9/11 victim sues Saudi Arabia for husband’s death
A widowed woman, whose husband was killed in the 9/11 attacks, has sued Saudi Arabia, demanding reparations over her husband’s death.
Stephanie Ross DeSimone, filed a complaint at a court in Washington on Friday, alleging that the Saudi regime had provided material support to al-Qaeda and its former leader, Osama bin Laden, who have been blamed by American officials as 9/11 masterminds.
The move came after US senators on Wednesday voted 97-1 in favor of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which allows relatives of the victims of the 2001 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia. The House of Representatives also voted for the legislation, 348 to 77.
President Barack Obama had vetoed the bill last week and only Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, voted Wednesday to sustain the president’s veto.
Of the 19 hijackers that allegedly carried out the attacks, 15 had Saudi Arabian nationality and available evidence suggests that some of them were linked to high-ranking Saudi officials.
DeSimone was pregnant when she lost her husband, Navy Commander Patrick Dunn at the Pentagon, on the day of the attacks. She also represented their daughter in the case.
Wrongful death and intentional infliction of emotional distress were the two main charges that DeSimone brought to the court against the Saudis. The extent of compensatory and punitive damages she was seeking were not known.
The JASTA legislation effectively ends foreign countries’ immunity from legal action in American courts.
On Wednesday, Obama said Congress set a “dangerous precedent” by overriding his veto, a first during his tenure.
In his veto message, the outgoing president pointed to “serious concerns” among some of America’s allies over the bill.
The European Union (EU) had called on Obama to veto the bill, warning that it would “put a burden on bilateral relations between states.”
Saudi Arabia had strongly opposed the bill, threatening to sell off $750 billion in American assets if it became law.
Saudis repeated their warnings on Wednesday, with an official at the kingdom’s ministry of foreign affairs calling for the bill to be corrected to avoid “serious unintended consequences.”