- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Family members of more than 800 people who were killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have filed a lawsuit against the government of Saudi Arabia, alleging its support of al Qaeda and its complicity in the attacks.

The lawsuit, filed in the federal court that covers lower Manhattan, is one of several brought in recent months after Congress last year passed a law allowing countries to be sued in terrorism cases. Lawmakers overrode a veto by former President Barack Obama to enact the law.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed Monday, Saudi Arabia owned several state-run charities that provided funding that the al Qaeda terrorist group used for training camps, weapons and other items. The Saudi government used nine charities to promote an extreme form of Islam as its state religion and maintained relationships with Osama bin Laden.

The lawsuit alleges that Saudi officials provided direct aid to al Qaeda leaders — with the Saudi ambassador’s residence in Kabul, Afghanistan, used as a safe house by bin Laden and other al Qaeda members from 1998 through the time of the Sept. 11 attack.

It also alleges that Saudi authorities helped some of the 19 hijackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks obtain “cleansed” passports that removed references to their travels in Pakistan. Saudi authorities were said to have applied a secret code to the passports of al Qaeda members to facilitate their travel, and that such a marking was found on the passports of three of the Sept. 11 hijackers.

Fifteen of the 19 attackers who hijacked planes to carry out the attacks in New York, Northern Virginia and Pennsylvania were Saudis.

Earlier attempts to hold Saudi Arabia responsible for the attacks, which killed 2,996 people, have failed.

The 9/11 Commission, which investigated the attacks, reported that it found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded” the attacks.

However, it did say there’s a “likelihood” that Saudi government-sponsored charities played a role.

In the case of the International Islamic Relief Organization, the lawsuit states that senior managers of the charity “laundered and diverted IIRO funds to al Qaeda and used false distribution lists of orphan beneficiaries in Afghanistan as a subterfuge to direct funds to al Qaeda.”

The organization was considered “the principal source of funding and other material support to establish and operate the Afghan terrorist training camps,” the lawsuit states.

In addition, 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission’s report that were declassified and made public last year showed several links to associates of Prince Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud, the former Saudi ambassador to the U.S.

Mr. Obama had argued against changing the law to allow such lawsuits to go forward, saying he feared that other countries would retaliate against the U.S. by filing lawsuits in their courts against Americans, including U.S. troops operating overseas.

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