NEW YORK — Saudi Arabia urged a judge Thursday to reject a New York lawsuit seeking to hold it responsible in the Sept. 11 attacks, saying a law passed by Congress that gave new life to the once-dismissed claims is not sufficient to overcome a lack of evidence.
Lawyers for Saudi Arabia wrote in papers filed in Manhattan federal court that Congress in its 2016 law removing some legal obstacles to the litigation “did not license plaintiffs to proceed against Saudi Arabia without plausible allegations and competent evidence to support their case.”
Fifteen of 19 men who hijacked four jets in the 2001 attacks were Saudis. Now-declassified documents show U.S. investigators investigated some Saudi diplomats and others with Saudi government ties who had contact with the hijackers after their U.S. arrival. The 9/11 Commission report found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded” the attacks al-Qaida masterminded, but the commission also noted “the likelihood” that Saudi-government-sponsored charities did.
Lawyers for Saudi Arabia said recent court rulings made clear that “courts should give careful scrutiny to allegations and evidence before exercising jurisdiction over an action against a foreign sovereign. Plaintiffs’ claims cannot withstand that scrutiny, and so should once again be dismissed.”
A Vernon, New Jersey-based group representing Sept. 11 families and survivors said there is plenty of evidence for the judge to consider.
“The 9/11 victims’ families and survivors have submitted dozens of declassified FBI reports and affidavits regarding Saudi involvement in the attacks so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its high-priced lawyers are still trying to hide behind baseless procedural arguments,” said Terry Strada, national chair for the 9/11 Families and Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism.
She said the law was passed “to make sure the Saudis will finally be forced to address this case on its merits and we look forward to finally having our day in court.”
Hundreds of victims’ relatives and injured survivors, along with insurance companies and businesses, have filed numerous lawsuits seeking over $100 billion from numerous governmental and non-governmental defendants. Iran, the Taliban and al-Qaida already have been found in default.
The lawsuits claim employees of the Saudi government directly and knowingly assisted the attack’s airplane hijackers and plotters and fueled al-Qaida’s development into a terrorist organization by funding charities that supported them.
This story has been corrected to show that Terry Strada is female, not male.