WASHINGTON – A number of families of victims killed or injured in the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks have retained lawyers to sue the Saudi royal family and other wealthy Saudis for undisclosed personal damages, a group representing the 9-11 families announced today.
The Washington-based group, Families of September 11 Inc., says the poised plaintiffs also have hired Washington gumshoe Terry Lenzner, head of Investigative Group International Inc., to probe alleged Saudi financial ties to terrorist groups. Lenzner, a former federal prosecutor and Watergate lawyer, gained more recent notoriety for working with political adviser James Carville to investigate President Clinton’s enemies.
Federal authorities, separately, have been investigating whether the Saar Foundation, which is connected to the Saudi royal family, and other Saudi groups have been laundering money to Islamic terrorist groups through U.S.-based Muslim charities. Some 80 such charities, many of them headquartered in the Washington area, recently received federal subpoenas for financial records.
Many members of the Saudi royal family, including Prince Bandar, maintain homes in McLean, Va., an upscale suburb here.
“It’s no coincidence that 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudi nationals,” said Families of September 11 spokesman Stephen Push, whose wife was murdered aboard the plane that hit the Pentagon.
“Dominated by the militant Wahhabi religious sect, Saudi Arabia has given rise to many extremists and terrorists,” including Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.
Bin Laden, leader of the al-Qaida terrorist network, is from a wealthy and connected Saudi family, as were some of the hijackers.
A source who recently worked for the Saudi royal family in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, told WorldNetDaily that the government there under Crown Prince Abdullah has embraced a more extreme brand of Islam since moderate King Fahd took ill several years ago. Fahd has suffered a series of strokes.
“In fact, when King Fahd dies, the crown prince plans to recall all the clan (living abroad) back to Saudi,” the former Saudi royal-family employee said. “He thinks they’ve become too Westernized.”
President Bush has invited Crown Prince Abdullah to visit his Crawford, Texas, ranch. The two will meet today to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Bush’s family and friends have long been in business with the Saudi royal family.
Lawyers for the as-yet-unnamed Sept. 11 families who plan to file lawsuits want to further document the claim that certain Saudis and Saudi-backed organizations knowingly supported the Taliban and al-Qaida, Push says.
Their case will rest on the legal theory, he says, that those who knowingly fund terrorist organizations are liable for the damage done by those groups.
He says Washington legal scholar Allan Gerson has agreed to help the Sept. 11 families develop their suit against the Saudis, as he did for Pan Am Flight 103 victims in their case against Libya.
He says Charleston, S.C., lawyer Ron Motley will lead the legal team, which includes Washington lawyers Harry Huge and Tom Devine.
Families of September 11 has nearly 1,000 members representing more than 800 deceased and surviving victims from the World Trade Center and Pentagon disasters and four hijacked flights that crashed, as well as the anthrax attacks.