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Lloyd's insurer sues Saudi Arabia for 'funding 9/11 attacks'

The Independent
By Cahal Milmo, Chief Reporter
Monday, 19 September 2011

A Lloyd's insurance syndicate has begun a landmark legal case against Saudi Arabia, accusing the kingdom of indirectly funding al-Qa'ida and demanding the repayment of £136m it paid out to victims of the 9/11 attacks.

The Brighton-based Lloyd's 3500 syndicate, which paid $215m compensation to companies and individuals involved, alleges that the oil-rich Middle Eastern superpower bears primary responsibility for the atrocity because al-Qa'ida was supported by banks and charities acting as "agents and alter egos" for the Saudi state.

The detailed case, which names a number of prominent Saudi charities and banks as well as a leading member of the al-Saud royal family, will cause embarrassment to the Saudi government, which has long denied claims that Osama bin Laden's organisation received official financial and practical support from his native country.

Outlined in a 156-page document filed in western Pennsylvania, where United Airlines flight 93 crashed on 9/11, the claim suggests that the nine defendants "knowingly" provided resources, including funding, to al-Qa'ida in the years before the attack and encouraged anti-Western sentiment which increased support for the terror group.

The legal claim states: "Absent the sponsorship of al-Qa'ida's material sponsors and supporters, including the defendants named therein, al-Qa'ida would not have possessed the capacity to conceive, plan and execute the 11 September attacks. The success of al-Qa'ida's agenda, including the 11 September attacks themselves, has been made possible by the lavish sponsorship al-Qa'ida has received from its material sponsors and supporters over more than a decade leading up to 11 September 2001."

The Lloyd's syndicate is known as a "run-off", meaning that it does not accept new premiums on the Lloyd's of London insurance market and instead deals with historic claims. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, its members settled a raft of multimillion-pound claims from affected businesses, including airlines, airports and security companies, as well as injured individuals and relatives of those killed.

Its complaint, which quotes heavily from US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks detailing investigations by the US authorities into al-Qa'ida, attempts to establish funding links between some Saudi charities, and the terror group, and implicate the Saudi government in that funding through its support of the charities.

The case singles out the activities of a charity, the Saudi Joint Relief Committee for Kosovo and Chechnya (SJRC), which was alleged by UN officials to have been used as a cover by several al-Qa'ida operatives, including two men who acted as directors of the charity. It is alleged that at the time the SJRC was under the control of Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, half-brother of King Abdullah and the long-standing Saudi Interior minister. The claim states: "Between 1998 and 2000, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, through the SJRC, diverted more than $74m to al-Qa'ida members and loyalists affiliated with SJRC bureaus. Throughout this time, the Committee was under the supervision and control of Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz."

The Saudi embassies in London and Washington did not respond to requests from The Independent for a response to the allegations in the claim. The 9/11 Commission, America's official report on the attacks, found that there was no evidence that the Saudi government or senior Saudi officials individually funded al-Qa'ida.

Diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks showed that American officials remained concerned that the Saudi authorities were not doing enough to stop money being passed to the terror group by Saudi citizens.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/lloyds-insurer-sues-saudi-arabia-for-funding-911-attacks-2356857.html

ABC News.

Who+Funded+9/11+Attacks?+Insurers,+9/11+Families+Still+Want+Answers

After the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11 and six months after the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, questions still remain regarding who funded the attacks that led to thousands of deaths and billions of dollars in damages.

Former Florida Democratic Sen. Bob Graham, former co-chair of the congressional committee, has called on the government to reopen its 9/11 investigation.

Read More: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/funded-911-attacks-insurance-companies-911-families-continue/story?id=14512391

Lawsuits as Avenues of Justice? Yeah.

http://911blogger.com/news/2011-07-04/911-lawsuits-seek-answers-through-litigation

Flashback: 2 years ago, on June 29th 2009, The U.S. Supreme Court let a ruling stand regarding 9/11 lawsuits and Saudi Arabia. Reuters reported:

…Saudi Arabia, four of its princes and other Saudi entities cannot be held liable for the September 11, 2001, hijacked plane attacks in the United States.

The justices refused to review the ruling by a U.S. appeals court in New York that the Saudi defendants were protected by sovereign immunity in the lawsuit brought by victims of the attacks and their families.

The appeals court had upheld a lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit claiming Saudi Arabia, four princes, a Saudi charity and a Saudi banker provided 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 ruled that exceptions to the sovereign immunity rule do not apply because Saudi Arabia has not been designated a state sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. State Department.

…the Obama administration late last month urged the high court to reject the appeal.

Saudi Arabia has been pre-cleared of any crimes relating to 9/11 without proper investigation, but others have not been so lucky avoiding justice. American Airlines, United Airlines, Globe Security and others have all had to hand over millions: Larry Silverstein has proven to be immensely “lucky” with his lawsuits related to 9/11.

Mary Davis, the mother to Mark Bavis who was on flight 175, is suing the airlines, State Troopers and security companies as well. The Boston Herald reports:

Bavis family members have told the Herald they want their day in court to expose what went terribly wrong on 9/11.

Months before the horrific 9/11 attacks, lackadaisical state troopers specially assigned to protect Logan International Airport failed to act on tips that Middle Eastern men were casing security checkpoints armed with cameras, explosive new court documents allege.

This week, Mary Bavis appealed to a federal judge in Manhattan to reject Massport’s attempt to be removed from the case. The appeal claims state troopers were slow to move on tips — even though they had been warned terrorist groups were targeting Logan.

One of the suspected terrorists whom troopers could have cornered was later identified as al- Qaeda 9/11 leader Mohammed Atta, according to lawyers for a Boston woman who is suing over the loss of her son. The lawyers took depositions from an airline employee and other witnesses.

Troopers were told the Middle Eastern men were “acting suspiciously” and videotaping airport security in May 2001, according to the filing in a New York court.

“When Mohammad Atta went through the security checkpoint after being reported to F Troop that he was photographing, videotaping and surveilling the checkpoints, Massport F Troop did nothing,” the documents state.

The explosive allegations of state police incompetency are part of the nation’s last wrongful-death lawsuit linked to the 9/11 attacks.

The fact is, filming an airport is a far cry from having the ability to navigate our airspace on the eastern half of the US for an hour-and-a half, without transponders and avoiding military intercepts. That fact is highlighted by Norman Mineta’s testimony at the 9/11 commission hearings, establishing that people like Dick Cheney knew one plane was at least “50 miles out”. I’m glad to not live in a country where using a video camera is a crime and considered suspicious – though I don’t know if that is the case anymore.

The amount of wrongful death lawsuits relating to 9/11 are small compared to the amount of actual deaths on 9/11. This is for one reason primarily: The Victims Compensation Fund (VCF).

Offered as a way to help struggling families financially cope with the sudden loss of their loved ones, the VCF was a last-minute addition to a likely flawed legislative Act. The New York School of Law critiqued the Act and this specific provision expansively, notably they state:

On September 22, 2001, after only two hours of debate and less than two days of hearings, both the House and the Senate passed the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act (“ATSSSA” or “Act”).The Act was introduced September 14, 2001, as an immediate legislative solution to what seemed to be the imminent liquidation of the airline industry. Three days earlier the Federal Aviation Agency (“FAA”) had grounded all airplanes and closed down the airspace above the United States for over twenty-four hours in response to the attacks on the World Trade Center (“WTC”) and the Pentagon….On Thursday night, September 20, ranking members of the Senate Judiciary Committee added a last-minute Victim Compensation Fund 5 (“VCF” or “Fund”) to the Act.

….In order to receive compensation, however, victims are required to waive all rights to file a civil action in any court for damages sustained as a result of the September 11 attacks. As an alternative for those who choose not to participate in the Fund, the Act establishes an exclusive cause of action for all claims “arising out of the hijacking and subsequent crashes” of September 11, limiting potential plaintiffs to exclusive federal jurisdiction in the Southern District of New York. Additionally, the cause of action provision mandates the application of the substantive law of the state in which the crash associated with the victim occurred. Importantly, Title IV of the Act establishes a liability cap on behalf of the airline industry, limiting any tort recovery against the airlines for damages sustained as a result of the events of September 11 to the maximum level of insurance coverage held by the airlines before the disaster. The amount of the insurance policies held by American and United Airlines for such terrorist-related incidents is estimated to be approximately $1.5 billion per plane, resulting in a total of $6 billion in accessible funds for those seeking remedies against the airlines in tort….

…Congress has never before established this type of direct compensation to victims of a national disaster or any other type of mass tort. Congress has never before offered compensation contingent upon complete abdication of the right to sue in a court of law. Most importantly, Congress has never before done this in conjunction with a retroactive liability cap limiting victims’ tort recovery as well as a jurisdictional limitation on both the location and the type of court in which a plaintiff may sue…

(Download full PDF here)

The importance of answers for family members has proven to be more valuable than the financial compensation by the VCF. A Missouri lawyer, Chad Gaddie detailed his recent time with a 9/11 family member who decided against utilizing the VCF, and chose instead to file a civil lawsuit. From Chad’s Crime Victim Services blog:

Last week, I went to Washington, D.C. to attend a conference sponsored by the National Crime Victim Bar Association. While there, I heard Julie Shontere and Keith Franz speak. Ms. Shontere’s daughter was killed in the 9/11 crash at the Pentagon, and Mr. Franz was the attorney that represented the Shontere family.

Ms. Shontere basically had two options to seek damages for the death of her daughter: 1) she could utilize the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, or 2) she could file a lawsuit in civil court. The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund was basically a government sponsored program that made payments to victims though a streamlined process. However, if anyone took the government money, they were barred from filing a civil lawsuit against the responsible parties.

Although it was a much riskier option, Ms. Shontere chose to file a civil lawsuit. The primary motivation for this decision was that it allowed her to seek answers through the discovery process. If she had just accepted the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund payment, she would have never been able to use depositions, document requests, and other discovery tools to help investigate the multiple failures that allowed this act of terrorism to occur.

Mr. Franz did a brilliant job of detailing the nearly 8 years of litigation. He sued several parties, including the security company at the airport (for not screening close enough), the plane manufacturer (for allowing the cockpit to be so accessible), the airlines, and the airport authorities.

During the discovery process, the government objected to the release of a number of documents on the basis of “national security.” However, it was discovered that during the criminal prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker, these documents had been given to him. The awkward position existed where a suspected terrorist had access to “national security” documents, yet the 9/11 victims were not trusted with the same documents. Eventually, the victims obtained them.

Eventually, Ms. Shontere settled her case. In the end, it was evident that the answers she received from civil litigation were more important than the financial recovery that was obtained.

In the end, we all want answers.

UPDATE:

Lloyd’s Syndicate Withdraws 9/11 Lawsuit Against Saudi Arabia
http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/east/2011/09/20/216580.htm