Philadelphia attorney Steven Cozen is continuing his nine-year quest to hold the Saudi Arabian government accountable for its alleged involvement in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Cozen was slated to be in court this week to go up against the kingdom and the Saudi High Commission for Relief of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which allegedly provided financial and logistical support to Al Quada, in a federal courtroom in Manhattan. Cozen is suing on behalf of several insurance companies that suffered economic damages, the brokerage firm Cantor Fitzgerald, which lost 658 employees on the attack on the World Trade Center, and others.
Despite objections from the State Department over the piercing of a foreign government’s sovereign immunity, Cozen has attempted to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the Sept. 11 attacks that killed 3,000 Americans. His lawsuits seek economic damages against the kingdom and the Saudi High Commission.
The kingdom’s lawyers have long argued that the 9/11 commission report fully exonerated Saudi Arabia of any wrongdoing. Cozen, co-founding partner of the mega-law firm Cozen O’Connor, rebuts this characterization .
“There is one sentence in the 1000-page report that reads, ‘There is no direct evidence that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was involved,’ ” he noted.
Cozen has recently filed affidavits from former Sens. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) and Robert Graham (D-Fla.), who both served on the 9/11 commission, that buttress the Philadelphia attorney’s claim of Saudi-sponsored terrorism. Graham, a former chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in his affidavit: “I am convinced that there is a direct line between at least some of the terrorists that carried out the Sept. 11 attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia, and that a Saudi government agent living in the United States, Omar al Bayoumi, provided direct assistance” to Sept. 11 attackers and that al Bayoumi was acting “at the direction of elements of the Saudi government.”
Kerrey, who is now running for his old Senate seat, also disputed the Saudi’s interpretation of the 9/11 commission report. He wrote in his affidavit, “To the contrary, significant questions remain unanswered concerning the possible involvement of the Saudi government institutions and actors in the financing and sponsoring of Al Qaeda, and evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi government agents in the September 11th attacks has never been pursued.”
Both former senators want these links further examined. Graham would also like to see an investigation into the Sept. 11 role of al Bayoum, whose pay as a Saudi government contractor increased eight-fold during the period that he allegedly supported the hijackers.
“To this date, this evidence has not been fully explored and pursued, to the detriment of the American public,” Graham said under oath.
“The American public deserves a more robust inquiry into these issues, and I fully support the efforts of the 9/11 plaintiffs to use the civil justice system towards that goal.”
Cozen, who has been a supporter of local Jewish community institutions and Israel for almost 40 years, describes his efforts in this matter as a calling.
“I do not see this as a geopolitical fight but a determination of liability,” he said.
“A United States citizen hurt on U.S. soil by a foreign government should be able to seek relief in a U.S. courtroom.”