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Saudis Warn US: Pass 9/11 Lawsuit Bill and We'll Sell American Assets

Image: Saudis Warn US: Pass 9/11 Lawsuit Bill and We'll Sell American Assets
President Barack Obama shakes hands with King Salman of Saudi Arabia at the G-20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

By    |   Monday, 18 Apr 2016 10:26 AM

Saudi Arabia warned the U.S. that it will sell American assets worth hundreds of billions of dollars if Congress passes a bill allowing the kingdom to be held accountable for any role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir said last month that the kingdom would sell up to $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets before they could be frozen by the courts if the bill is passed, The New York Times reported.

The Senate bill establishes that a 1976 law giving foreign nations immunity from U.S. lawsuits should not apply in cases where nations have a role in terrorist attacks that kill Americans on U.S. soil.

The Obama administration has been lobbying against the bipartisan bill, saying it could put Americans at legal risk overseas. Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sander and Hillary Clinton have publicly voiced support for the bill ahead of Tuesday's primary election.

Obama is set to visit Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

Efforts by families of 9/11 victims to hold members of the Saudi royal family, Saudi banks, and charities liable for charges of financial support for terrorism have largely failed because of the 1976 law.

An unnamed source close to the government said al-Jubeir warned against the bill but didn’t specify what action would be taken, The Financial Times reported.

“The mood is bad,” a source said. “There is a sense that after all the co-operation on counter-terrorism, America just wants to get their hands on the money.”

Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier this year that the legislation could "expose the United States of America to lawsuits and take away our sovereign immunity and create a terrible precedent," CNN reported.

The Saudi Arabia government hasn’t been formally implicated in the 9/11 attacks, though suspicions persist.

Some, including Saudi officials, have called for 28 redacted pages of the 9/11 Commission Report to be released, CNN reported. The pages have so far been kept confidential to protect the government’s ability to gather intelligence on terrorist suspects.

Edwin M. Truman, a fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told The New York Times that al-Jubeir’s warning is likely an empty threat.

“The only way they could punish us is by punishing themselves,” he said, noting that selling off the assets would be difficult and could cause global economic turmoil.

Related Stories:


9/11 Report Redacts Saudi Intelligence Role in Attacks
IMF: Saudi Arabia Could Be Broke in 5 Years From Turmoil

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Saudi Arabia warned the U.S. that it will sell American assets worth hundreds of billions of dollars if Congress passes a bill allowing the kingdom to be held accountable for any role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
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2016-26-18
Monday, 18 Apr 2016 10:26 AM
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