Attorneys for 9/11 families, survivors and insurers recently submitted an updated legal complaint in their suit against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is moving forward with strengthened momentum thanks to the September 2016 enactment of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) and new evidence that has emerged over the past year.
The document, which can be read by clicking the image below, spans hundreds of pages. Its length is driven by two factors: Continue reading →
At The Litigation Daily, Michael D. Goldhaber weighs in with a very thorough and, for a complex and serious topic, very readable overview of the latest developments in the legal action titled “In re Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001,” which consolidates several suits against Saudi interests on behalf of more than 6,500 survivors and family members as well as various companies, including insurers and Cantor Fitzgerald.
Chief among those latest developments is an amended complaint filed on September 15 by Philadelphia firm Cozen O’Connor. Goldhaber calls it “a lively, 156-page narrative (that) reads as a prequel to the 9/11 Commission Report, and as a much-needed corrective.”
As Goldhaber describes, the complaint’s 9/11 prequel extends centuries before 2001:
The 9/11 Commission Report starts with the biography of Osama Bin Laden. The new complaint, whose filing was anticipated by Lawrence Wright, and nimbly noted by Chris Mondics and Daniel Fisher, goes back to 1744. That was the year the founder of the House of Saud forged a long-term alliance with a purist Muslim cleric named al Wahhab, who believed in eradicating deviant beliefs by force. Internal challenges to the House of Saud’s legitimacy in 1979, and again in 1991-93, led the princes to cede greater money and power to the Wahhabi clerisy (the Ulema). The Ulema have allegedly supported worldwide jihad, beginning in Afghanistan and running via the Balkans to Lower Manhattan, through Saudi state charities and the “Islamic Affairs Departments” of Saudi embassies. Their alleged love for terrorists has come in the form of both money and, for at least two hijackers, logistical support.
Goldhaber also notes that “allegations against Saudi Arabia in the original 2003 complaint were necessarily thin because the pertinent 28 pages of the report by Congress’ joint inquiry into intelligence surrounding 9/11 have been controversially classified, inspiring the movement 28pages.org.”
In addition to explaining the complex and ongoing legal battle over the extent to which sovereign immunity protects Saudi Arabia from 9/11 claims, Goldhaber summarizes the key points in the complaint, including various threads linking Saudi Arabia and the 9/11 terrorists. While many of the threads noted in the complaint pass through Omar al Bayoumi—who helped two of the hijackers settle in San Diego—Goldhaber also notes:
None of this is to mention allegations of Saudi support for the lead hijacker pilots out of both Germany and, according to a still-secret investigation, Florida. The lion’s share of the complaint alleges, charity by charity, the pervasive sponsorship of al-Qaida’s global jihad by state-controlled charities with the regime’s knowledge.
Describing the 9/11 plaintiffs as being positioned on an “appellate treadmill” relating to the sovereign immunity battle, Goldhaber is nonetheless optimistic about the suit’s potential:
It’s hard to make the rebuilding at Ground Zero look efficient, but the U.S. legal system is doing its best. One World Trade Center eventually rose from the ashes, and the 9/11 plaintiffs will likely get their day in court. They may or may not get to tell the story of Omar Al Bayoumi and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. But the plaintiffs are already in discovery against 18 defendants who are not insignificant. Among them are the three charities alleged to lie at the center of the Saudi state system for underwriting global jihad: the International Islamic Relief Organization, the Al-Haraiman Islamic Foundation and the Muslim World League (affiliated with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth).
We’ve provided just a few brief excerpts; read Goldhaber’s excellent summary here before tackling the full complaint here.