Thu, Jan 20, 2005 - Page 7 News List

US judge throws out cases against Saudi royal family

AP , NEW YORK

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia, three Saudi princes and several Saudi financial institutions were dismissed as defendants in six civil lawsuits accusing them of providing support to al-Qaeda before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Judge Richard Casey said on Tuesday that the president, not the courts, has the authority to label a foreign nation a terrorist, though he said he understood the "desire to find a legal remedy for the horrible wrongs committed on Sept. 11, 2001."

The lawsuits alleged more than 200 defendants provided material support to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Defendants included al-Qaeda, its members and associates, charities, banks, front organizations, terrorist organizations and financiers who allegedly supported al-Qaeda.

The judge said the plaintiffs failed to provide sufficient facts to overcome the kingdom of Saudi Arabia's immunity. He said Saudi Arabia maintains it has worked with the US to share information in the fight against terrorism.

He also noted the State Department has not designated the kingdom a state sponsor of terrorism, and that the Sept. 11 commission found no evidence Saudi Arabia -- the birthplace of bin Laden and 15 of the 19 hijackers -- funded or supported the Sept. 11 terrorists.

The judge also dismissed as defendants Saudi defense minister Prince Sultan, Saudi ambassador to London Prince Turki and Prince Mohamed Al-Faisal Al-Saud, among others.

The judge permitted lawsuits to proceed against the Saudi Binladen Group, which is now one of the largest engineering and construction companies in the Arab world.

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