A federal judge in New York yesterday ordered Iran to pay out billions of dollars to parents, spouses, siblings, and children of more than a thousand 9/11 victims. 16 years after the fact, the families of the victims are presented with a totally symbolic and hollow victory. But, it’s a victory nonetheless.
Court documents show that Judge George B. Daniels found the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and the Central Bank of Iran to be liable for the deaths of the 1,008 people whose families sued Iran.
The lawsuit was first filed in 2004, but only allowed to go forward in 2016 after Congress passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, to allow foreign nations accused of sponsoring terrorism to be held liable for their disgusting acts of violence.
It should surprise no one that Congress took 15 years to act to hold Iran and other state sponsors of terrorism accountable for their role in the most devastating terrorist attack on American soil. The wheels of justice turn slowly, especially when Democrats are in power.
Although this judgment is largely symbolic, it does allow the families of the victims to claim damage awards from seized Iranian assets. The judge set damage awards according to the following scale: $12.5 million per spouse, $8.5 million per parent, $8.5 million per child and $4.25 million per sibling. Leave it to lawyers to put a dollar value on human suffering.
The pool of seized Iranian money, however, is small. And Iran has never responded to the lawsuit and is, of course, very unlikely to ever pay up. Although the Iran judgment is a win for the families devastated by Al-Qaeda’s mindless destruction, the real target of the lawsuit is another dictatorial Middle Eastern oil state: Saudi Arabia.
The evidence against the Saudis is damning, and there’s a lot of it. And the family of the late Osama Bin Laden remains extremely wealthy and influential within Saudi political and economic circles. But given that America has chosen to back the Saudis in their regional power-struggle with Iran, it seems unlikely that any real repercussion will fall on the heads of the powerful Saudi nobles who financed Al-Qaeda’s attack on the U.S.
America’s relationship with the House of Saud is troubling. Our decision to back the Arabs over the Persians in the Middle East has bitten us so many times.
And yet, we keep spending our time and our tanks to ensure Saudi Arabian domination over the Middle East. And we keep sweeping the dangerous, unstable elements of Saudi culture under the rug.
Oil money flows through the bank accounts of radical Saudi families and into the pockets of Sunni Muslim terrorists all over the world. ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban have all benefited from the generosity of twisted Saudi benefactors.
Even while American soldiers still do battle with these terrorist organizations, our government continues to extend our protection to the wicked regime that arms, trains, and shelters them.
So, while Judge Daniels may have ruled against Iran in this recent case, that shouldn’t come as any surprise. Iran is our enemy, because we have chosen to make the Saudis our ally, and they have dragged us into their petty conflict with the Iranians.
The really interesting thing will be to see whether the government is willing to condemn the Saudis for the much larger role that they played in the 9/11 attacks.
But don’t hold your breath, folks. The House of Saud is considered, for some bizarre reason, a crucial middle-eastern ally. The U.S. government is not likely to do anything that could be seen as unfriendly, especially not at such a tense geopolitical moment.
In the meantime, we can only hope that Justice will eventually lift her blindfold and bring her sword down on the head of the Saudi serpent. Until that day comes, the families of the 9/11 victims will continue to go without the legal recompense that they really deserve.