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Sarasota's mysterious link to 9-11 raises new questions as feds move to end lawsuit

By Dan Christensen and Anthony Summers

A senior FBI official has told a Fort Lauderdale federal judge that disclosure of certain classified information about Saudis who hurriedly left their Sarasota area home shortly before the attacks on 9/11 “would reveal current specific targets of the FBI’s national security investigations.”

Records Section Chief David M. Hardy’s assertion is contained in a sworn 33-page declaration filed in support of a Justice Department motion that seeks to end a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed last year by

The government’s latest court filings, thick with veiled references to foreign counterintelligence operations and targets, deepen the mystery about a once-secret FBI investigation of Esam and Deborah Ghazzawi and their tenants, son-in-law and daughter, Abdulaziz and Anoud al-Hijji.

The filings by Miami Assistant U.S. Attorney Carole M. Fernandez also seek to justify in the name of national security numerous deletions of information from FBI records about the decade-old investigation that were released recently amid the ongoing litigation.

They do not, however, explain why an investigation the FBI has said found no connection between those Saudis and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people involves information so secret its disclosure “could be expected to cause serious damage to national security.” More here.