9/11 families plan next steps in Saudi Arabia lawsuit
HARTFORD, Conn. – Victims' relatives seeking to hold Saudi Arabia legally responsible in the Sept. 11 attacks said Monday they intend to step up pressure on U.S. security agencies to turn over more investigative records.
Brett Eagleson, whose father was killed in the twin towers, told a news conference Monday 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."
Hundreds of victims' relatives and injured survivors, along with corporations, sued the Saudi government in 2003, saying its employees knowingly assisted hijackers who carried out the attacks and fueled al-Qaida's development into a terrorist organization by funding charities that supported the group. The Saudi government has long denied any involvement in the attacks.
Last month, a federal court judge rejected a Saudi motion to end the lawsuit, ruling that the court could assume jurisdiction under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. Congress passed that act in 2016 over then-President Barack Obama's veto, allowing the claims to go forward against the kingdom after they were rejected once in court.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat who pushed for the law, appeared at the news conference in Hartford and said he will work alongside the plaintiffs as they push for more information to be disclosed.
"This fight for justice is about more than just these families. It is to deter also state sponsors of terrorism," he said.
Lawyers filed a subpoena last week for the FBI to produce several documents, according to Eagleson. He said the plaintiffs are seeking information that was redacted from previously released materials as well as still uncovered documents, and may seek help from Congress.
Fifteen of the 19 attackers were Saudis. The U.S. investigated some Saudi diplomats and others with Saudi government ties who knew hijackers after they arrived in the U.S., according to documents that have been declassified.
The 9/11 Commission report found "no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded" the attacks that al-Qaida masterminded, but the commission also noted "the likelihood" that Saudi government-sponsored charities did.