A new bill that will make it simpler for relatives of those killed in the Sept. 11 attacks to seek monetary compensation from nations accused of supporting terrorism, including Saudi Arabia, is about to be passed by Congress.
The bipartisan proposal intends to narrow legal gaps that have allowed foreign state defendants, like Saudi Arabia, to claim that they are exempt from accusations of supporting terrorism by “aiding and abetting” claims.
Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ), the primary sponsor of the legislation known as the Ensuring Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, said on Thursday that there are only a select few days in a country’s history that genuinely redefine its way of life.
For our country, September 11, 2001, was one of those days. 15 of the 19 Al Qaeda terrorists who hijacked four airplanes on September 11, 2001, were Saudi Arabian citizens, including the plot’s mastermind, Osama bin Laden, who came from a wealthy family in the country but was later banished for his anti-government activities.
Van Drew continued, “These essential technical adjustments will guarantee that the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act can actually achieve its objective of bringing justice for American victims of foreign-sponsored terrorism.
The majority of the New York congressional delegation, including Reps. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) and Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), are co-sponsors of the legislation.
The plan is being pushed in the upper house by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), with support from Senators from New York, Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Kirsten Gillibrand. Families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks welcomed the politicians’ decision to support the ongoing legal battle for justice and accountability.
According to Terry Strada, National Chair of 9/11 Families United, “This is important legislation that fulfills Congress’s original promise of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, and we are pleased to see the House working quickly towards enacting it so that we can continue our pursuit for accountability.”
Tom, her spouse, perished in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Through the professional golf league LIV Golf, which is supported by the Saudi government, Strada has accused Saudi Arabia of “sports washing” their reputation.
It remains to be seen if victims will ever be able to demonstrate that foreign nations like Saudi Arabia or other nations enabled the 9/11 terrorists who brought down the Twin Towers and killed roughly 3,000 people.
No parties have yet received damages in JASTA-related lawsuits. But the legal discussion is still quite divisive. In 2016, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which would have allowed 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia, was rejected by then-President Barack Obama on the grounds that it violated sovereign immunity and would one day come back to harm the United States.
The bill, he claimed, would be “detrimental to U.S. national interests” and might result in legal actions being brought against the U.S. or American authorities for deeds committed by organizations that were armed, trained, or aided by the country.
However, both chambers of Congress unanimously decided to override Obama’s veto in an unprecedented action.
Overriding a presidential veto is something we don’t take lightly, but in this case it was important that the families of the victims of 9/11 be allowed to pursue justice, even if that pursuit causes some diplomatic discomforts,” Senator Charles Schumer said following the vote.