Insurers' 9/11 suit against Saudis dropped in Pa.

AP News
Posted: Sep 22, 2011 3:23 PM
Insurers' 9/11 suit against Saudis dropped in Pa.

A lawsuit by insurers that paid out millions following the Sept. 11 terror attacks that accused Saudi Arabia of funneling money to al-Qaida was dropped this week, 11 days after it was filed.

The federal lawsuit was withdrawn Monday by a Lloyd's of London insurance syndicate.

"Any time you file a voluntary dismissal without prejudice, that means the lawsuit can always be reinstituted," said the plaintiff's attorney, Stephen A. Cozen of Philadelphia. He declined to say whether they intended to refile it.

The suit aimed to recoup $215 million paid out on policies covering airlines, security companies and airport authorities. It claimed that Saudi Arabia made charitable donations to Muslim groups that were then funneled to al-Qaida.

An appeals court in New York had said in 2008 that the Saudi royal family and other defendants were immune from such lawsuits.

The complaint had been filed in federal court in Johnstown, about 30 miles north of Shanksville, the scene of an airliner crash during the terror attacks a decade ago. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11 were citizens of Saudi Arabia, the lawsuit had noted.

The defendants included the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Red Crescent Society, banks and individuals. Nail al-Jubir, media affairs director for the Saudi embassy in Washington, declined comment.

Cozen said Saudi Arabia, "by and through its charities, its banks and other nongovernmental organizations and individuals," has been the largest funder and supplier of aid to fundamentalist Islamic terrorist groups.

"Most of the district courts around the country who have dealt with a similar issue as this have ruled favorably with respect to our assertions of jurisdiction and our assertions of liability," Cozen said. "We think that the 3rd (U.S.) Circuit Court of Appeals, which has ultimate jurisdiction of any appeal from the western district of Pennsylvania, would hold likewise."