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Past Court Decisions Have Hindered Terrorism-Related Claims From Victims of Attacks Like 9/11; Americans Injured in Terrorist Attacks on American Soil Have Limited Recourse Against Foreign States & Groups That Funded The Terror That Took Their Loved Ones Away  

States like Saudi Arabia and Qatar & Other Groups That Fund Al Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas and other Terrorist Groups Could Finally be Held Accountable to Victims

Schumer, Cornyn: JASTA Will Finally Correct an Egregious Error Within Our Courts That Has Prevented Victims of 9/11 From Obtaining Recourse

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and John Cornyn today announced the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act,” (JASTA) legislation, which works to deter international terrorism and provide access to financial justice for those who have suffered at terrorists’ hands. This legislation is long-sought after by families of 9/11 in order to bring a small amount of justice for the loss of their loved ones, by allowing them to sue foreign states and financial partners of terrorism.  

Since the 9/11 attacks, some court decisions have improperly blocked terrorism-related claims that Congress intended to permit. Because of these rulings, without this legislation, Americans may have no recourse against the foreign states and groups that sponsor terrorist attacks. Schumer and Cornyn said that, if passed into law, JASTA will finally help the victims of 9/11 achieve justice by allowing them to sue countries, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, that fund terrorist groups, like Al Qaeda. JASTA would also allow a family member to sue those that fund ISIS, Hamas and other groups, should they kill an American in an act of terrorism on American soil.

“The bottom line is that victims of terror on American soil ought to have an ability to hold accountable the foreign powers and other entities that fund the hate-filled organizations that inflict injury and death on our fellow citizens. Unfortunately, our courts have prevented that and allowed countries like Saudi Arabia that has provided financial support to terror-linked operations to escape any repercussions. For countries to be able to aid the evil of terrorism and walk away scot-free while families suffer silently everyday with the loss of loved ones is wrong, unfair and painful, and this legislation undoes that injustice,” said Senator Schumer. “JASTA won’t bring back those who suffered at terrorists’ hands, but it will bring a small measures of justice for American victims of terror and that’s why Congress should pass this bill.”

“The families that lost loved ones on September 11, 2001 deserve the chance to seek long-overdue justice against those responsible for their unspeakable loss,” said Cornyn. “This legislation will allow families victimized by terrorism to proceed in court against their attackers‎ and hold them accountable for their actions.”

Several court decisions since September 11th have improperly blocked terrorism-related claims that Congress intended to permit. For example, the second Circuit In re Terrorist Attacks of September 11th, 2001, has held that sovereign immunity protected Saudi government “charities” from 9/11 victims’ claims regarding support for those attacks and that aiding and abetting theories are unavailable under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1991 (ATA). That court further ruled that terror victims pursing ATA claims must satisfy a strict proximate causation test. As current law stands, the families of Americans who were injured or killed in terrorist attacks, like those who were tragically struck on September 11th, 2001, may have no recourse against the foreign states and groups that sponsor such attacks.

JASTA allows terrorism victims, like victims of the September 11th attacks, the right to pursue foreign states and sponsors of terrorism in federal court. The bill allows Americans to direct financial damage claims against those who funded the attacks. The legislation would also afford this right to families of other American victims of terrorism, that have occurred since September 11, 2001.

The following is a summary of the bill:

  • First, JASTA amends the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSA) so that foreign sponsors of terrorism cannot invoke “sovereign immunity” in cases arising from a terrorist attack that kills an American on American soil.  
  • Second, JASTA amends the ATA so that civil suits against foreign sponsors of terrorism can be held accountable in U.S. courts where their conducts contributes to an attack that kills an American.