UK is funded,” the statement said.
Sixty-four percent of British citizens think the report should be “publicly available in full, according to a poll commissioned by The Independent.
Letter Referenced During Prime Minister’s Questions
May was confronted on the topic today during Prime Minister’s Questions, the enviable practice in which prime ministers, every Wednesday at noon, field pointed questions from members of parliament.
Caroline Lucas, who represents the Green Party, noted the message from 9/11 survivors and asked May “to explain if her refusal is simply because the contents of the report will embarrass the government’s friends in Saudi Arabia, or is it because ministers care rather more about arms sales to Riyadh than they do about public safety in Britain?”
May said, “It has absolutely nothing to do with that. There is certain confidential information in the report that means that it would not be appropriate to publish it.”