By Harut Sassounian
In a stunning lawsuit seeking to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for 9/11, the families of 800 victims have filed a lawsuit accusing the Saudis of complicity in the worst terror attacks on American soil, Pix11.com reports.
The legal action, filed in federal court in Manhattan, details a scenario of involvement by Saudi officials who are said to have aided some of the hijackers before the attacks.
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals and three of them had previously worked for the kingdom.
The document details how officials from Saudi embassies supported hijackers Salem al-Hazmi and Khalid Al-Mihdhar 18 months before 9/11.
The officials allegedly helped them find apartments, learn English and obtain credit cards and cash. The documents state that the officials helped them learn how to blend into the American landscape.
The suit also produces evidence that officials in the Saudi embassy in Germany supported lead hijacker Mohamed Atta. It claims that a Saudi official was in the same hotel in Virginia with several hijackers the night before the attacks.
Many of the revelations in the lawsuit are culled from findings of an FBI investigation into the terrorist attacks. The suit filed by aviation law firm Kreindler & Kreindler claims some of the hijackers had special markers in their passports, identifying them as al-Qaida sympathizers.
The lawsuit asserts that the Saudi royals, who for years had been trying to curry favor with fundamentalists to avoid losing power, were aware that funds from Saudi charities were being funneled to al-Qaida.
Aviation attorney Jim Kreindler told PIX11 News: “The charities were alter egos of the Saudi government.”
The lawsuit spells out how money was transferred from charities in Saudi Arabia to the terror group.
Charities the lawsuit claims fronted for al-Qaida include the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, an organization that was designated by the U.S. as a sponsor of terrorism.
Kreindler maintains that there was a direct link between all the charities and Osama bin Laden and that they operated with the full knowledge of Saudi officials.
The legal document claims that the Saudis used a variety of means to conceal the money trail to al-Qaida.
“The Saudis were so duplicitous,” Kreindler said. “They claim to be allies fighting with U.S. against Iran, while at the same time working with the terrorists. There’s no question they had a hand in the 9/11 attacks.”
Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama had resisted efforts to hold Saudi Arabia accountable. The kingdom is a key ally against Iran, and its oil interests are important to the United States.
Last September, Congress overrode an Obama veto to pass JASTA — Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act — that would allow Americans to take legal action against countries that support terrorism.
Kreindler wouldn’t put a dollar figure on the amount of damages being sought by the 800 families of those who died and 1,500 first responders and others who suffered because of the attacks.
“This lawsuit is a demonstration of the unwavering commitment of the 9/11 families to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for its critical role in the 9/11 attacks,” Kreindler said.
Member of Turkey’s Great Union Party (BBP) Arif Kyoroghlu has appealed to the prosecutor’s office for opening a case against Armenian member of Turkish Parliament Garo Paylan of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
Citing “Beyaz Gazetesi” Turkish news website, Ermenihaber reports, Kyoroghlu has referred to Paylan’s remarks over the Armenian Genocide during deliberations held on January 13 on proposed changes to the country’s constitution.
In an interview with reporters, Kyoroghlu has accused Paylan for what he believed to be ‘incitement to revenge and enmity.’
The Turkish parliamentarian claimed the use of the Genocide word in the Turkish parliament is ‘humiliating’ for the Turkish Republic, people, and the legislative body.
“Our state has opened all the archives over the topic to the world,” the Turkish deputy has argued, adding Paylan’s statement should be qualified as crime made use of his parliamentarian immunity.
Kyoroghlu has argued that Armenians and other minorities residing in Turkey ‘have lived in peace and harmony’ since the establishment of the Turkish Republic.
To remind, Garo Paylan was temporarily banned from parliamentary sessions after referring to the Armenian Genocide in Turkish Mejlis. In his speech Paylan said four communities – Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks and Jews – had been ‘lost’ and ‘driven from these lands in large massacres (and) genocides.”
“We used to account for 40 percent [of the country’s population]. Now we are barely one out of a 1,000. It seems likely that something happened to us. I define this as a genocide,” Paylan said in his speech.
According to some sources, the part of the speech was removed from the parliamentary minutes.
President Barack Obama has vetoed the legislation that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia. The bill passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate and was met with widespread public support.
Known as “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act” or JASTA, the bill creates an exemption to the doctrine of sovereign immunity established by a 1976 law, thus allowing US citizens to sue foreign countries for terrorism that kills Americans on US soil.
Fifteen out of 19 men who hijacked commercial airliners and used them as missiles to target the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 were subjects of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Two were from the United Arab Emirates.
The Senate passed JASTA in May, while the House voted on it just before the 15th anniversary of 9/11.
Republican majority leaders in Congress are confident they have enough votes to override the veto.
“There will be a roll call vote on the veto override,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) told reporters on Tuesday. “Our assumption is that the veto will be overridden.”
“My message to the caucus is going to be, unless there are 34 people willing to fall on their swords over this, it’s probably not worth falling on your sword over,” said Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) called the veto a “disappointing decision that will be swiftly and soundly overturned” in a statement on Friday.
“If the Saudis did nothing wrong, they should not fear this legislation. If they were culpable in 9/11, they should be held accountable. The families of the victims of 9/11 deserve their day in court,” Schumer added.
Saudi Arabia unsuccessfully tried to block the bill, using the services of its many lobbyists in Washington.
Following the House vote, the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council expressed“deep concern”, with Secretary General Abdullatif al-Zayani calling JASTA “contrary to the foundations and principles of relations between states and the principle of sovereign immunity enjoyed by states,” AP reported.
The government of Qatar said the bill “violates international law, particularly the principle of sovereign equality between states,” according to Reuters.
Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, Secretary-General of the Arab League, said the bill contradicted “established norms of the international law,” according to the Egyptian state news agency MENA.