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The New Arab

US dismisses Saudi attempts to drop 9/11 lawsuits

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers involved in the 9/11 attacks were Saudi nationals [AFP]

Date of publication: 29 March, 2018

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A US federal judge rejected Saudi Arabia's bid to drop lawsuits alleging it helped orchestrate the September 11, 2001 attacks, reports said on Wednesday.
A US federal judge rejected Saudi Arabia's bid to drop lawsuits alleging it helped orchestrate the September 11, 2001 attacks, reports said on Wednesday.

Manhattan-based Judge George Daniels said in his ruling the plaintiffs "narrowly articulate a reasonable basis" to proceed.

The relatives of 9/11 victims say Saudi Arabia provided support to al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. 

The report submitted alleged that two Saudis were paid by the embassy in Washington to carry out "a dry-run for the 9/11 attacks" two years before the actual hijackings took place, the New York Post reported. 

The flight tickets used in the dry-run were allegedly paid for by the Saudi embassy, as families of the 1,400 killed in the 9/11 attacks try to find alleged links between Riyadh and the al-Qaeda militants.

The complaint submitted by the families claims that Saudi government officials and diplomats had a direct hand in the attacks in Washington and New York, along with another hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.

"We've long asserted that there were long-standing and close relationships between al-Qaeda and the religious components of the Saudi government," Sean Carter, lead attorney for the 9/11 families, said. "This is further evidence of that."

The report said the men were living undercover in the US as students, when they were asked by embassy staff to simulate a hijacking of an airliner and test cockpit security.

This was the same tactic used by the 19 al-Qaeda hijackers - 15 whom were Saudi nationals - when they flew two planes into the World Trade Center towers and another into the Pentagon.

The complaint alleges the two undercover militants - one of whom the New York Post said attempted to enter the US just before the 9/11 attacks were carried out - attended the same al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan as some of the hijackers.

It also claims the men - described as "the kingdom's network of agents in the US" - were in contact with a hijacker pilot when they were based in Arizona, along with a senior Saudi al-Qaeda militant who is being detained in Guantanamo Bay.

FBI case files allege during the 2009 dry-run, the men asked cabin crew technical questions about the aircraft and tried twice to enter the cockpit.

Alarmed pilots decided to make an emergency landing due to the intrusion into the cockpit and the two men were detained but later released.

In late September 2016 US Congress passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), allowing survivors and relatives of victims of "terrorism" to sue foreign governments.

Saudi Arabia has persistently denied involvement in the attacks that left nearly 3,000 people dead.

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