The 9/11 Terror Lawsuit Against Saudi Arabia
To read or download the complaint, click Ashton-v-KSA-2017.pdf
Since 2001, Kreindler has been relentless in its dedication to representing thousands of Americans and their families who were injured or killed as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In 2017, after leading the fight for Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) and the right to hold a foreign sponsor of terrorism responsible for its action, Kreindler filed the lawsuit, Ashton et al v. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Kreindler partner Jim Kreindler is the co-chair for the wrongful death and personal injury cases on the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee. Kreindler partner Andrew Maloney serves as liaison counsel and along with Kreindler partner Megan Wolfe Benett and Kreindler Of counsel Steve Pounian, the firm has worked tirelessly with the other members of the plaintiffs’ committee and advocates in DC, pushed for JASTA’s successful passage and ultimately for justice for thousands of families impacted by 9/11.
Summary of Key Events Since We Filed the 2017 Lawsuit
November 2, 2021
The newly-released FBI documents revealed additional evidence in Ashton et al v. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The FBI released over 700 pages of documents regarding its investigation into the 9/11 attacks, including information that the Department of Justice had previously withheld as classified.
September 3, 2021
As the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks nears, President Biden is honoring a campaign trail commitment he made to 9/11 families. Biden signed an Executive Order calling for a thorough review of documents related to September 11th investigations.
September 2, 2021
Kreindler filed a complaint with the Department of Justice Inspector General seeking his investigation into FBI misconduct and an allegation of the FBI destroying or concealing documents.
August 6, 2021
Nearly 1,800 people, including many Kreindler clients, released a statement today calling on President Biden to skip 20th-anniversary events in New York and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon unless he releases the classified documents that the government has kept secret - thus depriving Americans and families of the victims “from learning the full truth about the 9/11 attacks.”
March 19, 2021
Kreindler continues to depose former and current Saudi government officials who provided assistance to the California-based hijackers. We were authorized by the Court to depose certain officials who worked in the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles and the Embassy in Washington D.C. as well as Saudi Ministers working in the Kingdom. This authorization was unprecedented and marked an important step in piercing the Saudi cloak of secrecy.
February 2, 2021
Kreindler has obtained testimony from Saudi government officials regarding their activities in support of the 9/11 plot. We recently deposed two high-level Saudi officials believed to have provided support to the California-based hijackers. However, the content of the depositions are currently under seal at the demand of Saudi Arabia.We have already obtained useful information from those we’ve deposed and will be moving forward with more scheduled depositions. Kreindler is still fighting to gain access to the remaining classified materials regarding Saudi officials that continue to be suppressed under state secrets privilege cited by the Dept. of Justice during the Trump administration.
October 7, 2020
If I am elected, I intend to be a President for all Americans, and will hear all of their voices. The 9/11 Families are right to seek full truth and accountability.
On October 7, Presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden responded to Partner Jim Kreindler, co-chair of the Plaintiffs’ Committee in the 9/11 terrorism litigation, in a letter about our efforts to declassify critical 9/11 documents.
“If I am elected, I intend to be a President for all Americans, and will hear all of their voices. The 9/11 Families are right to seek full truth and accountability.
I understand that, despite pledges to assist the families in their search for the truth, the Trump Administration has continued to prevent it from emerging. Instead, Attorney General Barr has invoked the state secrets privilege to prevent the discovery by the families of FBI information that could shed light on actions that Saudi officials may have taken to assist the hijackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks.”
September 10, 2020
No court has ever ordered a foreign nation to produce its highest-ranking ministers to provide testimony — let alone members of a royal family.
The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York released a redacted version of its August 27, 2020 decision ordering the depositions of key Saudi Arabian government officials.
Some of the most important officials whom the court has ordered to sit for depositions include three Saudi princes and two Saudi officials whose names and involvement in the plot have not been previously publicly released, Musaed al-Jarrah and Abdullah al-Jaithen.
Never before has a U.S. court ordered such high-ranking government officials to appear for a deposition.
This is a groundbreaking decision, and we hope it signifies a turning point in the pursuit of truth and justice for the 9/11 community.
March 26, 2020
U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn ruled in favor of 9/11 families in their effort to protect witnesses in their lawsuit against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
During a hearing in Manhattan last month, Kreindler partner and 9/11 families’ attorney Andrew “Duke” Maloney attempted to show a pattern of witness intimidation during the course of the lawsuit. In addition to recounting specific threats to potential witnesses, Maloney disclosed that one of their investigators had met with Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi less than a year before he was murdered inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey. Judge Netburn ordered more specific details of the alleged witness intimidation that would only be seen by her. Attorneys for the kingdom filed motions in an effort to strike the claims of intimidation from the record and also wanted the release of the witnesses’ names in order to investigate.
Following the hearing, Maloney met privately with Judge Netburn and shared documentation of the alleged acts of witness intimidation in the case. This month, Judge Netburn denied both motions filed by the kingdom and ordered that the 9/11 families’ lawyers were to “share information with her under seal about any efforts to inform the Department of Justice about the alleged acts of intimidation.”
You can read more about these developments in Adam Klasfeld’s Courthouse News Service article.
The Department of Justice tells the court the FBI will begin to produce formerly classified documents, including some that we requested. There will be three “tranches” of document production, with the final group of documents expected in January 2019.
The U.S. Senate unanimously passes a resolution calling for the declassification of the United States Government’s 9/11 documents.
A petition driven by the 9/11 families aiming to declassify the 9/11 documents gets over 12,000 signatures.
Kreindler Partner Jim Kreindler and 9/11 family member Kathy Owens appear on the Fox News program Tucker Carlson Tonight to discuss the effort to declassify key 9/11 investigation documents.
Plaintiffs file demand for discovery.
Judge Daniels denies Saudi Arabia’s motion to dismiss and rules the plaintiffs may conduct limited jurisdictional discovery of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia files motion to dismiss.
Kreindler files an amended complaint that adds more than 10,000 plaintiffs to the lawsuit.
Kreindler & Kreindler LLP files suit against the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia on behalf of victims of 9/11.
Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) Becomes Law
On Wednesday September 28, after 15 years of relentless advocacy and perseverance, the September 11th families have obtained a major victory when the United States Senate and the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to override the President’s veto of JASTA. JASTA, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, allows families of terror attacks on U.S. soil, including the September 11th victims, to pursue claims against the Nation States who sponsored the attack. With respect to the 9/11 families, it will allow them to amend lawsuits already underway — or file new suits — to directly sue Saudi Arabia.
9/11 Families' Fight for Justice
Kreindler stands with our clients in their fight to hold those responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks to account.
The Path to JASTA
JASTA was written and sponsored by Senators Chuck Schumer and John Cornyn. It was initially introduced in the Senate in 2014 where it passed by unanimous consent in December, but time ran out that year and the House did not have time to vote on it.
In 2015, Kreindler & Kreindler renewed efforts to get JASTA passed and on September 16, 2015, Senator Cornyn reintroduced the bill in the Senate. On May 17, 2016, after significant efforts by the 9/11 families, the Senate again unanimously passed JASTA. Specific hold-outs included Senator Lindsey Graham who eventually offered changes to the bill’s language and voted to approve the bill.
Then on September 9th, two days before the 15th anniversary of 9/11, and after significant contacts with and pressure on the House leadership, the 9/11 families watched as the House of Representatives also voted unanimously to pass JASTA.
However, on September 23, 2016, President Obama, as he had threatened to do all along, and much to the dismay of the families, vetoed JASTA. Undeterred, the 9/11 families again rose to the occasion. In a literal battle with the heavily-funded and greatly out numbering Saudi lobby, in the halls of Congress and on the phone to hundreds of Representatives and Senators and after thousands of emails, the 9/11 families finally prevailed and JASTA was overridden on September 28, 2016 by an overwhelming majority of both houses of Congress. JASTA had become the law of the land.
The families doggedly and relentlessly advocated for the drafting of this law.
JASTA into the Future
The passage of JASTA does not mean that the battle is won. It is just beginning. Many in Congress want to amend the law which could have the effect of gutting the key provisions of JASTA. Kreindler & Kreindler and the 9/11 families will continue the fight to preserve the families’ rights to pursue justice in our courts.
Beyond that initial and critical concern, there are many other issues that will be addressed in the months and years to come. Aside from ultimately proving the liability of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, there are legal issues concerning which of the different groups of victims will have claims that are recognized in court and against which defendants. It is unclear whether the passengers on the planes, victims in the Towers, and those first responders who were killed on 9/11 will be treated the same as the first responders, local residents and others who were later diagnosed with 9/11 related illnesses and injuries. The court may make distinctions based on location and time spent in the disaster zone.
Kreindler & Kreindler, however, will file suit against Saudi Arabia on behalf of all injured persons and will seek to prove that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia should be held responsible for aiding, abetting and sponsoring the attacks and should be made to pay for all the injuries that flowed from its conduct.
Kreindler & Kreindler has unsurpassed experience in bringing terror cases. We have represented victims of the 1986 Karachi, Pakistan, Pan Am Flight 73 hijacking and terror attack; the 1986 Berlin, Germany, La Belle Discotheque bombing terror attack; the 2008 Mumbai, India, terror attacks and others. In 1996, we successfully sued Libya for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 and collected $2.7 billion for the 270 victims of that terror attack.
Kreindler filed suit against the 9/11 terrorists and other organizations in 2002, more than 14 years ago, and have been litigating that case relentlessly since then. We led the fight to get JASTA passed in order to bring Saudi Arabia into that lawsuit.
Kreindler & Kreindler is honored to have played a role in supporting the September 11th families in their pursuit of JASTA. We will continue to support the September 11th families in their pursuit of justice.
Learn more about JASTA and 9/11 terror litigation.
Kreindler Obtains Default Judgment Against Scores of Defendants on Behalf of 9/11 Victims
On May 12, 2006, in the In re Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001 multidistrict litigation, Judge Richard Conway Casey granted the Ashton plaintiffs’ motion for default judgments against over 80 terrorists and their sponsors. Kreindler & Kreindler LLP partner Andrew J. Maloney III and associate Vince Parrett led the effort to get final judgments entered against these Islamist terrorists responsible for the September 11th attacks, including against Osama Bin Laden, Mohammad Omar and Zacarias Moussaoui. Mr. Maloney’s supporting affidavit stated that the defaulting defendants “participat[ed] in the conspiracy to commit acts of international terrorism against the United States, its nationals and allies, of which the September 11th Terrorist Attacks were a direct, intended and foreseeable product.”
Significantly, not only did Judge Casey enter default judgments against these scores of defendants, but Judge Casey for the first time in this historic litigation ordered that the Ashton plaintiffs “shall be entitled to a hearing before this Court to establish the aggregate value of the Plaintiffs’ unliquidated damages.” Kreindler & Kreindler LLP is preparing for what will be the first hearing in this case where plaintiffs will finally been given the chance to prove their damages.
Jim Kreindler leads the Kreindler team of attorneys, investigators and other professionals working on the terror case. The team includes Kreindler Partners Justin Green, Andrew Maloney, and Megan Wolfe Benett.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is JASTA?
The 2016 Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA (S. 2040, 114th Cong) removes the sovereign immunity of the nations who support terror attacks on U.S. soil. JASTA amends the Anti-Terrorism Statute to permit claims against foreign nations.
What is the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA)?
The ATA, 18 U.S.C. § 2333, provides that “[a]ny national of the United States injured in his or her person, property, or business by reason of an act of international terrorism, or his or her estate, survivors, or heirs, may sue therefor in any appropriate district court of the United States and shall recover threefold the damages he or she sustains and the cost of the suit, including attorney’s fees.” The law is not clear on who is within the scope of survivors, but there is support that the statute should be read broadly to include family members such as siblings or, in certain cases, parents or even step-children and step-parents in limited circumstances. We believe that claims outside of the normal wrongful death beneficiaries may be subject to a successful challenge, but we are recommending that all immediate family members retain the firm and that we bring individual claims under the ATA against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as well as wrongful death and survival claims.
What is the statute of limitation to sue Saudi Arabia?
The statute of limitation to sue Saudi Arabia is January 2, 2019 because Congress extended the ATA statute of limitations to that date, according to 18 U.S.C. § 2335; H.R. 4310, 112th Cong. §1251(c)(2013).
What is going on in the case against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)?
Kreindler has filed a complaint against the KSA. That case is based on the ATA and on other theories of liability. The court has extended the deadline for the KSA to move to dismiss the complaint to June 1, 2017. We expect the KSA to file a motion to dismiss. We anticipate the motion will ask the court to find that JASTA is an invalid law, either on a constitutional basis or other reasons. We also anticipate the KSA will argue that it is not responsible for the individuals or entities who we allege supported al Qaeda based on an argument that any such support was outside the scope of these individuals’ authority as government employees, agents or alter egos.
How long will the case take against the KSA?
It is impossible to say. The KSA will fight the case very hard. We anticipate its lawyers will challenge JASTA on constitutional grounds and will seek to dismiss the case alleging there is not sufficient evidence that Saudi Arabia bears responsibility for the 9/11 attacks.
What are the chances of success in the case against the KSA?
The case against the KSA is legally and factually complex. Under the pre-JASTA law that provided the KSA immunity with very limited exceptions, the KSA has been successful in convincing the court to reject the claims. Moreover, the Justice Department has taken the KSA’s side in position papers it sent to the court. JASTA helps quite a bit, but we must convince the court that the KSA provided material support to al Qaeda and we face a well-funded and determined foe.
What are the prospects for settlement?
We have seen no indication that the KSA is interested in settling the case. We would not recommend a settlement unless we were confident it was a fair and just settlement and reflected the KSA’s rejection of terrorism.
Who is on the Kreindler team on the 9/11 case?
Kreindler has already devoted millions of dollars and many thousands of hours to the effort over the past fifteen years. Our effort is led by James Kreindler who serves as the court-appointed Co-Chair of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee and Andrew Maloney.