By Jim Kouri
More than 10-years after the September 11, 2001 al-Qaeda attacks, a federal district court judge in Manhattan gave a Christmas present to the families of victims killed in the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.
U.S. District Judge George Daniels ruled Friday that Iran and Hezbollah materially and directly supported al Qaeda in the September 11, 2001 attacks and are legally responsible for damages to hundreds of family members of 9/11 victims who are plaintiffs in the case.
This historic ruling revealed new facts about Iran’s support of al Qaeda in the 9/11 attacks, as well.
Judge Daniels had announced his ruling in Havlish, et al. v. bin Laden, et al. , in open court on Thursday, December 15, 2011, following a three-hour courtroom presentation by the families’ attorneys. Then Judge Daniels entered a written Order of Judgment backed by 53 pages of detailed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law on Friday, December 23, 2011.
Fiona Havlish, whose husband Donald perished in the World Trade Center North Tower on 9/11 said in a press statement, “This is a historic day. For ten years we’ve wanted the truth to be known about who was responsible for our losses. Now we have that answer.”
Ellen Saracini, the wife of United Airlines 175 pilot Victor Saracini, which the hijackers crashed into the WTC South Tower, said after the hearing last week, “We just came from Judge Daniels’ court where he ruled in favor of holding accountable those who perpetrated the attacks of 9/11… I just smiled up to Victor and I said we’re still thinking about you … we’re there for you … we’ll always be there for you. But today’s very special.”
In Havlish, et al. v. bin Laden, et al. , Judge Daniels held that the Islamic Republic of Iran, its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei, former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and Iran’s agencies and instrumentalities, including, among others, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (“IRGC”), the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (“MOIS”), and Iran’s terrorist proxy Hezbollah, all materially aided and supported al Qaeda before and after 9/11.
The evidence was developed over a seven-year international investigation by the Havlish attorneys who pursued the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation regarding an apparent link between Iran, Hezbollah, and the 9/11 hijackers, following the Commission’s own eleventh-hour discovery of significant National Security Agency (“NSA”) intercepts: “We believe this topic requires further investigation by the U.S. government.” 9/11 Commission Report, p. 241. The Havlish evidence included sworn testimony and affidavits from the following:
Included among Judge Daniels’ findings in Havlish are the following:
“The families have waited a very long time for this day and they have been through a lot. So I was greatly relieved that the families received an answer to the question that they asked me ten years ago: they asked who was the responsible party? How did this happen? Today a federal court judge has said that a principal responsible party is the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said Thomas E. Mellon, Jr. of the law firm of Mellon Webster & Shelly, the lead attorney for the Havlish plaintiffs.
Attorneys emphasized that it is important to understand that Iran, Hezbollah, and al Qaeda formed a terror alliance in the early 1990s. The attorneys cited their national security and intelligence experts, including Dr. Patrick Clawson, Dr. Bruce Tefft, Clare Lopez, Kenneth Timmerman, Dr. Ronen Bergman, Edgar Adamson, and 9/11 Commission staff members Dietrich Snell, Dr. Daniel Byman, and Janice Kephart, as well as the published writings of Robert Baer, to explain how the pragmatic terror leaders overcame the Sunni-Shi’a divide in order to confront the U.S. (the “Great Satan”) and Israel (the “Lesser Satan”).
Iran and Hezbollah then provided training to members of al Qaeda in, among other things, the use of explosives to destroy large buildings. The Iran-Hezbollah-al Qaeda alliance led to terror strikes against the U.S. at Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia (1996), the simultaneous U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania (1998), and the USS Cole (2000).
Shortly after the Cole attack, Iran was facilitating the international travel of the 9/11 hijackers.