Philadelphia lawyer Stephen A. Cozen is suing Saudi Arabia for its alleged complicity in the September 11th terrorist attacks, citing the release of 28 previously classified pages of the 9/11 commission report.
“The credibility of our assertions in this case has been given a huge boost,” Cozen told Law.com. “I am hopeful that, now that we’ve gotten the 28 pages, we will be able to get [declassified] from the government … any of the other documents referred to in the 28 pages that would lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.”
Though senior elements of the Saudi government were not directly implicated by the revelations, the report revealed several 9/11 hijackers had ties to junior members of the Saudi bureaucracy. (RELATED: Here Are Key Takeaways From The 28 Pages On Saudi Arabia Everyone Has Been Waiting For)
“While in the United States, some of the September 11 hijackers were in contact with, and received support or assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi government,” the report says.
Cozen has been party to the litigation since 2003, when he brought a suit against Saudi Arabia on behalf of an insurance conglomerate who paid out billions of dollars for property damage resulting from the brutal attack. Cozen’s suit, and another suit filed by family members of 9/11 victims, were consolidated into the single case, In Re Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001.
Plaintiffs contend that al-Qaeda and the 9/11 hijackers received material support from Saudi officials. They further argue that al-Qaeda’s evolution from regional Soviet-resistance front to international terror syndicate was backed by Riyadh.
The Saudi government argues that they are granted immunity by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
U.S. District Court Judge George Daniels previously dismissed the case, ruling that the alleged connections between the 9/11 hijackers and the Saudi government were too tenuous for Saudi Arabia to be considered civilly liable for the attacks. He also raised a question of venue, finding many of plaintiff’s allegations took place abroad, beyond the reach of U.S. courts.
Things changed earlier this year, when the Senate overwhelmingly passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terror Act, which allows litigation to proceed against foreign sponsors of terror.
President Obama has promised to veto the bill, but the legislation passed the Senate on a voice vote, ensuring a veto-override should the bill advance to the White House.
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