A United States federal judge in New York has ordered Iran to pay about US$6 billion to victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in Manhattan, despite a lack of evidence that Iran had anything to do with them.
The ruling finds the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran liable for the nearly 3,000 deaths that resulted from the attacks. The court alleges that Iran engaged in training and assisting Al-Qaeda hijackers.
Iran has not attended or even commented on the case or ruling and it is unlikely that any of the compensation will ever be collected.
The 9/11 Commission – the organization tasked to investigate the attacks – has said there is no evidence indicating direct Iranian involvement. The only known connection is that several hijackers traveled through Iran on their way to Afghanistan.
Furthermore, none of the hijackers were Iranian. Fifteen of the 19 were Saudi, with the others coming from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Lebanon.
Sovereign governments were once immune from being sued in U.S. courts, but that policy was changed in 2016 when the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorist Act (JASTA) was passed, opening up states to potential lawsuits for 'support of terrorism.'
Saudi Arabia has been the primary target of lawsuits related to the 9/11 attacks, but it has engaged in lobbying to prevent any lawsuits. Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia pushed a U.S. federal judge to reject a lawsuit holding the Kingdom liable.