A federal judge in New York has denied Saudi Arabia's request to dismiss lawsuits claiming the desert kingdom materially assisted the 9/11 attackers. The defendants include two banks and the Binladin construction firm.
A judge in New York on Wednesday rejected Saudi Arabia's bid to dismiss lawsuits claiming that it helped plan the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and should pay billions of dollars in damages to victims.
US District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan, said that the plaintiffs' allegations "narrowly articulate a reasonable basis" for him to assert jurisdiction under a federal law called the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act.
Read more: 9/11 and the global consequences
"We're delighted that Judge Daniels denied Saudi Arabia's motion to dismiss," said James Kreindler, a lawyer for many of the plaintiffs, in a phone interview.
"We have been pressing to proceed with the case and conduct discovery from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, so that the full story can come to light, and expose the Saudi role in the 9/11 attacks," he added.
Saudi Arabia had long had broad immunity from Sept. 11 lawsuits in the United States. That changed in 2016 when the U.S. Congress overrode a veto by President Barack Obama, and allowed such cases to proceed.
Saudi Arabia denies involvement
The Saudi government has long denied involvement in the attacks, in which hijacked airplanes crashed into New York's World Trade Center, a Pennsylvania field and the Pentagon outside Washington, DC. causing the deaths of nearly 3,000 people.
Judge Daniels has overseen litigation against Saudi Arabia by the families of those killed, roughly 25,000 people who suffered injuries, and a variety of businesses and insurers.
In a pair of decisions, Daniels also dismissed claims by various plaintiffs against several other defendants. He said that he lacked jurisdiction.
Among those defendants were the Saudi Binladin Group, a construction company long controlled by the bin Laden family, and two Saudi banks, National Commercial Bank and Al Rajhi Bank. They are accused of knowingly providing material support to Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda, in the form of funds and financial services, to carry out the attacks.
Lawyers for Saudi Arabia did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
av/bw (Reuters, AFP)