The 9/11 Law­suits Against The Saudis are Hap­pen­ing for Real Now

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The big law­suits against the Saudis for their role in the Septem­ber 11, 2001, ter­ror­ist at­tacks are fi­nally mov­ing for­ward.

Saudi Ara­bia is widely rec­og­nized as the pri­mary spon­sor of Is­lamic ter­ror­ism, and the ev­i­dence clearly shows that not just cit­i­zens of Saudi Ara­bia were in­volved in the at­tacks but the Saudi gov­ern­ment it­self funded the at­tack­ers. The ev­i­dence fur­ther shows that the at­tack­ers were aided and abet­ted by el­e­ments within the U.S. gov­ern­ment.

Pre­vi­ously, Amer­i­can cit­i­zens could sue a for­eign coun­try only if the for­eign gov­ern­ment was of­fi­cially des­ig­nated as a “state spon­sor of ter­ror­ism” by the U.S. Depart­ment of State. The Saudi gov­ern­ment is widely rec­og­nized as the pri­mary spon­sor of Is­lamic ter­ror­ism but due to its wealth and power has been able to bribe and/or threaten those who could des­ig­nate it as the state spon­sor of ter­ror­ism that it is. Not only has the United States failed to des­ig­nate Saudi Ara­bia as a state spon­sor of ter­ror­ism but it con­tin­ues to pro­vide the coun­try with mil­i­tary aid, sell it weapons and ac­tively sup­port its ter­ror­ist op­er­a­tions.

The Jus­tice Against Spon­sors of Ter­ror­ism Act (JASTA) was passed by Congress on Septem­ber 28, 2016, and over­rode Obama’s pre­vi­ous veto of the law. It changed how the orig­i­nal con­cept of sov­er­eign im­mu­nity worked and gave Amer­i­cans the abil­ity to get around the cor­rup­tion of the Depart­ment of State and seek jus­tice through civil suits. With JASTA in place, fed­eral courts can ex­er­cise their own per­sonal ju­ris­dic­tion over a for­eign state’s sup­port of in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism against a U.S. na­tional or prop­erty owned by a U.S. na­tional re­gard­less of whether or not the state is des­ig­nated of­fi­cially as a state spon­sor of ter­ror­ism.

On March 21, 2017, a ma­jor law­suit was filed by

the fam­i­lies of about 800 of the es­ti­mated 3,000 direct vic­tims of the at­tack, plus an­other 1,500 who were in­jured while help­ing out as a re­sult of the at­tack. The fil­ing pa­pers for that suit make the case that the Septem­ber 11 at­tacks could not have hap­pened with­out the in­volve­ment of the Saudi royal fam­ily, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the close ties be­tween the Saudi lead­er­ship and the bin Laden fam­ily, which or­ches­trated the at­tacks.

Three days later, on March 24, 2017, a sec­ond law­suit was also filed in Man­hat­tan against a va­ri­ety of Saudi Ara­bian in­ter­ests for the same Septem­ber 11, 2001, at­tacks. And it is this one that per­haps Saudi of­fi­cials may fear the most.

In this sec­ond law­suit, a group of Amer­i­can in­sur­ance com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Lib­erty Mu­tual, Safeco, Wausau and sev­eral syn­di­cates from Lloyd’s of Lon­don, are su­ing to col­lect dam­ages re­lated to an es­ti­mated over $10 bil­lion in to­tal prop­erty and in­fras­truc­ture dam­age in the coun­try.

The sec­ond law­suit had been on hold for some time, after it had been pre­vi­ously dis­missed by U.S. District Judge Ge­orge Daniels of Man­hat­tan. He had been in­volved in rul­ing on other Septem­ber 11 law­suits back in 2015. The plain­tiffs had ap­pealed the judge’s dis­missal on the grounds that JASTA should ap­ply in this case.

The ap­peal was va­cated when the par­ties in the case on both sides, in­clud­ing the gov­ern­ment of Saudi Ara­bia, the in­sur­ers and oth­ers, filed a joint brief agree­ing that “JASTA was in­tended to ap­ply” to cases like this and that the judge should rule on what it means.

The law­suit was re­filed in April with mi­nor amend­ments and is now pro­ceed­ing at full speed.

Listed as de­fen­dants in the case are the Al Ra­jhi Bank, the Na­tional Com­mer­cial Bank, Dal­lah Avco (an avi­a­tion con­trac­tor), the Mo­hammed Bin­ladin Co, the Mus­lim World League and oth­ers. The Al Ra­jhi Bank is the largest Is­lamic bank in the world, based on 2015 in­for­ma­tion, and is also one of the larger stock com­pa­nies in Saudi Ara­bia.

While oth­ers in the case have set­tled mostly for court fil­ings to speak their opin­ion on the law­suit, Al Ra­jhi has fought back against the claims, say­ing its bank “has no links to ter­ror­ism.” The plain­tiffs dis­agree strongly. In their fil­ings, they say the de­fen­dants “aided and abet­ted” ter­ror by help­ing with many “ac­tiv­i­ties in sup­port of AlQaeda.” The law­suit goes on to say that “But for the as­sis­tance pro­vided by the de­fen­dants, Al-qaeda could not have suc­cess­fully planned, co­or­di­nated and car­ried out the Septem­ber 11th at­tacks, which were a fore­see­able and in­tended re­sult of their ma­te­rial sup­port and spon­sor­ship of Al-qaeda.”

It is a long way to a de­ci­sion, but at least some progress is be­ing made and the cases will cer­tainly bring more facts to light that could sup­port fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tions and civil ac­tions against those truly re­spon­si­ble for the at­tacks of 9/11.

While no ac­tion has yet been taken against the many Amer­i­cans who were in­volved in fa­cil­i­tat­ing, ex­e­cut­ing the at­tacks or cov­er­ing up the in­volve­ment of the Saudis, the suits may bring enough ev­i­dence to light to make it eas­ier to pur­sue such cases. The Amer­i­cans in the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion who made the at­tacks hap­pen are guilty not just of the mur­der of thou­sands of Amer­i­cans but also the on­go­ing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Ye­men and Syria that has de­stroyed mil­lions of lives and cost Amer­i­can tax­pay­ers tril­lions of dol­lars.

Photo by Robert J. Fisch, CC

Photo by So­col­u­nistas1, CC

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