WASHINGTON – American investigators have held three rounds of questioning of an employee of Saudi Arabia's civil aviation authority and found no connection to the Sept. 11 hijackings, a Saudi official said Monday.
The questioning in Saudi Arabia began at the end of last month, a day after Condoleezza Rice (search), President Bush's national security adviser, requested U.S. access to Omar al-Bayoumi (search) in a meeting with Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal (search).
Al-Bayoumi was described as an accountant by the Saudi official, who spoke to reporters at the Saudi Embassy on condition of anonymity. The official said al-Bayoumi was not an agent of the Saudi government.
The FBI had no immediate comment on the Saudi official's characterization of the conversations in Saudi Arabia (search).
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia.
Prince Saud flew here last month to ask Bush, Rice and other administration officials to declassify parts of a congressional report on the attacks on the World Trade Center (search) and the Pentagon. He said his government had nothing to hide, and the report's classified section would confirm that.
Bush said releasing even a summary could compromise U.S. intelligence methods and tip off suspects.
"There's a threat to the United States," Bush said, but if the threat were to diminish, he said he might release the classified material.
The Saudi official disclosed the three rounds of questioning in a 90-minute session in which he asserted the kingdom was aggressively pursuing terrorists on several fronts.
He said, for instance, the United States and Saudi Arabia had established a joint commission to track financial support to terror groups.
Also, the official said Iran was not responding to a request for extradition of seven or eight Saudi nationals suspected of being members of the Al Qaeda terror network.
In all, the official said, 10 to 15 Al Qaeda suspects had been detained in Iran, among them Saad bin Laden. He is a son of Usama bin Laden, the Saudi-born fugitive who heads the terror network and is believed to be the mastermind in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.