Now that Congress has overturned President Barack Obama’s veto of legislation allowing relatives of those killed on 9/11 to sue Saudi Arabia, two Long Island women who lost loved ones said anyone who aided or financed the attacks should be forced to answer for their roles.
“For 15 years, no one has held the people who bankrolled the hijackers accountable,” said Kathy Owens, 57, of Mineola, whose husband, Peter J. Owens Jr., died at the World Trade Center. “I would like the people who financed the 9/11 attacks to be brought to justice.”
Owens, who was in Washington, D.C., Wednesday to witness the vote, said it was her third trip to the Capitol to lobby Congress.
The controversial bill, known as the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act or JASTA, became law Wednesday after the House voted 348-77 and the Senate voted 97-1 to override the veto.
Obama had warned that the bill could jeopardize U.S. national interests.
Under U.S. law, citizens generally cannot sue foreign governments.
Owens is among families of the victims who sued Saudi Arabia, alleging that members of its government and members of the royal family helped the hijackers by providing financial assistance. But a federal judge threw it out.
“The lawsuit, to me, is doing the job our government should have done,” Owens said. “Maybe if we had called them out on it, when the evidence piled up against them, some of that money would have stopped going to terrorists.”
Although 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, the Saudi government has said it played no role in the attacks. And the 9/11 Commission found no evidence that the Saudi government was involved.
Rosemary Cain of Massapequa, whose son, FDNY firefighter George Cain, died during the attacks, is not a plaintiff in the lawsuit but supports it, and said she was glad Congress overturned the veto.
“I think it’s a good thing. I think it sends a message to terrorists and supporters of terrorists all over the world that they can’t continue to support terrorism,” she said. “If they are held accountable, they’ll think twice about slaughtering innocent civilians.”