JOHNSTOWN — Saudi Arabia and some of its banks and charities bear “primary responsibility” for the 9/11 attacks by siphoning cash to al-Qaida, according to a federal lawsuit filed Thursday, and thus must repay a British insurer $215 million.
Underwriter Lloyd’s said it paid out that sum through a series of individual 9/11 settlements on behalf of insured airlines, jet manufacturers, airport authorities, security companies and other parties.
Now, in actions filed in Johnstown and New York, Lloyd’s Syndicate 3500 wants that money reimbursed.
Primary defendants include the kingdom, the Saudi Red Crescent, Jeddah-based National Commercial Bank, Al Rajhi Banking and Investment Co. and Saudi relief committees for Bosnia and Chechnya, which harbor sizable Muslim populations.
The 154-page action filed in Johnstown offers a detailed historical tract on Islamic views
– from the 1730s through Osama bin Laden’s 1989 defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan and beyond.
Noting al-Qaida’s mission for global jihad, or holy war, the suit says, “In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. counter-terrorism officials estimated that al-Qaida required $35 million annually to sustain (its) infrastructure.”
The money is used to train, pay and equip agents, promote the cause and secure materials.
“To realize these immense fundraising needs, al-Qaida simply and ingeniously adapted the network developed during the Afghan jihad, relying from its inception on Islamic da’awa organizations (frequently described inaccurately as ‘charities’) to fuel its growth and development.”
The terrorist funds often are commingled with cash for other legitimate social or humanitarian causes, the lawsuit claims, to mask the movement of the money.
Lloyd’s claims the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the defendant banks and charities all were complicit in the terror network’s scheming. It sketched out how it believes the major players are culpable:
- The Saudi government. The kingdom directed the charities to foster radical Islam, fearful the West was on a course “to destroy the fabric of Muslim society as a predicate for Western conquest of Muslim territories.”
- Saudi Red Crescent Society. The charity’s ties to al-Qaida date to the 1980s, the lawsuit claims. “The SRC is a controlled agent and alter-ego of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the suit claims.
- Saudi banks. “Typically, financial institutions maintained accounts for al-Qaida’s ostensible charity fronts with full knowledge” of the terror units where the money ends up.
The Saudis also funneled more than $74 million to the Chechnya relief committee between 1998 and 2000 knowing of its al-Qaida affiliation, the suit says.
Sept. 11, 2001, is said to be a “foreseeable product” of al-Qaida’s global jihad.
The suit liberally draws on authoritative sources for its background, including the 9/11 Commission and United Nations inquiries.
The five-count lawsuit includes references to the Anti-Terrorism Act, an airline safety law and common law indemnity.
Lloyd’s attorney, Stephen A. Cozen of Philadelphia, is seeking a trial by jury and, along with the $215 million, is seeking punitive damages.