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Why Doesn't Saudi Arabia Join North Korea On U.S. State Terrorism List After 9

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It also noted a November 1999 incident in which two Saudi men, Mohammed al-Qudhaeein and Hamdan al-Shalawi, were detained after attempting to gain entry to the cockpit of an America West Airlines flight and speculated that the two men, whose tickets had reportedly been paid for by the Saudi embassy in Washington, may have been practicing for a future hijacking.

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The second tower of the World Trade Center explodes into flames after being hit by an airplane, New York September 11, 2001 with the Brooklyn Bridge in the foreground. Multiple federal investigations found no direct link between the Saudi government and the attacks, but vast support for Al-Qaeda within the kingdom. Sara K. Schwittek/Reuters

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Saudi Arabia has vehemently denied any role in the hijackings and said it welcomed the release of the full 28 pages as a chance "to respond to any allegations in a clear and credible manner." Riyadh has responded more aggressively, however, to the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), against which Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said earlier this year he hoped "corrective measures will be taken" by Trump. The act has opened a pathway for the families of those who died in 9/11 to sue the Saudi Arabian government.

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Saudi Arabia continued to be a leading ally of the U.S. and other Western countries in fighting militant groups in the region, but other leaked documents showed that U.S. officials maintained the belief that Saudi Arabia was assisting violent, fundamentalist movements such as the Islamic State militant group (ISIS).

"We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIS and other radical groups in the region," a State Department memo dated August 2014 and released October 2016, according to >The Independent

The U.K. has also refused to release a report that many suspect implicated Saudi Arabia in funding Islamic militant groups across Europe and possibly in the U.K. as well. Still, many officials and experts in the West saw Saudi Arabia as more of an ally than a foe.

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Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud honors British Prime Minister Theresa May in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 5, 2017. The U.K. Home Office has refused to release a report that's widely believed to implicate Saudi Arabia in the funding of Islamist militant groups. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS " data-reactid="94"> Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud honors British Prime Minister Theresa May in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 5, 2017. The U.K. Home Office has refused to release a report that's widely believed to implicate Saudi Arabia in the funding of Islamist militant groups. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS

Newsweek." data-reactid="95">"I don't think anyone's ever seriously considered Saudi Arabia a state sponsor of terrorism. Nothing has ever been established along those lines," Gerald Feierstein, director for Gulf affairs and government relations at the Middle East Institute, told Newsweek.

Feierstein said that Saudi Arabia's relationship to ultraconservative Islamic movements and support for militant groups in Syria, while "murky," did not conform to the State Department's criteria for a state sponsor of terrorism, which he said needed to display a clear "motivation" and "relationship to support for terrorism." He also questioned whether North Korea fit the bill either and whether the Trump administration's decision to add North Korea was more politically motivated than based on evidence.

Since Trump swapped Twitter wars with Saudi princes for taking on North Korea and supreme leader Kim Jong Un, fears have risen among U.S. allies and rivals alike of a nuclear conflict. North Korea has the potential to carry out an attack against the U.S. countless times more deadly than 9/11, but it has maintained that its weapons of mass destruction were only intended to deter a U.S. invasion, as was seen in 2001 Afghanistan, 2003 Iraq and the NATO-led effort to topple Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

This article was first written by Newsweek

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