President Joe Biden on Friday signed an executive order directing the Department of Justice (DOJ) and other federal agencies to conduct a declassification review on confidential documents regarding the FBI’s 9/11 investigations.

Biden’s new executive order requires Attorney General Merrick Garland to release those documents over six months.

“We must never forget the enduring pain of the families and loved ones of the 2,977 innocent people who were killed during the worst terrorist attack on America in our history. For them, it was not only a national and international tragedy,” Biden said in a statement Friday. “It was a personal devastation. For 20 years, children have grown up without parents and parents have suffered without children. Husbands and wives have had to find a way forward without their partners in life. Brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, loved ones and friends have celebrated 20 years of birthdays, family gatherings, and milestones looking at an empty chair at homes and with a hole in their hearts.”

“My heart continues to be with the 9/11 families who are suffering, and my Administration will continue to engage respectfully with members of this community,” the president added. “I welcome their voices and insight as we chart a way forward.”

The controversies regarding these classified documents on the 9/11 attack have been an ongoing issue for many families of victims of the terrorist attack 20 years ago. 

Families of the victim, 9/11 Families United, released a statement in August telling Biden not to come to any memorial events this September 11 unless the government released documents about Saudi Arabia’s alleged role in the attack.

The families issued a statement Friday praising Biden’s executive order.

“We are thrilled to see the President forcing the release of more evidence about Saudi connections to the 9/11 Attacks,” Terry Strada, wife of a victim killed in the World Trade Center by the attack, said in a statement.

“There is much more work to be done to secure justice for our murdered loved ones and to rectify the immense damage the 20-year shroud of secrecy has caused, but we now are optimistic that President Biden will be helping us achieve those goals,” she added.

Last week, the U.S. officially completed its withdrawal in Afghanistan after 20 years of war that started as a result of the 9/11 attack in September 11, 2001.

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