Sept. 11 Victims' Suit Prompts U.S. Supreme Court Inquiry

The U.S. Supreme Court asked the Obama administration for advice on a bid by thousands of Sept. 11 attack victims to sue Middle Eastern companies and people who allegedly provided crucial support to al-Qaeda.

The victims are seeking to revive their case against relatives of Osama bin Laden, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned National Commercial Bank and Saudi Binladen Group, which is controlled by the former al-Qaeda leader’s family.

A New York-based federal appeals court threw out those claims, saying a U.S. anti-terrorism law doesn’t authorize suits for helping others commit atrocities. The appellate panel also said some defendants lacked enough of a connection to the U.S. to be sued in American courts. The appeals court sent claims involving 12 other defendants back to a trial court in New York City for further review.

The 2001 attacks killed almost 3,000 people in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania. The suing victims include family members of those killed, thousands of people who were injured and companies that incurred billions of dollars in property damage.

The justices directed their request to U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, the administration’s top Supreme Court lawyer.

The case is O’Neill v. Al Rajhi Bank, 13-318.

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