Saudi Arabia knowingly provided material support to Al Qaeda — including funding, training and passports — in order to facilitate the terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people on 9/11, according to a new federal lawsuit filed Monday.
Outraged families of Sept. 11 victims did what two presidential administrations would not — compile what they deem to be extensive evidence holding the Saudi’s responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Pennsylvania.
In the lawsuit, the families of 800 victims say the Middle Eastern kingdom was complicit in providing funding for the worst terrorist strike on American soil, saying it “actively supported al Qaeda in its final preparations for the September 11th attacks.”
It outlines that “through a network of the kingdom’s officers, employees and/or agents who met with and aided the hijackers, providing them with money, cover, advice, contacts, transportation, assistance with language and U.S. culture, identification, access to pilot training and other material support and resources.”
The 28-page lawsuit says the Saudi royal family — fearing that Al Qaeda could usurp their power — funneled money to terrorists for years through a number of charities. The suit lists nine state-run organizations — including the al Haramain Islamic Foundation — that the Saudi government used to help fund terrorism dating back to 1986.
“In 1986 to 1989, Saudi Arabia’s (charities) collaborated with Osama bin Laden to open offices in Pakistan and Afghanistan as a means to establish al Qaeda and provide material support and resources for its terrorist operations, and a top ranking Saudi Arabia official together with other officials, employees and agents of Saudi Arabia joined in this effort,” the suit alleges.
Charities such as al Haramain Islamic Foundation had been deemed as sponsors of terror by the U.S. government.
It was just last year that pages of declassified documents established a tenuous link between the Saudi government and the terrorists — 15 of 19 of whom were Saudi nationals — that carried out the attack.
Bin Laden, himself a Saudi national, lived in the country for years prior to the 9/11 attacks — before hiding out in Afghanistan where he had forged ties with the Taliban.
But the lawsuit makes numerous damning connections between the Saudi government and Al Qaeda.
The suit also outlines how a “top ranking Saudi Arabia official, who controlled the Afghan Jihad Support Committee and used it to provide funding for al Qaeda through the various charities, in conjunction with a 1988 speech of Osama Bin Laden in Saudi Arabia that solicited contributions to that committee.”
The lawsuit accuses Saudi Arabia's charities of collaborating with Osama bin Laden to launch Al Qaeda.
The suit claims Saudi Arabia — throughout the late 1980s — “adopted an extremist version of Islam — Wahhabism — as the state religion; declared that its propagation was a core function of the state; and sought to advance it around the world through Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Embassies, Saudi Arabia's charity organizations and other government agents.”
It was that ideology, the lawsuit says, that led Saudi Arabia and Al Qaeda “to pursue and carry out terrorist attacks against the United States, and used Wahhabism to justify its campaign of anti-American violence, but Saudi Arabia’s charitable organizations and Saudi Arabia's officials, employees and agents continued to provide material support and resources for al Qaeda through and including September 11, 2001.”
From 1988 to 1990, Saudi Arabia knew that bin Laden had made several public speeches at his family’s mosque in Jeddah and other locations throughout Saudi Arabia where he declared that the United States “was the primary target of Al Qaeda.”
In 1990, the suit says, the terror leader — killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2, 2011 during a raid by U.S. forces — said: “The Americans won’t stop their support of Jews in Palestine until we give them a lot of blows. They won’t stop until we do jihad against them.”
Another example cited in the lawsuit is the Feb. 26, 1993 WTC bombing, saying “Saudi Arabia knew .... terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda exploded a truck bomb in the parking garage.”
Starting in 1996, the suit says, the American government “urgently told Saudi Arabia” that it needed assistance in order to “disrupt or interdict the threat of al Qaeda terrorist attacks against the United States and its nationals.”
Last September, Congress overrode then-President Barack Obama’s veto to pass the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, allowing Americans to take legal action against countries that support terrorism.
Saudi Arabia also paid for terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, where the hijackers honed the deadly skills that would eventually allow them to carry out the attacks.
Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Washington, D.C. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Hopefully this is the beginning of a new chapter for the families to get their day in court,” said Andrew Maloney, one of the lawyers leading the lawsuit. “The families applaud the actions of Congress last September in the override of the president’s veto.
“They’re also hoping that new President Trump will continue to endorse our actions so we get our day in court — which he did last September and October during the campaign.”
The oil-rich kingdom has been a key U.S. ally in the region for years.
Nonetheless, victims’ families says the ties between Al Qaeda and Saudi Arabia run deep.
Saudi Arabian officials allegedly “applied a secret marker/indicator to the passports of persons who had known ties to al Qaeda” — like the ones used by the 9/11 hijackers to commit murder.
“This marker/indicator was found in the passports of at least three of the 19 hijackers responsible for the September 11th attacks, including Nawaf al Hazmi and Khalid al Mihdhar, and others who assisted them, including Omar al Bayoumi, a Saudi Arabia employee and agent who aided the hijackers in 2000-2001 in California, as detailed herein, and information about this marker/indicator was not known by United States consular officers, immigration or law enforcement agencies,” the suit details.
The lawsuit was filed by aviation law firm Kreindler & Kreindler, and is partly based on previously classified documents.
The documents — 28 pages of undisclosed information — had been kept under wraps since a 2002 investigation into the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people a year earlier. The documents had also been held back by the Bush administration in the interest of national security.
“It is not acceptable ... to succumb to the demands of a foreign government that we abandon principles of American justice while we pursue our diplomatic goals,” the families said in a statement at the time.
The Obama administration said at the time that it opposed JASTA because it could expose Americans overseas to legal risk.
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