Iran was complicit in the 9/11 attacks in ways large and small, a federal judge in New York found Thursday in granting a default judgment in litigation brought by victims' families.
Iran had advanced knowledge of the attacks and provided training, travel assistance and even refuge for al-Qaida before and after 9/11, U.S. District Judge George Daniels found in a 53-page "Findings of Fact." That included Hizballah operatives, the terrorist group's bombing mastermind Imad Mughniyeh.
While none of the defendants contested the case, the plaintiffs garnered information from a slew of experts, including three Iranian defectors and several staff members from the 9/11 Commission. Copies of affidavits from those witnesses can be seen here.
One of those witnesses, Janice Kephart, writes that the evidence shows that 9/11 was "a coordinated, state-sponsored event that probably would not have successfully occurred without the material support of Iran and Hezbollah."
The ruling describes years of cooperation between the Shiite-Iranian government and the Sunni-dominated al-Qaida terrorist group. The alliance dates back to efforts by Sudanese Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi and was built on the two sides' shared enemies.
Iran's seemingly small gesture of not stamping the passports of al-Qaida operatives who came into the country was strategic and helped them come to the United States. The 9/11 Commission called the move "particularly beneficial to Saudi members of al Qaeda." Iran later provided a safe haven for some al-Qaida leaders and their families after 9/11 in anticipation of the American invasion of Afghanistan.
Hizballah's Mughniyeh, meanwhile, coordinated training for al-Qaida operatives "with Iranian government officials in Iran and with [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps] officers working undercover at the Iranian embassy in Beirut, Lebanon," Daniels wrote.
Despite the ruling, the plaintiffs are expected to have difficulty attaching any assets to claim their damages. But Daniels' order repeatedly makes clear "there is clear and convincing evidence" that Iran gave support to al-Qaida, both through its own government and through its proxy Hizballah in Lebanon.
Read more in this statement issued Friday by the plaintiffs' attorneys.