Insurers sue Saudi Arabia seeking 9/11 reimbursements

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A subsidiary of the British insurer Lloyd's of London Thursday sued the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, several of its government agencies and banks, and a handful of prominent individuals in U.S. District Court in Johnstown, saying they are liable for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Lloyd's Syndicate 3500 and affiliates paid out $215 million in insurance claims stemming from the attacks, according to the complaint. They want the money back.

The 154-page complaint summarizes scholarship on the roots of the al-Qaida organization, focusing on the financing it used to build a global network capable of carrying out actions.

Al-Qaida needed "lavish sponsorship" from its supporters, who became participants in its "jihad against the United States, its nationals and allies," the complaint said.

It noted that al-Qaida started out as a resistance organization against the Soviet Union's occupation of Afghanistan, then adapted to the needs of Islamic fighters in Kosovo, Chechnya, India and the Philippines.

Meanwhile Saudi political factions agreed to support modernization only if the government backed anti-Western efforts.

U.S. investigators, it said, unearthed a list of al-Qaida's financial backers known as the "Golden Chain."

"When Osama bin Laden formed al-Quida," the complaint said, "many of these financiers became champions of bin Laden's new mission to wage jihad globally."

"[T]he September 11th Attacks were a direct, intended, and foreseeable product of" al-Qaida's "global jihad," it continued. Thus the financial backers "bear primary responsibility for the injuries resulting from the September 11th Attacks" and must pay the costs, it said.

The Saudi embassy in Washington had no immediate response.

Similar legal theories have failed in other courts. The complaint was filed in Johnstown because the federal court office there has responsibility for the Shanksville area, where one of four planes seized by the 19 al-Qaida terrorists on Sept. 11 crashed.


Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542.


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