Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Cert denied in 9/11 Saudi Liability Case
The Supreme Court yesterday denied certiorari in Burnett v. Al Baraka, in which plaintiffs sought to hold Saudi Arabia and the Saudi royal family liable for the September 11 terrorist attacks. The plaintiffs sought to establish liability by linking the Saudis to the financing of Al Qaeda. The Second Circuit held that the claims were barred by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, reasoning that terrorism claims against a foreign government required a state department designation of that government as a supporter of terrorism.
Here's an excerpt from today's article in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
In a decision that creates broad immunity for Saudi Arabia in terrorism lawsuits, the Supreme Court yesterday let stand lower-court rulings that the desert kingdom and senior members of the Saudi royal family are not liable for the 9/11 attacks. ...
For the moment, the decision leaves untouched litigation against scores of Islamic charities, alleged terrorism financiers and financial institutions named as defendants in the case. But the Supreme Court's decision is a significant defeat for the 6,000 individual victims and family members along with insurers and other commercial interests seeking compensation. ...
The plaintiffs allege that Saudi Arabia funded and controlled Islamic charities that were used to launder money into al-Qaeda. Absent that financial support, al-Qaeda never would have become a global terrorist threat and never would have been able to pull off the Sept. 11 attacks, they allege.
The Obama administration, concerned about the case's effect on U.S.-Saudi relations, weighed in with an amicus brief last month urging the Supreme Court to decline the case.