By Jon Austin, The Daily Express
Friday, 11 March 2016
A Judge in the US has ordered Iran to pay billions to compensate victims of the 9/11 terror strikes after ruling the Islamic nation was responsible for aiding the hijackers responsible.
The oil rich country was ordered to pay $7.5billion to 9/11 victims’ families, including $2million to each victim’s estate for pain and suffering, and another $6.88m in punitive damages.
Insurance firms who paid out for property damage and disruption to businesses were awarded an additional $3bn.
The surprise verdict comes amid claims there is no direct evidence of any evidence of Iran being involved in planning the 2001 atrocities.
Iran is a Shia Muslim nation, whereas Saudi Arabia and terror group al-Qaeda, which carried out the attacks are rival Sunni Muslims.
None of the 19 hijackers were Iranian, while 15 were from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates, and one from Egypt and Lebanon respectively.
However, it is said that some of the attackers visited Iran in the run up to the Twin Towers and Pentagon attacks and their passports were not stamped.
There have also been suggestions that terror group Hezbollah, funded by Iran advised al-Qaeda suicide bombers.
US District Judge George Daniels reached the ruling in default because Iran did not contest the case, so no evidence was heard and no trial took place.
Last year Judge Daniels threw out a claim asking for damages from Saudi Arabia, after lawyers for the country contested it, he found there was no evidence of Saudi financing of the plot, and Riyadh had sovereign immunity.
However, Iran appears unlikely to pay any of the money.
Hossein Sheikholeslam, a senior aide to Iran’s parliamentary speaker, slammed the ruling as “absurd and ridiculous.”
He said: “I never heard about this ruling and I’m very much surprised because the judge had no reason whatsoever to issue such a ruling.
"Iran never took part in any court hearings related to the events of September 11 2001.
“Even if such an absurd and ridiculous decision has been made, the charges simply hold no water because Iran has never been mentioned at any stage of the investigation and the trials that followed.”
Judge Daniels found against Iran because it did not defend itself, but the country branded the lawsuit unnecessary, saying it played no part in them.
A court document filed in the latest case the plaintiffs claimed Hezbollah “provided material support” to al-Qaeda, such as facilitating travel, plus “direct support” for the 9/11 attacks.
But a 9/11 commission set up by the US Government had earlier found no evidence to suggest Iran was aware of the plot, and suggested if Hezbollah was tracking movements of al-Qaeda members, it may not have been because it knew anything about the attack.
Even President George W Bush had previously said: “There was no direct connection between Iran and the attacks of September 11.”
Iran Press Editor-in-Chief Emad Abshenas said: "The people who committed those terrorist attacks were neither friends nor allies of Iran.
“They were our sworn enemies, members of al-Qaeda, which considers Iran as their enemy.
"Fifteen out of the 19 terrorists were Saudi citizens, which happens to be America’s best friend.
"The remaining four terrorists lived in Saudi Arabia and enjoyed Saudi support. Therefore the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks had nothing to do with Iran.”
Although Iran is likely to snub the ruling, the claimants can try to get what is due by trying to unlock Iranian funds frozen by the US.