19 December 2018

Saudi Arabia must face US lawsuits over Sept 11 attacks

Saudi Arabia must face US lawsuits over Sept 11 attacks
NEW YORK: A US judge on Wednesday rejected Saudi Arabia’s bid to dismiss lawsuits claiming that it helped plan the Sept 11, 2001, attacks and should pay billions of dollars in damages to victims.

US District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan said the plaintiffs’ allegations “narrowly articulate a reasonable basis” for him to assert jurisdiction under a federal law, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act.

Saudi Arabia had long had broad immunity from Sept 11 lawsuits in the United States, before the US Congress in September 2016 overrode a veto by President Barack Obama to allow such cases to proceed.

Lawyers for Saudi Arabia did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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.

Daniels has overseen litigation against Saudi Arabia by the families of those killed, roughly 25,000 people who suffered injuries, and a variety of businesses and insurers.

“We’re delighted that Judge Daniels denied Saudi Arabia’s motion to dismiss,” James Kreindler, a lawyer for many of the plaintiffs, said in a phone interview.

“We have been pressing to proceed with the case and conduct discovery from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, so that the full story can come to light, and expose the Saudi role in the 9/11 attacks,” he added.

In two decisions, Daniels also dismissed claims by various plaintiffs against several other defendants, saying he lacked jurisdiction.

Among these defendants were two Saudi banks, National Commercial Bank and Al Rajhi Bank, and Saudi Binladin Group, a construction company controlled by the bin Laden family.

They were accused of knowingly providing material support to Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda, in the form of funds and financial services, to carry out the attacks.


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