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Families of 9/11 victims suing Saudi Arabia

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 21/03/2017 Melanie Eversley

A lawsuit filed Monday in federal court on behalf of the families of 850 people who died and another 1,500 who were injured in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the U.S. holds the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia responsible for helping some of the attackers.

The suit filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York, in Manhattan, is being handled by Kreindler & Kreindler in New York City, an aviation law firm that has been working with the families for the last 16 years.

The claim seeks unspecified monetary damages.

"This lawsuit demonstrates ... the families are never going to give up until we establish that Saudi Arabia is accountable," said lawyer Jim Kreindler.

Lucy Smith, 6, and her brother Ryan, 2, of New Jersey look at the name of their uncle, Port Authority Police Officer Chris Amoroso, who was killed in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center during a memorial service for the attacks at Ground Zero. © Seth Harrison, The Journal News, via USA TODAY NETWORK Lucy Smith, 6, and her brother Ryan, 2, of New Jersey look at the name of their uncle, Port Authority Police Officer Chris Amoroso, who was killed in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center during a memorial service for the attacks at Ground Zero. The suit, which will be heard by U.S. District Judge George Daniels, alleges Saudi Arabia supported al-Qaeda in four ways, Kreindler told USA TODAY.

The suit names several Saudi Arabian charities that were "alter egos of the government" that were staffed by the government, that ran terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and "the whole world knows they were dirty," Kreindler said. The charities worked with late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to open offices in Pakistan and Afghanistan and establish the terrorist organization, the suit alleges.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia directly funded al-Qaeda, the lawyer said. Saudi Arabia supported the terrorists by supplying assistance such as passports and worldwide transportation, he said.

And finally, the suit identifies Saudi officials who worked with the hijackers in Los Angeles, San Diego, Sarasota, Fla., Washington, D.C., and Virginia in the 18 months leading up to the attacks, Kreindler said.

© Provided by USA Today In September, Congress passed a measure allowing countries to be sued in terrorism cases even when the alleged act or acts take place outside of the United States — the Justice Against State Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) — which enables the suit to go forward.

Another lawyer working with the plaintiffs said the families he represents are grateful to Congress and to President Trump, who has backed their efforts. 

"We just hope President Trump continues," Andrew Maloney said. "I would like to hear some continued expressions of support by the president."

Michael Kellogg, a Washington-based lawyer representing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, did not respond to a message left at his office Monday evening.

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