Thousands of 9/11 families and first responders have brought a lawsuit against Saudi Arabia in federal court. Allegations include that Saudi Arabia funded the attacks on the World Trade Center and provided Osama bin Laden and his terrorists “cover,” wrote Newsday. The personal injury and wrongful death lawsuit was filed in March 2017 the United States District Court in Manhattan and includes at least 2,300 plaintiffs.
The lawsuit alleges that Saudi Arabia was a “vital player” in funding al-Qaida at all stages in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Allegations include that, using a number of Saudi state-run nonprofits—some having been run by bin Laden’s friends and a brother-in-law—senior Saudi officials and al-Qaida operatives sent millions of dollars through a complex network of transfer offices and businesses with al-Qaida terrorists being the final recipients.
Saudi Arabia also allegedly ordered government employees, including diplomats to assist the 19 hijackers once they landed in the United States. The 19 hijackers included 15 of whom were Saudi Arabian citizens. Once in the United States, Saudi Arabia allegedly funded safe houses for the hijackers and also provided them with bogus passports, weapons, cash, and equipment, according to Newsday.
“We’re going to find out what actually happened on 9/11,” plaintiff James Riches, a retired Fire Department of New York (FDNY) deputy chief from Brooklyn, New York told Newsday. Riches who responded to the attacks—six months later carrying out the body of his oldest son, firefighter Jimmy—said the lawsuit will provide long-sought answers. He added, “If [Saudi Arabia] helped the terrorists commit terrorist acts on American soil,” he said, “they’ll be held accountable.”
An attorney involved in the lawsuit told Newsday that now is the time to reveal the 9/11 money trail regardless of whether it involved the Saudi government or another country. Pointing out that the hijackers had neither the money nor means for their homes, flying lessons, and other activities while on American soil. Bringing the lawsuit 16 years later, the plaintiffs hope to be provided with answers and the truth, which have been hidden.
The lawsuit also alleges that the Saudi Arabian tie to the al-Qaida attacks against the United States goes back long before the September 11th attacks.
The filing is considered the first major move after September 2016 when Congress overrode President Barack Obama’s veto of legislation allowing 9/11 survivors and families to sue Saudi Arabia, notes Newsday. Many 9/11 families have called for a full accounting of the Saudis’ actions in the attacks, if any; however, information has remained hidden as classified information and then there is the Saudi Arabia’s role as a Middle East ally of the United States. The plaintiffs are asking for unspecified damages, alleging that the Saudis “intentionally aided, abetted, and counseled al-Qaida.”
The 194-page lawsuit alleges that Saudi officials directed millions of dollars to al-Qaida through bin Laden’s friends, government employees, and so-called government-controlled “charity” organizations. The laundered money, some of which was mixed with Saudi embassy funds in the embassy bank accounts, Afghanistan camps that trained the hijackers, paying al-Qaida operatives instructed by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs, and other government agencies, the lawsuit alleges, according to Newsday.
The lawsuit also alleges that, from 1995 until the terrorist attacks, a senior Saudi diplomat located at the embassy in Washington, D.C., disguised a Saudi employee as “a religious worker” for a San Diego, California-based nonprofit organization. From 1998 to September 11, 2001, the lawsuit alleges, the agency sent over $350,000 to al-Qaida by money transfer agency that was utilized by the terror group, Newsday reports. Some of the funds were sent to the transfer agency’s office in Karachi, Pakistan, which was founded and controlled by al-Qaida, court papers indicate. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the attacks, was in Karachi dispensing some $400,000 in cash to the hijackers, the lawsuit also alleges.
Allegations also include that in the months before the 9/11 attacks, Saudi “employees and agents” channeled cash to al-Qaida through a mosque in Culver City, California, which is near the Los Angeles International Airport, and other “organizations, individuals, and/or private businesses.” The lawsuit alleges that, between May 2001 and September 11, 2001, United States officials sent “urgent requests for assistance from Saudi Arabia” to assist in locating an individual in the country who maintained contact with a high-ranking al-Qaida operative involved in the planning of an upcoming and unspecified al-Qaida attack on the United States. “The September 11th Attacks could not have occurred absent the knowing and substantial assistance provided to al-Qaida by Saudi Arabia,” the complaint indicates, according to Newsday.
Riches said it is not the money about which he is concerned but, rather, finding out the Saudis’ role; making the world safer. “We’re going to find out how connected they were to the money they donated to these terrorist funds,” he told Newsday, “and we have to get that to stop. Otherwise it’s going to happen to other people, what happened to us.”
September 11th Background
National law firm, Parker Waichman LLP, has long fought to ensure that first responders, rescue and recovery workers, and other survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks receive the medical care and compensation they deserve. Members of the firm worked for implementation of the original Zadroga Act and the 2015 re-authorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
After the September 11th terrorist attacks that destroyed Manhattan’s World Trade Center, researchers determined that the thick plume of dust, toxins, and debris that followed the collapse of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers and hovered over lower Manhattan contained a dangerous mixture of compounds, including asbestos; lead and other metals; partially combusted and/or pulverized cement, jet fuel, wood, and paper; pulverized construction materials in addition to asbestos and lead that included glass, silica, fiberglass, and concrete; and complex organic and other chemicals and potentially hazardous materials.
Exposure to the cloud has been associated with an array of health problems, including airway disorders, including asthma and obstructive pulmonary disease; digestive orders, including gastroesophageal reflux disease; mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and over 60 types of cancer. Tragically, many have succumbed to their illnesses in the years since the attacks.
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