Bin Laden Family Business Denies Liability for 9/11

By Larry Neumeister
Associated Press
Tuesday, September 4, 2007

NEW YORK -- The Saudi Binladin Group is not liable for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks because it made Osama bin Laden surrender his stake in the company 14 years ago, attorneys for the multinational engineering firm argue.

The terrorist mastermind was forced out in 1993 as a shareholder in two companies his family owns, the lawyers wrote in court filings responding to lawsuits over the attacks.

The company filed the defense papers Friday in U.S. District Court in answer to claims brought by victims' representatives, survivors and insurance carriers. The plaintiffs, who seek billions of dollars in damages, allege that the Saudi Binladin Group joined numerous banks, charities and individuals in providing material support and assistance to al-Qaeda before the attacks.

The plaintiffs contend that Bakr Binladin -- Osama bin Laden's brother and chairman of Saudi Binladin Group -- was one of al-Qaeda's principal financiers.

A judge in July had ordered Saudi Binladin Group to provide additional information about where the money for Osama bin Laden's 2 percent stake in the company went.

In the Friday filing, Saudi Binladin lawyers said that Bakr Binladin publicly renounced Osama bin Laden in a statement released to the media in February 1994. Two months later, the Saudi government revoked Osama bin Laden's citizenship and froze his assets, the lawyers noted.

These actions, they said, occurred well before the United States first placed Osama bin Laden on its list of designated terrorist individuals and organizations, on Aug. 20, 1998.

Osama bin Laden has more than 50 siblings who share in the fortune amassed after their father, Mohammed Binladin , built his construction empire, elevating his family to among the wealthiest in Saudi Arabia.

Most of the family uses the Binladin spelling, as do court documents.

The Sept. 11 commission concluded that the Sudanese government took Osama bin Laden's assets when he left Sudan in 1996.

Attorneys for the Binladin family companies have said Osama bin Laden never received any buyout payment.

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