A massive, $15 trillion lawsuit aimed at bankrupting the alleged financiers of al-Qaida grew even larger Friday, as the plaintiffs added more than three dozen new defendants, including members of the Saudi royal family.
Relatives of the 3,000 people who died in the Sept. 11 terror attacks are named as plaintiffs in the suit, which was filed Aug. 15 and now runs almost 400 pages. The newly amended complaint, filed Friday, alleges that:
--The Saudi American Bank financed Sudanese projects benefiting Osama bin Laden while he and al-Qaida operated from that country and serves as the Riyadh correspondent for two other banks involved in financing al-Qaida operations. The bank has an office in New York and is 20 percent owned by Citibank, though Citibank is not named as a defendant.
--Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz al Saud, the Saudi interior minister and a member of the royal family, gave al-Qaida money in support of international terrorism. In addition, as interior minister, he controls the activities of numerous Islamic charities that have helped finance al-Qaida the suit alleges.
--Prince Abudullah al Faisal bin Abdulaziz al Saud, the former Saudi health minister and a royal family member, aided al-Qaida through his role as majority owner of Alfaisliah Group, which employed an al-Qaida financier, Muhammed Galeb Kalaje Zouaydi, who is now jailed in Spain awaiting trial.
--Bank al-Tawqa Limited of Nassau, Bahamas, raises, manages, invests and distributes funds for al-Qaida. President Bush called for a freeze on the bank's assets last November.
--Ary Gold Ltd. of Dubai helped financial officers assisting al-Qaida to ship large quantities of gold out of Pakistan and Sudan.
Moreover, the complaint contains new allegations against one previously named defendant, Prince Turki al Faisal al Saud, the former Saudi intelligence chief. The suit cites a sworn statement by Mullah Kshar, a former Taliban official who has defected, which implicates Turki in large money transfers from wealthy Saudis to the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan.
The thrust of the lawsuit is that the 186 defendants -- including numerous foreign banks, dozens of Islamic foundations, Osama bin Laden, the Republic of Sudan, an Islamic Cultural center in Milan, Italy, and a diamond company in Africa -- knowingly provided money and other aid to terrorists. This enabled them to perpetrate the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, as well as other terrorist acts, the suit alleges.
"This civil action seeks to hold those responsible for a more subtle and insidious form of terorism, that which attempts to hide behind the facade of legitimacy," the complaint states. "These entities, cloaked in a thein veil of legitimacy, were and are the true enablers of terrorism.
"Terrorists like Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network do not exist in a vacuum. cannot plan, train and act on a massive scale without significant financial power, coordination and backing."
"The day of reckoning" is coming for these defendants, said Ronald L. Motley, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, who is financing the case with some of the many millions of dollars in fees he received for successfully suing the nation's leading cigarette makers.
Motley said his team of lawyers and investigators is receiving assistance from government investigators in 13 countries, including Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Britain, Germany, Israel, Italy, Russia and Spain. "We have people in London, Belgium, Bosnia as I speak," said Motley, of Mount Pleasant, S.C.
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The suit is expected to benefit from the terrorism insurance law passed this week, which has a provision designed to help victims of terrorism recover their losses.
None of the defendants could be reached Friday.
The Saudi government is not a named defendant in the lawsuit. Still, the complaint acknowledges that the suit may raise questions about whether such a case "interferes with or augments United States foreign policy interests." The suit quotes statements of President Bush, Richard Allen (former national security adviser to President Reagan), and other U.S. government officials about the importance of curbing the flow of cash to terrorists.
While not publicly commenting on the suit, Saudi officials have expressed concern about it to Bush administration officials. News reports in late October said the United States might ask a federal district judge in Washington to dismiss the case on the grounds that it could be injurious to U.S. relations with the Saudi government.