Despite the factual evidence pointing to the contrary, the United States and many of its allies have failed to target Saudi Arabia for its role in fomenting terror and have erroneously labeled Iran the “top state sponsor of terror,” a title that all evidence indicates belongs to the Saudis.
NEW YORK – Iran has been ordered to pay a total of $6 billion to families of September 11 victims as part of a U.S. District Court ruling handed down on Tuesday. The ruling, ordered by U.S. District Judge George Daniels, blames Iran as well as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the country’s central bank for the deaths of the more than 1,000 victims of the terror attack whose families were part of the lawsuit.
Iran, however, has never been found to have any responsibility for the attacks, even by the U.S. government’s 9/11 Commission, and none of the 19 hijackers who participated in the attacks were Iranian citizens. Despite the lack of evidence linking Iran to the attacks, top media outlets – such as The New York Times – have erroneously called the terror attacks “Iranian-sponsored,” with little consequence.
The ruling — believed to be largely symbolic, as there is no mechanism that could force Iran to comply with the court order — calls for Iran to pay $12.5 million per spouse, $8.5 million per parent, $8.5 million per child and $4.25 million per sibling of the victims whose families are part of the suit.
The lawsuit, first filed by families of 9/11 victims back in 2004, is actually aimed at holding Saudi Arabia responsible for the September 11 attacks. Yet, last month, attorneys representing the Gulf Kingdom successfully lobbied to add Iran to the legal proceedings via a “tag-along action” intended to “consolidate” litigation accusing the Islamic Republic of playing a role in the attacks.
Saudi Arabia has been working overtime to avoid legal liability for the attacks since the U.S. Congress passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which allows American citizens to sue Saudi Arabia as well as any other nations with proven links to terror attacks that occurred on U.S. soil and resulted in American casualties. The Saudis have been lobbying the U.S. to amend the law ever since, so that foreign governments can be sued in U.S. courts only if they “knowingly engage with a terrorist organization directly or indirectly, including financing.”
While Iran was targeted in this most recent ruling, the ruling may cause problems for Saudi Arabia in the future, as it could pave the way for similar rulings to be handed down against the Saudis. That all depends, however, on the judge presiding over the case.
A glaring double standard rooted in apparent ignorance
The recent ruling against Iran comes as little surprise, given that the judge who oversaw the case, George Daniels, previously ordered Iran to pay $10 billion in damages to the families of 9/11 victims in 2016 — on the basis that Iran had failed to provide evidence that it did not aid the perpetrators of the infamous terrorist attack.
In great contrast, in 2015, Daniels ruled – despite the fact that 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi citizens and U.S. government investigators have called declassified evidence of Saudi involvement in the attacks “chilling” — that there was “insufficient evidence” linking Saudi Arabia to the attacks to justify negating the country’s sovereign immunity, immunity that Daniels subsequently failed to grant to Iran in his ruling a year later.
Daniels’ history and his recent ruling also suggest that he has limited knowledge of the relationship between Iran and al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda, headed by Saudi national Osama bin Laden at the time of the 9/11 attacks, is a terrorist group that adheres to a Wahhabist interpretation of Islam that is actively exported and supported by Saudi Arabia.
In addition, al-Qaeda’s religious vision sees Shiite muslims as apostates, making it highly unlikely that Iran – whose population is 73.5 percent Shiite – would support the group. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, has been repeatedly shown to support Wahhabi terror groups abroad, including al-Qaeda and Daesh (ISIS). Despite the factual evidence pointing to the contrary, the United States and many of its allies have failed to target Saudi Arabia for its role in fomenting terror and have erroneously labeled Iran the “top state sponsor of terror,” a title that definitively belongs to the Saudis.