Not in Saudi interest to destabilise global economy over 9/11 bill: White House

Most of the 19 attackers on September 11, 2001 were Saudi nationals who hijacked four planes

Reuters April 19, 2016

The White House expressed confidence on Monday that Saudi Arabia would not follow through on a reported threat to sell US assets if Congress passed a bill that could hold the kingdom responsible for any role in al Qaeda's September 11, 2001 attacks.

The New York Times reported on Friday that Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told US lawmakers that the country would be forced to sell up to $750 billion in Treasury securities and other US assets in response to the bill if it passed.

Saudi Arabia threatens to sell off US assets if held responsible for 9/11

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama did not support the legislation and would not sign it. The bill would allow the Saudi government to be sued in a US court for any role in the September 11 attacks.

"I'm confident that the Saudis recognise, just as much as we do, our shared interest in preserving the stability of the global financial system," Earnest told reporters.

Obama, who is traveling to Saudi Arabia later this week, said he opposes the bill because it could expose the United States to lawsuits from citizens of other countries.

"If we open up the possibility that individuals in the United States can routinely start suing other governments, then we are also opening up the United States to being continually sued by individuals in other countries," Obama said in an interview broadcast on CBS News on Monday.

Senior Saudi royal criticises Obama

Most of the 19 attackers on September 11, 2001 were Saudi nationals who hijacked four planes and flew them into New York City's World Trade Center, the Pentagon near Washington and into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers revolted.

The attack was mounted by the al Qaeda militant group, then based in Afghanistan. No US investigation to date has reported finding evidence of Saudi government support for the attacks.

The debate over the congressional legislation has gained traction on the US presidential campaign trail. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, has broken with the Democratic administration and said she supported the bill.

Her rival, US Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, said he shared the Obama administration's concern that the legislation could open up the United States to liability from other countries but said it was important to look into any potential Saudi role in the attacks.

"I think it’s important to have a full investigation and an understanding of the role, the possible role, of the Saudi government in 9/11," he said on NBC's "Today" program.

Clinton and Sanders' remarks on the issue on Monday came on the day before New York state's Democratic primary, a crucial race for both candidates.

US relies heavily on Saudi money to support Syrian rebels

Businessman Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner in the race for the White House, dismissed concerns about a Saudi sell-off of US assets.

"That’s OK,” Trump told New York radio show host Joe Piscopo in a phone interview on Monday morning. “Let'em sell 'em. And we’ll all buy them, Joe, that’s OK. ... It's called a fire sale, nothing better than a fire sale.”

The bill, which has 22 co-sponsors, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in January, but it has not come up for a vote in the Republican-dominated Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office said on Monday that no vote has been scheduled.


Family members of victims who were killed in the September 2001 attacks urged Obama to support the legislation and to bring up the issue on his trip.

"It is not acceptable ... to succumb to the demands of a foreign government that we abandon principles of American justice while we pursue our diplomatic goals," they wrote in a letter to Obama that was released to the media.

In September, a US judge dismissed claims against Saudi Arabia by families of victims of the attacks, saying the kingdom had sovereign immunity from damage claims.


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Khan | 5 years ago | Reply @scotchpak: Obama is the least Israel friendly president in decades. To suggest the US orchestrated Syrias Civil War for Israel's sake defies all logic and is truly just a conspiracy theory. By the way, extraordinary accusations such as yours require extraordinary evidence - none of which you have produced, nor which you could produce since the idea is so proposterous. Arabs themselves started these current civil wars, and other Arabs like KSA continue to fan the flames.
ishrat salim | 5 years ago | Reply We all should sue America, UK & all those coalition patrners in the ICJ, who went in to Iraq inspite of UN opposition. It was also accepted by Mr Blair & the American govt who accepted that there was no WMD.
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