Britain Eakin–Several survivors of the 9/11 attacks and representatives of those killed brought a federal complaint against Saudi Arabia and Iran, alleging that the latter knew about the attacks and helped plan and coordinate them.
Filed late Friday in Washington, D.C., the 105-page complaint also claims that al-Qaida was able to carry out the attacks because of charities that were established, funded and directed by Saudi Arabia.
Although Saudi Arabia has been named as a defendant in several other lawsuits related to 9/11, claims against Iran are less common. Caragh Fay with the Fay Law Group brought the new suits.
“Defendants Iran and MOIS has actual foreknowledge of, and were complicit in the planning and coordination of the 9/11 attacks upon the United States which were carried out by members of al Qaeda under the direction of Osama bin Laden,” it says, using an alternate spelling for the terrorist group and an abbreviation for the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security.
Lead plaintiffs Katherine and John Dillaber say Iran began developing “contingency plans” in the mid- to late-1980s for unconventional warfare against the United States, which Iran code-named “Shaitan dar Atash.”
“One of the ‘Shaitan dar Atash’ contingency plans was for the hijacking of the U.S. commercial airliners and crashing them into buildings, particularly in New York City and Washington, D.C.,” the complaint says. “This contingency plan became the blueprint for the September 11th Attacks.”
The lawsuit alleges that al-Qaida operative Mustafa Hamid secretly negotiated a passageway from Iran to bin Laden’s training camps in Afghanistan, where eight of the 9/11 hijackers ultimately prepared for the operation.
Iran also “vastly increased” the likelihood that the 9/11 plot would succeed, according to the complaint by instructing border inspectors not to place Iranian stamps in these men’s Saudi passports.
“Iran thus provided essential material and direct support of the 9/11 attacks,” the complaint alleges.
The CIA bolstered claims this past November about Iran’s support of al-Qaida leading up to the 9/11 attacks, releasing a trove of documents seized during the 2011 raid that killed bin Laden. Having analyzed many of the files prior to their public release, Foundation for Defense of Democracies said at the time that the documents showed that Iran facilitated travel for some of the 9/11 hijackers and offered shelter to others.
Friday’s complaint names the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security as a defendant, in addition to Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Fay did not return an email seeking comment on the lawsuit.
Lead plaintiff Katherine Dillaber was injured on Sept. 11 when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into Pentagon, where she and her sister Patricia worked as civilian employees. Patricia Dillaber Mickley was killed in the attack, but her estate is not a party to the suit.
Saudi Arabia has faced at least two other lawsuits over the 9/11 attacks – one in Washington and another in Manhattan, which were enabled by the 2016 Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. President Obama had vetoed the bill, arguing that it could make U.S. officials vulnerable to similar lawsuits through the world, but Congress voted in September that year to override the veto.
Prior to the bill, which amended the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, only countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism by the U.S. Department of State could be sued by victims harmed by those states’ support for acts of international terrorism.
The U.S. has designated Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism for many years but has never labeled the Saudi government as such.
The Saudi Arabian embassy did not return a voice message seeking comment on the lawsuit.