Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Obama Administration Enables Saudi Princes to Escape Accountability for Material Support for 9/11 Terror Attacks, Families Charge

/PRNewswire / -- On the day that President Obama holds his first summit with Saudi Arabian King Abdullah in Riyadh, the 9/11 Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism charged that recent actions by his administration would enable five of the king's closest relatives to escape accountability for their role in financing and materially supporting the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In response to the administration's action, the 9/11 families released allegations made in 2002 of the Saudi royal family's sponsorship and support of al Qaeda that the families believe have been ignored by the Obama Administration.

On May 29, the president's top lawyer before the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, filed a brief arguing that it would be "unwarranted" for the Supreme Court to even hear cases brought by the 9/11 families charging that five Saudi princes knowingly and intentionally provided financial support to al Qaeda waging war on America. By urging the high court to not review lower court decisions dismissing these cases, the Obama Administration took the side of the Saudi princes over thousands of family members and survivors of the 9/11 attacks seeking justice and accountability in U.S. courts.

"This is a betrayal of our fundamentally American right to have our day in court," said Mike Low of Batesville, Ark., father of Sara Low, an American Airlines flight attendant who died on board Flight 11. "It sacrifices the principles of justice, transparency, accountability and security, which our case embodies, in order to accommodate the political pleadings of a foreign government on behalf of a handful of members of its monarchy."

"With this filing, the Obama Administration has constructed a convoluted legal rationale to justify a political decision to curry favor with the Saudi royal family," said Ron Motley, counsel for the 9/11 families. "However, the legal straw house they built collapses with the faintest breeze of logic, legal analysis, or common sense."

"We trust that the Supreme Court, after it has reviewed the law, the facts and the evidence, will reject the Obama Administration's wrongheaded opinion and agree to give the 9/11 family members the day in court they deserve," Motley said.

To illustrate both the injustice of the Obama Administration's Supreme Court filing and the many holes in its legal reasoning, the family members released the specific allegations they originally made on what the princes did to provide financial and material support to Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda and the Taliban in the years and months leading up to September 11, 2001.

Specifically, the families' lawsuit alleges that:

-- Prince Turki al Faisal al Saud, past head of Saudi intelligence,
coordinated Saudi financial and logistical support for al Qaeda, Osama
bin Laden and the Taliban. In July 1998, Prince Turki brokered an
agreement between these parties in which the Saudis provided al Qaeda
and the Taliban with generous financial assistance in exchange for a
pledge by bin Laden and the Taliban that al Qaeda would not attack the
Saudi royal family.(1)
-- Prince Mohamed al Faisal al Saud headed the Islamic bank Dar al Maal
al Islami, which provided global financial services and financing to
al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.(2)
-- Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz al Saud, whose responsibilities included
overseeing Islamic charitable funding in Saudi Arabia, funded al Qaeda
through personal contributions to Islamic charities known to support
bin Laden and his terrorist organization.(3)
-- Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz al Saud, who has long supported Palestinian
suicide bombers, provided pay-off money to al Qaeda. His oversight of
al Qaeda front charity al Haramain allowed it to support bin Laden and
al Qaeda unabated.(4)

-- Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz al Saud has a long history of funding
Islamic extremists through his work as chairman of the General
Donation Committee for Afghanistan. In this capacity, Prince Salman
made substantial personal contributions to al Qaeda front charities
with the full knowledge the charities were misappropriating funds and
involved in terrorist activities.(5)

(More detailed allegations are contained in the attached chart.)

In the face of these allegations, Motley charged that the legal flaws in the Obama Administration's filing are all the more egregious.

For example, the solicitor general concedes that the Saudi princes as individual officials are not entitled to immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). But even though the government has never previously expressed any notion of offering the Saudi princes any immunity for their alleged terrorist involvement, the administration urges that the Supreme Court should nonetheless treat the Princes as though they are immune anyway because of vague "non-statutory principles articulated by the Executive." This makes clear the Obama Administration is more concerned with the foreign relations consequences of making the Saudi princes answer for their donations to al Qaeda than with allowing the 9/11 families their fair day in court to address the princes' accountability for their conduct.

Moreover, even if the Saudi princes knowingly and intentionally gave money to al Qaeda waging war on America, the solicitor general argued that does not qualify for the "domestic tort exception" to sovereign immunity because the Saudi Princes did not give their money "within the United States." The solicitor general says it is not enough if the Saudis gave money to al Qaeda only from abroad. According to the solicitor general's argument, in order to strip immunity from the Saudi princes, "the foreign state's act or omission -- not that of any third party -- must occur in the United States."

The solicitor general further argues that U.S. courts cannot exercise personal jurisdiction over the Saudi Princes who gave money to al Qaeda because they were not "primary wrongdoer[s]" -- according to the solicitor general -- as they engaged in only "indirect funding of al Qaeda." But excusing the princes as not "primary wrongdoers" is in direct conflict with a recent Seventh Circuit ruling in the terror litigation context.(6) In this case, known as Boim v. Holy Land Foundation, the Seventh Circuit held that all those who donate money to known terrorist groups are themselves engaging in terrorism -- and thus "primary violators" subject to "primary liability" under the Anti-Terrorism Act section 2333. Boim further cautioned: "Nor should donors to terrorism be able to escape liability because terrorists and their supporters launder donations through a chain of intermediate organizations. Donor A gives to innocent-appearing organization B which gives to innocent-appearing organization C which gives to Hamas. As long as A either knows or is reckless in failing to discover that donations to B end up with Hamas, A is liable."(7)

The administration filing's bottom line, according to Motley, is that an official of any foreign country not "designated as a state sponsor of terrorism" is immune from suit as long as that official gave money "outside the United States" to terrorists -- even where those terrorists are waging a declared war causing massive death and destruction inside the United States. "This is an absurd misinterpretation of the law that, if carried to its logical extreme, could let all of al Qaeda's bankrollers off the hook," Motley charged. "If allowed to stand as the Obama administration's brief urges, the lower court's decision would allow terrorist financiers to stand at the borders of our nation providing all means of terrorist support, while snubbing their noses at our time honored judicial system of accountability."

The plaintiffs further allege that "Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda have publicly and proudly proclaimed direct responsibility for [prior] multiple atrocities in furtherance of international terrorism. Direct attacks on Americans intensified in 1998 after Osama bin Laden issued this 'fatwa,' stating: 'We -- with God's help -- call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God's order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it.'"(8)

Motley said he was especially shocked that the solicitor general justified not holding foreign officials who give money to the 9/11 terrorists to account in an American court by repeating the same error made by the late District Judge Richard Conway Casey and the Second Circuit when they ruled plaintiffs' well-pleaded allegations were "inadequa[te]" and "conclusory" to show the Princes knew that they were funneling money to al Qaeda. "This is utter nonsense," Motley said, noting the specific detail of the allegations made, all of which allegedly show that the princes gave money to al Qaeda waging declared jihad on America, knowing that al Qaeda was targeting death and destruction on America.(9)

"What the solicitor general and the lower courts ignore is that the plaintiffs brought this suit to hold the defendants -- a handful of royals, other financiers, bin Laden, al Qaeda, and certain charities, banks and other organizations they own and control -- responsible for this insidious form of terrorism which cloaks itself behind the face of royal state titles and legitimacy," Motley said.

Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network do not exist in a vacuum, he explained. They could not plan, train and act on such a massive scale without significant financial power, coordination and backing.(10)

Select sources reporting Saudi Arabia is an important funding source for Islamic Extremism:

-- United States Congress Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and
United States Congress House Permanent Select Committee on
Intelligence Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities
before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001: Report
of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and U.S. House
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Together with Additional
-- Terrorist Financing. Report of an Independent Task Force Sponsored by
the Council on Foreign Relations, October 2002. Available at and Update on the Global
Campaign Against Terrorist Financing. Second Report of an Independent
Task Force on Terrorist Financing Sponsored by the Council on Foreign
Relations, June 15, 2004. See
-- Hearing Before the Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia of
the Committee on International Relations House of Representatives One
Hundred Eighth Congress Second Session March 24, 2004 Serial No.
-- International Affairs: Information on U.S. Agencies' Efforts to
Address Islamic Extremism, GAO-05-852 (Washington: D.C.: United States
Government Accountability Office, Sept. 2005).
-- Iraq Study Group (U.S.), et al. The Iraq Study Group Report. 1st
authorized ed. New York: Vintage Books, 2006.
-- Testimony of Lee S. Wolosky Partner, Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP
U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs September
18, 2007.
-- U.S. State Department 2007 International Narcotics Control Strategy
-- Testimony of U.S. Department of the Treasury Undersecretary for
Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart A. Levey before the Senate
Finance Committee, April 1, 2008.

-- H. R. 1288 Saudi Arabia Accountability Act of 2009 111th Congress 1st

Allegations that the Saudi Princes Named as Defendants
Provided Financial and Material Support to al Qaeda

Source: Third Amended Complaint, Thomas E. Burnett, Sr., et al. vs. Al
Baraka Investment & Development Corporation, et al., Case No. 03-CV-9849
(GBD) as consolidated in In Re: Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001,
Case No. 03-MDL-1570 (GBD), paragraphs 340, 344-346, 348-350.
This can be viewed at

TAC Paragraph, Specific Allegation
97-99, pp. Prince Mohamed al Faisal al Saud was the CEO of the
244-245; 342, Islamic bank Dar al Maal al Islami ("DMI") which
p. 309; 364, provided financing and financial services to al Qaeda
p. 315

340, p. 309 Prince Turki al Faisal al Saud had an ongoing
relationship with Osama bin Laden from the time that
they first met in Islamabad, Pakistan at the Saudi
embassy, during the Soviet Union's occupation of

342, p. 309-310 Prince Abdullah al Faisal bin Abdulaziz al Saud,
Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz al Saud and Prince Salman
bin Abdul Aziz al Saud

have provided material support to Osama bin Laden and
al Qaeda. They also aided, abetted and materially
sponsored OBL and al Qaeda

344, p. 310 Prince Turki, who headed the Royal Families
intelligence service for 25 years and met personally
with Osama bin Laden at least 5 times, guided the
Saudi intelligence service to provide substantial
financial and material support to the Taliban in or
about 1995.

345, p. 310 Al Qaeda financier Mohammed Zouaydi had close
financial ties to Prince Turki and Prince Mohammed al

346, pp. 310-311 According to a senior Taliban official, Prince Turki
was the facilitator of money transfers to the Taliban
and al Qaeda.

347. p. 311 In 1996, a group of Saudi princes met with prominent
Saudi businessmen in Paris and agreed to continue
financially contributing and otherwise supporting
Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.

348, p. 311 In July of 1998, a meeting occurred in Kandahar,
Afghanistan that led to an agreement between certain
Saudis and the Taliban. The participants were Prince
Turki, the Taliban leaders, and senior Pakistani
intelligence officers of the ISI and representatives
of Osama bin Laden. The agreement reached stipulated
that Osama bin Laden and his followers would not use
the infrastructure in Afghanistan to subvert the
royal families' control of Saudi government. In
return, the Saudis would make sure that no demands
for the extradition of terrorist individuals, such as
Osama bin Laden, and/or for the closure of terrorist
facilities and camps. Prince Turki also promised to
provide oil and generous financial assistance to both
the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. After the
meeting, 400 new pick-up trucks arrived in Kandahar
for the Taliban, still bearing Dubai license plates.

349, p. 311 Prince Turki was instrumental in arranging a meeting
in Kandahar between Iraqi senior intelligence
operative, the Ambassador to Turkey Faruq al-Hijazi,
and Osama bin Laden, in December of 1998.

350, p. 311 Saudi Intelligence, directed by Prince Turki until
August 2001, served as a facilitator of Osama bin
Laden's network of charities, foundations, and other
funding sources.

354, p. 312 Prince Sultan has been involved in the sponsorship of
international terrorism through the IIRO and other
Saudi-funded charities.

357-358. p. 313 King Fahd set up a Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs,
headed by his brother Prince Sultan to centralize,
supervise and review aid requests from Islamic
groups. This council was established to control the
charity financing and look into ways of distributing
donations to eligible Muslim groups. Consequently, as
Chairman of the Supreme Council, Prince Sultan could
not have ignored the ultimate destinations of
charitable funding, and could not have overlooked the
role of the Saudi charitable entities identified
herein in financing the al Qaeda terrorist

359, pp. 313-314 Despite that responsibility and knowledge, Prince
Sultan personally funded several Islamic charities
over the years that sponsor, aid, abet or materially
support Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda: the
International Islamic Relief Organization (and its
financial fund Sanabel el-Khair), al-Haramain, Muslim
World League, and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth.
Despite that responsibility and knowledge, Prince
Sultan personally funded several Islamic charities
over the years that sponsor, aid, abet or materially
support Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda: the
International Islamic Relief Organization (and its
financial fund Sanabel el-Khair), al-Haramain, Muslim
World League, and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth.

360, p. 314 Prince Sultan's role in the IIRO's financing is of
significance. Since the IIRO's creation in 1978,
Prince Sultan participated by donations and various
gifts to the charity. In 1994 alone, he donated
$266,652 to the Islamic International Relief
Organization. Since 1994, the amount funneled by
Prince Sultan into IIRO is reported to be $2,399,868.
Prince Sultan's role in directly contributing to and
in the oversight of IIRO evidences his material
sponsorship, aiding and abetting of international
terrorism. Prince Sultan maintains close relations
with the IIRO organization headquarters and knew or
should have known these assets were being diverted to
al Qaeda.

361-362, p. 314 Prince Sultan is also a regular donator to the World
Assembly of Muslim Youth ( "WAMY"). WAMY was founded
in 1972 in a Saudi effort to prevent the "corrupting"
ideas of the western world influencing young Muslims.
With official backing it grew to embrace 450 youth
and student organizations with 34 offices worldwide.
WAMY has been officially identified as a "suspected
terrorist organization" by the FBI since 1996 and has
been the subject of numerous governmental
investigations for terrorist activities.

370-371, p. 317; Prince Abdullah al Faisal is the majority owner of
372-373, p. 317 Alfaisaliah Group, also known as al Faisal Group
Holding Co. According to FBI records 9/11 hijacker
Hani Saleh H. Hanjour, his brother Abdulrahman Saleh
Hanjour, living in Tucson, Arizona, and 9/11 suspect
Abdal Monem Zelitny had registered addresses in Taif,
Saudi Arabia that correspond with an Alfaisaliah
Group branch office.

374-375, p. 317 Prince Abdullah al Faisal's accountant in Jeddah,
Saudi Arabia was Defendant Muhammed Galeb Kalaje
Zouaydi, convicted in Spain for financing al Qaeda
operations in Europe. Zouaydi set up Spanish
companies established during the time he was staying
in Saudi Arabia and working for Prince Abdullah al
Faisal, between 1996 and 2000. Zouaydi laundered
Saudi money through Spain to an al Qaeda cell in
Germany. Eye witnesses place Zouaydi in Prince
Abdullah al Faisal's office in Jeddah.

381, p. 319 Prince Naif, who has a long history of supported for
Palestinian suicide martyrs and Palestinian terrorist
organizations, has provided material support to al
Qaeda, including providing monetary payoffs to al

382, p. 319 Prince Naif, who is the Saudi Minister of Interior and
heads the Saudi Committee for Relief to Afghans,
supervised the activities of Defendant charity Al
Haramain Foundation, which materially supported al
Qaeda and the Taliban.

392-399, pp. In 1993, Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz al Saud founded
321-323 Saudi High Commission charity. The charity's Bosnian
offices were found to have sponsored al Qaeda members
and materially supported al Qaeda.

400, pp. 323-324 Prince Salman has a history of funding Islamic
extremism. In 1980, Prince Salman was named Chairman
of the General Donation Committee for Afghanistan.

401, p. 324 In 1999, Prince Salman made a donation of $400,000
during a fund-raising event organized for Bosnia
Herzegovina and Chechnya by Defendants International
Islamic Relief Organization, World Assembly of Muslim
Youths, and Al-Haramain Foundation.

404-407, Despite evidence of misappropriation of charitable
pp.324-325 funds by directors of the Saudi High Commissions
Bosnian chapter, Prince Salman knowingly failed to
take appropriate action regarding the management and
distribution of funds.

(1)Third Amended Complaint, Thomas E. Burnett, Sr., et al. vs. Al Baraka Investment & Development Corporation, et al., Case No. 03-CV-9849 (GBD) as consolidated in In Re: Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001, Case No. 03-MDL-1570 (GBD), paragraphs 340, 344-346, 348-350. This can be viewed at

(2)TAC paragraphs 97-99, 242, 244-245, 364.
(3)TAC paragraphs 354, 357-362.
(4)TAC paragraphs 342, 381-382.
(5)TAC paragraphs 392-401, 404-407.
(6)See Boim v. Holy Land Found., 549 F.3d 685 (7th Cir. 2008) (en banc).
(7)Id. at 701-702.
(8)TAC, p. 12.

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