x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Six September 11 lawsuits thrown out against Saudi Binladen Group

Saudi Arabia's largest construction company, which was cofounded by Osama bin Laden's father, won the dismissal of lawsuits in which it was accused of supporting the September 11 attacks.

NEW YORK // Saudi Binladen Group, Saudi Arabia's largest construction company, which was cofounded by Osama bin Laden's father, won the dismissal of lawsuits in which it was accused of supporting the September 11 attacks.

The US District Judge, George B Daniels, in New York, threw out six cases brought by people including relatives of those killed in the attacks.

They claimed the construction and distribution company run by bin Laden's relatives and the company "provided material support" and financing to bin Laden as well as having maintained close ties to the Al Qaeda leader before the attacks.

The company allegedly provided significant financial support to bin Laden before he was removed as a shareholder in 1993, the plaintiffs said, "with knowledge that he was targeting the United States", even after he was removed as a shareholder and his ties with the company were severed in 1994.

The claims "have no evidentiary support", Mr Daniels ruled. The plaintiffs failed to show "the company maintained a financial lifeline to bin Laden", as the lawsuits claimed.

Bin Laden, who used a family inheritance to build the Al Qaeda network that killed almost 3,000 people in the attacks, was killed on May 1 at his Abbottabad compound in Pakistan by a team of US Seals.

The suits include cases filed by Deena Burnett, whose husband, Thomas, 28, was killed when his hijacked plane, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed in a Pennsylvania field, and the family of Thomas Ashton, who died at the World Trade Center.

The judge said the plaintiffs failed to establish so-called personal jurisdiction, or the court's authority over the parties in the suit. The business activities of an employee of the company's now-defunct US unit were insufficient for the court to confer jurisdiction over the case, Mr Daniels ruled.

The US District Judge, Richard Casey, who presided over the case before his death in 2007, denied the Saudi Binladen group's request to dismiss two suits in January 2005.

In 2005, suits against Saudi charitable organisations were dismissed as well as against Saudi Arabia, three princes and several financial institutions for allegedly providing material support to bin Laden.

Saudi Binladen became one of the kingdom's largest construction companies, building roads and bridges, renovating mosques in Mecca and Medina and expanding into real estate, textiles, telecommunications and distribution.