As shown by Asharq Al-Awsat in a series of reports, exclusive interviews, and U.S. federal court and government documents, an elaborate case brought to trial by September 11 victims and insurance companies against the Islamic Republic of Iran has concluded in a default judgment in favor of the plaintiffs: Judge George Daniels of New York’s Southern District has found Iran to have provided material support to Al-Qaeda prior to and after the September 11 attacks. In his detailed ruling, he validated witness testimony that the Iranian government and Hezbollah had provided training, funding, and logistical support to Al-Qaeda that was essential in enabling the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Washington DC (Shanksville, Pennsylvania) — as well as other attacks, including the bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, the suicide boat bombing of the U.S.S. Cole near Yemen in 2000, and the Khobar Towers bombing in Riyadh. In addition to his overall finding against the Tehran regime and its Hezbollah proxy, Judge Daniels also held that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei himself — among other senior Iranian and Hezbollah officials — bore direct responsibility for the September 11 operation.
The monetary fine, which had been estimated in excess of $22 billion, is continuously expanding as the plaintiffs’ attorneys calculate their motions for a final judgment. Yesterday, James Kreindler, a lead attorney for the plaintiffs, told Asharq Al-Awsat, “We’re preparing our motions for final judgment against Iran and hope to have those submitted within a couple of weeks. We’re going to do them in batches of 50 or 100 at a time, as there is information needed from each family. I expect the total will be over $300 billion.”
These stunning determinations are based on court proceedings dating back over a decade, which in turn relied on evidence that had been accessed by researchers as early as the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 tragedy. As such, the trial raises even more questions than it answers: If there has long been a body of information credible enough to persuade a federal judge to place responsibility for the most devastating terror attack in American history on the Iranian government, then what has been the response of the U.S. government, intelligence community, and successive White Houses to the same set of facts? What is the relationship between these findings on the one hand, and the set of accommodationist policies toward Iran that culminated in the establishment of the Iranian nuclear deal last October on the other? Will the staggering sums demanded by the judge actually be paid by the Iranian government? And between the Obama White House’s conciliatory policies toward Iran on the one hand and a federal judge’s uncompromising stance on the other, what future directions in Iran policy may be expected from Washington?
To answer these questions, Asharq Al-Awsat conducted an extensive investigation, including interviews with senior White House, Defense Department, and State Department officials; lawyers for the September 11 victims; and some of the most trusted experts on Iran policy in Washington.