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911 lawsuit { August 15 2002 }

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Thursday, 15 August, 2002, 17:53 GMT 18:53 UK
Massive claim for 11 September attacks

Relatives of victims of the 11 September attacks have filed a trillion dollar lawsuit against various parties accusing them of financing Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda terror network and Afghanistan's former Taleban regime.

Those accused include the country of Sudan, three members of the Saudi royal family - including the Saudi foreign minister - and various Islamic charities, in addition to seven financial institutions and the Bin Laden family's Saudi construction firm.

More than 600 family members, firefighters and rescue workers, calling themselves the 9/11 Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism, are seeking the money "to force the sponsors of terror into the light and subject them to the rule of law", according to the suit.

It was filed on Thursday morning in the US District Court of the District of Colombia.

Exposing financial support

BBC correspondents say the lawyers who are launching this case claim hundreds more families of victims of the attacks will join them.

So far the suit brings together families of victims from Argentina, Canada, France, Paraguay, South Africa and the United States.

They also accused the US Government of failing to pursue such institutions thoroughly enough because of lucrative oil interests.

The families acknowledged at a news conference held to publicise the suit that they faced huge odds, but said they were confident the US courts would uphold their claim.

"It's up to us, and I think we can do it," said Deena Burnett, whose husband was killed on Flight 93 which crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania.

"It's up to us to bankrupt the terrorists and those who finance them so they will never again have the resources to commit such atrocities against the American people as we experienced on September 11."

Lawyer Allan Gerson, who also worked on a lawsuit for families of victims of the 1988 Pan Am airline Lockerbie bombing, said that the suit was aimed at uncovering the complicated financial transactions which funded the 11 September attacks.

"We're trying to expose the extent, the depth, the orchestration, the financial support that terrorist organisations have received for perhaps a decade from various Saudi interests."

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