Saudi Arabia threatens to pull $700 billion out of US if 9/11 bill passes

The Saudi government is threatening serious reprisals if Congress passes bipartisan legislation that would allow victims of 9/11 and other terrorist attacks to sue foreign governments.

The Saudi government is warning it will sell off billions in American assets if Congress passes the bill. The Obama administration is lobbying on the side of the Saudis in this dispute and that has many — especially those whose loved ones died in the attacks — furious.

“It’s stunning to think that our government would back the Saudis over its own citizens,” said Mindy Kleinberg, whose husband died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 and who is part of a group of victims’ family members pushing for the legislation.

The Saudis have long denied any role in the terrorist plot and the 9/11 Commission found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization.”

According to the NY Times, however, “suspicions have lingered, partly because of the conclusions of a 2002 congressional inquiry into the attacks that cited some evidence that Saudi officials living in the United States at the time had a hand in the plot.”

If this bill passes it could clear a path for the role of the Saudi government to be examined in  Sept. 11 lawsuits by victims’ families that claim Saudi Arabia gave financial support to  terrorists.

Obama administration officials argue that by passing this bill, it would put the American government, along with its citizens and corporations, in legal risk abroad because other nations might retaliate with their own legislation.

However, the bill’s sponsors say it is “purposely drawn very narrowly– involving only attacks on American soil — to reduce the prospect that other nations might try to fight back.”

The Saudi foreign minister delivered the message to State Dept officials last month during a trip to DC. He told lawmakers the kingdom would be “forced to sell up to $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets in the United States before they could be in danger of being frozen by American courts.”

Some economists say the Saudis would never follow through with this “empty threat.” Technically, it would be very difficult to pull off –it would cause “global market turmoil” and destabilize the dollar, which would also cripple the kingdom’s economy– they say.

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  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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