US may face terror lawsuits if it keeps JASTA, says Al-Jubeir

Saudi foreign minister urges Trump administration to scrap Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act

Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir. (Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir. (Getty Images)

Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabian foreign minister, said the US may face a flood lawsuits if it retains its Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) bill.

The bill allows US nationals to sue foreign states for supporting terrorism, regardless of if they are on the US state sponsor of terrorism list or not, thus ending the concept of foreign sovereign immunity.

Al-Jubeir warned that this would mean the US would end up facing terror lawsuits itself.

“When you dilute sovereign immunities, you turn the international order into the law of the jungle,” Al-Jubeir told the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos this week.

“For example, allowing a country to use your airspace in warfare could subject you to a lawsuit. Using drones could subject you to lawsuit. Our hope is that wisdom will prevail and the Congress will do the right thing.”

Previously, US citizens could only sue a foreign state for support of terrorism it if was designated as a state sponsor of terrorism by the United States Department of State.

JASTA amends the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act and the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, ending sovereign immunity and allowing lawsuits like that brought by families of September 11 victims to go ahead.

“The country that has the most to lose from dilution of sovereign immunities is the US itself and American officials know this,” he said.

“Because America has the largest footprint in the world, they operate all over the world, they’re fighting wars all over the world.

“If that principle is eroded, then the US could be sued in virtually every country in the world.”

In an address at Davos, Al-Jubeir said he looks forward to greater global engagement from the new administration, particularly in the Middle East.

The foreign minister said he anticipates, “more American engagement in the world, more American engagement in the region, rebuilding of relationships with allies, a serious effort to destroy ISIL, a serious effort to contain Iran. And I think the change will happen.”

Iran, he said, could not be trusted not to try developing a nuclear weapon.

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