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Insurers’ 9/11 litigation against Saudi bank reinstated

Al Rajhi Bank

A federal appeals court has reinstated litigation filed by hundreds of Lloyd’s of London syndicates, insurers and others impacted by the 9/11 attacks against a Saudi Arabian bank charged with aiding the terrorists.

Tuesday’s ruling in In re: Terrorist Attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York says the case against Al Rajhi Bank is different than others it has dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction because of the bank’s “specific intent to further terrorism.”

“In brief, Plaintiffs-Appellants principally allege that Al Rajhi Bank provided financial services and donations to charities that it knew financially supported al Qaeda and provided financial services to know extremist operatives,” said the ruling.

“They further allege Al Rajhi Bank’s provision of financial services was done with the specific intent to further al Qaeda’s terrorism against the United States,” said the brief ruling, which overturns a 2018 ruling by the U.S. District Court in New York that dismissed the case on the basis of lack of personal jurisdiction.

The ruling by the three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit says while it has held in other cases that defendants were not subject to personal jurisdiction in the United States, “The inclusion of allegations related to Al Rajhi Bank’s specific intent to further terrorism in the United Sates, however, distinguishes the present case.”

Quoting an earlier case, it said, “Construing all reasonable inferences in favor of the Plaintiffs-Appellants, the support alleged here, in conjunction with this specific intent, we believe, is ‘more direct and one step closer to al Qaeda’ when compared to the support we have previously found inadequate.”

The ruling said it was remanding the case for jurisdictional discovery to determine when the alleged support was given to al-Qaida; what support was given; whether the support was “‘earmarked’ for use in specific schemes or attacks not directed at the United States”; or “specifically how these defendants were involved in providing support to al Qaeda.”

Plaintiff attorney Sean P. Carter, a member of law firm Cozen O’Connor in Philadelphia, said this latest ruling is part of multidistrict litigation, pieces of which have been ongoing since 2003 and have included litigation against the government of Saudi Arabia and against U.S. government agencies in an effort to gain more information. 

“Broadly, the litigation has been focused on getting to the bottom of the full scope of the Saudi role in the rise of al-Qaida” and pursuing that “in a variety of ways,” said Mr. Carter.

With regards to claims against the bank, this is “the first time plaintiffs have had a chance to conduct discovery about Al Rajhi Bank.” He said plaintiffs in the case will “now go back to the district court and propose a discovery plan.”

The bank’s attorney had no comment.



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