Hundreds of relatives of victims that were killed in the Sept. 11 attacks have decided to sue Saudi Arabia in a US court, trying to take advantage of a law passed by Congress last year. This law allows victims of these attacks on US soil to sue state sponsors. The lawsuit was filed on Monday in a federal court in Manhattan.
This lawsuit is the latest effort to hold Saudi Arabia responsible for the al Qaeda attacks that killed almost 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Reuters reports that for many years, US laws granted immunity to foreign countries, this way Saudi Arabia was protected. In 2015, US District Judge George Daniels dismissed claims against Saudi Arabia from Sept. 11 families, stating that he did not have jurisdiction over a sovereign country.
The US Congress passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act that favours lawsuits against Saudi Arabia. Lawmakers overrode a veto from former President Barack Obama, who believed that the law would expose US companies and military to lawsuits in other countries. Since then, seven lawsuits have been filed in New York against Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia and funding for the attacks
Fifteen of the nineteen airplane hijackers who carried out the attacks on US soil were from Saudi Arabia. A US commission set up by the government found no evidence that the Saudi government funded al Qaeda. Anyway, the commission left open the possibility that individual officials did so. The Saudi government has denied to be involved in the attacks.
A lawyer for Saudi Arabia did not immediately answer to a request for comments. Monday's lawsuit against the Saudi government was brought by families of around 800 victims and approximately 1,500 individuals who suffered injuries. The complaint accuses Saudi officials of being aware that the economic resources were redirected from Saudi charities to al Qaeda to fund the attacks.