Families of 9/11 victims file lawsuit against Saudi Arabia

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New York (WPIX) -- In a stunning lawsuit seeking to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for 9/11, the families of 800 victims have filed a lawsuit accusing the Saudis of complicity in the worst terror attacks on American soil.

The legal action, filed in federal court in Manhattan, details a scenario of involvement by Saudi officials who are said to have aided some of the hijackers before the attacks.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals and three of them had previously worked for the kingdom.

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15 most iconic images from September 11, 2001 and aftermath
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15 most iconic images from September 11, 2001 and aftermath
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This September 11, 2001 file photo shows US President George W. Bush interrupted by his Chief of Staff Andrew Card(L) shortly after news of the New York City airplane crashes was available in Sarasota, Florida.

(Photo by PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 (L) flies toward the World Trade Center twin towers shortly before slamming into the south tower as the north tower burns following an earlier attack by a hijacked airliner in New York City September 11, 2001. The stunning aerial assaults on the huge commercial complex where more than 40,000 people worked on an ordinary day were part of a coordinated attack aimed at the nation's financial heart. They destroyed one of America's most dramatic symbols of power and financial strength and left New York reeling. (REUTERS/Sean Adair)

The second tower of the World Trade Center explodes into flames after being hit by a airplane, New York September 11, 2001 with the Brooklyn bridge in the foreground. Both towers of the complex collapsed after being hit by hijacked planes.

(REUTERS/Sara K. Schwittek)

Photo shows the point of impact where a plane crashed into the North tower of the World Trade Center in New York City early September 11, 2001. Three hijacked planes crashed into major U.S. landmarks on Tuesday, destroying both of New York's mighty twin towers and plunging the Pentagon in Washington into flames, in an unprecedented assault on key symbols of U.S. military and financial power.

(Jeff Christensen / Reuters)

This 11 September 2001 file photo shows Marcy Borders covered in dust as she takes refuge in an office building after one of the World Trade Center towers collapsed in New York. Borders was caught outside on the street as the cloud of smoke and dust enveloped the area.

(Photo credit STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

A true-color image taken by the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) aboard the Landsat 7 satellite on September 12, 2001 shows New York City and the smoldering World Trade Center following the September 11, 2001 attacks in this handout photo courtesy of NASA. The image was captured at roughly 11:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Savings Time.

(REUTERS/NASA/Handout)

A person falls to their death from the World Trade Center after two planes hit the Twin Towers September 11, 2001 in New York City.

(Photo by Jose Jimenez/Primera Hora/Getty Images)

The south tower of the World Trade Center collapses September 11, 2001 in New York City.

(Thomas Nilsson/ Getty Images)

This 11 September 2001 file photo shows pedestrians running from the scene as one of the World Trade Center towers collapses in New York City following a terrorist plane crash on the twin towers.

(DOUG KANTER/AFP/Getty Images)

Rescue operations at Ground Zero; Firefighters finding victims and searching for survivors at the wreckage of the World Trade Center Towers following Tuesday's Terrorist attack in New York, United states on September 14, 2001.

(Photo by Graham MORRISON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Rescue workers carry fatally injured New York City Fire Depatment Chaplain, Father Mychal Judge, from one of the World Trade Center towers in New York City, early September 11, 2001. Both towers were hit by planes crashing into the buildings and collapsed a short time later.

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

The damaged area of the Pentagon building, where a hijacked commercial jetliner slammed into it September 11, 2001, is seen in this file photo with the U.S. Capitol Building in the background, at sunrise on September 16, 2001.

(REUTERS/Larry Downing)

Firefighters raise a U.S. flag at the site of the World Trade Center after two hijacked commercial airliners were flown into the buildings September 11, 2001 in New York.

(Photo by 2001 The Record (Bergen Co. NJ)/Getty Images)

A New York City fireman calls for more rescue workers to make their way into the rubble of the World Trade Center September 15, 2001.

(REUTERS/Handout/U.S. Navy Photo by Journalist 1st Class Preston Keres)

Members of the New York Fire and Police Departments salute as a truck carrying the last steel column of the World Trade Center moves up West Street from inside of the World Trade Center site May 30, 2002 as the recovery effort at Ground Zero officially ends in New York.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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The document details how officials from Saudi embassies supported hijackers Salem al-Hazmi and Khalid Al-Mihdhar 18 months before 9/11.

The officials allegedly helped them find apartments, learn English and obtain credit cards and cash. The documents state that the officials helped them learn how to blend into the American landscape.

The suit also produces evidence that officials in the Saudi embassy in Germany supported lead hijacker Mohamed Atta. It claims that a Saudi official was in the same hotel in Virginia with several hijackers the night before the attacks.

Many of the revelations in the lawsuit are culled from findings of an FBI investigation into the terrorist attacks. The suit filed by aviation law firm Kreindler & Kreindler claims some of the hijackers had special markers in their passports, identifying them as al-Qaida sympathizers.

The lawsuit asserts that the Saudi royals, who for years had been trying to curry favor with fundamentalists to avoid losing power, were aware that funds from Saudi charities were being funneled to al-Qaida.

Aviation attorney Jim Kreindler told PIX11 News: "The charities were alter egos of the Saudi government."

The lawsuit spells out how money was transferred from charities in Saudi Arabia to the terror group.

Charities the lawsuit claims fronted for al-Qaida include the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, an organization that was designated by the U.S. as a sponsor of terrorism.

Kreindler maintains that there was a direct link between all the charities and Osama bin Laden and that they operated with the full knowledge of Saudi officials.

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Newspaper covers from the September 11 attacks
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Newspaper covers from the September 11 attacks
The Chicago Tribune and The Chicago Sun-Times both printed 'Extra' editions 11 September 2001 after the terrorist attacks on the United States. Two hijacked airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center twin towers in New York while one hijacked plane later crashed at the Pentagon office building in Washington, D.C. Another plane crashed 80 miles outside of Pittsburgh, PA. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read AFP PHOTO/AFP/Getty Images)
A man reads the ''Evening Standard'' September 13, 2001 in Green Park, London after two hijacked airplanes slammed into the World Trade Center in New York as part of a suspected terrorist attack on New York City and Washington DC September 11, 2001. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES: US newspapers headline 12 September, 2001 the terror attacks on New York and Washington 11 September 2001. A total of four passenger jets were hijacked, with two flying into the World Trade Tower in New York and collapsing them, one flying into the Pentagon and the fourth crashed in a rural area of Pennsylvania. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 12: Terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001 - FrontPages of French newspapers. (Photo by 1020/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
(Via Albuquerque Journal)
(Via Akron Beacon Journal)
(Via Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
(Via Philadelphia Inquirer)
(Photo via Detroit Free Press)
394272 02: A woman reads a copy of an evening newspaper reporting the terrorist attacks on the United States on an underground train September 11, 2001 in London. (Photo by Graham Barclay/BWP Media/Getty Images)
Front page of the Daily News dated Sept. 12, 2001, Headline: IT'S WAR, Smoke billows from north tower of the World Trade Center just an instant before the second jetliner hits the south tower during terrorist attack., (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
394319 03: The front page of the Chicago Sun-Times with a headline that reads 'OUTRAGE' regarding the terrorist attack on New York City's World Trade Center is displayed September, 12, 2001 in Chicago. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
Newspaper vendor Carlos Mercado sells the 'Extra' editon of the Chicago Sun-Times printed 11 September, 2001, after the terrorist attacks on the United States. Two hijacked airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center twin towers in New York while one hijacked plane later crashed at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, with another plane crashing 80 miles outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. AFP PHOTO/Scott OLSON (Photo credit should read SCOTT OLSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Muslim spritual leader of a Brasilia mosque Nasser Aboujokh reads a newspaper 12 September, 2001, with the headline 'Fear' as it reports on the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC, 11 September. (Photo credit EVARISTO SA/AFP/Getty Images)

Newspapers Depicting The 9/11 Bombings In New York. (Photo by Photoshot/Getty Images)
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The legal document claims that the Saudis used a variety of means to conceal the money trail to al-Qaida.

"The Saudis were so duplicitous," Kreindler said. "They claim to be allies fighting with U.S. against Iran, while at the same time working with the terrorists. There's no question they had a hand in the 9/11 attacks."

Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama had resisted efforts to hold Saudi Arabia accountable. The kingdom is a key ally against Iran, and its oil interests are important to the United States.

Last September, Congress overrode an Obama veto to pass JASTA — Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act — that would allow Americans to take legal action against countries that support terrorism.

Kreindler wouldn't put a dollar figure on the amount of damages being sought by the 800 families of those who died and 1,500 first responders and others who suffered because of the attacks.

"This lawsuit is a demonstration of the unwavering commitment of the 9/11 families to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for its critical role in the 9/11 attacks," Kreindler said.

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