Judge blocks Saudi bid to dismiss 9/11 claims by families

A U.S. judge has rejected an effort by the Saudi Arabian government to dismiss lawsuits from family members of 9-11 victims and should pay billions of dollars in judgments.

The 9-11 Commission established clear and convincing links between the 9-11 hijackers and officials closely connected to the Saudi royal family.  The links were contained in 28 pages of redacted materials that were finally declassified and released in July 2016. 

The families are seeking $100 billion in damages against the Saudi government and private Saudi entities.

Reuters:

U.S. District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan said the plaintiffs' allegations "narrowly articulate a reasonable basis" for him to assert jurisdiction over Saudi Arabia under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), a 2016 federal law.

The Saudi government has long denied involvement in the attacks in which hijacked airplanes crashed into New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania field.  Nearly 3,000 people died.

Lawyers for Saudi Arabia did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the decision.  At a Saudi stock market event in New York, asked whether the court decision would have a negative impact on Saudi investment in the United States, Capital Market Authority Chairman Mohammed A. ElKuwaiz declined to comment, saying he had not seen the news.

Daniels' decision covers claims by the families of those killed, roughly 25,000 people who suffered injuries, and many businesses and insurers.

The judge also dismissed claims that two Saudi banks, National Commercial Bank and Al Rajhi Bank, and Saudi Binladin Group, a construction company controlled by the bin Laden family, provided funds and financial services for the attacks, saying he lacked jurisdiction.

Saudi Arabia had long had broad immunity from Sept. 11 lawsuits in the United States.

That changed in September 2016, when the U.S. Congress overrode President Barack Obama's veto of JASTA, allowing such cases to proceed.

Obama had warned that the law could expose U.S. companies, troops and officials to lawsuits in other countries.

Daniels said the plaintiffs could try to prove that Saudi Arabia was liable for the alleged activities of Fahad al Thumairy, an imam at the King Fahad Mosque in Culver City, California, and Omar al Bayoumi, said to be an intelligence officer.

They were accused of helping two hijackers acclimate themselves to the United States, and begin preparing for the attacks.

Saudi Arabia had argued that the plaintiffs could not show that any Saudi official, employee or agent planned or carried out the attacks.

There were several Saudi citizens in the U.S. who aided the hijackers at various times before the attack.  The 9-11 Commission established that money changed hands and other forms of support were given. 

Although the commission could find no direct culpability involving the Saudi government, there were clear links to elements within the Saudi government, including Saudi intelligence.  The Bush and Obama administrations sought to protect the Saudi government because some disclosures would have harmed ongoing relationships we have that are beneficial in the war against terrorism.  There is also the point made by President Obama that allowing these lawsuits to go forward would expose individual U.S. citizens – including soldiers – as well as companies to similar lawsuits in other countries.  

While all this may be true to some extent, the bottom line is that if there was ever a case where national security considerations must be overridden to get at the truth, this is it.  The Saudis, like Pakistan and some other countries, play a double game with the U.S.  They claim to help us in the war on terror while funding and assisting terrorists.  Now the Saudis are likely to pay a price for their double-crosses.

The Saudis have plenty of assets in the U.S. that can be seized to satisfy any judgments against them.  No wonder they've been fighting tooth and nail to prevent these suits from going forward. 

A U.S. judge has rejected an effort by the Saudi Arabian government to dismiss lawsuits from family members of 9-11 victims and should pay billions of dollars in judgments.

The 9-11 Commission established clear and convincing links between the 9-11 hijackers and officials closely connected to the Saudi royal family.  The links were contained in 28 pages of redacted materials that were finally declassified and released in July 2016. 

The families are seeking $100 billion in damages against the Saudi government and private Saudi entities.

Reuters:

U.S. District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan said the plaintiffs' allegations "narrowly articulate a reasonable basis" for him to assert jurisdiction over Saudi Arabia under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), a 2016 federal law.

The Saudi government has long denied involvement in the attacks in which hijacked airplanes crashed into New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania field.  Nearly 3,000 people died.

Lawyers for Saudi Arabia did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the decision.  At a Saudi stock market event in New York, asked whether the court decision would have a negative impact on Saudi investment in the United States, Capital Market Authority Chairman Mohammed A. ElKuwaiz declined to comment, saying he had not seen the news.

Daniels' decision covers claims by the families of those killed, roughly 25,000 people who suffered injuries, and many businesses and insurers.

The judge also dismissed claims that two Saudi banks, National Commercial Bank and Al Rajhi Bank, and Saudi Binladin Group, a construction company controlled by the bin Laden family, provided funds and financial services for the attacks, saying he lacked jurisdiction.

Saudi Arabia had long had broad immunity from Sept. 11 lawsuits in the United States.

That changed in September 2016, when the U.S. Congress overrode President Barack Obama's veto of JASTA, allowing such cases to proceed.

Obama had warned that the law could expose U.S. companies, troops and officials to lawsuits in other countries.

Daniels said the plaintiffs could try to prove that Saudi Arabia was liable for the alleged activities of Fahad al Thumairy, an imam at the King Fahad Mosque in Culver City, California, and Omar al Bayoumi, said to be an intelligence officer.

They were accused of helping two hijackers acclimate themselves to the United States, and begin preparing for the attacks.

Saudi Arabia had argued that the plaintiffs could not show that any Saudi official, employee or agent planned or carried out the attacks.

There were several Saudi citizens in the U.S. who aided the hijackers at various times before the attack.  The 9-11 Commission established that money changed hands and other forms of support were given. 

Although the commission could find no direct culpability involving the Saudi government, there were clear links to elements within the Saudi government, including Saudi intelligence.  The Bush and Obama administrations sought to protect the Saudi government because some disclosures would have harmed ongoing relationships we have that are beneficial in the war against terrorism.  There is also the point made by President Obama that allowing these lawsuits to go forward would expose individual U.S. citizens – including soldiers – as well as companies to similar lawsuits in other countries.  

While all this may be true to some extent, the bottom line is that if there was ever a case where national security considerations must be overridden to get at the truth, this is it.  The Saudis, like Pakistan and some other countries, play a double game with the U.S.  They claim to help us in the war on terror while funding and assisting terrorists.  Now the Saudis are likely to pay a price for their double-crosses.

The Saudis have plenty of assets in the U.S. that can be seized to satisfy any judgments against them.  No wonder they've been fighting tooth and nail to prevent these suits from going forward.