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September 8, 2016

Justice for 9/11, 15 Years Later…

by: Jodi Westbrook Flowers

Sept. 9, 2016 UPDATE: The House passed JASTA with a unanimous vote September 9, 2016. The Senate will present the bill to the President to consider signing it into law. 

Fifteen years ago thousands of lives were tragically stolen from us and thousands of survivors’ lives forever changed in the deadliest terrorist attack ever on American soil. For the survivors and families of the victims, each passing memorial is difficult. At every turn, photos, news articles, media coverage, stories and conversations serve up sad reminders of that horrific day. Today we honor all of our 9/11 heroes, those in the building, those on the airplanes who fought so bravely on the front lines, and those brave first responders who rushed to help after the attacks and ever since that terrible day.

I’ve been humbled and honored to witness first-hand the grace and immeasurable strength shown by the 9/11 families and survivors.  Choosing not to be immobilized by their grief, they continue to use their collective voices to demand accountability and denounce the material support of terrorism, to seek the truth to prevent another 9/11 from happening again.

The families haven’t wavered in their long legal fight to hold responsible the material sponsors of al Qaeda, filed back in August of 2002 and rigorously defended and litigated ever since. After numerous appeals, the families are currently appealing the dismissal of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi High Commission as defendants in In re Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001, MDL 1570, to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. More evidence on those behind 9/11 has recently come out after a long hard fight by the 9/11 families and survivors, Motley Rice and former Senator Bob Graham to declassify it.

New Evidence Comes to Light

After a long fight, in July 2016, the redacted 28 pages from the 9/11 Joint Inquiry Report were finally released after being locked in a vault beneath the Capitol since December 2002. Although three pages of key information remains redacted, the evidence confirms what we alleged back in 2002 – that money and assistance from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was used to fund the hijackers.

Our firm co-founder Ron Motley (1944-2013) asserted early on that time that these 28 pages contained evidence of Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks. For 15 years the families have demanded transparency from our government so that their and Ron’s investigations could be confirmed.

The released evidence corroborates what the families alleged in August of 2002: that certain elements in Saudi Arabia financially and materially sponsored the 9/11 attacks. Consider a few excerpts from the 28 (actually 29) pages:

“While in the United States, some of the September 11 hijackers were in contact with, and received support and assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi government...at least two of those individuals were alleged by some to be Saudi intelligence officers.”

One of the individuals identified in the pages as a financial supporter of two of the 9/11 hijackers, Osama Bassnan, later received a “significant amount of cash” from “a member of the Saudi Royal Family” during a 2002 trip to Houston.

“Another Saudi national with close ties to the Saudi Royal Family, [REDACTED], is the subject of FBI counterterrorism investigations.”

“a [REDACTED], dated July 2, 2002 [indicates] ‘incontrovertible evidence that there is support for these terrorists inside the Saudi Government.’”

JASTA

The 9/11 families and survivors continue to press for passage of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act or “JASTA”, which cleared the U.S. Senate in May 2016 by unanimous vote. After considerable effort, the U.S. House has agreed to hold a vote on JASTA this week, before the 15th year memorial. The 9/11 Children for Justice Against Terrorism recently wrote a letter urging Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise to place JASTA on the calendar for a vote as soon as possible and before the memorial.

We support and assist the families in this effort and urge House members to pass JASTA and pass it now.

VCF

In another sign of progress, funding is now available through the James Zadroga Act setting up the second iteration of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund to help sickened first responders, police, fire, residents and rescue workers who have developed serious illnesses and injuries from inhaling toxic WTC Dust released into the air when the towers fell.

More rescue workers have fallen ill with each passing day. The number of people enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program was just under 2,000 in 2014. Sadly, that number has since ballooned to 5,441 with more than 6,000 separate cancers being recorded. After showing such bravery, these heroes deserve to be remembered and compensated for their injuries and illnesses. The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund program has been extended for five years and eligible claims are being paid in full rather than in part. The advance of the WTC Health Program has been yet another positive step achieved by the commitment of the 9/11 families and survivors.

We are proud of the work we do for the 9/11 families and survivors and are inspired by their unwavering commitment to accountability and truth.  As Margaret Mead said:  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people can make a difference, in fact it is the only thing that ever has”. 

We persevere in the fight for truth, accountability and justice for the 9/11 families and survivors.

Never forget.