A US appeals court on Thursday revived claims by families of victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks who alleged that Saudi Arabia provided material support to al Qaeda. Relatives of people killed when hijacked airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field can now resume lawsuit against the Arabian kingdom.

 

The lawsuit, filed by Center City’s Cozen O’Connor, has been wending its way through courts since it was filed in 2003. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan ruled in 2008 that Saudi Arabia could not be sued under US law. But in a highly unusual move, the court effectively acknowledged Thursday that its earlier decision was mistaken.

It restored not only Saudi Arabia, but also a government charity called the Saudi High Commission for Relief of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which plaintiffs attorneys charge provided cash and logistical support to al-Qaeda units in the Balkans during the armed conflicts there in the 1990s.

The decision marked the second advance in the last week for lawyers representing 9/11 victims, their families, and insurers that lost billions covering businesses and properties damaged or destroyed when two hijacked commercial airliners slammed into the World Trade Center in New York City. Scores of people from the Philadelphia region lost their lives in the attacks.

The litigation was brought on behalf of families of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the September 11 attacks, as well as insurers that covered losses suffered by building owners and businesses.

Most of the attackers were Saudi nationals who hijacked planes and flew them into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington and — when passengers revolted — into a field in Pennsylvania.

“This opinion is eminently correct and will give 9/11 victims their day in court,” said Stephen Cozen, a partner at Cozen O’Connor representing the plaintiffs. “The parties will start over, and we are very, very satisfied that we will meet any defenses, both legal and factual, that are raised.”

Cozen said damages could reach tens of billions of dollars.

Voice of Russia, Reuters, cbsnews.com, philly.com