US judge orders Iran to pay billions to families of 9/11 victims
A US federal judge in New York ordered Iran to pay billions of dollars in damages to families affected by 9/11, ABC news reported on Tuesday.
Judge George B Daniels found the country liable to more than 1,000 “parents, spouses, siblings and children” involved in the lawsuit. Daniels said the payment amounts to $12.5m per spouse, $8.5m per parent, $8.5m per child and $4.25m for each sibling, according to the ABC report.
The lawsuit claims that Iran provided technical assistance, training and planning to the al-Qaeda operatives that conducted the attacks.
However, the official investigation on the attacks, known as the 9/11 Commission Report, said that Iran did not play a direct role.
In addition, there is no binding mechanism to force Iran to pay, making the judgment symbolic.
The lawsuit is linked to a case filed against Saudi Arabia, which families of 9/11 victims say provided direct support for the attackers.
Back in March, judge Daniels rejected Saudi Arabia's request to dismiss lawsuits accusing it of being involved in the attacks.
The cases are based on the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (Jasta), a 2016 law that provides an exemption to the legal principle of sovereign immunity, allowing families of the victims to take foreign governments to court.
The families point to the fact that the majority of the hijackers were Saudi citizens, and claim that Saudi officials and institutions "aided and abetted" the attackers in the years leading up to the 9/11 attacks, according to court documents.
The Saudi government has long denied involvement in the attacks in which hijacked planes crashed into New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon outside Washington, DC, and a Pennsylvania field. Almost 3,000 people died.
Riyadh and its Gulf allies had strongly opposed Jasta, which was initially vetoed by then-President Barack Obama. The US Senate overturned the veto by overwhelmingly adopting the legislation.
Critics of the law say it is politically motivated and an infringement on the sovereignty of foreign nations.