The Second Circuit Thursday released a significant decision, holding that the government of Saudi Arabia and its ruling princes, could not be sued over their financial donations to Islamic charities that allegedly funded and fueled al Qaeda. The Saudi government were defendants in multiple suits. The panel found the country was protected by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
Here is the Reuters story:
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, four princes and other Saudi entities are immune from a lawsuit filed by victims of the September 11 attacks and their families alleging they gave material support to al Qaeda, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday.
The ruling by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld a 2006 ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Casey dismissing a claim against Saudi Arabia, a Saudi charity, four princes and a Saudi banker of providing material support to al Qaeda before the September 11 attacks.
The victims and their families argued that because the defendants gave money to Muslim charities that in turn gave money to al Qaeda, they should be held responsible for helping to finance the attacks.
The appeals court found that the defendants are protected under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
The court also noted that exceptions to the immunity rule do not apply because Saudi Arabia has not been designated a state sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. State Department.
Here is a link to the opinion.
The firm of Anderson, Kill and Olick, attorneys for former FBI agent John O’Neill, who was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center, released this statement:
New York, NY (August 14, 2008) — As counsel to the estate of John P. O’Neill, Sr., we are disappointed with today’s decision by the panel of judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in John P. O’Neill, Sr. et al. v. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, et al., to the effect that Americans harmed or killed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 do not have standing to sue the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
While acknowledging that the plaintiffs have pled substantial information linking the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to certain purported charitable organizations, and demonstrating their role in facilitating the activities of Al Qaeda around the world, the panel utilized a unique and previously unsupported rationale for denying Americans the opportunity to use US Courts to seek redress for the harms that they suffered as a result of the 9/11 attacks.
Under the Court’s rationale, were a New Yorker to be side-swiped by a car driven by an employee of the Saudi embassy, they could sue for the bumps and bruises that they suffered and the damage to their vehicle, yet the nearly 3,000 families of those innocents who were brutally killed in lower Manhattan, rural Pennsylvania and the Pentagon cannot pursue their claims.
Additionally, those who plan, conspire and provide support for terrorists, from havens abroad, cannot be held accountable for their actions in our Courts, according to today’s ruling.
We believe that the Court was wrong in its interpretation of the law.
On behalf of the family of John O’Neill, the former FBI agent who spent his career fighting terrorism, and died on 9/11 while helping evacuate the World Trade Center, we intend to continue to take such steps as are appropriate to help vindicate the rights of the victims.