NEW YORK — Attorneys for Saudi Arabia say a judge should reject claims by families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that new evidence — including an interview with the man who became known as the “20th hijacker” — shows that agents of the kingdom “directly and knowingly” helped the hijackers.
In papers filed in Manhattan federal court late Friday, the attorneys said there is no evidence Saudi Arabia supported or caused the attacks.
They urged a judge to dismiss the claims against Saudi Arabia, saying the lawyers “have had enough chances to make their case.”
Saudi Arabia was among the countries, companies and organizations sued in 2002 and afterward by families who claimed they aided al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and other terrorist groups. The lawsuits sought billions of dollars in damages.
Lawyers for Saudi Arabia also urged the judge to disregard claims by al-Qaeda member Zacarias Moussaoui, who is serving a life prison sentence after pleading guilty in April 2005 to conspiring with the hijackers to kill Americans.
They called his comments to plaintiffs’ lawyers last year “colorful but immaterial hearsay statements” from a convicted, mentally ill terrorist. Before jurors spared Moussaoui’s life, a psychologist testified for the defense at death-penalty proceedings that he had paranoid schizophrenia. Moussaoui says it was a lie that Saudi Arabia cut ties with al-Qaeda and bin Laden in 1994.
Attorneys for the victims’ families cited Moussaoui’s claims in saying they’ve unearthed “compelling” evidence that the Saudi government assisted the hijackers.