TAMPA (WFLA) – Saturday marks 20 years since the Sept. 11 terror attacks where 3,000 innocent Americans lost their lives.
Terry Strada is still waiting for closure as Terry’s husband, Tom was one of those victims. The 41-year-old was on the 104th floor of the north tower during the time of the attacks.
On that Tuesday morning, the plan was just to drop by the office.
Tom called his wife, right before the building collapsed, his a four-day-old baby boy at home.
Terry remembers the frantic call her husband made almost exactly 20 years to the day.
“He told me that a plane hit the building,” Strada said.
When she hung up the phone, she saw the images on the TV.
“I saw the billowing black smoke coming out of the north tower which is exactly where he was,” Strada said.
Seeking justice, Terry has been on a nearly two-decade odyssey to get the FBI to release secret files on the 9/11 investigation.
She wants the classified documents about the attacks on the World Trade Center released because she believes the documents will show a link between the Saudi government and the hijackers as she believes the files will show Saudi Arabia financed and supported the plot.
Of the 19 al-Qaeda hijackers, 15 were Saudis and from the beginning of multiple US inquiries into the Sept. 11 attacks, questions have swirled around the Saudi’s role.
“A lot of it was in the state of Florida, up and down the east and west coast of Florida,” Strada said. “If we don’t expose and really deeply dive into how 9/11 happened, we can’t protect ourselves going forward.”
Many 9/11 families, even lawmakers, agree.
Former Senator and Florida Governor Bob Graham helped lead an investigation into the intelligence failure.
In an April 2016 interview, Sen. Graham pushed for the release of classified files.
“The American people need to know so that they can make an assessment of who are our real friends and allies,” said Sen. Graham.
The Justice Department has long fought to keep the documents secret.
But last week, under pressure, President Biden ordered the review and potential declassification of the files.
It’s unclear if the files will support the families’ claims against the kingdom but Strada is optimistic.
“It’s time the truth comes out,” Strada said.
In the past 20 years, Strada has raised her three children alone, dreaming of her husband and even having conversations.
“Yes, I do talk to him quite often. I ask him for advice sometimes. I asked him for strength … raising the kids alone has been challenging,” Strada said.
The 9/11 Commission found no evidence that the Saudi government or senior officials individually funded the attacks. But again, many families don’t believe that or they think lower-ranking officials were involved.
The families have also brought a lawsuit that accuses Saudi Arabia of being complicit in the attacks.
The still-secret documents could potentially help the families make their case in court.
Terry Strada is a member of 9/11 Families United.
9/11 Families United is an organization consisting of family members of those murdered in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as well as many of those who survived, were injured in or sickened from the attacks, a community that numbers well over 10,000.