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Saudis not liable for 9/11 attacks: US court

Court cites 'immunities act' as basis for ruling

A federal appeals court has ruled Saudi Arabia could not be held liable for the September 11 attacks against the United States despite charitable donations that ended up in the hands of al-Qaeda.

Upholding a 2006 decision by a lower court, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan on Thursday ruled inadmissible a lawsuit in which families of victims of the 9/11 attacks charged that Saudi Arabia, four Saudi princes, a Saudi charity and bank had given material support to al-Qaeda.

The victims and their families argued that because the defendants gave money to Muslim charities that in turn gave money to al Qaeda, they should be held responsible for helping to finance the attacks.

But the court in its ruling said that the "Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976" granted the Saudi defendants immunity from prosecution on U.S. soil.

It also ruled that a charity named in the suit, the Saudi High Commission for Relief to Bosnia and Herzegovina, was also immune under the same law as it was "an agency or instrumentality of the Kingdom."

Exceptions to the immunity provisions did not apply in the case, the court ruled, "because the Kingdom has not been designated a state sponsor of terrorism by the United States."