U.S. District Judge William Zloch is reviewing a 156-page document revealing new information tying the government of Saudi Arabia to al-Qaeda. The document, filed by the families of 9/11 victims, is part of a lawsuit brought against Saudi Arabia and its agency, the Saudi High Commission for Relief of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The pleading had been dismissed in 2005, but was reinstated by a U.S. appeals court in late 2015.
According to the Miami Herald, the documents claim that Saudi Arabia funded al-Qaeda with as much as $35 million a year for “more than a decade leading up to September 11, 2001,” even with knowledge “of al-Qaida’s intent to conduct terrorist attacks against the United States.”
Saudi Arabia has tried to dismiss the multi-billion dollar lawsuit, including the most recent attempt in September. A memorandum by the defense claims, “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had no role in the attacks of September 11, 2001. The United States has said often and vigorously that Saudi Arabia is an important ally in the fight against terrorism.”
Furthermore, the defense claims the 9/11 Commission found “no evidence” of a Saudi role in connection with 9/11 or funding terrorism.
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However, lawyers of the victims countered, “Further undermining the Kingdom’s efforts to characterize the 9/11 Commission investigation as ‘exhaustive,’ recent disclosures make clear that both the 9/11 Commission and the 9/11 Joint Inquiry were deprived of critical information by the FBI.”
“It is irrelevant that the September 11 attacks themselves occurred in the United States,” Michael Kellogg, a lawyer representing Saudi Arabia, argued. “Those attacks were ‘distinct and separate’ torts from those that involve giving money and aid to purported charities that supported al-Qaida, and those attacks therefore cannot serve as a basis for avoiding the entire-tort rule.”
The suit is under review as the U.S. Congress has passed a law (and overridden a veto) that allows the victims and the families of victims of terrorism to sue foreign sponsors of terrorism -- including Saudi Arabia.
“This is a decision I do not take lightly,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York and a co-author of the bill, said, reports The New York Times. “This bill is near and dear to my heart as a New Yorker, because it would allow the victims of 9/11 to pursue some small measure of justice, finally giving them a legal avenue to pursue foreign sponsors of the terrorist attack that took from them the lives of their loved ones.”