According to a recent report, a Saudi Arabia-backed lobbying firm has spent a fortune at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., while trying to stymie efforts to compensate the families of 9/11 victims.
Controversial Document Rattles Saudi Arabia
If the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) becomes law, Saudi Arabia would have to pay millions of dollars to the families of 3,000 Americans who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. However, the Saudis are most concerned about the negative impact on the Kingdom’s image if it indirectly acknowledged that it was behind the 2001 terrorist attacks.
There is no clear evidence that Saudi Arabia sponsored the group behind 9/11, but the controversial connections between the Saudi government and 15 out of 19 terrorists who carried out the attacks are still puzzling the victims’ families and counter-terrorism experts alike.
Last year, a file that had been removed from the original 9/11 Commission report added, even more, fuel to the controversy. The 28-page document indicated that government officials from Saudi Arabia had had interactions with the 9/11 hijackers and had possibly helped them.
The FBI reportedly found the phone numbers of a company that managed the Colorado office of a Saudi ambassador to the U.S. on the cell phone of al Qaeda officer Abu Zubaydah.
Class Lawsuit Could Be Coming
The proponent of JASTA, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), thinks that the circumstantial evidence is solid enough for a class suit against the Saudi government. Such lawsuits could help 9/11 victims’ families earn millions of dollars in civil damages, while negatively impacting Saudi Arabia’s diplomacy. The Kingdom has lobbied vigorously against the publication of the damaging document.
Meanwhile, lobbyists at Qorvis MSLGroup have been pushing hard against JASTA while spending more than $270,000 in accommodation, catering, and parking at Trump’s hotel since last fall, according to the firm’s filings with the Department of Justice.
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