US judge rejects Saudi bid to drop 9/11 lawsuits

Judge says plaintiffs’ lawsuit provides him with ‘reasonable basis’ to proceed under act passed by Congress.

A man looks back toward lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center while riding the Liberty Landing Ferry across the Hudson River on the 16th anniversary of the September 11 attacks in New York, U.S.
Relatives of victims in September 11, 2001 attacks are demanding billions of dollars in compensation from Saudi Arabia [Reuters]

A United States federal judge has rejected a motion by Saudi Arabia to drop charges accusing the Gulf kingdom of playing a role in the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Judge George Daniels says the plaintiffs’ lawsuit “narrowly articulate a reasonable basis” for him to proceed under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JUSTA).

The act, which was passed by Congress in 2016, allows charges against Saudi Arabia to go ahead after they were previously rejected in court.

Daniels dismissed claims against two Saudi banks and a Saudi construction company that had ties with Osama bin Laden, citing that he did not have jurisdiction.

At least 3,000 Americans were killed after four planes were hijacked in 2001.

Two planes deliberately crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, and a third hit the Pentagon in Washington, DC. The fourth plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi, prompting hundreds of the victims’ families and relatives to sue the Saudi Arabian government and several Saudi corporations in 2003.

The lawsuit, which is demanding billions of dollars in financial compensation, claims that Saudi Arabia knowingly assisted the hijackers who carried out the attack, and is the reason for al-Qaeda’s influential rise into a terrorist organisation as a result of backing charities that financed the group.

Lawyers of the victims of the September 11 attacks filed new evidence in the New York court case which implicates several employees of the Saudi embassy in Washington, DC of financing and supporting members who carried out the attacks.

Saudi Arabia has long denied any involvement in the attacks.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies