- The Washington Times - Friday, September 10, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) — The government agency that owns the World Trade Center site said yesterday it intends to hold Saudi Arabia and nearly 100 other defendants liable for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people and destroyed the complex.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced that it planned to join late yesterday as a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed a week ago by Cantor Fitzgerald Securities, a bond-trading firm that lost two-thirds of its workers in the trade center attack.

The case is among a number of September 11-related suits filed recently in Manhattan federal court to meet the three-year statute-of-limitations deadline today.

Insurers for some World Trade Center buildings sued American Airlines, United Airlines and others yesterday, saying their negligence allowed the deadly hijackings.

The suit, which was filed by London’s QBE International Insurance and certain underwriters at Lloyd’s of London, seeks more than $300 million from each of the two airlines and various amounts from other defendants. The insurers want to recover monies they paid out for property damage and other losses caused to World Trade Center buildings 1, 2, 4 and 5 and nearby structures.

A Port Authority spokesman said shortly before 6 p.m. that the government agency had not filed its papers joining the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, but that it planned to do so before midnight in an after-hours box at the court.

The Cantor Fitzgerald lawsuit named as defendants Saudi Arabia, al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and other accused terrorists, with financial institutions and charitable organizations that reportedly raised money for terrorism efforts.

In a statement, the Port Authority said it had “an obligation to preserve its legal options at this time” because the three-year statute of limitations was about to expire.

“We also have a responsibility to the millions of people who live and work in the region as well as to our bondholders to pursue every legal avenue to recover the losses we sustained on September 11,” according to the Port Authority, which lost 84 of its employees in the 2001 attacks.

The Cantor Fitzgerald lawsuit sought $7 billion in damages.

Although Saudi Arabia had been named as a defendant in similar lawsuits, the Cantor Fitzgerald action was particularly pointed in its criticism, accusing Saudi Arabia of supporting al Qaeda with money, safe houses, weapons and money laundering.

It said Saudi Arabia engaged in a pattern of racketeering as it participated directly or indirectly in al Qaeda’s work through its “alter-ego” charities and relief organizations, which it funded and controlled.

Cantor Fitzgerald lost 658 of its 1,050 employees on September 11 and now has offices in midtown Manhattan.

Saudi Arabia last month defended itself as a loyal ally in the fight against terrorism, citing the September 11 commission’s conclusion that the Saudi government in Riyadh did not fund al Qaeda.

Saudi Embassy spokesman Nail al-Jubeir said the ads tell Americans “these are the facts that your own independent commission has said about Saudi Arabia. You make up your mind.”

The commission also had criticized Saudi Arabia, calling it “a problematic ally in combating Islamic extremism.”

Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of bin Laden and 15 of the 19 hijackers.

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