By Erin McAuley
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (CN) – Lloyd’s insurance says the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its banks and charities, which sponsored al Qaeda, should pay the more than $215 million the insurer has spent on insurance settlements to families of the victims of 9/11.
“Absent the sponsorship of al Qaeda’s material sponsors and supporters, including the defendants named herein, al Qaeda would not have possessed the capacity to conceive, plan and execute the September 11th Attacks,” the insurer says.
Named as defendants are the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Saudi High Commission for Relief of Bosnia & Herzegovina, the Saudi Joint Relief Committee for Kosovo and Chechnya, the Saudi Red Crescent Society, National Commercial Bank, Al Rajhi Banking and Investment Company, Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Suleiman Abdel Aziz Al Rajhi [CEO of al Rajhi Bank], and Yassin Al Qadi [employee of al Rajhi Bank].
Plaintiff, The Underwriting Members of Lloyd’s Syndicate 3500, says it has already paid more than $215 million in claims for the “9/11 Aviation cases.”
“Through the instant action, plaintiff seeks recovery of amounts paid on behalf of its insureds in settlement of the 9/11 Aviation cases, and amounts expended in relation to the defense of its insureds in the 9/11 Aviation Litigation, from parties who knowingly provided material support and resources to al Qaeda in the years leading up to the September 11th Attacks, and who by virtue of their intentional conduct bear primary responsibility for the injuries resulting from the September 11th Attacks.”
The 154-page federal complaint, filed by Stephen Cozen with Cozen O’Connor of Philadelphia, contains a history of al Qaeda, from its creation during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, its ideological roots that predate that war, its objectives, tactics, the way it built and sustained its funding and infrastructure, and its close ties to Saudi Arabia.
“Although al Qaeda has in limited instances established its own charities to serve as channels of support for particular initiatives, al Qaeda’s development into a sophisticated global terrorist network was fueled primarily by the massive support it received from purported charities acting as agents and alter-egos of the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, many of which worked with the al Qaeda leadership during the Afghan jihad,” the complaint states.
“These governmental agents have served as the primary conduits for channeling financial, logistical, operational, and ideological support for al Qaeda’s global jihad for more than twenty years. To this day, many of these arms of the Saudi government remain dedicated to promoting al Qaeda’s goals and operational objectives, and continue to play a singular role in propagating the violent and virulently anti-Western ideology that provides religious legitimacy for al Qaeda’s terrorist activities and draws new adherents to al Qaeda’s cause.
“Although representing themselves to the West as traditional ‘charities’ or ‘humanitarian organizations,’ these organizations are more accurately described as Islamic da’awa organizations, created by the government of the Kingdom to propagate a radical strain of Islam throughout the World, commonly referred to as Wahhabism.
“Under the direction of the Saudi government, these organizations have aggressively pressed the view that Western society, under the leadership of the United States, is conducting a coordinated ‘Western Cultural Attack’ (Ghazu Fikari in Arabic) on Islam, designed to destroy the fabric of Muslim society as a predicate for Western conquest of Muslim territories.
“These organizations fervently believe that this so-called ‘Western Cultural Attack’ (and other perceived or imagined threats to Islam) must be aggressively countered through jihad and the indoctrination of Muslims throughout World into Wahhabi Islam, a strategy the Kingdom has promoted and implemented through government agencies, state controlled media, government sponsored publications, and a variety of other channels.
“Consistent with this view, the Saudi government controlled charities have embraced al Qaeda and its affiliates as partners, and actively supported al Qaeda’s global jihad at every level, from the organization’s inception.”
The complaint traces the activities of Osama bin Laden, the Muslim World League and its state and individual members, claiming, among other things, that it “provided direct financial assistance to al Qaeda members involved in the attempted assassination of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 1995.”
It states: “Between 1998 and 2000, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, through the SJRC, [the defendants Saudi Joint Relief Committee for Kosovo and Chechnya] diverted more than $74 million to al Qaeda members and loyalists affiliated with SJRC bureaus. Throughout this time, the Committee was under the supervision and control of Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz.”
The complaint then details the way in which other supposed Muslim charities were used to fund al Qaeda’s terrorism, including the September 11, 2001 attacks. It contains numerous excerpts from U.S. diplomatic cables, as the United States tracked the activities of al Qaeda around the world, before and after the Sept. 11 attacks.
On page 120, paragraph 387, begins the section: “The Sponsorship of al Qaeda by Financial Institutions.” The complaint states:
“(T)ypically, financial institutions maintained accounts for al Qaeda’s ostensible charity fronts, with full knowledge that those accounts were being used to support al Qaeda’s global infrastructure. In cooperation with those ostensible charities, these financial institutions advertised the existence and numerical designations for ‘jihad’ accounts, and provided mechanisms for al Qaeda’s supporters to deposit funds directly into those accounts. In addition, several financial institutions channeled their own zakat funds to al Qaeda.
“The support provided to al Qaeda by these financial institutions was in many cases orchestrated by the founders and most senior officials of the financial institutions, and the members of the Shariah Committees of the Islamic banking divisions of such institutions. Senior officials of these financial institutions often served as officials of al Qaeda affiliated charities, and used their positions in those organizations to facilitate their collaborative fund-raising and money laundering efforts on behalf of al Qaeda.
“As documented below, al Qaeda’s supporters in the financial industry included National Commercial Bank and al Rajhi Bank.”
Naming names and dates, and quoting from more diplomatic cables, a section on “Al Qaeda’s Individual Financiers and Supporters” begins at paragraph 473.
In a surprising excerpt cited in paragraph 490, a Dec. 30, 2000 letter from Yasser Arafat’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia expresses Arafat’s disapproval of Saudi Prince Salman’s funding of terrorism. The Israeli Defense Forces seized the letter during a military operation, according to the complaint. It “expresses the concern of Yasser Arafat regarding funding of radical organizations. The letter, translated into English, reads in part as follows:
“I wish to inform you that [Yasser Arafat] called me and asked to convey his request to mediate and intervene and express his opinion about what is happening in our homeland. The Saudi committee responsible for transferring contributions to beneficiaries is sending large sums to radical committees and associations, including the Islamic Association which belongs to Hamas, the Al-Salah Association, and brothers belonging to the Jihad in all areas. This has a bad affect on the domestic situation and also strengthens these brothers and thus has a bad impact on everybody.
“The excerpted section of the letter to Prince Salman confirms the reality of Saudi support for Palestinian terror organizations, and in particular, Prince Salman’s direct role in the funding.
“Through his official and personal acts, as described herein, Prince Salman has provided critical financial and logistical support to al Qaeda for a period of many years.”
That concludes the body of the complaint. Then follow immediately the five counts for which Lloyd’s seeks redress: common law indemnity, common law contribution, indemnity under the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act of 2001, contribution under the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act of 2001, and the Anti-Terrorism Act, 19 U.S.C. § 2333.
“Through their conduct in knowingly conspiring with, aiding and abetting, and providing material support and resources to al Qaeda, the defendants engaged in tortious acts under relevant principles of applicable state law, federal common law, and the statutory standards of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
“By virtue of their knowing and intentional sponsorship of al Qaeda’s global jihad, as described above, the defendants bear primary responsibility for the injuries resulting from the September 11th Attacks.
“In settling the claims brought against their insureds in the 9/11 Aviation Litigation, plaintiff was compelled to pay greater than its insureds’ equitable share of the liability for the 9/11 Aviation Litigation plaintiffs’ injuries.
“Plaintiff is accordingly entitled to recover from the defendants all amounts expended in relation to the defense of its insureds from the claims asserted in the 9/11 Aviation Litigation, as well as all amounts paid in settlement of those claims, under principles of common law contribution arising under both state law and federal law.
“WHEREFORE, plaintiff demands judgment against the defendants, jointly and severally, for an amount in excess of $215,000,000, together with punitive damages, pre and post-judgment interest, attorney’s fees, costs of this action and such other and further relief as the Court may deem appropriate under the circumstances.”
Lead counsel Stephen Cozen is assisted by Elliott Feldman, also of Cozen O’Connor, and Carter Phillips with Sidley Austin of Washington, D.C.