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Thread: Local Law Firm Seeks To Reinstate Saudi Arabia As 9/11 Defendant

  1. #1
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    Jan 2005

    Local Law Firm Seeks To Reinstate Saudi Arabia As 9/11 Defendant

    Local law firm seeks to reinstate Saudi Arabia as a 9/11 defendant

    March 11, 2012|By Chris Mondics, Inquirer Staff Writer

    In late January 2000, two young men who would later participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackings and attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon met with a young Saudi in San Diego.

    The Saudi, Omar al-Bayoumi, had earlier been the focus of a Federal Bureau of Investigation antiterrorism probe and had close ties to the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles. He offered to put up the two hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, in his apartment for a short time, helped them find a place of their own, and gave them money.

    Throughout, Bayoumi was in frequent contact with a Los Angeles-based Saudi diplomat and imam who was later banned by the State Department from entering the country because of suspected ties with terrorist groups.

    Now, more than a decade later, a leader of the congressional Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks says in a sworn statement that Bayoumi likely was a Saudi government agent and probably played a role in the lead-up to the attacks, along with other Saudi officials.

    Former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, a Florida Democrat and the cochairman of the Joint Inquiry, and former Sen. Bob Kerrey, a Nebraska Democrat and a former member of the 9/11 Commission, both provided affidavits in a lawsuit raising the possibility of Saudi government complicity in the 2001 attacks.

    Those sworn statements are likely to figure prominently in a critical hearing in the case scheduled for Thursday in federal District Court in New York.

    The lawsuit, filed by the Center City law firm of Cozen O'Connor and other firms on behalf of 6,000 individual victims and insurance companies that lost billions at ground zero, alleges that Islamist charities closely affiliated with the Saudi government, along with terrorism financiers, bankrolled al-Qaeda in the decade before the attacks.

    The Saudi government and members of the Saudi royal family had been dismissed as defendants by a federal District Court judge in Manhattan in 2005, and the decision was upheld in 2008 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

    But in a little-noticed opinion in November, the Second Circuit effectively reversed itself, ruling in a separate lawsuit against the government of Afghanistan that foreign governments could be sued under greatly expanded circumstances.

    It is on that basis that Cozen is asking, in a motion to be argued Thursday, to reinstate Saudi Arabia as a defendant.

    "This is not a geopolitical case, it is not about diplomatic relationships," said Stephen Cozen, who, with Cozen partner Sean Carter, has been leading the plaintiffs' case. "All of our clients are entitled to their day in court to prove their case. If there is a defense, put on a defense. Let them show we are full of hot soup and [they are] not involved in these things."

    Earlier, the Second Circuit had said that under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, terrorism lawsuits against a foreign government could go forward only if the U.S. State Department had designated the government a terrorism supporter.

    But in its latest ruling, the Second Circuit said that such designations were not the only way terrorism lawsuits could proceed. Plaintiffs who can establish they were victimized by wanton illegal acts such as assassination - or presumably terrorism - can take foreign governments to court in the United States, whether the State Department agrees or not, the appeals court decided.

    "The Second Circuit decision is critically important because they recognized that they made a mistake," said Jerry S. Goldman, a lawyer within Anderson, Kill & Olick P.C., who represents the estate of John O'Neill, the former head of counterintelligence at the FBI. O'Neill, who was raised in Atlantic City, sounded some of the earliest warnings on Osama bin Laden. He left the FBI to become head of security at the World Trade Center and died in the attacks there a short time later.

    Saudi Arabia has denied responsibility. Its lawyers, in a response to Cozen's motion, said the kingdom had been cleared by the 9/11 Commission.

    "More than seven years later, plaintiffs in these consolidated cases continue to press conclusory and unsupported allegations that Saudi Arabia . . . was complicit in the Sept. 11 attacks," they said.

    Saudi Arabia, various Saudi royals, and the Saudi High Commission, a government-established charity, were dismissed as defendants in 2005 by U.S. District Judge Richard Conway Casey, now deceased, who said the government's support for Islamist charities that supported al-Qaeda did not make it responsible for 9/11.

    But Casey left in the lawsuit a dozen or more charities with strong ties to the government, as well as a number of terrorism financiers.

    Cozen lawyers supported their charge that Saudi Arabia was responsible by noting that members of the royal family and senior government officials were executives or board members of charities identified in U.S. intelligence reports as terrorism supporters.

    The charities in turn had laundered millions of dollars, some of it from the Saudi government, into al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups and provided weapons, false travel and employment documents, and safe houses, the lawsuit said.

    Cozen submitted the Graham and Kerrey affidavits to counter the Saudi contention that it had been absolved by the 9/11 Commission.

    Besides statements from Kerrey and Graham, the Cozen firm filed other documents to bolster its motion for reinstating the kingdom, including an affidavit from Ali Ahmed Ali Hamad, a former al-Qaeda commander in the Balkans, who said al-Qaeda-led units had received money and logistical support from the Saudi High Commission. Hamad told a similar story in an 2008 interview with The Inquirer.

    The filing also includes a Pentagon memo, titled "Matrix of Threat Indicators for Enemy Combatants" that lists the Saudi High Commission among a group of "terrorist or terrorist support entities." It was used to evaluate Guantanamo detainees for potential release.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Saudis to remain out of 9/11 damages case -judge



    NEW YORK, March 15 (Reuters) - The U.S. judge overseeing a case seeking damages from foreign governments over the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks refused on Thursday to reinstate claims against Saudi Arabia.

    The plaintiffs -- mostly the families of victims of the attacks -- had asked U.S. District Judge George Daniels to reinstate claims against Saudi Arabia and a related charity. They cited a November appeals court decision allowing similar claims to proceed against Afghanistan.

    But Daniels said the November opinion by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was not sufficient grounds to bring back the Saudis, who had been dismissed as a defendant in 2005.

    "The fact that Afghanistan remains in the case for now is not a reason to reinstate the cases against the Saudi Kingdom and the High Commission, which have been closed for years," Daniels said.

    Stephen Cozen, who argued on behalf of the plaintiffs at Thursday's hearing, said they would appeal Daniels' decision.

    Out of the over 200 entities and governments originally sued by the plaintiffs about 100 are still listed as defendants, and active litigation is ongoing with less than 10, a lawyer involved in the case said.

    The consolidated case is In Re: Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, no. 1:03-md-01570.

    For plaintiffs: Stephen A. Cozen of Cozen O'Connor in Philadelphia.

    For defendants: Michael Kellogg of Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel in Washington, D.C.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Judge refuses to reinstate Saudi Arabia as defendant in 9/11 lawsuit

    Chris Mondics

    A federal district court judge, ruling in New York, on Thursday day turned down a motion by lawyers for thousands of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and commercial insurers that lost billions at ground zero that Saudi Arabia be reinstated as a defendant in their lawsuit seeking compensation.

    Judge George B. Daniels said the issue had been examined by federal district court judge Richard Conway Casey in 2005, and he found no grounds for sustaining the lawsuit against Saudi Arabia.

    Stephen Cozen of the Center City firm of Cozen O'Connor, which represents the commercial insurers, said that the plaintiffs lawyers planned to appeal Daniels' decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

    "The claims have never been evaluated under the proper legal standard and been subject to an appropriate appeal," said Sean Carter, another Cozen O'Connor lawyer, following the decision.

    But Michael Kellogg, a lawyer for the Kingdom, said the motion for reinstatement was baseless, and had already been decided on appeal.

    "They got their appeal; they lost," he said during oral arguments before Daniels on Thursday. "They got their Supreme Court review, and they lost."

    Cozen filed suit against Saudi Arabia, Islamist charities, terrorism financiers and others in 2003 alleging that they helped underwrite al Qaeda as it grew from a regional threat in the 1990s to a terrorist network with global reach. The Second Circuit upheld Conway's decision in 2008 and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by Cozen and a handful of other firms pursuing the case. The plaintiffs lawyers asked late last year that Saudi Arabia and a government established charity, the Saudi High Commission, be reinstated as defendants. They based their motion on a second circuit decision expanding the basis for terrorism lawsuits against foreign governments. Daniels contended, however, that the second circuit decision did not apply in the Cozen lawsuit.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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