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The New Arab

9/11 families to 'increase pressure' in Saudi Arabia lawsuit

Saudi Arabia denies involvement in the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 April, 2018

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The relatives of 9/11 victims said they intend to step up pressure on US security agencies to turn over more investigative records on Monday.

The relatives of 9/11 victims who are seeking to hold Saudi Arabia legally responsible in the deadly attacks said they intend to step up pressure on US security agencies to turn over more investigative records, reports said on Monday.

Brett Eagleson, whose father was killed in the twin towers attack in 2001, told a news conference that the plaintiffs plan a grassroots effort to compel the CIA, the FBI and others to turn over information that could shed light on potential Saudi complicity.

"The 9/11 families aren't going anywhere," said Eagleson, 32, of Middletown, Connecticut. "We had my dad's grandchildren in the audience today who want to know the truth about what happened to their grandfather."

The complaint submitted by the families in 2003 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. They 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 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 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 of 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.

Last month, a federal court judge rejected a Saudi motion to end the lawsuit, ruling that the court could assume jurisdiction under JASTA.

"This fight for justice is about more than just these families. It is to deter also state sponsors of terrorism," Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat who pushed for the law said, noting he will work alongside the plaintiffs as they push for more information to be disclosed.

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