President Obama Will Veto Bill Allowing 9/11 Lawsuits Against Saudi Arabia

President Barack Obama is going to veto a bill, passed by both houses of the Congress on Friday. The bill, if passed , will allow the survivors and families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia for damages in the United States courts.

As reported in Reuters, Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman was quoted saying, “It’s not hard to imagine other countries using this law as an excuse to haul U.S. diplomats or U.S. service members or even U.S. companies into courts all around the world.”

Incidentally, out of the 19 terrorists involved in the attacks, 15 were citizens of Saudi Arabia. Families of the victims of the New York and Washington terror attacks in 2001 have filed lawsuits against members of the royal Saudi family and various charities of the country accusing them of aiding and promoting terrorist activities.

But these efforts have failed due to a 1976 law, which protects foreign nations from lawsuits in the US courts. The bill intends to create an exception here against foreign nations, which are found even partially responsible for the death of American citizens through terror attacks within the US borders

The bill was passed without any objection by the House of Representatives on Friday and cleared by the Senate unanimously in May. Now, even if Obama choses to veto the bill, lawmakers can opt to override his decision by going ahead with the two-third majority supporting the bill. As per the US Constitution, Obama will be given a 10 days window to veto the bill before it automatically becomes a law. The exceptional power still in the hand of the president is that of the ‘pocket veto’, which will allow him to hold onto the bill, until the end of the Congress session.

 

Sources:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-sept11-saudi-whitehouse-idUSKCN11I27U

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/obama-911-saudi-arabia-families-sue-congress-bill-terror-attack-world-trade-center-new-york-a7239726.html

Remembering 9/11, fifteen years on

September 11, 2016 marks the 15th anniversary of the most deadly terror strikes to ever occur on United States’ soil. Nearly 3,000 innocent lives were lost when a terror attack of gigantic proportions was put into action by Al-Qaeda, led by Osama Bin Laden. Four planes were hijacked, out of which two crashed into the twin towers of World Trade Center, New York, one crashed into the Pentagon, and one crashed near Pennsylvania, apparently missing its actual target. Fifteen years later, the horror of the attacks is still fresh.

On the eve of 9/11, United States has come together to remember those innocents who lost their lives, as well as those, who died trying to save others. Family and friends said their prayers for the loved ones who have gone, and tributes were paid to the officers who had fallen fighting for others. Wreaths were laid, and the US flag was flown high in thousands as America vowed, ‘We will never forget’.

United States’ President Barack Obama also released a video in which he acknowledged the efforts of the first responders and thanked them for their sacrifice. He honoured the memory of those who lost their lives that fateful day, and highly condemned the actions of terrorists who are spilling blood throughout the world today. He stated that “Terrorists will never be able to defeat the United States. Their only hope is to terrorise us into changing who we are or our way of life. That’s why we Americans will never give in to fear. And it’s why this weekend we remember the true spirit of 9/11.” Obama’s address at the Pentagon will be to commemorate memories of the dead, and all their names will be read out in a remembrance service at the site where the Twin Towers once existed, now known as Ground Zero.

As the World Trade Center towers came crashing down, the world watched in dreadfulness as the scale of destruction unfolded. The amount of planning and coordination it took to execute this attack has proved to be a landmark in the history of terror strikes.  Fifteen long years have passed since the world witnessed such senseless destruction, and hence, a befitting tribute was truly in order.

US House passes JASTA

The US House of Representative passed “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act” or JASTA on Friday by voice vote. The legislation would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government for any kind of damage.

The White House has threated to veto the measure. According to them, the bill has the potential to strain relations with the Middle East. They have also added that it may provoke the foreign countries to make retaliatory laws that would allow their citizens to sue Americans for involvement in acts of terrorism.

The Bill had been cleared by the Senate four months ago.

A series of attacks carried out on September 11, 2001 killed more than 3,000 people in Washington D.C, New York and Pennsylvania. Four hijacked airliners were used in it out of which two attacked the World Trade Centre. Fifteen of the nineteen involved hijackers were Saudi nationals.

Saudi Arabia has not made any comments on it yet.

Two months ago the Congress released 28 declassified pages from a Congressional report which shows Saudi links including some governmental officials in the attack. The reaction from the House came after the release.

Al-Qaeda calls for attacks

Al Qaeda militants in Somalia | Image: foreignpolicy.com
Al Qaeda militants in Somalia | Image: foreignpolicy.com

In a speech released a few days after the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri urged the terrorist outfit to carry out small scale attacks inside the United States.

Zawahri states that attacks from his “brothers” would cause America to “bleed economically” as it would weaken the U.S economy by forcing them to spend on security and defence.

In his speech, Zawahri also urged Muslims to stop buying goods from America and its allies as it indirectly funded their military action in Muslim lands.

This news has put Western counter-terrorism intelligence on high alert, who have warned against action by “lone wolves” who have no direct links to Al-Qaeda.

To read more here.

(With inputs from Shamir Reuben)