Lloyd's insurer sues Saudi Arabia for 'funding 9/11 attacks'
By Cahal Milmo, Chief Reporter
Monday, 19 September 2011
A Lloyd's insurance syndicate has begun a landmark legal case against
Saudi Arabia, accusing the kingdom of indirectly funding al-Qa'ida and
demanding the repayment of £136m it paid out to victims of the 9/11
The Brighton-based Lloyd's 3500 syndicate, which paid $215m
compensation to companies and individuals involved, alleges that the
oil-rich Middle Eastern superpower bears primary responsibility for
the atrocity because al-Qa'ida was supported by banks and charities
acting as "agents and alter egos" for the Saudi state.
The detailed case, which names a number of prominent Saudi charities
and banks as well as a leading member of the al-Saud royal family,
will cause embarrassment to the Saudi government, which has long
denied claims that Osama bin Laden's organisation received official
financial and practical support from his native country.
Outlined in a 156-page document filed in western Pennsylvania, where
United Airlines flight 93 crashed on 9/11, the claim suggests that the
nine defendants "knowingly" provided resources, including funding, to
al-Qa'ida in the years before the attack and encouraged anti-Western
sentiment which increased support for the terror group.
The legal claim states: "Absent the sponsorship of al-Qa'ida's
material sponsors and supporters, including the defendants named
therein, al-Qa'ida would not have possessed the capacity to conceive,
plan and execute the 11 September attacks. The success of al-Qa'ida's
agenda, including the 11 September attacks themselves, has been made
possible by the lavish sponsorship al-Qa'ida has received from its
material sponsors and supporters over more than a decade leading up to
11 September 2001."
The Lloyd's syndicate is known as a "run-off", meaning that it does
not accept new premiums on the Lloyd's of London insurance market and
instead deals with historic claims. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks,
its members settled a raft of multimillion-pound claims from affected
businesses, including airlines, airports and security companies, as
well as injured individuals and relatives of those killed.
Its complaint, which quotes heavily from US diplomatic cables released
by WikiLeaks detailing investigations by the US authorities into
al-Qa'ida, attempts to establish funding links between some Saudi
charities, and the terror group, and implicate the Saudi government in
that funding through its support of the charities.
The case singles out the activities of a charity, the Saudi Joint
Relief Committee for Kosovo and Chechnya (SJRC), which was alleged by
UN officials to have been used as a cover by several al-Qa'ida
operatives, including two men who acted as directors of the charity.
It is alleged that at the time the SJRC was under the control of
Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, half-brother of King Abdullah and
the long-standing Saudi Interior minister. The claim states: "Between
1998 and 2000, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, through the SJRC, diverted
more than $74m to al-Qa'ida members and loyalists affiliated with SJRC
bureaus. Throughout this time, the Committee was under the supervision
and control of Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz."
The Saudi embassies in London and Washington did not respond to
requests from The Independent for a response to the allegations in the
claim. The 9/11 Commission, America's official report on the attacks,
found that there was no evidence that the Saudi government or senior
Saudi officials individually funded al-Qa'ida.
Diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks showed that American officials
remained concerned that the Saudi authorities were not doing enough to
stop money being passed to the terror group by Saudi citizens.