Accompanied by 9/11 families’ representatives at a press conference at the 9/11 memorial, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced on Monday that the Senate Judiciary Committee will take up JASTA, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, on Thursday, Sept. 11. JASTA would amend the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act so that foreign sponsors of terrorism cannot invoke the “sovereign immunity” exception when they are sued by victims of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Schumer’s press release said there had been a “breakthrough agreement” with the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), to consider the bill.
Newsday notes that members of the 9/11 Families United for Justice Against Terrorism have pushed for the legislation, claiming that Saudi Arabia and its rulers are legally responsible for the terror attacks.
Terry Strada, national co-chair of Justice Against Terrorism, whose husband Thomas was killed on 9/11, said, “[M]y family was torn apart by terrorism and it can happen again.”
“These 19 hijackers were being funded to live here, paying for their airplane lessons, renting their apartments, renting their cars,” Strada said. “We need to go after the people who were behind 9/11. Al-Qaida was only the hired hit men.”
Said Kathy Owens, who lost her husband, Peter, in the 9/11 attacks, “It’s just not right that no one who financed these attacks is being held accountable.”
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Schumer said it “doesn’t matter” if lawsuits would create tensions with so-called allies like Saudi Arabia. “Justice must be done,” he said, according to the NY Daily News. “They did a horrible thing” by helping to fund Al Qaeda.