A U.K.-based insurance syndicate is suing the Saudi government to recover more than $215 million it paid out to victims of the 9/11 attacks.
In a complaint filed Thursday in a Johnstown, Penn. district court, Lloyd's Syndicate alleges that the government of Saudi Arabia provided direct operational and financial support to al-Qaida and its affiliates in the years leading up to the September 11 attacks.
"Absent the sponsorship of al Qaeda's material sponsors and supporters, including the defendants named herein," the suit claims, "al Qaeda would not have possessed the capacity to conceive, plan and execute the September 11 attacks."
The complaint extensively quotes counter-terrorism officials affirming that financial resources are crucial to al-Qaida's ability to launch attacks. It also gives specific examples linking the Saudi government to al-Qaida financing.
Saudi-funded charities, such as the Muslim World League (MWL), World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) and the al Haramain Islamic Foundation, have allowed al-Qaida to sustain its global network, it says.
The complaint alleges the groups, in addition to providing funding, organized recruitment of al-Qaida fighters, training camps, reconnaissance missions and weapons delivery.
Highlighting the Saudi government's involvement, the complaint notes that the Saudis appointed Mohammed Jamal Khalifa to serve as director of MWL and IIRO's offices in the Philippines and Indonesia.
Khalifa, bin Laden's brother-in-law, met with Abu Sayyaf, a terrorist group aiming to establish an Islamic state in the Philippines, during its early years, providing it with important start-up financing and organizational support.
The lawsuit also expounds upon the Saudi government's historical links to al-Qaida.
The Saudi regime was aware of Osama bin Laden's jihadist efforts from the very beginning, it says. "More fundamentally, the jihadist worldview bin Laden was promoting was firmly grounded in Wahhabi ideology and the Western Cultural Attack narrative, as promoted by the Saudi regime itself over a period of many years."
Filed on behalf of Lloyd's Syndicate by Cozen O'Connor law firm, the suit is not the first to blame the Saudi government for aiding terrorists. A federal appeals court previously dismissed the Saudi government as a defendant in a similar case, but ruled that other organizations affiliated with the Saudi government could remain defendants.
In 2009, the Supreme Court chose not to hear the case. The government said that the Saudi government's funding of the Islamic charities was not clearly linked to terrorist groups.