NEW YORK – Cantor Fitzgerald Securities (search), a bond trading firm that lost two-thirds of its workers in the World Trade Center attack, has sued Saudi Arabia for allegedly supporting Al Qaida (search) prior to the Sept. 11 attack through financing, safe houses, weapons and money laundering.
The company, in a $7 billion lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan and made public Friday, also named dozens of other defendants, including numerous banks and Islamic charities, in a bid to hold them accountable for its losses in the terrorism attack.
A message for comment left with the Saudi Arabia embassy in Washington was not immediately returned.
The lawsuit noted that it carried many of the same defendants, transactions, events and questions of law as an earlier $300 billion lawsuit brought by insurance companies against terrorist groups, companies and countries supporting terrorism. That lawsuit, which also names Saudi Arabia, is still pending.
The Cantor Fitzgerald lawsuit took particular aim at Saudi Arabia, saying the kingdom "knew and intended that these Saudi-based charity and relief organization defendants would provide financial and material support and substantial assistance to Al Qaida."
According to the lawsuit, Saudi Arabia engaged in a pattern of racketeering as it participated directly or indirectly in Al Qaida's work through its "alter-ego" charities and relief organizations, which it funded and controlled.
The lawsuit alleged that Saudi Arabia materially supported Al Qaida by helping to raise money for it, by knowingly and intentionally employing Al Qaida operatives, by laundering its money and by providing al-Qaida with safe houses, false documents and ways to obtain weapons and military equipment.
"This uninterrupted financial and material support and substantial assistance enabled the al-Qaida defendants to plan, orchestrate and carry out the Sept. 11 attacks," the lawsuit said.
A lawyer for the firm, which lost 658 of its 1,050 employees on Sept. 11, declined to comment. Cantor Fitzgerald now has offices in midtown Manhattan.
Saudi Arabia last month began a radio advertising campaign citing the Sept. 11 Commission's (search) conclusion that the Saudi government did not fund Al Qaida as proof that it has been a loyal ally in the fight against terrorism.
As the ad campaign was launched, Saudi embassy spokesman Nail al-Jubeir said the ads tell Americans "these are the facts that your own independent commission has said about Saudi Arabia. You make up your mind."
The commission had also criticized Saudi Arabia, calling it "a problematic ally in combating Islamic extremism." It said Saudi-funded Islamic schools have been exploited by extremists and, while Saudi cooperation against terrorism improved after the Sept. 11 attacks, "significant problems remained."
Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Usama bin Laden (search) and 15 of the 19 hijackers.