Saudi’s construction giant wins dismissal of suits claiming it supported 9/11 attacks
Saudi Binladen Group, Saudi Arabia’s largest construction company which was co-founded by Osama Bin Laden’s father, won dismissal of lawsuits in which it was accused of supporting the 2001 terrorist attacks.
US District Judge George B. Daniels in New York on Wednesday threw out six cases brought by people including relatives of those killed in the Sept. 11 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 terrorist 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,” 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 terrorist network that killed almost 3,000 people in the attacks, was killed May 1 at his Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound by a team of US Navy SEALs during a 40-minute raid.
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 southwestern 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, Daniels ruled.
US District Judge Richard Casey, who presided over the case before his 2007 death, denied the Saudi Binladen group’s request to dismiss two suits in January 2005, Daniels said.
Judge Casey in 2005 also dismissed suits against Saudi charitable organizations as well as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, three princes and several financial institutions for allegedly providing material support to bin Laden.
Casey allowed extensive evidence to be collected and ruled the Binladen Group could renew its motion later, Daniels said.
Bin Laden was born in Riyadh, the 17th child of Muhammad bin Laden, an immigrant from Yemen who helped found Saudi Binladin Group in 1931.
Osama grew up wealthy as his father’s business 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.
Muhammad bin Laden died in a plane crash in 1967, the Binladen Group says on its website.