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US insurers want to sue Saudi Arabia for 9/11

March 25, 2017 at 12:55 pm

Saudi Arabia is facing a renewed $6 billion lawsuit by dozens of insurers seeking to hold it responsible for business and property damage caused by the 11 September 2001 attacks.

The lawsuit filed late Thursday in the US District Court in Manhattan is the latest effort to hold Saudi Arabia liable for the attacks, despite the declassification of US government reports showing Saudi Arabia was not responsible.

Nearly 3,000 people died when hijacked airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania field.

Insurers, including Liberty Mutual, Safeco, Wausau and many Lloyd’s syndicates, accused Saudi Arabia and a state-affiliated charity of providing funding and other material support that enabled Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda to conduct the attacks.

Read: Families of 9/11 victims sue Saudi Arabia

The Saudi government has long denied involvement. Lawyers for the government and the charity, the Saudi High Commission for Relief of Bosnia & Herzegovina, declined to comment yesterday or could not immediately be reached for comment.

Saudi Arabia long had broad immunity from 11 September lawsuits in the United States, but that changed in September, when Congress overrode a veto by former President Barack Obama and adopted the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, known by its acronym JASTA, permitting such lawsuits to proceed.

The insurers said they plan to show that the 11 September attacks were an “act of international terrorism” within the meaning of JASTA. They are seeking more than $2 billion in compensatory damages, plus triple and punitive damages.

At least seven lawsuits were also filed in the Manhattan court on behalf of individuals.

These include a lawsuit on Monday by families of about 800 attack victims, as well as 1,500 people injured after responding to the New York attack.

Until last month, the insurers had been appealing a September 2015 dismissal of their case by US District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan, who oversees many 11 September lawsuits.

But the appeal was vacated after Saudi Arabia, the insurers and other plaintiffs agreed in a joint court filing that JASTA “was intended to apply” to their cases, and that Daniels should review its impact.

9/11 law ‘toothless’, politically-driven: Saudi experts